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Full text of "The complete works of Thomas Manton, D.D. : with memoir of the author"






W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEGG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas s Episcopal Church, 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 














SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27 Continued. 

Sermon VIII. " And take up the cross," &c., . . 3 

IX. " And he was sad at that saying," &c., . 13 

X. " And Jesus looked round about," &c., . 24 
XL "And the disciples were astonished at his 

words," &c., . . .36 

XIL " It is easier for a camel to go through the eye 

of a needle," &c., .... 48 
Xm. " And they were astonished out of measure," 

&c., ..... 59 

XIV. " And Jesus, looking upon them, saith," &c., . 72 

XV. " With God all things are possible," . . 82 


Sermon I. " We are bound to thank God always," &c., . 95 

II. " We are bound to thank God always," &c., . 105 

III. "Your faith groweth exceedingly," &c., . 117 

IV. " Your faith groweth exceedingly," &c., . 126 

V. " Your faith groweth exceedingly," &c., . 135 

SERMON UPON MATTHEW viii. 5-10, . . . . 146 

SERMON UPON MATTHEW xv. 21-28, . . . .155 

SERMON UPON JOHN viii. 56, . . . . .167 

SERMON UPON ROMANS iv. 18-21, . . . . .179 




Sermon I. " And Jesus looked round about on them with 
anger, being grieved for the hardness of 
their hearts," . . . . 191 

II. " And Jesus looked round about on them with 

anger," &c., . . . .199 

III. " And Jesus looked round about on them with 

anger," &c., . . . .209 


Sermon I. " I will harden his heart, that he shall not let 

my people go," &c., . . .221 

II. " I will harden his heart," &c., . . .231 

SERMON UPON GENESIS iii. 15, . . . . 241 


Sermon I. " And Isaac went out to meditate in the field 

at the eventide," . . . .263 

II. " And Isaac went out to meditate," <fec., . 274 

III. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 281 

IV. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 288 
V. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 298 

VI. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 306 

VII. "And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 314 

VIII. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 323 

IX. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., . 331 

X. " And Isaac went out to meditate," &c., 339 


Epistle Dedicatory, ..... 351 

SERMONS UPON LUKE xvi. 30, 31 

Sermon I. " And he said, Nay, father Abraham : but if 

one went unto them from the dead/ &c., . 353 
II. " And he said, Nay, father Abraham," &c., . 363 
SERMON UPON HEBREWS xiii. 20, 21, . . . . 373 




SERMON UPON LUKE xxii. 31, 32,. .... 395 

SERMON UPON HEBREWS i. 9, . . . . . 407 

SERMONS UPON ACTS xxiv. 14-16 

Sermon I " Believing all things which are written in the 

law and the prophets," &c., . . 419 

II. " Believing all things which are written," &c., 428 

SERMON UPON ZECHARIAH xiv. 20, 21, . . . 441 

SERMON UPON JOHN iii. 14, 15, . . . . . 453 


Sermon I. " Kejoice evermore," . . . . 469 

II. " Kejoice evermore," .... 479 







And take up the cross. MARK x. 21. 

DOCT. 3. All those that follow Christ should prepare their shoulders 
for the cross. 

Here I shall show (l.)What it is to take up the cross ; (2.) The 
reasons why they must so do. 

I. What it is to take up the cross. 

1. Negatively. 

[1.] Not to devise a voluntary affliction to ourselves ; as Baal s 
priests gashed themselves : 1 Kings xviii. 28, They cried aloud, and 
cut themselves after their manner with knives and lances, till their 
blood gushed out upon them ; and the pharisees had their self-dis 
ciplines. Christ is a lover of human nature, and he hath put no such 
severe penance upon us. This is to make the cross, not to take it up. 
Origen, that was too allegorical in plain texts, was too literal when he 
castrated himself upon that text, Mat. xix. 12, There be eunuchs 
which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven s sake/ 
Christ only intended power over our natural affections. 

[2.] Not to draw sufferings upon ourselves by our own rashness and 
folly : James i. 2, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into 
divers temptations/ He saith, when ye fall into them/ not when ye 
draw them upon yourself. It was Tertullian s error to say that afflic 
tions are to be sought and desired. Man is never satisfied with his 
present condition ; sometimes we question God s love when we have 
no afflictions, and anon when we have nothing but afflictions. In all 
these things we must refer ourselves to God s pleasure, not desire 
troubles, but bear them and improve them when he layeth them on us. 
Christ hath taught us to pray, Lead us not into temptation ; it is but 
a fond presumption to cast ourselves upon it. Philastrius and Theodoret 
speak of some that would compel men to kill them out of an affectation 
of martyrdom ; this was a mad ambition, not a true zeal. And no less 
fond are they that seek out crosses and troubles rather than wait for 
them, or by their own violence and miscarriage draw a just hatred upon 
themselves. Christ would not that for his sake we should run head- 


long into dangers, and without necessity ; there is a medium between 
faintness and rashness. Christ himself did not take up the cross till 
it was laid upon him. If a man set fire to his own house, he is liable 
to the law ; if it be fired by accident he is pitied and relieved. There 
fore we are not to seek the cross, or make it, but bear it, and take it 
up ; not to fill the cup ourselves, but to drink it off when God puts it 
into our hands to take it up ; when we cannot avoid it without sin. or 
a breach upon our consciences, we are not to shift then, or avoid it by 
unlawful means. 

2. Positively. To bear it patiently and willingly when we cannot 
avoid it without sin. When we are brought into a necessity of either 
suffering or sinning, in such cases there must be a cheerful, free, 
voluntary submission of ourselves to surfer the whole will of God. 
To take up the cross implieth (1.) Faithfulness and integrity without 
shifting ; (2.) Patience and submission without murmuring ; (3.) Joy 
and cheerfulness without fainting. 

[1.] Faithfulness and integrity without shifting. Many distinguish 
themselves out of their duty, and when God calleth them to suffering 
put a fallacy upon their souls : Gal. vi. 12, * As many as desire to make 
a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest 
they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. They cannot 
live without honour, and ease, and plenty, and therefore turn and wind 
themselves to shift the cross. Our Lord Jesus offered himself: Ps. 
xl. 7, 8, Then said I, Lo, I come ; in the volume of the book it is 
written of me, I delight to do thy will, my God, yea, thy law is within 
my heart. So should we resign ourselves when the will of God is so, 
and give up the comforts of our lives when we can hold them no longer, 
and be glad we have something of value to esteem as nothing for Christ. 
The apostle speaks of some who are enemies of the cross of Christ, 
whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind 
earthly things/ Phil. iii. 18, 19. Hultum interest inter tlieologum 
glorice et theologum crucis. Men that have no love to God, but only 
serve their fleshly appetites, and look no higher than riches, and 
honours, and pleasures, and applause, will never be faithful to Christ. 
There are a sort of men that study to save themselves, not from sin, but 
from danger, and accordingly accommodate themselves to every interest. 
As the men of Keilah dealt with David, they entertained him for a 
while, but when Saul pursued him, they resolved to betray him, they 
would come into no danger and trouble for him ; so they deal with 

[2.] Patience and submission without murmuring. We show our 
obedience to God in suffering his will, as well as doing his will. He 
is sovereign in his acts of providence as well as in. his laws. And this 
we must do without murmuring or repining against God, as if he did 
us wrong, or did deal hardly with us : Isa. xxx. 15, In quietness and 
confidence shall be your strength ; that is, in faith and patience, 
humbly submitting to God s will, and depending on his favour and 
gracious protection. There must be a submissive attendance upon 
God: Ps. Ixii. 1, Truly my soul waiteth upon God; from him cometh my 
salvation ; Ps. xxxix. 9, I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because 
thou didst it; not uttering impatient words; God s will silenceth all. 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 5 

[3.] Cheerful behaviour under the cross : Kom. v. 3, And not only 
so, but we glory in tribulation also ; James i, 2, My brethren, count 
it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Afflictions to God s 
people do not only minister occasion of patience, but great joy : 2 Cor. 
vii. 4, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation, virepTrept ao-evofMai 
TTJ %apa ; I overflow with joy. A dejected spirit doth not behave 
itself answerably to its principles, privileges, and hopes. Are you at 
peace with God, and have you communion with him at every turn ? 
And have you hopes of glory, and are you so troubled when you are a 
little cut short in your temporal comforts ? A Christian should be at 
an indifferency, to rejoice as if he rejoiced not, and mourn as if he 
mourned not. Dejection of spirit argueth too great addictedness to 
worldly comforts, and love of ease and flesh-pleasing, and ingratitude 
for all the spiritual good we have received. Shall God lay in such 
great comforts, and after such great receivings do you take it ill to be 
put to a little expense ? Job xv. 11, Are the consolations of God 
small with thee ? If you had a due sense of the world to come, you 
would be glad to keep your conscience, though you lose your coat : Heb. 
x. 34, Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in your 
selves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance, Kom. 
viii. 18, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not 
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 
Do you look for a glory to be revealed in you ? Then look upon all 
the sufferings of this life as a feather put into the scales against a talent. 
We are to have a sense of our condition, yet in regard of the honour 
done to us to bear a part of Christ s cross, and in regard of the com 
fort and happiness provided for us we should be cheerful, that it may 
not be known to be an unwilling patience, and extorted by force. 
There is one expression more : Luke ix. 23, Let him take up his cross 
daily. How daily ? There are fair days as well as foul days, and the 
face of heaven doth not always look sad and lowering. How then are 
we to take up the cross daily ? I answer 

(1.) It notes a daily expectation of it ; the first day that we begin to 
be Christians, we must reckon on the cross : Mat. xvi. 24, If any man 
will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and 
follow me. These words are the Christian s indenture, and every one 
must seal to this before he can call Christ master. As porters stand in 
u street waiting for a burden for them to carry, so must a Christian be 
ready and prepared to meet with any hardship which God may lay out 
for him in his Christian course ; or as the Israelites ate the first pass- 
over with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff 
in their hand, Exod. xii. 11. as ready for a journey, so should a 
Christian be ready to go forth at God s call : Acts xxi. 13, eToi /io?, 
e%&), I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for 
the name of the Lord Jesus. Evils familiarised are less burdensome; 
by renewing our daily resolution the evil is the less when it cometh. 

(2.) The frequency of our conflicts, as if every day there were some 
exercise for our faith and patience. We are not to prescribe to God 
how long or how much affliction he shall exercise us with. No; though 
it were all the days of our lives, we must be content ; it is but a 
moment to eternity. We must take up our cross as often as it lieth in 


our way, and we cannot baulk it without sin : Gen. xlvii. 9, Few and 
evil have the days of the years of my life been. Man is born to 
trouble. The world is a valley of tears, not the mount of the Lord, 
where is fulness of joy, If there were no cross, we should not be in 
tune and consort with the rest of the world, for here all the creatures 
are a-groaning. 

(3.) The word daily showeth that private and personal calamities 
are a part of the cross, as well as the afflictions of the gospel, and for 
the profession of the name of Christ. Afflictions are either for God or 
from God. Sickness and death of friends and loss of estate by an 
immediate providence are a part of our cross. There is an enduring 
persecution for the name of Christ, and an enduring affliction at the 
will of Christ. Ordinary crosses do not exclude the comforts of Chris 
tianity ; these occasion experience of God and trial of grace, and are a 
part of God s discipline for the mortifying of sin, and are happy oppor- 
i unities to discover more of God and of grace to us. Yea, there is 
more reason for -submission in these, because God taketh us into his 
own hands. A man that stormeth when a bucket of water is cast 
upon him, is patient when he is wet with the rain that cometh from 

II. The reasons why those that follow Christ should prepare their 
shoulders for the cross. 

1. That we may be conformed to our head. He had a bitter cup 
tempered for him by his Father s hand: John xviii. 11, The cup that 
my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ? and we must pledge, 
him. Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, 
Isa. liii. 3, and there would be a strange disproportion between head 
and members if we should altogether live in delicacy, ease, and plea 
sures. The bitter cup goeth by course and round, first to Christ, then 
10 his apostles, and it goeth from hand to hand ever since. The 
apostle speaks of va-Tep^ara rcov OKi^ewv ^eicrrov, Col. i. 24, that 
which is behind of the afflictions of Christ/ There is Christ personal 
and Christ mystical. Christ personal, as he is complete in himself, so 
his sufferings are complete ; but the sufferings of Christ mystical are 
not perfect until every member have their own alloted share and por 
tion. Indeed our sufferings are but the drops upon the brim of the cup ; 
he drank up the dregs. The great wave of affliction did first beat 
upon him, and being thereby broken, some small sprinklings of it do 
light upon us ; we bear the hinder part of the cross of Christ. It is 
but reason that those that will partake with Christ in his kingdom 
should be partakers with him in his sorrows, and thaj; the soldiers 
should follow the captain of their salvation, Heb. ii. 10, and fare as 
lie fared: John xv. 20, Kemember the word that I said unto you, 
The servant is not greater than the Lord ; if they have persecuted me, 
they will also persecute you/ We cannot in reason expect better 
entertainment than he found in the world. If you had an high esteem 
of Christ, and a low esteem of yourselves, you would easily consent to 
submit to the will of God herein. It is an unseemly daintiness to be 
nice and tender of carrying the cross after Jesus Christ, as if we were 
better than he. Many Christians will seem to express much devotion 
to a crucifix, or those chips of wood which importers cry up for pieces 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 7 

of the cross of Christ ; but here is true respect to the cross of Christ, 
to be willing for Christ s sake to bear afflictions with patience and 
humble submission. The apostle counted all things but dross and 
dung: Phil. iii. 10, That I may know him, and the power of his resur 
rection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable 
to his death. There is a great deal of sweetness and spiritual comfort 
in suffering after, for, and with Christ; we should count all things 
dung and dross to gain this experience. This should be comfort 
enough to a gracious heart, that thereby he is made more like his Lord 
and master. 

2. Because of the world s hatred: John xv. 19, If ye were of the 
world, the world would love its own ; but because ye are not of the 
world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world 
hateth you. A thorough Christian will be sure to meet with opposi 
tion. We are told, 2 Tim. iii. 12, Yea, and all that will live godly 
in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. If a man will be lukewarm, 
not caring how things go, he may find friendship with the world ; but 
he that hath any zeal and conscience, and would be faithful, the world 
will hate him as an object reviving guilt : 1 John iii. 12, Not as Cain, 
who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother ; and wherefore slew 
he him ? because his own works were evil, and his brother s righteous. 
The spiritual and carnal seed cannot agree ; Gal. iv. 29, For as then 
he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the 
spirit, so it is now. 

3. It is needful, in order to our following Christ, that our pride and 
carnal affections should be broken by the cross : 1 Peter i. 6, Now for 
a season (if need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. 
There is a need of the cross to reclaim us from our wanderings, to cut 
off the provisions and fuel of our lusts, to make us mindful of heavenly 
things, and that we may retreat to our great privileges, and to humble 
us for sin, to stir us up to prayer, and to wean us from the world. 
Tribulatio tarn nobis necessaria est quam ipsa vita, immo magis 
necessaria, et multo utilior quam iotius mundi opes et dignitates 
Affliction is as necessary to us as life itself, yea, more necessary and 
profitable than all the wealth and honours of the world ; and therefore, 
being so necessary and profitable for us, we should be willing to take 
up the cross. 

Use 1. Is of information. It informeth us 

1. With what thoughts we should take up the stricter profession of 
Christianity, namely, with expectations of the cross. We cannot but 
expect great inconveniences and troubles in Christ s service, therefore 
let us not flatter ourselves^ Many think they may be good Christians, 
and yet live a life of ease and peace, free from troubles and afflictions ; 
this is all one as if a soldier, going to the wars, should promise himself 
peace and continual truce with the enemy, or as if a mariner, committing 
himself to the sea for a long voyage, should promise himself nothing 
but fair weather and a calm season, without waves and storms ; so 
irrational it is for a Christian to promise himself a life of ease and rest 
here upon earth. 

2. That a Christian had need be a mortified and resolute man. 

[1.] A mortified weaned man : That which is lame is soon turned 


out of the way, Heb. xii. 13. If we have any weak part in our souls, 
there the assault will be most strong and fierce. A garrison that 
looketh to be besieged takes care to fortify the weak places, and where 
there is any suspicion of entrance ; so should a Christian mortify every 
corrupt inclination lest it betray him, be it love of honour, pleasure, or 

[2.] He had need be a resolved man : His feet shod with the pre 
paration of the gospel of peace/ Eph. vi. 15 ; or else in hard ways he 
will soon founder and halt. That eroi^aaia, that preparation is a 
resolved mind to go through thick and thin, and to follow Christ in all 
conditions. Well, then, it is no easy matter to be a Christian indeed. 
Nature in the general is against bearing the cross. Christ himself, 
his human nature recoiled and shunned it without sin ; and to us it is 
more grievous to suffer : Heb. xii. 11, No affliction for the present 
seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. And besides, lusts ,if they be not 
purged out, will tempt us to stumble, and we need to be armed with 
great resolution, or else after we have launched out into the deep with 
Christ, we shall be ready to run ashore again. Now most Christians 
are not mortified, and so they trip up their own heels. Most Christians 
are not resolute, and do but take up religion as a walk for recreation, 
not as a journey, so as to be prepared for all weathers. 

[3.] What fools they are that take up religion upon a carnal design 
of ease and plenty in the world : they quite mistake it. There are in 
conveniences that attend religion in peaceable times, but the profes 
sion will afterwards engage us in the greater troubles ; and therefore 
men do but make way for the shame of a change, and other incon 
veniences to themselves, that hope for temporal commodity by the pro 
fession of the gospel. The great drift of the gospel is to draw us off 
from the comfort of this world to the concernments of a better, and 
to bring us to follow a naked Christ upon unseen encouragements; 
therefore they that have temporal things in their eye quite change the 
nature of the gospel, and make Christ another Christ. 

[4.] That the course which Christ taketh to draw in proselytes is 
quite different from that of Satan and the world. Satan showeth us 
the bait and hideth the hook, but Christ telleth us the worst at first. 
The world useth to invite followers with promises of honours and 
riches, and Christ telleth us not of the crown, but the cross. Why so? 
Partly to discourage hypocrites, who will come and cheapen and taste, 
but will not buy. Christ will not deceive them, but have them count 
the charges. Partly to forearm his people, that they account afflictions 
will come, and prepare accordingly. We entered upon the ways of 
godliness on these terms, to be willing to suffer afflictions when the 
Lord seeth fit, and therefore we should arm ourselves with a mind to 
endure them, whether they come or no. God never intended Isaac 
should be sacrificed, yet he will have Abraham lay the knife to his 
throat. Partly because sorrows foreseen leave not so sad an impression 
upon the spirit, the evil is more familiarised before it corneth : Job iii. 
25, For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that 
which I was afraid of is come unto me. When we suffer our fears to 
prophesy, and do expect evils, they smart less ; prcecogitati mali mollis 
ictus ; but when they come unlooked-for, it is the more burdensome. 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 9 

He saith his lesson best that often conned it over. Partly because it 
allayeth the offence when we see nothing befalleth us but what we were 
warned of beforehand : John xvi. 1, These things have I spoken to 
you, that you should not be offended ; and ver. 4, But these things 
have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember 
that I told you of them. The scripture speaketh nothing at random ; 
we pretend to believe them when they are read, and yet we complain 
when they are fulfilled. For all these reasons it is necessary that those 
that will be Christ s disciples must be forewarned in peaceable times 
of approaching troubles, and the rather because we are so apt still to 
promise great things to ourselves. 
Use 2. Is of reproof of several sorts, 

1. Of those that suffer per force, by compulsion and constraint, not 
willingly. It is not enough to bear the cross, but we must take it. 
It is said of the three children, that they yielded their bodies that 
they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God/ Dan. 
iii, 28 ; that is, they cheerfully suffered themselves to be cast into the 
furnace, rather than worship any but the true God. Many suffer, but 
it is unwillingly and against stomach, with repining and impatience 
under the hand of God, like refractory oxen, that draw back, and are 
loath to submit their necks to the yoke, especially such as have not 
been acquainted with sufferings. Patience per force is no true patience, 
little better than the patience of the devils and damned in hell, who 
suffer misery and torment against their wills, being forced to it. Kebel- 
lion and want of subjection is the very curse of crosses ; it maketh the 
burden heavier than otherwise it would be, and causeth God to redouble 
his strokes, as a stubborn child under the rod hath the more blows. 

2. Those that murmur not against the cross in general, but such a 
cross ; if it were any other they could bear it. Christ saith, Take up 
the cross, indefinitely, whatever God is pleased to lay on us ; we must 
not be our own carvers, but stand to God s allowance. The patient is 
not to choose his own physic ; God knows what is best for us. Men 
under their troubles wish that God would afflict them in another kind, 
lay any trouble upon them rather than that which is laid, and think 
they could bear it better. The poor man wishes any other cross but 
poverty, the sick man he could bear poverty better than the pain of 
sickness. He that hath a long and lingering sickness wisheth for a 
sharp fit so it might be short ; and, on the contrary, another feeling a 
sharp and violent sickness, could wish for a longer, so it were less 
painful. Thus we are apt to dislike our cross, which God layeth on us 
for the present. But this is disobedience to God and folly too, for if 
God should leave us to ourselves to choose our own crosses, we should 
choose worse for ourselves than the Lord doth, that affliction which is 
hurtful and dangerous for us. The Lord knows what is best for us and 
in what vein to strike us. 

3. Those that desert their duty and their station, as being discouraged 
by the cross ; these are more culpable than the former : Ps. cxxv. 5, 
As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead 
them forth with the workers of iniquity/ He had been speaking of 
the rod of the wicked resting on the lot of the righteous, ver. 3 ; and 
therefore by them that turn aside he meaneth such as dare not trust 


God, nor adhere to the comfort of the promises ; these are in the same 
rank with open enemies : Eev. xxi. 8, The fearful and unbelieving 
are joined together. 

4. Those that seek to make their worldly advantage and the profes 
sion of the gospel agree further than they ever will ; and when they 
cannot frame the world and their conveniences to the gospel, they will 
fashion a gospel to the world and their carnal courses in it. It is a 
pity such had not been of the Lord s counsel, when he first contrived 
and preached the gospel, that they might have helped him to some 
discreet and mild course, that would have served the turn for heaven 
and earth; but do what ye can, the way is narrow that leadeth to 
life, Mat. vii. 14 ; Take my yoke upon you, &c., and ye shall find rest 
unto your souls/ Mat. xi. 29. 

5. Those that suffer, but it is for their evil-doing ; these take not 
up the cross of Christ, but the cross of the thieves. Or if a man put 
himself upon needless danger, he taketh not up Christ s cross, but his 
own, and so hath his amends in his own hands. Afflictions so coming 
may be sanctified by repentance, good in their use, though not in their 
cause. When- we suffer for our faults, we ought to bear it patiently, 
but we cannot suffer so cheerfully : 1 Peter iv. 15, But let none of 
you surfer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busy 
body in other men s matters/ 

Use 3. To press us to take up the cross, and to take heed of grudging 
and heartless discouragement. Now, that you may so take up the cross, 
see the hand and counsel of God in it. So it was as to Christ s cross : 
Acts ii. 23, * Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore 
knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified 
and slain ; John xviii. 11, The cup which my Father hath gi^en me/ 
&c. ; and so as to the Christian s cross : 1 Thes. iii. 3, That no man 
should be moved by these afflictions, for yourselves know that we are 
appointed thereunto/ All things must obey God s appointment, and 
every one must yield up himself to the disposal of God. And we have 
Christ s example, who took up his cross for us, and doth not call us 
but to walk in such ways as he hath trodden before us : 1 Peter ii. 21, 
1 For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, 
leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps/ He hath paved 
the way with the blessing of his example, whatever the cross be. Are 
we banished our country ? Our Lord Jesus was a stranger upon earth, 
and when he was in the cradle he was carried into Egypt. Are you 
poor ? You cannot be poorer than Christ, who had not where to rest 
his head. Are you constrained to hard fare ? He thought a draught 
of water a courtesy : John iv. 7, Jesus saith unto her, Give me to 
drink ; and on the cross they gave him vinegar to drink when he was 
athirst. . Christ preached in a boat in the midst of the waves. Do but 
read the history of Christ s life, and the hardship he endured, and will 
you be scandalised at a little suffering ? Are you reproached ? Christ 
himself was called a devil, accused of blasphemy and sedition, and you 
must not think to be better used than he was. Quum Christus ipse 
ct ucem et supplicia passus sit tantum illis pretii accessit, ut nemo istis 
dignus sit, saith Luther Since Christ hath endured the cross, there 
hath such a value and honour accrued to it thereby, that no man 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 11 

is worthy to have this honour put upon him. We bear it together 
with Christ : Bom. viii. 26, The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, 
a-wavTLkaupdveTai, ; 1 Cor. x. 13, He will Avith the temptation also 
make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Such a 
master may well expect cheerful servants. He will give us peace and 
comfort in all our sufferings : John xvi. 33, These things I have 
spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace : in the world ye 
shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the 
world ; 2 Cor. i. 5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so 
our consolation also aboundeth by Christ/ Jacob, when he slept, and 
had a heap of stones for his pillow, had then the visions of God ; and 
usually when we are taken off from the comforts of the world, then we 
have the clearest manifestations of the love of God : Eom. v. 5, The 
love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is 
given unto us. It is an honour for us to suffer with Christ and for 
Christ : Phil. i. 29, For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not 
only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. And all this, 
how bitter soever it be for the present, will end well : Acts xiv. 22, 
We must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God. 
After this howling wilderness there will be a Canaan. We have had 
our times of good, and is it nothing to pass over so much of our time 
in peace and comfort ? Job ii. 10, Shall we receive good at the 
hands of God, and shall we not receive evil ? 

Use 4. If all that enter themselves disciples of Christ must prepare 
for the cross, then are we indeed prepared for it ? You will think all 
this needeth not in times of peace, when religion is under the covert 
and protection of the laws, and we are not called to the afflictions of 
the gospel, yet certainly such questions as these are not to be entertained 
coldly and carelessly. Have you prepared your shoulders for the cross 
of Christ ? It is necessary to put it to you 

1. Because of private crosses, which are incident to all, such as loss 
of goods and relations, pains of body, sickness, reproach, contempt, and 
the like. There is none get out of the world without some exercises : 
1 Peter v. 9, Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in 
your brethren that are in the world ; Heb. vi. 12, * That ye be not 
slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit 
the promises. All the heirs of salvation have their conflicts before 
they come to enjoy their hopes. The earth is a middle place between 
heaven and hell, and partaker of both ; it is only evil that is in hell 
and only good that is in heaven ; but here our state is mixed, our 
afflictions are tempered with some comforts, and our comforts seasoned 
with some afflictions. Earth must be earth, and heaven must be heaven ; 
here we must expect our trials : Job ii. 10, Shall we receive good at 
the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil ? therefore we 
need to be provided ; there is good that need to be tried, and bad that 
need to be purged out. 

2. Because we should be always ready to encounter the greatest 
difficulties. Though we do not always lie under tribulations and per 
secutions, yet we should be always prepared, prceparatione animi, as 
Joseph prepared for the years of scarcity in the years of plenty. The 
wise virgins had not only oil in their lamps, but oil in their vessels ; 

12 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. VIII. 

we should not only have grace for present use, but against future temp 
tations. Now have you indeed this preparation of heart ? And because 
a man may crack and vaunt it before the temptation cbmeth, let us 
consider who hath this preparation of heart, so as cheerfully, willingly, 
and patiently to bear the cross, and who hath it not. 

[1.] He that is not strict and holy in a time of peace will not be 
cheerful in a time of trouble : Acts ix. 31, Then had the churches 
rest, &c. ; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of 
the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. When we are not called to passive 
obedience and suffering, our active obedience should be more cheerfully 
performed. Now where is it so ? Our fathers suffered more willingly 
for Christ than we speak for him ; they were not ashamed to die for a 
crucified Jesus, they endured the fire better than we can a frown or 

[2.] He that is not mortified to the world, but loveth a flesh-pleasing 
life, is but ripening himself for apostasy : James v. 5, Ye adulterers 
and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity 
with God ? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the 
enemy of God. A fond and delicate person, that hath a value for 
worldly contentments, will be grieved when he cometh to part with 
them ; he that is corrupted with prosperity, will be dejected with adver 
sity ; but no man is prepared but he that is crucified to the world by 
the cross of Christ, that liveth in a holy weanedness in the midst of 
his present enjoyments : Gal. vi. 14, But God forbid that I should 
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world 
is crucified to me, and I unto the world. 

[3.] He that is not abounding in charity, and willing to part with 
temporal things in a way of free distribution, will be loath to part with 
them by constraint, and by way of sacrifice and voluntary surrender to 
God, when he calls for them. I offer this, because the churches that 
were free from persecution are still charged with the duty of charity ; 
and it is a general precept, Gal. vi. 10, As we have therefore oppor 
tunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of 
the household of faith; because he that will not part with his super 
fluities willingly to God, will never part with his substance and the 
main of his estate with rejoicing, when it is made a prey to the violence 
of men. It is irrational to think that he that grudgeth at a command 
that requires him to part only with a little of his temporal conveni 
ences, will not storm at the violence when all is taken away : James 
v. 1, Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that 
shall come upon you/ There are their howling times, when that 
wealth which they sat abrood upon is taken away in an instant. 

[4.] He that cannot digest lighter afflictions, how will he bear 
greater? Jer. xii. 5, If thou hast run with the footmen, and they 
have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses ? and if 
in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then 
how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan ? The prophet was all 
in a pet because the men of his town and neighbourhood had conspired 
against him, and were very troublesome to him. God tells him, If thou 
canst not bear this, how wilt thou do when thou art exposed to greater 
trials ? There are private persecutions, therefore father and mother 

VER. 22.] SEUMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 13 

are put into the catalogue of things to be renounced by us when we 
take to Christ : Luke xiv. 26, 4 If any man come to me, and hate not 
his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, 
yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. If a frown and 
disgrace, and loss of preferment, be so much, how will you endure 
rapine, and torture, and all manner of violence and evil ? 

[5.] He that begrudgeth a little pains for God, and counts it so 
tedious to converse with him a little while in duties of holiness, and 
reckons all labour too much, and is loath to strive to enter in at the 
strait gate, Luke xiii. 24, how will he endure torments, and expose the 
body to all kind of sufferings ? Necesse est, ut ei honestum vile sit, cui 
corpus carum est He that is so tender of his ease, so delicate that 
he cannot endure the labours of the gospel, how will he bear the afflic 
tions of the gospel ? If it be irksome to put the body to a little trouble 
in prayer or meditating, or other holy duties, how will he rejoice in the 
midst of all tribulations that shall befall him for Christ s sake ? Thus 
you see how few are prepared for the cross. 


And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved, for he had great 
possessions. MARK x. 22. 

WE have hitherto seen the young man at his best ; now we shall find 
him discovered and laid open in his own colours. It was well that he 
came to Christ with such reverence and seriousness about such a 
weighty question as What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life ? 
It was well if he could say truly, All these have I kept from my youth. 
But now, here is the event and issue of this interlocutory discourse 
between him and Christ ; when Christ bid him Sell all, and take up 
his cross, and follow him, then he went away sad, &c. 
Here observe 

1. How he was affected with Christ s advice, He was sad at the 
saying, and went away grieved. 

2. The reason of his sorrow, or why he was thus affected, For he 
had great possessions. 

In the first part we may observe 

[1.] The kind of the affection ; he was not angry, but sorry ; he doth 
not fret and fume, but goes away sorrowful. 

[2.] Observe the degree of it ; it is expressed here by two things a 
sad heart, and a heavy countenance. The sadness of his countenance 
I gather from the word arvyvda-as evrl rw \6yy, He was sad at that 
saying. The word properly signifies he lowered at that saying ; the 
lowering of the heavens is expressed by that word, So the sky was red 
and lowering, Mat. xvi. 3, Trvppd^t yap arvyvd^wv 6 ovpavos. Then the 
sadness of his heart, a7rij\6ij \v7rovpevos, He went away grieved. la 
Luke xviii. 23, it is TreptXvTros eyevero, < He was very sorrowful. Note, 


that he went away, and we hear no more of him ; like those, John vi. 
66, At that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no 
more with him. 

Secondly, here is the reason of this, For he had great possessions. 
In Luke it is said rjv ^ap irXova-ios cr<p68pa, He was very rich ; he had 
both Knjpara possessions, and ^p^ara, riches too, as appears by the 
next verse. And observe, that the bare having is rendered as the 
reason, He had great possessions/ and therefore he went away sad. It 
is hard to have them without lustful affections to them. It may be, if 
he had so little as the poor fishermen, or the other disciples whom 
Christ called, he would sooner have left all and followed Christ ; but 
having so much to lose, it was the more difficult for him to forsake 
all : He went away, for he had great possessions. 

To give you a few brief points 

1. That a man may go very far, and be zealous and forward at first, 
yet afterwards cool and fall away. 

2. That trials bring men forth to the light, and make them manifest 
what they are. 

3. A man wedded to the world will renounce Christ and his com 
mands rather than the world whenever it comes to a proof. 

4. A carnal worldly man may be very sorrowful when he cannot have 
heaven in his own way. 

5. The disease of worldlings is very incident to great men, and it is 
a very hard matter to keep the heart of such open and free for Christ. 

Doct. 1. That a man may go far, and be zealous and forward at first, 
and yet cool and fall away at last. 

Witness this young man, who comes to Christ to learn of him the 
way of life, and that in such an humble and reverent manner, and 
makes profession that he hath kept the commandments from his youth ; 
and yet when Christ tells him what he must do more, he was troubled, 
and falls off. So Judas walked with Christ for a while, but afterwards 
proveth a traitor to him : John vi. 70, Have not I chosen you twelve, 
and one of you is a devil ? When others were turning away from 
Christ, and were offended at his doctrine, he continues in Christ s com 
pany, and yet a devil for all that. Judas was not carried away with 
the stream of the defection ; he kept the bag, and his temptation was 
not yet come, yet his heart was not sound. So Herod heard John 
gladly, and did many things, yet afterwards put him to death : Mark 
vi. 20, Simon Magus, he believed, and when he was baptized, he con 
tinued with Philip and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs 
which were done, Acts viii. 13. Here was faith and solemn profes 
sion and fellowship with Philip, and this not feignedly, but out of a 
sense and conviction of a power that accompanied his doctrine, and yet 
afterwards he discovered that he was but in the gall of bitterness and 
bond of iniquity, ver. 23. The reasons of this are 

1. They take up religion upon foreign and extrinsic reasons, and when 
those reasons fail, their religion faileth also. As puppets moved by the 
wires to which they are fastened, so they are moved by credit and 
esteem and countenance in the world ; they court religion while it hath 
a portion for them. Thus we read of some that followed Christ for 
the loaves : John vi. 26, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 15 

but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled ; and ye rejoiced in 
his light for a season, John v. 35. Curiosity and novelty made them 
rejoice in his light for a while. Vix queritur Jesus, propter Jesum. 
Eeligion is scarce received in the world for religion s sake. Now 
foreign things, as they are accidental to religion, possunf abesse et adesse, 
so must the respect built upon them be casual and accidental, and very 
uncertain, even as those reasons vary. Men upon these foreign reasons 
may be very zealous for a time, as interest will urge men more than 
conscience ; and when it is their interest to follow or promote such 
a way, they are vehement sticklers for it. Therefore the difference 
between false and sincere professors is not altogether taken from their zeal 
and outward diligence ; they may be exceeding zealous and forward 
upon the impulsion of false principles who have a base heart lurk 
ing under it, because the motions of lusts disguised with religion 
are rapid and earnest, and byends have a powerful influence. Though 
lust be served, yet because it is in the way of religion, men s affec 
tions are much aloft, and they may seem to have great fits and zealous 
pangs in the service of God, and yet all this comes to nothing. 

2. Because they many times rest in externals without internal grace. 
This young man for outward conformity went very far. There is no 
thing for external duties that a child of God doth but a hypocrite may 
do also ; he may pray, preach, confer, hear the word, though not in a 
holy and gracious manner. A painter may paint the external colour of 
fire, but not the internal virtue and heat of it, or the limbs, shape, figure, 
and colour of a man, but the life cannot be painted, there is no counter 
feiting that ; so many men deceive themselves and others by a show of 
religion, and their diligence in external duties, when they are void of 
the truth and power of it ; the power of religion cannot be counter 
feited. Now externals will in time be cast off, where there is not the 
root to feed them. 

3. Because that internal affection which they seem to have to the 
ways of God is not rooted and fixed, only a slight tincture, that may 
easily be worn off : Luke viii. 13, They on the rock are they which, 
when they hear, receive the word with joy, and these have no root which 
for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. At first men 
have some taste, and seem to feel some sweetness in the word, and that 
begets a little affection to it, and that affection begets profession, and 
that profession begets external reformation; so far it is good ; but in time 
they lose their relish and taste, and then their affection is gone and 
dried up, and then their leaf falls, and afterwards run from their pro 
fession into profaneness and a plain distaste of the ways of God. 

4. Their corrupt lusts were only restrained, not mortified and 
weakened, and so it is but like a sore that is skinned over, and festers 
inwardly, and will at length break out again. This is the case of 
many : Luke viii. 14, That which fell among thorns are they which, 
when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches 
and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. Many an 
unsound professor seems to cast the world and their old fashions behind 
their back, yet their hearts are not wholly weaned from them, nor are 
they wholly cast out ; some prevalent lust remains that will make them 
turn back to their old vomit again ; so dangerous it is to have Satan 


only gone out for a while, and not cast out, Luke xi. 24, to have any 
thing wherein to delight besides Christ when we close with him, or to 
have those things which we formerly seemed to slight to seem great 
and lovely again, and bear bulk in our eyes. This point is but reductive 
to this place, therefore I shall not handle it at large. 

Use. It doth press us unto two things to search for a sound work, 
and to watch against declinings. 

1. To search for a true sound work. We have need to shift and 
ransack all the corners of our souls, to see that there be no one reserved 
lust as a seed of our revolt and apostasy from Christ. One leak let 
alone will ruin the ship, so will one lust the soul : Ps. cxix. 133, Order 
my steps in thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. 
Whilst any one sin remains unbroken, all that we do in conformity 
to God will be lost ; and therefore let us search and see, that our love 
to the ways of God be founded in a complete resignation to his use and 
service, and a renouncing of every fleshly interest, if we would constantly 
persevere with Christ. Profession will fail unless there be a good and 
an honest heart to bear it out ; and what is that but a resolution to 
make this our great business and interest, to get the love of God in 
Christ whatever it cost us ? It is not enough to have good offers and 
inclinations ; one idol left in the heart will estrange us from God : 
Ezek. xiv. 4-6, Every man of the house of Israel that settcth up his 
idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity 
before his face, and cometh to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him 
that cometh according to the multitude of his idols ; that I may take 
the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged 
from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, 
Thus saith the Lord God, Eepent and turn yourselves from your idols, 
and turn away your face from all your abominations/ And what is 
prized besides Christ will be soon prized above Christ ; therefore, 
unless the sweetness of his grace makes all the baits of the flesh 
unsavoury to us, we cannot be sound. 

2. To watch against declinings, for we lose ground every day, as a 
thing running down the hill falls lower and lower, if we do not keep up 
a constant relish and savour of good things. When you lose your 
first love, you will leave your first works : Eev. ii. 4, 5, Nevertheless 
I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 
Kemember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do 
thy first works. We see it is very ordinary for new converts to be 
carried on with a great measure of affection and zeal, because of the 
newness of the thing, and the edge upon their affections is not yet 
blunted by change of condition, or multiplicity of business, and the 
Lord restrains furious temptations, till they be a little confirmed and 
engaged in his way, and he has a deeper sense of comfort. Now take 
heed to keep up this, for when this edge is blunted and taken off, a 
man loses ground. Therefore the apostle saith, Heb. iii. 6, Whose 
house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the 
hope firm unto the end. Upon our first acquaintance vyith Christ 
there is a mighty joy of heart, and comfort in the hopes of a pardon 
and of eternal life. Oh ! you must keep up this to the end. If you 
quite lose your savour, you run into total apostasy ; and if you lose it 

YER. 22.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 17 

in part, you grow remiss and lazy. If you have not such delight in 
God, you can read and hear the offers of grace and eternal life without 
any considerable joy and thankfulness, you have not that lively sense 
you were wont to have ; take heed, you are upon decay. 

Doct. 2. That trials bring men forth to the light, and make them 
manifest what they are. 

Here upon the trial the young man is discovered. Who would but 
have thought this young man good till now ? But when he heard Christ s 
terms, he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved/ As lime 
seems cold, and to have no heat and warmth in it, till you pour water upon 
it, then it burns and smokes, so our corrupt affections lie hid till there be 
an occasion to try them. Trials are either extraordinary or ordinary. 
Extraordinary, as that of Abraham : Gen. xxii. 1, And it came to pass 
after these things that God did tempt Abraham ; that is, try him for 
his discovery, by the command for sacrificing of his son, his only son, 
the son whom he loved, the son of the promise. So this young man, 
Christ tries him, sell all. But then God s ordinary trial is in the 
course of his providence or by his word. By his providence, either by 
affliction : Dan. xi. 35, And some of them of understanding shall fall, 
to try them ; 1 Peter i. 7, That the trial of your faith, being much 
more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, 
might be found unto praise ; or some other occasion offered to dis- 
oover either grace or sin, as Joseph was tried by the temptation of his 
mistress. Or by his word, which doth search and try our hearts, when 
it pursueth them within, and folio weth them home to their consciences : 
John vi. 60, * When they heard this, they said, It is a hard saying, 
who can hear it ? They are offended when it toucheth upon a bosom 
sin, pride, sensuality, or covetousness, or unlawful pleasure, they are 
tried by it. 

Again, trial is either for the discovery of grace or corruption, to 
discover the corruption of their hearts or the weakness of their graces. 
So God trieth his people, as he tried Hezekiah : 2 Chron. xxxii. 31, 
Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, 
who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, 
God left him to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. 
So Christ tried his apostles : John vi. 6, * And this he said to prove 
them, for he himself knew what he would do. 


1. It is for good that men should be discovered, the graces of his 
people to their comfort, and their weakness that it may be repaired ; 
as when a man tries a leaky vessel with an intent to make it more 
stanch, and a man that is diseased, by walking and stirring the disease 
appears ; it is better it should be discovered that it might be remedied, 
than to lie hid in the body till it kill us. The hypocrite is tried that 
he may be discovered : Prov. xxvi. 26, His wickedness shall be showed 
before the whole congregation. It is a great part of God s providence 
to uncase hypocrites. It is for the church s good, lest men get a name 
to do religion a mischief; and 

2. It is for the glory of God, that men may appear what they are, 
and for the reclaiming of offenders. Many were likely to have grace, 
if they were discovered to themselves and knew they had no grace. 

VOL. xvir. B 

/ 1 

18 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. IX. 

Trials are ordered by God for this end and purpose. God is wise, and 
knows in what vein to strike. God tries not to inform himself, but 
to discover us to ourselves : Ps. cxxxix. 2, Thou understandest my 
thoughts afar off. God knows not only conclusions and events, but 
the first contrivances, though afar off. As a man in the air may 
see a river in the rise, fountain, and course all at once, so God doth 
see things altogether, but he tries us, that we may be discovered to 
ourselves, and suits the means accordingly. 

Use. Well, then, expect trials, and see to it how you behave your 
selves under them. 

1. Expect trials. Mat. vii., we read of two builders, the one built 
upon the sand, the other on the rock ; when they had built, the tight 
ness of the building was to be tried ; the winds blew, the rain fell, the 
waves did swell and arise ; that that was built on the rock stood, that 
that was built on the sand fell. Whosoever buildeth a confidence for 
heaven must look to have his building tried. Count it not strange 
we are loath to forecasts and to think of trials. You shall see even 
the people of God many times are subject to security when trials are 
nearest. When the shepherd was to be smitten and the sheep scat 
tered, then the disciples were asleep, Mat. xxvi. 40 ; and they were 
dreaming of ease and of dividing kingdoms when the cross was at their 
heels : Acts i. 6, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the king 
dom to Israel ? We promise ourselves perpetual exemption, if we have 
but a little breathing time : Ps. xxx. 6, In my prosperity I said I 
shall never be moved. We take a carnal pillow, and lie down upon 
it, and count it strange when it comes. 

2. Be careful how you acquit yourselves in trials. When the hour 
of temptation is come upon the earth, then we should be cautious : 
Kev. iii, 10, Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also 
will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all 
the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Whatever a man 
doth, he will behave himself well when he is upon his trial. 

Doct. 3. That a man wedded to the world will renounce Christ and 
his commands rather than the world when it comes to a proof. 

When two persons walk together, you cannot tell to whom the 
servant that follows them belongs, but when they part company then 
it is seen ; so when Christ and the world part, then the servant of the 
world and the servant of Christ is seen ; for he that is addicted to the 
world will break all the commands of Christ for the world s sake. It 
must needs be so, for the world diverts the heart from Christ, and sets 
the heart against Christ. 

1. The love of the world diverts the heart from Christ, that there is 
no room for holy things. The heart will be where the treasure is, 
Mat. vi. 21, and so the delight that we should have in heavenly things 
will be intercepted, the stream will be carried another way, the heart 
will be withdrawn from God, whom we should love with all our soul 
and might. Look, as in a pair of balances, what you take out of one 
scale, you make the other so much the more weighty ; just so our souls 
hang like a pair of balances between God and the world ; what you 
give to the world you take from God, and what you give to heavenly 
things you take from the world : Col. iii. 7, Set your affections on 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 19 

things above, not on things of the world. Our desires cannot be 
carried out after heavenly things with any intention unless they be 
remitted to the world. 

2. The love of the world sets the heart against Christ, and carries 
it to contrary things. I shall prove it by three considerations it dis- 
poseth and inclineth the soul to all evil ; it incapacitateth us for the 
doing of any good ; and it hinders us from the receiving any good. 

[1.] It disposeth and inclineth the soul to all evil. It makes a man 
break every command of the law of God : The love of money is the 
root of all evil/ 1 Tim. vi. 10. Let it once reign in the heart, and 
then a man sticks at no sin, and he becomes a ready prey for Satan 
when his heart is intoxicated with the love of present things : Micah 
ii. 2, Covet fields, and take them by violence, and houses, and take 
them away ; so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his 
heritage. First they covet, and then they will stop at nothing, but 
break out into all that is unseemly. Let Judas but enchant his 
thoughts with the pleasure of a supposed gain that he can make of 
his master, and he will soon come with a Quid dabitis f What will 
you give me ? Gehazai, let him but affect a reward, and he will dis 
honour God and lay a stumbling-block in the way of a new and noble 
convert. Let Achan s heart be tickled and pleased a little with the 
sight of it, and he will be purloining the wedge of gold and Babylonish 
garment. Let Balaam hear of gold and silver, and he will curse Israel 
against his conscience, and venture though there be an angel in the 
way to stop them. Ahab will consent to Naboth s blood when his 
vineyard is in the chase. Ananias and Sapphira will keep back part 
of what was dedicated to God, if they look upon what they part 
withal. Simon Magus will deny religion, and return to his old sor 
ceries, that he. may be some great one among the people. So that 
there is no sin so foul but the love of the world will make it plausible, 
and reconcile it to the thoughts of men. 

[2.] It incapacitateth us, and makes us incapable of doing service to 
God in our general and particular calling. 
(1.) In our general calling. 

(1st.) It destroys the principle of obedience, which is the love of God : 
1 John ii. 15, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not 
in him. The great principle which sways and inclines the heart to do 
the will of God is love ; now the love of the world and the love of God 
are contrary and inconsistent. Love anything besides Christ, and you 
will soon love it above Christ. Why ? Because the love of God is a 
stranger and foreigner, the love of the world is a native. 

(2d) It is contrary to the matter of our obedience. The commands 
of God and the commands of mammon are contrary : Mat. vi. 24, No 
man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the 
other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot 
serve God and mammon. God saith, Pity the afflicted, relieve the 
miserable, venture all for a good conscience, seek heaven in the first 
place with your most ardent affection, with your most earnest diligence. 
But now mammon saith, Be sparing of your substance, follow the 
world as hard as you can, stick at nothing, lie, steal, comply with the 
lusts of men, and then you shall be rich. Well, now, he that is ruled 

20 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [&ER. IX. 

by mammon, whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded, that is, 
enchanted with the love of worldly goods, he can never serve God ; 
he loves wealth above all, he trusts it above all, he serves it more 
than God himself ; though his tongue dare not say earth is better than 
heaven, and that the things of this life are better than everlasting 
blessedness, and therefore they shall have more of his heart and care, 
yet his life says it ; he can part with God for the matters of this world. 
In short, it unfits us not only for one duty, but for all duties required 
of us. God s laws are for our respects to God, neighbour, and self; this 
inordinate love of the world denies what is due to God, what is neces 
sary for our neighbour, and what is comfortable for ourselves. A man 
that loves the world is unthankful to God, unmerciful to his neighbour, 
and cruel to himself. 

(3c.) It slights the encouragements of obedience, which are the 
rewards of God, as it weakeneth all our future hopes, and depresseth 
our heart from looking after spiritual and heavenly things. They de 
spise their birthright, Heb. xii. 16, and when they are invited to the 
wedding, Mat. xxii., they prefer their farm, oxen, and merchandise, 
before the rich feast of grace which God invites us to. 

(2.) He that loves the world will break with God in the duties of 
his particular calling for the world s sake. What manner of men 
ought magistrates to be ? Exod. xviii. 21, Such as fear God, men of 
truth, hating covetousness ; not only not covetous, but hating covet- 
ousness ; for let this once possess his heart, it will make him base, and 
act unworthily ; nay, for a piece of bread will that man transgress. 
Then for a minister, what a poor meal-mouthed creature will it make 
him ! One qualification of a minister is, 1 Tim. iii. 3, Not to be greedy 
of filthy lucre. If his heart be set upon that, it makes him sordid, 
low-spirited, flattering and daubing to curry favour with men, more 
intent upon his gain and profit than the saving of souls. See the work 
of a minister : 1 Peter v. 2, Feed the flock of God that is among you, 
taking the oversight thereof, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready 
mind. What a low flat ministry will that be that is inspired with no 
other aim but outward profit ! If that be their inducement to under 
take, and their prime encouragement to discharge the work of their 
calling, how soon will they strain themselves to please men, especially 
great ones, and writhe themselves into all postures to soothe the humours 
and lusts of others ; as Balaam : 2 Peter ii. 15, Who loved the wages 
of unrighteousness, and therefore would fain curse the people whom 
God blessed. This base, powerful, imperious lust will draw men to 
very base and unworthy actions. Saith God, Ezek. xiii. 19, Will ye 
pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and pieces of bread, 
to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls of people 
alive that should not live by your lying to my people that hear your 
lies. That is to say, What ! will you declaim against the good, and 
harden the evil in their evil, and comply with the fashions of the world 
thus to humour men ? So if a man be a master of a family : Prov. xv. 
27, He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house. What a 
burden and trouble will he be to his servants and all about him ! In 
short, it is love of the world that makes one an oppressing landlord, 
another a false tradesman and an ill neighbour, that makes him study 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27, 21 

iniquity of traffic : Ezek. xxviii. 5, By thy great wisdom, and by thy 
traffic hast thou increased thy riches. So that it is the pest and bane 
of human societies. 

[3.] It hinders the receiving of good, and those means of reformation 
that should make us better. A man that is under the power of worldly 
lasts is prejudiced against whatever shall be spoken for God, and for 
the concernments of another world : Luke xvi. 14, The pharisees also, 
who were covetous, heard all these things, and derided him. If the 
word stir us a little, and men begin to have some anxious thoughts 
about eternal life, these thorns, which are the cares of this world, will 
choke the good seed, and stifle our convictions, so as they come to 
nothing : Mat. xiii. 22, He also that receiveth seed among the thorns 
is he that heareth the word, and the cares of this world and the deceit- 
fulness of riches choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. They 
will distract the head with cares, and put out all thoughts of our 
eternal condition. If a man begins to do some outward thing, it will 
make us soon weary of religion and attendance on holy duties, as if all 
time laid out upon God were lost ; and they cry out, When will the 
sabbath be over that we may set forth wheat/ Amos viii. 5. The 
heathens counted the Jews a foolish people, as Seneca saith, because 
they lost a full seventh part of their lives ; he speaks it with respect to 
the sabbath ; so other men are of his mind ; they think all lost that is 
laid out upon God. And it distracts us in duty, and carries away our 
heart : Ezek. xxxiii. 31, They come unto me as the people cometh, 
and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy word, but they 
will not do them ; for with their mouth they show much love, but their 
heart goeth after their covetousness. It interlines our prayers and holy 
services with worldly projects and thoughts ; nay, it turns religion into 
a trade and market. Men live by it ; it makes religion to serve their 
worldly ends ; they make a market of their devotion, as the Shechem- 
ites, for then, say they, their substance and their cattle will be ours. 

Use. To inform us of the evil of worldliness. We need to be set 
right in that, for most men stroke it with a gentle censure. They will 
say, He is a good man, but a little worldly, as if it were no great 
matter to be so ; nay, men are apt to applaud those that are guilty of 
this sin : Ps. x. 3, They bless the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. 
He that by hook and crook gets honour and riches is the only pru 
dent man in their account. If our children are loose, and drunkards, 
and riotous, we are offended, but if we see them worldly, we are not 
troubled. Oh ! it is a foul sin, but the men of the world will not 
believe it. Surely we have too mild thoughts of it, and therefore we do 
not watch and strive against the love of the world : Luke xii. 15, Take 
heed and beware of covetousness. The words are doubled for the more 
vehemency ; he doth not say, Take heed only, but Take heed and 
beware of covetousness. Sins that are more gross and sensual are 
easier discovered, and such a sinner is sooner reclaimed, but this is a 
secret sin that turns away the heart from God. And to make you 
more careful to avoid it, in scripture a covetous man is called an 
idolater, Eph. v. 3, and covetousness is called idolatry, Col. iii. 5 ; and 
is that a small crime ? What ! to set up another god ? Who are you 
that dare to harbour such an evil in your bosoms, and make no great 

22 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. IX. 

matter of it ? Will you dethrone that God which made you, and set up 
the world in his stead ? It is called adultery, James iv. 4 ; it is a breach 
of your conjugal vow. You did promise in your baptism to renounce 
the world, and give up yourselves unto Christ s service, and will you 
cherish such whorish and disloyal affections as will carry you to the crea 
ture instead of God ? Oh ! we cannot think bad enough of such a sin. 

Doct. 4. A carnal worldly man may be sorrowful when he cannot 
win heaven in his own way. 

When he cannot get heaven, and his own will in the world also, as 
this young man was, when he could not be a Christian at a cheaper 
rate. He departed from Christ sad, as loath to miss this felicity, and 
yet loath to pay so dear for it. There is a sorrow that worketh repent 
ance to salvation never to be repented of, 2 Cor. vii. 10 ; but this is 
of another nature ; it makes a wound in the conscience, and doth no 
more. It troubled him much that he had moved this question when 
he did not find Christ s answer according to his desire and expectation ; 
and this is just the disposition of a man that hath a sense of eternity, 
and yet is wedded to his lusts. Fain he would be happy hereafter, 
but will not leave his lusts now ; so they are troubled ; they cannot have 
Christ and the world too. Christ for their consciences, and the world 
for their affections. They love this world, and yet would fain be saved 
in the world to come, and therefore are grieved when they cannot have 
both. On the one side they are troubled with a sense of religion, and 
on the other side with a fear of losing their worldly interests. See a 
like trouble in Herod : Mat. xiv. 9, The king was sorry ; neverthe 
less for his oath s sake, and for them that sat with him at meat, he 
commanded it to be given her. He was loath to put John to death, 
and yet loath to deny her. So Balaam would have the reward, and yet 
loath to go against the express command of God, Num. xxi., xxii. So 
Pilate was loath to condemn Christ against his own conscience. Thus 
shall we be affected till we seek God with our whole hearts. 

This sorrow of the young man will give us some light as to the 
difference between those conflicts that are in a gracious and renewed 
man, and those conflicts that are in the unregenerate. There are con 
flicts in both, yet they differ much. In the unregenerate graceless soul 
the conflict is between conviction and corruption ; conscience wrestles 
with their lusts, and lusts wrestle with conscience, and so men are 
sorrowful upon carnal, not godly reasons ; whereas the conflict in the 
regenerate is in the same faculty, carnal reason against spiritual reason, 
and carnal will against spiritual will, carnal affections against spiritual 
affections ; the battle is fought in every faculty. In the conflict betwixt 
the flesh and spirit in the regenerate, the spiritual part prevails. Herod, 
and Pilate, and Balaam had a conflict, natural conscience did restrain 
them for a while, but at last they yielded ; and here the young man 
yielded, and went away sorrowful. This conflict and sorrow may leave 
u wound in the conscienoe, but it doth not prevail to cause them to 
look after heaven on Christ s own terms. 

The last point is taken from the reason of his heavy and sorrowful 
departure, For he had great possessions. He had them ; is that a 
fault ? Here is no note of crime put upon him as to his getting of them. 
He is not taxed with an insatiable desire of riches, nor with uncon- 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 23 

Bciouable means to get them ; only it is said that he was marvellously 
rich and had great possessions, and therefore he went away sorrowful ; 
so that the point will be this 

Doct. 5. That the disease of worldliness is very incident to great 
persons and men of quality. 

If we have not a mortified heart, the very having an estate may prove 
a snare to us. I observe this, because many please themselves in this, 
that they have not got what they have by extortion or cosenage, or by 
any fraudulent or unlawful means, that their heritage comes to them 
lawfully, in the fair way of providence ; but if they have it, and they 
look not to their hearts, it will enchant them. It is not the means of 
gathering wealth, but the deceitfulness of it, however gathered, that 
chokes the word. The very possession and presence, though it be not 
greedily sought for nor unlawfully purchased, may enchant our minds, 
and render us unapt to obey Christ s commandments. Take three 

1. That it is possible, yea, very likely, that our hearts may be inor 
dinately set upon wealth lawfully gotten ; and therefore God gives us 
that caution : Ps. Ixii. 10, If riches increase, set not your heart upon 
them. Though they should increase by God s providence, yet con 
sider, a man may drink too freely, and be intoxicated with his own 
wine. The mind may be enchanted with a secret delight and desire 
to retain and increase riches lawfully gotten. A man may be a slave 
to his wealth, and loath to part with it upon religious reasons. It ia 
very likely it will be so when men have anything in the world. Saith 
Austin, Nescio quomodo cum superflua et terrena diliguntur, arctius 
adepta quam concupita comprimunt ; nam unde juvenis, iste tristis 
discessit, nisi quia magnas hdbebat divitias ? A liud est enim nova 
mcorporare, quia desunt ; aliudjam incorporata divellere ; ilia enim 
velut cibi repudiantur, ista vero velut membra prceciduntur I do not 
know how it comes to pass, but so it is, there is more danger in pos 
sessing wealth than in getting it ; this young man went away sad, for 
he had great riches ; and it is one thing, saith he, to refuse that we 
have not, another thing to part with what we have : we may refuse 
that we have not, as we do some meats ; but that we have, we are loath 
to part with it, as we are with the members of our bodies. Covetous- 
ness is not to be determined by a greedy thirst only, but also by com 
placency, delight, and acquiescence of soul in worldly enjoyments. 
Though we would not desire more, yet if our hearts be glued to that 
we have already, we are unapt for the kingdom of God ; these are 
torn from us as members. In short, it is the corruption of our hearts 
that we are very prone to affect worldly goods too much, and so much 
the more by how much the more plenty and abundance of them is 
enjoyed. The moon is never in an eclipse but when she is at the 
full ; so when we are at the full these things prevail over us. They 
that have much flax and gunpowder in their houses had need be care 
ful to keep fire from it ; so a Christian, that enjoys a great store of 
wealth, had need look to his heart, that corruption do not meet with 
it ; that aversion from God, and conversion to the creature is so natural 
to us, that when we have great store of the world s goods, we are ready 
to set our hearts too much on them. 

24 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SER. X, 

2. That the gathering of a spiritual disease is very secret and insen 
sible. Bad humours breed in the body, and are not discovered till a 
strain ; much more distempers breed in the soul ere we are aware, 
and therefore the more caution is necessary : Prov. xxx. 9, Give me 
not riches, lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? 
Every man is afraid of want and poverty, but who is afraid of riches ? 
Yet Agur is as much afraid of that as of poverty. Our greatest learn 
ing is to learn how to abound. The worldly-minded judge riches and 
abundance a happy condition : Oh ! blessed is the man, they will say, 
that is in such a case. It is the sum of every man s wish ; but to be 
shy of the world, to suspect danger in plenty, it can never enter into 
their hearts. But alas ! as a rank soil is apt to breed weeds, so many 
snares are incident to this condition and this sort of life. Alas ! they 
that have great and plentiful estates, how apt are they to pamper the 
flesh, to grow forgetful of God, slight in holy things, to be wedded to 
worldly greatness. A corrupt heart will take mischief in every course 
of life, as a drunken man will stumble in the plainest way, but espe 
cially in a plentiful condition. As soon as men have anything in the 
world, their heads are lifted up above their brethren, and they grow 
proud, scornful of God s word, slighting of holy things, and we are 
wholly enchanted with pleasures of such an estate, but consider not the 
snares that secretly are laid for their souls. 

3. There is no means to prevent the danger but by the continual 
exercise of good works, and a prudent carefulness to improve our sub 
stance for God s glory and helpfulness to others. Look, as we clip 
the wings of birds that they may not fly away from us, or as we cut 
off the superfluous boughs of trees that they may not hinder their growth 
and height, so this should be your care, not to join house to house, 
and field to field, for then our desires will swell into so vast an excess 
and proportion, as will not become grace and hopes of heaven. No ; 
but your business should be how you should honour God : Prov. iii. 
9, Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all 
thy increase ; Give alms, and all shall be clean unto you/ Luke xi. 41. 
A man s care should rather be for contracting and cutting short his 
desires, and how to make use of it in order to eternal life. Unless 
there be this constant solicitude upon the heart, it is impossible for a 
rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 


And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly 
shall they that have riches enter into the kngidom of God I 
MARK x. 23. 

You have heard this young man was loath to sell all, and yet loath to 
quit his hopes of eternal life. He did not go away murmuring and 
frowning against Christ, but, because he could not bring both ends 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 25 

together, He went away sad, for he had great possessions/ The 
instance of this young man had raised them all into wonder, and there 
fore when they were full of thoughts about it, our Lord would make 
use of this for the instruction of his disciples. You find our Lord 
edifying his disciples upon all occasions, and improving every occurrence 
for their good. As a wise man passing by the field of the sluggard 
learns wisdom, and hath a sensible discovery of the loss and ill effects 
of idleness and careless indiligence ; so by this young rich man s re 
fusal of Christ s terms, the disciples might know the snares of the 
wealthy, and what a pull-back from Christ the love of the world is. 
Surely they that were sent forth to gain the world need such an instruc 
tion partly that they might be more diligent in warning rich men of 
their danger and duty : 1 Tim. vi. 17, Charge them that are rich in 
this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, 
but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; and 
partly that they might not be offended if their doctrine should be 
despised by men of that rank and order. The rich and full-fed world 
lings were likely to despise the doctrine of a crucified Saviour and 
oppose his worshippers : James ii. 6, 7, But ye have despised the 
poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment 
seats ? Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are 
called ? Now they are forearmed against this contempt by seeing 
Christ hinself refused by a rich man. And partly for themselves, that, 
laying aside all thoughts of worldly greatness, they might the better 
bear their own poverty, riches being such a hindrance and impediment 
to the kingdom of God ; for they were leavened with the conceit of a 
carnal Messiah, that they should be mighty men in the world, and 
until the Spirit was poured out they had this conceit ; for these and 
such like reasons, Jesus looked round about him, and saith to his dis 
ciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom 
of God 1 In this verse we have 

1. Christ s gesture, And Jesus looked round about him, Trept/SXeTfrd- 
/Ltei/o?, the gesture of one that is to speak or do some notable thing : 
Luke vi. 10, And looking round about upon them all, he said unto 
the man, Stretch forth thy hand. So here he looked round about to 
every one of them, to see how they entertained this passage and occur 
rence of providence, and to stir up their attention, and to cause them 
to be affected with it as a matter of some great weight and moment, 
that, when this moral, sweet-natured, forward young man came with 
such respect, kneeling to him, and asking him such a question, and 
went away sad, Jesus looked round about, as if he had said, How do 
you entertain this ? 

2. Here is Christ s speech, He saith to his disciples, How hardly 
shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. I will take 
notice of the matter and the form. 

[1.] The matter, where the persons spoken of, They that have riches. 
The privilege denied, entering into the kingdom of God. 

[2.] The form. It is by way of question, How hardly ? he would 
appeal to them. See now what the love of the world did. They were 
leavened with it, and thought of great offices in the kingdom of the 
Messiah ; but how hard is it for a rich man to enter into the kingdom 

26 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. X. 

of heaven. How hard ? It is (1.) Questio adnrirantis. It is pro 
pounded in the form of an admiring question. (2.) It is questio do- 
lentis, of one that bewails the corruption of human nature, that men 
should turn God s good gifts and blessings into a snare. Alas ! How 
hard ! &c. 

For the matter, there is not an utter impossibility, but a very great 
difficulty. It is spoken of such men as have riches only ; and Christ 
explains himself in the next verse, Children, how hard is it for them 
that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God ! It doth not 
lessen the wonder, but increase it, for then they were astonished out 
of measure among themselves, saying, Who can be saved ? 

By the kingdom of God is meant the kingdom of grace, or the 
kingdom of glory. How hardly do they submit to the doctrine of 
Christ, or enter into the kingdom of grace here ! Or how hardly are 
they made partakers of his glory in the kingdom of heaven hereafter ! 

Doct. It is a very hard matter for such as abound in worldly wealth 
to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

1. I shall explain the point by the circumstances of the text. 

2. Show whence the difficulty doth arise. 

3. Make application. 

I. To explain the point by the circumstances of the text. And 

1. The persons spoken of, They that have riches. The very having 
layeth us open to a snare. It is true Christ explains himself in the 
next verse, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to 
enter into the kingdom of God ! The plain sense of the words is this, 
It is hard to have them and not trust in them. The disciples were 
astonished at his words when he said, How hardly shall they that 
have riches, &c. ; but when he said, How hard is it for them that 
trust in riches, &c., they were astonished out of measure. And we see 
Agur, when he prays to God, not only deprecates the sin, but the estate, 
Give me not riches, lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the 
Lord ? Prov. xxx. 8, 9. James ii. 6, Do not rich men oppress you, 
and draw you before the judgment-seats ? He doth not say, Do not 
wicked rich men oppress you ? but simply rich men. As a fat and 
fertile ground produceth weeds, if it be not carefully tilled and planted 
with better seed, so do riches usually prove a temptation to us. 

But you will say, Why doth he speak so hardly against one order 
and sort of men whom God hath set up in the world ? Are not riches 
in themselves God s blessings ? Prov. x. 22, The blessing of the Lord 
maketh rich ; and are they not promised to his people ? Ps. cxii. 3, 
Wealth and riches shall be in his house ; and accordingly are bestowed 
upon them. For we read of Abraham, Gen. xxiv. 25, The Lord hath 
blessed my master greatly, and he is become exceeding great ; saith 
Eliezer. So was Job, chap. i. 3, The greatest of all the men of the 
East. So David, Solomon, and Lazarus of Bethany, Joseph of Arima- 
thea, and others ; and therefore is it not to calumniate our Master s 
bounty to say, that the very having of riches is an impediment to us 
in our heavenly pursuits, and a snare to us ? I answer No. 

[1.] The fault is not in riches, but in our abuse of them : 2 Peter 
i. 4, The corruption that is in the world through lust. It is your 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 27 

unmortified corruption that spoils all, not wealth in itself. The poison 
is not in the flower, but in the spider. The carnal disposition which 
remains in us maketh us ready to drown our mind, our time and affec 
tions, our life and love in the world, and the cares and pleasures thereof, 
and so they are ensnared thereby, and hindered from looking after 
heavenly happiness. Eiches are an advantage of doing liberal, magni 
ficent things, if they be used well ; and to blame riches simply, were 
to blame him that made them, and distributeth them according to his 
will, as if he did bait his hook with seeming blessings, and did set 
golden snares to entangle the souls of men. The goods of this world 
are profitable to them that can make a good use of them, as giving 
them the means of being more God-like, and more useful in their 
places ; for certainly it is more blessed to give than to receive, Acts 
x. 35. They do not make us corrupt, or put corruption into us, but 
only discover the corruption that is there already ; as when we fill a 
leaky vessel, the unsoundness of it is seen, as soon as it is filled it begins 
to run out. Our corruptions are drawn out by these things, and plainly 
discovered to the world, when the fault is not in the riches, but in the 

[2.] When wealth is spoken of as an estate full of spiritual danger, 
it is rather to check our desires of it than to lessen God s bounty, as if 
there were no obligation upon us by those temporal blessings. If we 
covet and seek great things for ourselves, we do but run into the 
mouth of temptation : 1 Tim. vi. 9, They that will be rich fall into 
temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which 
drown men in destruction and perdition/ We are to bless God for his 
bounty, but we are to guard our own hearts, and contract our desires 
before the will of God is declared. When we ask riches, we know not 
what we ask. Do not aim at great things for yourselves in the world. 

[3.] Wealth, considered not as sought by us, but as given by God, 
needeth peculiar and special grace to improve it, because we must not 
only look to the manner of acquisition, but to the manner of fruition. 
It is true we have honestly acquired it, it comes to us fairly, but then 
we must see how we enjoy it. Some are rich because they are wicked, 
having gotten their wealth by unjust and indirect means ; but others 
are wicked because they are rich, being corrupted by the enjoyment of 
them. There are some gifts of God that are absolute bona, so abso 
lutely good that they can never be evil, such things do certainly make 
the owner, or him that possesseth them, good too ; as the graces of 
the Spirit, faith in Christ, the love of God, fear of his name ; but one 
may be rich, but yet never the better. Nay, consider man in statu 
lapso, fallen from God to the creature : he is easily made worse, and 
usually is too, and that by the good things he doth enjoy, if the Lord 
doth not vouchsafe to him his grace. 

[4.] I answer again When temporal blessings follow eternal, then 
it is well, as wisdom with an inheritance is good ; and Solomon asked 
wisdom, and with it God gave him riches and honour in great abun 
dance ; but where they are given singly and apart, so they are given 
to God s enemies. Elijah was poor, and Ahab rich ; Paul, that holy 
man, was in prison, and bound with a chain, and Nero at the same time 
emperor of the world. God hath gifts for all his creatures : some in 

28 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SER. X. 

one way, some in another, shall find him a good God. Jesus Christ, 
that gave his Holy Spirit to the best of the apostles, gave the bag to 
Judas. Nay, Jesus Christ himself, that had the Spirit without measure, 
chose a poor estate. He that made a fish to pay him tribute could as 
well have made men to do so ; he that multiplied a few loaves could 
have increased his stock; he that made the world could have buift 
himself a stately palace ; but when he was rich, yet for our sakes he 
became poor, 2 Cor. viii. 9, that he might sanctify holy poverty in his 
own person, and honour it by his own example ; and usually he cuts 
his children short, while wicked men live in* plenty. Therefore they 
that merely have riches, that is, that have it apart from grace, are in a 
worse condition than those that are kept low and bare. As a child 
may be dieted for its health, while a servant is left to a free allowance, 
so God knows our weakness ; and they understand nothing in divinity 
that do not know this, that God works congruously, and will not only 
give strength, but will also abate the temptation itself, and not suffer 
us to have overmuch in the world, lest it should become a snare to us. 
So much for the persons spoken of, They that have riches. 

2. The privilege in debate, that which is denied or hardly vouch 
safed to them is, Entering into the kingdom of God/ By which is 

[1.] The kingdom of grace ; and so the meaning is, they are in 
capable of the doctrine of Christ, as the thorny ground was of the good 
seed. Now what are they that answer to the thorny ground ? They 
that are choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, 
Luke viii. 14 ; that is, the heart wherein Christianity cannot enter with 
any good effect and success : these choke and destroy many hopeful 
seeds of grace, which would otherwise spring forth in a lively diligence, 
and earnest pursuit of that one thing necessary. And this may be the 
meaning of How hardly do they enter ! viz., the great difficulty of 
rich men s becoming the disciples of Christ ; and the truth is, at the 
first setting forth of the gospel, it was verified by plain experience, for 
it is said, Mat. xi. 5, among other miracles which Christ wrought, he 
tells us the poor have the gospel preached unto them ; it is Trreo^ot 
evasyye\iovTai, they are all to be gospelled ; and ov vroXXot, Not many 
wise men after the flesh, nor many mighty, nor many noble are called, 
1 Cor. i. 26 ; not many of that order and rank. 

[2.] Entering into the kingdom of God may be expounded of being 
made partakers of his glory in the kingdom of heaven ; this follows 
necessarily upon the former, for if they are incapable of grace, they are 
incapable of glory. And this is true too : James ii. 5, Hath not God 
chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom ? 
And this was such a truth that even the scoffers and opposers of the 
Christian religion took notice of it, Julian the apostate, in his epistle 
to Ecebolius, speaking scoffingly of those passages, saith, I have taken 
away from these Galileans some of their wealth, that they might not be 
deprived of the heavenly kingdom which their master promised them. 

3. The thing spoken of these persons with respect to that pri 
vilege ; there the form, TTW?, How : it is QavpdcniKov 7ripptjfj,a, saith 
Hesichius, a form of admiration ; and the matter, How hardly ! It 
is not an utter impossibility, but a very great difficulty. All men are 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 29 

saved with difficulty : If the righteous scarcely are saved, 1 Peter. 
iv. 18. It is no easy matter, but it is more difficult for them than 
others. It is passionately, expressed, Oh, how hardly ! it is the 
greatest difficulty imaginable, such as made the disciples wonder: 
They were astonished at his words, ver. 24. Afterwards it is set forth 
by the proverb of a camel passing through the eye of a needle, ver. 25. 
Many foolish conceits men have about this, whereas in truth it is 
nothing but a Jewish proverb, to show it is a very unusual thing, of extra 
ordinary difficulty, not to be removed but by the almighty power of 
God, but with God all things are possible, ver. 27. Not that riches 
are evil in themselves, but that it is hard for such creatures as we to 
possess them without sinful and inordinate affections. 

4. Consider who it is that speaks it. Alas ! if it had been the say 
ing of any private divine or particular minister, we might tax it as 
rash and rigorous ; but the mouth of truth itself hath spoken it, even 
Jesus Christ, whom we own as our Lord and Master. He knew the 
way of salvation, and knew the state and danger of souls, and he hath 
interposed his authority, and represents the difficulty. It is Jesus 
Christ, that had so much wisdom to judge aright of matters, Jesus 
Christ, that had so much regard to the comfort and happiness of men, 
that he would not fright them with a needless danger ; and therefore 
certainly you should take such an admonition to heart from the mouth 
of him whom you call your Lord and master, and from whom at last 
you expect your doom and judgment ; he hath said it. If any wise 
man had said it from the experience of almost all ages and persons, 
you ought to have regarded it ; but when our Lord hath said it, he 
who is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, why should we not 
believe him ? I pray what do you think of Christ ? Was not he 
able to judge of the case ? It was the saying of Plato, ayaOov elvat 
SicupepovTcos, Kal TTJOVCTCOV elvat Siafapovrcos dSvvarov It is impos 
sible to be excellently good and eminently rich ; therefore Celsus, a 
heathen who sought all occasions to disgrace the gospel, saith that 
Christ borrowed this saying of Plato, but he is confuted by Origen in 
his book against him. This proud heathen was sensible there was 
wisdom in the speech, therefore he would deprive Christ of the honour 
of it. But now since we believe the doctrine of Christ, and own it as 
the speech of Christ, who is our Lord and master, therefore it should 
more sink into our hearts. Thus for the explanation of the point, 
from the circumstances of the text. 

II. Let us see whence this difficulty doth arise ? I answer Because 
of the sins to which a wealthy estate doth expose us. 

1. Riches are apt to breed atheism and contempt of God. They 
that are wholly drowned in pleasures of sense do not look into the in 
visible world, and see God which is the Father of spirits : Prov. xxx. 
9, Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? There 
is a practical atheism when men forget or despise God, and a specu 
lative atheism when they deny God. Now the rich are apt to do both. 
A man that tumbles in wealth, ease, and plenty is apt to forget and 
despise God : But Jesurun waxed fat, and kicked ; thou art waxen 
fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness, then he for 
sook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his snlva- 

30 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. X. 

tion, Deut. xxxii. 15. Nay, in some sort they deny God ; they live 
as if there were no God at all, none to call them to account. Men that 
have seen no changes, and were never humhled under God s mighty 
hand, never think of an invisible power. I remember the psalmist 
saith, Ps. Iv. 19, Because they have no changes, therefore they fear 
not God ; they have not an awe or reverence, or due sense of a divine 
power upon their hearts, because they never have been acquainted 
with changes ; the condition they have lived in hath been a constant 
tenure of worldly happiness. So Zeph. i. 12, They are settled upon 
their lees ; that is, are not tossed from vessel to vessel, as wine that 
is racked. They live in an even course of worldly prosperity, and in 
abundance of worldly comforts, without a, change, and this chokes and 

Sluts the heart, that they have no sense of the Lord s goodness, 
hanges do more awaken us, and make us look to God, as the foun 
tain of good and evil. Istce vices magis in nobis excitant sensum divines 
bonitatis, quam continuus tenor falicitatis, qui nos inebriat. In short, 
the pleasures and thoughts of the world do so take up their hearts, 
that there is no place for any serious thought and solemn remembrance 
of God, such as should beget an awe in us. It is said, Isa. v. 12, 
The harp and the viol, and tabret and pipe, and wine are in their 
feasts ; but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the 
operation of his hands. Thoughts of God are suppressed as soon as 
they do arise, and they take no notice of the work of God s hands, nor 
what he doth in their days to revive the sense of his eternal power and 
Godhead ; nor do they take their comforts out of God s hands, but 
look altogether to natural and to second causes, as being sufficient to 
themselves, to live of themselves. Indeed, they may seem in opinion 
to own a God, as others do ; they take up the current opinions, and 
perform customary worship, but they do not glorify him as God, or 
repair to him with that life and fervency as those that stand in need 
of him, nor consecrate their best time, and strength, and affections to 
his service. It is usually the broken-hearted godly poor, and those 
that have had frequent experiences of the changes of providence, that 
exercise themselves to godliness, and seek after God in good earnest. 
The great landlord of the world hath more rent from many poor cot 
tages than from divers great palaces, for they wallow in plenty, and 
never think of God. 

2. Kiches keep men from being broken-hearted and seeing their 
need of Christ. It is the poor needy soul, sensible of its own sin and 
misery, that is likely to thrive in religion, and prosper in any heavenly 
design and pursuit. Now those that are rich have so many entertain 
ments of sense to inveigle their minds and divert their thoughts, and 
are so besotted and enchanted with present delights and pleasures, that 
they have no feeling of their condition, or sense of the necessity of 
God s grace ; therefore it is our Lord begins his description of blessed 
ness : Mat. v. 3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the king 
dom of heaven. How few of them that are rich in estate are poor in 
spirit ! The sense of their present ease and welfare makes them for 
get all thoughts of their spiritual condition, and reconciling themselves 
to God by Christ. The prodigal never thought of going to his father 
till he began to be in want, Luke xv. 17, 18. While men have any- 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 31 

thing in the world, they are senseless and secure in the midst of all 
their sin and misery ; and if they can live without God and apart from 
God, they will not come at him : Jer. ii. 31, Wherefore say my 
people, We are lords, we will come no more unto thee ? As if this 
merry world would always last, and there were no judgment to come, 
and God would never bring them into his presence, but they live a 
life of estrangement from God ; they can live upon themselves, and 
their own supplies, and things that fall to them by the bounty of God s 

3. Suppose these worldly rich men should take to the serious pro 
fession of religion, as some of them do, and so mask and varnish over 
a heart wholly wedded to the world and worldly things with some kind 
of form and garb of religion, and it may be the strictest too, yet they 
can never walk worthy of it, nor hold and maintain it with any power 
and vigour : They are enemies to the cross of Christ ; and why ? 
They mind earthly things, Phil. iii. 18, 19. Christ speaks of selling 
and forsaking all, and they are for getting and taking all into their own 
hands. Now it is more difficult for them that have anything in the 
world to comply with Christ s commands. Surely they that live in a 
lower condition have less temptations. The young man here went 
away sad, For he had great possessions. I shall mention a story of 
a soldier of Antigonus, which is well known, because it helps to set 
forth what we have now in hand. This person had a very loathsome 
disease upon him, which made his soul desire to be divorced from his 
body, and then none so ready and forward to venture himself in all 
battles as he, and when the general, admiring his valour, got him to 
be cured, then he, that had been so prodigal of his life before, was as 
shy, tender, and wary of it as others ; when he had a life worth the 
keeping, he was loath to venture and expose it to danger. I apply it 
to this purpose. It may be when the world disappoints thee thou art 
ready to venture thy little all for Christianity, but if anything may 
make the world sweet to thee, none so sparing, so afraid and ashamed 
to own Christ as they. Certainly it conduceth much to the safety of 
grace to have the temptation removed, as well as to have the lust 
abated : Rebus in angustis facile est contemnere vitam He that hath 
little can soon part with it, whereas riches expose to apostasy : 2 Tim. 
iv. 10, Demas hath forsaken us, having loved this present world. 

4. It maketh men apt to take up their rest here, and to sit down 
satisfied with the world as their chiefest good, without any earnest 
longing for or looking after a better estate : Ps. xvii. 14, From men 
of the world, which have their portion in this life ; small hope or 
desire of the pleasures of another world ; they will have their heaven 
here, and therefore How hardly shall they enter into the kingdom of 
heaven. The Lord will not remove us a deliciis ad delicias,^ from 
Delilah s lap to Abraham s bosom, from carnal to spiritual delights ; 
and the truth is they have no mind to be removed : James v. 5, Ye 
have lived in pleasure on the earth and been wanton. Here we are 
in a place of exile, banishment, separation from God, where God doth 
not exhibit himself in that latitude which he doth in the other world, 
and yet here they seek their felicity : Luke vi. 24, Woe unto you that 
are rich, for you have received your consolation. God requires of us 

32 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SER. X. 

contentation, and allows us a temperate use, and holy delight in the 
blessings of his providence, but we are not to take our whole comfort 
here (for that is meant by our consolation), and sit down drunk with 
temporal happiness, that will make us mindless of those other things 
offered to us in the gospel, and kept for us in the world to come. 

5. They are apt to wax proud and scornful, and impatient of reproof, 
and so grow licentious, and lose the benefit of the remedies that might 
reclaim them from their errors : 1 Tim. vi. 17, Charge them that are 
rich in this world, that they be not high-minded. I interpret it of 
this sort of pride, when men grow scornful of admonition, licentious in 
sin, and hate reproof. All pride is incident to riches, but especially 
this pride ; for as soon as a man hath anything about him, he begins 
to speak higher, and look higher, and fare higher, and to display the 
ensigns of his vanity in his apparel ; but chiefly his heart is higher, 
and so grows impatient of check, and so cannot bear the means God 
hath appointed to warn him of his danger and duty. They think we 
are too bold thus to deal with them and speak to them. It is observed 
of beasts, that they never grow fierce but when they are in good plight ; 
so usually men when they are full, grow scornful and fierce, and cannot 
endure to hear the mind of God powerfully and plainly set forth. 
Great men have great spirits, and they will not stoop to such base and 
mean persons as the messengers of Christ : Jer. v. 5, I will get me to 
the great men, and will speak unto them, &c., but they have altogether 
broken the yoke and burst the bonds ; Jer. xiii. 15, Hear ye, and 
give ear, be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken. Men are high and 
scornful, and if they have anything to bear them out in contempt of 
the Lord s message, they set themselves to oppose Christ and his 
interest, and dash against the corner-stone, though they are broken in 
pieces. They are the great and yokeless men of the world that will 
come under no rule, and no awe of Christianity. 

6. They are wanton and sensual, and so must needs be careless of 
heaven and heavenly things : partly as sensuality brings a brawn and 
deadness upon the heart, and takes off all sense and feeling and 
savouriness of spirit: Hosea iv. 11, Whoredom and wine and new 
wine take away the heart; that is, infatuate men, and make them of 
such a base brutish spirit, that they are incapable of sound reasoning, 
or of entertaining the doctrine of godliness : 1 Tim v. 6, She that 
liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. A life of pleasure brings 
on a strange deadness and infatuation upon the soul, partly as sen 
suality engrosseth the time, and causeth us to waste those precious hours 
in which we should make provision for eternity ; to eat, drink, and be 
merry, and knit one carnal pleasure to another, and so leaves no room 
for any serious sober thoughts of God, Christ, and the world to come, 
and necessity of regeneration and taking the way of holiness : Luke 
xii. 19, I will say to my soul, Soul, thoti hast much goods laid up for 
many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. And partly 
as sensuality doth strengthen our enemy. The greatest enemy we have 
is the flesh, and the more we please it, the more we set back our 
salvation. Now when men nourish their heart, and strengthen their 
corruptions, how can they be overcome by the power of the Lord s 
grace? James v. 5, Ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 33 

slaughter. They add fuel to their lusts, and make corrupt nature 
more active and stirring than otherwise it would be. Now rich men 
are very sensual and apt to please the flesh ; yea, they can hardly avoid 
it in the plenty of accommodations they enjoy, as scripture and experi 
ence witnesseth. Sodom was a pleasant and fruitful place, and was as 
the garden of God. What were the sins of that place ? Pride, ful 
ness of bread, and abundance of idleness/ Ezek. xvi. 49 ; and that 
fulness did dispumare in libidinem, as Tertullian saith, issue out into 
monstrous lusts. Alas ! where there is such a glut of worldly things, 
what hope is there to prevail, and bring men under the power of strict 
religion and that holiness Christ calls for. Men grow excessive in 
their pleasure, and they refresh not their labours with some kind of 
.pleasure (for that God hath .allowed), but they refresh one pleasure 
with another, and so set up the flesh in God s stead : Their god is 
their belly/ Phil. iii. 19, and they are Lovers of pleasure more than 
lovers of God/ 1 Tim. iii. 4. Men think sensuality no sin in those that 
are rich. Indeed greedy getting or griping to raise an estate the world 
will condemn. Oh ! but when a man lives plentifully, and is at heart s 
ease, without considering whether he nourish a temptation or no, the 
world takes no notice of that : Ps. xlix. 18, While he lived, he blessed 
his soul ; and men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself ; 
that is, when thou spendest freely upon carnal satisfactions, that is 
accounted more honourable. Nay, and they themselves do applaud 
themselves in this course, and think because their estates will bear it, 
therefore they may indulge their carnal desires. Oh! do not think so. 
You are to consider things with respect to eternity and the world to 
come. Plenty will be no excuse. You would be angry with your 
cook if he should make your meat too salt because he had store of salt 
by him ; so may God be angry with you, if you have plenty, such as 
would refresh the hungry, and supply the needy, and you altogether 
lay it out upon pomp and pleasure, above what your estates and what 
your bodies will bear, but chiefly what your souls will bear ; for you 
should keep up the welfare of your souls, and be ready and free towards 
God. Do you think you were made only for idleness and pleasure, and 
others must glorify God only by labour and service ? The rich glutton 
was cast into hell ; here was no oppression, but he fared deliciously 
every day/ and sucked out the sweetness of his wealth, and the indict 
ment that is brought against him is this: Luke xvi. 25, Son, remem 
ber that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things/ A slavery to 
pleasures will make the hardship and duties of religion intolerable. 
You are brought into bondage and under the power of these things, 
and then you cannot leave them that you may attend upon the good of 
your souls and upon the things that relate to eternity : 1 Cor. vi. 12, 
All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the 
power of any. 

7. The more rich, the more wedded we are to the world ; for cres- 
centem sequitur cura pecuniam ; usually the more we have, our desires 
are increased to get more : Eccles. v. 10, He that loveth silver shall not 
be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase/ 
Men when they are low are modest ; food and raiment is enough, and 
they receive it with great thankfulness ; but if they had a little more 


34 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. X. 

in the world, then they should serve God without distraction, and if 
they had such a proportion they would care for no more ; but if those 
desires be granted, they find themselves entangled, and their hearts 
deceived, and still they must have more and more, until they settle 
into a worldly course. As a river, the greater it grows by receiving of 
little brooks, the wider and deeper still it wears the channel, so out 
ward things, the more they increase, the more they enlarge desires. 
Men would be a little higher in the world, a little better accommodated ; 
and when they have that, they would have a little more, and still a 
little more, and so keep joining house to house, and field to field, till 
there be no place that they may be placed alone in the midst of the 
earth, Isa. v. 8. They would seize upon all things within their grasp 
and reach. As fire increaseth with new fuel, so this burning desire 
doth increase on their hands ; whereas we should still take thankfully 
what God vouchsafeth to us, without those vast cravings and desires, 
and look after no more than will serve us in our passage to heaven. 
Mariners freighted for a near haven will not victual for a long voyage. 
Magno viatico breve Her non instruitur Time is short, 1 Cor. vii. 29. 
Thus there is very great difficulty with respect to the sins that are 
incident to a plentiful estate, and grow upon us insensibly. 

Use 1. This doctrine showeth us how contented we should be with 
a mean condition, if God reduce us thereunto. We can hardly be 
poorer than Christ and his apostles, and shall we murmur ? Many 
have more than they had, take them altogether, and yet think then: 
condition hard and strait : 1 Tim. vi. 8, And having food and raiment, 
let us be therewith content. God hath freed thee from those snares 
and occasions of sin which others are subject unto, and so thy way to 
heaven is made more easy. Certainly they that do indeed intend the 
kingdom of heaven would not desire a more difficult passage ; therefore 
be content with a mean estate, though you have no more than neces 
saries. Contract your desires, and your trouble will be lessened. The 
Israelites said to the king of Edom, Let us go through your land in 
peace ; but the cravings of carnal men are endless, They enlarge 
their desire as hell, Hab. ii. 5. Not to be content with our lot and 
portion, especially when it is competent, is a great sin. When you 
hunt after more, what do you but increase your temptations, and 
multiply your snares ? You load yourselves with clay, Hab. ii. 6 ; 
base riches which pollute you, thorns which make your condition more 
uneasy. And when will there be an end of these desires ? Lust will 
grow with the possession ; the more wood you put on, the more the fire 
increaseth. Therefore, rather bring your minds to your estates than 
your estates to your minds ; if you be not content with what you have 
now, you will never be contented hereafter ; a greater estate will not do 
it, if grace do not do it ; as in some diseases, non opus habent imple- 
tione, sed purgatione, there is more need of purging than filling; a 
man is still hungry though he hath eaten enough, and still thirsty 
though he hath drunk enough. The way is, not to increase our sub 
stance, but to moderate our desires. 

Use 2. It teacheth us patience and comfort under loss of goods. We 
should possess the things of this world as if we possessed them not, and 
therefore when God taketh away our plenty, we should mourn as if we 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 35 

mourned not. You may find gain in this loss, and profit in this trial. 
The Lord seeth fit many times to take away the fuel of our pride and 
other lusts, to draw us to seek better treasure in heaven, the purchase 
whereof is certain, the possession firm, and the price incomprehensible. 
The Lord will keep you aloof from temptations ; he knows that if you 
were rich, you would grow sensual, insolent, and negligent of spiritual 
things. God knoweth what condition is best for you ; you should have 
a greater account to make ; he expecteth from others charity, from you 
patience. Besides, says Job, chap i. 21, The Lord gave, and the Lord 
hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord. Some think it is 
the greatest misery to have been sometimes happy, but that is through 
corruption, when former enjoyments make men more nice, delicate, and 
tender, aiid so less able to bear the present cross. But if we consider 
rightly, the less we have been afflicted, the less are our afflictions on 
that behalf. Is it nothing that God hath given us to pass over some of 
our days with peace and comfort ? should we be so unthankful as to 
account that no benefit because it is past ? Job ii. 10, What ! shall 
we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil ? 
is not what you have received a pledge of what he can do for the 
future ? 

Use 3. To the rich, to show them what need they have of special 
grace to manage that condition aright. It would seem a hard censure 
upon this sort and order of men, yet it is a truth, and spoken by him 
who is truth itself. It concerneth you to look after special grace more 
than others ; your danger is great, and your difficulties in order to 
eternal life not a few. You need peculiar grace 

1. To prevent the evils and to heal those diseases that are incident 
to riches ; as contempt of God. We are apt to neglect and despise 
him when our necessities do not drive us to him, such is the pravity 
of our natures: Hosea v. 15, In their affliction they will seek me 
early. Make God your refuge and he will be your habitation : Ps. xci. 
9, Because thou hast made the Lord thy refuge, even the Most High 
thy habitation. Neglect of Christ and salvation by him ; they that 
have an happiness in their hands already see no want in their condi 
tion : The whole need not a physician. Take heed of being heart- 
whole, then you will have no relish for the gospel. It disposeth to 
apostasy ; you have something of value which you must esteem as 
nothing for Christ. It maketh us neglect heaven : Ps. iv. 6, 7. There 
be many that say, Who will show us any good ? Lord, lift thou up 
the light of thy countenance upon us : thou hast put gladness in my 
heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. 
An estate without God is not good. Lord, let me not have my all 
here, for these things must be left. It maketh you proud and scornful ; 
remember there are the true riches, without which a person is but vile. 
He is most honourable before God that hath most grace. The value 
of men is otherwise in the world to come than in the present world. 
Your humility is your crown. It makes you to be more sensual. 
Wealth is the pander of pleasure, the purveyor for the flesh, but it 
should not be thus. There is more cause of fear than rejoicing : Gal. 
vi. 8, He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. 
It makes us worldly, as chains to detain us under the power of Satan, 

36 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27, [SfiR. XL 

and enslave us to the world. It doth but betray you into mischief. 
Do you desire your way to heaven should be made more hard, that is 
hard enough already? 

2. That you might devote your riches to the Lord, and be holy and 
heavenly in the midst of so great temptations ; that you may not by 
momentary and temporal things forfeit eternal, but rather further 
them: Luke xii. 21, So is he that layeth up treasures for himself, and 
is not rich towards God; 1 Tim. vi. 18, 19, That they be rich in 
good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in 
store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that 
they may lay hold of eternal life/ Wealth rightly employed makes 
us capable of a greater reward hereafter, as it makes us more useful 


And the disciples tvere astonished at his words. But Jesus answered 
again, and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that 
trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God I MARK x. 24. 

IN these words you have two things 

1. The entertainment which the disciples gave to his former speech, 
They were astonished at his words. 

2. Christ s further explication of himself, But Jesus answered again, 
and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in 
riches to enter into the kingdom of God ! Wherein observe 

[1.] The manner of our Saviour s speaking, in that kind compella- 
tion, Children/ 

[2.] The matter of the explication, How hard is it for them that 
trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God ! 

1. For the entertainment which the disciples gave to his former 
speech, They were astonished at his words/ This astonishment was 
caused either by the legal dispensation under which obedience was 
rewarded with visible and temporal blessings, and therefore they mar 
velled that rich men should find such difficulty of entering into heaven; 
or else it was occasioned by the Jewish expectation of a pompous 
Messiah; wherewith the disciples themselves were leavened, expecting 
to share of the honours and riches of that kingdom which Christ 
would set up. Now Christ s answer was quite blank contrary to these 
carnal hopes, therefore they marvelled. Or it may be upon the com 
mon reason that the gates of heaven should be shut to them to whom 
the gates of the world do always lie open. Thus hardly are good men 
brought to disesteem worldly things, and rightly to ponder and weigh 
the doctrine of the cross, which Christ had so frequently taught them. 

2. For Christ s explication ; and there 

[1.] The compilation, re/era, Children ; so he bespeaks them who 

VKR. 24.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 37 

were sincere for the main, though a little leavened with carnal conceits, 
and to sweeten the doctrine which seemed so contrary to their humour : 
1 Thes. ii. 11, As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and 
charged every one of you, as a father doth his children/ Novices and 
weak ones are to be used with all indulgence, for they had not received 
the Spirit in that plentiful measure as afterward. 

[2.] The matter of his explication, How hard is it for them that 
trust in riches, &c. He had said before, How hardly do they that 
have riches ; now he explains himself, they that trust in riches. He 
instanceth in this 

(1.) As one common disease of rich men, as soon as they have any 
thing in the world, they are apt to trust in it. Some abuse riches one 
way, some another ; some to increase their worldly cares and desire of 
having, others to feed their pride and sensuality ; this way, or that 
way, according to their different temper and constitution of body and 
soul, but they all agree in this, both the muckworm and the epicure, 
that they trust in riches. 

(2.) He instanceth in this trust rather than love of riches, not how 
hard is it for them that love riches, but how hard is it for them that 
trust in riches, because this is more, and doth more express the disposi 
tion of worldly men. We love many things in which we do not put 
our trust, but we put our trust in nothing but what we love. A 
glutton loves his belly-cheer, but he doth not trust in it, as thinking to 
be protected by it, as the covetous doth by his estate ; and therefore 
though he make his belly his god, or his chief good, and last end, yet 
he doth not make it the first cause and fountain of his happiness. But 
now this gives all the titles and privileges of God to wealth. Trust 
makes wealth to be the first cause, the chief good, and the last end. 
Well, then, for these two reasons doth Christ instance in this one sin, 
as being a common disease and cause of all the rest, or implying 
them at least. This young man, who went away sorrowful from Christ, 
thought he should be despised, and grow necessitous if he should for 
sake all upon the command of Christ ; he made his riches to be the 
fountain of his hope and confidence ; and therefore dot\ Christ say, 
How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom 
of God! 

Doct. That rich men are very prone and apt to put their confidence 
in riches, and so thereby render themselves incapable of the kingdom 
of God. 

In the handling this point I shall (1.) Show there is such a sin as 
trusting in riches ; (2.) The heinousness and evil of it ; (3.) The signs 
and discoveries of it ; (4.) The remedies. 

I. That there is such a sin, and that a very common sin. The 
scripture shows it plentifully. Job, when he protested his innocency, 
among other sins he reckoned up, he disclaims this, chap. xxxi. 24, 25, 
If I have made gold my hope, or said to the fine gold, Thou art my 
confidence ; if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because 
my hand had gotten much. Job to vindicate himself from hypocrisy 
reckons up the usual sins of hypocrites, and among the rest this for 
one, making riches our hope and confidence. He had immediately 
before waved the crime of extortion and oppression, but he thinks not 


that sufficient to clear himself, and therefore he further denieth also the 
crime of carnal confidence. It is not enough that our wealth he not 
gotten by fraud, cosenage and extortion, but we must not trust to it. 
Symmachus renders it a<f>o/3iav, my safety and security, the cause why 
I am not afraid. The world looketh upon wealth as that which will 
help us to all we want, defend us from all we fear, and procure to us 
all we do desire ; as if by that we were out of the reach of all danger, 
and in a capacity to live longer and happier under the patronage and 
provisions which our money shall procure to us. Another place is 
Prov. xviii. 10, 11, The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the right 
eous runneth into it and is safe : the rich man s wealth is his strong 
city, and an high wall in his own conceit. Mark, what the name of 
the Lord is to the believer, that is wealth to the carnal rich man in his 
own conceit. A godly man never thinks himself safe till he can get 
into the name of the Lord, and be within the compass and verge of the 
covenant ; but a carnal rich man, if he be walled and entrenched within 
his wealth, thinks himself secure against all changes and chances, and 
so God is laid aside and little cared for. That there is such a sin you 
see, but I shall prove that it is a common sin, very incident to all men, 
and that it is a very secret sin, but yet of a pestilential influence. 

1. It is very natural to all men, yea, impossible almost to be free 
from it. Consider man as degenerate, and in that corrupted estate in 
which he is, as fallen from God as his chief good and last end, and so 
he is an idolater, and makes the creature his god, or sticketh too much 
to it, more especially to wealth. Wealth is the great instrument of 
commerce ; it cannot be denied to have a power and influence upon 
human affairs : Eccles. x. 19, Money answereth all things. It can do 
much in this lower world, and saveth us out of many dangers : Prov. 
xiii. 8, The ransom of a man s life are his riches. It hath its use in 
this world as a means in God s hands to sustain and preserve life. But 
what more common than for a man to look to the subordinate means, and 
neglect altogether the first cause. As children will thank the tailor, 
and think they owe their new clothes to his provision rather than to 
their parents bounty, so we look to the next hand, and set up that 
instead of God. Rich and poor cannot be exempted from this sin. 
(1.) The poor, and those that have not wealth ; they idolise it in 
fancy and conceit, that if they had estates this would make them happy 
and glorious ; and because they have not, they trust in those which have, 
which is idolatry upon idolatry. See Ps. Ixii. 9, Surely men of low 
degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie. To appearance 
men of low degree are nothing and can do nothing towards our relief, 
and so are vanity ; but men of high degree, they are a lie, because they 
disappoint those that trust in them, to the wrong of God. Alas ! they 
have neither power to help nor hurt, if the Lord will not : 2 Kings vi. 27, 
If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee ? And there 
fore we need not fear the hazard of their frowns nor of their displeasure ; 
we need not with such restlessness court their favour and trust in them 
that have wealth. (2.) But chiefly this is incident to worldly great men, 
to trust in what they have ; their minds are secretly enchanted by their 
estates when they are increased to them. Still the distemper grows with 
the increase of worldly accommodations : Ps. Ixii. 10, Trust not in 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON MA UK x. 17-27. 39 

oppression, and become not vain, in robbery : if riches increase, set not 
your heart upon them. As soon as we begin to have anything about 
us, from thence forward we date our happiness and security. Many 
that in want despise wealth, and live in an actual dependence upon 
God s providence, as soon as they have somewhat in the creature, they 
begin to value themselves at a higher rate, as if they could live alone 
without God, and their hearts are altogether for increasing their store, 
or keeping and retaining what they have already gotten. 

2. It is a very secret sin, and found in those that are least sensible 
of it. We seldom or never mistrust ourselves of this confidence, which 
is so natural and so common ; and why ? Because we have too gross a 
notion of this sin of trusting in riches. A man doth not think he 
makes money his idol if he do not pray to it, or offer sacrifice to it, 
or adore it with outward ceremonies, as the heathens did their idols of 
gold and silver ; whereas this sin is to be determined nan exhibitions, 
ceremoniarum, sed oblatione concupiscentiarum, not by the formal 
rights of worship, but by the secret workings of the heart towards it. 
Though we do not actually say to the fine gold, Thou art my confi 
dence, or use such gross language to riches as, Ye shall deliver me, or 
I will put my trust in you, yet secretly we idolise it, and set it up in 
the place of God. It would have been a sorry vindication of Job s 
innocency to deny that ; few hypocrites say so in open language, but 
our hearts say so though we perceive it not. There is nothing so close 
and secret in the bosom of man as his trust. But the heart hath a 
tongue as well as the mouth, and thoughts are called the sayings of 
the heart. Yea, divines usually observe that there are two sorts of 
thoughts, implicit as well as explicit. The scripture calls them 
inward thoughts : Ps. xlix. 11, Their inward thought is that their 
house shall continue for ever/ This is the interpretation of our actions 
when we do not make God our portion, but trust in the abundance 
of our riches; this is our inward thought, the saying of our heart. 
Ye are my God ; we do in effect say, Thou art my confidence, my 
hope, and my joy, and will stand by me when all things cease and 
fail, and wilt not suffer me to want or to be wronged as long as 
thou lastest ; these are the secret speeches of our hearts. Christians, 
many may, orator-like, declaim against the vanity of the creature, and 
speak as basely of money as others do, and say, We know it is but a 
little refined earth, but their hearts close with it, they are loath to part 
with it for God s sake or upon God s declared will. As he that speaketh 
good words of God is not said to trust in God, so speaking bad words 
of worldly riches doth not exempt us from trusting in them. There is a 
difference between declaiming as an orator, and acting like a Christian ; 
well, then, it is a common but secret sin. 

II. My next work is to show the evil of this sin, and how great it 
is, both in regard of its heinous nature and in regard of its mischievous 

1. In regard of its heinous nature. It is a renouncing of God, and 
setting up another in his stead. 

[l.J It is a renouncing of God, and taking away his honour. The 
heart of man is so conscious to itself of its own weakness, ijiat it will 
not be long without a prop , it must have something to rest upon. 


Now, naturally, we have no respect to invisible things, so as to choose 
them and to rest upon them, but easily take up with what comes next 
to hand. By a vile ingratitude we pervert God s bounty to a defection 
from him. As harlots love the gifts rather than the man, so we take 
the gifts of God, and rest upon them, and set them up in God s stead. 
No man can trust God and riches too, therefore if we trust in riches, 
the heart is diverted and carried away from God : Jonah ii. 8, They 
that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. They turn their 
back upon God, and take up with these vain comforts here in the world. 
The same temple will not serve God and Dagon ; the Philistines could 
not bring it to pass, do what they could ; nor the same heart God and 
the world : 1 Tim. 6, 17, Charge them that are rich in this world, 
that they trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God. If we 
trust in the one we disclaim the other. Now consider what a dishonour 
is this to leave God for the creature ! the fountain of living waters for 
broken cisterns : Jer. ii. 13, My people have committed two evils, 
they have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, 
broken cisterns, that can hold no water. They leave the husband for a 
slave, treasure for coals, things precious for dung. 

[2.] As there is a leaving of God, so there is the setting up another 
god in his stead ; therefore covetousness is called idolatry, Col. iii. 5, 
and a covetous man an idolater/ Eph. v. 5. Mammon is the idol, and 
the worldling the priest. Our trust is not only diverted, but placed 
elsewhere, while we expect that from wealth which is to be expected 
from God alone. Trust in God is a confidence that no evil shall befall 
us, and nothing truly good shall be wanting to us while we keep in 
with him ; such a kind of confidence we place in riches, therefore this 
must needs be a heinous sin. So that besides apostasy and forsaking 
the true God, there is idolatry: we set up another god. Trust is a 
prime affection, which keeps up all commerce between us and God. 
Our allegiance and respect to the crown of heaven is mainly preserved 
by dependence, and the heart is never kept in a right frame but when 
we look for all from God. Let a man but think himself sufficient to 
his own happiness, and God will soon be laid aside. As soon as we can 
live without God, we presently omit all kind of worship and respect to 
him. Our first parents greedily catched at the bait : Ye shall be as 
gods, Gen. iii. 5. How as gods ? Not in a blessed conformity, but 
in a cursed self-sufficiency. Thus we all affect to be sufficient to our 
selves, to be able to live without God. The prodigal son, when he had 
his portion in his own hands, soon left his father. If we can live with 
out God, we will never care for him. You dethrone God, and put 
money in his place, and set up something as God. 

2. The mischievous effects and fruits of carnal confidence. You 
may consider these effects meritorie and effective. 

[1.] Consider it meritorie, the merit of it ; it maketh us incapable 
of eternal life. God is disparaged from being our paymaster and giv 
ing us our reward when we trust in money. Look, as God sent the 
Israelites to their idols, to see whether they could deliver them : Judges 
x. 14, Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen ; let them 
deliver you in the time of your tribulation ; so he will send us to the 
things we trust to. A man seeks his heaven and happiness here, while 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 41 

he is content to enjoy wealth without God, and so dischargeth God 
from providing a reward for him : Luke vi. 24, Woe unto you that 
are rich, for ye have received your consolation ; you have the happi 
ness you pitch upon. God once said, Woe to you that are rich, but 
never said, Woe to you that are poor. They that have their heaven, 
their happiness here without God, can expect no more from him. 
Therefore meritoriously this is the fruit of it, it will make us incapable 
of eternal life. 

[2.] Consider carnal confidence effective, in the influence of it ; the 
effects of it are very mischievous. 

(1.) It is the ground of all miscarriage in practice. When men 
think they cannot be happy without wealth, or so much coming in by 
the year, then they will soon come to this, they dare not obey God for 
fear they shall lose their worldly comforts, wherein their happiness lies. 
It is notable, when the Holy Ghost speaks of keeping the command 
ment, and that the commandments of God are not grievous to his 
people, presently he speaks of victory over -the world : 1 John v. 3, 4, 
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his 
commandments are not grievous ; for whatsoever is born of God over- 
cometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, 
even our faith/ Why ? What is the reason of this connection ? The 
world is a great hindrance and let in keeping the commandment. 
Unless a man overcome his worldly appetites and worldly desires, he 
cannot keep the law of God to any purpose ; and therefore David saith, 
Ps. cxix. 36, Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covet- 
eousness ; implying that while our hearts are carried out so strongly 
after worldly things we can never be thorough and upright with God 
in the way of his testimonies. 

(2.) It hinders us from looking after heavenly things. It is impos 
sible a man should in good earnest seek things above whilst he trusts 
in the world, and promiseth himself a long and happy life here. Trust 
is acquiescentia cordis, the rest and complacency of the soul ; it seeks 
no further when it hath something to rest in ; therefore when we rest 
here, all other happiness is neglected ; there is no want in their condi 
tion : Luke xii. 19, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years ; take thine ease. They cannot endure to think of a change, of 
leaving this, and going to a world to come, of shooting the gulf, and 
launching out into another world, and therefore make no provision for 
eternity. Well, then, trusting in riches is bad, as it takes off the heart 
from depending upon God s providence for the present, for so far a 
creature exempts itself from the jurisdiction and dominion of God ; but 
much more bad as it takes us off from depending on God s promises 
for the future, as it flatters us with hopes of long and happy days, and 
causeth us to put off all thoughts, and all care about eternity and blessed 
ness to come. He that trusts in riches judgeth all his happiness to be 
in this life ; let him enjoy the world to the full, and he hath enough ; 
here is his happiness, and his heaven too : he saith as that cardinal, He 
would not give his portion in Paris for his portion in paradise. Tell a 
worldly man of laying up treasures in heaven, and of the riches of the 
heavenly inheritance, he smiles at it, and will not give a foot of land 
here for an acre in heaven. Tell them of growing rich towards God, 

42 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [&ER. XI. 

and it is but a fancy : Luke xii. 21, So is he that layeth up treasure 
for himself, and is not rich towards God. So they may enjoy present 
satisfactions, they will give God a discharge for other things. As the 
Beubenites and Gadites would stay on this side Jordan, and consented to 
abate their portion in the land of Canaan, because they were already in 
a rich country, so they can be content to abate heavenly happiness, for 
if it be well with them here, they are satisfied, for other things they 
need not trouble themselves : 1 Cor. xv. 32, Let us eat and drink, 
for to-morrow we shall die ; and there is an end of the world with us, 

(3.) It is the ground of all the disquiet and discontent of mind that 
we meet with. If a man would live a happy life, let him but seek a 
sure object for his trust, and he shall be safe : Ps. cxii. 7, He shall 
not be afraid of evil tidings ; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. 
A man that puts his confidence in God, if he hears bad news of mis 
chief coming towards him, as suppose a bad debt, a loss at sea, accidents 
by fire, tempests, or earthquakes, as Job had his messengers of evil tid 
ings, which came thick and threefold upon him, yet he is not afraid, 
for his heart is fixed on God, he hath laid up his confidence in God, 
therefore his heart is kept in an equal poise ; he can say, as Job, The 
Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name 
of the Lord, Job i. 21. His comforts did not ebb and flow with the 
creature, but his heart was fixed trusting in the Lord. But now when 
a man puts his joy and his contentment under the creature s power, lie 
is always liable to great dejections and anxious disquiets : Jer. xlix. 
23, They have heard evil tidings, they are faint-hearted. His life 
and happiness consists in the presence of creatures, and in the affluence 
of the world which, being mutable, so must his comfort needs be ; so 
that he that trusts in riches, to be sure doth but make way for sore and 
sad troubles of spirit. Good David, when he had abused his prosperity 
to a carnal trust and security, he felt the more trouble afterwards, and 
so gives us the instance of himself in this kind : Ps. xxx. 6, 7, * I said 
in my prosperity, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou 
hast made thy mountain to stand strong, thou hidest thy face, and I 
was troubled. He shall never want troubles that placeth his trust in 
anything on this side God, but is up and down as his worldly comforts 
ebb and flow ; whereas a Christian, who makes God his trust, and the 
favour of God his greatest interest, is like the nave or centre of the 
wheel, which still remains in its own place and posture in all the cir 
cumgyrations and turnings about of the wheel. So in all the turnings 
of providence, when the spokes are sometimes up and sometimes down, 
sometimes in the dirt and sometimes out of the dirt, the nave and 
centre is still where it was. Well, then, if you would be acquainted 
with true peace, let not your hearts be set upon great estates, which 
are liable to so many changes, but trust in the Lord, and your heart 
shall be established. 

III. I come to give some signs and discoveries of this secret evil, 
confidence and trust in riches. 

1. When men oppress, and do that which is evil, and think to bear 
it out with their wealth, power, and greatness, as if there were no God 
above to call them to an account, or as if there had not been, or could 
not be such a turn of human affairs as God can lay them low enough, 

VER. 24.] SEUMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 43 

and their honour be laid in the dust, and the poor and afflicted shall 
be exalted. God hurls the world up and down, that misery may not 
want a comfort, nor power a bridle. Sometimes God puts up this, 
sometimes the other sort of men, that still by all these changes he may 
keep the world in order, that think they may do anything because it is 
in the power of their hands : Micah ii. 1, Woe unto them that devise 
iniquity, and work evil upon their beds ; when the morning is light 
they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. Usually the 
world is governed by interest rather than conscience ; they count every 
thing right which they are able to effect, and justice is measured by 
present safety, not by principles of conscience ; it is in the power of 
their hands, and therefore they will do it. The Lord gives caution 
against this : Ps. Ixii. 10, Trust not in oppression, become not vain 
in robbery ; if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. When 
a man thinks he is able to carry it against others, and to do his 
adversary two wrongs for one, then he makes no conscience, but does all 
that he can, not all that he ought. Alas ! this poor creature rests upon 
his vain support, and that which seems to be his present advantage will 
in time prove his loss and ruin, when the course of providence is 
altered. How soon can God turn poor worms into dust ! bring them 
down from their altitudes, and make them become the scorn and 
shame of those afflicted poor that wait upon the Lord ! Ps. Hi. 6, 7, 
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 abundance 
of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. This is that 
brave, that gallant man in the world, that never thought of securing his 
greatness by God s protection, nor applied himself to piety and justice, 
nor imagined that such things would be useful to his present security, 
but resolved by wealth and wicked enterprises to establish and per- 
petuate his greatness ; but how hath God confuted all his vain and 
false hopes, and brought utter destruction upon him ! Thus it hath been, 
and thus it will be again, till the world learn to grow wiser by all the 
changes that God hath wrought before their eyes. And therefore, this 
is a sign of trusting in wealth, when men grow proud, insolent, and 
overbearing, and speak roughly : Prov. xviii. 23, The rich answereth 
roughly, and are high-minded : 1 Tim. vi. 17, Charge them that are 
rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain 
riches, but in the living God. 

2. An inordinate care and solicitousness to get wealth. Multiplying 
of worldly practices cometh from unbelief in God and confidence in 
the means : Prov. xxiii. 4, Labour not to be rich ; cease from thine 
own wisdom. This toiling and labour to get the world into our hands 
argues we esteem of it beyond what it deserves. Indeed there is a 
lawful labour ; wealth may be sought for the necessities of life and 
exercise of good works ; but when men make it their main care, they 
place their happiness in it. Now, because it is hard to distinguish 
honest labour from worldly care, the best way will be for you to con 
sider the disproportion of your endeavours to earthly and spiritual and 
heavenly things ; for our Saviour, when he describes the carnal fool, that 
1 rusted in the abundance of his riches, he tells us, Luke xii. 21, So is 
he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. 


When men seek the world in good earnest, and make slender provision 
for heaven and the happiness of their precious and immortal souls, 
when they never look after the assuring of their interest in things to come, 
when the lean kine devour the fat, when that which should be sought 
first, either is sought last or not at all, then men trust in these outward 
things. Surely you fancy a greater happiness in the enjoyment of 
worldly things than you should. The scripture notes as a sign of this 
inordinate respects a making haste to be rich: Prov. xx. 21, An 
inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but the end thereof 
shall not be blessed ; and chap, xxviii. 20, He that maketh haste to 
be rich shall not be innocent ; and ver. 22, He that hasteth to be 
rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come 
upon him. When men are so earnest to commence into an estate, 
taking all opportunities, seeking to get it by indirect means, and think 
thereby to make them and theirs happy, this inordinacy will prove their 
bane and ruin. In bestowing it as God directs, none so slow ; in getting 
it, none so earnest : certainly he that believeth will not make haste, 

3. When men think themselves better provided by a wealthy apostasy 
than by a close adhering to God all-sufficient. Sometimes the keeping 
of wealth and religion come in competition. Now, when a man debates 
with conscience, Here is your duty, and there is your loss, can you 
trust in wealth rather than in the promises of God ? If the Lord for 
our duty should reduce us to never so great straits, he is able to make 
it all up to us again, this should suffice us : The Lord is able to give 
thee much more than this, 2 Chron. xxv. 9. But if in the debates of 
conscience gain bears sway, it is a sign we trust in wealth rather than 
in the promises of God. 

4. When men slacken or omit prayer, because they are well at ease 
and have worldly abundance. This is a certain truth, that trust in 
God, or prayer, or an acknowledgment of God, always go together : Ps. 
Ixii. 8, Trust in him at all times, ye people ; pour out your hearts 
before him/ If the heart be taken off from the creature, it will be 
much with God ; but when men are full, and think they need him not, 
and therefore grow cold and careless in their addresses to him, it may 
be in their affliction God shall hear from them, but at other times the 
throne of grace lies neglected, they have other trusts, and depend on 
something on this side God, or God would be oftener acknowledged. 

5. When men think wealth shall sufficiently secure them against all 
changes, and that when they have it they shall see nothing but happy 
days, and therefore give up themselves securely to enjoy the pleasures 
of this life : Luke xii. 19, Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years ; 
take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. Sensuality, security, and 
pride are the fruits of carnal confidence : They trust in their wealth, 
and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches/ Ps. xlix. 6. As 
if their felicity and chiefest stay lay in them, not only against the 
chances of this life, but against God s threats and vengeance and judg 
ment ; thence men fetch their support and comfort, and hope for them 
and theirs : Prov. x. 15, The rich man s wealth is his strong city. A 
penny in their purse is better than the God of heaven. Here is their 
great assurance, the sure pledge of their happiness, as if God could not 
bring them down wonderfully. 


VER. 24.1 SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 45 

6. When men are so loath to forego riches when God calls them 
thereunto, it is a sign they trust in them, not in God. The soul of man 
should be justly poised, and at a point of indifferency to worldly 
things, to get or keep, to want or have, as God will. Until our 
resolutions be as easily cast the one way as the other, we shall never 
be said to be wholly free from this sin of trusting in riches ; but 
certainly we are deeply tainted with it when we are so over dejected 
with worldly losses : 1 Cor. vii. 31, They that mourn as if they 
mourned not ; and 2 Peter i. 5, Add to temperance, patience. If 
there were a moderation in the use of worldly things, it would make 
way for patience. Gregory saith, Job lost his estate without grief, 
because he possessed it without love ; but it is a sign we love them too 
much when we murmur against God, and the heart is so depressed 
when they are taken away by God s providence, as if all our happi 
ness were gone. Certainly riches are too highly prized, and the world 
too impatiently desired, when they are so deeply lamented ; if when 
they take wings, and are gone, they bewail it as if their god were 
gone : Judges xviii. 24, * Ye have taken away my gods which I made, 
and the priest, and are gone away, and what have I more ? and what 
is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee ? Thence ariseth their 
trouble, grief, and sorrow of heart. 

IV.. For the remedies against this secret and great mischief of 
putting our confidence in earthly things. 

1. By way of consideration. 

[1.] Consider the uncertainty of riches should check our trust in 
them : 1 Tim. vi. 17, That they trust not in uncertain riches. What 
depends upon more uncertainty than our outward estates ; and will you 
trust in them ? Who would trust another that is sure to fail him at 
his greatest need ? Prov. xxiii. 5, Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that 
which is not ? for riches certainly make themselves wings, and fly away, 
as an eagle towards heaven. A man is not better and more sufficiently 
provided for his dinner because there is a flock of wildfowl now pitched 
upon his fields ; they may soon fly away. Kiches are like winged 
creatures, compared to eagles which fly away towards heaven. How are 
they gone ! how many ways may the Lord take them away from us ! 
There is the fire, the thief, fraudulent bargains, vexatious lawsuits, 
public judgments, the displeasure of the times. Many are the wings 
that riches have, and therefore unless a man hath a mind to be deceived, 
why should he trust in them ? This should be deeply thought of in 
our greatest prosperity, especially when we have many instances before 
our eyes. Alas ! how many are there that have laid out all their wit, 
and labour, nay, and venture conscience, to get an estate, and all is 
gone in an instant, and they have heirs that they never thought of ! 
And yet the world is as greedy upon these things as ever. 

[2.] Consider, none ever trusted to the world but they have cause to 
complain in the issue. We think wealth can do great things for us, 
and stand us in stead beyond any other thing to make us happy, but we 
shall find it otherwise. God is jealous of our trust, and the creature 
that is of itself vain is made more vain by our dependence upon it. 
God will set himself to disappoint a carnal trust : Prov. xi. 28, He that 
trusteth in his riches shall fall. 

46 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. XL 

[3.] Consider, the more wealth, many times the more danger, there 
fore shall we trust in this ? In a net, when great fishes are taken, the 
lesser make their escape. A great tree by the largeness and thickness 
of its boughs provoketh others to lop it, or it falleth by its own weight. 
Nebuchadnezzar led the princes and nobles captive when the poor were 
left in the land. As many times thieves and robbers cut off the finger 
for the ring s sake when they cannot otherwise pluck it off, so is a man 
destroyed and made a prey for his wealth s sake. 

[4.] Consider the unprofitableness of wealth without God ; it cannot 
make you contented, and safe, and happy, and comfortable : Luke xii. 
15, A man s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which 
he possesseth/ A man doth not live upon his wealth : Not by bread 
alone/ Mat. iv. 4, but by the providence of God. I do not only say 
they cannot make you happy and wise ; certainly they cannot do that ; 
but they, cannot make you more healthful, cheerful, and comfortable ; 
so that whether you will or no, at length you are brought to depend 
upon God. But especially is their unprofitableness seen in the day of 
death and in the day of wrath. In the day of death, when a man must 
shoot the gulf of eternity, and launch out into the deep ocean of the 
other world : Job xxvii. 8, What is the hope of the hypocrite, though 
he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? When you must 
die, and nothing shall remain with you but the bitter remembrance of 
an estate, either ill-got or ill-spent (for it is all one), oh ! how bitter 
and grievous will this be to you to call to mind the iniquity of traffic, 
to remember the cries of the oppressed widow or orphans, or neglected 
poor, or your pride and luxury, and sowing to the flesh, when God 
comes to take away the soul ! Or else in the day of wrath : Prov. xi. 
4; Riches profit not in the day of wrath/ Of internal wrath, when a 
spark of God s anger lights upon the conscience, and our thoughts are 
awakened against us, and fall as a heavy burden upon us, oh ! what 
will all riches do ! To allude to that Prov. vi. 35, He will not regard 
any ransom, neither will he rest content, though thou givest many 
gifts. Justice will not be bribed, neither will all the money you have 
buy you a pardon. And in the day of external wrath : Zeph. i. 18, 
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the 
day of the Lord s wrath. As Absalom s mule left him hanging by the 
hair of the head, so will riches leave and forsake you in all your misery. 

[5.] Think seriously of this, that God is the author of all wealth, 
and the sovereign disposer of it ; and therefore, whether we have it or 
have it not, we must trust in God. If wealth fails, that we have it not, 
then it is manifest it is not to be trusted in. If it should increase, yet 
it should occasion us to trust in God, who gives us what we have ; by 
what means soever it comes to our hands, it is his gift : It is the 
blessing of the Lord that maketh rich, Prov. x. 22. If riches come to 
you by inheritance from your ancestors, it was by the providence of 
God that you were born of rich and noble friends, and not of beggars. 
If it come by gift, it is God that made them that gave it you able and 
willing. If it comes by industry and skill, it is God that gives the 
faculty, the use, and the success ; so that still God is to be trusted in, 
not the creature, for he hath a mighty hand in the disposal of things 
in the world. 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 47 

2. By way of practice. 

[1.] Pray more to be kept from this sin than from poverty, namely, 
to have riches, and not to trust in them. It is an extraordinary gift 
of God, and to be sought with greater care, diligence, and frequency of 
prayers and fastings, than either health, preferment, life, or any other 
thing : ver. 27, With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with 
God all things are possible. God only can do it thoroughly. This 
should be the constant request of rich men, Lord, let me not trust in 
what I have ; this is a greater blessing than the greatest abundance in 
the world. 

[2.] Be more ready to watch opportunities of charity, to distribute 
and dispense your estate than to increase it ; for there is nothing will 
free us from this sin so much as the continual exercise of charity, or 
the giving of alms. Therefore .your great care and delight should be 
to hearken after charitable occasions for the relief of the poor and for 
the church of God, and be glad when occasions of doing good are 
offered. They that hunt a,fter opportunities of gain trust in riches, but 
they that seek opportunities of doing good show they are clear from 
this sin : Luke xii. 33, Sell that you have, and give alms ; provide 
yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens, that 
faileth not ; then you trust in the promises. Your office is not that 
of a treasurer, but of a steward, to have them in your hands a not in 
your hearts ; otherwise not you but your chest is rich. 

[3.] Labour by faith to make God your trust and confidence : 1 Tim. 
vi. 17, That they trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God. 
To rely upon his power, mercy, and goodness for all that you have and 
stand in need of : Give us this day our daily bread ; for protection 
and provision. When God giveth you riches, suspect what your heart 
may do with them. It is good to fear always, especially when we have 
what we wish for or desire. Therefore, still be. looking to God, taking 
your maintenance out of his hands, and praying to him, and blessing 
him daily for your supply, and this will make your estate sweet and 
comfortable to you, and free from those snares wherewith otherwise 
it will be encumbered. 

[4.] Be sure you get grace together with an estate, for otherwise 
singly it will be a snare to you : Prov. xiv. 24, The crown of the wise 
is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly. Kiches are as they 
are used ; if they fall to the share of a man that is godly and wise, 
they are a crown and ornament, otherwise a snare ; for the one 
employeth them to the honour of God, and the good of the church and 
state, and is more.publicly useful, but the other groweth more haughty 
and fierce, and scornful of holy things, and sensual and vain, and eateth 
and drinketh, and swaggereth away the good gifts of God, which 
might have a more noble use. So Eccles. vii. 11, Wisdom is good 
with an inheritance ; it is good without it, but more conspicuously 
good with it. It is not said an inheritance is good without wisdom or 
grace. No ; it is reserved to the owners for their hurt. So Prov. xvii. 
16, Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, 
seeing he hath no heart to it. Many a man hath a price, but he hath 
not a heart ; an estate is but as a sword in the hand of a madman, 
when a man wants grace to improve it. 

48 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. XII. 

[5.] Be sure your esteem of riches come belo\v your esteem of 
religion and good conscience. As Nazianzen said of his eloquence, he 
had something of value to esteem as nothing for Christ. By all my 
wealth and glory, this alone I have gained, that I have something to 
which I mignt prefer my Saviour. This is like the woman clothed 
with the sun, and the moon under her feet, Rev. xii. 1, contemning all 
worldly and sublunary things for Christ. 

[6.] Think of changes in the midst of your fulness : Surely every 
man at his best estate is altogether vanity, Ps. xxxix. 5 ; not only at 
his worst estate, when God rebuketh him for sin. We should make 
suppositions, and see how we can bear the loss of all things, when they 
are represented but in conceit and imagination: Hab. iii. 17, 18, 
Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the 
vine, &c., yet I will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my 
salvation. The fool durst not suppose the accidents of that night : 
Luke xii. 20, Thou fool ! this night thy soul shall be required of 
thee. Security is a coward ; acquaint the soul with a supposition of 
loss and danger. 


It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a 
rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. MARK x. 25. 

I HAVE now read you a sentence, that at first view may seem to cut 
off the greatest and most splendid part of the world from all hopes of 
salvation. Had it been my saying only, you might take liberty to tax 
it as rash and rigorous, but the mouth of truth itself hath spoken it, 
even Jesus Christ, whom we own as our Lord and master. He suffi 
ciently knew the worth and way of salvation, and the state and danger 
of souls. Now he interposeth his authority : Mat. xix. 24, I say unto 
you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God/ If we believe him, 
then "let rich men look to themselves. He had already told them, that 
it is hard for them that have riches ; then he shows wherein the diffi 
culty lay, because of their trusting in riches. Now, he represents the 
difficulty by a similitude ; it is as hard for them to enter into the 
kingdom of God, as for a thing of the greatest bulk to pass through 
the straitest place ; for what more strait than a needle s eye, and a 
camel is a creature of a great bulk. A camel cannot pass through a 
needle s eye without a miracle, nor a rich man enter into the kingdom 
of God without the singular power of God s grace. For the expression : 
Some say there was a gate at Jerusalem, called the eye of a needle, a 
strait gate, by which a camel could not enter. Nisi deposito onero, 
et flexis genibus, without laying aside his burden, and bending his 
knee. But no approved history mentions this, and the conceit lesseneth 
the force of our Saviour s speech. Others say that the word /ca/ 

VEB. 25.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 49 

signifies a cable, by which mariners do fasten the anchor, but that also 
is a mistake ; for that word is otherwise spelt, /ca/^tXo? and doth also 
rarely occur in that sense, and therefore rather the beast is intended 
than the cord or cable. 

It was an ordinary proverb among the Jews, and is so even to this 
day, that an elephant cannot pass through the eye of a needle. Our 
Saviour indeed a little changeth the proverb, instead of the elephant, 
a beast which few had seen, putting a camel, a creature very ordinary 
in Syria ; It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. I 
will not say that this similitude was chosen because they were wont to 
lade their rich wares upon camels, and so the camel doth most decipher 
the rich man, who is the packhorse of his wealth, and hath the burden, 
but not the use of it. However, two things I may gather from it, as 
Origen hath done before us 

1. That there is something in turning Christian, or entering into 
the kingdom of God, that answers the needle s eye, and that is the 
strait gate and the narrow way which leads to life, Mat. vii. 14, the 
strait gate of repentance, and the narrow way of constant mortification. 

2." That there is something on the rich man s part which answers 
the camel, namely, that they grow so great and bulky, in regard of 
their pride, worldly lusts, joys, and confidences, that they cannot reduce 
themselves to those straits that are necessary for entering into the 
kingdom of God, as the camel s bulk and bunchback hinders his 
entrance into a strait place. This without straining I might observe ; 
though I must tell you, I think the main intent of this proverbial 
speech is nothing else but this, to express an extraordinary difficulty on 
the rich man s part, not to be removed but by the almighty power of 
grace. Such similitudes are frequent in scripture : Jer. xiii. 23, Can 
the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? so Mat. 
xxiii. 24, Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a 

Well, then, you see it noteth the difficulty, if not utter impossibility, 
for men of that rank, without peculiar grace to avoid the snares of 
Satan, or to render themselves capable of eternal blessedness. And 
since Christ doth again and again press this we have had it three 
times, and now doth amplify it by a comparison I shall observe 

Doct. That the danger of riches,, and the difficulty of rich men s 
salvation, is a point ought much to be pressed and seriously thought of. 

There are two propositions included in this observation (1.) That 
the salvation of rich men is very difficult ; (2.) That this must be 
much pressed and seriously thought of. 

I. The difficulty of their salvation. I have formerly proved this 
by reason of the sins incident to this state and condition of life, there 
fore now I shall quit that, and prove there is a great deal of difficulty 
for rich men to enter into the kingdom of God, because of the duties 
required of them. 

1. There are common duties that concern them and all Christians. 

2. There is something peculiar and singular expected from the rich, 
which makes their entrance into heaven more difficult. 

1. There are common duties that concern them and all Christians, 
that are more difficult for them than for others to perform, and these 


50 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. XIL 

are set down Mat. xvi. 24, If any man will come after me, let him 
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Christ saith, If 
any man, without exception ; small and great, rich and poor, they 
must all submit to those terms. The duties are three, and they make 
way one for another (1.) He must deny himself, and he must comply 
with this ; (2.) That he may take up his cross, and bear it kindly and 
willingly ; and that fits for the (3.) Duty, following Christ, or cleaving 
close to him. These are the three duties that are required of all that 
will come after Christ, and would follow him as their great Lord and 
master, and captain of their salvation : He must deny himself, his 
own wit, his own will, his own affections and interests, and be wholly 
at the disposal of God, pleasing him in all things. Till we come to 
this, nothing else in Christianity will down. Well, when this is done, 
then he must take up the cross ; first deny ourselves, that bows the 
back of a sinner ; then take up, and bear the cross kindly ; that is to 
say, rather suffer the loss of all than wilfully sin against God, and 
hazard his favour. And after this he must follow Christ, not forsake 
him because of the cross, but stick the closer to him, walking accord 
ing to his doctrine and example. Let us treat of these duties apart, 
and withal show how hard it is for the rich man to comply with them. 
[1.] He must deny himself, whatever his corrupt heart desires, how 
dear and pleasing soever it be ; though his parting with the content 
ments of the flesh should be like cutting off the right hand, and pluck 
ing out the right eye/ Mat. v. 29, 30, yet this must be done, and he 
must fully resign up himself to please God in all things. Now this is 
very hard and difficult for all men, which we may soon be sensible of 
if we do but consider how earnestly man affects a dominion and sove-, 
reignty over himself, to be sui juris, at his own dispose, as those rebels 
against God said, Ps. xii. 4, Our lips are our own, who is lord over 
us ? A libertine yokeless spirit possesseth them. We conceit that 
our hearts are our own to think what we please, our tongues our own 
to speak what we please, our hands our own to do what we please. 
Man affects to be a god to himself, and to be solely under the govern 
ment of his own will, and to have all his comforts in his own hand and 
at his own dispose, denying himself nothing which his heart affects ; 
as Solomon saith he did, Eccles. ii. 10, Whatsoever mine eyes desired, 
I kept not from them, I withheld .not my heart from any joy. Natural 
pride and self-love is such that we cannot endure the yoke of any 
restraints, but we let loose the reins to a full fruition of whatever our 
hearts affect. Now, as self-denial is difficult to all, because of this 
yokeless and libertine spirit, much more to the rich and to the great, 
and to those that flow in ease and plenty, and have no bands and 
restraints of providence upon them ; they are more licentious, impatient 
of contradiction, or of having their wills thwarted, and therefore by a 
lawless liberty they wholly seek to please themselves, and to feed their 
own lusts, without any care and respect to God : Jer. v. 5, I will get me 
to the great men, and will speak unto them, but they have altogether 
broken the yoke, and burst the bonds ; that is, they cast off all the 
bonds of loyalty and obedience to God. And why ? Because they 
think they can subsist alone and apart from him : Jer. ii. 31, Where 
fore do my people say, We are lords, we will come no more unto thee ? 

VER. 25.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 51 

Men think themselves to be lords of their own fortune, and therefore 
slight God, break through the restraint of his laws, cannot deny them 
selves anything that their corrupt hearts affect. Those that are in a 
low condition, kept bare, and in a daily need of providence, are more 
humble and submissive to God ; but when they grow great, they turn 
the back upon him, and cannot endure his strict government. So Jer. 
xxii. 21, I spake to thee in thy prosperity, but thou saidst, I will not 
hear. Those that are rich and well at ease are loath to be controlled 
in their will, even by God himself : Exod. v. 2, Who is the Lord, that 
I should obey his voice to let Israel go ? I know not the Lord, neither 
will I let Israel go. Who so self-willed, proud, and scornful of God 
as they ? who so apt to please themselves, and to use their riches to 
foed their lusts, and to provide accommodations for their flesh and 
corrupt nature ? Self-denial and a flesh-pleasing course are inconsistent ; 
and therefore, because of the lawless liberty which they take to please 
themselves and to make provision for the flesh, they cannot comply 
with this precept of Christ, Let him deny himself. 

[2.] To take up the cross, that is another of Christ s precepts, and to 
be willing to suffer affliction, either from the hands of God or from the 
hands of men for God s sake. This is one thing that we must reckon 
upon : if we would be Christians and Christ s disciples, first or last we 
shall be called to this exercise. Ignatius, when he was led bound 
before the tribunal, Now, saith he, I begin to be a disciple of Christ. 
Many think it is factious to talk of the cross in days of peace and liberty, 
but Christ puts it into our indentures. If we should never suffer for 
Christ, yet we must be sure that we have a heart that would suffer if 
God calls us to it. It is possible a man may go to heaven without 
suffering, but he cannot go to heaven without a resolution to suffer 
when God will. Now the cross makes it hard to all: Heb. xii. 11, 
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous. 
It is not pleasing to the flesh to endure blows, suffer smart, and to 
account all that we have as dung and dross in comparison of Christ ; 
to be joyful in tribulation, and so wholly swallowed up with the hopes 
and interests and concernments of the world to come, and to be dead 
to present things. Oh ! how irksome is the remembrance of this to 
those that are high in place and office, and sail with a full tide and 
current of worldly felicity ! To be averse to suffering is natural to man, 
and is in itself no sin, for nature is to seek its own welfare and preser 
vation, but when it goes to excess, -it argues a tenderness of the flesh, 
and that we have consulted with Satan : Mat. xvi. 22, said Peter, Be 
it far from thee, Lord ; this shall not be unto thee ; but Christ said, 
ver. 23, Get thee behind me, Satan. Now the more men have to 
lose, the more tender they are of losing it ; a little is sooner quitted. 
This young man went away sad, for he had great possessions. Great 
men, when once they come to be noted for the profession of the truth, 
they shrink and fall off presently ; they have not learned to leave all 
for Christ s sake. Judas, that had the bag, turns apostate and traitor 
to Christ, John xii. 6 ; when he saw nothing but opposition increasing, 
the supposed kingdom not to go forward, and heard Christ speaking of 
nothing but the cross and suffering, he thinks of betraying his master ; 
lieaven is no pennyworth for him if it cost so dear. 

52 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27 [SfiR, XII. 

[3.] Let him follow me. He that will be Christ s disciple must 
follow him, his doctrine, and his example. 

(1.) His doctrine ; that is, the directions he hath given us in his 
word. Now what is the drift of Christ s doctrine ? The doctrine 
Christ brought out of the bosom of God is to draw us off from the 
world to heaven, from the pleasures of the flesh and the baits of this 
life, to seek things to come and things eternal. This is one great 
excellency of the Christian faith, that it reveals the doctrine of eternal 
life and a blessed estate to come, which all other professions in the 
world could only guess at. Christ hath made it manifest, and brought 
it to light, that there is such a thing : 2 Tim. i. 10, He hath brought 
life and immortality to light through the gospel. And the gospel re 
veals the way that leads to it ; it makes a free offer of it upon the con 
dition of faith in Christ : John iii. 16, 17, God so loved the world, 
that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him 
.should not perish, but have everlasting life : for God sent not his Sou 
into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him 
might be saved. And walking in all holiness of life : Heb. xii. 14, 
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall 
see the Lord. And .the gospel lays before us the highest motives to 
quicken us to walk therein, and take off our affections from the world : 
Col. iii. 1.2, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which 
are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God : set your 
affections on things above, not on things of the earth. This must be 
our great scope and business, that we may get home to God with a 
neglect of present advantages. The gospel tells us that we should not 
be troubled though our outward man decay, whilst this light affliction, 
that is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17. Well, then, seeing this is the 
great design of the doctrine of Christ, that here we should ply our work, 
that hereafter we may receive our wages ; that here we should study 
holiness, that hereafter we may be blessed with him. Now what doc 
trine can be more contrary than this to those that have their portion 
here, Ps. xvii. 14 5 That have received their consolation here, Luke 
xvi. 32, That have received their good things in their lifetime, Luke 
xvi. 25 ? To tell them of a dislodging and removal, and of foregoing 
the things they love and see for a God they never saw, oh ! how tedious 
is this to a carnal heart ! They are already happy and blessed, and 
cannot endure to think of a change, and therefore are incapable of 
following this doctrine, that drives us off from carnal vanities to look 
after the interests and concernments of the world to come. 

(2.) His example. I shall only instance in two things we are to 
follow him in humility of heart and purity of life. 

(1st.) In humility : Mat. xi. 29, Learn of me, for I am meek tfnd 
lowly of heart. This is the great thing the Son of God would recom 
mend to us, in which we should take after him, even to be of an humble 
and lowly spirit : Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ 
Jesus , Phil. ii. 5. Christ was the Son of God. He did not affect to 
be a God by robbery, as the angels had rebellious thoughts against the 
empire and majesty of God, and they were thrust down from heaven 
for their aspiring ; but the Son of God was equal with God the Father: 

VER. 25.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 53 

1 He thought it no robbery to be equal with God, ver. 6 ; and yet he 
made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant 
and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a 
man, he humbled himself, ver. 7, 8. Certainly, if any had cause to 
stand upon his terms, Jesus Christ had much more. That preface is 
notable and very magnificent, John xiii. 3, Jesus knowing that the 
Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come 
from God, and went to God. And what follows ? He washed his 
disciples feet, ver. 4, 5. Thus the boughs that are most laden hang 
their heads, and the sun at the highest casts the least shadow. Jesus 
Christ indeed was high, excellent, and glorious, yet he would conde 
scend to set his disciples such a pattern of humility. But now who 
more proud and disdainful than the rich ? When men have anything 
in the world, they grow high and lofty. Oh ! when we consider the 
pride of man to man, we may more stand wondering at the condescen 
sions of God to man. As soon as a man hath any estate in the world, 
he is altered presently : 1 Tim. vi. 17, Charge them that are rich in 
this world, that they be not high-minded. Many that in their low 
estate were humble and meek, in prosperity grow proud and disdain 
ful ; many that were forward and zealous, grow cold and slothful in 
spiritual things ; many that, while they were kept dependent upon 
God, were diligent in hearing, profitable in conference, thought it no 
disgrace to instruct their families, were patient of reproof, but when 
the world comes in upon them, no such matter. As the moon is never 
eclipsed but in the full, so all the grace that they seemed to have it is 
under an eclipse when they are in the full of prosperity. 

(2d) In purity and holiness: He that saith he abideth in him, 
ought himself so to walk even as he walked/ 1 John ii. 6, and 1 John 
iii. 3, Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as 
he is pure ; and 1 John iv. 17, As he is, so are we in the world/ 
Now prosperity and true holiness seldom go together ; they are afflic 
tions that promote holiness : They verily for a few days chastened us 
after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be par 
takers of his holiness : now no chastening for the present seemeth to be 
joyous but grievous, nevertheless it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of 
righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby/ Heb. xii. 10, 11. 
Then are men most serious when they feel the rod and are pinched 
with some necessity ; but when they are full, they wax wanton, kick 
with the heel, and throw off all respects to God and godliness. 

2. As the difficulty ariseth from the general duties that are common 
to them with others, so it ariseth also from this : more is required of them 
that are rich and great in this world than of others They should be 
eminent and exemplary for holiness. They have larger accounts to 
make to God than others, for our account must be according to our 
receipts : Luke xii. 48, Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall 
be much required ; and to whom men have committed much, of him 
they will ask the more/ Among men this is a constant rule, and so it 
is with God ; the account is according to the thing with which ye are 
trusted ; they that have more must account for more. Now certainly 
more is required of great and rich men than of others upon four 
accounts they have greater obligations, more opportunities for spirit- 

54 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [&ER. XII. 

ual improvement, they have larger abilities and advantages of honour 
ing God, and because of the influence of their example. 

[1.] They have greater obligations. Certainly they to whom God 
hath been more bountiful, are bound to be more dutiful than others. 
It is not enough to render to God, but we must render according to 
what we have received. It was Hezekiah s fault, 2 Chron. xxxii. 25, 
Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him. 
The rent must be paid according to the value of the farm. God will 
not accept that at the hands of a rich man which he would accept from 
a poor man, which hath not such great obligations. A man that hath 
tasted of the bounty of God s providence, and hath had fulness and 
plenty of all things, it is required he should serve God more cheerfully 
than others, Deut. xxviii. 47. Their duties are greater, and their sins 
are greater ; as you know the prophet aggravates David s sin by the 
mercies he had received, in 2 Sam. xii. 7-9, I anointed thee king over 
Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul ; and I gave thee 
thy master s house, and thy master s wives into thy bosom, and gave 
thee the house of Israel and of Judah ; and if that had been too little, 
I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things : where 
fore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his 
sight ? They have tasted more of the bounty and goodness of his 
providence, and have had more than others to revive the sense of God, 
and keep up the memorial of God in their hearts. 

[2.] They have more opportunities of being free to good duties, as 
being not so straitly bound to bodily labour for present maintenance, 
nor burdened with so many cares and distractions of this life, and so 
have more time and leisure for studying the mind of God in his word 
and improving themselves in the knowledge of the truth, and medita 
ting the statutes of God, as David professeth he did all the day long. And 
look, as the apostle speaks of married and single persons, 1 Cor. vii. 32, 
33, He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the 
Lord, how he may please the Lord ; but he that is married careth for 
the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife ; they 
that are in a single estate have more leisure to attend the service of 
God, greater opportunities of holy privacy and meditation upon the 
promises of God, are less distracted and divided with the cares of the 
world, and have nothing else to do but to serve God and study to please 
him ; so it is true of poor and rich ; those that live in a plentiful con 
dition, oh ! what a great deal of time and leisure have they for religious 
duties, better education, more helps, more advantages, therefore they are 
more bound to addict and give up themselves to the study of divine 
things. A little knowledge of God he will accept of in a poor trades 
man that is divided and distracted with the cares of the world, and 
have not such leisure to attend the service of God, and the opportunities 
of holy privacy and meditation, which he will not accept of in the rich, 
that have so many opportunities to furnish themselves with knowledge, 
and have little else to do but to serve God and labour to please him, 
and to study the promises of God, that they may grow in grace ; and 
yet, when they abandon themselves to sensuality, and live from one 
week s end to another, and can scarce tell what to do with their time, 
and yet cannot afford it to God, how culpable are they ! 

YER. 25.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 55 

[3.] They have greater advantages of furthering the duties of piety 
and mercy, and of honouring God with their substance, Prov. iii. 9, and 
of relieving others, of making themselves friends of the mammon of 
unrighteousness/ Luke xvi. 9. I say they have greater opportunities of 
being rich in good works, 1 Tim. vi. 18. Others that have hearts 
have not estates, and cannot be so publicly useful. God expects from 
very man according to his ability, and therefore they should abound in 
all acts of mercy and piety, for the promoting the honour and service 
of God, and relief and comfort of others. But alas ! usually it is here 
as in nature, those mountains in the bowels of which there are most 
mines of gold and silver are most barren ; so rich men, for the most 
part, live most unprofitably as to the fruits of grace, piety, and charity. 
They that have great estates have least heart to do anything for God, 
and men of a middle condition do exceedingly outstrip those that are 
vastly and excessively rich, in being liberal and open-handed for hon 
ouring of God and the relief of others. 

[4.] More is required of them because of the influence of their ex 
ample. They are as the first-sheets, others are printed off by them. 
The more any are exalted and lifted up above others, the more con 
spicuous are their actions. The example of an eminent person is never 
single, for when such a one doth evil, he carries others with him as 
the stream doth that which floats upon it. If they do good, their 
countenance and example doth exceedingly provoke many to follow 
after that which is good ; therefore they should specially take care to 
fear God, and be diligent in the exercise of godliness, and serious in 
the business of eternal life. But alas ! who authorise sin and propagate 
it in the poor more than they that have a plentiful fortune and estate 
to bear them out in it ? Who are more dissolute and lascivious, and 
profaners of God s holy name and day, and deriders of God s word, and 
holy services and servants ? and so wherever they go, they leave their 
dregs behind them, and leaven others, and draw them into sin, which 
makes the difficulty of their salvation so much the greater. 

II. The other proposition that is contained in this observation is, 
that this ought to be much pressed, seriously thought of, for Christ 
inculcates it again and again. 

1. To keep up a remembrance of God and heavenly things in the 
hearts of rich men. Security and forgetfulness of God is the cause of 
all the mischief rich men are liable to. Men that have so much in 
the world never think of God and salvation. The heart is so full of 
the world, that it leaves no place for the thoughts and remembrance 
of God. When God would offer to come in upon them, it doth fare 
with him as it did with Christ ; when he was born at Bethlehem, there 
was no room for him in the inn, Luke ii. 7. When God would lodge 
in the understanding, the upper chamber of the soul, that is full of 
worldly or sensual projects. If he would enter into the memory, that 
is the world s warehouse, and it is pestered with cares about present 
things. If he would enter into their hearts and affections, they are 
prepossessed already, that is the world s storehouse, there their treasure 
lies ; and so, what with this and that, it comes to pass, that God is 
not in all their thoughts/ Ps. x. 4. The awful remembrance of God 
is a strange uncouth thing to those that are full, and live plentifully 


in the world. This appears by the whole current of scripture ; God 
forewarns his people of it : Deut. xi. 12, When thou shalt have eaten 
and be full, beware lest thou forget the Lord thy God. When men 
are full, and abound with so much accommodation, God is banished 
out of their thoughts. He complains of this as the cause of his people s 
forgetting him : Hosea xiii. 6, According to their pasture, so were 
they filled ; they were filled, and their heart was exalted, therefore have 
they forgotten me/ God is forgotten in prosperity, when we have not 
such a sensible need of him and of his help. Men can live alone and 
apart from God, and therefore cast off all thoughts of him : 1 Tim. vi. 
17, Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high- 
minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who 
giveth us richly all things to enjoy/ Plenty easily breeds forgetful- 
ness of God, therefore it needs often to be inculcated and enforced upon, 
and thought of by them. 

2. This ought to be much pressed and seriously thought of, to awaken 
suspicion ; there may be a snare in our estate. To suspect danger is 
a good means to prevent it, and therefore, that we may draw men to 
self-suspicion, being compassed about by the snares of the devil, we 
must again and again tell you how hard it is for rich men to be saved. 
Agur was afraid of riches and the evil influence of them, and therefore 
prays for a competency : Prov. xxx. 8, 9, Give me neither poverty nor 
riches ; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and deny 
thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? Whereas men that never think of 
danger are surprised with it before they are aware ; therefore it is good 
to be suspicious of a prosperous estate, to be afraid of the world more 
when it smiles than when it frowns. Most men are afraid of poverty, 
but few are afraid of wealth, and yet there the snares and temptations 
] ie ; and the reason is, because they prize their temporal interest more 
than their eternal salvation. Poverty is against their temporal interests, 
but wealth, fulness, and plenty is a hindrance to their eternal salvation, 
and men will venture their souls rather than their bodies. It is fat and 
rank soil that feedeth weeds ; therefore think of it often ; here lies the 
difficulty to have the world at will and not to be ensnared by it ; to 
learn to abound is the harder lesson. Paul had learned both, so must 
we : Phil, iv, 12, I know both how to be abased, and I know how to 
abound ; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full 
and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need/ We say of a 
proud man or woman, Such a one would do well to be a lord or lady ; 
but it is harder than you imagine. How few are there that have any 
lively thoughts of eternity, or make any serious preparation for death 
and judgment, when they have health and wealth, and all the accom 
modations which the carnal nature desires ? And therefore be suspicious 
when you find delight, and what is pleasing to the flesh, it is not likely 
to be safe for your soul. Oh ! possess your estates with fear. The fear 
of a snare may help to avoid it. How easily may such a carnal heart 
as yours be enticed from God, and grow cold and remiss about the 
great things of your salvation ! 

3. This ought oft to be pressed and seriously thought of, to stir up 
observation how it is with us. There is no man that observes his heart 
but will find this effect, that riches make the business of salvation more 

VKK. 25.] SE:;MON T S UPON MARK x. 17-27. 57 

difficult. Good David observed that his heart was corrupted by his 
condition : Ps. x. 6, He hath said in his heart, I shall never be moved ; 
for I shall never be in adversity. And elsewhere we find he was 
sensible that worldliness was creeping upon him : Ps. cxix. 36, Incline 
my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. A child of 
God hath not the bent of his heart so perfectly fixed towards God but 
it is ever and anon returning to its old bent and bias again. The best 
may find that they cannot keep their affections as loose from the world 
when they have houses, and lands, and all things at their will, as they 
could when they are kept low and bare. The best may find that their 
love to heavenly things is on the wane as worldly things are on the in 
crease. It is reported of Pius Quintus that he should say of himself, that 
when he first entered into orders, he had some hopes of his salvation ; 
when he came to be a cardinal, he doubted of it ; but since he came 
to be pope, he did even almost despair. Many may find a very great 
change in themselves, much decay of zeal for God s glory, and love to 
and relish of God s word, and minclfulness of heavenly things, as it fares 
better with them in the world. Now it is good to observe this before 
the mischief increaseth. Look, as jealousy and caution is necessary to 
prevent the entrance and beginning of this mischief, so observation is 
necessary to prevent the increase of it. When the world doth get too 
deep an interest in our hearts, when it begins to insinuate and entice 
us from God, and weaken our delight in the ways of God and zeal for 
his glory, then we need often to tell you how hard it is for a rich man 
to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

4. To stir up supplication for special and peculiar grace, that it may 
not be so with us, that the Lord would keep us from the snares of our 
condition ; for with God all things are possible ; that we may go to 
God, and say, Lord, let not my estate be my bane and poison. On the 
one side, it is a great judgment that God brings upon wicked men 
when their table becomes their snare, Ps. Ixix. 22, when their comforts 
are cursed to them, and when their hearts are drawn from God by 
their plentiful condition in the world. On the other side, it is a peculiar 
grace and favour from God when we be heavenly-minded in the midst 
of plenty, and keep up lively spiritual exercises of godliness notwith 
standing our opulency and plentiful condition in the world. Jehoshaphat 
is an instance to encourage you to pray for this : 2 Chron. xvii. 5, 6, 
it is said of him, He had riches and honour in abundance, and his 
heart was lift up in the ways of the Lord. Christians, it is hard to 
carry a full cup without spilling, to have riches and honour, and all 
this with great abundance, and yet to have a lively zeal towards God 
and a great delight in his ways. Now this is possible with God, and 
this God hath bestowed, and therefore it should be asked. There is 
nothing that quickens to prayer so much as a constant sense and appre 
hension of the danger and difficulty which attends such an estate ; 
therefore this must ever be laid before you, that your thoughts may be 
steeped in this consideration. 

Use 1. It serveth to check the desire of greatness and increase of 
wealth. If you had more your duty would be more, and your account 
greater, and your snares and temptations and stumbling-blocks in the 
way to heaven would be much more multiplied ; and therefore you 

58 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. XII. 

should be contented with what you have. If we cannot thrive in the 
valleys, and keep up a lively and warm respect to the world to come 
in a low condition, how should we expect to grow on the tops of the 
mountains, where we are more exposed to tempests, and the soil is more 
barren ? therefore you should strive rather to give a good account of a 
little than to make it more. The Lord knoweth that if you were a step 
higher, you would be apt to be proud, licentious, secure, mindless of 
eternal life, further off from God, and then better you had lived in 
beggary all your days. The time will soon come about when you will 
judge so, and therefore do not enlarge your desires, as if you could 
never have enough. 

Use 2. It teacheth us patience, not only in the want, but in the loss of 
outward riches. It is more irksome to lose than to want, as it was 
an unnatural thing for the sun to go back ten degrees in Ahaz s dial. 
Yet this is to be borne, for when God taketh away your wealth from 
you, he maketh your way to heaven more easy ; if God taketh away 
riches, he doth but take a bush of thorns out of the way that would 
prick and gore your souls. The world is apt to turn away your heart 
from true happiness, and to hinder you in the way that leadeth to it. 
Now God s grace is seen not only in fortifying the heart, but in abat 
ing the temptation ; he seeth you are apt to sleep upon a carnal pillow, 
and therefore taketh it from under your heads to awaken you. If you 
believe the word of God, that riches and honours do easily prove a snare, 
why should you be grieved when the snare is broken ? Do you love 
to have your salvation hindered or hazarded ? and therefore why are 
you so impatient when God cuts you short in these outward things ? 

Use 3. Let rich men think of this, and make application of this 
sentence to their own hearts, that they may possess their estates with 
fear. To this end, consider 

1. The person speaking is Christ, who had so much wisdom and love 
to tlie comfort and happiness of men, that he would not fright them 
with a needless danger. (See before on ver. 23.) 

2. Whom it is spoken of ; rich men. those that can live of themselves 
in the world without the supply of others. The disciples, that had little, 
cried out, Who then can be saved ? We fancy it is spoken only to 
the overgrown rich ; but they that have but one talent must improve 
it, and it is hard to do so. We must give an account of one talent as 
well as ten. The sensualist will turn this upon the covetous, and the 
covetous upon the sensualist, the voluptuous gallant upon the cor 
morants of the city, and they upon the epicures ; but Christ saith in 
definitely, the rich. 

3. What is spoken of, entering into the kingdom of God. It is 
salvation and eternal life ; not a trifle. Christ doth not say, He shall 
do no worthy exploits in the world, or arrive at no great degree of 
grace, but, He shall not enter into the kingdom of God. 

4. How it is spoken. It is represented by a similitude that im- 
plieth impossibility, or at least an extraordinary difficulty without a 
miracle of peculiar grace. 

Then look about you, sirs. Such speeches of Christ were doubly 
entertained with wonder, as by the disciples in the next verse, They 
were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then 

VEK. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 59 

can be saved ? or with scorn : Luke xvi. 14, The pharisees also, who 
were covetous, heard all these things, and derided him. For the rever 
ence you hear to Christ, I hope you will not entertain it with scorn, 
but rather with wonder, holy fear, and solicitude. 

I expect now you will say. What shall we do to prevent this mis 
chief ? 

[1.] Kemember your condition in the world. You are not a free- 
bolder, but a tenant-at-will : Luke xii. 20, Thou fool ! this night 
thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall all those things be 
which thou hast provided ? You are not owners, but stewards ; not 
lords and masters of what you have, but only must improve it for God ; 
and you must give an account : Luke xvi. 2, Give an account of thy 
stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward/ You are not 
citizens but strangers: 1 Peter ii, 11, Dearly beloved, I beseech you, 
as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against 
the soul. . The world is our inn, where we abide but for a night ; our 
dwelling is there where we live longest. 

[2.] Judge of your estates to be good or bad to you, not as they do 
accommodate the flesh, but as they help or hinder you in your way to 
heaven. Make heaven your end, and consider all things else as means 
and helps. Ordinances are the next means, riches and estates are 
remote helps to heaven. All things are measured by the great and 
last end, therefore you are to judge of all things as they help you on iu 
heaven s way. Better to be preserved in brine and pickle than to rot 
in honey. 

[3.] Devote your wealth to the Lord : Luke xii. 21, So is he that 
layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God. Kiches 
are snares, and will certainly prove means of our damnation if we do 
not so. That is the best condition for us in which we may do most 
service to God, and not to the flesh : Gal. vi. 8, For he that soweth 
to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the 
Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 


And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, 
Who then can be saved f MARK x. 26. 

IN this verse you have the entertainment of Christ s doctrine concerning 
the difficulty of rich men s being saved. The effects of it are two 
(1.) A great wonder or deep sense of this difficulty, They were 
astonished out of measure ; (2.) An anxious question, And they 
said among themselves, Who then can be saved ? 

For the first branch, their great wonder, Trepia-aws e^e7r\^a-crovTO, they 
were struck at heart, astonished out of measure/ We meet with it be 
fore at the first proposal of this difficulty, They were astonished at his 
words ; but now, when Christ had rendered the reason, and reassumed 


the former difficulty, It is easier for a camel/ &c., this doth increase 
the astonishment, and it is not barely said, they were astonished, but 
out of measure. Let us a little inquire into the reason of this won 
der. Why should the disciples be so troubled at this speech ? They 
were poor, or, however, had left all and followed Christ, as it is in the 
next words. 

1. Some say it was for others, to see so great a part of the world 
cut off from all hopes of salvation. Though all have not wealth, yet 
there are few but do desire it, and that desire may hinder as well as the 
enjoyment ; therefore, they being solicitous for the salvation of others, 
they were astonished, and said, Who then can be saved ? Certainly 
it is good not only to work out our own salvation, but to effect the 
salvation of others. We have a saying, Omne bonum est sui diffu- 
sivum All good seeks to propagate itself ; as fire turns all things 
about it into fire. This is the disposition of God s people ; when they 
have found any comfort and benefit by Christ themselves, they desire 
others should share with them, and be partakers of the same grace and 
heirs of the same promises. David, after many roarings and disquiets, 
when he had found that penitent confession of sin was such a notable 
way for the easing of his own conscience, and had seen the fruit of 
humble dealing with God, he pens the 32d psalm, which is Ma- 
schil, a psalm of instruction/ and so is willing to teach others the 
way. So Andrew calls Peter when he had found Christ, John i. 41, 
and Philip calls Nathanael, ver. 45. Carnal things are possessed 
with envy. They that are rich and great in the world would shine 
alone, and when they are gotten to the top themselves, they are loath 
to teach others the way to climb up after them. But it is not so with 
spiritual things, grace is charitable and communicative. Indeed, where 
any take up religion out of faction and carnal aims, they would enclose 
the common salvation, and envy the profession and hope of it to others, 
that they may be the better esteemed and respected themselves. It is 
observed of mules and other creatures that are of mixed and bastard 
production, that they never procreate and beget after their kind. 
Mongrel Christians are envious rather than communicative ; but those 
that have really tasted of the sweetness of Christ themselves are glad 
of company, and it is a great satisfaction to them to hear that others 
are in a towardly or hopeful way of salvation : 1 John i. 3, That 
which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may 
have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, 
and with his Son Jesus Christ. The apostle had fellowship with 
Christ, and therefore was so zealous to bring others to the enjoyment 
of that privilege ; therefore, this might be one reason why the disciples, 
that were safe as to their own particular, and had left all and followed 
Christ, were troubled to hear that it was so hard for rich men to be 
saved. Surely this charitable disposition becomes us well, and answers 
the great patterns we have in the world. We read of some that were 
so zealous for the salvation of others that in some sense they preferred 
it before their own : Blot me out of thy book that thou hast written/ 
saith Moses, Exod. xxxii. 32 ; and Paul, I could wish that myself were 
accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the 
flesh/ Rom. ix. 3. So much of personal happiness as resulted to him 

VEIL 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 61 

i rom communion with God, he could even lay it down at God s feet 
for their sake. These are rare instances I confess, but some portion of 
this spirit all should have : Charity seeketh not her own/ 1 Cor. xiii. 5. 
Chrysostom saith, I cannot believe it is possible for that man to be 
saved who doth not labour to procure and further the salvation of 
his neighbour ; for whoever would go to heaven would not go to 
heaven alone, but laboureth to draw others along with him. Vide 
Chrysostom de Sacerdot., lib. vi. It was out of zeal for the salvation of 

2. The former reason was good, and argued a gracious disposition 
in them, but this that I shall now give is of a worse alloy, and argues 
weakness. And yet I cannot but think that this had an influence 
upon them, viz., the hopes of an earthly kingdom, and the great 
emoluments and preferments they expected thence. Christ s own dis 
ciples were deeply leavened with a conceit of an earthly kingdom 
which the Messiah should set up. And though they had left all and 
followed him in his poor estate, yet they expected greatness and honour, 
and the confluence of all worldly blessings, when the kingdom of the 
Messiah should begin ; and therefore, when they heard Christ again and 
again expressing himself concerning the difficulty of rich men s enter 
ing into the kingdom of God, They were astonished out of measure, 
as finding all their carnal hopes dashed at once. I cannot but think 
this was one cause of their astonishment, because in all their converses 
with Christ they bewrayed a spice of this humour. Two instances I 
shall give as a pregnant proof of it. One when they were at the 
sacrament, a little before the death of Christ : There was a strife 
amongst them which of them should be accounted the greatest, Luke 
xxii. 24. They understood that the kingdom was consigned to them 
in that ordinance, and they were framing of principalities, and striving 
who should have the highest preferment and office in this kingdom. 
Nay, you shall see after Christ had suffered such ignominious things 
at Jerusalem, this conceit abode with them ; and therefore after his 
resurrection they come to him with this question, Lord, wilt thou at 
this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? Acts i. 6. They 
thought the Messiah would set up a temporal kingdom over all nations, 
and that they should at least be princes and lords under him, in the 
exercise of his dominion and sovereignty. Justin Martyr tells us that 
the heathens imagined some insurrection that the Christians would be 
guilty of against magistracy, because they spoke so much of the king 
dom of heaven ; and well might they be excused of their jealousy and 
of this surmise, since Christ s own disciples were so far mistaken in it, 
whom he had so often warned of the cross, and to whom he had expressly 
said, that his kingdom was not of this world. But we see hence that 
the best are too carnal, and too apt to mind earthly things, and to please 
themselves with the dreams of a happy estate in the world. The 
appetite of temporal dominion, and wealth, and honour, and peace is 
natural to us, and we think God doth us wrong if he doth not make 
us flourish here. All God s children find something of this disposition. 
ill themselves, even whilst they are under the cross ; they do too little 
comfort themselves with the meditation of the glory of the world to 
come, but are always feeding themselves with desires and hopes of an 

62 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiR. XIII. 

earthly happiness, and of turning the tide and current of affairs that 
seem to be against them, that the world may more smile upon them, 
and befriend them more ; and when they are frustrated and disap 
pointed of this hope, their soul faints, and they are astonished out of 
measure. Oh ! this is a sign that our conversation is not in heaven, 
and that we do not seek the things that are above, and are not perfectly 
subdued to the will of God, who many times sees the cross to be 
necessary and profitable for us ; and therefore, to please ourselves still 
with carnal hopes and dreams of a commodious and comfortable con 
dition in the world, is not for a Christian. 

3. The sense of this difficulty might revive the thoughts of other 
difficulties. Other things besides riches might obstruct them, and 
hinder their passage to heaven ; and therefore, even those that had left 
all and followed Christ were astonished out of measure, when they 
understood the way to heaven to be much harder than they formerly 
conceited. Certainly it is good to think of the general case when one 
instance is given. Is it hard to the rich and not to the poor ? have 
they no temptations ? When we hear strict doctrine pressed, we 
should not put it off to others, but fear for ourselves. The poor dis 
ciples were astonished out of measure when Christ spake to the rich, 
How hard it was for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven. 

4. Possibly this astonishment might arise from fear of the success of 
the gospel, wherein they were to be employed as instruments, when 
they heard that rich men were not likely to prove friends, but rather 
enemies to the kingdom of God. Alas ! what should they do that had 
parted with all, and were like to be left destitute to the mercy of an 
unkind world ! If the great and mighty men of the world, who 
should be their props and supports, should so hardly be gained, alas ! 
then how should they go abroad and preach with any efficacy for the 
saving of souls ! Now, whether this or that or all caused the wonder, 
I will not now determine ; all these have an influence upon it, and for 
these reasons they were astonished out of measure. This is the first 
effect, their wonder. 

The second effect is a doubt moved among themselves privately, 
Who then can be saved ? This question may be looked upon either 

1. As a question of anxious solicitude. Alas ! how is it that any 
can be saved ! Or 

2. Of murmuring and secret dislike. Why, if it be so, who is able 
to receive this severe doctrine, or to enter upon this strict course? 
Now which of these shall we take it to be ? Either for a question of 
anxious solicitude, or a question of murmuring and secret repining ? 
I answer 

[1.] I suppose this question expresseth their anxious solicitude, and 
so for the main it is a good question. When we hear strict doctrine, 
it is good to be moved with it, and fall a-questioning. Many hear it 
over and over again, yet are slight, no wonder, no astonishment in their 
hearts ; therefore it is good when it is weighed and laid to heart. 
This question of the apostles brings to mind a saying of one, when ho 
heard Christ s sermon on the mount read to him, he cried out, Aut hoc 
non est evangelium, aut nos non sumus christiani Either this is not 
true gospel, or we are not true Christians. 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 63 

[2.] There might be something of weakness, mixtures of infirmity. 
I cannot say there was nothing of murmuring and dislike ; the mutter 
ing or saying this among themselves seems to infer it ; they durst 
not make Christ conscious to the question, for it is in the text, They 
said among themselves ; that is, they muttered privately, and so it 
argues there was something of dislike. 

[3.] This weakness was not to a prevalent degree, so as to make 
them take offence, and depart from Christ, as we find others did upon 
the like occasion, when Christ had preached something strict and con 
trary to their humour : John vi. 60, 61, Many of the disciples when 
they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it ? When 
Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto 
them, Doth this offend you ? What and if you shall see the Son of 
man ascend up where he was before, &c. And from that time many 
of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him, ver. 66. 
Now these, though they were astonished at the strangeness of the doc 
trine of Christ, yet they did not reject or refuse the belief of it. 
There was more of anxious solicitude, but somewhat of muttering, 
Who then can be saved. 

Doct. When the difficulties of salvation are sufficiently understood 
and laid forth, we shall wonder that any are or can be saved ? 

I shall prove (1.) That it is a difficult thing to be saved; (2.) 
Wherein the difficulty of salvation doth lie ; (3.) Show how tin s 
ought to be seriously minded and regarded by us, that it is such a 
difficult thing to go to heaven. 

I. That it is a difficult thing to be saved. Christ showeth that, 
Mat. vii. 14, Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth 
unto life, and few there be that find it. The way to heaven is some 
what like that which is described, 1 Sam. xiv. 4, And between the 
passages by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines 
garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on 
the other side. So is our way to heaven a strait way, between rock 
and rock ; here is the rock of vain presumption, and there the rock of 
despairing fears. Indeed, the text tells us of two things, the gate strait, 
the way narrow. The gate is strait, the entrance into religion hard ; 
there must be repentance and bewailing our former sins, the working 
up the heart to a fixed resolution against sin, and a serious dedicating 
ourselves to God. Oh ! how hard is it to pass through this gate ! And 
then there is a narrow way, full of difficulties to corrupt nature ; our 
lusts are impatient of any restraint, and we are loath entirely to give 
up ourselves to do and suffer God s will. So Mat. xi. 12, The king 
dom of heaven sufFereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 
It is no wonder that earthly kingdoms are surprised by violence, but it 
is strange that the kingdom of heaven should suffer violence ; how 
shall we understand this ? Violence doth not signify unlawful attempts, 
but earnest diligence. It is not an injurious violence, such as snatches 
at earthly crowns, but the industrious violence, a resolution to break 
through all impediments, and take no nay ; no discouragements can 
much abate our edge, and take us off from our pursuit of the heavenly 
kingdom. So 1 Peter iv. 18, a righteous man is scarcely saved, /ioXt? 
; with much ado he gets to shore, he makes a hard shift to 


get to heaven. This is enough to intimate the general truth, that 
there is difficulty to get to heaven. 

II. Wherein lies the difficulty of salvation ? The reason of doubt 
ing is this, because God s terms upon which heaven is offered are 
gentle and sweet : Mat. xi. 30, My yoke is easy, and my burden is 
light. The law which God hath given us is holy, just, and good, 
becoming a God to give and a creature to receive : Kom. vii. 17, The 
law is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good ; a 
law such as a man would choose if he were at liberty, and at his own 
option and choice. Therefore how is it so difficult, especially since 
there is so much strength given. Habitual strength : Eph. ii. 10, We 
are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. We 
are fitted by his grace ; and there is so much actual strength : I can 
do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 13. 
God is no Pharaoh, to require brick where he gives no straw. And 
therefore, since the way is so good, his yoke so easy, and there is so 
much strength given, and since the encouragements are so many, both 
from the work and from the wages. From the work itself: Her ways 
are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace, Prov. iii. 7. 
There is a great deal of peace, comfort, and sweetness in walking with 
God, as those that travelled to Sion, Passing through the valley of 
Baca, make it a well, the rain also filleth the pools/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 6 ; so 
they meet with many comfortable refreshings in a course of godliness. 
And then for the wages, God is a rewarder of them that diligently 
seek him, Heb. xi. 6. Well, then, to sum up all, these things concur, 
since the way is plain, the helps many, the promises full and sure, why 
is it so difficult to go to heaven ? I answer The fault is not in God, 
but in our own selves, in our own hearts, in our addictedness to temporal 
satisfactions ; and therefore when God calls us off from the interests 
and concernments of the present world, wholly to look after the interests 
and concernments of the world to come, the disposition of our flesh or 
carnal nature and the course of God s institutions will not suit. And 
this must needs be a very great difficulty, not easily removed, because 
(1.) It is natural to us ; (2.) It is increased by custom ; (3.) It hath a 
powerful efficacy upon us to hinder us from walking in the ways of 
God, that are so sweet and pleasant. 

1. This is natural to us, to be led by sense, or to be addicted to pre 
sent things. There are three sorts of beings in the world angels, that 
are pure spirits without flesh, these were made for heaven, and not 
earth ; there are brute creatures, that are flesh without immortal souls, 
these were made for earth, and not heaven ; and there is man, a middle 
nature between both these, that hath a fleshly substance and an 
immortal soul, made partly for heaven and partly for earth, as partak 
ing of both ; he hath a body that was made out of the dust, and so 
fitted to live in this world, and he hath a soul that came down from 
the superior world, and must return thither again. Now these two 
things must be regarded according to the dignity of the parts of which 
man consisteth, his earthly part and his heavenly part. The soul being 
the better part, the perfection and happiness of it should chiefly be 
looked after. The good of the soul is the enjoyment of the ever-blessed 
God, this should be our main work and business ; and the good of the 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 65 

body should be looked after in an inferior and subordinate manner. 
The good of the body is meat, drink, wealth, honour ; these things are 
to be looked after in our passage to heaven. The good of the soul is 
the chief good, and so should be looked after as our great end and 
scope, and the good of the body minded only as a means. Man was 
made for earth in his passage and way to heaven, but his home and 
happiness is in heaven, where he is to enjoy the blessed God among 
his holy angels, and those blessed creatures that dwell above in the 
region of spirits. This was the end for which man was created, and 
while man continued innocent he had a heart inclined and disposed 
towards God as his chiefest good ; he sought the good of his soul, and 
was to love him, and fear him, and serve him, and depend upon him as 
the fountain of his happiness. But by the fall man was drawn off 
from God to the creature to seek his happiness there : They have for 
saken the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken 
cisterns, that can hold no water, Jer. ii. 13. Not only Adam in his 
own person, but all his posterity are turned from God to the creature. 
Now man in his pure naturals is inclined to the creature, which con- 
duceth to the satisfaction of the earthly part, and not to God, wherein 
the happiness of his soul lies. This will be evident to you if you con 
sider that though the soul be created by God, yet it is created destitute 
of grace or original righteousness ; and being destitute of the image of 
God or original righteousness, it doth only accommodate itself to the 
interests of the body, and seek the happiness of the body ; for where 
there is not a principle to carry us higher, it can only close with things 
present and known, such as are the pleasures of the body and the 
interests of the bodily life, and so forgets God and what concerns the 
enjoyment of him. And so it is said, Bom. viii. 5, They that are 
after the flesh do mind (or savour) the things of the flesh, and they 
that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Therefore take man i u 
in his pure naturals, as destitute of grace, his soul forgets its divine 
original, and so conforms itself to the body, and only seeks its welfare 
and happiness ; and thence proceeds all our mindlessuess of God and 
averseness to him, our unruly and inordinate appetites of temporal 
things, and the confusion, weakness, and disorder that is seen in the 
life of man and all his operations and faculties. Hence comes that 
dulness and slowness that is in his understanding to conceive of spiritual 
things, his acuteness in back and belly concernments : He that lacketh 
these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, 2 Peter i. 9. He is sharp- 
sighted in all things that concern the present world, but cannot see 
things to come ; and until the Lord make a gracious change upon him, 
he sees nothing of the worth of salvation, or of a need of Christ, and 
making any serious preparation for eternity. Hence comes that averse- 
ness of will to what is truly good, that he cannot endure to hear of it : 
Eom. viii. 7, The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not 
subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. And while the soul 
is so, it hath such a bent and proneness to that which is evil, or what 
concerns our interest in the world. Hence it is that our memories are 
so frail and slippery as to that which is good, and so tenacious of that 
which is evil. Good things easily slip from us, as clear water through 
a grate ; but evil things, as slime and mud, stick with us. Henco 



comes his affections to be like tinder, to take fire at the spark of every 
temptation ; the affections are awakened and stirred presently ; but in 
holy things they are like fire in wet wood, that needs much blowing 
and much excitation. Hence it is that in the course of our lives we 
take up with the interests of the present world, and make no provision 
for a better life ; we are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, 
2 Tim. iii. 4, and forsake God for the present world : 1 Tim. iv. 10, 
Demas hath forsaken us, having loved the present world. Well, then, 
by a natural constitution we are utterly at a loss, the soul being desti 
tute of a principle that should carry it to look after spiritual things as 
its great scope and interest ; it wholly purveys and caters for bodily 
pleasures, and the honours and profits of the present life. Here lieth 
the great difficulty in the way of salvation. 

2. This addictedness to present things is increased by our converse 
in the world ; so that besides natural inclination there is inveterate 
custom, whereby this inclination to carnal satisfactions, such as riches, 
pleasures, ease, safety, and sensual delights, is strengthened and deeply 
engraved in us. The first years of a man s life are merely governed by 
sense, and the pleasures of the flesh are born and bred up with us, by 
which means we come to be stiff, and settled in a carnal frame. 
Custom is another nature, and therefore the more we are accustomed 
to delight in any course of life, we are weaned from it with the greater 
difficulty : Jer. xiii. 23, Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the 
leopard his spots ? then may ye also do good, who are accustomed to 
do evil. Every act disposeth the soul to the habit, and after the habit 
or custom is produced, every new deliberate act adds a stiffness of bent, 
or sway unto the faculty, wherein the custom is seated ; so that by 
degrees we grow into an obstinacy and strength of will in a carnal course, 
which is called hardness of heart, or a heart of stone, in scripture. 
A man is ensnared by his customs, whatever they be ; for an addicted- 
ness in the general to carnal satisfactions brings a slavery upon us. So 
if men be addicted to this or that carnal satisfaction, it brings slavery 
upon them ; as a man that is given to wine : Titus ii. 3, Not given to 
much wine. The word in the original is SeSoiAxw/ieyo?, ensnared by 
wine ; or a man that is given to women : 2 Peter ii. 14, Having eyes 
full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin. Men by the tyranny of 
custom become so impotent to resist their lusts, that the satisfaction 
thereof becomes their very element, out of which they cannot live ; it 
is their Eden and their heaven, their very paradise, though at length 
indeed they find it to be their hell. And of all evil customs, covetous- 
ness or worldliness is most dangerous, because it is of more credit and of 
less infamy in the world ; and besides, it doth multiply its acts most, and 
works incessantly ; and therefore we read of hearts exercised with covet 
ous practices, 2 Peter ii. 14. Their hearts are always running on the 
unworthy things of this present world. Now, while worldly men s hearts 
are so deeply dyed with such desires as carrieth them out to such things, 
they are hardly saved. Well, then, here is another reason of the diffi 
culty that our lusts are born and bred with us from our infancy, and 
can plead prescription, and religion cometh afterwards, and findeth us 
biassed and prepossessed with other inclinations, which by reason of 
long use cannot easily be broken and shaken off. 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 67 

3. Let us now consider the great efficacy and power which this incli 
nation to temporal things hath upon us, and then you will see it is very 
difficult for us to enter into heaven. 

[1.] This inclination and addictedness to present things weakens our 
sense of the world to come, and then our reward hath no influence upon 
us to move us and encourage us to serve God. Whilst the world bears 
bulk in our eye, heavenly things are of small or of no value with us. 
Satan blinds us as the god of this world, 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; that is, by the 
love of the world. Christ cured the blind man by anointing his eyes 
with clay, but the devil puts out the eyes of our souls with this thick 
clay, for gold is so called : Hab. ii. 6, That ladeth himself with thick 
clay. He blinds us so as we cannot have a true sight and persuasion 
of the truth and worth of things to come. We cannot look afar off into 
the other world : 2 Peter i. 9, He that lacketh these things is blind, 
and cannot see afar off. Mountains seem molehills only at so great a 
distance ; heaven is as a matter of nothing in comparison of present 
things ; as in a prospective glass, look at one end of it, it greatens the 
object, at the other end it lessens the object. Thus when we look upon 
things to come through the glass of our own passions and carnal affec 
tions, they are nothing, they have no force nor power to move us. 
Saith Austin, Men do not look after heavenly things ; Quia in terrena 
prori dorsum eorum semper incurvum est, their backs and necks are 
bowed down, that they cannot look upward and have any true sight of 
heaveflly things ; the world and the profits of it are real and substantial, 
but heavenly things are shadows, dreams, matters of conceit and mere 
imagination. And therefore, since this addictedness to temporal things 
hath such force upon us, to hinder the sight of the world to come, it 
must needs be difficult to us to be saved. 

[2.] This addictedness to present delights and pleasures makes us 
impatient of the restraints of religion. Our natural desires carry us to 
those things which religion forbids. We cannot endure to be bridled, 
and kept from forbidden fruit, but we have all an appetite after it : Ps. 

11. 3, Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from 
us ; and Jer. v. 5, They have altogether broken the yoke and burst 
the bonds ; and Kom. viii. 7, The carnal mind is enmity against God, 
for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Niti- 
mur in vetitum, the prohibition doth but irritate corruption, as a stream 
if checked grows more furious. A man wholly given up to present 
satisfactions cannot endure the yokes and fetters religion would lay upon 
him ; he would be a free creature, and live as he list. Indeed it is to 
be a captive creature, but this he accounts his liberty and freedom. 

[3.] It maketh those duties seem irksome and unnecessary which are 
necessary as the way to salvation. Look into the book of God, and 
you will find we are called upon to strive to enter into heaven, and 
required to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 

12, with all holy solicitude, with all lively diligence, to be still employed 
in this work ; To strive to enter in at the strait gate/ Luke xiii. 24 ; 
To walk worthy of God, who hath called us to his kingdom and glory, 
1 Thes. ii. 12. Now they that are addicted to ease, pleasure, and sen 
sual delights cannot endure to be held to this work ; they do either 
openly refuse this work, or delay it, which is the more modest denial, 


or else are cold in it. Some profane persons cast off all care of duty, 
as if religion were but a point of policy, heaven but a dream, and hell 
but a false fire, the gospel but a fable to busy men s heads with, and so 
resolve to please the flesh, and never trouble themselves about uncertain 
futurities. Many thus live in defiance of God and Christianity, or else 
they delay to a more convenient season, they have no mind to the work : 
Acts xxiv. 25, Go thy way for this time ; when I have a more con 
venient season, I will send for thee. Lust must have present satisfac 
tion, but Christ comes always out of season. When Christ makes an 
offer of heaven to their souls, hereafter they will be glad to hear of him, 
but now he comes before the time. As he said in Seneca, A quingua- 
gessima in otium discedam When I am fifty years old, then I will 
retire and study philosophy ; so when their youthful vanities are spent, 
then they will look after these things. When the heart cannot keep 
out light and conviction of our duty, it seeks to keep off care, and so 
by making fair promises for the future we elude the importunity of 
present conviction. Or else a heart addicted to present satisfaction is 
very cold in religion, for the heart that is diverted by other pursuits 
cannot make religion its work, but only minds it by the by. The world, 
that is their business, but religion, that is put in the place of a recreation, 
and they mind earthly things, Phil. iii. 19. Their heads and hearts 
are full of the world, so that they have no room for God. Their time, 
thoughts, discourses are wholly swallowed up of present things and 
complying with their present lusts. 

[4.] This addictedness to present satisfactions will make us shrink at 
the trials God exerciseth us with before we go to heaven : Acts xiv. 22, 
Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God. 
All good things are hard to come by, and God will show that heaven 
is worth something. When men have cheap thoughts of it, God will 
enhance the price of heaven. There must be striving and suffering before 
we get thither. The howling wilderness was the ready way to Canaan. 
The captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering. We 
should else neither esteem the cross of Christ nor long for heaven ; but 
present ease, present safety, present wealth doth wonderfully enchant 
us, to have good days here, and a quiet life without any trouble. If 
we could compound with God for this world and heaven too, then we 
should like it ; but now, while we are so wholly inclined and addicted 
to present things, it must needs be a difficult thing to hear of trials and 
crosses that we must endure. 

III. This difficulty must be sufficiently understood and seriously 
thought of by us. And here 

1. Negatively. We should so reflect upon the difficulty (1.) Not 
to murmur against God because heaven is not to be had upon cheaper 
terms, and his ways lie so cross to our desires. Take heed of this ; as 
if he were envious, and had not a good respect for the happiness of his 
creature. It is but reasonable that we should labour for heaven, as we 
do for all other things that are good and excellent ; that which costs 
nothing is worth nothing. Besides, there are so many corruptions to 
be mortified, duties to be performed, and trials to be endured, that the 
faith of the elect may be found to the more praise and honour, 1 Peter 
i. 7, and therefore all the pains, and shame, and loss, and trouble, is but 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 69 

necessary. This is an ill use and end to murmur against God and 
repine against his sovereignty and dominion over the creature ; and yet 
this is the use that many make of it : John vi. 60, Many of his disciples 
when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying, who can hear it ? 
What ! nothing but mortifying our desires ? nothing but thwarting 
our pleasing inclinations ? nothing but performing such works which 
we cannot abide. Why hath God planted such desires in us if he 
would not have them satisfied ? (2.) Not that we should despair or 
wholly despond, as those, Jer. xviii. 12, There is no hope, but we will 
walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination 
of his evil heart ; and Jer. ii. 25, There is no hope ; no, for I have 
loved strangers, and after them will I go. Well, I see my condition is 
helpless and hopeless, therefore I resolve to make the best of it. When 
men hear how hard it is to go to heaven, they throw off all in a de 
spondency, they shall never br.ing their hearts to this work. But we 
should not despair ; and think it altogether impossible Trpoaipya-i? OVK 
earlv a&vvcnwv ; there cannot be a pursuit of that which is impossible. 
Past cure, they say, past care. Many, their affections are so strongly 
set upon carnal things, and they are so inveigled with the comforts of 
the world and the pleasures of the flesh, that they are discouraged, and 
so think it impossible to do otherwise than they do. Oh, no ! that is 
not the use of it. Do not say, There is no hope of the world to come, 
therefore let us make the best of this life. God would have the fallen 
creature to despair of himself indeed : With man it is impossible, but 
with God all things are possible, as in the next verse. 

2. Positive. Why should these difficulties be thought of and laid 
to heart ? to what end ? 

[1.] To prevent slightness of spirit. There is not a greater bane to re 
ligion, nor a greater judgment lights upon a creature, than a vain, frothy, 
slight heart ; and therefore, to prevent this, and that we may in good 
earnest mind the things of our eternal peace, it is good to understand 
sufficiently the difficulty of it. A slight heart thinks it no such great 
matter to get to heaven, there is no such danger of missing it as men talk 
of ; though they be not so religious as preachers would have them, nor 
so strict in conscience as to abstain from every smaller matter, yet through 
the grace of God they shall do well enough. Hell is made for the devil 
and devilish men and outrageous sinners ; if they live fairly, and do as 
their neighbours do, they shall do well enough, though they do not pine 
and whine over their sins, or busy their brains about clearing up their 
interest in God ; though they be not so nice and scrupulous, and take 
God s word too strictly, they shall do well enough for all that. Chris 
tians, these conceits, with which most men are leavened, are the bane, 
and eat out the heart of all religion. It is no such easy matter to go to 
heaven as the world imagines. A cold faint wish will never bring us 
thither, nor a desire to enjoy it when we can live here no longer. No ; 
there must be watching, and labouring, and striving; this must be 
your great business and employment : Ps. xxvii. 4, One thing have I 
desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the 
house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the 
Lord, and to inquire in his temple. Oh 1 whatever is neglected, this 
business must be looked after day after day, namely, in what posture 


we are for the enjoyment of the blessed God : Phil, iii 12, 
" I follow after it, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am 
apprehended of Christ , Acts xxvi. 7, Unto which hope the twelve 
tribes served God instantly/ some render it; but it is ev eKreveia, 
with all their strength, day and night, hope to come. Now it is neces 
sary men should be sensible of the difficulty of being saved, to quicken 
their endeavours, and to bring them out of this slight frame of heart 
which is so natural to us ; they think there needs not so much ado 
that we make the way straiter than God hath made it ; they will not 
believe it is half so hard as it is. We see how great is our sloth and 
negligence. Now, if after he hath told us it is as hard as to go through 
the eye of a needle, what would we do if all were easy ? Think of the 
difficulty to prevent this slight heart. 

[2.] To keep us in a due dependence upon and an admiration of 
grace, God would have us sensible of the difficulty. What carnal 
hearts have we ! how hard a matter is it to guide and govern them in 
the fear of God that we may keep up an admiration of the power of 
God that is perfected in our weakness ! 2 Cor. xii. 10, When I am 
weak, then am I strong. Alas ! when we look to ourselves, we may 
cry out, when we think of these things, Who can be saved ? This 
awakeneth our prayers for special grace from day to day, and rnaketh, 
us to look up to God for new supplies, because we find it is not in our 
selves : * The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that 
walketh to direct his steps, Jer. x. 23 ; We are not sufficient of our 
selves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God/ 
2 Cor. iii. 5. 

[3.] That we may be forearmed with resolutions. They that take 
a walk for recreation do not prepare for all weathers, as they that 
resolve upon a journey ; or they that go to sea for pleasure, if they see 
a storm coming, easily go to shore again, but they that go for 
business resolve upon all hazards to finish their voyage. Now, that we 
may resolve to make a thorough work of Christianity, and to hold on our 
way in Christ s strength notwithstanding all difficulty, our Lord would 
have us to sit down and count the charges, Luke xiv. 28, to consider what 
it will cost us to go to heaven ; not to discourage us, but to provoke us 
to put on the more resolution, lest we tire when we find more difficulty 
than we did expect, and that we may resolve to hold on with God, 
whatever it cost us. 

Use 1. This shows us the reason of that presumption which is so 
common. We use to say that despair kills thousands, but presumption 
its ten thousands. What is the reason that many presume ? Oh ! the 
difficulties of salvation are not well weighed. True hope is a middle 
thing between presumption and despair ; the object of hope is bonum, 
futurum, arduum, sed possibile. Hope considers its object as hard, for 
that which is easy to come by is as if it were already enjoyed ; a man 
cannot be said to hope for that which he may have with the turn of 
his hand. Well, then, it considers the good to come as difficult, to 
awaken diligence and serious endeavours ; but then it considers it as 
possible, for otherwise we are really discouraged from looking after 
it ; for why should we look after that which is impossible ? Paul s 
mariners gave over working when all hope that they should be saved 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 71 

was taken away, Acts xxvii. 20. But now presumption leaves out the 
difficulty, and reflects only upon the possibility. Some may be saved ; 
surely God will not damn all his creatures ; therefore I shall be saved. 
But suppose the contrary, few are saved ; then what shall become of me ? 
On the other aide, despair reflects only upon the difficulty, and leaves 
out the possibility. Oh ! it is hard, it is impossible with men, there 
fore they give it over. I shall make no work of it, saith despair. 
Now the scripture, that would breed and nourish in us a true hope, 
doth all along lay forth the difficulty, to prevent slightness of spirit, 
.and yet represents the possibility to prevent despair ; the difficulties 
to quicken our endeavours, and the possibility to encourage men to 
hope for the grace of God. 

2. It presseth us to mortify our addictedness to present things. 
Christians ! if you could overcome the world, you pluck out the root of 
all temptations, and then the commandments of God would not be 
grievous : 1 John v. 3, 4, For this is the victory whereby we overcome 
the world, even our faith ; the world is the great let which hinders us 
from keeping the command, from being so exact, punctual, and sincere 
with God, Overcome the world, and the work will be easy. Take 
heed of pleasing the flesh, or letting the world have too great an 
interest in your hearts ; let it not seem a great thing in your eye. 
Until your hearts are drawn off from present things, and you are 
wholly baptized into that spirit that suits with the world to come, to 
make that your main care and desire, you will never prosper in heaven s 
way, until your thoughts be loosened from the world, and you are 
carried out more to heaven and heavenly things. Consider, why should 
you be addicted to present things ? You that are strangers and not 
inhabitants, your happiness lies not here : If our hopes were only in 
this life, we were of all men most miserable, 1 Cor. xv. 19. We aro 
but probationers for heaven : Our conversation should be in heaven/ 
Phil. iii. 20. 

3. To fortify us against the difficulties in the way of salvation. You 
must be at some pains and labour : John vi. 27, Labour not for the 
meat that perisheth, but for that meat that endureth unto everlasting 
life. Do not slacken your endeavours. To quicken you, consider 

[1.] If you love your salvation, you will be at some cost about it. It 
it is a sign you make no reckoning of heaven, and have no great sense 
of things to come, when you grudge your pains ; it is a sign you slight 
it when you are so slow in the pursuit of it : Phil. iii. 14, I press 
towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ 
Jesus. Oh ! did you value heaven, or had you any esteem of heavenly 
things, you would not think much of a little pains, of striving with 
God in prayer, of wrestling, and denying your lusts, to bring your 
hearts to a readiness and cheerfulness in the service of the ever-living 
God. No trade in the world you can drive on by idleness. Who ever 
prospered in any course of living if he followed it with a slack hand ? 
We cannot think to have those great invisible things of the Lord s 
kingdom and his glory if you will do nothing for it. 

[2.] There is difficulty both in the way to heaven and hell. Lusts 
.are ravenous things, and cannot be fed or kept without much self- 
denial. You must deny yourselves either for God or the devil. You 

72 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [SfiB. XIY. 

must deny your comforts, and your estate. Men will venture much 
for their lusts and for their sensuality ; there must be a great deal of 
charge to feed this humour, to satisfy the pleasures of the flesh ; it 
is costly to be an epicure. Worldliness wastes the spirits, racks the 
brain. For ambition, how many hazards do men run for their great 
ness in the world ? how many men sacrifice their lives upon the point 
of honour, for revenge, and for a little vainglory ! Now, if a man will 
take pains to go to hell, shall he not take pains to- go to heaven ? 
When men will be at such costs for lusts as to deny conscience and 
slight many of the comforts of the present world for lust s sake, shall 
we take no pains and exercise no self-denial for heaven ? 

[3.] If we be at a little labour it will not be in vain in the Lord : 
1 Cor. xv. 58, Be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the 
work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in 
vain in the Lord. Whether you consider your vales or wages, your 
labour is not in vain. Your vales : Christ s servants have a great deal 
of comfort and sweetness : Prov. iii. 17, Her ways are ways of 
pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. And for the world to come 
there is a full and sure reward ; therefore do not stick at a little pains ; 
though it be difficult, yet remember it is for salvation. 

4. Let us look to our own selves ; how is it with us ? are we in the 
way to hell or heaven ? Let us look to our own standing ; do we 
leave the boat to the stream ? do we give up ourselves to the sway of 
our corrupt and carnal affections ? or else do we row against the 
stream and current of flesh and blood ? It is no easy matter to be 
saved. I do not ask now what will become of those that never minded 
salvation, that never busied their thoughts about it, but even in effect 
say, Let them take heaven that list ; but I ask, what will become of 
those slothful perfunctory Christians that count a little slight and formal 
religion enough, which is without any life, alacrity, and power ? Will 
this do the deed ? Such will fall short of heaven. 


And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, With men it is impossible, but not 
with God ; for with God all things are possible. MARK x. 27. 

WE have seen the disciples wonder returning. Christ, that is never 
wanting to his in their trouble and astonishment, graciously looketh 
upon them, and in words full of comfort giveth a solution of that which 
was such a riddle to them, And Jesus, looking upon them, saith, &c. 
Here we have 

1. Christ s gesture, Jesus looked upon them. 

2. Christ s answer, by a distinction how it is impossible and how 
not. In the first part of the distinction there is a concession, That 
with men it is impossible. In the second branch there is a correction, 
But not with God. This latter branch is confirmed by a general 
reason, Tor with God all things are possible. In this text three 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MAUK x. 17-27. 73 

things are asserted (1.) The impotency of nature ; (2.) The sovereign 
efficacy of grace ; (3.) The general truth upon which it is grounded, and 
that is the omnipotency of God. Accordingly the points are three 

1. That it is impossible for mere man by his own natural strength to 
get to heaven. 

2. Men that are discouraged with the sense of their own impotency 
should consider the power of God. 

3. That this power of God is all-sufficient, and can do all things. 
Doct. 1. That it is impossible for mere man by his own natural 

strength to get to heaven. 

Two things will evidence that 

1 . There is legalis exclusio ; we are all excluded by the sentence of 
God s law, and therefore it is impossible for any mere man to get to 
heaven. The law knows no way of justifying a sinner, but only of 
saving a creature holy and innocent ; and if we be not holy and inno 
cent, there is a sentence in force against us. That scripture expresses 
the tenor of the law : Gal. iii. 10, For as many as are of the works of 
the law are under the curse ; for it is written, Cursed is every one that 
continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law 
to do them. An innocent nature is presupposed, for the person must 
continue, it doth not say now begin. The law doth not treat with man 
as lapsed or fallen, or as having already broken with God, but as in a 
good and sound estate ; and therefore,- since by the fall we are sinners, 
we are also under the curse by nature : Eph. ii. 3, And were by nature 
the children of wrath, even as others ; liable to the stroke of God s 
vindictive wrath. Well, now, with man it is impossible. God hath 
placed a cherub with a flaming sword that keeps the passage into para 
dise. Heaven s gates are shut against us now. No mere man can 
appease an angry God, or redeem his soul from the curse that keeps 
him out of heaven. We are weak and without strength : Rom. v. 6, 
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for 
the ungodly. Weakness or without strength there beareth the same 
sense with unworthiness. We are unable to perform the work or duty 
through the curse of the first covenant, and when we were altogether 
sinful and unworthy, then Christ died for us, and therefore it is impos 
sible in regard of his legal exclusion ; for suppose we could obey per 
fectly for the future, yet the paying of new debts doth not quit old 
scores. We are without strength, because we cannot expiate former 
transgressions, and so the law is become impossible through the weak 
ness of our flesh : Rom. viii. 3, For what the law could not do in that 
it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the like 
ness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh. 

2. There is evangelica difficultas; there are difficulties by the gospel 
which mere man cannot overcome. Though the gospel giveth hopes 
of entrance into heaven, or reversing the strict conditions of the law, 
yet upon such terms as we must be beholden to grace for them. Christ, 
that requires the conditions of the gospel, must also give them to us : 
Acts v. 31, Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince 
and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 
He is not only a prince and lawgiver, but also a saviour, or the author 
and fountain of grace. He doth not only give the privilege, remission; 

74 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [&ER, XIV. 

but he gives the condition, repentance. If you conceive of Christ that 
he doth give the privilege, and require the conditions, and no more, 
you legalise Christ, as the Samaritans had a temple without an ark 
and a mercy-seat ; so to speak of a law without grace, or if you 
separate the law of the gospel from the grace of the gospel, it is 

Why is it thus impossible with man upon gospel terms ? The legal 
impossibility all will acknowledge, but whence is this evangelical 
difficulty? It ariseth from three things there is vitiosa contra- 
rietas, a corrupt nature ; there are externa impedimenta, many out 
ward snares ; and there is inimica oppositio, a great deal of enmity 
and opposition ; therefore with man it is impossible. 

[1.] There is vitiosa contrarietas, a corrupt nature, inclined to evil 
and averse to good : Gen. vi. 5, God saw that the wickedness of man 
was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of 
his heart was only evil continually. Man hath such a heart that, if 
left to itself, will always be minting evil thoughts and evil desires and 
carnal and inordinate motions. And as the heart of man is prone to 
evil, so it is averse to what is good, and so averse that it cannot do any 
of the great duties that God hath required of him. Look upon this 
averseness and impotency with respect to duties ; he cannot know, 
believe, nor obey. He cannot know : 1 Cor. ii. 14, The natural man 
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ; for they are foolishness 
unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually dis 
cerned. And he cannot believe : John vi. 44, No man can come to 
me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him ; it is not said, 
he doth not, but he cannot. And he cannot obey : Rom. viii. 7, The 
carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of 
God, neither indeed can be/ And consider this impotency with respect 
to our thoughts, words, and deeds. He cannot think a good thought : 
2 Cor. iii. 5, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything 
as of ourselves. He cannot speak a good word: Mat. xii. 34, How 
can ye, being evil, speak good things? He cannot do any good thing: 
John xv. 5, Without me ye can do nothing. He doth not say, nihil 
magnum, you can do no great thing, you cannot acquit yourselves in 
some eminent temptation with honour, or in some notable duty ; but nihil, 
you can do nothing without me. Well, then, when we cannot know, 
nor believe, nor obey, nor think, nor speak, not do anything without 
grace, surely it is impossible man of himself should perform the 
conditions of the gospel ; he is wholly impotent, and unable to help 

[2.] There are externa impedimenta, outward impediments. Man 
is impotent and corrupt naturally, and his corruption is fed and 
strengthened by worldly things, and so his outward condition proves a 
snare to him : 1 John ii. 16, All that is in the world, the lusts of the 
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but 
is of the world. Lust or distempered appetite finds an answerable 
diet. There are sensible objects which to our souls as thus constituted 
prove shrewd and dangerous temptations and snares. If we will find 
the lust, the world will afford us the object. For the lusts of the flesh, 
there are pleasures and carnal delights to beset our souls, to inveigle 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 75 

and entice us from the strictness and severity of the Christian profes 
sion. For the lusts of the eye there are riches and all kinds of profits. 
For pride of life there are dignities, and superiorities, and popular 
acclamations, and all sorts of preferments, or anything men are natu 
rally proud of ; so that a poor creature living in the midst of so many 
snares and temptations, may sadly cry out, as Bernard doth, Oh, woe 
is me ! here are snares and temptations, and there is a sensual nature 
in us that is strongly drawn forth by all that is about us. It is true, 
riches, pleasures, and honours were not snares in their original institu 
tion or God s intention, but they prove so through our corrupt affection. 
God ordained them as miserimce necessitatis solatia, as Jerome tells us, 
to be helps and comforts in our mortal condition ; but through the 
strong affection we bear to them they prove snares : 2 Peter i. 4, The 
corruptions that are in the world through lust. It is from unmorti- 
fied corruption and lustings after them. Here, then, is that which 
increaseth the difficulty ; these sensible objects to which we have a great 
inclination by nature, and which are continually present with us, do 
enchant and divert the heart from God and heavenly things, so that 
we either sin in them or for them. In the use of them, or for the 
getting and keeping of them, we offend God many times, and cross the 
rule that is given unto us ; so that besides the natural impotency that 
is in us to all things spiritual, the soul is further depraved and corrupted 
by evil habits, or particular inclinations to any of these sensible objects. 
This is a superadded impediment to our condition by nature, as a 
crooked stick by growing becomes more difficult to be made straight. It 
is impossible for any mere man to receive the things of the Spirit, but 
much more for one that is wedded to any of these sensible things ; for 
here Christ puts the impossibility upon a carnal rich man, because he 
hath so much of the world to divert his heart from God and true 
happiness. There are degrees of impossibilities ; as some have fewer 
lets and impediments, and some have more, so it is more or less impos 
sible, as they need more or less of God s special and extraordinary grace. 
For let us consider any dispositions to these sensible objects. Let us 
consider any of the dispositions to these sensible things, be it riches, 
the lusts of the eye, so he calls covetousness, or an inclination to 
riches, for by the eye the heart is wounded, and so the difficulty of 
salvation is increased. When once men set up this as their scope, and 
make it their business to be rich and great in the world, They that 
will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, 1 Tim. vi. 9. Or be it 
an inclination to honour, either to popularity or esteem of the people ; 
or to ambition, or an inordinate desire of preferment by the magistrates 
and potentates of the world, John v. 44, How can ye believe that 
receive honour one of another ? it makes the impotency the greater. 
Or if it be an inclination to pleasures, Lovers of pleasures more than 
lovers of God, 2 Tim. iii. 4. But mostly doth our Lord here put tho 
difficulty upon riches. Why ? Because that is a complicate tempta 
tion, and that is the fuel of pleasure, and the means by which we get 
to honours and greatness in the world ; therefore here is the greater 
difficulty for a rich man in his corrupt estate to enter into the kingdom 
of God. 

[3.] There is inimica oppositio if we would go to heaven, there 


are enemies to oppose. The devil : 1 Peter v. 8, Your adversary the 
devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 
And wicked men : John xv. 19, If ye were of the world, the world 
would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have 
chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you ; and 
Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, 
2 Tim. iii. 12. But because the great opposition is from Satan, there 
fore I shall insist upon Eph. vi. 12, We wr-estle not against flesh and 
blood, but against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of 
this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places/ There is a more 
terrible and dangerous party against us than bodily and human power. 
Indeed we have bodily enemies, and they are great lets and great dis 
couragements in the way of salvation, when the Lord lets loose their 
hands against us. These are but Satan s auxiliary forces whom he stirs 
up and employs ; but the principal part of our conflict and wrestling 
is against devils and damneU angels, enemies of great power and 
strength and influence upon the rulers of the darkness of this world ; 
they have a mighty power upon the ignorant, carnal, and blind part of 
the world, and it is with these we contend and wrestle about the things 
which concern the honour of God, and the eternal welfare of our souls. 
Now this terrible opposition, how soon will it bear down a poor crea 
ture that stands merely by his own strength ! Alas ! set creature 
against creature, and Satan is too hard for us ; he exceeds us in the 
rank of beings, and so we are no match for the devil. Our adversary 
is of a spiritual, immaterial substance, and so invisible both in his 
nature and approaches, and doth often reach us a deadly blow before 
we know it is he, and in the very simplicity of our hearts we run into 
the snare. And again, he is so restless in his assaults, so unwearied 
in his motions : 1 Peter v. 8, Your adversary the devil as a roaring 
lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. The best Christian 
will be surprised if there be not a greater than he to stand by him and 
for him. He is either weakening our comforts, or enticing us to sin, or 
making us weary of the ways of God. If he cannot pervert us, and draw 
us by some gross sin to dishonour God, he ceaseth not to vex us, and 
make our heavenly course uncomfortable to us. The devil never ceases 
to pursue his designs, but observes all our motions, all the postures of 
our spirits ; when we are merry and when we are angry, when we are 
laughing and when we are mourning. He sees how the tree leans, 
and then joins his force to run us down. And he is of great power, 
one that can make terrible opposition, of great authority and influence 
over the carnal world, of great cunning and dexterity in setting our 
sins a- work. Certainly unless we be strong in the Lord, and in the 
power of his might, there is no standing, Eph. vi. 10-12, compared. 

But why hath God left it impossible to man, when he hath offered 
hopes by the new covenant ? 

(1.) That all the glory of the good that is in us may redound unto 
his grace : Eph. i. 6, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein 
he hath made us accepted in the beloved. That is God s end in the 
new covenant, that we might ever admire and highly esteem his glorious 
grace. And therefore it is not only grace that opens the door, that re 
moves the flaming sword that is against us, that takes away the curse 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 77 

of God, but in the whole business of salvation all is to be ascribed to 
grace : It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of 
God that showeth mercy, Rom. ix. 16. The words willeth and runneth 
are considerable. The Lord, that brings us into this state, keeps us in 
this state. 

(2.) To keep the creature in a constant dependence upon him, and 
that he might often hear from us. As long as a man is sufficient to 
himself, he never comes to God : Jer. ii. 31, We are lords, and will no 
more come unto thee. 2 If a man had the dominion over his own spirit, 
and were sufficient to himself, God would never hear from him. The 
prodigal went away from his father when he had his portion in his own 
hands and he never thought of returning till he had spent all and 
began to be in want, Luke xv. 14. Thus should we do with God. 
Prayer and all trading with heaven would cease if we were sufficient 
of ourselves as to do anything ; and therefore with man it is impossible. 

Use 1. Take heed that you do not make a wrong use of this impos 
sibility, namely, so as to be discouraged and throw off all, as if there 
were no hope. God hath left it so as that we may despair of our own 
strength, but not of his help. We should not be discouraged, since he 
worketh in us what he requireth of us. 

1. God can overcome all this difficulty. He that made the heart 
is above it, and can frame it to himself. Evangelical difficulty lies in 
three things the corruption of our nature, outward impediments, 
and Satan s opposition. Now the scripture represents God as able to do 
all for us. He can change our hearts, sanctify our condition, and help 
us to vanquish our temptations. 

[1.] He can change our hearts by regeneration. Alas ! we cannot 
change our natures or turn ourselves to God, and therefore we are apt 
to be cast down when we look upon God s holy ways and the strength 
of our own lusts. But God is able to change those hearts of ours, and 
take away their reluctancy ; not by making a violent impression, as we 
force a stone upward, but by imprinting in our hearts the habits of 
grace, whereby we are carried out willingly in the ways of God, and so 
our business becomes easy : Titus iii. 4, According to his mercy he 
saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy 
Ghost ; No man can come unto me except the Father which hath 
sent me draw him, John vi. 44 ; Draw me, and we will run after thee, 
Cant. i. 4. He puts forth his mighty power upon the heart, and 
changeth the bent of our souls, and so we come in. 

[2.] God can sanctify our condition, that it shall not be a snare. 
Christians, whatever you think of it, it is not easy to keep yourselves- 
unspotted from the world, to live in the midst of so many temptations 
and to carry on an equal, holy, heavenly frame of heart, such as the 
apostle mentions, 1 Cor. vii. 29-31, It remains that they that havo 
wives be as though they had none, and they that weep, as though they 
wept not ; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not ; and they 
that buy, as though they possessed not ; and they that use this world, 
as not abusing it. This is our duty ; but how shall we do to get such 
a weaned heart ? With man it is impossible but not with God. He 
can give a rich man such grace as to contemn the world, to lay up 
treasures in heaven, and upon religious reasons to leave all for Christ s 


sake. God taught Paul this holy weanedness : Phil. iv. 12, I know 
both how to be abased, and I know how to abound ; everywhere and 
in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to 
abound and to suffer need. And he can teach it you if you will wait 
upon him. Our own natural spirits indeed carrieth us quite another 
way : James iv. 5, 6, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy, 
but he giveth more grace. Our natural spirit is all for temporal 
things ; it envies the greatness of others, it designs for ourselves ; but 
when lusts rage, he can bridle them ; the Lord is able to give us a 
holy weanedness and moderation of our desires in the midst of all those 
baits and snares that we are compassed about withal. 

[3.] To conquer temptations. It is God that rescues the prey, and 
plucked us at first by a strong hand out of Satan s power : Luke xi. 
21, 22, When the strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods 
are in peace ; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and 
overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour, wherein he trusted, 
and divideth his spoils. God can bind Satan, and dispossess him, and 
recover you out of the snares of the devil, wherein you are taken cap 
tive by him at his will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. And when we are once in a 
state of grace, he can preserve you in despite of men and devils. The 
world assaults the children of God with great force and power, and the 
devil is in the design ; but, saith the apostle, Greater is he that is in 
you than he that is in the world/ John iv. 4. God is greater in 
counsel, greater in strength, greater in his providence and watchfulness 
for the good of his people. Till this divine power interpose it can 
never be. 

[4.] We have no reason to doubt of his will, for he hath promised to 
take away the heart of stone : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, A new heart will I 
give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away 
the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 
There is nothing within the compass of our Christian calling of which 
we have not a promise in the covenant. The precept and the promise 
go hand-in-hand ; therefore the promise will be made good, and so we 
have no reason to despair, but humbly wait upon God in the use of 
means till these promises be accomplished. 

2. What use shall we make of it then ? Go to God for this power, 
and give God all the glory of any saving grace wrought in us by this 

[1.] Go to God for this power when you are sensible of your impo- 
tency. In vain do we talk of power to men that are not sensible of 
. weakness, and will not so much as essay whether they have power or 
no : 2 Cor. xii. 10, When I am weak, then am I strong/ When 
creatures are helpless and shiftless, God takes pity upon them ; there 
fore when you have been tugging and wrestling in the business of 
salvation, and it doth not come on kindly, but you find your weakness, 
then you may come to God for his power. Bewail your impotency, and 
say, as Jehoshaphat, 2 Chron. xx. 12, Lord, we have no might, neither 
know we what to do, but our eyes are unto thee ; or rather as Ephraim, 
Jer. xxxi. 18, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a 
bullock unaccustomed to the yoke ; turn thou me, and I shall be 
turned. God s chastisement revived the sense of his duty, and think- 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 79 

ing of his duty made him feel his impotency, and feeling his impo- 
tency that made him groan to God, and wait for his power. Oh ! it is 
well when practical experience convinceth us of our weakness and 
necessities, and our weakness and necessities lead us to the promises, 
and the promises to Christ, in whom they are Yea and amen ; and 
Christ to God as the fountain of grace, and then we rest upon the 
power of God. And therefore, since it is impossible with man, go to 
God, and say, Lord, I confess the debt, I acknowledge my impotency, 
but thou hast forbidden me to despair, therefore I come to thee ; give 
what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt. 

[2.] If it be impossible with men, let God have all the glory of any 
saving grace wrought in thee. Mark this, because there is a deceit. 
God must not only have some glory, but all the glory, for in the new 
covenant there is no glorying but in the Lord. All will acknowledge 
and count it a piece of religious manners to speak of some help of grace, 
but they do not give it its due praise. The pharisee could say, God, 
I thank thee I am not as other men/ Luke xviii. 11. As, for instance, 
if a man should say, It is all from God indeed, but only in a Pelagian 
sense, as he is author naturce, the author of nature, as he created us 
at first with a rational soul, and .gave us an understanding and will, 
whereby he enableth us freely to choose that which is good ; here is 
God s power acknowledged, but at too remote a distance. The very hea 
thens would acknowledge grace, as sacrilegious as they were in robbing 
God of his due. Quod vivamus, that we live, and that we had rea 
sonable natures, that was the gift of the gods ; but quod bene vivamus, 
that we live well, that is of ourselves. This confounds nature and 
grace ; we sacrifice the wax to God, and keep the honey to ourselves. 
Again, we should acknowledge God not only in the grace of external 
revelation, revealing the object, that God hath given us an excellent 
religion, there is his grace, but in working upon the faculty. Here 
God is acknowledged, but at too low a rate, for we need not only the 
sunlight, but eyes : Eph. i. 18, The eyes of your understanding being 
opened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what 
the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. Or if we will 
go further, and acknowledge internal grace is necessary, but not absol 
utely necessary, but only for facilitation, to do it the more easily, for 
the work is very difficult if mere man were left to himself ; here God s 
power is acknowledged, but not enough ; grace is absolutely necessary, 
not as a horse to a journey, but as legs and feet. Again, if we should 
acknowledge it as absolutely necessary for God to excite and move us, 
but give the main stroke to our own will, this is not praise high enough ; 
it is God inclines the heart, it is God that gives us the will, the begin- 
ing and ending of all is from him ; with man it is impossible, therefore 
God must have all the glory. 

Doct. 2. Those that have a deep sense of their sinful impotency and 
carnal distempers should seriously consider and encourage themselves 
by the sovereign power of God s grace. 

Of the power of God as generally considered I shall speak by and by. 
Now I shall speak of it as it worketh in a way of grace, to bring us 
into a state of grace, and to preserve us therein. 

1. The scripture speaks of this power that bringeth us into a state 


of grace \ Eph. i. 19, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power 
to us- ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. 
Mark, there is a mighty glorious power that is seen in converting a 
sinner, and turning him from sin to holiness, even greater than the 
power by which God made the world. When God made the world, 
as there was nothing to help, so there was nothing to hinder ; but such 
is the perverseness of man s nature within, such is the opposition from 
without, and so great an enemy is Satan, that nothing less than God s 
powerful grace can begin such a saving work in them : 2 Peter i. 3, 
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that per 
tain unto life and godliness. There is a divine power that gives us 
life, or a gracious spirit within, and a divine power that helps us to 
walk in a course of godliness without. So Kom. xi. 23, God is able to 
graff them in again. The Jews are of all people most obstinate and 
averse from God ; they have no natural goodness of disposition in them ; 
they please not God, and are contrary to all men ; and shall the Jews 
be converted ? Yes ; for God is able to graff them in again/ and bring 
them into a state of grace. 

2. This power of grace is seen in preserving us in a state of grace, 
and carrying on this work in despite of men and devils, till grace be 
crowned in glory. Alas ! if God did never so much for us at first, yet 
if he did not keep us, we should be made a prey, and be shipwrecked 
in the haven s mouth ; therefore from first to last the power of God is 

[1.] In defending the habit of grace that is begun in the soul. 
When the apostle had told us that God of his abundant mercy had 
begotten us again unto a lively hope, 1 Peter i. 3, presently he saith, 
ver. 5, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salva 
tion. First we are begotten, then kept, heaven is kept for us, and we 
are kept for it ; first the power of grace is a quickening power, and then 
a preserving power, defending the w r ork God hath begun in us. 

[2.] God actuates and quickens our graces in us : It is God which 
worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure, Phil. ii. 13, 
inspiring and breathing holy motions into us : Awake, north wind : 
come, O south wind ; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof 
may flow forth, Cant. iv. 16. And then strengthening those graces, 
and defending them in all assaults and temptations, and causing us to 
grow : Col. i. 11, According to his glorious power, unto all patience 
and long-suffering, with joyfulness ; and Eph. iii. 16, That he would 
grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with 
might by his Spirit in the inner man. And thus he continueth to do 
till they be perfected and completely glorified. Thus the Lord puts 
forth his power in defending, quickening, and increasing the grace 
that he hath wrought in us. We have seen there is a power put forth 
in a way of grace. 

Now this should be considered by them that have a deep sense of 
their im potency and carnal distempers, for these reasons 

(1.) Because it is a. great relief and prop to the soul. Oh ! what 
cannot the working of this mighty power do for us ! It exceedeth all 
the contrary power, whether in sin, the world, or the devil, and so 
answers our doubts and fears. But you will say, How is the power of 

YEB. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 81 

God such a relief to the soul ? We can easily grant that God is able, 
but how shall we know that he will put forth this mighty power for 
us ? I answer (1.) In agonies of conscience ; it is not the fear of hell 
only that troubles us, but our rooted distempers. Indeed, fears of hell 
awaken us, but when we come to see our inveterate and rooted carnal 
distempers, this troubles us. A poor soul that is anything far gone in 
this preparative work cries out, It is impossible this blind heart of mine 
should ever be enlightened, this vain mind be made serious, this hard 
heart be softened, these bewitching lusts renounced. It is the difficulty 
of parting with sin troubleth the conscience ; therefore it is a relief to 
represent God as able. So in the midst of assaults and temptations, 
when we are dangerously beset, and fear we shall never be able to hold 
out, think of the power of God : 2 Tim. i. 12, I know whom I have 
believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed unto him against that day ; Jude 24, Unto him that is 
able to keep you from falling. Our great trouble is for want of power. 
(2.) Again, it must needs be a relief to the soul, because if we be per 
suaded of his power it gives us some hope of his will also ; so that we 
may go to God, and say as the leper, Mat. yiii. 2, Lord, if thou wilt, 
thou canst make me clean. Look, as beggars, if they see an ordinary 
man pass by, they do not use much clamour and importunity with him, 
but if they see a man well habited and well attended, they will follow 
after him, and plead hard for relief, and say, Sir, it is in the power of 
your hands to help us ; so it doth encourage us to consider God is thus 
able, and can easily help, and do this for us. Nay (3.) God s power is 
engaged by promise, and therefore in many cases we may reason he 
is able to keep us, and therefore he will : Eom. xiv. 4, He shall be 
holden up, for God is able to make him stand ; and Rom. xi. 23, They 
shall be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. The 
two pillars of the temple were called Jachin and Boaz, strength and 
stability ; he hath strength, and therefore he will establish, for he hath 
power enough to make good his word. 

(2.) Difficulties are left for this very end, to drive us to the throne 
of grace, that we may set the power of God a-work, that where man 
leaves off, there God may begin, and when the creature hath spent its 
allowance, the Creator may show forth his strength. Look, as in the 
outward case, God promiseth to deliver his people, when he seeth 
that their power is gone/ Deut xxxii. 26, so in the inward case, He 
giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he in- 
creaseth strength/ Isa. xl. 29. 

Use 1. Let this support us in all the difficulties that we meet with 
in our way to heaven. When we are at a loss, God is not at a loss : 
Zech. viii. 6, If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this 
people in these days, should it also be marvellous in my eyes, saith 
the Lord. God s power is not to be measured by our thoughts and 
by our scantling. Things may seem strange to us, but God can easily 
effect them. He that bringeth forth in the spring such beautiful 
flowers out of the earth, which looked with such a horrid and dismal 
face in the winter, what cannot he work in our souls ? This is a great 
support to a fainting soul ; it is easy with God to do what we count 
impossible. A stranger cannot charm a mastiff dog, when the master 

VOL. xvii. v 


of the house can with a word. The shepherd can call off the dog 
from the flock ; so the Lord can easily rebuke Satan, when he finds 
him most violent, and he can subdue and quell the strongest lust. 

2. When we are sensible of our weakness, let us observe the laws 
God hath set to the creatures. God will be attended upon, and waited 
for in the use of means. We must come to the throne of grace, and 
therefore our Lord, when he teacheth us to pray, he saith, Thine is 
the kingdom, the power, and the glory. We must corne to God, if 
we would have his power exerted ; and God will be believed in, and 
have his power rested upon and applied: Mark xv. 28, woman! 
great is thy faith ; be it unto thee even as thou wilt ; John xi. 40, 
If thou wilt believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God ; that is, 
his power. If in desperate exigences we would have the power of 
God put forth, God must be sought to, and rested upon ; and you 
must abstain from all sin. Sampson received strength no longer from 
God than he kept the law of his profession. When we entangle our 
selves, and wilfully run into sin, and turn away from God, we discharge- 
God from looking after us. 

3. Observe what experience you have of the power of his grace ; 
have you found it working in you ? Mere reading and hearing will 
not evidence this truth so much as experience, that there is power put 
forth in a gracious way. Alas ! otherwise we shall but speak of it as 
strangers to it, with cold notions ; therefore can you say, I can do all 
things through Christ strengthening me? Phil. iv. 13. And are 
you strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might ? Eph. vi. 10. 
Have you learned this holy art of -conquering your distempers and 
temptations by the power of God ? 

With God all things are possible. MARK x. 27. 

Doer. 3. I come to the general truth upon which this is grounded, 
that God is omnipotent, and can do all things. This I shall prove, 
explain, apply. 

First, I shall prove by scripture and by reason. 

1. By scripture, because it is an article of faith, and the scrip 
tures that concern this point may be ranked thus: You will find 
the question propounded, Gen. xviii. 14, Is anything too hard for 
the Lord? and this answered, Jer. xxxii. 17, There is nothing too 
hard for God. The affirmative is in the text ; and Mat. xix. 26, 

With God all things are possible ; and the negative, which binds it 
the more strongly, is in Luke i. 37, With God nothing shall be 
impossible. The general is in the text, All things are possible with 
God ; and the particular is in Job xlii. 2, I know that thou canst do 
everything. So that the power of God is not only propounded in the 
lump, but particularly parcelled out. Certainly God is almighty. 

2. I shall prove it by reason. 

[1.] The creation of the world shows it. The apostle tells us, Born. 

YER, 27.] . SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 83 

j. 20, That the invisible things of him from the creation of the world 
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his 
eternal power and godhead. If you will know what God is, look 
upon his creatures. Every creature that hath passed his hand hath 
some prints and some stamp upon it, that may discover God, his god 
head, and his power ; that is the most visible thing seen in the creation. 
His wisdom and goodness is seen in the creation, but his power lies 
upward ; and the most natural notion that we have of God is God 
Almighty. God made all the things that are seen, and more than are 
seen. He that made all things is omnipotent, and can do whatever is 
possible to be done. Creatures only can do what is possible to be 
clone in their own kind. A man is one kind of creature, an angel is 
another ; both have their essence limited. Man can do things belong 
ing to a man, an angel can do all things belonging to an angel ; but 
God made all things, and therefore he can do all things. In short, 
He that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain/ Isa. xl. 22, he that 
handles the great ocean as a child newly come out of the womb, he 
that appointed the clouds a garment thereof, and thick darkness a 
swaddling band for it, Job xxxviii. 8, 9, He that hangs the earth upon 
nothing/ Job xxvi. 7, What cannot he do? The earth, that vast and 
ponderous body, has nothing to support it but the fluid air, that will 
not so much as support a pin or feather. It hangs like a ball in the 
midst of the heavens ; where are the pillars and props that sustain 
this mighty mass? It is upheld by nothing but the power of God. 
And for the manner of making, how did he make all things ? By his 
woi d. This great builder needed no instruments and tools : Heb. 
xi. 10, Whose builder and maker is God ; he commanded, and they 
were created/ Ps. xlviii. 5. What more easy than a word ? One asks 
what is become of the tools and engines wherewith God made the 
world ? Tully brings in a philosopher disputing against the creation 
of the world : With what spade did God dig the sea ? where was 
the trowel wherewith he arched the heavens ? and the line and plum 
met by which he laid forth the foundations of the earth ? There was 
nothing but his word that brought all things out of the womb of 
nothing. This is the omnipotent, the glorious God, that can do all 
things. And then, ex parte termini, he brought all things out of 
nothing, which philosophers could not so much as conceive how it should 
be done. What a large stride and gap is there between being and not 
being ! He that out of mere nothing brought forth all this world, 
certainly nothing can be too hard for him. A man cannot work 
without materials and preparations to his work, but God works when 
he hath nothing to work upon. As long as the creatures endure, as 
long as heaven and earth stands, which is a monument of God s power, 
we need not doubt of his all-sufficiency ; and therefore in difficult and 
hazardous cases the scripture refers us to God as a creator : 1 Peter 
iv. 19, Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God 
commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faith 
ful creator. Why as unto a creator ? At that time they carried their 
lives in their hands; they had nothing to subsist upon, no visible in 
terests to defend them. Well, go on cheerfully in well-doing, and 
commit yourselves to him that can work all things out of nothing ; 

84 SERMONS UPOX MARK X. 17-27. [SKll. XV. 

your souls, that is your lives ; put your lives into the Creator s hands. 
There may be something of love in the expression, He that created 
you will take care of you, and there is also something of power implied ; 
they had but only from day to day, and then he bids them trust in 
God as a creator. So Ps. cxxiv. 8, Our help is in the name of the 
Lord, who made heaven and earth. Whilst you see heaven and earth, 
doubt not of God. He hath not lost nor spent his power. He that 
made heaven and earth is as ready and as able to work as he did at 
first. Though a potter (it is Basil s similitude) make a thousand 
vessels, his art is not lessened by the making, but increased rather ; 
so whatever God doth, he doth not spend by giving ; his power is the 
same, and his word is as mighty as ever : He spoke, and it was done, 
he commanded, and it stood fast ; Ps. xxxiii. 9, and that when there 
was nothing to work on. The will and the word of God, what mighty 
things can they do ! He can do the greatest things without any visible 
means; things are "done in the world, and nobody can tell how or by 
what. So the apostle tells us that he still acts according to his mighty 
power, which he wrought in the creation : 1 Cor. i. 28, God hath, 
chosen ra yu?) ovra, things that are not, to bring to nought things that 
are/ God will ever triumph over human improbabilities, and will have 
no flesh to despair because of the smallness of the means, or to glory 
in his sight because of the greatness of them ; for he doth all things, 
and that by his mighty power : Bom. iv. 17, his creating power is there 
again alluded to, He calleth those things that are not as though they 
were. As when God created the world, he spoke light out of dark 
ness ; and so still when he finds nothing to work upon he calls things 
that are not as though they were; speaking of fulfilling his promises 
to Abraham. So he works grace in the hearts of his people according 
to his creating power : 2 Cor. iv. 6, For God, who commandsd the 
light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give us the 
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. So that 
nature well considered is a great help to grace ; when we consider the 
creation, and busy our thoughts therein, it helps us more to enlarge 
the power of God in our apprehensions. 

[2.] As creation, so providence shows it. Take it either for God s 
external or internal providence. 

(1.) His external providence, preserving all things in their proper 
place, and for their proper use : Heb. i. 3, He upholdeth all things by 
the word of his power. All things that are in the world are held up 
by God s hand ; they do not subsist by their own nature so much as by 
divine manutenency : He upholds all things. It is an allusion to a 
weighty body that is held up by the hand of man, which if loosened, it 
falls to the ground ; so the creature would fall to nothing if not kept 
up by God. Now what an almighty grasp hath he that holds up all 
things ! He that feedeth so many mouths with the opening the hand 
of his bounty : Ps. cxlv. 15, 16, The eyes of all wait upon thee, and 
thou givest them their meat in due season : thou openest thy hands, 
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing ; he that sustains and 
guides so many creatures, that preserves the confederacies of nature, 
that sets bounds to the sea, and makes decrees for the waves to obey, 
beyond which they shall not pass : Jer. v. 22, Which have placed 

YER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 85 

the sand for the bounds of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it can 
not pass it ; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they 
not prevail ; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it ; he that 
holds the winds in his fist, is not he mighty and strong ? And there 
fore, if God should but loosen his hand, the world would soon fall into 
confusion and nothing. Thus his sustaining and preserving all things 
speaks him an all-powerful God. 

(2.) His internal providence. The providence of God is chiefly seen 
in his power over the spirits of men that are voluntary agents. He 
.hath such a power over them that they are not masters of their own 
affections and dispositions, but act contrary many times to their 
intended purposes : Prov. xxi. 1, The king s heart is in the hand of 
the Lord as the rivers of waters; he turueth it whither soever he will/ 
Look; as a man by cutting a channel draws the water this way or that 
way, hither and thither, so doth God move the hearts of all men in the 
world, nay, even of kings and princes : Prov. xvi. 7, When a man s 
ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with 
him. Strange thing that God can put a bridle upon the spirits of 
men, and they shall be at peace with him whom. they hated; their 
hearts are turned many times to what formerly they resolved against. 
Esau is an instance ; he had vowed Jacob s death, and meets him with 
purpose to destroy him, but when God brings them together, Esau falls 
embracing of Jacob : Gen. xxxiii. 4, And Esau ran to meet him, and 
embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Egypt dismissed 
Israel with jewels. Balaam comes to curse, and he falls a blessing 
Israel. This bridling, turning, changing the hearts of men, it is a 
notable discovery of God s omnipotency. Look, as there is more power 
seen in governing a skittish horse than in rolling a stone, so in ruling 
those beings which have a principle of resistance doth the Lord show 
forth his power. Angels, men, and devils can do nothing but as God 
will, and as God gives them leave. The devils are fain to ask Christ s 
leave to enter into the herd of swine, Mat. viii. 31 ; and therefore how 
may the flock of Christ s sheep rest secure under the power of his 
providence, when those damned spirits are held in by the irresistible 
providence of God that they can do nothing but what God will ! As 
Tertullian said, If the bristles of swine be numbered, much more are 
the hairs of the saints. God hath such a mighty power, that not a 
creature can be troubled without his leave, even by those spirits that 
are most opposite to him ; so that his power over the affections and 
hearts of men shows he is a great and mighty God. 

[3.] That God is almighty appears by the strength that is in crea 
tures, which is an effect and shadow of the power of God. All the 
power that is in creatures is from God, and he wastes not by giving as 
we do. That expression suits to this case ; God took from the spirit 
of Moses, and put it upon the elders, and yet Moses had not the less 
because of their participation. We cannot communicate to others but 
we lessen ourselves, but God remaineth in an infinite fulness ; and 
therefore, if he hath given power to creatures, he hath more power 
himself. Now there is great power in creatures : Job xli. 8, Job 
tells us -of great whales that have bones as brass, and strong as pieces 
of iron ; and David tells us of angels that excel in strength, Ps. 


cxxxiii. 20, so that one of them slew a hundred fourscore and five 
thousand in one night in Sennacherib s host. And if there be such 
strength in creatures, what is there in God from whom they have it ? 
for nothing is in the effect but what was first in the cause. 

Secondly, Let me come to explain this power of God by three dis 

1. God s power is twofold either absolute or actual. (1.) His ab 
solute power is that by which he can do that which he never will do. 
This is spoken of Mat. xxvi. 53, Thinkestthou not that I cannot now 
pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve 
legions of angels ? Mat. iii. 9, God is able of these stones to raise up 
children to Abraham ; he can do more than ever he did or will do. 
He can do not only svhat men and angels conceive can be done, but 
what he himself conceiveth can be done, (2.) His actual power is that 
by which he doth whatever he will : Ps. cxv. 3, Our God is in the 
heavens ; he hath done whatsoever he pleaseth ; and Ps. cxxxv, 6, 
Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven and in earth, in 
the seas, and all deep places. Never shall anything be done but what 
God wills, and what God wills shall surely come to pass ; which is a 
notable support in all accidents. 

2. God s power is ordinary and extraordinary. (1.) Ordinary is 
that which is according to the course of second causes and law of 
nature, when he preserves the creatures, and works by them according 
to the order which he himself hath established : Ps. cxix. 91, They 
continue this day according to thine ordinance, for all are thy servants. 
All the creatures, sun, moon, and stars, do keep the track and path 
which God hath set unto them, and God preserves the beings of all 
things, and keeps the covenant of night and day, as it is called in 
the prophet. (2.) There is God s extraordinary power, by which he 
can suspend the whole course of nature, as he hath done sometimes 
upon eminent occasions ; as when the sun stood still in the valley of 
Ajalom, Josh. x. 12, 13, or when the sun went back ten degrees on the 
dial of Ahaz, 2 Kings xx. 11 ; his interdicting the Red Sea that it 
should not flow, Exod. xiv, 21, 22 ; his causing iron, which is a heavy 
body, to swim upon the top of the water at the prayer of Elisha, 2 
Kings vi. 6 ; his suspending the burning of the fire when the three 
children were in the furnace, Dan. iii. 27 ; his shutting the mouths of 
the hungry lions when Daniel was in the den with them, Dan, vi. 22 ; 
his making the ravens, which are by nature birds of prey, to be cat 
erers to Elijah, 1 Kings xvii. 6. 

3. Distinction. There are impossibilia natures, and impossibilia 
nalura, things impossible to nature, and things impossible by nature. 
Things impossible to nature God can do, but not things impossible by 
nature ; he will do things above nature, and besides it, but nothing 
against it. Things impossible by nature are such as either respect 
the agent or the object. (1.) With respect to the agent, that which 
is repugnant to his own essential perfection. Thus God cannot lie : 
Titus i. 2, Which God, that cannot lie, hath promised ; Heb. vi. 18, 
That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to 
lie, we may have strong consolation. God cannot deny himself: 
2 Tim. ii. 13, If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful ; he cannot 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MAUK x. 17-27. <S7 

xleny himself; for these things imply weakness, and not power. God 
cannot die, God cannot sleep. It is no discredit to a wise man that he 
-cannot play the fool, or to a valiant man that he cannot be a coward. 
God can do all things, so as that he is still God ; those things that are 
repugnant to the perfection of his nature he cannot do. (2.) With 
respect to the object, such things as imply a contradiction ; as that a 
thing should be, and not be, to make a creature finite and infinite, 
dependent and independent at the same time and in the same respect ; 
limited to a place and yet in every place; to make the sun shine and 
not to shine at the same time ; these are against the nature of the 
things themselves. These distinctions have their use in many con 
troversies that are about religion. 

Use. For exhortation. To press you to believe that God is almighty, 
and to improve it. 

1. Believe it. Need we press men to that ? It is a piece of natural 
divinity, a truth held forth tc us, not only in the book of scripture, but 
of nature. That light which finds out a deity will discover him to be 
almighty ; and therefore need we any great ado to persuade men to 
believe it ? Yes, certainly ; for this is the great thing that we question 
in cases of difficulty; we doubt more of the power of God than of his 
will. Our seeming doubts of his will are but pretences to cover our 
shameful and atheistical doubts of his power ; that which works subtly 
and underground in us, and weakens our confidence in God, and hin 
ders the rejoicing of our faith, is a doubt of his power. Surely God 
knows us better than we do ourselves ; and the scripture shows all 
along that our doubts are about God s power. When there was a 
promise brought from God that Sarah should conceive with child, she 
did not believe the promise: Gen. xviii. 13^ 14, And the Lord said 
unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety 
bear a child, which am old ? Is anything too hard for the Lord ? 
There was her doubt and difficulty. So Moses, the man of God, the 
Lord had told him face to face that he would feed his people, and give 
them flesh to eat, and he doubted of God s power ; Num. xi. 21, 23, 
The people among whom I am are six hundred thousand footmen, 
and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole 
month. Shall the flocks and herds be slain for them to suffice them ? 
or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them to suffice 
them? And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord s hand waxed 
short? So when the prophet foretold there should be such plenty in 
Samaria, where there was great scarcity, saith the nobleman, 2 Kings 
vii. 2, Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might 
this thing be ? There was his doubt. So the Virgin Mary, when 
the angel comes with the message of the great mystery of the incarna 
tion of the Son of God, that he should be born of her, Luke i. 34, Then 
said Mary unto the angel. Ho\v can this be, seeing I know not a man? 
At this rate still doth unbelief speak in the wilderness ; as the children 
of Israel : Ps. Ixxviii. 19, 20, Can God furnish a table in the wilder 
ness ? Behold he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the 
streams overflowed ; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for 
his people ? Certainly the scripture knows what is the special lan 
guage of our hearts better than we ourselves. Now unbelief is still 



represented as doubting of God s power. Besides, doubts haunt us only 
in times of difficult} 7 , and when mercies expected are hard to come by. 
If we did doubt of God s will because of our unworthiness, why do we 
not doubt at other times, when things are easy ? But these doubts 
surprise us only when the things we expect from God according to his 
promises are difficult and hard to come by. And the reason why we 
are so apt to doubt of God s power is the imperfection of our thoughts 
about God s being. We are inured to principles of sense, and con 
verse with limited beings, and therefore confine God to a circle of our 
own making : Ps. Ixxviii. 41, They turned back and tempted God, 
and limited the Holy One of Israel. We confine God to the course of 
second causes, with which we wholly converse, and when there is diffi 
culty, there our hearts fail; therefore there is need to press you to 
believe God s power. 

2. Improve it to strengthen our faith and encourage our obedience. 

[1.] To strengthen our faith, either in prayer or in waiting. In 
prayer: Oh! when you come to God, remember he is able to do 
abundantly above all that we ask or think/ Eph. iii. 20. How hard 
and difficult soever the thing be that we ask of God, he is able to do it. 
When our Lord taught us to pray, what are the encouragements he 
gives us ? see the conclusion of the Lord s prayer, Mat. vi. 13, Thine 
is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. As God hath a kingdom 
and authority to dispose of all things for his glory and our good, so he 
hath a power to back it ; it is not an empty title. Pray for help with 
such cheerfulness and confidence as if it were the easiest thing in the 
world to be done. All those things that are so difficult to be obtained, 
either the sanctification of our souls, or the promotion of Christ s 
kingdom, or any of those things, Thine is the power ; there is that 
which holds up our hands in prayer, and gives us confidence towards 
God. So to strengthen our faith in waiting, touching the performance 
of all God s promises for ourselves and others. Abraham believed 
above hope and against hope. Why ? Being fully persuaded that 
what he had promised he was able also to perform, Kom, iv. 21. This 
is the great security of the soul, that confirms us in waiting upon God, 
when the accomplishment of his promises is unlikely to reason, God is 
able/ If you expect of God preservation in the midst of difficulties, 
such a fickle and such a changeable creature as man is, how can that 
be ? 1 Peter i. 5, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto 
salvation. The power of God is engaged for our defence. So for tem 
poral difficulties, when we see no means, no likelihood to escape, yet 
we are not thoughtful of this matter, for our God whom we serve is 
able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver 
us out of thy hand, king, Dan. iii. 17. In death, when we go to 
the grave, to moulder into dust and rottenness, then to look upon the 
morsels of worms as parcels of the resurrection, what shall uphold and 
support our hearts in waiting upon God for this? Phil. iii. 21, Who 
shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his 
glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue 
all things unto himself/ The scripture still refers us to the mighty 
power of God, whereby he can subdue and cause all to fall under him. 
The destruction of antichrist and enemies of the church, who are sup- 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 89 

.ported by great and strongly combined interests, how can that ever he 
hoped for ? Rev. xviii. 8, Her plagues shall come in one day, death 
and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burnt with fire, for 
strong is the Lord God who judgeth her ; and that is the greatest 
cordial of the soul. The life of faith lies in the belief of God s power 
and all-sufficiency. He can raise up the church from her low con 
dition, and all without any means ; when all is dry bones, then God 
can put life into his people. 

[2.] To encourage us in obedience ; it is good to believe and improve 
the power of God. 

(1.) That we may carry it more humbly and more dutifully : 1 Peter 
v. 6, Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God/ This is that 
which begets a deep awe and reverence of his majesty. Shall we not 
submit to that God that is able to crush us ? Oh ! therefore let us 
study to please him in all things. When you sin, you bid defiance to 
the Almighty, and enter into the lists with God, and provoke him to 
jealousy : 1 Cor. x. 22, Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy ? are we 
stronger than he ? Do you know what it is to dash against God and 
contest with God ? He that is almighty is the most desirable friend 
or the most dreadful adversary, and therefore humble yourselves, and 
carry it dutifully towards him. Every one would be in with the 
Almighty. Be sure to keep in with the Lord : Deut. x. 17, For the 
Lord our God is a God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a 
mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward/ 
Will you provoke him and dare him to his face ? 

(2.) To keep us upright in obedience, without warping and using 
any carnal shifts: Gen. xvii. 1, I am the Almighty God; walk before 
me, and be thou perfect. God alone is enough to you. The reason 
why we so often step out of the way is, because we do not believe God 
to be almighty, that he is more able to defend than man to hurt. 
Even God s own children may warp for want of a sound belief of this. 
Abraham saved himself by a lie, because he would not trust God with 
his preservation, Gen. xx. 11. Moses was backward to do the Lord s 
message, Exod. iv. 13, as if God could not bear him out before Pharaoh, 
and before the Egyptians. There was a promise Jacob should have the 
blessing, but Rebecca puts him upon using indirect means to obtain it, 
because she could not trust God s all-sufficiency to bring it about. He 
that will not trust God and rest upon his power cannot be long faithful 
to him ; because they think there is not enough in God, they will seek 
elsewhere. All sincerity ariseth from these two things (and until you 
get your hearts into this frame you never will be sincere), submitting 
all things to God s will, and resting upon God s power. How desperate 
soever the case be, this will relieve you, and keep you sincere and com 
fortable, the Lord is a powerful God, and knows how to provide for his 
glory, and for your sustentation. 

Now to quicken you thus to believe and improve the power of God, 
I will offer these considerations 

(1.) Consider the amplitude of God s power, which is not to be 
measured by our scantling and model. We can do something, but God 
can do all things ; we must have matter prepared, but God works out 
of nothing; we do things difficultly, and must have time, but God can 


do all things in a moment ; he needs no instruments or tools, no pattern 
or copy, but worketh all things according to the counsel of his will. 
We rust with age, and our strength is dried up, but the Lord s hand 
is not shortened that it cannot save, Isa. lix. 1. His strength is never 
wasted or dried up. When anything is to be done or expected from 
God, is it greater than making the world ? and God is where lie was 
at first. Our knowledge of things is by effects, but God never had an 
effect adequate to his power ; he hath done great things, but he hath 
power to do greater ; Mai. ii. 15, And did not he make one ? yet 
had he the residue of the Spirit. When he created the world, he had 
the residue of the Spirit, he could have made more worlds. All created 
effects are finite, and therefore not fully answerable to the force of the 
cause. Let us be still enlarging in our thoughts of God s power. This 
is a power that needeth not the concurrence of visible means, but can 
work without them ; yea, opposite power is no hindrance to God. 
Rubs are plain ground to him : Isa. xxvii. 4, Who would set the briers 
and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would 
burn them together. What can briers and thorns do against a devour 
ing flame ? they are fit fuel to increase the fire, but cannot hinder the 
burning, God works through all opposition: Isa, xliii. 13, I will 
work, and who shall let it. 

(2.) Consider this power is ready to be employed for our use, so far 
as it shall make for God s glory and our good. God is ours if we be 
in covenant with him ; and if so, all that is in God is ours also, quantus, 
quantus est. As great as he is, God makes over himself in covenant. 
I am yours, therefore almightiness is yours, to be set a-work for you. 
And, as Aristotle said, rwv <f)i\u>v Ttavra icowa, all things are common 
between friends and confederates : 1 Kings xxii. 4, Jehoshaphat said 
unto the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my 
horses as thy horses/ Surely, being in covenant with God, it is a 
relation of friendship, and whatever is God s is ours ; and that is the 
reason of this expression, Eph. vi. 10, Be strong in the Lord, and in 
the power of his might. In all our faintings and fears we should look 
upon God s almighty power as a guardian for our good. All that God 
hath is forthcoming for our use ; as all other things, so his almighty 
power and strength. 

(3.) Whatever his will is, or whatever God hath determined to do 
concerning us, yet he would have us magnify his power, and with com 
fort cast ourselves upon it : Isa. viii. 12, 13, Fear not their fear, nor 
be afraid ; sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, 
and let him be your dread. You should set power against power, that 
you may not be dismayed, Isa. 1. 10. It is not meant spiritually only, 
but also in temporal cases : Let him trust in the name of the Lord, 
and stay upon his God. You should comfort yourselves in the power 
and all-sufficiency of God. 

(4.) Consider how angry God hath been with his children for not 
resting upon his power. Nothing hath hindered the discovery of God s 
power and the manifestation of his love to them so much as distrust 
of his power: Mark vi. 5, He could there do no mighty work. It is 
not said, he would not, but he could not do any mighty works there, 
because of their unbelief. Unbelief doth put a bar and rub in the way 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON MARK x. 17-27. 91 

of God s onmipotericy ; and John xi. 40, If thou wouldst believe, thou 
shouldst see the glory of God. God doth not put forth himself because 
we do no more rest upon him and his all-sufficiency to help us. See 
how angry God hath been on this account with his own children and 
people ; with Moses and Aaron : Mat. xx. 12, Because ye believed me 
not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye 
shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 
The believing of God s power is not determining the success, but when 
we encourage ourselves to pray and wait, and to be sincere and faithful 
upon the account of God s power, that God is able. Many troubles 
and perplexities have befallen God s children for not believing his power. 
Zacharias, John s father, was struck dumb for not believing: Luke i. 
20, Behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak until the day 
that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my 
words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. And God let the noble 
man live to see himself confuted, and then he was crushed to death : 
2 Kings vii. 2, Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered 
the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord should make windows 
in heaven, might this thing be ? And he said, Behold, thoa shalt see 
it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not eat thereof. 

(5.) Consider it is a notable argument in prayer to conjure the 
Lord by his power. As the leper comes to Christ, Mat. viii. 2, Lord, 
if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean ; do what thou wilt, but this I 
know, that thou canst, thou hast power enough. See how Moses insin 
uates : Num. xiv. 15, 16, Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one 
man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, 
saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the 
land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the 
wilderness ; as if he should say, Lord, thou wouldst have the glory of 
thy power seen in the eyes of the nations, that they may know thee as 
a mighty powerful God ; now they will say, The Lord was not able to 
bring them into Canaan. 

(6.) All our courage, and all the strength of our comfort and 
obedience, and all the blessings of obediencej depends upon the be 
lief and the improvement of God s power. Look into the book of 
God, and you shall see all the generous acts that worthy men have 
performed came from hence. Abraham, the father of the faithful, 
offered up his son, his only son, the son of the promise, and 
that freely ; and why ? Accounting that God was able to raise 
him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a 
figure, Heb. xi. 19. In such a trial, what would support and bear us 
out ? So when the fiery furnace was heated seven times hotter than 
ordinary, burning and flaming exceedingly, the three children ventured 
into it upon this principle, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver 
us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy 
hand, king, Dan. iii. 17. What is the reason we are so cowardly 
and dastardly ? We look to things sensible and visible, and cannot set 
the power of God against it or above them, and consider how he can 
bring good out of evil, and so carnal fears and hopes draw us aside. 
Why are we discouraged, and turn from God in difficult cases rather 
than in easy cases, but that we do not believe that he can do all things ? 

92 SERMONS UPON MARK X. 17-27. [&ER. XV. 

Paul believed, therefore in the face of opposition he goes on in his work 
unwearieclly : 1 Tim. iv. 10, Therefore we both labour and suffer 
reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all 
men, especially of them that believe/ This made him in the midst of 
reproaches and all manner of difficulties to go on with courage. 

(7.) When we run to carnal shifts because we cannot trust this 
power of God, then we engage his strength, that should be for us, 
against us, and it is just with God to blast us. Jonah runs from his 
work, and God sends a storm after him. Jonah was afraid of the 
Ninevites, but mischief will sooner or latter overtake them that run 
from their duty, and they have worse inconveniences by their own 
shifts. Jacob would get the blessing by a wile, but that cost him 
dear ; he was banished from his father s house upon it, lest Esau 
should kill him. Indirect courses will certainly prove a loss ; though 
you may obtain your purpose, yet you plunge yourselves into greater 
difficulties afterward, and obtain your desires with more trouble than 
if you had waited upon God. 

(8.) If the thing be not done for us which we need and desire when 
we trust upon the power of God, it is because it is not best for us. 
He that trusts upon the power of God cannot miscarry. A cross is 
best, and a low estate is best, and troubles are best. It is not for 
want of power and love that we are afflicted of God ; he will deliver 
us and support us, and turn it to the best : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, For the 
Lord God is a sun and a shield, he will give grace and glory, and no 
good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly/ Ps. 
xxxiv. 9, The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that 
seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. If we want anything 
we would have, certainly it is not good for us. 

(9.) The less power we have in ourselves, the more experience we 
have of God s power : Isa. xl. 29, He giveth power to the faint, 
and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. So Deut. 
xxxii. 36, The Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for 
his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none 
shut up or left. When human help begins to fail and is spent, then 
God s power is seen. The lean cheeks, and the faint voice, and the 
pale colour of a hunger-starved beggar moves more than all the cant 
ing entreaties of a sturdy one. When we are sufficiently humbled in 
the sense of our own unworthiness, and can entirely cast ourselves 
upon God, out of a confidence of his power, help will not be far off, 
for he really pities those that are indeed miserable, and have a sense of 
it, and sets his power on work for their relief. 

(10.) We can never expect to be free from biting cares and per 
plexities about the various occurrences of this life until we can entirely 
cast ourselves upon God s all-sufficiency and power. Oh ! but when 
you are once got upon the rock, then you will not be tossed with the 
uncertain waves : Isa. xxvi. 3, 4, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee : trust ye in 
the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. 
In the ebbings and flowings of the creature a man is safe and fixed, 
for he hath that which answers all things. A man that hath no lands, 
yet if he hath money, the wise man tells us, that answereth all things. 

YER. 27.] 



and he may do well enough ; so if a man hath nothing in the creature, 
yet if he hath the power of God, that answereth all things ; he can 
rejoice in God when creatures fail, Heb. iii. 17, 18 : As having nothing, 
yet possessing all things, 2 Cor. vi. 10. The Almighty God carrietli 
the purse ; we have all things in God, and he will supply us as he 
seeth it to be best with respect to his own glory and their eternal 
condition ; and therefore, if you would be freed from all these floating 
uncertainties, and those tempestuous agitations of spirit by which you 
are tossed to and fro, you will never come to this till you encourage 
yourselves in the sense of God s power and all-sufficiency. 



We are bound to thank God alivays for you, brethren, as it is meet, 
because that your faith groiveth exceedingly, and the charity of 
every one of you ail towards each other aboundeth. 2 THES. i. 3. 

THE first part of this epistle is gratulatory, for the Thessalonians* 
perseverance and increase in grace ; in which (1.) The apostle giveth 
thanks to God ; (2.) He telleth of the fame thereof in the churches, 
ver. 4, that he might the better encourage and exhort them to con 
tinue. By both he intimateth his love and spiritual affection to them. 
In his thanksgiving to God we may take notice of 

1. The affectionate manner. 

2. The matter of this thanksgiving, the increase of their faith and 

For the manner, it is done emphatically, We are bound to thank 
God always for you, as it is meet. There are three emphatical words : 
Always ; this work of God among them was much upon his heart, 
and still give him new matter of praising God in their behalf. Then 
there is the obligation from justice and equity, signified in those words; 
ofaiXopev, We are bound, and Kadax; a^iov ea-riv, As it is meet ; 
there the expression is stronger. He doth not only tell them that he 
did it, but that he ought to do it, We are bound, and it is meet. 
The first expression respects the mercy of God, so there was a debt of 
duty lying upon him ; there was justice in the case. The second 
respects their estate, It was meet ; becoming the condition into 
which grace had brought them, and so there was equity in the case. 
Some refer this last clause to the performance of the duty, that he 
gave thanks as was meet ; that is, in that manner which so great a 
benefit deserveth, not slightly and perfunctorily, but with great rejoic 
ing. But rather it refers to the apostle s judgment of their estate : 
As it is meet, hearing what I do, for me to judge of you ; for a 
parallel expression doth thus explain it, Phil. i. 7, Even as it is meet 
for me to think thus of you all. He conceived himself bound to 
judge of them all to be such as had owned the Lord with a sincere 
faith, and his people with a sincere love, and were likely to continue 


therein. Not his affection, but his judgment inclined him to think 
so ; the church of the Thessalonians and every member thereof had 
given such real and evident signs of the grace of God in them, that 
lie was bound to give God special thanks for this grace. The gospel 
hath and may be blessed in some places, so far that all the members 
of particular churches have given positive evidences of true grace in 
them, and that to the most discerning Christians, and those who were 
best able to judge. It is yet possible, and therefore why should we not 
endeavour after it? It is meet for me to judge so; I hope you are 
so ; therefore I count myself bound to give thanks to God. 
From this preface four points are observable 

1. That it is a debt we owe to God to give thanks for his benefits. 

2. That in thanksgiving to God we should specially own his spiritual 

3. That not only the spiritual benefits vouchsafed to ourselves, but 
to others also, must be acknowledged with thankfulness. 

4. That in thanksgiving for spiritual benefits, whether to ourselves 
or others, the increase of grace must be acknowledged, as well as the 
beginnings of it. 

In the former epistle he gave thanks to God for their faith and love, 
here for the increase and growth of both, Your faith groweth exceed 
ingly, and your love aboundeth/ 

Doct. 1. That it is a debt we owe to God to give thanks for his 

Paul saith here not only, We do/ but, We are bound/ 

1. Justice requireth it, for the benefits were given upon this condi 
tion, that we should praise God for them : Ps. 1. 15, Call upon me in 
the day of trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. 
This is God s pact and agreement with us, that we shall have the bene 
fit, and he will have the glory. As the king of Sodom said to Abraham, 
Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself again, Gen. xiv. 21 ; 
so in effect God saith to us, You shall have the comfort, but let me 
have the honour. We ourselves consent to this covenant ; we seldom 
make prayers in our distress but we promise thankfulness : Hosea xiv. 2, 
Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, so will we render 
the calves of our lips/ We engage to offer praise when our requests 
are heard. Now, when God heareth and granteth our requests, there is 
an obligation upon us to glorify God for the mercies received. But 
now, though God be sought to in our necessities, there is no more 
mention of him when our turns are served. We are forward in suppli 
cations, but backward in gratulations. All the lepers could beg health, 
yet But one returned to give God the glory/ Luke xvii. 18. Surely 
we should be as much affected, or rather more, in receiving the mercies 
than we were in asking them ; for before we only knew them by guess 
and imagination, but then by actual feeling or experience of the com 
fort of them. But chiefly the argument is, that justice requireth it. 
It is a kind of theft, and unjust detention of what is another s, if in 
our necessities we crave help, and afterward there is no more mention 
of God than as if we had these blessings from ourselves. 

2. God by his precept commanding it and we in our distress pro 
mising it, he expecteth that there should be thankful returns of the 


mercies afforded to us. That is the second argument, God s expectation ; 
which must be interpreted deoTrpeTrw, becoming the excellency of his 
being. One may be said to expect a thing dejure, rightfully, or de facto, 
really and actually. God knoweth that he hath to do with unthankful 
creatures, and that the stupid world will not take notice of his kind 
ness ; therefore de facto, actually, he expecteth no more than is given 
him, having a full and clear prospect of all future events ; butc?e jure, 
of right, he might expect. So these expressions are to be interpreted : 
Luke xiii. 7, These three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, 
and find none. So Isa. v. 4, When I looked it should bring forth 
grapes, brought it forth wild grapes. So we may fail his expectation, 
but still to our loss : 2 Chron. xxxii. 25, Hezekiah rendered not again 
according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was lifted up; 
therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. 
All our receipts call for a return, and a return suitable, which if we 
perform not, God s wrath is kindled against us, and therefore a good 
man should make conscience of his returns : Ps. cxvi. 12, What shall 
I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me ? 

3. It keepeth up the intercourse between us and God, which would be 
interrupted and broken off if we should discontinue our addresses to 
him as soon as we have what we would have, and when our wants are 
supplied God should hear no more from us. By the laws of Ezekiel s 
temple, the worshippers were so required to go in at one door and out 
at another, that none of them might at any time turn their backs upon 
the mercy-seat, Ezek. xlvi. 9, but which way soever they entered they 
were to go away right against it. God cannot endure men should turn 
their backs upon him when their turn is served. Prayer and praise 
still keep up communion and familiarity with God, that still there may 
be a commerce between us and him, by asking -all things, and taking 
all things out of his hands. Prayer and praise are our continual work : 
Heb. xiii. 15, By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise con 
tinually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks unto his name. 
The supreme benefactor and fountain of all goodness must still be 
owned ; there must be a constant course in it. Some mercies are so 
general and beneficial that they should be remembered before God every 
day ; and God is still blessing his people, and by new mercies giving 
new matter of praise and thanksgiving. 

4. It continueth a succession of mercies, for the more thankful we are 
for them the more they are increased upon us, as an husbandman trusts 
more of his precious seed in fruitful soils. The ascent of vapours 
maketh way for the descent of showers. The sea poureth out of her 
fulness into the rivers, and they all return again into the sea : Ps. IxviL 
5, 6, Let the people praise thee, God, let all the people praise thee, 
then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our God, shall 
bless us/ Or when the springs lie low, we pour in a little water into 
the pump, not to enrich the fountain, but to bring up more for our 
selves. I do the rather observe it, because it is not only true of 
outward increase, but spiritual also : Col. ii. 7, Rooted and built up 
in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding 
therein with thanksgiving. If we give thanks for so much grace as 
we have already received, it is the way to increase our store. The 



reason why we do no more thrive in grace or advance in the spiritual 
life is because we do no more give thanks. 

5. In thanksgiving all spiritual graces are acted and promoted. 
(1.) Faith is acted in thanksgiving when we see and own the invi 
sible hand that reacheth out our supplies to us : All things come of 
thee, and of thine own have we given thee, 1 Chron. xxix. 14. Stupid 
and carnal creatures look to the next hand, as if he that bringeth the 
present were more to be thanked than he that sendeth it : Hosea ii. 8, 
She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil. We are 
unthankful to God and man, but more to God, because blessings that 
come from an invisible hand we look upon as things of course, and da 
not praise the giver. Beasts own the next hand : Isa. i. 3, The ox 
knoweth his owner, and the ass his master s crib, but Israel doth not 
know, my people doth not consider. (2.) Love : It is love that doth 
open our mouths, that we may praise God with joyful lips : Ps. cxvi. 1, 
I will love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplica 
tions ; and then, ver. 2, I will praise him as long as I live/ The 
proper intent of mercies is to draw us to God. When the heart is full 
of the sense of the goodness of the Lord, the tongue cannot hold its 
peace. Self-love doth more put us on prayers, but the love of God on 
praises, therefore to seek and not to praise, it is to be lovers of ourselves 
rather than of God. (3.) Hope is acted. While we give thanks for 
the very grant, for the promise, for the preparations, with greater 
assurance we expect what is behind ; as Abraham built an altar in the 
land of Canaan, and offered thanksgivings to God, when he had not a 
foot in the country, Gen. xiii. 18. (4.) Our humility : The humble 
soul is most delighted in the praise of God, but the proud soul in its 
own praises : They sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their 
drag, Hab. i. 16. Whilst others sacrifice to God, they deprive God 
of his honour, and exalt anything rather than the author of felicity ; 
they ascribe all to themselves, whilst the others profess their unworthi- 
ness of the least mercies from God : Gen. xxxii, 10, I am not worthy 
of the least of all thy mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast 
showed unto thy servant ; and 2 Sam. vii. 18, Who am I, Lord 
God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ? 
God is never exalted till the creature be abased. 

6. It preventeth many sins ; as (1.) Hardness of heart, and secu 
rity in enjoying the blessings of God s common providence. These 
common mercies point to the author, and discover their end to the 
thankful soul, but to the unthankful they prove occasions to the flesh ; 
so their table is made a snare to them, and their welfare a trap, Ps. 
Ixix, 22. But when we sip and look upward, and acknowledge God 
on all occasions, the creature is sanctified to us : 1 Tim. iv. 4, Every 
creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received 
with thanksgiving. Where there is a due acknowledgment of the 
donor, we have it with a blessing. So (2.) It suppresseth murmuring, 
or that quarrelling, fretting, impatient humour which venteth itself 
against God, even in our prayers and complaints, and soureth all our 
comforts. Murmuring is an anti-providence, the scum of discontent, 
by which we entertain crosses with anger, and blessings with disdain. 
Man is a touchy creature, always querulous, especially when God 


retrencheth him in some worldly conveniences which he fancieth. 
Now a thankful spirit counterbalance^ crosses with comforts : Joh 
ii. 10, What ! shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and 
shall we not receive evil ? It taketh notice how gracious God hath 
been notwithstanding his seeming severity, therefore it can bless God 
in every condition : Job i. 21, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath 
taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord/ This fretting humour 
is cured ; as long as we see occasion of giving thanks, it causeth us to 
submit to his disposing will. (3.) It prevents distrust and carking 
cares. This remedy is prescribed by the apostle : Phil. iv. 6, Be 
careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, 
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. When 
we acknowledge what God hath done for us, it prevents distrust : 
Ps. Ixxvii. 10, 11, I said, This is my infirmity, but I will remember 
the years of the right hand of the Most High : I will remember the 
works of the Lord ; surely I will remember thy wonders of old. There 
are great convulsions in an earthquake, but when it findeth a vent all 
is quiet. When we can bless God for favours already received, we 
will not doubt of his goodness for the future, but quietly compose our 
selves to wait for the good end of the Lord. (4.) It cureth spiritual 
pride to consider who must be praised and owned for all the good 
which is in us : 1 Cor. iv. 7, Who maketh thee to differ from another ? 
and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now if thou didst re 
ceive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it ? The 
more we have, we are more indebted to grace. We have all from God 
and for God, not for ourselves, our own glory and ostentation. God 
will be angry if we rob him of it, as Herod was smitten because he 
gave not God the glory, Acts xii. 23. The receiver is as bad as the 
stealer ; we consent to this robbery and usurpation. 

Use. Oh ! then, let us be more abundant in thanksgiving and praise. 
It is God s will concerning us in Christ : 1 Thes. v. 18, In every 
thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concern 
ing you. But there are other reasons to persuade us ; as (1.) Our 
profit both spiritual and temporal. It argueth a good spirit, great 
faith and love, when we look to God in everything, and a submissive 
spirit when we take anything kindly at his hands, the nations had 
never fallen to idolatry if they had kept up thankfulness, and con 
sidered God in all their mercies : Acts xiv. 16, 17, Who in times past 
suffered all nations to walk in their own ways ; nevertheless he left 
not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from 
heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 
Setting up the idol chance was the great cause of perverting mankind. 
Besides, this is noble and delightful work, the work of angels, our work 
in heaven. Well, then, observe what matter of praise God vouchsafeth 
to you continually. If you did want many of the comforts you now 
enjoy, how miserable would your lives be ! A thing too near the ball 
of the eye is not seen well ; our comforts must be set at a distance to. 
make us value them. (2.) Our continual dependence. It is with us 
as it was with the raven and the dove which Noah sent forth out of 
the ark, Gen. viii. 7, 8 : the raven, feeding on the floating carrion, 
returned no more ; but the dove, finding not whereon to rest the sole 


of her foot, returned with an olive branch. Carnal men, if they can 
get anything from God to .support them, and they have their stock in 
their own hands, they care no more for him, but live apart from God : 
Jer. ii. 31, Wherefore say my people, We are lords, we will come no 
more unto thee ? (3.) Consider how thankful others are for less than 
what we enjoy. There are many that would be glad of our leavings, 
but usually those that enjoy the greatest possessions pay the least rent, 
and God receiveth more praise from a poor cottage than from a rich 
palace. But I proceed to the second point. 

Doct. 2. That in thanksgiving to God we should especially own his 
spiritual benefits. 

These are usually overlooked, but yet these deserve the chiefest 

1. Because these are discriminating, and come from God s special 
love, which floweth forth to his own people. Corn, and wine, and oil 
are bestowed upon the world, but faith and love upon his saints. 
David prayeth, Ps. cvi. 4, Remember me, Lord, with the favour 
which thou bearest unto thy people. To have the favourite s mercy 
is more than to have a common mercy. Protection is the benefit of 
every common subject, but intimate love and near admission are the 
privileges of special favourites. Now by the common effects of his 
providence, love or hatred cannot be known : Eccles. ix. 1, 2, No man 
knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them ; all things 
come alike to all, &c. The things without us, and the things before 
us, and the things promiscuously dispersed, will not discover his special 
love to us. Christ gave his purse to Judas, the worst of the disciples, 
but his Spirit to the rest as the choicest gift. 

2. Because these concern the better part, the inward man : 2 Cor. 
iv. 16, For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man 
perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. He doth us more 
favour that healeth a wound in the body than he that seweth up a rent 
in the garment. Is not the body more than raiment ? So is not the 
soul more than the body ? Yea, further, and the soul furnished with 
grace, than the soul furnished only with natural gifts and endowments ? 
1 Cor. xiii. 1-3, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of 
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a 
tinkling cymbal : and though I have the gift of prophecy, and under 
stand all mysteries and all knowledge ; and though I have all faith, so 
that I could remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing : 
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give 
my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 
I am nothing without saving grace ; therefore these are the mercies 
for which God will be praised. 

3. These are brought about with more ado than temporal favours. 
God as a creator and upholder of all his creatures doth bestow tem 
poral blessings upon the ungodly world, even upon the heathens that 
know hini not, that never heard of Christ ; yet saving grace he be- 
stoweth only as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
was to purchase f these blessings by his death and bloody sufferings 
before we could obtain them : Eph. i. 3, Blessed be the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual 


blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Other blessings run in the chan 
nel of common providence, these in the channel of Christ s mediation. 

4. Because these are pledges of eternal blessings, and the beginnings 
of our eternal well-being. The life that is begun in us by the Spirit 
is perfected in heaven : John v. 24, He that heareth my words, and 
believeth on him that hath sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall 
not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life. It is a 
spark that shall not be quenched, and the food that feedeth it is the 
meat that perisheth not, but endureth to everlasting life, John vi. 27. 
Those graces and eternal blessedness are to be linked together, that 
they cannot be separated : Horn. viii. 30, Whom he did predestinate, 
them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and 
whom he justified, them he also glorified. Sanctification is included 
in the last word ; here in the beginnings by sanctification, and hereafter 
in the full possession of eternal glory. So 2 Cor. iii. 18, We all with 
open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed 
into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the 
Lord. It loseth itself in the ocean of eternal glory and happiness. 

5. These incline and fit the heart for praise and thankfulness to 
God. There is an occasion to praise God, and a disposition and a 
heart to praise God. Outward benefits give us the occasion to praise 
God, but these not only the occasion, but the disposition ; other bene 
fits are the motives, but these the preparations, as they do fit and 
incline the heart. The work of faith and love do set the lips wide open 
to magnify and praise the Lord. Grace is the matter of God s praises, 
and gives also a ready will to praise him, yea, the very deed of praising 
him : Ps. Ixiii. 5, My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, 
and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips. When they feel the 
love of God shed abroad in their hearts, they are inclined to praise 

0. Temporal favours may be given in anger, but the graces of the 
Spirit are never given in anger. God may give us worldly honour and 
riches in judgment, and indulge large pastures to beasts fatted for 
destruction ; but he giveth not faith and love in anger, or a renewed 
heart in anger, but as a token of his special love : To you it is given 
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Mat. xiii. 11 ; To 
you it is given to believe, Phil. i. 19. So that for these principally we 
should praise the Lord. We have a quick sense in bodily mercies, 
but in soul concernments we are not alike affected. We think God 
dealeth well with them to whom he giveth greatness and honour ; but 
doth he not deal well with you to whom he hath given his Spirit ? 

7. These render us acceptable unto God. A man is not accepted 
with God for his worldly blessings ; he is indeed the more accountable 
unto God, but not of greater account with him : Luke xii. 48, For 
unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall the more be required/ 
The more helps and the more encouragements, the more work and 
service God expecteth, but they are not more precious in his sight for 
temporal things sake. Under the law the rich and poor paid the 
same ransom ; the rich is not accepted for his riches, nor the poor man 
despised for his poverty ; but now the saving graces of his Spirit are 
acceptable with God. It is said, 1 Peter iii. 4, A meek and quiet 


spirit is in the sight of God of great price. God esteemeth this more, 
and therefore it should heighten the esteem of grace in our hearts, and 
quicken us more to get and increase it. 

8. These benefits should be acknowledged, that God may have the 
sole glory of them, for he is the Father of lights, from whom corneth 
every good and perfect gift, James i. 17. It was the opinion of the 
stoics, Quod vivamus deorum munus est, quod bene vivamus nostrum 
Our natural being we ascribe to God, but our moral perfections we 
are apt to usurp the glory of them to ourselves. Judicium hoc est 
omnium mortalium, saith Tully. All men think that prosperity and 
success is to be asked of the gods, but prudence and good management 
belongeth to us. But these opinions are sacrilegious, and rob God of 
his chiefest honour ; therefore, to prevent spiritual pride, we must be 
sure to bless God for spiritual blessings ; our crowns must be cast at 
the feet of the Lamb, Kev. iv. 10, 11, for he only is worthy to receive 
honour, and blessing, and glory, and power. Whatever we do, it is 
from him who worketh all our works in us : Isa. xxvi. 12, Thou wilt 
ordain peace for us, for thou also hast wrought all our works in us ; 
and 1 Chron. xxix. 14, All things come of thee, and of thy own have 
we given thee. By his grace we are what we are : 1 Cor. xv. 10, By 
the grace of God I am what I am ; and Luke xix. 16, Thy pound 
hath gained ten pounds. 

Use. Is to exhort us to two things (1.) To be in a capacity to bless 
God for spiritual blessings ; (2.) To be most affected with these mercies. 

1. See that you be in a capacity to bless God for spiritual blessings. 
First see that you have these mercies, and then bless God for them. It 
would trouble a man even to trembling to hear slight and vain persons 
take up a form of thanksgiving which no way is proper to them, as to 
bless God for their election before time, their sanctification in time, 
and their hopes of glory after all time. As if a leper should give 
thanks for perfect health, or a madman that he is made wiser than his 
neighbours, or a man that is ready to die to thank God that he is 
pretty well and recovering, so they give thanks for grace which they 
never knew nor felt. This is to mock God while we pretend to adore 
him. It is true there are spiritual mercies for which all are bound to 
give thanks, such as the mystery of redemption, the new covenant, the 
offers and invitations of grace, means, and time to repent ; these you 
should value more, and bless God for them. But for men that know 
not their own great necessities and benefits, but slight their chiefest 
mercies, and account them burdens, they can more feelingly thank God 
for a gluttonous meal, or unjust gain, or some vain pleasure, but for 
the means of grace they bless him not. But now, the flower of thanks 
giving is when we can bless God for Christ, for his Spirit, for heaven, 
for faith and love ; and therefore we should labour to get these things, 
and to make our sincerity more unquestionable; for these are the 
chiefest matters for which God expecteth praise from us. The apos 
tolical forms insist upon these things : 1 Peter i. 3, Blessed be the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his 
abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the 
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

2. To be most affected with these mercies. Other mercies may be 


overvalued, especially if we look upon them under the notion of provi 
sion for the flesh ; so our very thankfulness may be a snare. Lust 
ngrosseth our hearts, but religion tippeth our tongues. Men will 
thank God for their preferment more than for the offer of Christ, and 
pardon and life by him. Our esteem is known by this, what it is that 
moveth us to thankfulness ; if it be for the world, as used for the 
pleasure of the flesh rather than for the service of God, it is but lust 
disguised in a religious form. Therefore, what are you most affec 
tionately thankful for, worldly or spiritual good things ? God is to be 
thanked for all, for temporal encrease, but chiefly for spiritual mercies. 
Now what endeareth God to your hearts, that he is so good in Christ, or 
that he blesseth your outward estate ? You should not lessen that favour, 
but look for a better and more distinguishing expression of his love. 

Doct. 3. That not only the spiritual blessings vouchsafed to ourselves, 
but to others also, must be acknowledged with thankfulness. 

1. It suite th with our relation of members in the same mystical body 
of Christ, and so is a part of the communion of saints : 1 Cor. xii. 26, 
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or 
one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it/ The 
members care for one another, and are affected with each other s woe or 
weal. If the toe be trod upon, the tongue will cry out, You have hurt 
me ; therefore, they that have lost sympathy and feeling seem to have 
cast themselves out of the body, as if they were no way concerned in 
their fellow-members in Christ If we be in the body, we must be 
affected with others concernments as with our own : Phil. i. 7, I have 
you in my heart/ Where sincere love is among Christians, there will 
be a communion of prayers and praises, therefore they bless God for 
others mercies as their own. See Rom. xii. 15, Rejoice with them 
that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Spiritual love is but 
acted and personated if we only drop some words of prayer and praise, 
and do not look upon ourselves as under a debt, and that it is meet so 
to do, and do it upon inclination, and not merely upon the invitation of 
others. We should give thanks for all their mercies, especially for 
such spiritual mercies as constitute the union, such as faith and love. 
By faith we are united to the head, by love to the fellow-members : Col. 
i. 3, 4, We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ 
Jesus, and of the love which you have to all the saints/ These graces 
qualify for this spiritual communion. 

2. The glory of God is concerned in it. Wheresoever his goodness 
shineth forth, especially with any eminency, it must be acknowledged : 
Rom. i. 8, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your 
faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. When Christ s kingdom 
doth thrive extensively or intensively, by the addition of more peace or 
the increase of grace ; if we love our Master, we must be glad when he 
getteth more servants, and our joy must be expressed in praises. When 
Paul was converted, he saith, Gal. i. 24, the saints glorified God in 
me ; that is, praised God in his behalf, and gave him the honour of 
that great work, that so useful an instrument was gained to the faith. 

3. The spiritual blessings vouchsafed to others conduce to a common 
good, therefore our profit and interest inviteth us to this duty. The 
good of some is the gain of the whole ; we have benefit by their 


example, and are confirmed by having companions in the faith and 
patience of the gospel, and the common profession groweth by their 
accession to the faith : 1 Thes. i. 7, 8, Ye were examples to all that 
believe in Macedonia, and Achaia ; for from you sounded out the word 
of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place 
your faith to God-ward is spread abroad. Eminent Christians promote 
the interest of the gospel, and their gifts make them serviceable : 1 Cor. 
i. 4, 5, I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace that is 
given you by Jesus Christ, that in everything ye are enriched by him, 
in all utterance, and in all knowledge ; and Kom. i. 12, That I may 
be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and 
me. It is a comfort to meet with our Father s children everywhere, 
and that we have hopes of having more companions in heaven. 

4. If we have no profit by them, yet the thing itself is a benefit to 
us, for if we have anything of the bowels of Christ or love to souls, 
surely we are gratified when any are converted to God. If the salva 
tion of our brethren be dear to us, whatever is given in order thereto 
we must reckon among our benefits, and we should rejoice in one 
another s gifts and graces as our own. True goodness is communi 
cative, and diffusive of itself, as fire turneth all about it into fire. 
Hypocritical profession is accompanied with an envy; they would 
shine alone ; and mules and creatures of a bastard production do not 

5. We increase their faith and comfort when we give thanks to God 
for them. To that end doth the apostle mention his thanksgiving, 
that they might be encouraged to go on: Phil. i. 3-6, I thank my 
God upon every remembrance of you, being confident of this very thing, 
that he which hath begun a good! work in you will perform it until the 
day of Jesus Christ. 

Use 1. They are monsters of men that repine at the riches poured 
down by their own or other men s ministry upon others ; yet such a 
base spirit reigneth in many ; they cannot endure any should be godly 
and serious. 

Use 2. Let us bless God for others. The angels rejoice at the con 
version of a sinner, Luke xv. 10. Now this should never be omitted 
(1.) When there is some eminent work accomplished, either for the 
multitude of objects or degree of grace. As when Cornelius was gained 
to the faith as the first-fruits of the Gentiles, Acts xi. 18, When they 
heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying^ 
Then hath God also unto the Gentiles granted repentance unto life ; 
and ver. 21, The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number 
believed, and turned unto the Lord ; and ver. 23, Barnabas was glad 
when he had seen the grace of God, and exhorted them all, that, with 
purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord. (2.) When there 
are special circumstances, as if we have been instrumental to do them 
good, and God hath blessed our word, or converse, or example : 1 Thes. 
ii. 19, 20, For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are 
not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? 
for ye are our glory and joy. Or if we have prayed for anything for 
others, whatever we have prayed for must be thankfully acknowledged 
when brought to pass: 2 Cor. i. 11, You also helping together by 
prayer for us, that for the gifts bestowed upon us by the means of 


many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf ; and 
3 John 4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk 
in the truth. 

Doct. 4. That in thanksgiving for spiritual benefits, whether to our 
selves or others, the increase of grace must be acknowledged as well 
as the beginnings of it. 

The degree is from God. He that beginneth perfecteth : Phil. i. 6, 
He that hath begun a good work will perfect it to, the day of Christ. 
The whole progress of the work, from the first step to the last, is all 
from God, not from the power of our own free-will, or the strength of 
our resolutions, or the stability of our gracious habits. For the first, 
that it is not from the power of our own free-will, is plain from John 
vi. 44, No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me 
draw him. And then for the second, that it is not from the strength 
of our resolutions : Ps. Ixxiii. 2, As for me, my feet were almost gone, 
my steps had well-nigh slipped. And for the third, that it is not from 
the stability of gracious habits, see Kev. iii. 2, Be watchful, and 
strengthen the things which remain, and are ready to die, for I have 
not found thy works perfect before God ; and 1 Peter v. 10, The God 
of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, 
after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, 
strengthen, settle you. He that beginneth the work of grace in us 
doth still carry it on to perfection ; he doth establish what is attained, 
and increase our spiritual strength for all difficulties and duties ; so 
Luke xvii. 5, The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 

Use. Take notice of God s favour in the addition of every new degree 
of grace, because the change is more remarkable. We may ascribe our 
first conversion to God, but we must also our after-growth. We are 
still under the love and care of Christ ; though we are passed from 
death to life, yet not from earth to heaven. You are in continual need 
of Christ for direction, intercession, pardon, further sanctification, sup 
port, comfort, and peace ; therefore take notice of every degree. If 
there be greater fervour, if more delightful exercise, if more ability and 
strength to overcome opposition, let God have the glory of all. He 
many times chastiseth our pride and unthankful ness with lapses or 
decays if we do not acknowledge him ; as Peter and David, what 
grievous lapses had they ! 


We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, 
because that your faith groweih exceedingly, and the charity of 
every one of you all toivards each other aboundeth 2 THES. i. 3. 

IN these words we have observed (1.) An affectionate form of thanks 
giving ; (2.) The matter of it. 

For the first, it is a blessed thing when complaints are turned into 
thanksgivings, both for ourselves and others. For ourselves we should 


not be always craving and always complaining. Gratulation should 
find a place in our addresses to God, as well as acknowledgments of 
sin and supplications for grace : Col. iv. 2, Continue in prayer, and 
watch in the same with thanksgiving. So for others, we should rather 
take notice of their excellences than of their blemishes. "We give 
occasion to others to suspect us to have a rough imperious spirit, to be 
always finding fault, never acknowledging the grace they have received 
or the good they have done. This was far from Paul s temper, who 
was ever ready to acknowledge anything of Christ wherever he found 
it, especially where grace was discovered with eminency, as in these 
Thessalonians ; therefore he saith, We are bound to thank God always 
for you, brethren, as it is meet ; whence we observed four doctrines. 

I am now to speak of the matter of this thanksgiving, Because that 
your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all 
towards each other aboundeth ; where observe these six things 

1. That it is a comfort that our inward man is in a good state, how 
ever it be with us as to our outward condition before the world. These 
Thessalonians were poor and afflicted. We read in the first epistle, 
* They received the gospel in much affliction, 1 Thes. i. 6 ; and in the 
verse next the text he speaketh of their patience and faith in all 
their persecutions and tribulations ; and the following words tend 
wholly to comfort them under their sore troubles. Yet their condition 
before God was thriving and prosperous, and matter of thanksgiving 
rather than lamentation. So 2 Cor. iv. 16, For this cause we faint 
not/ saith the apostle, but though our outward man perish, yet the 
inward man is renewed day by day. We should count this world s 
goods well exchanged if the want or loss of them be recompensed to us 
by the increase of spiritual graces, and be glad if it go well with our 
souls, though our bodily interests be infringed. If God by an aching 
head will give us a better heart, by a sickly body an healthy soul, as he 
did to Gaius, 3 John 2, by lessening us in the world, or reducing us to 
straits, make us rich in faith/ James ii. 5 ; by troubles and oppositions 
excite us to a more lively exercise of grace. We should not barely 
submit to such a dispensation, but give thanks. The children of God 
are always set forth to be of this temper : Ps. cxix. 71, It is good for 
me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes ; 2 Cor. 
xii. 9, 10, I will rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of 
Christ may rest upon me ; therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in 
reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ s sake ; 
for when I am weak, then am I strong ; if the afflictions and troubles 
of the world may do us good, and our knowledge and holiness be 
increased as our estates are diminished. So Heb. xii. 11, No chasten 
ing for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless 
afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them 
which are exercised thereby. All the honours and riches of the world 
are not worth the least degree or drachm of grace. 

2. Their condition was not only good, but growing better every day. 
It is not enough barely to be good, but we must grow from good to 
better, and be best at last. God s children wait on the Lord, and he is 
not wont to be sparing and straitened to those that attend upon him : 
Isa.xl. 31, They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. 


They are planted in his courts, and that is a fertile soil : Ps. xcii. 13, 
14, Those that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in 
the courts of our God ; they shall still bring forth fruit in old age, they 
shall be fat and flourishing/ There are ordinances by which they re 
ceive a supply of the Spirit ; their hearts are upon the ways that lead 
home to God : Ps. Ixxxiv. 7, They shall go on from strength to 
strength. When our hearts are set upon a thing, we will neither go 
off nor go back, but still gain ground. They find new encouragement 
in God s ways : Prov. x. 29, The way of the Lord is strength to the 
upright ; the more they walk in it, the more encouragement they find 
to do so, all which doth condemn our laziness, that we make no more 
progress. Surely our reward should encourage us : Phil. iii. 14, I 
press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in 
Jesus Christ: In a race where there is so great a prize, we should not 
stand at a stay, but still be running, and getting nearer the goal ; the 
way is so pleasant that we have no occasion to tire in it : 2 Peter iii. 
18, But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ. We have so many benefits by Christ, that surely we are 
encouraged to seek for more. Besides, consider God s expectation. 
God expecteth more from some than others, according to their years 
and standing : Heb. v. 12, For when for the time ye ought to be 
teachers (having had so much means and advantages), ye have need 
that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of 
God. So Luke xii. 48, Unto whomsoever much is given, of him 
shall be much required ; and to whom men have committed much, of him 
they will ask the more. We expect he should come sooner that rideth 
on horseback than he that goeth afoot. Now, that we may grow, car 
nal affections must be weakened : John xv. 2, Every branch that bear- 
eth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit. This 
purging is by mortification ; faith, the mother grace, must be increased : 
Kom. i. 17, Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith 
to faith ; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. We must still 
continue to live by faith. The means of grace must still be attended 
upon : 1 Peter ii. 2, As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the 
word, that ye may grow thereby/ 

3. Their growth was considerable ; they arrived to a great degree of 
eminency, virepav^dvei, rf 77/0-749 vpwv, teal 7rXeoz/aet f) a^airt]. Here is 
high faith and great love. Certainly they did not overgrow their duty, 
but it was a wonderful growth, considering the difference between them 
and themselves, what they were before the gospel came to them, and 
what now ; considering also the difference between them and others, how 
they had outgrown their equals, yea, those who had received the gospel 
before them. Surely we should not only grow in grace, but seek to 
excel in grace ; God will have more glory, and we more comfort. Now 
those that would excel (1.) Should be more humble ; for, James iv. 
6, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble/ The 
Lord increaseth his grace where all is ascribed to God and nothing to 
ourselves, but he is an enemy to those that lift up themselves, and puff up 
themselves and set the crown upon their own heads. (2.) They should 
be diligent in the use of their gifts, for to him that hath shall be given/ 
Luke viii. 18 ; that is, that useth what he hath, that carrieth himself 


according to the helps vouchsafed, and employeth and improveth what 
he hath, he shall have more. They shall have more -faith, more love 
from the same Spirit who gave them the first grace. If in the effect 
you show what you have, and declare what you have, you shall have 
more ; the original stock shall be increased. (3.) There should be 
thankfulness. They own God in all : Col. ii. 7, Eooted and built up 
in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding 
therein with thanksgiving. The creature then robbeth not God of the 
glory of his gifts, and therefore shall have more. (4.) There must be 
obedience to the word of God as our rule, the sanctifying motions of 
the Spirit as our principle, and the author of that grace which we have. 
Now the more ready we show ourselves to comply with the directions of 
his word and the motions of his Spirit, the more is grace strengthened 
in us ; for disobedience to the word is a provocation to God, which 
hindereth the due impression of it on our souls : Jer. viii. 9, They 
have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them? 
And disobedience to the Spirit is a grief to him : Eph. iv. 30, c Grieve 
not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of 
redemption. So that sin hindereth our growth, and letteth out our 
strength. But what shall we say of them that beat down the price of 
Christianity as low as they can, and content themselves with what is 
barely necessary to salvation, as if the safest way were to go as near 
the brink of destruction as possible ? These men care not though they 
dishonour God, so they may be saved, but they will in time see that 
the greatest grace is no more than needeth. 

4. They grow in both graces, both in faith and love. These two graces 
are inseparable companions : Col. i. 4, Since we heard of your faith 
in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints. So 
1 Tim. i. 13, Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast 
heard of me, in faith and love, which is in Jesus Christ. The one con- 
cerneth our personal benefit and safety, the other the good of the body, 
that we may have a tender care of the unity, honour, and prosperity of 
Christ s church. We .are to build up ourselves in our most holy faith, 
and we are also to edify others, which is done by love principally. 
Besides, this connection is necessary, because all religion is exercised by 
these two graces. The mysteries of religion are received and im 
proved by faith, and the precepts and duties of it are acted by love : 
1 Cor. xvi. 13, 14, Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves 
like men, be strong; let all things be done with charity. And there 
fore that qualification which entitleth us to the privileges of the new 
covenant is made to be faith working by love, Gal. v. 6. The one 
grace without the other is not saving and sincere. Faith without love 
is dead, James ii. 17, and love without faith is but a little good-nature, 
or facile inclination to others, not derived from the Spirit of God, nor 
built on our belief of his grace in Christ ; they depend upon one 
another, as the effect upon the cause. Faith produceth love, as it 
showeth the true grounds of union, and from a sense and apprehension 
of God s love to us causeth us to love others. In short, both graces 
are recommended by the same authority : 1 John iii. 23, And this is 
his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus 
Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. , He that 


mnketh conscience of the one will make conscience of the other also. 
Again, the one referreth to God, the other to men ; faith for God, 
charity for our brethren. The one keepeth us from defection from 
God, the other preventeth a schism and a breach with our fellow chris- 
tians. Well, then* here was the commendation of those Thessalonians, 
their adherence to the faith was very constant, and they lived in unity 
and amity with one another. There is no surer argument of sincerity 
and proficiency in Christianity than this growth of faith and love. They 
are the fountain of all other duties ; and if you would be accounted 
thorough and growing Christians, you must excel in both these graces , 
for true solid godliness is rooted in faith, and acted by love towards 
God and men, which is the all of Christianity. 

5. This growth and proficiency was found in all ; not only some among 
them were eminent for faith and love, but all. If the apostle had only 
said, The charity of you all aboundeth, it might seem to refer to the 
church, that there was no schism there ; but he saith, Of every one of 
you all towards each other. In other epistles, the believers, to whom 
the. apostle wrote, have all the style of churches/ or men sanctified, 
<fcc. ; but afterwards notorious and particular miscarriages are reproved, 
which showeth that the denomination, \vasapotioriparte, from the better 
part ; but here he mentions all and every one ; they were a choice sort 
of Christians. Where shall we find their fellows ? It is our duty to 
be such, and it should be our care ; for here we see what the grace of 
God can do if we be serious, and what an advantage it is to be in good 
company, and to have good examples about us, and how much living 
coals do enkindle one another when they lie together. 

6. He saith, faith groweth, but love aboundeth. Love must not only 
increase, but abound to each other. A thing may be increased inten 
sive or extensive ; intensively, when it is more rooted, when there is a 
greater fervour and vigour of faith and love ; extensively, either as to 
effects or objects ; as to effects, in doing more good, as when we abound 
in works of mercy ; or as to objects, by doing good to more persons, not 
confining our love to one only, or a few, but extending it to all. This 
was the case of those Thessalonians ; their love was not a lank or lean 
love, but an abounding love, full of all good fruits ; and this not to some, 
but to all, even the meanest Christians among them. If we would 
give others occasion to bless God for us, let us imitate their example. 
Occasions are many, objects are many, to whom we may be beneficial, 
therefore our charity must not be straitened, but abounding. 

[1.] The internal affection must increase : Phil. i. 9, This I pray, 
that your love may abound yet more and more ; that is, both their 
love to God and their neighbours, especially to those who are God s. 
There are so many things to extinguish it, or make it grow cold, that 
we should always seek to increase this grace, that it may be more fer 
vent and strong, and not grow cold and dead. 

[2.] The external expressions should abound both as to acts and 

(1.) As to acts. In duties of charity we should not be weary. Now 
we may be weary upon a double occasion, either because we meet not 
presently with our reward ; to that the apostle speaketh, Gal. vi. 9, 
Be not weary of well-doing, for in due time we shall reap, if we faint 


not; duties of charity have their promises annexed, which are not 
presently accomplished, but in their season ; they will be either in this 
life, or in the next ; or because of continual occasions, when there is no 
end : Heb. vi. 10, 11, For God is not unrighteous to forget your work 
and labour of love, which you have showed towards his name, in that 
ye have ministered to the saints and do minister ; and we desire that 
every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of 
hope unto the end. Meaning that formerly they had a courage to own 
Christ and his despised ways, and to be charitable to poor Christians ; . 
now he desireth them to be so still ; as long as the occasion continueth, 
so long should the charity continue, that at length they might reap the 
reward, Te have ministered, and do minister. This is tedious to 
nature and to a niggardly and base heart, but love will be working 
and labouring still, and ever brmging forth more fruit. Where this 
heavenly fire is kindled in the soul, it will warm all those that are 
about them. But love is cold in most ; it will neither take pains, nor 
be at charge to do anything for the brethren ; but Christian love is an 
immortal fire, it will still burn and never die ; therefore we should 
continue the same diligence, zeal, and affection that formerly we had. 

(2.) As to objects. Christ telleth us, The poor ye have always 
with you, Mat. xxvi. 11. As long as God fmdeth objects, we should 
find charity ; and the apostle saith, Gal. vi. 10, As we have oppor 
tunity, let us do good to all men. Expensive duties are distasteful to 
a carnal heart. It may be they would part with something which the 
flesh can spare, and will snatch at anything to excuse their neglect ; 
they have done it to these and these ; but as long as God bringeth 
objects to our view and notice, and our ability and affection doth con 
tinue, we must give still. If our ability continueth not, providence 
puts a bar, and excuseth ; but if our affection doth not continue, the 
fault is our own. 

Now I come more particularly to speak of the growth of faith, Your 
faith groweth exceedingly. 

Doct. That it is well with Christians when their faith groweth and 
doth considerably increase. 

The scripture speaketh of a weak faith and a strong faith, therefore 
it concerneth us to consider whether our faith . be weak or strong, in 
the wane or in the increase. Now we shall best judge of the growth 
of faith (1.) By the nature of it ; (2.) The properties of it ; (3.) The 
examples of scripture. 

First, Let us see the nature of it, and thereby we shall best judge 
of the growth of it. Faith is a grace whereby we believe God s word 
in general, and especially the doctrine of salvation by Christ, and do 
receive him and rest upon him for grace here and glory hereafter. 

First, The general object of faith is the whole word of God : Acts 
xxiv. 14, Believing all things which are written in the law and the 
prophets. Certainly the general faith goeth before the particular, for 
there is no building without a foundation ; so that the general faith is 
a firm and hearty assent to such things as are revealed by God, because 
revealed by him. In which description we may consider (1.) The 
object of this grace, things revealed by God, as revealed by him ; (2.) 
The act, it is an assent ; (3.) The adjuncts or qualifications of this act, 
it is a firm, cordial, or hearty assent. 


1. The objects of faith, considered materially, are such things as are 
contained in the divine revelation. Formally these things by faith are 
apprehended under that consideration as revealed by God, by virtue of 
the truth and authority of his testimony. The objects of faith mate 
rially considered are all such things as are contained in the word of God 
or revealed by him, which are of a different nature, precepts, promises, 
threatenings, histories of facts done, mysteries of godliness ; all these 
are apprehended, and improved by faith, to the use of holy living or 
entertaining communion with God through Christ ; only among these 
objects some are more noble and excellent, others of lesser weight and 
moment, The chief objects of faith are those things which are abso 
lutely necessary to salvation, and without which we can neither be holy 
here nor happy hereafter. Such are those things which we specially 
call articles of faith, as briefly comprehending all the mysteries of 
salvation, the decalogue, &c. But many other things are contained in 
the word of God, and conduce to the confirmation and fuller under 
standing of these things, though not of like weight and importance 
with them ; as, for instance, divers histories and miracles which are 
spoken of in scripture, as also some lesser doctrines, which only belong 
to the greater fulness and perfection of knowledge. The first sort of 
things must be explicitly and distinctly known and believed; an 
implicit faith may suffice for the rest. Now an implicit faith we call 
that faith by which we belie ve. things not distinctly and apart, but as 
they are contained in their common principle ; as, for instance, he that 
belie veth the book of Judges to be a book divinely inspired, and yet 
hath neVer read it or heard it read by others, he doth indeed believe 
the histories contained therein to be true, but not by an explicit faith, for 
he knoweth them not but by an implicit and general faith, as he is per 
suaded the book was indited by the Spirit of God ; but he who hath read 
the book, and knoweth particularly what is said of Sampson, Gideon, 
Barak, and others of the Lord s worthies, and believeth it, he hath a 
distinct and explicit faith of these things. The believers of the Old 
Testament knew the Messiah and Kedeemer of the world implicitly, 
and not with that particularity which is required of believers in the 
New. And so do many weak Christians assent to all things contained 
in the word of God by an implicit faith, though they do only expressly 
and explicitly believe things necessary to salvation ; which is not said 
to justify laziness in any, or an overly carelessness in any matters of 
religion, as if we should acquiesce in the knowledge of a few necessary 
things, and seek no further. No ; The word of God must dwell in us 
richly, in all wisdom, Col. iii. 16 ; for though things absolutely necessary 
are but few, yet other points have their use, and conduce both to the 
confirmation and improvement of the rest. But hitherto we have only 
spoken of the object of faith materially considered ; we must speak also of* 
the formal consideration. Things revealed by God, as revealed by him ; 
for every assent, even that which is given to things contained in the 
word of God, cannot be called faith. For instance, if a man should 
certainly hold and maintain any point of religion, as the creation of the 
world out of nothing, but not upon the account of God s revealing any 
such truth, but for some other reason which seemeth necessary and 
cogent to him, he cannot be said to believe this article, or to understand 
it by faith; as it is said, Heb. xi. 3, Through faith we understand 


that the worlds were framed by the word of God ; for faith is an 
assent to a divine testimony ; but when we know things by other ways 
and means of assurance, it is not faith, whatever it be. So if a man 
should believe the passages of God s providence towards the Israelites, 
upon the relation of Josephus the historian, and not upon the authority 
of the sacred writers who have delivered it to us, he cannot be said to 
have faith ; which also may be said of them who adhere to the true 
religion only out of custom, and the happy chance of their birth and 
education, or because they received it by tradition from their ancestors, 
or the bare warrant of their present teachers, or evidence of reason. 

2. The next thing which the description offereth to us is the act of 
faith about this object, which is an assent. The formal object of faith 
is some divine truth, as we have seen. Now the understanding hath a 
double act about truth apprehension and dijudication, or exercising 
a judgment about it. So in these divine truths first we apprehend the 
nature or tenor of them, or consider what is propounded to us in the 
word of God, which is knowledge or apprehension ; but then secondly 
we judge or determine concerning the truth of these things, which is 
acknowledgment or assent, and this is the act proper to faith. 

3. The adjuncts or qualifications of this assent come now to be con 
sidered. They are two (1.) It is a firm assent ; (2.) It is a cordial 
and hearty assent 

[1.] As it is a firm assent, so faith is distinguished from many 
things that look like it, or pass for it in the world; as (1.) Non-contra 
diction, or not questioning the truths of religion, which is all the faith 
that most have, and cometh from their inadvertency and carelessness 
about divine matters. They do not object against the truth of what 
the gospel propoundeth, because they do not regard it and weigh it in 
their serious thoughts. This difFereth little from children s learning 
questions of catechism, or saying things by rote ; they can say over the 
articles of their belief, and never doubted of them ; you may teach 
them to think and say anything, what you please, for they say it, and 
never consider of it. So most men in the Christian world talk at the same 
rate that others do, but consider not what they say, nor whereof they 
affirm, only ignorantly and inconsiderately swallow down the current 
opinions, without knowing the certainty of those things wherein they 
have been instructed, Luke i. 4. And so though they never doubted 
of the truth of their religion, it is because they were never assaulted 
with temptations to the contrary, and all the strength of their faith 
lieth in their inconsideration or non-attention. If they have any 
ground and bottom, it is only men s saying so, and therefore their belief 
(if they have any) should rather be called human credulity than 
Christian faith. In short, they that believe everything believe nothing, 
which soon appeareth when a temptation cometh. (2.) It distin- 
guisheth it from conjecture, which is a lighter inclination of mind to 
a thing, as possibly or probably true, whereby men get no higher than, 
It may be so, and yet there are shrewd suspicions to the contrary. A 
guess is not an assent, much less a firm and strong assent, as faith is. 
(3.) It distinguisheth it from opinion, which is a trembling, fearful, 
uncertain assent. Opinion is beyond conjecture, but short of faith. 
Conjecture only supposes it may be so, but opinion asserts that it is so, 


though not without some fear of the contrary ; but above all, this faith 
is an undoubted persuasion of the truth of things revealed by God. By 
opinion one may be so convinced of the truth of divine things as not to 
be able reasonably to contradict them ; but by faith a man is so con 
vinced of the truth of the gospel that he seeth all the reason in the 
world to embrace and follow it : Col. ii. 2, c That their hearts might 
be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the 
full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery 
of God, and of the Father, and of Christ : and 1 Thes. i. 5, For our 
gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the 
Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, as ye know what manner of men 
we were among you for your sake ; and Heb. x. 22, Let us draw 
near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts 
sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure 

[2.] The next qualification of this assent is that it is a cordial or 
hearty assent : I mean, such as doth engage the will and affections to 
pursue the happiness which God hath revealed, in the way and by the 
means which God hath prescribed. We read in scripture of believing 
with the heart, Bom. x. 9, 10, and with all the heart, Acts viii. 37. 
The object of faith is not only true, but good, and therefore produceth 
a cordial adherence to the truths of which it is persuaded. There is 
not only a conviction of the mind, but a bent and inclination of the 
will, which followeth the persuasion of faith if it be firm and strong ; 
for it considereth not only the evidence of the things propounded, but 
the worth, weight, and greatness of them : 1 Tim. i. 15, * This is a 
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation ; otherwise it will not 
serve the end and purpose of the gospel, which requireth us to crucify 
our lusts, and sacrifice our interests, and perform duties displeasing to 
corrupt nature, and all this upon the hopes only which it offereth to 
us, and to wait upon God for his salvation in the midst of all pressures 
and afflictions. Therefore certainly believing is an heart-business, not 
a simple, naked, and speculative assent. This latter qualification doth 
exclude two things from true, lively, and saving faith (1.) That 
which divines call historical; (2.) That which they call temporary 

(1.) Historical faith, which is a simple and naked assent to such 
things as are propounded in the word of God, and maketh men more 
knowing but not better, not more holy and heavenly ; they are not 
excited thereby to pursue that happiness which the gospel offereth in 
the way of holy living or patient continuance in well-doing. So Simon 
Magus believed the preaching of Philip, Acts viii. 13, yet his heart 
was not right with God, but he still remained in the gall of bitterness 
and bond of iniquity. And so many believed in the name of Christ, 
to whom Christ committed not himself, because he knew all men, 
John ii. 23, 24 ; and this faith even the devils may have : James ii. 19, 
Thou believest that there is a God, thou doest well ; the devils also 
believe, and tremble ; and that not only in truths evident by natural 
light, such as that is there mentioned, that there is a God, but in 
gospel truths, as that Jesus is the Son of God : Mark i. 24, The devil 
cried out, saying, Let us alone ; what have we to do with thee, thou 



Jesus of Nazareth ? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God/ 
Now this kind of faith is called historical faith, not from the object of 
it, as if it did only believe the histories of scripture. No ; they that 
have it may believe the promises, the doctrines, the precepts as well as 
the histories ; but from the manner in which it is conversant about its 
object, namely, thus : as we read histories in which we are no way 
concerned ; we nakedly read them for knowledge sake, not to make a 
party in their broils and interests, but only to know what was done ; 
so they that have only this kind of faith, read the scriptures as persons 
unconcerned, and rest in idle speculation, without referring those 
notable truths to choice and practice. I cannot say that this cannot be 
called faith, because they that have it do believe those things which 
are true, and do truly believe them ; but yet lively saving faith it is 
not, for he who hath that, findeth his heart engaged to Christ, and 
doth so believe the promises of the gospel concerning pardon of sins 
and life eternal that he seeketh after them as his happiness, and doth 
so believe the mysteries of our redemption by Christ as that all his 
hope and peace and confidence is drawn from thence, and doth so 
believe the commandments of God and Christ as that he determineth 
to frame his heart and life to the observance of them, and doth so 
believe the threatenings, whether of temporal plagues or eternal damna 
tion, as that, in comparison of them, all the frightful things of the world 
are as nothing : Luke xii. 24, Be not afraid of them that can kill the 
body, and after that have no more that they can do. Destruction 
from God is a terror to them, beyond all the evil that man can threaten ; 
as he said to the emperor, Thou threatenest a prison, but Christ 
threateneth hell. 

(2.) It is distinguished from temporary faith, which is an assent to 
scriptural or gospel truth, accompanied with a slight and insufficient 
touch upon the heart, called a taste of the heavenly gift, and of the 
good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, Heb. vi. 
4-6. By this kind of faith, the mind is not only enlightened, but the 
heart affected with some joy, and the life in some measure reformed, 
at least from grosser sins, called, escaping the pollutions of the world/ 
2 Peter ii. 20 ; but the impression is not deep enough, nor is the joy 
and delight rooted enough to encounter all temptations to the contrary. 
Therefore this sense of religion may be choked, or worn off, either by 
the cares of this world, or voluptuous living, or great and bitter per 
secutions and troubles for righteousness sake. It is a common deceit ; 
many are persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the only Son of God, 
and so are moved to embrace his person, and in some measure to obey 
his precepts, and to depend upon his promises, and fear his threatenings, 
and so by consequence to have their hearts loosened from the world in 
part, and seem to prefer Christ and their duty to him above worldly 
things, as long as no temptations do assault their resolutions, or sensual 
objects stand not up in any considerable strength to entice them ; but 
at length, when they find his laws so strict and spiritual, and contrary 
either to the bent of their affections or worldly interests, they fall 
off, and lose all their taste and relish of the hopes of the gospel, and 
so declare plainly that they were not rooted and grounded in the 
faith and hope thereof. This is true faith generally considered, which 


foundation being laid, it will be easy to show the nature of special 
faith, which now followeth to be discussed. 

Secondly, The special objects of faith are God s transactions about 
man s salvation by Christ ; "therefore, besides the general faith, there 
is a special faith, whereby we receive Christ, and rest upon him. 
Saving faith is called a receiving of Christ : John i. 12, To as many 
as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, 
even to them that believe in his name ; and Col. ii. 6, As ye have 
received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. We take him as 
God offereth him. and to the ends for which God offereth him ; to do 
that for us and to be that to us which God -hath appointed him to do 
for and to be unto poor sinners. The general work of Christ as 
mediator is to bring us to God : 1 Peter iii. 18, For Christ also hath 
once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us 
to God. And the great use that we make of him, is to come to God 
by him. There is implied in faith an intention of God as our chief est 
good, for otherwise Christ is of no use to us ; and a consent to Christ s 
undertaking, that he may bring us to God, or a thankful acceptance 
of him for those ends. All they are rejected that will have none of 
him: Ps. Ixxxi. 11, 12, But my people would not hearken to my 
voice, and Israel would none of me ; so I gave them up unto their 
own hearts lust, and they walked in their own counsels ; that will not 
come to him that they may have life, John vi. 40 ; that will not have 
him to reign over them/ Luke xix. 27. But they who consent to 
receive him as their lord and saviour are accepted with him ; only 
let us see how this consent is qualified. 

1. It is not a rash consent, but such as is deliberate, and serious, 
and well-advised. When God in the gospel biddeth us to take Christ, 
men are ready to say, With all their hearts ; but they do not consider 
what it is to receive Christ, and therefore retract their consent as soon 
as it is made. No ; you must sit down and count the charges, Luke 
xiv. When you have considered his strict laws, and made a full allow 
ance for incident difficulties and temptations, and can resolve, forsaking 
all others, to cleave to him alone for salvation, it is an advised consent. 

2. It must not be a forced and involuntary consent, such as a person 
maketh when he is frightened into a little righteousness for the pre 
sent ; such as a person would not yield to if he were in a state of 
liberty. It may be in a distress or pang of conscience ; by all means 
they must have Christ when sick, when afraid to die, when under some 
great judgment. No ; the will must be effectually inclined to him, and 
to God the Father by him, as our utmost felicity and end. Christ s 
people are a willing people : Ps. ex. 3, Thy people shall be willing in 
the day of thy power/ 

3. It must be a resolved consent, a fixed, not an ambulatory will, 
which we take up for a purpose, or at some certain times, for a solemn 
duty, or so. No ; you must cleave to him : Acts xi. 23, He exhorted 
them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord/ 
You must trample upon everything that will separate you from him : 
Phil. iii. 8, 9, Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I 
have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that 


I may win Christ/ &c. ; and Bom. viii. 38, 39, I am persuaded that 
neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor 
things present nor things to corne, nor height, nor depth, nor any 
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

4. It must be not a partial consent, but total ; not only to take 
Christ as offered with his benefits, but a consent of subjection to him 
as our Lord. We are to take him and his yoke : Mat. xi. 29, Take 
my yoke upon you, and learn of me. We are to take him, and his 
cross : Mat. xvi. 24, If any man will come after me, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross, and follow me/ It is accompanied 
with a resolution to obey his laws and keep his commandments, that 
we may abide in his love. 

Thirdly, Besides this consent, there must be a recumbency, depend 
ence, resting, or a fiduciary reliance upon him for all things we stand 
in need of from him. Recumbency is a special act of faith : Isa. xxvi. 
3, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, 
because he trusteth in thee. Now what do we rest upon him for ? 
For somewhat here and somewhat hereafter (1.) Here ; for the inward 
man, for all kind of grace, justification, sanctification, privileges, duties, 
for the beginning and continuance : Phil. i. 6, Being confident of this 
very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform 
it until the day of Jesus Christ ; and Acts v. 31, Him hath God ex 
alted to be a prince and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, 
and forgiveness of sins/ He is the author and fountain of grace, as 
well as a Lord and lawgiver, and the ground of our hope and confidence, 
as giving us that righteousness whereby we may stand before God, 
and have comfortable access to him. And then for the outward man, 
God hath not only undertaken to give us heaven and happiness in the 
next world, but to carry us thither with comfort, supplying us in a 
way most conducible to his glory and our welfare : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, 
The Lord is a sun and shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory ; 
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. All 
things are yours, ordinances, providences : 1 Cor. iii. 2l, For all 
things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, 
or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and 
ye are Christ s, and Christ is God s. (2.) Hereafter ; that Christ will 
give us eternal glory and happiness in the other world: 1 Tim. i. 16, 
For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might 
show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should here 
after believe in him to life everlasting ; and John xx. 31, These are 
written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, 
and that believing, ye might have life through his name. This is the 
main blessing which faith ainaeth at : 1 Peter i. 9, Receiving the end 
of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. By this all temptations 
of sense are defeated. 

Now, if you would know whether your faith groweth or no, you must 
discover it by the firmness of your assent, or the resolvedness of your 
consent, or the peace and confidence of your reliance. 

1. For assent. If you believe the word of God, especially the gospel 
part, with an assent so strong that you can resolve to venture your 


whole happiness in this bottom, and let go all that you may obtain the 
hopes which the gospel offereth to you, certainly he hath a strong faith 
who taketh God s promises for his whole felicity, and God s word for 
his only security ; he needeth no more, nor no better thing, nor surer 
conveyance to engage him to hazard all that he hath, when the enjoy 
ment of it is inconsistent with his fidelity to Christ. 

2. Your consent. A full, entire, hearty consent to resign yourselves 
to Christ ; not a feeble consent, such as is contradicted by every foolish 
and hurtful lust, but a prevalent consent, such as can maintain itself 
notwithstanding difficulties, temptations, and oppositions of the flesh, 
and control all other desires and delights whatsoever. 

3. For reliance. When you can trust him for deliverance from the 
guilt, power, and punishment of sin, and to quicken, strengthen, and 
preserve grace in you to everlasting life. You trust him in all his offices; 
as a priest, when you believe his merits and sacrifice, and comfort your 
selves with his gracious promises and covenant, and come to God with 
more boldness and hope of mercy upon the account of his intercession, 
especially in all extremities and necessities: Heb. iv. 14-16, Seeing 
then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, 
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession ; for we have not 
an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infir 
mities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin : 
let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may 
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need/ You trust him, 
as a prophet when you give up yourselves as his disciples to the con 
duct of his word and Spirit, oeing persuaded that he will infallibly 
teach you the way to true happiness : John vi. 68, Lord, to whom 
shall we go ? thou hast the words of eternal life. You trust him as a 
king when you become his subjects, and are persuaded that he will 
govern you in truth and righteousness in order to your salvation, and 
defend you by his mighty power from all your enemies : 2 Tim i. 12, 
I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to 
keep that which I have committed unto him against that day ; and 
2 Tim. iv. 18, And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, 
and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom ; to whom be glory 
for ever and ever. Amen. 


Your faith groiveth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you 
all towards each other aboundeth. 2 THES. i. 3. 

THE growth and increase of faith may be judged of (1.) By the 
nature of faith; (2.) The properties of it; (3.) The examples and 
instances of great faith in scripture. 

We are now upon the second thing, the properties. 

1. A dependence upon God for something that lieth out of sight. 


That this is an essential property of faith appeareth by the description 
of it : Heb. xi. 1, The evidence of things not seen; that is, not seen 
by sense and reason. Some things are invisible by reason of their 
nature, as God, for no man hath seen God at any time, John i. 18 ; 
and therefore he is called the invisible God, Col. i. 15. And some 
things by reason of their distance, because they are absent and future, 
as the glory of the world to come, and therefore it is an object of faith 
and hope : Kom. viii. 24, For hope that is seen is not hope ; for what 
a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for it ? Vision and possession 
exclude hope, and leave no room and place for it. Now without faith 
a man can have no sight of these things : 2 Peter i. 9, He that lacketh 
these things is blind, and cannot see afar off. There is a mist upon 
eternity, and we cannot look beyond the clouds of this lower world 
unless we have the eagle-eye of faith ; but by faith we can see them, 
so as to frame our lives accordingly : 2 Cor. v. 7, For we walk by faith, 
and not by sight. By sense we see what is pleasing or displeasing to 
the flesh, but by faith what conduceth to the saving or losing of the 
.soul. Faith being very much like sight, and serving us for the govern 
ment of the soul, as sight doth for the body, it may much be explained 
by it. Now to bodily sight there must be an object, a medium to make 
the object conspicuous, and a faculty or organ. (1.) The great object 
of faith is eternal life, as procured by Christ and promised in the gospel. 
There is no use of sight where nothing is to be seen ; therefore the 
object is set before us in the view of faith, in the promises of the gospel, 
Heb. vi. 18, and xii. 2. God s truth is as certain as sight itself can be 
in it; we see all things promised as sure and near. (2.) The medium; 
as we see colours in the light of the air, so these spiritual and heavenly 
things in the light of the Spirit : 1 Cor. ii. 11, 12, For what man 
knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? 
even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which 
is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of 
God/ (3.) The eye, or visive power. A blind man cannot see at 
noonday, nor the sharpest sight at midnight. Now this eye is faith, 
which is the evidence of things not seen ; we are as sure of them as if 
we saw them with our eyes, or as we are of those things which we now 
see with our eyes. 

The sight of faith may be considered either (1.) As to its certainty 
and clearness ; (2.) As to its power and efficacy. 

[1.] As to its certainty and clearness. We do so see God, heaven, 
Christ, that we are affected in some measure as if we saw them with 
our bodily eyes. God, whilst we walk before him : Acts ii. 25, I fore 
saw the Lord always before my face. Christ: Gal. iii. 1, Before 
whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among 
you. Christ was set forth before their eyes, as if they had seen him 
hanging and dying upon the cross. Heaven ; they have it in their eye, 
and are affected in some measure, as if they were in the midst of the 
glory of the world to come. I say, only in some measure ; for compare 
the light of faith and the light of glory, and there is a difference in the 
degree. The light of glory nullifieth sin, the light of faith only rnorti- 
fieth it ; but yet really it maketh us do those things which we would 


do if we saw the glory of heaven, shun those things which are to be 
avoided as if we saw the flames of hell. There is a certainty and firm 
belief which hath a great influence upon us, so compare it with the 
light of sense. Those things which we are to see and feel move the 
more passionately, for while the soul dwelleth in flesh, and looketh out 
by the senses, the objects of sense are more apt to move the passions, 
but yet faith doth effectually move us, though not so passionately. 

[2.] As to efficacy and prevalency, this sight prevails over those 
things which we see and feel. A Christian hath senses as well as 
others, and knoweth that he dwelleth in a world full of sensible objects, 
which are pleasing to that flesh which he still carrieth about with him ; 
but God hath opened the eyes of his mind, by which he seeth better 
and more glorious things, which take up his heart and mind, life and 
love, care and time, and so is weaned from sense-pleasing vanities, and 
can deny them, and trample upon them, for the enjoyment of these 
better things; and neither life, nor anything comfortable to life, is 
counted so dear as that, for their sake, he should hazard the favour of 
God, his Kedeemer s blessing, and the happiness of the world to come. 
If sight and sense invite and entice him to sin, and forsake his God 
and Christ, the objects of faith prevail against the amusements of sense, 
and sway his choice, and incline his heart, and govern his resolutions 
in the whole course of his life. He looketh not to things as they seem 
for the present, or relish to the flesh, or as they appear to short-sighted 
men who are governed by sense, but as they will appear at last, and 
will prove to all eternity, and so can leave things which he seeth and 
feeleth for things which he never saw, but expecteth shortly to enjoy. 

Well, then, this is the essential property of faith, to look to things 
not seen by sense, but revealed by God in his word ; and this property 
showeth itself in all the acts of faith, elicit and imperate. Elicit acts 
are those which are proper to this grace ; imperate are such as belong 
to other graces, but faith hath an influence upon them by virtue of 
which they are produced. We may more plainly call them acts and 

(1.) As the acts of faith, which are assent, consent, trust, or depend 

(1st.) For assent to such truths as God hath revealed in his word. 
When we have sufficient evidence of this revelation, the less sensible 
helps we need to underprop our assent, the stronger is our faith. Let 
me instance in the great article of the Christian faith, Christ s person 
and office. I shall produce that place of the apostle, 1 Peter i. 8, 
Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, 
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Though 
they had never seen Christ in the flesh, and he was now absent from 
them in regard of his bodily presence, being withdrawn into the heavenly 
sacrary, yet this did not hinder their faith ; they loved him and rejoiced 
in him as if they had seen him and conversed with him bodily. It was 
an advantage certainly to have seen Christ in the flesh, and to converse 
with him personally here upon earth, to see his miracles and hear 
his gracious words ; but faith can embrace him as offered in the promise 
though it never saw him in the flesh ; and the fewer sensible helps 
faith hath besides the word, it is the more highly esteemed by Jesus 


Christ. The same appeareth by Christ s words to Thomas : John xx. 
29, Thomas, because thou hast seen, thou hast believed ; but blessed 
are they that have not seen, yet have believed. Thomas must have 
the object of faith under the view of his senses, which argued a great 
weakness and imbecility : Unless I see in his hand the print of the 
nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, I will not believe/ 
What if Christ would not give him that satisfaction, but other sufficient 
evidence ? This was his infirmity, therefore Christ telleth us they 
have the stronger and more acceptable faith that do not give laws to 
heaven, or prescribe to God upon what terms they will believe, but 
accept of the assurance God offereth, without satisfaction to sense. 

(2d) For consent, when we come to enter into covenant with God, 
God is invisible who maketh the promise, and heaven, which is the 
great promise that he hath promised us, is future and yet to come, and 
lieth in another world, and before we get thither we must encounter 
many difficulties, yea, shoot the gulf of death ; but the believer can as 
really and heartily transact with the great God, and give the hand to 
the Lord to become his, as he can with a man that is present, and 
offereth a good bargain upon easy terms and conditions ; he hath so 
firm a belief of the life to come, that he taketh it for his portion and 
happiness : 2 Cor. iv. 18, While we look not at the things which are 
seen, but at the things which are not seen ; he looketh to things unseen, 
which he taketh for his treasure and happiness, and is resolved to be 
anything and do anything which God will have him be and do, that he 
may obtain it. 

(3d) Another elicit act of faith is trust and dependence, which 
maintaineth us in a course of patient and cheerful obedience to God, 
though our happiness be yet to come ; yea, though for the present we 
are harassed with great troubles and afflictions, and it may be, see not 
the signs, i.e., any sensible tokens of God s favour and respect to us, 
yet the sight of an invisible God, and confidence of a future reward, 
keepeth up joy in the soul, and no violence of temptation is able to 
break it, and remove us from the truth : Kom. viii. 24, 25, We are 
saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth, 
why doth he yet hope for ? But if we hope for that we see not, then 
do we with patience wait for it. They are confident that in God s 
time they shall have salvation and final deliverance, though it be not 
to be seen anywhere but in God s promise by Jesus Christ. Well, then, 
the fewer external comforts we need, the stronger is our faith ; the 
more, the weaker. Weak Christians must be carried in arms, dandled 
on the knees, fed with sensible pledges and ocular demonstrations, or 
ejse they are ready to faint. 

(2.) The imperate acts or effects of faith, they are produced by 
virtue of this property, faith s prevailing oversight and sense. I shall 
name four 

(1st.) To promote holiness, and reduce us and reclaim us from the 
false happiness. Surely none will accomplish the work of faith with 
power, and so glorify God and Christ in the world, that is, live in all 
holy conversation and godliness, but those that have that faith which 
is the evidence of things not seen. Those that live always as in the 
sight of an invisible God, are the thorough Christians. What greater 


check can there be to temptations to sin than to live always in the sight 
of an invisible God ? Gen. xxxix. 9 ; or to temptations to the world, 
than an invisible glory ; or to the troubles and molestations of the 
world ? Bom. viii. 18, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present 
time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be 
revealed in us; and 2 Cor. iv. 17, * Our light affliction, which is but 
for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight 
of glory. If godliness expose us to difficulties, molestations, and 
troubles, faith seeth the final rest, glory, and happiness. If we are 
inclined to the honours and pleasures of the world, faith seeth the most 
shining glory will soon burn out, and end in a snuff: Ps. cxix. 96, I 
have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding 
broad ; and 1 John ii. 17, The world passeth away, and the lust 
thereof, but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever/ If sense 
present the bait of present profit, pleasure, or honour, faith seeth the 
final shame, ignominy, and loss ; and so we are guarded on all sides 
against right-hand and left-hand temptations. This is a general ; I 
shall speak of more particular effects. 

(2c) To keep the heart tender and in awe of God s word. Surely 
it is a blessed frame of spirit, and very useful to us, to tremble at the 
word of God : Isa. Ixvi. 2, To this man will I look, even to him that 
is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word ; and to 
stand in awe of his word : Ps. cxix. 161, My heart standeth in awe of 
thy word. Now this can never be unless we have that faith which is 
the evidence of things not seen ; for many times the word threateneth 
evils which are not likely to corne to pass, if we look to the visible face 
of things, and all that part of God s discipline is lost unless we can 
believe unseen things. See Heb. xi. 7, By faith Noah, being warned 
of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to 
the saving of his house, by which he condemned the world, and became 
heir of the righteousness which is by faith. The world was then in a 
jolly condition, and little dreamt of a flood. The earth flourished as 
much as ever, and there was building, and marrying, and planting ; but 
God had told him of a universal destruction of all things by a deluge, 
therefore he admonisheth the careless world, and provideth for his own 
and family s safety. So we read of Josiah, when he heard of the words 
of the book of the law, he rent his clothes, 2 Kings xxii. 11. We do 
not read of any actual trouble that was then in the land, or any danger 
nigh. When an age is very corrupt and ripe for judgment, God giveth 
warning. But alas ! few take it or lay it to heart, for the world is led 
by sense, and not by faith : they are not affected with things till they 
feel them. Few can see a storm when the clouds are ingathering, but 
securely build on the present ease and peace, though God be angry. 
But in the eye of faith a sinful estate is always dangerous ; therefore 
they fall a praying and humbling themselves, and cry to God mightily, 
and use all means of safety, while a judgment is but yet in its causes. 

(3cZ.) To support us against the greatest dangers and terrors : Heb. 
xi. 27, By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the 
king, for he endured as seeing him that is invisible. To depend upon 
God s aid and succour in a time of great extremity and danger needeth 
a strong faith. As to appearance, he was ready to be swallowed up, being 


pursued by a wrathful and puissant king ; the sea was before him, the 
Egyptians behind him, and the craggy and inaccessible mountains on 
each side ; but the terrors of sense may be easily vanquished by those 
invisible succours which faith relieth upon ; an invisible God can bear 
us out against visible dangers. 

(4.) To teach us how to carry an equal mind in prosperity and ad 
versity. In prosperity, when we are borne up by the chin, we have 
but too much confidence, and when we are lessened and cut short in 
the world, we are full of diffidence and distrustful fears : Ps. xxx. 6, 
In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. When a child of 
God hath gotten a carnal pillow under his head, he lieth down, and 
sleepeth sweetly, dreaming many a pleasant dream of uninterrupted 
felicity in the world, but if God taketh away his pillow from under his 
head, then he is as diffident as formerly confident, then God will be 
favourable no more. God is the same, his promises the same, the 
covenant the same, the Mediator the same, but our condition is changed, 
because we look to things seen, live upon things seen, and still imagine 
of things according to what we see and feel. So for supplies of main 
tenance and provision ; if we have them not in view and sight, how 
little can we depend upon God I If sense be against the promises, the 
promises do us but little good. How few can comfort themselves in 
God when all faileth, Hab. iii. 18, or make his all-sufficiency their 
storehouse ! Gen. xvii. 1. No ; they must have a full heap in their 
own keeping. How few can take his promises for their heritage ! Ps. 
cxix. 11. No ; they must have lands and fixed revenues, or else they 
know not where to have food and raiment for themselves and children. 
How few can be contented to trust the purse in God s hands, and be 
contented to take their daily allowance from him ! which yet is a 
necessary point of faith, of continual practice. How few can see all 
things in God when they have nothing in the creature ! 2 Cor. vi. 10. 
Many talk of living by faith, but it is when they have enough in the 
world to live upon ; they eat their own bread ; wear their own apparel, 
only call it by God s name. The life of sense is more evident than the 
life of faith. Well, now, this being the nature of faith, thereby we 
may know the measure of it ; for the excellency and degree of every 
thing is known by the essential properties. 

2. The second property of faith is self-denial, or a venturing of all 
in Christ s hands, or a foregoing all for Christ. That this is included 
in the nature of faith, yea, essential to it, I must prove to you 

[1.] By the description of faith in scripture : Heb. x. 39, We are 
not of the number of them that draw back to perdition, but of them 
that believe to the saving of the soul ; e/c 7rtcrTe&>? et? TrepiTrolrjcnv ^1^9, 
the purchasing of the soul ; not purchasing in the way of merit, but 
means. A true and sound faith will cause us to save the soul, though 
with the loss of other things. The flesh is for sparing or saving the 
body, but faith is for saving the soul whatever it costs us. The flesh 
saith, Favour thyself ; faith saith, Hazard all for Christ. 

[2.] By reason. I will prove that it not only necessarily results from 
the nature of faith, but is included in it ; for faith builds upon the 
promise of salvation by Christ. Now this promise is not only true but 
good, 1 Tim. i. 1. It is certainly true, and requireth the firmest be- 


iief ; it is eminently good, and worthy to be regarded above all other 
things ; the happiness is most desirable, and the assurance of enjoy 
ing it as strong as can be given us. Now we do not close with this 
promise rightly unless we assent and embrace, take the thing promised 
for our whole happiness, and the promise itself for our whole security. 
The thing promised we do not take for our whole happiness unless we 
forsake all other hopes and happiness, and can let go all pleasures, 
profits, worldly reputation, and honour ; yea, life itself, when it is in 
consistent with our fidelity to Christ, or the way we should take to 
enjoy the blessedness that he offereth. Not only wilful sin, and all 
carnal pleasures, but anything, though never so near and dear to us. 
No ; we will not take up with any other portion and felicity for all the 
temptations in the world. And also there must be a confidence of 
God s promise in Jesus Christ, that we may venture our all upon this 
security, and, if God call us to it, actually forsake all ; so that without 
self-denial we can neither trust God nor be true to him. 

[3.] This suiteth with the nature of the conditional and baptismal 
covenant. There is an absolute covenant whereby God promiseth to 
give faith to the elect, and a conditional covenant sealed in baptism, 
wherein it is said that He that believeth and is baptized shall be 
saved/ Mark xvi. 16. Now by this covenant none can be believers or 
disciples of Christ, but those that forsake all for Christ s sake : Mat. 
xiii. 45, 46, The kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant-man seek 
ing goodly pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, he 
went and sold all that he had and bought it. Christ knew the nature 
of faith better than we do. Many cheapen the pearl of price, but do 
not go through with the bargain, because they do not sell all to pur 
chase it, all that is inconsistent with this choice and trust. So Luke 
xiv. 26, If any man come unto me, and hate not father, and mother, 
and brother, and sister, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 
Shall we think to go to heaven at a cheaper rate, after such express 
declarations of the will of Christ ? All Christians are not called to 
this, but all must be ready for this : Eph. vi. 15, Your feet shod with 
the preparation of the gospel of peace ; Acts xxi. 13, I am ready not 
to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the 
Lord Jesus ; 1 Peter iii. 15, Be ready always to give an answer to 
every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with 
meekness and fear. This every disciple must be, prepared to undergo 
martyrdom if God calls him to it. 

[4.] I prove it by the instances of believers, ordinary and extraor 
dinary. Faith was ever a venturing all and a forsaking all upon God s 
veracity and truth of his promises. 

(1.) Extraordinary. Noah had but God s bare word for the flood, 
Heb. xi. 7, yet notwithstanding the mocks of the incredulous world, 
with vast expense and care he prepare th an ark, which was the pre 
scribed means to save himself and household. Abraham leaveth his 
father s house, though he knew not whither God would call him, Heb. 
xi. 8. Here was venturing all on God s fidelity ; and afterwards we 
read that he was ready to offer Isaac, leaving the way to God how to 
fulfil his promises, ver. 17, 18. So the Israelites passing through the 
Eed Sea, ver. 29, there they put their all into God s hands, when upon 


his word themselves and little ones and all their substance ventured 
into the great deep. So Christ s trial of the young man : Mark x. 21, 
Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and then 
shalt have treasure in heaven, &c. ; but the promise of eternal life and 
great treasure in heaven could not part the young man and his great 

(2.) Ordinary. Moses : Heb. xi. 24-26, By faith Moses, when he 
was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh s daughter, 
choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to en 
dure the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ 
greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the 
recompense of reward. So those that the apostle speaketh of, Heb. x. 
34, Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves 
that ye have in heaven a better auid an enduring substance. They 
Irad such a faith in Christ, that though they had lost their goods, yet 
because they lost not Christ and the hopes of heaven by him, they 
thought themselves happy enough. So Paul s quitting all honour and 
respect with his countrymen : Phil. iii. 8, I count all things but dung 
and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 
Lord. It is endless to instance in all, bu- this is enough to show you 
that the true believers are still known by their self-denial. But you 
will say, if this be necessary to the very truth and being of faith (as 
certainly it is), how shall we know our growth, for we can but forsake 
all ? I answer By your readiness and willingness to part with all for 
Christ.- The weakest believer can part with no more but all, but the 
stronger this faith is, he doth it with the more readiness of mind, and 
with least defaults in his duty and blots in his fidelity to Christ. 
Would you know then whether your faith be strong or weak ? know 
it by this The more you can adhere to Christ, whatever temptations 
you have to the contrary, if you can venture not only some, but all 
things, upon the account of the promise of eternal life 

(1st.) Deny the sinful pleasures of the flesh ; they were never worth 
the keeping. If I cannot deny a littf j vain pleasure, what can I deny 
for Christ ? Surely momentary delight is bought too dear if it must 
be bought with the loss of eternal joys. Esau is represented as a pro 
fane person, that sold his birthright for one morsel of meat, Heb. xii. 
15. If the vain delights of the world prevail so with men that all the 
promises of the gospel cannot reclaim them, these comply with the 
motions of the flesh, which is importunate to be pleased, but have no 
sense of the offers of Christ, who calleth upon us to save our souls. 
The true Christian is a stranger and pilgrim on the earth, whose mind 
and heart is set upon better things, which are to come, 1 Peter ii. 11. 
Upon the security of God s word, he is taking his journey into another 

(2d.) We must be willing to sacrifice all our interests : Mat. xvi. 
24, If any man will come after me, and be my disciple, let him deny 
himself, and take up his cross and follow me. If God be trusted as 
our felicity, worldly felicity must be no impediment to our duty ; 
therefore, if we cannot incur blame and shame with men, yea, damage 
and loss, that we may be faithful with God, our faith is worth nothing. 

(3d) If God call you not to sufferings, yet there are some expense- 


fill and self-denying duties which ever are incumbent upon you, Mat. 
xxv. 35. Visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry : 
Luke xii. 33, Sell that ye have, and give alms ; provide yourselves 
bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heaven that faileth not. 
Can you trust Christ upon such promises, and be at some loss for the 
gospel ? for a religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. Most men 
love a cheap gospel, and the flesh engrosseth all ; faith gets little from 
them to be laid out for God. These men run a fearful hazard of being 
rejected for ever ; they sow to the flesh : Gal. vi. 8, He that soweth 
to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to 
the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 

(4th.) If your faith maketh you to submit to providence. When we 
first entered into covenant with God, we entirely and absolutely gave 
up ourselves to God, to be governed by his commanding will, and to be 
ordered by his disposing will. You cannot shift yourselves out of his 
hands, but your voluntary submission to anything, if you may have 
Christ and heaven at last, is the trial of your faith : Job i. 21, The 
Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the 
Lord ; ; Phil. i. 20, So Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be 
by life or death. He was come to a point ; nothing should be reserved. 
So Christ may be glorified, and you may have his saving grace, let 
him give or take ; the more willingly you do this, the stronger is your 
faith. Certainly to deny all is an essential property of faith. 

3. The third evidence of a growing faith is when our light is turned 
into love ; for faith is not a bare knowledge, but a sound, a savoury 
and effective knowledge, a knowing things as we ought to know them 

1 Cor. viii. 1, 2. A knowledge with a taste ; for such a difference as 
there is between the sight of meat and the tasting of it, such a differ 
ence there is between speculative knowledge and the apprehension of 
faith, 1 Peter i. 3. You may dispute him out of his belief that seeth, 
but you can never dispute him out of his belief that tastes, for you 
cannot make him go against his own sense. The steadfastness of 
unlearned Christians cometh mainly from their taste and love ; they 
adhere more closely to Christ than those that have only a dead opinion, 
because they received the truth not only in the light but love of it, 

2 Thes. ii. 10. Now the more taste we have of the things we know 
and believe, the stronger is our faith. Now, besides the manner of 
apprehension, the truths apprehended tend mainly to raise our love to 
God, that we may love him that loved us first, 1 John iv. 19. We 
know God that we may love him, and faith is nothing else but a behold 
ing the love of God in the face of Jesus Christ, that our hearts may be 
wanned, attracted, and drawn to God. Faith is the bellows to enkindle 
the fire of love in our souls ; and therefore faith, the more sound and 
sincere it is, the more it worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. Faith is required 
sub rations medii ; love, sub ratione finis. The end of the gospel 
institution is love, 1 Tim. i. 5. Well, then, when you make it your 
great business to love God, and count it your great happiness to be 
beloved by him, then may you best judge of the growth of your faith. 
The gospel representeth the goodness and arniableness of God, that he 
may be more lovely to us, and be beloved by us ; for this was the end 
of reconciling and saving man by Christ ; his incarnation, life, sufferings, 


death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession is all to reveal the love 
of God in Christ, and to work our hearts to love God again. To this 
end also tend his merciful covenant and promises, and all the benefits 
given to the church, all the privileges of the saints, his Spirit, pardon, 
peace, glory, all these to warm our hearts, and fill them with a sense 
of the love of God. Now if we slightly reflect upon these things, with 
cold and narrow thoughts, we have not the true faith, certainly not a 
grown faith. 

Tour faith groweth exceedingly. 2 THES. i. 3. 

THE fourth essential property of faith is its respect to the word of God. 
That I may explain this with more full satisfaction, I shall open four 
things (1.) The relation of the word to faith ; (2.) The acts of faith 
about the word ; (3.) The effects of faith thus exercised ; (4.) The 
notes whereby we may discern a strong or grown faith. 

First, The relation of the word to faith. 

1. It is a means to beget and breed faith : Eom. x. 14, 15, How 
shall they call on him on whom they have not believed ? and how 
shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard ? and how 
shall they hear without a preacher ? and how shall they preach except 
they be sent ? Every part of the gradation hath its weight. First, 
what I am bound to adore and invocate ; I must believe in him as a 
divine power. For the second, how shall men believe in Christ as a 
God unless they have heard of him ? Faith is a believing such things 
as God hath revealed because he hath revealed them ; therefore the 
divine revelation must be conveyed to them by some means or other. 
The third, there is no hearing without a preacher ; some messenger or 
interpreter that may bring tidings of pardon and life by Christ. Then 
for the fourth branch, How shall they preach except they be sent ? 
that is, come with authority, evidence, and power, whereby it may be 
known that he is a messenger authorised and sent by God, that the 
things propounded may be received as a certain truth of God s own 
revelation, that we may depend upon the credit of his word, and that 
with such a lively and effectual belief as may prevail with us to assent 
unto it, and embrace it notwithstanding all difficulties and objections 
to the contrary. Now such is the doctrine of salvation by Christ, which 
inviteth us to call upon his name or name ourselves by the name of 
Christ, because we may believe in him, and run all hazards for him, 
2 Tim. i. 12. Why ? Because we have heard of him ; the fame of 
his doctrine, so suitable to the glory of God and the necessities of 
mankind ; and the fame of his miracles, especially his death and 
resurrection, and that by authentic preachers, or faithful men author 
ised by God, and sufficiently owned by him, as those that are commis 
sioned to instruct the world, and to teach them the way of salvation ; 
so that the word is the great means to work faith. 


2. It is the warrant of faith, which stateth the laws of commerce 
between us and God, which showeth how far God hath obliged him 
self, and we may depend upon him, as appeareth by the words of 
Christ : John xvii. 20, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them 
also that shall believe in me through their word. The principal 
object of faith is Christ; we believe in him ; and the warrant of faith 
is the word, that is, the doctrine which by the apostles is consigned to 
the use of the church. For these and no other Christ prayeth, and 
according to this way or law of grace God offereth himself to be recon 
ciled to his creatures. So that here you may hold him to his covenant ; 
the word is gone out of his lips, and without this you make promises to 
yourselves which God will not stand unto. 

3. It is the object of faith, or the thing which we do believe: Acts 
xxiv. 14, I believe all things which are written in the law and the 
prophets ; and add to that, in the writings of the apostles. To make 
the object of the Christian faith complete, take in also what is written 
in the apostles, for We are built upon the foundation of the apostles 
and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, Eph. 
ii. 20; that is, the doctrine of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ 
being the chief sum and scope of it, who is to be accepted of as he is 
revealed and offered in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, 
betwixt which there is a sweet harmony and agreement. But because 
this is too bulky and large for us to manage at one time, let us consider 
the sum of the scriptures in the method wherein God hath put it,, and 
that is, the covenant of grace ratified by the blood of Christ, which is 
the most glorious discovery whereby God hath made known himself to 
his creatures : Ps. cxxxviii. 2, I will praise thy name for thy loving- 
kindness and thy truth, for thou hast magnified thy word above all 
thy name. There we see that God s word is the chiefest discovery 
that he hath made of himself to the creature, for it is magnified above 
all his name ; that is, it doth set forth God above all that is named, 
famed, spoken, or believed, or known, or understood of God. And 
what is the matter of his word ? His loving-kindness and his truth ; 
that is, in the word there are contained admirable promises, which God 
will certainly perform to the utmost importance of them. There we 
see his mercy and loving-kindness in making such great promises. 
The promises of the new covenant are beyond all expression great and 
precious, 2 Peter i. 4 ; they contain as much as the heart of man can 
desire, all spiritual aiid eternal riches, pardon of sin, taking away the 
stony heart, eternal life ; these are offered to men to believe. And 
then his truth and fidelity in performing these promises most punctually 
to all those that do believe, and will accept the pardon, grace, and 
blessedness offered, and behave themselves accordingly. Well, then, 
God s mercies in Christ to them that repent, believe, and obey God are 
the matter and object of our faith. 

4. The word is the security and strength of our faith (1.) As it 
puts God s grace into the way of a promise ; (2.) As this promise is 
the promise of God. 

[1.] We have much advantage in believing by the formality of a 
promise. A promise is more than a purpose, more than a doctrinal 
declaration, more than a prediction of prophecy. 


(1.) More than a purpose. A purpose is only the thought of the 
heart, a thing secret and hidden, but a promise is open and manifest. 
A purpose is the intention of a person, a promise is his intention revealed, 
whereby we have a knowledge of the good intended to us. If God 
had only purposed to give us eternal life, we might at last have enjoyed 
it, but we could not have known it beforehand ; it would have been as 
an hidden treasure. Promises are the eruptions and overflows of God s 
love to us ; his heart is so big with kindness and designs of goodness 
that it cannot stay till the accomplishment of things : Isa. xlii. 9, 
Before they spring forth I tell you of them. God s purposes are a 
sealed fountain, but his promises are a fountain broken open, bubbling 
forth. He might have done us good, and given us no notice, but love 
concealed would not be so much for our comfort. Besides, they are 
obligations which God taketh upon himself promittendo se fecit debit- 
orem. So far as God hath promised, so far he hath made himself a 
debtor. God s purposes are unchangeable, but his promises are a 
security put into our hands, so that we have a greater holdfast upon 
God now the word is gone out of his lips, Ps. Ixxxix. 34. We may 
put the bond in suit, throw him in his handwriting : Ps. cxix. 49, 
Kemember thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused 
me to hope. We have the pawn of the thing promised, which we 
must hold fast till performance cometh. His truth and holiness lie at 
stake, and are as it were impawned with the creature. 

(2.) It is more than a doctrinal declaration. It is one thing to 
reveal a thing, another to promise it. A doctrine maketh a thing 
known, but a promise maketh a thing sure. A doctrine giveth us notice, 
but a promise giveth us right and interest if we be qualified. Christ 
hath brought life and immortality to light through the doctrine of the 
gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10 ; but he hath not only manifested, but granted, 
assured it to believers by the promises of the gospel, 1 John ii. 25. 
It is so conveyed to us as that we may be sure of obtaining it. 

(3.) It is more than a prophecy or simple prediction. Scripture 
prophecies will be fulfilled because of God s veracity, but scripture 
promises will be fulfilled, not only because of God s veracity, but also 
because of his fidelity and justice. As by our promise another man 
cometh to have a right to the thing promised, therefore it is just it 
should be given unto him, so it is in God ; it was his mercy and good 
ness to make the promise, but his holiness and justice bindeth him to 
make it good : 1 John i. 9, He is faithful and just to forgive us our 
sins. And as for pardon, so for life : 2 Tim. iv. 8, Henceforth there 
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the righteous judge 
shall give me on that day. It becometh a debt of grace. This may 
be illustrated by what divines say of an assertory lie and a promissory 
lie. An assertory lie is when we speak of a thing past or present other 
wise than it is, and a promissory lie is when we speak of a thing for 
the time to come which we never intend to perform ; and this is the 
worst sort of lies, because it doth not only prevent the end of speech, 
which is truth, but also defeateth another of that right which we seem 
to give him by our promise in the thing promised, which is a further 
degree of injustice. Now we should apprehend God to be very far 
from this : Titus i. 2, In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot 


lie, promised before the world began ; and Heb. vi. 18, That by two 
immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might 
have a strong consolation. 

[2.] It is the promise of God. In every promise, that it be certain 
and firm, three things are required (1.) That it be made seriously and 
heartily, with a purpose to perform it ; (2.) That he that promiseth 
continue in his purpose without change of mind ; (3.) That it be in 
the power of him that promiseth to perform what he hath so promised. 
Now in the promise of God there can be no doubt of any of these 
things. Certainly God meaneth as he speaketh, when he promiseth 
eternal life to the faithful servants and disciples of Jesus Christ ; for 
what need had he to court his creatures into a false and imaginary 
happiness which he never meant to bestow upon them ? to send his 
Son with a commission from heaven, to assure them of it, who also 
wrought miracles to confirm the message that he brought from God, 
died upon this truth, and rose again, and entered into the happiness 
that he spoke of, to give us assurance, and a visible demonstration of 
the truth of it ? sent abroad his apostles to invite the world to embrace 
it, his Holy Spirit accompanying them, and sealing their message also 
with divers signs and wonders ? And surely he doth continue in the 
same mind, for there is no repeal of this law of grace. And he is 
able to perform it ; for what difficulty is there which omnipotency can 
not subdue and overcome? Surely what God hath promised he is 
fully able to perform. 

Secondly, The acts of faith about the word. 

1. We are to believe and credit it upon solid and sufficient evidence. 
It is said, Heb. xi. 11, They saw these things afar off, and were per 
suaded of them ; and Acts xiii. 48, When the gentiles heard this, 
they glorified the word of God, and believed ; that is, blessed God for 
his glorious mercy revealed in the gospel. The sound belief and firm 
assent leadeth on other things, for the most powerful truths work not 
till they are believed : 1 Thes. ii. 13, Ye received the word not as the 
word of man, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually 
worketh also in you that believe. Here beginneth the efficacy. Now 
usually we receive the truth at first upon low and insufficient evidence, 
but afterwards our assent is upon better grounds, and more valid and 
strong ; as the Samaritans : John iv. 42, Now we believe, not because 
of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is 
indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Her saying was much, 
for the woman had testified that she had met .with an holy person that 
had told her of all that ever she did. So Nathaniel was drawn to Christ 
by Philip s persuasion, but when he perceived that he knew the heart 
and secret things, John i. 48, 49, He saith unto him, Whence knowest 
thou me ? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip 
called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee. Nathaniel 
answered, and saith unto him, Kabbi, thou art the son of God, thou art 
the king of Israel. Christ then promiseth him further assurance and 
greater evidence, which should beget a more confirmed and strong faith : 
ver. 50, Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, 
I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou ? thou shalt see greater 
things than these. The church is in possession of a religion which 



God hath blessed throughout successions of ages, and we received the 
doctrine of the gospel and new covenant upon report and hearsay ; 
hereafter we see farther and better grounds, and the scriptures are 
owned with more certainty of evidence. Well, then, here is the first 
thing, assent, or a receiving all truths about supernatural things upon 
the credit of God s word. 

2. The work of faith is to apply these things ; for the closer such 
blessed truths are laid to our own souls, the more we feel the virtue of 
them : Job v. 27, Lo, this it is ; know thou it for thy good ; Eom. 
viii. 31, What shall we then say to these things ? The promise 
includeth you as well as others, and promiseth and offereth you pardon 
and life if you will believe in Christ ; therefore the application I press 
you to is not a claim of privileges (stay a while there), but an exciting 
yourselves to perform the duties of the gospel, that you may turn away 
from all other ways of felicity, and choose this alone. Faith must be 
applicative, and the closer the application the better ; but there is a 
difference between the application which is an excitement of your duty, 
and that application which is an assurance of your interest : Acts xiii. 
20, To you is this word of salvation sent. It is my duty to make 
general grace particular, but not presently, and at first dash to enter 
my plea and claim, but to oblige me to take God s way. God calleth 
upon me to repent and believe in Christ, that I may have pardon and 

3. We are heartily to consent to this blessed covenant which is 
contained in the word of God, taking the promises offered for our 
happiness, resolving upon the duties required as our work : Acts ii. 41, 
They received the word gladly, and were baptized. There was a 
precept and a promise, ver. 38 ; they accepted the counsel, and waited 
for the promise. Our respect to the word is made up of a mixture of 
obedience and dependence ; there must be a consent to both, and we 
must resolve for the holy and heavenly life. Faith is an act of the 
will as well as of the understanding : Heb. xi. 13, These all died in 
faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, 
and were persuaded of them, and embraced them. Besides being 
persuaded, there is embracing : The promises of God in him are Yea, 
and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us/ 2 Cor. i. 20 ; and 
they are exceeding great and precious promises, 2 Peter i. 4. In 
one place you have both : 1 Tim. i. 15, This is a faithful saying, and 
worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to 
save sinners. Therefore embrace them you must with all your hearts, 
and submit to this way of covenanting with God. 

4. Your judgments must highly esteem these promises, and your 
hearts find full contentment and satisfaction in them. We read often 
of receiving the word with joy, and the confidence and rejoicing of 
hope, Heb. iii. 6. Usually the word of God hath too cold and slight 
entertainment in our affections, and we do not value those precious 
promises as we ought to do. They should be dearer to us than our 
lives, and give us more satisfaction than all the enjoyments of the 
world : Ps. cxix. Ill, I have taken thy testimonies as an heritage for 
ever ; they are the rejoicing of my soul. They do you good to 
your very heart, and the more you are acquainted with them, the 


more you will see the worth of them : Luke vi. 23, Kejoice and leap 
for joy, for great is your reward in heaven. And of the eunuch, when 
lie had sealed covenant with God, Acts viii. 39, it is said, he went 
his way rejoicing. Faith cannot do its office, that is, out of an holy 
gratitude to God, to draw us off from the allurements of sense, and 
fortify us against adversities and troubles, and engage us to the duties - 
of Christianity, which are distrustful to flesh and blood, unless it did 
fill our hearts with an higher and better joy than the world yieldeth. 
Surely it is comfortable to be pardoned and reconciled to God, to be in 
the way, and under the hopes of eternal life. 

Thirdly, The effects which these acts produce. These may be stated 
by the several uses for which the word of God serveth. (1.) It is the 
peed of a new life; (2.) The constant rule of all our actions; (3.) 
The sure charter of our hopes ; (4.) Our strength and preservation 
against all temptations from the devil, the world, and the flesh ; (5.) 
Our comfort and cordial in all afflictions. 

1. It is the seed of a new life : 1 Peter i. 23, Being born again, 
not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, 
which liveth and abideth for ever ; and James i. 18, Of his own 
will begat he us, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of 
first-fruits of his creatures ; and also, 2 Peter i. 4, Whereby are given 
unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you 
might be partakers of the divine nature. When we so believe the 
pardon, and grace, and blessedness offered, that our hearts are changed 
into the life and likeness of God ; for the truth is not rightly owned 
and believed till this change be wrought both in heart and life, then 
we are cast into the mould of this doctrine : Rom. vi. 17, Ye have 
obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered to you. 
Gospel truths serve not for speculation or mere talk and discourse, but 
for sanctification ; and therefore if this seed be sown and engrafted in 
your hearts, and you begin to live to God an holy and heavenly life, 
you have the surest evidence of your faith ; for causes are made sen 
sible to us by their effects. It is usually brought as a proof of the 
word, the sanctifying virtue of. it ; so it is of the sincerity of your 
faith, for the word profiteth not unless it be mingled with faith ; and 
since both faith and the word concur to this effect, it may be ascribed 
to either. Surely therefore if we believe the word of God, and value 
it as we ought, it doth leave the impression of God s image upon us, 
for it is the fairest draught and representation of God that ever was 
in the law and life of Christ, 2 Cor. iii. 18. If our souls and lives be 
a transcript of the word, this image is thence deduced to us by the 
Spirit, and of necessity it must be so, for Christ s comforting promises 
of mercy and glory are made to these new creatures who live the holy 
and heavenly life. They have God s mark and signature upon them, 
arid therefore are said to be sealed to the day of redemption/ Eph. ii. 
30, and Eph. i. 3. This renovation of the soul is the seal of God, the 
pledge of his love, and the earnest of the heavenly inheritance. 

2. The constant rule of all our actions. There is a fixed determined 
rule from whence we cannot swerve and vary without sin, and if we 
would have communion with God here or enjoy him hereafter. We 
must keep close to this rule : Gal. vi. 16, As many as walk according 


to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. 
This rule, that is the word of God, which directeth us as to our 
general path and way, and all our steps or particular actions : Ps. cxix. 
105, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my paths. 
We must hide the word in our hearts : Ps. cxix. 110, Thy word have 
I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. We must con 
sult with it upon all occasions, as willing to understand our duty : Ps. 
cxix. 24, Thy testimonies also are my delight, and my counsellors/ 
And because we may mistake through error of mind, or be tempted 
aside through aversion of heart and manifold temptations, therefore 
we must earnestly beg it of God : Ps. cxix. 133, Order my steps in 
thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. And we 
must use all study ourselves, Kom. xii. 2, and constant watchfulness : 
Eph. v. 15, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as 
wise. Now that which I say is this : When the word ruleth the 
main course of our lives, and teacheth us how to live in the world, 
soberly, righteously, and godly, the tenderness of the word, and high 
respect to it, that we dare not transgress it whatever temptations we 
have so to do, showeth that faith hath obtained its effect in us ; for 
trembling at the word, fearing of a commandment, and whatever of 
that kind is spoken of in the scripture, they are all fruits of faith. 

3. It is the charter of our hopes : John xx. 31, These things are 
written that ye might have life through his name ; 1 John v. 11, 
This is the record that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this 
life is in his Son. Now the work of faith is to lay hold upon eternal 
life, 1 Tim. vi. 12 ; that is, seize upon it as ours, as assured to us by 
the word of God, or to take it as our happiness, and accordingly pur 
sue after it : Eph. i. 13, In whom ye trusted after ye heard the word 
of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Now, when we choose this 
felicity for our portion, set our hearts upon it, make it the chief care 
and business of our lives to seek it, and do all as means thereunto, 
carry ourselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world, and look for no 
great matters here, but wholly depend upon God s faithful word for 
this happiness to come, then is faith wrought in us. 

4. It is our strength and preservative against all temptations from 
the devil, the world, and the flesh. The word of God is the sword 
of the Spirit, Eph. vi. 17, a weapon of excellent use in the spiritual 
warfare ; and it is said, 1 John ii. 14, Ye are strong, and the word of 
God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. This 
helpeth us to ward off the blow of any temptation. When the heart is 
well stocked and furnished with this word of God, you have something 
to oppose still to darken the splendour of the world, to check the 
desires of the flesh, and so do the better carry on a continual warfare 
and watchfulness. And so the fleshly inclination is overruled, and the 
profits, honours, and pleasures of the world have less force upon us. 
When the devil showeth the bait, and the flesh is ready to swallow it, 
faith showeth the hook. A belief of the word of God being of a lively 
and vigorous nature, produceth noble effects in us. It casteth down all 
that rebelleth against God, and casteth out all that would be preferred 
before him : Ps. xxxvii. 31, The law of his God is in his heart, none 
of his steps shall slide. A lively active sense of his duty is kept fresh 
upon his heart. 


5. To be our comfort and cordial in our afflictions : Ps. cxix. 59, 
This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me ; 
ver. 92, Unless thy law had been my delight, I should then have perished 
in my affliction/ Heb. xii. 5 ; Ye have forgotten the exhortation which 
speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the 
chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. So 
Ps. xciv. 19, In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts 
delight my soul. God s comforts are such as God alloweth, or God 
worketh. The matter of both is in the scriptures, though the Spirit be 
the author of them, and the instrument he worketh by is faith. In 
wants and straits how sweet is it to a believer to consider how amply 
we are provided for in the covenant. When God s hand is heavy upon 
us, and providence represents him as an angry judge, yet the covenant 
represents him as a father. In a time of trial, one promise of God 
will give you more true comfort and support than all the arguings of 

Fourthly, The notes whereby we discern a strong and grown faith 
as to this property of it, its respect to the word. 

1. When the consolations laid down in the word of God are more 
prized than any extraordinary dispensations. Certainly it is a weakness 
when men undervalue the comforts of the word, as slender, empty, 
unsatisfactory, and would have the manifestations of God s love exhibited 
to them in some singular and extraordinary way. Eliphaz chargeth it 
on Job wrongfully, Job xv. 11, Are the consolations of God small with 
thee ? is there any secret thing with thee ? God s ordinary way is 
the sure way, the other layeth us open to a snare. Surely our consci 
ences are best settled in the ordinary way of God s word, in a way of 
faith, repentance, and close walking with God ; but as Naaman despised 
the waters of Jordan, so many despise the ordinary comforts, and would 
have signs and wonders to assure them. These may long sit in dark 
ness, because if God comforts them not in their way, they will not be 
comforted at all. Now, though God sometimes, in condescension to his 
people, may grant their desires, as Christ did to Thomas, yet it is with 
sin upbraiding of their weakness and unbelief, John xx. 28. You 
should acquiesce in the common allowance of God s people, lest you 
seem to reflect on the wisdom and goodness of God, and lay open your 
selves to some false consolation and dream of comfort, while we affect 
new rules without the compass of the word ; especially when we find 
not our expectations there speedily answered, like hasty patients ready 
to tamper with every medicine they hear of, rather than submit to a 
regular course of physic. Gregory telleth us of a lady of the emperor s 
court that never ceased importuning him to seek from God a revelation 
from heaven that she should be saved. Bern difficilem petivit et 
inutilem. It was a thing difficult, and unprofitable ; difficult for him 
to obtain, and unprofitable for her to ask, having a surer way by the 
scriptures : 2 Peter i. 19, Peftaibrepov \6<yov, We have a more sure 
word of prophecy than oracles. The adhering of the soul to the 
promises is the unquestionable way to obtain peace. Luther, as he con- 
fesseth, was often tempted to ask for signs or some special revelation. 
He tells also how strongly he withstood these temptations, Pactum 
fed cum Domino meo, ne mihi mittat visiones, vel etiam angelos; con- 
tentus enim sum hoc dono, quod habeo scripturam sanctam quce abunde 


docet et suppeditat omnia, quce necessaria sunt, tarn ad hanc vitam, tarn 
adfuturam I indented with the Lord my God that he would never 
send me dreams and visions ; I am well contented with the gift of the 

2. When the word is matter of joy and firm confidence to us before 
there is any appearance of performance. This in two cases 

[1.] In case of delay, when it is long ere God appeareth, and faith 
doth not require the existence and pre-essence of the thing believed, 
only the promise of it. Therefore though the promise be delayed, it 
eyeth the blessing at a distance : Heb. xi. 13, These all died in faith, 
not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were 
persuaded of them, and embraced them. Abraham was one of them : 
John viii. 56, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he 
saw it, and was glad/ And we, if we would be strong believers, must 
do likewise : Heb. vi. 12, Be not slothful, but followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises. A Christian is not 
to be valued by his enjoyments, but his hopes ; heaven is all performance. 
Here he dealeth with us by promises, but you will find his payment 
sure, and that God in effect is better than all his promises ; for they 
cannot signify and convey the full sense of all that God naeaneth to 
bestow. Therefore we must wait, whether the promise be to be ful 
filled in this life or the life to come ; let us dig the pit, and tarry till 
God fill it with rain from heaven. 

[2.] In case of difficulties, wants, distresses, the naked promise must 
be ground of hope and comfort to you ; though it seem to be contra 
dicted in the course of God s providence, when it is neither performed 
nor likely to be performed, you are to go by his word whatever his 
dispensation be : Rom. iv. 18, Abraham against hope believed in 
hope ; and David saith, Ps. Ivi. 4, In God will I praise his word, in 
God I have put my trust ; I will not fear what man can do unto me. 
So ver. 10, In God will I praise his word, in the Lord will I praise his 
word. The best holdfast faith can have on God is to take him by 
his word ; though he withholdeth comfort and deliverance from us, 
yet we may praise him as long as we have his word. His dispensation 
giveth no satisfaction, yet the soul can find rest and contentment in his 
word. Well, then, if the word be an impregnable bulwark against 
all fears and dangers, and comfort against all wants and distresses, 
your faith is grown ; for the more simply our dependence is upon the 
word of God, without sensible encouragements, the stronger is our 

3. When all the trust we have in God concerning the comforts we 
expect by the way is still referred to the great blessing of eternal life. 
We are to trust God by the way for our protection and defence, as well 
as for the reward at the end of the journey ; by swimming in the 
shallow brooks we learn to venture in the great ocean, but still in sub 
ordination to the main blessing. This is the great comfort : Luke xii. 
32, Fear not, little flock ; it is your Father s good pleasure to give 
you the kingdom. And our faith in the word tendeth to this : Eom. 
xv. 4, Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our 
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might 
have hope. Therefore strength of faith is hereby determined. 


4. Because the word is not only our charter, but our rule. The 
strength of faith is known by this. If we value the word of God as it 
maketh us wise unto salvation, therefore we delight in the plain word 
without the ornaments of wit, as painting in glass windows hindereth 
the light. Everything communicateth to its own nature ; heat causeth 
heat, cold causeth cold. Ministers speak as the oracles of God, and so 
the people receive. 


Tour faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you 
all towards each other aboundeth. 2 THES. i. 3. 

WE come to the fifth property of faith, which is an high value and 
esteem of Jesus Christ. I mention this 

1. Because faith in the new covenant mainly and distinctly respects 
Christ: Acts xx. 21, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the 
gentiles, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Why repentance respects God I showed you lately, because 
from God we fell, and to God we return. We fell from him as we 
withdrew our allegiance and sought our happiness elsewhere ; we return 
to him as to our rightful Lord and proper happiness. But faith respects 
the Mediator, who is the only remedy of our misery, and the means 
of eternal blessedness. He opened the way to God by his merit and 
satisfaction, and actually bringeth us into this way by his renewing 
and reconciling grace, that we may be in a capacity to please and enjoy 
God, and that is the reason why faith in Christis so much insisted on, 
as it begets a title to the blessings of the new covenant. It hath a 
special aptitude and fitness for this work of our recovery from sin to, 
God, partly because a guilty conscience is not easily settled, and brought 
to look for all kind of happiness from one whom we have so much 
wronged. Adam, when once a sinner, was shy of God, Gen. iii. 10. 
Guilt is suspicious, and maketh us hang off from God, Ps. xxxii. 13 ; 
and if we have not one to lead us by the hand, and bring us to God, 
we cannot abide his presence. 

2. Partly because the comfort of the promises is so rich and 
glorious, and the persons upon whom it is bestowed so unworthy, that 
it cannot easily enter into the heart of a man that God will be so good 
and gracious to us, unless we have a sound belief of his merit who hath 
procured these mercies and hopes for us : 1 Cor. ii. 9, Eye hath not 
seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the 
things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Therefore 
since sense and reason could look for no such thing, a strong faith is 

3. The way God hath taken for our deliverance is so supernatural 
and strange that nothing but faith can receive it : John iii. 16, God 
so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoso 
ever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life ; 


and Eom. viii. 32, He spared not his own Son, but gave him to die 
for us. 

[4.] The chief of our blessings lie in another world, and nature can 
not see so far off: 2 Peter i. 9, He that lacketh these things is blind, 
and cannot see afar off. Unless we believe Christ, and his message 
to us, we shall never entertain these things. 

[5.] For the present Christ s people are assaulted, and afflicted with 
so many difficulties, and so seemingly forsaken, and temptations to 
unbelief in this lower world are so manifold and pressing, that we can 
take no comfort in the new covenant unless we have faith in Christ, 
who is able to maintain and defend us till he hath brought us home 
to God : 2 Tim i. 12, I know whom I have believed, and I am per 
suaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him 
against that day. 

[6.] Faith in Christ is most fitted for the acceptance of his free gift. 
Faith and grace go always together, and are put as opposites to law and 
works: Kom. iv. 16, Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of 
grace ; and Eph. ii. 8, By grace ye are saved, through faith, and that 
not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Faith establisheth the free grace 
and favour of God, or his condescension to us in the new covenant, 
wherein pardon and life are offered to penitent believers. What we 
receive by the grace of God in Christ cannot be of right, or such as we 
may challenge by virtue of obedience to the law upon that account. 
He might condemn us, but he doth accept us upon these new terms 
which Christ propounded of his mere grace : and therefore faith solveth 
the interest of grace in our pardon and salvation. 

[7.] Because the duties of the new covenant are opposite to the bent 
of the carnal heart, which is set upon liberty and uncleanness : Bom. 
viii. 7, The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject 
to the law of God, neither indeed can be. And nothing will bind us 
but faith in Christ, to whom we must give an account in the solemn 
judgment : Acts xvii. 30, 31, He commandeth all men everywhere to 
repent, because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the 
world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained ; whereof 
he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from 
the dead. In which words I observe four things (1.) That God 
requireth of all that will submit to the gospel repentance and new 
obedience ; (2.) That the binding consideration is, that the judgment 
of every man s estate is put into Christ s hands, who in the day ap 
pointed will declare and determine every man s right and qualification ; 
(3.) That the efficacy of this consideration dependeth on the strength 
of our faith or belief in Christ; (4.) That the strength of our faith 
dependeth on that assurance given, irlo-nv Trapa^v irdaiv. Woe be to 
those that now refuse Christ, or do not believe him so as to obey him : 
2 Thes. i. 8, In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not 
God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

[8.] Till we believe in Christ all his offices are useless to us, and 
therefore without faith he will do us no good. Who would learn of 
him that doth not believe him to be the great Prophet sent of God to 
teach the world the way to true happiness ? Who would obey him 
that doth not believe that he is our Lord, that he hath power over all 


flesh, at whose judgment we must stand or fall ? Who would depend 
upon the merit of his obedience and sacrifice, and be comforted with 
his gracious promise and covenant, and come to God with boldness and 
hope of mercy in his name, and be confident that he will justify and 
save, who doth not believe that he is a priest who once made an atone 
ment, and doth continually make intercession for us ? In the days of 
his flesh, all that would have benefit by Christ he did put them to this 
question, whether they did believe he was able to do it? To the 
father of the possessed child, Believest thou that I am able to do this ? 
Mark ix. 23 ; to Martha, John xi. 26, Whosoever liveth and belie veth 
in me shall never die : believest thou this ? So still it holdeth good ; 
this is the most necessary grace, that maketh way for all other respect 
to Christ. 

That this respect is an high value and esteem of Christ above all 
other things. That faith implieth an esteem of Christ is plain by that 
of the apostle, 1 Peter ii. 7, Unto you therefore which believe he is 
precious. And that it is a transcendental respect and esteem, so as 
that all other things are lessened in our opinion of them, and estima 
tion of them, and respect unto them in comparison of Christ, appeareth 
by other scriptures ; as Phil. iii. 8, I count all things but loss for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have 
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may 
win Christ. He had counted, and did count, as not repenting of his 
choice ; he could deny his own honour, ease, profit, and estate, his own 
everything but his own God and his own Christ. So Mat. xiii. 45, 46, 
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant-man seeking goodly 
pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and 
sold all that he had and bought it. The pearl was accounted of great 
price, if he would sell all things for it. Christ is so dear and precious, 
that the most excellent things are not dear and precious when they are 
to be ventured for his sake : Acts xx. 24, But none of these things 
move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might 
finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of 
the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. No faith 
but this will allure and draw our hearts to Christ, and no faith but 
this will keep our hearts to him, there being so many other things 
either to keep us, or to draw us off from him. Nothing but this trans 
cendental respect begets the close adherence to Christ. 

Now I will show three things (1.) That Christ hath deserved this 
esteem ; (2.) That faith only will give it him ; (3.) The notes, or how 
this esteem of Christ will show itself. 

1. That he deserveth it ; and that 

[1.] By what he is in himself, the Son of God and the Saviour of the 
world. This is the chief ground of our respect to the mediator : Acts 
viii. 37, 38, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest ; and he 
answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So 
Martha maketh her confession of faith : John xi. 27, Yea, Lord, I 
believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God that should come into 
the world. 3 So Peter in his own name and the name of his fellow- 
disciples : John vi. 69, We believe and are sure that thou art the 
Christ, the Son of the living God. This is the ground of adherence to 


him and dependence upon him, that he whom the Christian world hath 
hitherto called their Saviour is the very Son of God, appointed by God 
to execute the office of king, priest, and prophet to the church. This 
giveth us ground to adhere to him, and vanquish all temptations : 1 
John v. 5, Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth 
that Jesus is the Son of God. The most part of the Christian 
world leap into this opinion, and the name of Christ is prized, but his 
office is neglected ; there is a fond esteem of his memory, but no real 
improvement of his grace. Quandoquidem panis Christijam pinguis 
factus est, tractatur in conciliis, disceptatur in judiciis, disputatur in 
scholis, laudatur in eclisiis, questiosa res est nomen Christi. But this 
is the true ground of a Christian s esteem, when soundly persuaded that 
he is the Christ. 

[2.] What he hath done for us. Christ requireth not so much at 
our hands as he himself hath voluntarily performed for our sakes. He 
pleased not himself/ that he might promote the glory of God and our 
salvation, Kom. xv. 3 ; He became poor that we might be rich/ 2 Cor 
viii. 9 ; He was obedient to the death, even the death of the cross/ 
that we might have life, Phil. ii. 7 ; He was made sin for us, that we 
might be the righteousness of God in him/ 2 Cor. v. 21 ; He was 
made a curse for us/ that we might have the blessing; Gal. iii. 13. 
Doth he require so much of us ? It is grievous to the flesh to be 
crossed, but he hath suffered greater sorrows and agonies, that we might 
have eternal life. 

[3.] What he still doth for us. He is our life/ Gal. ii. 20. You 
live upon and by his life : John xiv. 19, Because I live, ye shall live 
also. We use him not as an instrument which is laid by when our 
turn is served, but as an head and root. He is your righteousness, 1 
Cor. i. 30, and 2 Cor. v. 21, He hath made him to be sin for us who 
knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 
You have the effect of his merit and obedience to plead to God ; he is 
your blessedness for the present : Col. i. 27, Christ in you the hope of 
glory. All the fatherly goodness of God cometh to you by him ; all 
your helps, mercies, and hopes are founded in him alone. It is he pre 
sents your requests to God, and you take all your mercies out of his 
hands : 1 Cor. viii. 6, To us there is but one Cod, the Father, of whom 
are all things, and we in him ; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom 
are all things, and we by him. Your petitions are presented by the 
hands of him who is the beloved of God. 

2. That faith doth give him this esteem, as it is an assent, consent, 
and affiance. 

[1.] As an assent, we believing what he is, hath done, and doth still 
do for us, therefore we prize him. Faith knoweth him partly by what 
the word revealeth : John iv. 10, If thou knewest the gift of God, and 
who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked 
of him, and he would have given thee living water ; and John vi. 40, 
This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the 
Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life. They see such 
an excellency, fulness, and all-sufficiency in him as draweth off their 
hearts from all other things, and they cleave to him alone. Partly by 
experimental feeling, that he is such an one to us. As they see him to 


be such, they find him to be suoh : 1 Peter iii. 3, If so be that ye have 
tasted that the Lord is gracious. The word revealeth, and experience 
findeth him to be so. 

[2.] As it is a consent. We see Christ is so necessary for us, so 
beneficial to us, that we accept him for our Lord and Saviour, and count 
all the choicest concernments in the world but base things in compari 
son of his grace ; therefore, forsaking all others, we devote ourselves 
to him, and are married to the Lord, that we may bring forth fruit to 
God, Horn. vii. 4. Nothing is allowed to rival Christ in the soul, or to 
be a competitor with him : Hosea iii. 3, this is the form of the con 
jugal covenant, Thou shalt not be for another, but thou shalt be for 

[3.] As it is a trust and affiance in him, that we may be reconciled 
to God, and saved by him from sin and punishment, and so be brought 
safe into a state of perfect happiness. Every one of these benefits doth 
endear him to the soul. Surely dependence will beget observance, and 
we will love him and please him in whose hands we venture our all, 
even our eternal interests and concernments. 

3. The notes, or how this esteem will show itself. 

[1.] In labouring to get Christ above all. This is the prime care, and 
must be carried on, whatever is left undone : Mat. xvi. 33, Seek ye 
first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things 
shall be added unto you ; Ps. xxvii. 4, One thing have I desired of the 
Lord, that will I seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire 
in his temple ; Prov. iv. 7, Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore 
get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding. The acces 
sary things must give way to the principal, the arbitrary things to the 
necessary. Food and raiment is not so necessary as Christ ; temporal 
want is not so great an evil as eternal misery. Well then, communion 
with God in Christ must be minded, whatever is neglected. Most 
men s time and labour is laid out upon unsatisfying vanities ; their life, 
and love, and time, and strength, and care is spent on worldly things, 
and they have seldom and cold thoughts of salvation by Christ, cannot 
deny themselves a little worldly pleasure or carnal ease, that they may 
attend upon this work, to get an interest in Christ s renewing and 
reconciling grace. Of those that were invited to the marriage-feast it 
is said, Mat. xxii. 5, They made light of it. 

[2.] A care in keeping Christ above all. Nothing should be so near 
and dear to you as Christ ; he is your life and your strength. Your 
great care is, that he may lie as a bundle of myrrh in your bosoms : 
Cant. i. 13, A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall 
lie all night betwixt my breasts ; or dwell in your hearts by faith/ 
Eph. iii. 17. Christ is all in all to you. You are loath to put the com 
forts of his presence to hazard for a little carnal satisfaction, are chary 
and tender of your respects to your Redeemer, that he be not displeased 
or provoked to withdraw by any unkind dealing of yours. Whatever 
temptations would withdraw you from your duty you reject with loath 
ing and indignation. Christ hath pitched upon this as the true and 
proper evidence of our love to him and esteem of him : John xiv. 21, 
* He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth 


me ; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love 
him and will manifest myself to him. We are apt to flatter ourselves 
with an airy religion, that we value Christ and prize Christ ; if so, we 
will be careful he be not offended and displeased. 

[3.] By a willingness to lose all rather than lose Christ : Luke xiv. 
33, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he 
cannot be my disciple. Counting the most dishonourable things in 
the world as honourable for his sake : Heb. xi. 26, Esteeming the re 
proach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he 
had respect unto the recompense of reward ; Acts v. 41, And they 
departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were 
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. They see a beauty in 
his despised ways. You can worship Christ as the wise men did, 
though in a stable, and are contented to be made vile for his sake : 2 
Sam. vi. 22, I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in my 
own sight. And we read of Marsacus, when he was led forth to 
suffer, and because of his quality they bound him not as they did others, 
he cried out, Cur non et me quoque torque donas, &c. Why do you not 
give me also my chain, and make me a knight of this noble order ? 
Some will pretend to prize Christ, but can hardly suffer a disgraceful 
word for him, or endure to be browbeaten with a frown. 

[4.] By delighting in him and the testimonies of his love above all 
things else. Faith must breed such a confidence in Christ as keepeth 
up our delight in him, and such a delight and well-pleasedness of mind 
as we find not elsewhere : Ps. iv. 7, Thou hast put gladness in my 
heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased ; 
and Cant. i. 4, We will be glad and rejoice in thee ; we will remem 
ber thy loves more than wine. The choicest contentments of the flesh 
are nothing so satisfying as the joy of his salvation. This joy is called 
unspeakable and glorious, as being better felt than uttered, 1 Peter 
i. 8. The strength of it is seen when other comforts fail : How pre 
cious are thy thoughts unto me, God 1 how great is the sum of them 1 
Ps. cxxxix. 17. 

Sixthly, The sixth property of faith is victory over the world : 1 
John. v. 4, 5, For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, 
and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith : who 
is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the 
Son of God ? I shall despatch this briefly, and shall show you 

1. What is the world that is to be overcome ? All worldly things 
whatsoever, so far as they lessen our esteem of Christ and heavenly 
things, or as they hinder us in our duty to God. In short, the delights 
and terrors of this world ; for we must be armed on both sides with 
the armour of righteousness, both on the right hand and the left, 2 
Cor. vi. 7. The fears of this world are apt to stagger us, so do snares 
prevent and inveigle us. Moses had temptations of all kinds, right- 
hand temptations from riches, honours, pleasures : Heb. xi. 24-26, 
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the 
Son of Pharaoh s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the 
people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming 
the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt ; 
left-hand temptations : ver. 27, By faith he forsook Egypt, not fear- 


ing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is 
invisible/ The armour of the right hand is called temperance ; of 
the left hand, patience : 2 Peter i, 6, To knowledge temperance, and 
to temperance patience/ In the parable of the sower sowing his seed 
we read that which fell on the stony ground withered in persecution : 
Luke viii. 13, They on the rock are they which, when they hear, re 
ceive the word with joy ; and these have no root, which for a while 
believe, and in time of temptation fall away. That which was sown in 
the thorny ground was choked with the cares, riches, and pleasures of 
the world : ver. 14, And they which fell among thorns are they which, 
when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches 
and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. If the 
terrors of sense assault our constancy, we must set loss against loss, 
pain against pain, fear against fear : Mat. x. 28, Fear not him that 
can kill the body, and do no more, but fear him that can cast both 
body and soul into hell. If they threaten a prison, remember God 
threatens hell ; if they threaten fire, God threatens everlasting fire ; if 
they threaten loss of estate, loss of heaven is much worse. If the 
delights of sense are likely to corrupt us, to pervert or divert our minds 
from better things, we must look to it, and remember what better 
things are reserved for us. Persecution is opposite to profession with 
out, but this obstructs the very vigour, life, and power of godliness 
within : 1 John ii. 15, : If any man love the world, the love of the 
Father is not in him. And then for pleasures : 2 Tim. iii. 4, Lovers of 
pleasures more than lovers of God ; Heb. xii. 16, e Or profane person 
as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. Honours are 
baneful to our faith : John v. 44, How can ye believe which receive 
honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from 
God only ? They eat out the heart of it. These are our daily temp 

2. The necessity of overcoming the world. 

[1.] It is by the world that our spiritual enemies have advantage 
against us. The devil seeketh to tempt or fright the fleshly nature in 
us either by the terrors or allurements of sense. Therefore conquer 
the world, and the tempter is disarmed ; he blindeth us as the god of 
this world : 2 Cor. iv. 4, In whom the god of this world hath blinded 
the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious 
gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 
He vexeth as the prince of this world, and having a strong party 
in the world, he findeth it no great matter to entice a sensual 
worldly mind to almost anything that is evil. The baits and provi 
sions of the flesh are in the world : 1 John ii. 16, For all that is in 
the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of 
life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The world fits us with 
a bait agreeable to every appetite, or a diet that suiteth with every 
distemper of our souls. A proud mind must be honoured and 
humoured, and will go nothing lower than high place and pomp of 
living. A sensual mind must have its pleasures, and the covetous 
the increase of wealth, and religion is either cast off or neglected and 
made an underling. 

[2.] The world is the great let and impediment to our obedience. 


In the first epistle of John, chap, v., in the context to the words that I 
am now explaining, ver. 2, 3, it is said, By this we know that we love 
the children of God,when we love God, and keep his commandments ; 
for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his 
commandments are not grievous. Then it followeth, ver. 4, For 
whatsoever is bora of God overcometh the world. &c. So Titus ii. 11, 
12, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to 
all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we 
should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. The 
one must be done that the other may be done. We shall soon be 
tempted to make a breach upon righteousness, sobriety, or godliness 
if we do not labour to overcome the world. So Ps. cxix. 36, Incline 
my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. 

[3.] This victory over the world distinguished the spiritual from 
the animal life. The world of mankind is distinguished into two- 
sorts some that live the animal life, and some that live the spiritual 
life. They that live the animal life are such as only behave themselves 
merely as living creatures, or as a wiser sort of beasts, and the comfort 
of their life is only kept up by the good things of this world, land, 
heritages, honours, pleasures, riches ; and so reason is subjected to 
sense, all their contrivance is for the flesh. But the spiritual and 
divine life is supported by the comforts of the Spirit and the foresight of 
eternal joys in the world to come, and so reason is raised and subli 
mated by faith. These two lives are distinguished : John iii. 6, That 
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit 
is Spirit ; 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15, But the natural man receiveth not the 
things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither 
can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned : but he that 
is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man; 
and Jude 19, These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having 
not the Spirit. Now the more we live this spiritual life, the more 
thorough Christians we are. Another kind of spirit cometh upon a 
man, he liveth as a man of another world ; he can bear up when the 
outward and animal life is exposed to the greatest difficulties, 2 Cor. 
iv. 16 ; he fetcheth his solace and comfort from those great and glorious 
things which are kept for him in heaven. It is a mighty thing to have 
this spirit of faith. 

[4.] We cannot hold out with Christ whilst any temporal and 
sensitive thing lieth too near the heart : 1 Tim. vi. 10, For the love of 
money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have 
erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many 
sorrows, and 2 Tim. iv. 10, Demas hath forsaken us, having loved 
this present world. The devil hath them in a string, and we are 
easily taken again, though we seem to make some escape from him. 

3. Faith is the grace that is employed in overcoming the world. It 
is not only said to be a means of overcoming, but the victory itself ; 
for it is the nature of faith. There are terms in it as in other graces ; 
it is a recess from the world, and an access to God, a drawing off the 
heart from things visible and temporal to those which are invisible and 
eternal. How doth faith overcome the world ? 

[1.] As it is an assent to God s word, and chiefly to the promises of 


the gospel. Now this strong and firm assent doth prepossess the mind 
with the glory of the world to come: Heb. xi. 26, Moses had an eye 
to the recompense of reward ; and 2 Cor. iv. 18, We look not to the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; and Heb. 
xi. 1, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things 
not seen. By this sight and view of heavenly things our esteem of the 
world is abated, so by consequence the force of the temptation. Alas ! 
whatever this world offereth must be left on this side the grave, pomp, 
pleasure, estate : 1 Tim. vi. 7, For we brought nothing into this world, 
and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Here we lust for greatness, 
but death soon endeth the quarrel. In the grave no difference is to be 
discerned between rich and poor, both are alike obnoxious to rottenness 
and corruption ; but faith persuadeth us of better things : Heb. xi. 13, 
* These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having 
seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, 
and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 

[2.] As it is a consent. It causeth us to surrender ourselves to Christ s 
discipline, or that religion which wholly draweth us off from this world 
to the world to come. Its purpose and drift is that we may deny our 
selves, bear the cross, and follow him. This we promise in baptism : 
1 Peter iii. 21, Baptism saveth us (not the putting away the filthiness 
of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God), by the 
resurrection of Jesus Christ/ The spirit of our religion is not the 
spirit of the world : 1 Cor. ii. 12, Now we have received not the spirit 
of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the 
things that are freely given to us of God. 

[3.] As it is a dependence and trust in Christ s power and sufficiency 
to maintain you, and defend you safe, till you are brought home to God. 
He died for this end : Gal. i. 4, Who gave himself for our sins, that 
he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will 
of God and our Father. He intercedeth for us to the Father for this 
end : John xvii. 15, I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of 
the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. He over 
came the world in his own person for this end, not only to encourage 
us, but to enable us by his example : John xvi. 33, These things I 
have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace ; in the world 
ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the 
world. He sendeth his Spirit into our hearts to preserve us against 
the assaults of the devil, the world, and the flesh : 1 John iv. 4, Ye 
are of God, little children, and have overcome them ; because greater 
is he that is in you than he that is in the world. And because every 
state of life is thick-set with temptations, he reneweth his influence 
upon us: Phil. iv. 13, I can do all things through Christ which 
strengthens me. He had before spoken of carrying an equal mind in 
all conditions ; Christ enabled him as well as taught him this content 

Well, then, reckon the growth of your faith by the exercise of your 
mortification and weanedness from the world, rather than by strong 
confidence of your good estate or highflown joys and comforts. The 
comforts of the Spirit will not be tasted by an unmortified worldly 
heart. Most men s confidence cometh from their security and mind- 


lessness of these things. The comforts are more suspicious when the 
mortification is a sure note. 

Seventhly, The seventh property of faith is quieting the heart against 
fears and doubts, and waiting on God. I join these two things to 
gether because the scripture doth : Lam iii. 26, It is good that a man 
should both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of God. But we 
must handle them asunder. 

1. Waiting. Sense is all for present satisfaction, but faith can tarry 
God s leisure till these good things which we do expect do come in 
hand : Isa. xxviii. 16, He that believeth shall not make haste. Men 
that cannot tarry for relief will yield up a town upon the basest terms. 
The children of God were always forced to eat their words when they 
spoke in haste : Ps. xxxi. 22, For I said in my haste, I am cut off 
from before thine eyes; nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my 
supplication when I cried unto thee ; and Ps. cxvi. 11, I said in my 
haste, All men are liars. But where faith and hope is there is patience: 
Rom. viii. 25, If we hope for what we see not, then do we with patience 
wait for it ; James v. 7, 8, Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the 
coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious 
fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the 
early and latter rain. Be ye also patient ; stablish your hearts, for the 
coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Unbelief leapeth overboard on the 
first danger. Impatience and precipitation is the cause of all mischief. 
What moved the Israelites to make the golden calf, but impatience in 
not waiting for Moses till he came down from the Mount, where he 
was with God? What made Saul to offer sacrifice, but want of 
patience till Samuel came ? 1 Sam. xiii. 8-10, He tarried seven days, 
according to the set time that Samuel had appointed. But Samuel 
came not to Gilgal, and the people were scattered from him. And Saul 
said, Bring hither a burnt- offering to me, and peace-offerings; and he 
offered the burnt-offering, and it came to pass that as soon as he had 
made an end of offering the burnt-offering, behold Samuel came, &c. 
What made the bad servant to smite his fellow-servant, and to eat and 
drink with the drunken, Mat, xxiv. 40, but this, My Lord delayeth his 
coming ? Hasty men are loath to be kept long in doubtful suspense. 
The voluptuous cannot wait their time, when they shall have pleasures 
at God s right hand for evermore, therefore take up with present 
delights, like those that cannot tarry till the grapes be ripe, but eat 
them sour and green. Solid everlasting pleasures they cannot wait for, 
therefore choose the pleasures of sin that are for a season. A covetous 
man will wax rich in a day, cannot tarry the leisure of God s provi 
dence : Prov. xx. 21, An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the 
beginning, but the end thereof shall not be blessed. The ambitious 
man will not stay till God gives crowns and honours in his kingdom. 
All revolts and apostacies from God proceed hence ; they cannot wait 
for God s help, and tarry the fulfilling of his promises, but finding 
themselves pressed and destitute, the flesh, which is tender and delicate, 
groweth impatient. It is tedious to suffer for a while, but they do not 
consider it is more tedious to suffer for evermore. Thence come mur- 
murings and unlawful attempts, stepping out of God s way. An impetu 
ous river is always troubled and thick, so is a precipitated impatient 
spirit, out of order, and ready for a snare. 


2. Quieting the heart against doubts, fears, and cares. By a growii 
faith thoughts are established : Prov. xvi. 3, Commit thy works unto 
the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. Fire well kindled 
casteth the least smoke. We have firm ground to stand upon, there 
fore we must not reel to and fro in a doubtful agitation of mind : 
James i. 6-8, Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that 
wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed ; 
for let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. 
A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Faith fixeth the 
heart against fears : Ps. cxii. 7, He shall not be afraid of evil tidings ; 
his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord ; Isa. xxvi. 3, Thou wilt keep 
him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth 
in thee ; Rom. v. 1, Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace 
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ; Phil. iv. 7, And the peace 
of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and 
minds through Christ Jesus ; Rom. iv. 20, Abraham staggered not at 
the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving 
glory to God ; and Mat. vi. 30, Wherefore if God so clothe the grass 
of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall 
he not much more clothe yon, ye of little faith ! so Mat. viii. 26, 
He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, ye of little faith ! The 
weak are mated with every difficulty : Mat. xiv. 31, thou of little 
faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Ps. xlii. 5, Why art thou cast 
down, my soul ? and why art thou disquieted within me ? Hope 
thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. 
Well, then, here is a sure note of a grown faith, the more we can quiet 
ourselves in the promises of God, and wait his leisure for their accom 

VOL. xvn. 


And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a 
centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at 
home sick of the palsy, grievously afflicted. And Jesus saith 
unto him, I ivill come and heal him. The centurion answered 
and said. Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under 
my roof ; but speak theivord only, and my servant shall be healed. 
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me : and 
I say to this man, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Come, and 
he cometh ; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When 
Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, 
Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not 
in Israel. MAT. viii. 5-10. 

I COME now to the instances of a grown faith, and begin with the faith 
of the centurion ; and that deservedly, for 

1. Christ owneth it as great faith : ver. 10, I have not found so 
great faith, no, not in Israel; that is, a faith so ripe and mature, and 
that in a military man and an heathen. 

2. Because he marvelled at it. In ordinary cases wonder is a fruit 
of ignorance. When we are ignorant of a thing, or a thing exceedeth 
our capacity or apprehension, we wonder at it. But this cannot be 
imagined in Christ, for he knoweth what is in man, and could not be 
surprised, being the author of this faith. Therefore some interpret it 
of some external gesture of wondering, which he used to commend the 
centurion s faith. Why not the passion of wonder itself ? for we won 
der at things strange and unusual though we be not ignorant of them ; 
and Christ would discover all our sinless infirmities ; therefore this 
showeth it was a remarkable thing. We read that twice Christ 
wondered ; once here, and another time, Mark vi. 6, And he mar 
velled because of their unbelief. 

3. Because he was the first-fruits of the gentiles : ver. 11, 12, And 
I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall 
sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into utter darkness ; 
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth/ This was the first 
occasion which Christ took to speak of the rejection of the Jews and 


the calling of the gentiles. This man was a Roman and an heathen, 
but it seerneth had gotten some knowledge of the true God and the 
true religion ; and though he were not a proselyte, yet the Jews gave 
him this testimony, Luke vii. 5, He loveth our nation, and hath built 
us a synagogue ; and indeed we read nothing but well of him. The 
very errand that brought him to Christ was care of his servant, and 
looking out for cure for him. Many have no more care of their 
servants than they have of their horses and oxen ; but this man was of 
another temper, good to the Jews, good in all his relations. Now, that 
we may profit by this example, let us consider these three things (1.) 
What was his faith, and wherein the greatness of it lay ; (2.) How 
this faith was bred and begotten in him ; (3.) The effects and fruits 
of it, or how it discovered itself. 

I. The nature of his faith. It was a firm persuasion that all power 
and authority was eminently in Christ, and that he could do what he 
pleased. The great end of Christ in all his miracles was to discover 
himself to be the Son of God, and one in whom the divine nature and 
power resided, and so by consequence that true Messiah and Saviour 
of the world. This was Peter s confession of faith: Mat. xvi. 16, 
Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God ; the promised Messiah, 
the anointed Saviour of the world. And with Peter all the rest of the 
disciples join: John vi. 69, We believe, and are sure, that thou art 
that Christ, the Son of the living God. This the Samaritans, being 
convinced and converted, confessed also : John iv. 42, We know that 
this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. This Martha 
acknowledges : John xi. 27, She saith unto him, Yea, Lord, I believe 
that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, that should come into the 
world. This was it which the apostles preached: Acts xiii. 23, Of 
this man s seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel 
a saviour, Jesus. This they required of all whom they converted to 
the Christian faith : Acts viii. 37, I believe that Jesus Christ is the 
Son of God. Now this the centurion cometh off roundly with, being 
firmly persuaded of a divine power and authority in Christ; for he 
ascribeth an omnipotency to his word, and reasoneth it out notably : 
Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed ; ver. 8, 9, For 
I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me ; and I say to 
this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; 
and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Here then was the 
greatness of his faith. 

Object. You will say then, All have great faith, for all the Christian 
world professeth this truth that Jesus is the Son of God, papists and 
protestants, carnal and renewed ; the rabble of nominal Christians as 
well as the seriously godly are of this opinion that Jesus is the Son 
of God and the Saviour of the world. 

Ans. 1. Distingue tempora You must distinguish of the times 
In that age there was no human reason to believe this truth. Anti 
quity was against it, and therefore, when Paul preached Jesus, they 
said, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods/ Acts. xvii. 18. 
Authority was against it : 1 Cor. ii. 8, Which none of the princes of 
this world knew, for had they known it they would not have crucified 
ihe Lord of glory. Authority, not only civil, but ecclesiastical, was 


against it : Acts iv. 11, This is the stone which was set at nought of 
you builders. The universal consent of the habitable world was 
against it ; only a small handful of contemptible people owned him : 
Luke xii. 32, Fear not, little flock, futcpov irolpviov. At that time 
it was the critical point, the hated truth, that the carpenter s son 
should be owned as the son of God. Those bleak winds that blow in 
our backs, and thrust us onward to believe, blew in their faces, and 
drove them from it ; those very reasons which move us to own Christ 
moved them to reject him. For many ages the name of Christ hath 
been in request and honour, but then it was a despised way. For men 
to lay aside their old religion, and temples, and altars, and ceremonies, 
and rights of worship, for the new way of Jesus of Nazareth, never 
heard of before, born of a Jewish woman, living in a mean way, cruci 
fied like a malefactor, and dead and buried ; that he should be owned 
as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, what could be to 
appearance more unreasonable ? Alas ! what should we have done, if 
we had been put to encounter with these difficulties and prejudices? 
And no sooner did any man own this truth, but he was presently 
exposed to all manner of troubles and persecutions, brought before 
magistrates, tortured, murdered by all the cruel deaths that could be 
devised ; and all this to be endured upon the hopes of an unseen world. 
Therefore then it was an undoubted truth : 1 John v. 1, Whosoever 
belie veth that Jesus is the Son of God is born of God ; and 1 John 
iv. 2, Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the 
flesh is of God/ Nay, somewhat less than faith and great faith. At 
his first appearance a certain persuasion, impressed upon the soul by 
the Spirit of God, of the divine power and all-sufficiency of Christ, so 
as to repair to him for help, was faith and great faith ; when the veil 
of his human nature and infirmities did not keep the eye of faith from 
seeing him to have a divine power, though they could not unriddle all 
the mysteries about his person and office, this was accepted for saving 

2. The speculative belief of this truth was not sufficient then, no 
more than it is now, but the practical improvement. Grant that truth, 
that Jesus is the Son of God, and other things will follow, as that we 
must obey his laws, and depend upon his promises, and make use of his 
power, and trust ourselves in his hands ; otherwise the bare acknowledg 
ment was not sufficient. If a man had at that time with some kind of 
belief owned Christ as the Son of God, and yet could not overcome the 
shame and fear of the world, he would not have been accepted ; for it 
is said, 1 John v. 5, Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that 
believeth that Jesus is the Son of God. Unless that effect followed, 
the belief was vain. Therefore it is said, John ii. 23-25, Many 
believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did. But 
Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 
and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was 
in man. Christ knew the inside of men, and therefore knew this faith 
was unlikely to bear any stress, or hold out against temptations. Men 
might be convinced of some excellency and divine power in Christ, and 
yet remain unconverted. So Acts viii., Simon Magus believed in Christ, 
yet remained in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. So we 


read again, John viii. 30, 31, As he spake these words, many believed 
on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye 
continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed. Some are his 
disciples in show, not truly and really, being not settled and rooted in 
the faith. So it is noted, John xii. 42, 43, Nevertheless among the 
chief rulers also many believed on him ; but because of the pharisees 
they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue ; 
for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. They 
had faith, but it was too weak to encounter temptations ; they were too 
tender of their reputation, lest they should be despised, and turned out 
of their places for deserting the old way wherein they were bred. But 
none of this can be imputed to our centurion, whose faith Christ 
approved and rewarded ; for in contemplation of this faith the cure 
was wrought : ver. 13, And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy 
way ; and as thou hast believed, so be it unto thee, And he ventureth 
the credit he had with his nation ; and though the particular address 
concerned not him, but his servant, yet he maketh an open acknowledg 
ment of Christ. 

II. How was this faith wrought and bred in him ? 

I answer The groundwork was laid in his knowledge of the omni- 
potency and power of God, and his acquaintance with the scriptures of 
the Old Testament, though he were not a professed Jew. This prepared 
for his faith in Christ ; the report or hearing was the ground of faith : 
Isa. liii. 1, Who hath believed our report? He had heard by fame 
of his excellent doctrine : Mat. vii. 29, That he taught as one having 
authority, and not as the scribes. And he had heard the rumour of 
his miracles, more particularly the late instance of curing the leper, 
which was notorious and public ; for Christ biddeth him. show himself 
to the priests/ Mat. viii. 4 ; and also the miracle in recovering the ruler s 
son, an instance near, which was done in time before this : John iv. 
46, 47, And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at 
Capernaum ; and he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into 
Galilee, and he went .unto him, and besought him that he would come 
down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. By all which 
he was moved to ascribe the omni potency of God, which he knew before, 
to Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God can bless slender motives to a will 
ing heart ; and there is a readiness in holy souls to believe sooner and 
easier than others : Acts xvii. 11, These were more noble than those of 
Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, 
and searched the scriptures whether these things were so or no. They 
were not light of belief, for they searched the scriptures ; yet they were 
more ready to believe than perverse and prejudiced persons, irpodv^oL. 
When there is sufficient evidence, they can hold out no longer. Thus 
the Spirit of God blessed the knowledge of this centurion, and the 
rumours that were brought to him of Christ s doctrine and miracles. 

III. The effects or fruits of it, or how it discovered itself. 

1. In that he applieth himself to Christ. They that believe in Christ 
will come to him, and put him upon work, whilst others prize his name 
but neglect his office. A gracious heart will find occasions and oppor 
tunities of acquaintance with Christ, if rot for themselves yet for others ; 
for when they have heard of him, they cannot keep from him. Faith 


never wants an errand to the throne of grace ; either necessity brings us 
thither, or delight. Christ inviteth us to come for what he hath to 
give : Mat. xi. 28, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy 
laden, and I will give you rest. He is angry that w.e will not come : 
John v. 40, And ye will not come to me that ye may have life. If 
we be backward, he sendeth afflictions upon ourselves and families : 
Hosea v. 15, In their affliction they will seek me early. Surely it is 
a delight to him to do his office in helping distressed creatures, or else 
he would -never have taken it upon him. The elect shall be brought 
to him upon one occasion or another, and he will kindly receive them: 
John vi. 37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and he 
that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out/ An apoplexy fallen on 
a beloved servant bringeth this centurion to Christ. Well, then, since 
Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, 
Heb. vii. 25, let us not neglect the occasions of coming to him, but get 
nearer to God by repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Would 
Christ stoop so low as to take our nature and purchase us with his blood, 
and be strange to us when we come for the fruits of his purchase and 
his mercy, to help us and ours ? 

2. That he accounteth misery an object proper enough for mercy to 
work upon. The centurion came to him, saying, Lord, my servant 
lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented/ ver. 6 ; that is, 
grievously affected with the disease. Alas ! what can we bring to 
Christ but sins and sicknesses? Justice seeketh a meet object, for it 
giveth to every one what is due, but mercy only seeketh a fit occasion. 
It doth not consider what is deserved, b\it what is desired and wanted. 
Etiam si sim indignus, sum tamen indigene, saith Romeranius I am 
not worthy, but I am needy. The more affected we are with our misery, 
the fitter for Christ s mercy : Ps. ix. 18, The needy shall not always 
be forgotten. The more hope we have, the more we are sensible of 
our need : Ps. xl. 17, But I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh 
upon me. Faith giveth us this ground of hope, that misery is a motive 
to God s pity. Though we have nothing within us or without us to 
commend us to Christ, yet he will not despise the miserable and the 
needy, and they shall not perish who in the sense of that need repair to 
him. God bringeth all-sufficiency to the covenant, we bring nothing 
but all-necessity ; as the widow was only to provide empty vessels ; 
the oil failed not till the vessels failed. Christ s bowels yearn towards 
the distressed. 

3. When Christ offereth to come and heal him, ver. 7, I will come 
and heal him (which was the great condescension of the Son of God 
to a poor servant), see how the centurion taketh it, ver. 8, He answered 
and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my 
roof. Humility is a fruit of faith. A sound believer hath an high 
esteem of Christ and a low esteem of himself, and the one breedeththe 
other; they see Christ so excellent and themselves so vile, in regard of 
past sin and present infirmities. What ! the Son of God come to the 
house of an ethnic, and one that hath lived in idolatry and the worship 
of false gods ! The godly are ever acknowledging their vileness and 
baseness, and indignity and unworthiness, when they have to do with 
God and Christ : Gen. xviii. 27, And Abraham answered, and said, 


Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am 
but dust and ashes; 2 Sam. vii. 18,- Then went David in, and sat 
before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, Lord God, and what is my 
house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? Gen. xxxii. 10, I am 
not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of all the truth which 
thou hast showed unto thy servant/ So Mat. iii. 11, Whose shoes L 
am not worthy to bear. So when Christ had let out a beam of his 
divinity in that great draught of fishes, Peter said, Lord, depart from 
me, for I am a sinful man, Luke v. 8. The prodigal : Luke xv. 19, 
I am not worthy to be called thy son. So 1 Coiv xv. 9, ; I am the 
least of the apostles, and am not meet to be called an apostle. So 
though the Jews had said of our centurion, Lord, go to him, for he is 
worthy, Luke vii. 4 : yet he saith of himself, Lord, I am not worthy 
=that thou shouldest come under my roof. 

Quest. Why are true and sound believers so ready to profess their 
unworthiness ? 

Ans. They have a deeper sense of God s majesty and greatness than 
others have, and also a more broken-hearted sense of their own vileness 
by reason of sin. They have a more affective light and sight of things ; 
God is another thing to them than before, so is sin and self. The more 
unworthy they are in their own apprehension, the more is God and 
Christ exalted. Faith is an emptying grace, and the best men have 
lowest thoughts of themselves. A proud man thinketh all things due 
to him, but an humble man nothing. 

4. He is content with Christ s word without his bodily presence : 
Speak but the word, and my servant shall be healed. God s word is 
enough to a believer ; he doth not limit him to a certain way of work 
ing as if there were no way of working but that way only ; that is a sign 
of weakness of faith : Ps. Ixxviii. 41, They limited the Holy One of 
Israel. We are to depend upon him and submit to him, and not pre 
scribe how and when he should help us, nor straiten and confine his 
power to such or such means. Compare John iv. 47, 48, with this cen 
turion : A certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum (the 
town where this centurion was in garrison), he again and again be 
sought Jesus that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at 
the point of death. And Jesus said, Except ye see signs and wonders 
ye will not believe. The cure must be done in their way : ver. 49, The 
nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Christ 
refuseth to go to the ruler s house, being twice entreated, but here he 
offereth to come to visit this poor servant ; but the centurion saith, 
Speak but the word ; he was loath to give him this trouble to come to 
his house; one word will as easily cure him as if he come personally; he 
doth not tie his virtue to his bodily presence, but ascribeth all to his word. 
God made the world by a word, sustaineth the world by a word, therefore 
the centurion only desireth a word. There is a threefold word of God 

[1.] Verlmm scriptum, his written word, his promise, and that is 
the food of faith; and a believer can make a feast to himself in the 
promises when he is seemingly starved in the creature. 

[2.] There is verbum bsnedictionis, his word of blessing. So Mat. 
iv. 4, Man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth 
out of the mouth of God. It is quoted out of Deut. viii. 3. In the 


wilderness, where they had neither bread nor water, they were not 
famished with want, nor compelled to use unlawful means for their 
relief, God blessed manna. He that provided forty years for such an 
huge multitude in the desert will not be wanting to his own Son who 
had fasted but forty days. It is not bread, but the blessing of God 
that sustaineth us. If they reserved aught of the manna till morning, it 
putrified and stank ; yet the same manna, kept by the commandment 
of God, was sweet and good in the Ark. God gave his blessing to the 
one, and not to the other. 

[3.] There is verbum potentice the word of his power : He spake, 
and it was done, Ps. xxxiii. 9. So here the centurion desireth a word. 
The word made the world, and the word upholdeth it : Heb. i. 3, 
Upholding all things by the word of his power. The powerful word 
of God doth all in the world : He sendeth forth his commandment 
upon earth; his word runneth very swiftly/ Ps. cxlvii. 15. So Ps. 
cvii. 20, He sent his word, and healed them ; it is dictum factum 
with God. So the word of the Lord tried them/ Ps. cv. 19 ; that is, 
his power ; there is a powerful commanding word, which is enough. 

5. Here is Christ s power and dominion over all events, and events 
that concern us and ours, fully acknowledged, and that is a great point 
gained : He is Lord both of the dead and living/ Rom. xiv. 9. 
Health and sickness are at his command. So Isa. xlv. 7, I form the 
light, and create darkness ; I make peace, and create evil ; I the Lord 
do all these things/ So Job xxxiv. 29, When he giveth quietness, 
who then can make trouble ? and when he hideth his face, who then 
can behold him ? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man 
only ? Here is a clear confession of Christ s omnipotency and sove 
reign dominion. This sovereign dominion is backed with omnipotency, 
and extendeth to all things. To devils : Mark ix. 25, I charge thee 
come out of him, thou dumb and deaf spirit/ To sickness : Luke iv. 
.39, He rebuked the fever, and it left her. Christ can speak to the 
leprosy: I will ; be thou clean/ Mat. viii. 3. To the winds and seas: 
Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the seas, and there was a 
great calm/ Mat. viii. 26, 27. To death : Lazarus, come forth/ John 
xi. 43. To nothing, as if it had ears and reason : Eom. iv. 17, And 
calleth those things which are not as though they were/ To the fishes 
in the sea : Jonah ii. 10, The Lord spake to the fish, and it vomited 
up Jonah upon the dry land/ Thus all creatures have an obedieritial 
ear, to hearken to what God saith, and God can make use of them 
according to his own pleasure ; yea, he can speak to sinners, who are 
the most stubborn and obstinate pieces of the creation : Ezek. xvi. 6, 
I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live ; Eph. v. 14, 

* Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the 
dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Every creature is a servant of 
omnipotency, and doth suspend or exercise its natural operations as 
God biddeth it. Christ hath this power as God and heir of all things. 

[1.] Let us see what is this all-sufficient power and dominion of 
Christ. It lieth in three things (1.) A right of making and framing 
anything as he will, in any manner as it pleaseth him : Jer. xviii. 6, 

* Behold, as the clay is in the potter s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O 
house of Israel/ (2.) A right and power of possessing things so made. 


all is his ; they are rebels that said, Ps. xii. 4, Our tongues are our 
own ; who is lord over us ? (3.) A right of using, governing, and 
disposing of all things so possessed : Mat. xx. 15, Is it not lawful for 
me to do what I will with my own ? whether men or any other 
creature in the world. 

[2.] This dominion and all-sufficient power is a great stay to the 
souls of true believers, to cause them with comfort to trust themselves 
and all their affairs in the hands of Christ. We have no reason to 
doubt of his care, protection, and merciful disposal of us ; and if poor, 
sick, and desolate, you may go to him ; it is in the power of his hands 
to help you. (1.) There is no want, but he can easily supply it : Ps. 
xxiii. 1, The Lord is my shepherd ; I shall not want/ (2.) There is 
no pain or suffering, but he can easily mitigate or remove it : Mat. viii. 
2, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 

[3.] There is no danger so great from which he is not able to deliver 
thee : Dan. iii. 17, 18, If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to 
deliver us, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, king : but if 
not, be it known unto thee, king, that we will not serve thy gods, 
nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up ; 2 Cor. i. 10, 
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom 
we trust that he will yet deliver us. Where can we be so safe as in 
the love and covenant of such an almighty saviour? Get but this 
imprinted upon your hearts, and it will beget a strong and steadfast 
confidence in him. 

6. He reasoneth from the strict discipline observed in the Roman 
armies, where there was no disputing of commands or questioning why 
and wherefore: I am a man under authority, having soldiers under 
me ; and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Come, 
and he cometh ; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it, ver. 9. 
Where he compareth person with person : I am a man, thou a God ; 
condition with condition, a subordinate officer with Christ the supreme 
Lord ; he knew what it was to obey and to have power over others ; 
power with power, his power over soldiers and servants with Christ s 
command over all events, health and sickness, life and death. Reason 
ing for God and his promises is a great advantage. We are naturally 
acute in reasoning against faith, but when the understanding is quick 
and ready to invent arguments to encourage faith, it is a good sign. 

Use. Go you and do likewise. From the example of the centurion 
let me encourage you 

1. To readiness of believing : James iii. 17, The wisdom that is 
from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated. 
This is opposite to that slowness of heart to believe which we read of, 
Luke xxiv. 25, fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the 
prophets have spoken. These are more receptive and easy to enter 
tain a doctrine than others : John. vii. 17, If any man do his will, he 
shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God/ The sincere and 
renewed need less ado to convince them. There is a light credulity : 
Prov. xiv. 15, The simple believeth every word ; and there is the 
readiness of a sincere mind to embrace the truth. We are to captivate 
our understandings to the obedience of faith, but not every fancy, lest we 
be like children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind 


of doctrine/ Eph. iv. 14. No ; a Christian must not be like a reed 
shaken with the wind, nor believe every spirit ; but yet, where the 
truth is sufficiently evidenced, we must embrace it. Most of our hesi 
tancy in religion comes not so much from the conflict between our 
light and the doubts of our mind, as from the conflict between our 
light and lusts, which maketh us irresolute ; but a sincere heart soon 
overcometh the difficulty. 

2. To represent our necessity to Christ, and refer the event to him, 
to commit and submit all to him. There is an all-sufficiency of power, 
and infinite pity and goodness, that we need not trouble ourselves about 
the event. Submission before the event is faith, as after it is patience. 
This is true faith, in such cases as the centurion came about, to refer 
all to Christ. 

3. To be humble. In all our commerce with Christ, faith must 
produce a real humility. Faith is most high when the heart is most 
low : Luke xviii. 11-14, The pharisee stood and prayed, saying, God, 
I thank thee I am not as other men are, &c. I fast twice a week, I 
give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, 
would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his 
breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner ! I tell you, this man 
went down to his house justified rather than the other ; for every one 
that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that hurnbleth himself 
shall be exalted. The one challenged a debt, the other begged a favour. 
Humble supplications to God become us better than proud expostula 

4. To meditate often on the sovereign dominion of Christ, and his 
power over all things that fall out in the world. To keep us from 
warping and running to unlawful shifts, God propoundeth his all- 
sufficiency to our faith when we enter into covenant with him : Gen. 
xvii. 1, I am the Almighty God ; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 
He hath power enough to help, defend, and reward us ; we need not 
seek elsewhere for a protector or paymaster ; the word of his provi 
dence is enough. He can heal our diseases, supply our necessities, or 
bless a little, as he did the pulse to the captive children : Dan. i 15, 
Their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the 
children which did eat the portion of the king s meat/ 


Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and 
Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same 
coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, Lord, 
tliou Son of David ; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 
But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and 
besought him, saying, Send her away ; for she crieth after us. 
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep 
of the house of Israel. Then came she and ivorshipped him, saying, 
Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take 
the children s bread and cast it to dogs. And she saith, Truth, 
Lord : yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their 
master s table. And Jesus answered and said unto her, luoman, 
great is thy faith : be it unto thee even as thou loilt. And her 
daughter was made whole from that very hour. MAT. xv. 21-28. 

WE come now to the second instance of a great and grown faith ; 
this ought to be considered by us. In the centurion we had an 
instance of a reasoning faith, now of a wrestling faith faith wrestling 
with grievous temptations, but at length obtaining help from God. 
We ought to consider this for these reasons 

1. Because Christ pronounceth it to be great faith, and so proper 
for our imitation, O woman, great is thy faith. It is the faith of a 
woman ; a woman not proselyted or embodied with the visible people 
of God at that time ; a woman whose faith is approved and commended 
by Christ. And surely this should provoke every Christian heart to be 
furnished with a like faith. 

2. To instruct us that the life and exercise of faith is not easy, but 
will meet with great discouragements. We must reckon of trials, and 
prepare for them. They that leap into profession, and do not count 
the charges, will soon find their rash confidence disappointed. They 
may meet with rebukes from men. David s enemies said, There is no 
help for him in God, Ps. iii. 2. Or from mistaking friends, as those 
that would not have Christ hindered in his passage : Mark x. 48, 
Many charged him that he should hold his peace ; but he cried the 
more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me ! But this 
woman seemeth to be checked and disappointed by Christ himself, who 
at first answereth her not a word, and then seemingly defeateth her 


confidence. To wrestle, not only with temporal discouragements, but 
disappointments of our hope in God, is the sorest trial. The blind 
man wrestled with the rebukes of men, but she with the rebukes of 
Christ himself. Yea, here is trial upon trial ; she is put back after a 
first and second address. Christ, as God, knew the strength of her 
faith at first, but yet he would exercise her faith to the uttermost ; as 
in another miracle it is said, He himself knew what he would do, but 
this he said to prove him ; John vi. 6, Whence shall we buy bread, 
that so great a company may eat. Christ loveth to try them with 
whom he hath to do, sometimes the weakness, sometimes the strength 
of their faith. 

3. Because of the success : ver. 28, Be it unto thee even as thou 
wilt ; and her daughter was made whole from that very hour/ When 
faith is sufficiently tried, Christ can hold out no longer. As Joseph s 
bowels yearned, and he could not refrain himself : Gen. xlv. 3, I am 
Joseph ; so when the strength of faith is sufficiently discovered, Christ 
cannot continue the conflict any longer ; the believer shall have what 
he doth desire : Hosea xi. 8, Mine heart is turned within me, my 
repentings are kindled together ; and Jer. xxxi. 20, Is Ephraim my 
dear son ? Is he a pleasant child ? For since I spake against him, I 
do earnestly remember him still ; therefore my bowels are troubled for 
him. I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord. So Isa. 
xl. 1, 2, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God ; speak ye 
comfortably to Jerusalem, and say unto her that her warfare is accom 
plished, that her iniquities are pardoned ; for she hath received of the 
Lord s hand double for all her sins. Now it is enough ; let them have 
their mercies and their comforts. 

In opening this instance, let us consider 

1. The quality of the woman. She is called in Mat. xv. 22, a 
woman of Canaan ; in Mark vii. 26, a Greek, a Syrophoanician by 
nation. Phoenicia was that country which was inhabited by the relics 
of the ancient Canaanites : she was by nation a Phoenician, and by 
religion a Greek ; for the term of Jew and Greek distinguished the then 
world: Rom. i. 16, It is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew 
first, and also to the Greek ; and it is as much as Jew and gentile. 
She was a devout woman among the gentiles, that, bordering upon 
the people of God, was acquainted with the true religion, though she 
professed it not. 

2. That she was a believer appeareth by her coming to Christ to 
cure her daughter, who was bodily vexed with the devil. How she was 
acquainted with Christ, it is said, Mark vii. 25, She heard of him ; 
that is, by the rumour of his miracles. And if God blessed rumours, 
or the fame of Christ s miracles, we may be ashamed that we do no 
more improve a clear word. And not by her coming only, but also by 
the title she gave to Christ ; her calling him, The Son of David, ver. 
22. This was the solemn name of the true promised Messiah. So the 
blind men, Mat, xx. 30, Have mercy on us, Lord, thou Son of David. 
So Bartimeus (if it be a distinct story), Mark x. 47, Jesus, thou Son 
of David, have mercy on me. Son of David was the common title 
by which our Saviour was called and known among the Jews : Mat. 
ix. 27, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us ; because Christ was 


to be born of the seed and posterity of David : Jer. xxiii. 5, Behold, 
the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a right 
eous branch ; Horn. i. 3, Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. The 
Messiah was to come as a king, to rule and feed his church, and there 
fore he is called sometimes David in the prophets ; and in the days 
of his flesh, in the addresses that were made to him, Son of David. 
So that in this she showeth her faith. There is in faith knowledge, 
assent, and affiance, and all three are in this woman s faith. That 
the Messiah was to be the Son of David, there is her knowledge. 
There was her assent, that Jesus was the Christ or true Messiah, for 
she applieth the title to him upon the rumours of his miracles. Then 
there was her affiance and dependence in this address to him, as one 
that was able and willing to help all distressed creatures ; and that 
she renewed her suit after so many repulses showed a notable confidence 
in his mercy and power. 

3. The greatness and strength of her faith. To set forth that we 
must consider (1.) Her trials and temptations ; (2.) Her victory over 
them, by her importunity, humility, and resolved confidence. 

First, Her temptations ; they are four 

1. Christ s silence, He answered her not a word, ver. 23. 

2. The coldness of the disciples dealing in her behalf, in the 
same verse, His disciples besought him, Send her away, for she 
crieth after us. 

3. Christ s answer to his disciples, seeming to exclude her out of his 
commission, ver. 24, He answered and said, I am not sent but to the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel. 

4. Her renewed importunity draweth another answer from Christ, 
which implieth a contempt of her, or at least a strong .reason against 
her, ver. 26, It is not meet to take the children s bread and cast it 
unto dogs. So that you see here are sore trials, multiplied trials ; but 
yet she keepeth begging and arguing with Christ till he giveth her 

First, Christ s silence : ver. 23, And he answered her not a word. 
It is a great trial to our faith, but such as the people of God usually 
meet withal. It is sad to go to a dumb oracle, and get not a word 
from God ; so here. What ! not a word from a merciful and gracious 
Saviour, who was so ready to hear and help upon all occasions, and to 
cure all those that came to him ! But she gets not a word, though 
her daughter was grievously tormented by the devil ; a notable temp 
tation to a poor woman, who had heard so much of Christ s power and 
compassion towards all those that came to him for relief. He heard 
well enough what she asked, but not a word of answer gets she from 
him. I will show you, that though Christ love our persons, and dis 
likes not our petitions, but meaneth to grant them, yet for a time he 
will seem to take no notice of them. 

1. That this is a sore temptation. 

2. That it should not yet weaken our faith. 

1. That it is a sore temptation appeareth by the complaints of the 
saints and servants of God : Lam. iii. 8, When I cry and shout, he 
shutteth out my prayer ; as if God had locked up himself, that their 


prayers should not come at him, or find access to him. So ver. 44, 
Thou coverest thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass 
through ; as if God had wrapped up himself in a thick cloud of dis 
pleasure against our sins, that our prayers could find no entrance. So 
the spouse : Cant. v. 6, I sought him, but I could not find him ; I 
called him, but he gave me no answer. That God should refuse and 
reject our prayers is a grievous trial to the faithful, who value com 
munion with God. Nay, this delay may be so long till the cause seem 
hopeless ; Ps. Ixix. 3, I am weary of my crying ; my throat is dried, 
mine eyes fail, while I wait for my God/ So Ps. xxii. 2, my God, 
I cry in the daytime, but thou nearest not ; and in the night season, and 
am not silent. And all this while God seemeth to forsake them, nor 
to regard the suit, as if he had no respect to their hard condition. To 
lose our labour in prayer is one of the saddest disappointments that 
we can meet with, when our loud and importunate cries bring no relief 
to us. But 

2. It should not weaken our faith ; for God s delay is for his own 
glory and our good. 

[1.] For his own glory and the beauty of his providence. We read, 
John xi. 5, 6, Jesus loved Martha, and her sister and Lazarus ; and 
when he heard he was sick (even to death), he abode still two days 
in the same place where he was. There is little love in that, you will 
think, to a sick friend who was ready to die. Martha expostulateth with 
him about it, ver. 21, Lord, if thouhadstbeen here, my brother had not 
died. But Christ giveth the true account of it, ver. 40, Said I not 
unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe thou shouldest see the glory of 
God. It was more for the glory of God to raise a dead man than to 
cure a sick man. So when the disciples were in a storm, Christ made 
a show of passing by : Mark vi. 48, He cometh unto them, walking 
on the sea-side, and would have passed by them. So Christ delayeth 
the woman as to appearance, and denieth her, that the glory and great 
ness of her faith might be more seen. "Iva a-re^avcoa-rj rrjv yvvaiKa, 
saith Chrysostom, that he might crown the woman as a notable 

[2.] For our good, and to exercise our faith, patience, love, and desire. 

(1.) Our faith, to wait and depend upon God for things we see not ; 
for faith is a dependence upon God for something that lieth out of 
sight. This woman was delayed, but had at last that which she de 
sired ; but first her great faith was discovered. 

(2.) Our patience in tarrying God s leisure. His dearest children, 
are not admitted at the first knock. David saith in three verses, I 
cried, I cried, I cried/ Ps. cxix. 145-147. Our Lord Jesus prayed 
thrice before he got any comfort in his agony : Mat. xxvi. 44, And 
he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time ; and 
then an angel appeared to him from heaven, and strengthened him/ 
Luke xxii. 43. Elijah prayed thrice for the dead child ere he got him 
to life: 1 Kings xvii. 21, And he stretched himself upon the child 
three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, Lord my God, I 
pray thee let this child s soul return unto him again/ Paul prayed 
thrice : 2 Cor. xii. 8, For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that 
it might depart from me/ The Lord useth the like dispensation to 


us that are their followers : Heb. vi. 12, Be followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises. We are told, Lam. 
iii. 26, It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for 
the salvation of the Lord/ It is bonum bonestum et utile. It is our 
duty, and it is our profit. Our times are always present with us. 
Hungry stomachs must have the meat ere it be sodden or roasted. 
We would have our mercies too soon, like the foolish husbandman who 
would reap his corn and get it into the barn before it be ripened. 

(3.) Our love ; though we be not feasted with felt comforts and 
present delights, or bribed with a sensible dispensation, or indulged 
with a ready condescension to our requests. God will try the deport 
ment of his children, whether we love him or his benefits most; 
whether sensible consolations, especially external, be more to us than a 
God in covenant : Isa. xxvi. 8, Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O 
Lord, have we waited for thee. A child of God will love him for his 
judgments and fear him for his mercies. God will try whether we 
can rejoice in himself in our greatest wants and destitutions : Hab. iii. 
17, 18, Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be 
in the vines ; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall 
yield no meat ; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there be 
no herd in the stalls ; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the 
God of my salvation. A resolute dependence on an unseen God is 
the power and glory of faith, and a resolute adherence to a withdrawn 
God is the vigour of love. Lime, the more water you sprinkle upon it, 
the more it burneth. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can 
the floods drown it, Cant. viii. 7. 

(4.) To enlarge our desires, and put greater fervency into them. A 
sack that is stretched out holds the more. Delay increaseth importu 
nity : Mat. vii. 7, Ask, seek, knock ; the door is kept bolted that we 
may knock the harder. The choicest mercies come to us after great 
wrestlings. She prayeth, but Christ keepeth silence. Silence is an 
answer, and speaketh thus much, Pray on, and continue your praying 
still. Though Christ loved the supplicant, and meaneth to grant the 
petition, yet at first he answereth her not a word. 

Secondly, Her next temptation was from the small assistance she 
had from the disciples : ver. 23, Send her away, for she crieth after 
us. Interpreters dispute whether this was spoken out of commisera 
tion or impatience. I incline to the former, and the sense is, Send her 
away by granting her request ; do that for her which she desireth, that 
she may be quiet/ But though it were commiseration, yet they spake 
too coldly as to her distress, and seem to have a greater respect to 
their own trouble than the woman s affliction, that they might not be 
troubled with her cries, but they desire for quietness sake that she 
might be despatched one way or another. Many a poor benighted soul 
pray themselves, and set others on praying, till they are weary, and 
God heareth not, which is a great discouragement to a poor afflicted 
creature ; but yet it is but a temptation ; for though man s drop be 
soon spent, yet God s ocean of compassions faileth not. When they 
are troubled, yet importunity is welcome to Christ. 

Thirdly, Her next temptation is sorer. Christ seemeth to exclude 
her out of his commission : ver. 24, But he answered and said, I am 


not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel/ This was a truth, 
for Christ in the days of his flesh was a minister of the circumcision, 
Horn. xv. 8. His personal and particular ministry was principally 
designed for the people of the Jews ; they were to have the morning 
market of the gospel, and the first handsel of the Eedeemer s grace ; 
which, by the way, was a rebuke to the Jews that they did no more 
prize his ministry and dispensation when this stranger was so impor 
tunate to receive the benefit of it. But, however, it was a great trial 
to the woman, as if she were not one of these lost sheep whom Christ 
came to seek. When salvation itself refuseth to save us, when Christ 
shall in effect say, I am a Saviour, but not unto thee ; thou art not one 
of my redeemed ones : this is an amazing thing. Poor believers, when 
they are in this conflict, seem to be driven from Christ, not only by 
their own misgiving hearts, but the denunciation of his word : they 
question their election and the intention of God s grace, whether ever 
it were meant to them or no. But this is but a temptation ; we must 
not betray our duties by our scruples ; though it be midnight now, we 
cannot say it will never be day. Our rule, which we must stick to in 
such cases, is, God may do what he pleaseth. I must do what he com- 
mandeth. Our necessities are great, and so are Christ s compassions ; 
therefore a believing soul must not be put off by groundless fears, nor 
must the threatenings of the word drive us from, but to the promise ; 
for God opposeth for a while that he may at length give faith the 

Fourthly, when the woman reneweth her suit : ver. 25, Then she 
came, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. Yet ver. 26, 
He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children s bread and 
cast it to dogs. By implication Christ reckoneth her among the dogs; 
a grievous word to drop from the mouth of a gracious Saviour. But 
when Christ trieth us, he will try us to the quick, and humble us to 
the very dust. Our Lord speaketh this according to the common rate 
of language among the Jews, who accounted all the heathens as dogs, 
and without the covenant. Such as were within the covenant and 
pale of grace were holy and consecrated to God ; others who were 
without the covenant, because of their false religion, were accounted 
profane and unclean. Dogs and sheep were opposed one to another. 
The people. of Israel are deciphered by the appellation of lost sheep ; 
others are called dogs ; Kev. xxii. 15, Without are dogs, a term 
applied to this day by all oriental people to those whom they count 
to be misbelievers. Surely one would think now here were an end of 
her faith and address to Christ. No ; the humble soul maketh an 
advantage of this : ver. 27, Truth, Lord ; yet the dogs eat of the 
crumbs which fall from their master s table. Faith is quick to observe 
all advantages whereby it may strengthen itself. A dog is allowed to 
creep under the children s table, and to feed on what falls down there. 
Thus she maketh a seeming rebuke to be a kind of claim and title. 
And then Christ can hold out no longer, for he will at length yield, 
and will not always hide himself from the seeking soul. They that 
wrestle will at length overcome : Mark vii. 29, And he said unto her, 
For this saying, Go thy way ; the devil is gone out of thy daughter/ 

Secondly, Her victory over these temptations. (1.) By her importu- 


nity : (2.) Her humility ; (3.) Her resolved confidence ; all which are 
the fruits of great faith. 

1. Her importunity. She will not be beaten off by Christ s silence; 
but she maketh some advantage of it ; for it is not said, he heard her 
not a word, but answered her npt a word. Christ may hear his people 
when he doth not presently answer them. She seemed to be excluded 
out of Christ s commission, but neither this nor reproach of her own con 
dition doth hinder the exercise of her faith, but still she reneweth her 
suit, Lord, have mercy on me ; Son of David, help me. The woman 
will not be put off praying when Christ seemeth to forbid or not to 
regard her praying. Her daughter was sore vexed, and she must have 
help from Christ or none. The more God seemeth to refuse us, the 
more instant should we be in prayer, and pursue our suit constantly. 
Let God answer how he pleaseth ; if he be silent, we must resolve to 
follow the suit till we get audience ; if he seem to deny, we must get 
ground by denials ; if he rebuke us, we must still make supplications. 
Be it a suspension, a seeming denial, a contrary providence, faith will 
not give over. To sink under the burden argueth weakness, but it is 
strength of faith to wrestle through it. We read of Pherecides, a 
Grecian, in a naval fight between his nation and Xerxes, that he held a 
boat in which the Persians were fighting, first with his right arm, when 
that was cut off with his left, when that was cut off with his teeth, and 
would not let go his holdfast but with his life. This doth somewhat 
represent an importunate soul. This woman, when Christ doth seem to 
turn away from her and refuse her prayer, yet she prayeth, Lord, help 
me. When he reasoneth from his charge, yet still she will come and 
worship him. When he putteth her off with the common reproach 
which the Jews did cast upon all that were not of their religion, his 
doctrines and miracles were children s bread, she turneth a discourage 
ment into an argument, and maketh her claim, The dogs eat of the 
crumbs that fall from their master s table. Thus all true believers are 
in good earnest ; come what will of it, they are resolved to pray still. 
Thus blind Bartimeus, the more they rebuked him, the more he cried, 
Mark x. 48. Faith is like fire, the more it is pent up, the more it 
striveth to break out, and worketh effectually in us. We read of 
Jacob s wrestling with God : Gen. xxii. 24, There wrestled a man 
with him until the breaking of the day. And it is explained, Hosea xii. 
3, 4, He had. power with God ; yea, he had power over the angel, and 
prevailed ; he wept, and made supplications to him. Wrestling souls 
that are good at holding and drawing with the Almighty will not let 
him go till he bless them. The woman doth not turn her back upon 
Christ, but draws the nearer to him the more he seemeth to drive her 
away from him, and keepeth arguing with him, and beseeching of him, 
till he giveth her satisfaction. 

But how shall we do to keep up prayer in the midst of so many dis 
couragements ? Ans. (1.) Our necessity should quicken us ; and (2.) 
God s goodness and power should support us. Faith pressed with 
need is earnest in prayer, when it is dealing with a God gracious and 
powerful ; why should we give over the suit ? 

2. Her humility. We read of no murmuring and impatience or 
discontent at Christ s carriage. No ; if we will wrestle with God, we must 

VOL. xvn. i, 


wrestle with prayers and tears, with humble and broken hearts ; there- 
must be no complaining of God, but to God. The woman doth not 
tax Christ as harsh and severe, but only maketh supplication, Lord, 
have mercy upon me ; Son of David, help me. It is said, Mat. xv. 
25, She worshipped him. But in Mark. vii. 25, it is said, She fell 
at his feet. She fell prostrate before him, and owneth the term of 
dog, that justly she might be accounted so, and maketh it her plea 
and claim. Humility is contented to be humbled as deeply as the 
Lord please th, but cannot bear this, to be excluded from Christ and 
the benefit of his grace. In all faith there is always a deep humility. 
When Christ rebuketh her as a dog, she doth not make a murmuring 
retort, but an humble plea, that some of the mercy provided for Israel 
might be spared to a poor Canaanite, a crumb at least. 

3. A resolved faith under our greatest pressures: Job. xv. 14, 
Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him. As Antisthenes told 
his master that taught him philosophy, that he should not find a club 
big enough to beat him from him. Faith will not quit its adherence 
to God for any difficulty whatsoever ; when- God seemeth to quit the 
believer, the believer will not quit God, but take him as a friend when 
he seemeth. to deal as an enemy, and still put a good construction upon 
his providence. This resolute adherence is seen in three things 

[1.] An adherence to his way, how little soever he seemeth to own 
it: Ps. xliv. 17, 18, All this is come upon us, yet have we not for 
gotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant : our heart 
is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way. 
Sharp afflictions do not discharge us from our duty in professing the 
truth ; as our steps must not decline, so not our hearts : Dan. iii. 17, 
18, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning 
fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, king ; but if 
not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, 
nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. However God 
disposes of us, we must keep to our duty. 

[2.] In perseverance in the use of means : Kom. xii. 12, Continu 
ing instant in prayer/ We are to use the duty still, though we have 
no satisfaction as to the event, and as long as there is life in the duty, 
it will come to something at the last : Luke v. 15, We have toiled all 
night, and have taken nothing ; nevertheless, at thy word we will let 
down the net. It is enough that these means are appointed by God, 
and we must use them, though hitherto we have gained little comfort 
and success by them. 

[3.] In a dependence upon his promises and powerful providence. 
The woman sticketh to Christ as only able to help her, though there 
was little appearance of any help from him. She runneth not away to 
another helper, but worshippeth him, cleaveth to him. Better lie 
dead at Christ s feet than die in a state of alienation from him. We 
must resolve to be his, though we cannot know that he is ours. No 
trouble, how great soever, is a warrant to quit our trust ; and what 
ever disappointment saith to us, it doth not say, put your confidence 
elsewhere, or trust no longer in God. This resolute confidence is justi 
fiable upon these grounds. 

(1.) His providence will never give his word the lie. Let God do 


what he will, they are approved who are approved by his word, 
and they are condemned who are condemned by his word : Ps. 
Ixxiii. 17, When I went into the sanctuary of God, then under 
stood I their end ; Job. iii. 3, I have seen the foolish taking root ; 
but suddenly I cursed his habitation. And, on the contrary, Ps. iv. 
3, But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for him 
self ; the Lord will hear when I call unto him ; Isa. iii. 10, Say ye 
to the righteous that it shall be well with him ; for they shall eat of 
the fruit of their doings. 

(2.) There is more good-will in his heart than is visible in his deal 
ings. The merciful nature of God should be a support to us, though 
we see nothing of the effects of it in his providence : Job. x. 13, These 
things hast thou hid in thine heart ; I know that it is with thee: He 
speaketh of his favourable inclination to show pity to distressed crea 
tures. We are not able always to reconcile his present dispensations 
with his gracious nature yet faith must not quit its holdfast. We 
must see what is hid in God s heart, and comfort ourselves with that 
favour and mercy which we know to be essential to him. Though, 
the mercy and pity be not visible and obvious to sense, the disposition 
and inclination abideth in God unchangeable and sure. God is a 
merciful God still, and Christ a compassionate Saviour, though the 
effects be suspended to try and sharpen our faith. 

(3.) Because God loveth to bring light out of darkness, to give the 
valley of Achor for a door of hope to bring meat out of the eater, 
and sweetness out of the strong, to bring about his people s mercies by 
means very improbable and contrary, that he may train us up to hope 
against hope. When deliverance is a-coming, it is not always in sight. 
Christ at a wedding calls for water when he intended to give wine : 
John ii. 7, and here he rebuketh the woman as a dog when he meant to 
treat her as a daughter of Abraham. 

(4.) When he seemeth to resist and be opposite to his people, 
he giveth them secret strength to prevail over him. When Jacob 
wrestled with God, it was by God s own strength ; God in Jacob 
seemed to overcome God without him, or against him. Was not the 
spirit of Christ at work in the heart of this woman all the while he 
seemed to be struggling with her ? He never striveth with his servants 
but he giveth them suitable strength to the task he imposeth on them : 
1 Cor. x. 13, God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted 
above that you are able : but will with the temptation also make a 
way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it ; Ps. cxxxviii. 3, In the 
day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with 
strength in my soul. He heareth not as to deliverance, but yet he 
heareth as to support. 

(5.) Because the saints are wont to train up themselves for these 
difficulties, by proposing hard cases to themselves ; as Ps. iii. 6, I 
will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set them 
selves against me round about ; Ps. xxvii. 3, Though an host should 
encamp against me, my heart shall not fear ; though war should rise 
against me, in this I will be confident ; Ps. xlvi. 1, 2, God is our 
refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will 
we not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains 


be carried into the midst of the sea. Presumption is a coward, and a 
runaway from all thoughts of danger ; but faith meeteth its enemy 
in open field ; it supposeth the worst, that the heart may be fortified 
aforehand against whatever may fall out. They much inure their 
thoughts to God, and dwell in and with the Almighty, and reckon 
upon the changes of a reeling world, and so are prepared to be martyrs, 
and suffer the worst for God. 

Use. You have heard this faith opened to you ; labour to get such a 
wrestling faith in expecting the benefits of the Messiah. You may 
have your difficulties 

1. About your spiritual estate and acceptance with God in Christ. 
You would have the devil cast out of your souls : you beg it of God, 
but he seemeth not to hear you ; you are to wait, not to give over the 
matter as hopeless, and in despondency to throw up all at first : The 
Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against his commandment/ Lam. 
i. 18. He hath called, and you would not hear, and therefore now God 
may delay. It may be you have doubts whether ever God will hear 
you, and you question your election ; then consider God s mercy and 
your necessity. Christ hath taught us how to pray for the spirit : 
Luke xi. 8, Though he will not rise and give him because he is his 
friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him. You 
continue praying, and it is with you as before ; it may be worse : Horn, 
vii. 9, But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. A 
bullock is most unruly at first yoking ; fire at first kindling casteth 
forth much smoke. What then ? Should you give over seeking to 
Christ ? That is to shut the door upon yourselves. God seemeth to 
shut you out, and you are discouraged with a deep sense of your own 
un worthiness. Will he look upon such a dead dog as I am ? In such 
cases you should creep in at the back door of the promise, as Paul 
doth : 1 Tim. i. 15, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all accep 
tation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom 
I am chief. If Christ came to save sinners, I am sinner enough for 
Christ to save ; or, as the woman here, dogs lick up the crumbs. 

2. In some prevailing carnal distempers, that you have long wrestled 
with to get rid of, and you desire the physician of souls should cure 
you. Follow the means, lay open before him the plague and sore of 
your own heart. You do not presently find success ; will you therefore 
give over the business as hopeless, and go still with a wound or thorn 
in your conscience? No; consider (1.) It must be cured; (2.) If 
ever it be cured, it must be by Christ ; (3.) Use all his healing methods ; 
(4.) And beg a blessing upon all by prayer, Lord, if thou wilt, thou 
canst make me clean, Mat. viii. 2 ; (5.) Believe his grace to be suffi 
cient for thee. Be earnest and importunate ; we scratch the face of 
sin, but we do not seek to root it out. If you are resolved, you will 
take no nay. In a little time, and after some serious wrestling with 
God, you will be eminent in the contrary grace. 

3. In great straits and pressures you seek to God ; plead his cove 
nant, and yet no answer corneth. Will you turn atheist, and say, It 
is in vain to pray to God ? No ; He that believeth will not make 
haste, Isa. xxviii. 16. Or will you faint and give over the suit ? 
Where then is the exercise of your faith and patience ? It may be 


God showeth himself strange to you in your troubles ; as Jonah ii. 4, 
I said, I am cast out of thy sight, yet I will look again toward thy 
holy temple/ Let faith look to heaven and the covenant made with 
Christ. Will you give way to the temptation till you are bribed by 
sense ? No ; look again and again. Let faith triumph over diffi 
culties, and the issue will be comfortable. 

4. For the church, as God s children prefer Zion above their chief 
joy. You pray for the welfare of it, and God giveth no comfortable 
answer ; what then ? Will you neglect your duty or abate of your 
love ? It may be the clouds are thickened, dangers greater. What ! 
will you swell against providence ? Hab. ii. 4, Behold his soul, which 
is lifted up, is not upright in him ; but the just shall live by his faith. 
No ; it is importunity, humility, resolved confidence will do you good 
at the last ; follow the suit still, and say, For Zion s sake I will not 
hold my peace, and for Jerusalem s sake I will not rest, until the 
righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof 
as a lamp that burneth, Isa. Ixii. 1. There should be an unwearied 
solicitation of God for the church s restitution. Christ is the church s 
advocate, we are her solicitors. This is an example, not to gaze upon, 
but to imitate. 


Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day ; and he saw it, and 
was glad. JOHN viii. 56. 

THE next instance and pattern of a strong faith we find in Abraham. 
We must consider his faith in two things 

1. His clear sight of things to come, before the exhibition of Christ 
or his coming in the flesh. 

2. His overlooking the difficulties which seemed to obstruct the 
accomplishment of the promise. A believer hath two great works to 
do to open the eye of faith, and shut that of sense. In both Abra 
ham was eminent. His opening the eye of faith is spoken of here, 
He saw my day. His shutting the eye of sense in Bom. iv. 13, And 
being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, 
when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of 
Sarah s womb. The former falleth under our consideration now, 
Tour Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day ; and he saw it, and was 
glad. The Jews were always cracking and boasting that they were 
children of Abraham. Christ disproveth their claim because they did 
not his works : John viii. 39, If ye were Abraham s children, ye would 
do the works of Abraham ; and in particular, because they imitated 
not his faith with respect to Christ ; they despised what Abraham made 
great account of. Abraham rejoiced to see what you see, but they 
rejoiced not in him, and the privileges of the gospel offered by him. 
He desired to see me, though future and absent, and you despise me 
now present. He valued what you scorn, and therefore they were 
degenerate children of Abraham. 

In the words observe three things 

1. The earnest desire Abraham had to see Christ s day, Abraham 
rejoiced to see my day. 

2. His obtaining his desire in some sort, and in that way which 
pleased God, And he saw it. 

3. The effect of that sight : it bred joy and contentment in his mind, 
And he was glad. 

Some explicatory questions shall be handled 

What was Christ s day ? 

In what sense he earnestly desired to see it ? 

How he saw it ? 


[4.] The gladness which was the fruit of it. 

[1. ] What was Christ s day ? I answer His coming in the flesh, 
and setting up the gospel dispensation. Day in scripture is put for 
all that space of time wherein any one hath lived, together with the 
state of things during that time. So Christ s day was the time when 
Christ came to fulfil his office of a redeemer, and the state of the gos 
pel kingdom there begun. 

[2.] How he earnestly desired to see it. His earnestness is employed 
in that word yyaXTuao-aro, He rejoiced to see my day. With great 
pleasure of mind he thought of Christ s coming into the world to save 
sinners, and desired it might fall out in his time. He had no greater 
desire than to see Christ s kingdom set up and flourish in the world. 
He rejoiced, he vehemently and with ardent affection desired this might 
come to pass. 

[3.] How he saw it ? Not with bodily eyes ; that negative is proved : 
Luke x. 24, Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things 
which ye see, and have not seen them ; and to hear those things which 
ye hear, and have not heard them. Abraham was one of these. But 
affirmatively he saw it with the eye of faith: Heb. xi. 13, All these 
died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them 
afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them. There it is 
explained. The object to be seen was revealed and set before them in 
the promise, and their eye and visive power was faith. Thus God 
granted him his desire in a better way. God may suspend the satisfy 
ing the desires of his people in their own way all their days, and ) T et in 
effect grant them in a way that is as good, and better for them. Moses 
would fain enter into the land of Canaan, but God would only give him a 
Pisgah-sight. The exhibition of Christ in the flesh was denied to 
Abraham and the patriarchs during their lives, but yet he gave that 
which was better than a simple bodily sight, a spiritual sight of him 
in the word of promise. We desire the restoration of the church 
speedily, but it may be it doth not suit with the harmony of God s 
providence ; therefore we must submit our will to the wisdom of his 

[4.] He was glad, and heartily rejoiced at it : Gen. xvii. 17, Then 
Abraham fell on his face and laughed. Not as Sarah laughed, as 
doubting of the event, Gen. xviii. 12, but wondering, rejoicing at it, 
being strong in faith that God could and would make good his promise. 
There is the laughing of exultation, and the laughing of derision, when 
one telleth an improbable thing. Sarah s was the laughter of derision 
and unbelief ; Abraham s was the laughing of exultation. The exhibi 
tion of the Messiah, and the setting up his kingdom in the world, was 
matter of great joy and consolation to him. 

Doct. That a strong faith giveth such a clear sight of Christ as pro- 
duceth an holy delight and rejoicing in him. 

In handling this point 

1. I shall speak of the ground of Abraham s faith. 

2. Of the strength of it, set forth by a double effect (1.) His clear 
vision and sight of Christ; (2.) His deep affection, or rejoicing in it. 

1. The ground of his faith ; for except the thing to be believed be 
represented to us in a divine revelation, it is not faith but fancy. This 


sure ground was the promise of God. And if you ask, What promise 
had his faith to work upon ? I answer That which you have : Gen. 
xii. 3, In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. In thee, 
that is, in thy seed, as it is explained, Gen. xxii. 18, In thy seed shall 
all the nations of the earth be blessed. Now, to open this promise we 
must inquire (1.) What this seed was ; (2.) What this blessedness 

1. What was this seed? We must distinguish of a twofold seed of 
Abraham his seed to whom the blessing was promised, which was to 
be blessed, and his seed in whom both Abraham himself and also his seed 
and all nations were to be blessed. The promise of blessing to his seed is 
spoken of, Gen. xvii. 7, I will establish my covenant between me and 
thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting 
covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. Now this 
promise to his seed was either to his carnal seed which descended from 
his loins (God was there God, in visible covenant with them), or his 
spiritual seed : Gal. iii. 7, Know ye therefore that they which are of 
faith, the same are the children of Abraham ; because they walked in 
the steps of Abraham, and did receive and obey the doctrine of faith or 
covenant of grace which he himself believed and received. But then 
there was another seed, in whom he himself and all the families of the 
earth were to -be blessed, that is, in the Messiah who was to come, who 
is the Lord Jesus Christ. The promise of multiplication and blessing 
of his seed was but an appendage of this promise, and the means to 
effectuate it, and so subservient to it. 

2. What was this blessedness ? All that good which resulteth to us 
from God s covenant ; chiefly reconciliation with God and life eternal. 

[1.] Our reconciliation with God, which consists of two parts 
remission of sins, and regeneration ; without these two no man can be 
capable of blessedness, and both these are included in the covenant 
made with Abraham. 

(1.) Kemission of sins. Certainly they are blessed whose sins are 
forgiven : Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, 
whose sin is covered ; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth 
not iniquity/ And this is included in the blessing of Abraham ; for 
it is said, Gal. iii. 8, And the scripture, foreseeing that God would 
justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto 
Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So that justi 
fication by faith, a principal part of which is remission of sins, is that 
gospel blessing which was purchased by Christ for Abraham s seed. 

(2.) Kegeneration was included also, as a considerable part of the 
Mediator s blessing : Acts iii. 25, 26, Ye are the children of the 
prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, say 
ing unto Abraham, And in thee shall all the kindreds of the earth be 
blessed. Unto you first, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent 
him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. 
There the blessing is interpreted. 

[2.] That eternal life is included in it also is evident from the nature 
of the thing ; for this being the chief blessedness, it cannot be excluded ; 
and may be further proved from the double reasoning of the apostle 
from this covenant. 


S.) Because the patriarchs sought it by virtue of this promise : 
. xi. 13-15, All these died in faith, not having received the pro 
mises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and 
embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims 
on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they 
seek a country ; and truly if they had been mindful of that country 
from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have 
returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly. 
The argument is, they did not think themselves to be at home in 
Canaan, but sojourned there as in a strange country. The apostle is 
speaking of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were heirs of the same 
promise, namely, of blessedness in the seed of Abraham; they still 
sought another place. 

(2.) Because else God could not act suitably to the greatness of liis 
covenant love and relation, and did not make good his title : ver. 16, 
Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath 
prepared for them a city. God, having made so rich a preparation for 
them, may be fitly called their God. Note our Saviour s reasoning : 
Mat. xxii. 31, 32, But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have 
ye not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the 
God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ? God 
is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 

II. Come we now to the strength of his faith ; that is seen in two 
things (1.) His clear vision ; (2.) His deep affection. 

1. His clear vision and sight of Christ : He saw my day. The 
eagle eye of faith will see afar off and through many impediments, and 
draw comfort not only from what is present, visible, and sensible, but 
from what is distant and future, and but obscurely revealed. The sight 
of faith may be illustrated by bodily sight. 

Three things argue the strength of bodily sight 

[1.] When the things are afar off that we see ; for a weak eye cannot 
see afar off. 

[2.] When there are clouds between, though the things be clear; 
to pierce through these clouds argueth the sight is strong. 

[3.] When there is but a little light to see by. To see a thing at a 
distance, either in the morning or evening twilight, argueth a strong 
sight. All these concur here. 

[1.] The things to be seen were at a great distance, not to be 
accomplished in their time, nor a long time after. Thousands of years 
and many successions of ages intervened ere the Messiah was exhibited 
to the world, and came in the flesh to erect his gospel kingdom ; yet 
they went to the grave in assurance of this promise, that in due time 
the redemption of sinful man should be accomplished. Well, then, 
we see the nature of faith, that it can look upon things absent and 
future as sure and near ; and without it man looketh no farther than 
present probabilities : 2 Peter i. 9, But he that lacketh these things 
is blind, and cannot see afar off, rv^Xof /cal /jLvanrd&v. A purblind 
man cannot see things at a distance from him ; but faith surmounts 
all successions of ages, and can fly over many thousands of years in a 
moment to the object expected ; as the apostle John: Rev. xx. 12, I 
saw the dead, small and great, stand before God. He saw it in the 


light of prophecy ; but the light of faith and prophecy differ little. 
They agree in the general ground, viz., divine revelation; they differ 
only as the general revelation is the ground of faith ; a particular 
revelation is the ground of prophecy. They agree in the manner of 
perception, by divine illumination ; the Spirit enlighteneth believers, 
and the Spirit enlightened the prophets, for they were moved by the 
Holy Ghost. But only believers by that general way of illumination, 
which is common to all the saints ; the special illumination is peculiar 
to prophets. They agree in the object, things absent and future and 
at great distance ; here there is no difference. They agree in the cer 
tainty of apprehension ; only by prophecy they may define particular 
events ; by the other, the accomplishment of general promises. They 
agree as to the affections of the heart, but they differ in the degree ; 
the one hath more esctatic motions, the other is a more temperate 
confidence. So that you see by this comparison a strong faith can see 
things at a distance, and we are affected with them in some manner as 
if they were present. 

[2.] When clouds come between faith and the object to be seen. 
When the promise was given to Abraham, he was childless, and so re 
mained a long time. In the course of nature his own body and Sarah s 
womb were dead ; and after he had a son, God commands him to slay 
him and offer him in sacrifice ; a command not only against his natural 
affection, but hope. And then afterwards his seed was few in number 
for a long time, and when they did multiply they were oppressed, which 
was revealed to Abraham. Now, to strive against all these difficulties 
was to believe in hope against hope/ Rom. iv. 18. But this I must 
reserve to the next time. However it is said of Abraham, He saw 
my day ; he rested in the truth and power of God, and by it resolved 
all difficulties. To see through such natural impossibilities argueth a 
strong sight of faith. 

[3.] For their light to go by, it was but a little ; the revelation was 
but obscure; the patriarchs had only that promise, Gen. iii. 15, And 
I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed 
and her seed ; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 
Abraham s was a little clearer ; all that he had was but this, In thy 
seed all nations shall be blessed. Yet this was but a small glimmer 
ing light in comparison of what we enjoy, far short in clearness and 
plainness of the many precious gospel promises which are made to us. 
The daylight is not only broken out, but it draweth nigh to high noon. 
Though they saw not Christ so nearly and clearly revealed as we do, 
yet they could do more mighty things with their faith than we can do 
with ours, and did more excel both in comfort and holiness. 

You will say, What is this clear vision of Christ to us ? How shall 
we judge of the strength or weakness of our faith by this ? 

Ans. 1. As to Christ, there is a sight of Christ past, present, and to 
come, which still belongeth to faith. 

(1.) Past : To see him whom we have not seen, that is, so to be 
affected with his miracles and acts of mediation as if we had seen him 
in the flesh, is still the work and exercise of our faith. So the apostle 
telleth the Galatians, chap. iii. 1, Before whose eyes Christ Jesus hath 
been evidently set forth crucified among you ; that is, before you he 


hath been convincingly declared, as if he were set before your eyes 
nailed to the cross. We should receive Christ as it were crucified in 
the midst of us; and the more lively and impressive thoughts we 
have of this in the word and sacraments, the stronger is one s faith. 
We do so believe it, and our hearts are so warmed by it, as if it were 
all done before our eyes. Such evidence and conviction should we have 
a,s to warm our hearts. 

(2.) Present : To see him so as to make him the object of our love 
and trust : John vi. 40, And this is the will of him that sent me, that 
he that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life. 
There is a clear sight of Christ still necessary to believing ; we must 
see him and know him spiritually. Though he be removed from us 
within the curtain of the heavens, yet we must see him, and such 
worth and excellency in him as may draw off our hearts from other 
things ; see him so as to believe that he is at the right hand of God, 
negotiating for us, that we may trust ourselves and our all in his hands. 
Stephen said, Acts vii. 56, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the 
Son of man standing at the right hand of God. He saw the Lord 
Jesus as in a posture of readiness to assist and help him ; that was by 
extraordinary vision, for it is said, The heavens opened. But faith 
doth the like in its degree and proportion. Especially must we see him 
at the right hand of God ready to receive us when we die. 

(3.) Future : We must see him ; that is, be assured of his second 
coming, and thoroughly persuaded that we shall see him-; as Job, chap. 
xix. 25-27, For I know that my Kedeemer liveth, and that he shall 
stand in the latter days upon the earth ; and though after my skin, 
worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God ; whom I 
shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold him. At the resur 
rection we shall get this sight and blessed vision of God. Now faith 
must overlook all impediments to assure ourselves of this. 

Ans. 2. There are other objects about which the vision of faith is 
exercised, as the glory and blessedness of the world to come. Faith is 
the perspective of the soul, by which it can see things at a distance as 
present. It can look beyond and above the world, and draw unspeak 
able joy from the hope of eternal life. Moses, Heb. xi. 26, Esteemed 
the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt ; for 
he had respect to the recompense of reward, eire^Xeirev ; he looked to 
it. The glory of the world to come is represented and set before us in 
the promise ; we see it clearly there : Heb. vi. 18, That by two im 
mutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might 
have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the 
hope set before us ; Heb. xii. 2, Looking unto Jesus, the author and 
finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured 
the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of 
the throne of God. To this we should look, and see it as if it were 
before our eyes, that we ma) 7 not be allured or terrified by the things 
that are before our eyes. But of this I have already spoken in the 
nature of faith. (See Sermons on Heb. xi. 1.) Only let me advise you 
now to keep the eye of faith clear, that Christ and heaven may be 
always in view. The devil seeks to shut it : 2 Cor. iv. 4, In whom 
the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not, 


lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of 
God, should shine unto them. He doth it by the world, deluding and 
bribing the flesh, and enchanting the mind with worldly felicity, so that 
God and heaven are forgotten, and that necessary care which we should 
use in preparation for it is neglected and omitted. But it is opened 
by the Spirit : Eph. i. 17, 18, That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and reve 
lation in the knowledge of him ; the eyes of your understanding being 
enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and 
what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. And 
therefore we should always pray for this spiritual eyesalve, that we 
may have a due sense of the world to come fresh and strong upon our 

2. The next effect is deep affection or rejoicing in Christ, and all" 
the work of redemption done in his day. Certainly a sight of Christ 
by faith doth bring true joy and peace into the soul. 

Here I shall show 

[1.] That no other affection will become Christ, and the salvation 
offered by him and received by faith, but great joy. This is evident 
by the whole drift and current of the scriptures. The angels told the 
shepherds at Christ s birth, Lukeii. 10, And the angel said unto them, 
Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall 
be to all people. Surely tidings of Christ, the Redeemer of the world, 
are tidings of great joy, because then there was a way found out for 
our reconciliation with God, and the taking up that dreadful contro 
versy between us and him, that heaven and earth may kiss each other, 
and meet again in a covenant of love and peace and grace, purchased 
by Christ, whereby we might overcome the devil, the world, and the 
flesh. The great enemies of our salvation are defeated, and a propor 
tionable happiness found out for man, without which he would have 
been as Leviathan in a little pool. So when this grace was offered to 
any, as to Zaccheus, by Christ s coming into his house and bringing 
salvation with him : Luke xix. 6, He made haste, and came down, 
and received him joyfully; or published in the word: Acts xiii. 48, 
When the gentiles heard these things, they were glad, and glorified 
the word of the Lord, and as many as were ordained to eternal life 
believed. Now we are concerned as well as they. The gospel should 
never be as stale news to sinners, or as a jest often told. Our necessities 
are the same with theirs, and the benefits are offered to us as well as 
them. The Virgin Mary was thus affected : Luke i. 47, My spirit 
hath rejoiced in God my Saviour ; that Christ was to be born of her, 
and was formed in her. The eunuch, when Philip had preached to 
him Jesus, and he was baptized into this faith, Acts viii. 39, He 
went on his way rejoicing ; as men do that have met with a good 
bargain, and have sealed it and made it sure. So the jailer : Acts 
xvi. 34, He rejoiced, believing in God with all his house ; he was but 
newly converted, and recovered out of the suburbs of hell, ready to 
kill himself just before, so that a man would have thought you might 
as easily fetch water out of a flint or a spark of fire out of the bottom 
of the sea, yet he rejoiced when he was acquainted with Christ. So 
that you see none reflect seriously on the gospel but they find cause of 


joy. We cannot consider and believe the great things which Christ 
hath done and purchased for us, with some hope of the enjoyment of 
them, without joy. 

[2.] The reasons of this joy. These must be considered with respect 
to the object, the subject, the causes. 

(1.) The excellency of the object, which is Jesus Christ, and the 
incomparable treasure of his grace. 

(1st.) He is excellent in himself, as being the eternal Son of God. 
Now, when he will come down, not only to visit, but redeem a sinful 
world, this should be matter of joy to us. He came down, was not 
thrust down ; he came as the pledge and instance of the Father s love : 
John iii. 16, God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten 
Son. To make divine nature more amiable, that we might not fly from 
him as a condemning God, but return to him as a pardoning God, and 
willing to be reconciled to sinful man : 2 Cor. v. 19, God was in Christ 
reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. 
And in our nature died for us : Kev. i. 5, Who hath loved us, and 
washed us from our sins in his own blood. Christ would show us a 
love that passeth knowledge, and would surprise men and angels with 
a heap of wonders in the whole business of our deliverance from sin 
and misery. And surely we bring down the price of these wonders of 
love if we entertain them with cold thoughts, and without some con 
siderable acts of joy and thankfulness. 

(2<i) He is also necessary for us: Bom. iii. 19, And all the world 
may become guilty before God, VTTOUCOS e> ; subject to the judg 
ment of God, or obnoxious to his wrath and vengeance. What could 
we have done without his passion and intercession ? If he had not 
died for sinners, what had we to answer to the terrors of the law or 
accusations of conscience, or to appease the fears of hell and approach 
ing damnation ? How could you look God in the face, or think a 
comfortable thought of him, or call upon his name, or pray to him in 
your necessities ? In good sadness what could you do ? Would you 
bewail sins past ; but what recompense or ransom for your souls was 
there ? If you had wept your eyes out, it would not have been accepted 
without a redeemer or some satisfaction to divine justice : Micah 
vi. 6, 7, Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself 
before the high God ? Shall I come before him with calves of a year 
old? will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten 
thousand of rivers of oil ? shall I give my first-born for my trans 
gression ? the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? Would you 
commit sin no more, or serve God for the future exactly ? If that had 
been .possible with a sinning nature, yet payment of new debts doth 
not quit old scores ; or paying what we owe doth not make amends 
for what is stolen ; you might have lain in your blood. We could not 
find out a ransom which God would accept : Ps. xlix. 7, 8, None of 
them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom 
for him ; for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth 
for ever/ No ; it is the Lord s mercy to find out a ransom for us : Job 
xxxiii. 24, Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from 
going down to the pit ; I have found a ransom. 

(3d) He is so beneficial to us. We have cause to rejoice if we con- 


sider the many benefits we have by him : 1 Cor. i. 30, 31, But of him 
are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and right 
eousness, and sanctification, and redemption : that according as it is 
written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. Ignorance alien 
ates from God ; depraved nature brings doubts and fears, which always 
haunt us about eternity and the way thither. Now, when God hath 
provided such a suitable and all-sufficient remedy, should we not rejoice, 
and esteem him, and delight in him, and count all things but dung 
and dross in comparison of him, that we may gain him and his grace ? 

(2.) The subject. 

(1st.) They are affected with their misery; for according as our 
sense of our misery is, so is our entertainment of the remedy. Those 
that heal their wounds slightly little care for the physician. A doc 
trinal sight of sin maketh way for a dead opinion about Christ. It 
is they that are often in tears and groans, through the feeling of sin 
and fears of the wrath of God, who do most esteem Christ and rejoice 
in him : Mat. ix. 13, I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners 
to repentance ; Acts ii. 37, And when they heard this, they were 
pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, 
Men and brethren, what shall we do ? A saviour is welcome to them, 
for he is to them a comfortable and suitable remedy. 

(2c?.) They mind their end, which is to return to God as their proper 
happiness. When the soul seeth nothing better than God, then 
nothing is sweeter than -Christ. Intention of the end maketh the means 
acceptable : John xiv. 6, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the 
truth, and the life ; no man cometh to the Father but by me ; Heb. 
vii. 25, Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost all those that 
come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for 
them. Christ is of no use but where God is our chiefest good ; for if 
we be indifferent as to the favour of God, why should we prize Christ ? 

(3d) Their heart is suited to spiritual things. To excite delight 
and complacency there are two things necessary the attractiveness of 
the object, and the inclination of the faculty. Delight and pleasure is 
applicatio convenientis convenient. If the object be never so lovely, 
yet, if the faculty be not suited, there is no delight. We use to say, 
One man s food is another man s poison : Kom. viii. 5, For 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/ Every man s taste is accord 
ing to his constitution ; some are so lost and sunk in the dregs of 
pleasures, honours, and profits, that they have no relish for better things. 
Though Christ be so excellent and so suitable, and so all-sufficient to 
soul-necessities, yet carnal men cannot savour him : this excellency is 
only valued by a spiritual mind. Scarlet maketh no more show in the 
dark than a better colour. The mystery of redemption to the carnal 
is but a cold story, and the rose of Sharon but as withered flowers, and 
the promises of the gospel are as dry chips. 

(3.) The causes of it ; they are the Holy Ghost, and faith as his 
instrument. This joy is stirred up by the Holy Ghost, therefore often 
called joy in the Holy Ghost : Kom. xiv. 17, For the kingdom of God 
is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost ; 1 Thes. i. 5, For our gospel came not unto you in word 


only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost/ And the comforts of 
the Spirit : Acts ix. 31, Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the 
comfort of the Holy Ghost. But then faith is the means : Bom. xv. 
13, Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing ; 
1 Peter i. 8, Whom having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now 
ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full 
of glory. So that it is a fruit of faith as well as a work of the Holy 
Ghost. Faith joined with love will bring much love into the heart of 
a believer, and will cause it to be deeply affected with Christ s grace. 

[3.] The nature of this joy and gladness. Here we must dis 

(1.) There is a superstitious joy which ariseth from knowing Christ 
after the flesh : 2 Cor. v. 16, Wherefore henceforth know we no man 
after the flesh ; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet 
now henceforth know we him no more; which is seen in this, it prizeth 
Christ s name but neglects his office, pretends a fond esteem of his 
memory but despises his benefits. As the Jews would fly in the face 
of any that would not count them Abraham s children, yet would not 
do the works of Abraham, so is the nominal Christian s joy. This joy 
venteth itself in a carnal way, by outward theatrical pomp and cere 
monial observances, but not in real affection to Christ ; yea, they are 
rather enemies to his spiritual kingdom and cause and servants, and 
express their rejoicing rather as votaries of Bacchus than as disciples 
of Christ, in a gross and carnal way. This joy is a rejoicing in Christ 
for a day, but we are to make it our daily work, a holy festival that 
lasteth our whole lives : Phil. iv. 4, Eejoice in the Lord always, and 
again I say, Kejoice. This is a different thing from Abraham s rejoic 
ing. He had a prospect of Christ s day, and was exceeding glad ; but 
this is a carnal owning of the god of the country, and no more. 

(2.) There is a holy rejoicing which may be considered (1.) As to 
the lively acts ; (2.) Or solid effects. 

(1st.} As to the lively acts, in solemn duties, as the word, and medi 
tation, and Lord s supper, it doth your hearts good to think of Christ : 
Cant. i. 4, We will be glad and rejoice in thee ; we will remember 
thy love more than wine ; Ps. xxii. 26, The meek shall eat, and be 
satisfied ; they shall praise the Lord that seek him : your heart shall 
live for ever ; Heb. xi. 13, All these died in faith, not having received 
the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of 
them, and embraced them. ; that is, when they thought of it ; the time 
of the gospel was a sweet time to them, and so it is to all other believers. 
A man cannot think of his pelf or any petty interest in the world 
without comfort ; and can a believer think of the promises and not be 
affected with them ? In solemn meditation and other duties is faith 
and joy acted. 

(2c?.) As to its solid effects, 

(1st.) It is such a joy as doth enlarge our hearts in duty, and 
strengthen us in the way of God : Neh. viii. 10, For the joy of the 
Lord is your strength ; Ps. cxix. 14, I have rejoiced in the way of 
thy testimonies as much as in all riches. The hardest services are 
pleasant to one that delighteth in Christ. This joy is the very life of 
obedience ; a Christian cannot be without it. 


(2d.) It sweeleneth our calamities and crosses. (1.) Common afllic- 
tions. It can never be so sad with us in the world but we have cause 
of rejoicing in Christ: Hab. iii. 17, 18, Though the fig-tree do not 
blossom, &c., yet I will rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my 
salvation ; for we have better things in him than any natural comfort 
which can be taken from us. This should not diminish the solid satis 
faction of our souls. (2.) The afflictions of the gospel : Luke vi. 23, 
Kejoice ye in that day. and leap for joy : for your reward is great in 
heaven ; for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets ; Heb. x. 
34, And took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves 
that in heaven ye have a better and enduring substance. They are fit 
occasions to show how much we value Christ above all our own interests, 
how near and dear soever they be to us. 

(3d.) It draweth us off from the vain delights of the flesh. Every 
man must have some oblectation ; for love and delight cannot lie idle 
in the soul ; either it is taken up with the joys of sense or with the 
joys of faith. And it is good for every man to observe what it is that 
puts gladness into his heart, where his solid contentment and pleasure 
is. A brutish heart fetcheth all its solaces from the world, but a 
gracious heart from Christ ; the one loves pleasures more than God, but 
to the other Christ and his benefits are matter of joy and comfort; 
this is that they are cheered with, as they get more of Christ into their 
hearts : Ps. iv. 7, Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in 
the time that their corn and their wine increased j as David calleth 
God his exceeding joy, Ps. xliii. 4. They need not the carnal mirth, 
without which others cannot live : Ps. iv. 6, Who will show us any 

Use. Well, then, you see faith is not only a sight, but a taste, or a 
feeding on the promises with delight : Ps. cxix. Ill, Thy testimonies 
I have taken for an heritage for ever ; for they are the rejoicing of my 
heart. And such a delight as draweth off our hearts from other 
things, as the man that hath found the true treasure, Mat. xiii. 44, 
For joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that 

I observe a double joy in Abraham 

1. In desiring, He rejoiced to see my day. The spiritual desires 
of God s people after Christ are full of joy. There is a joy that accom- 
panieth seeking before we attain what we seek after : Ps. cv. 3, Let 
the hearts of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Before complacential 
joy there is a seeking joy. Better be a seeker than a wanderer, and 
delight in Christ keepeth up this seeking. 

2. There is a joy after faith hath given some satisfaction. First, 
r)<ya\\ido-aTo, he rejoiced ; and then, e %ap//,, he was glad. A man 
sick of a mortal disease, when he heareth of a famous physician, he 
desires to see him ; it is some contentment to a sick man to see him ; 
but when his cure is wrought, he much more rejoiceth. So when we 
feel the benefit in our own souls, it causes joy: Rom. v. 11, And not 
only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by 
whom we have now received the atonement/ 



Wlio against hope "believed in hope, that he might become the father of 
many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy 
seed be. And being not ivedk in faith, he considered not his own 
body now dead, lohen he icas about an hundred years old, neither 
yet the deadness of Sarah s womb : he staggered not at the pro 
mise of God through unbelief; but ivas strong in faith, giving 
glory to God ; and being fully persuaded that lohat he had 
promised he was able also to perform. KOM. iv. 18-21. 

WE are now come to handle the other branch of Abraham s faith. 
A believer hath but two works to do to open the eye of faith, and to 
shut that of sense. I shall speak of this latter now. This instance 
deserveth to be considered by us (1.) Because he is called once and 
again, The father of the faithful, ver. 11, 16, meaning thereby that 
his faith is the pattern according to which our faith is to be cut out, 
or the copy to be transcribed by us ; or, as the apostle s expression is, 
ver. 12, That we should walk in the steps of the faith of our father 
Abraham. (2.) Because this was great and grown faith. It is nega 
tively expressed, ver. 19, He was not weak in faith ; and affirmatively, 
ver. 20, That he was strong in faith, giving glory to God. 

Now in Abraham s faith we shall consider three things 

First, The ground of it. 

Secondly, The excellency and strength of it, set forth by four expres 

1. That he believed in hope against hope, ver. 18. 

2. That he considered not the difficulties, ver. 19, He considered 
not his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarah s womb. 

3. That he staggered not at the promise through unbelief, ver. 20. 

4. That he had a full persuasion of God s power, Being fully per 
suaded that what God had promised he was able to perform, ver. 21. 

Thirdly, The fruit and effect of it, an exact, ready, and self-denying 
obedience to God, not spoken of in the text, but to be supplied from 
other scriptures, especially in those two eminent acts of self-denial, his 
leaving his country, arid offering his son. Thus was Abraham s faith 
tried, by promises of things strange and incredible, and by commands 
of the hardest duties. 

First, The ground of his faith was the promise of God, as is often 
implied in the text ; for it is said, ver. 18, That he might become the 


father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall 
thy seed be ; and ver. 20, He staggered not at the promise of God ; 
and ver. 21, Being fully persuaded that what he had promised/ &c. 
There were many promises made to Abraham, but those to which the 
apostle alludeth are contained in Gen. xv., as appeareth by his dispute 
all along, and the comparing the two chapters. Now the promise was 
either general or particular. 

1. The general promise : Gen. xv. 1, I am thy shield, and thy 
exceeding great reward/ That God would take him into his pro 
tection, and abundantly reward his obedience. The like promise is 
made to all the faithful : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, The Lord God is a sun and a 
shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he 
withhold from them that walk uprightly. The only one and true 
God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will exercise all his wisdom, power, 
and goodness to protect us, and deliver us from all evil, and to give us 
all those blessings which are necessarily required to make us fully and 
eternally happy. He will be a shield to save us and protect us, either 
by way of prevention or removal of all evil, both temporal and spiri 
tual, and he will be a reward to give us all good things, yea, a great 
reward, yea, again an exceeding great reward/ which cannot come 
short of heaven s glory and eternal happiness, which is the aggregation 
of all blessings. It is implied also in the metaphor of being a sun to 
us. Here he is as a sun at its first rising, shining upon us with his 
morning beams of favour and compassion, which are very cherishing 
and comfortable ; but then our sun shall be in its meridian, when he 
shall directly, fully, and for ever shine upon the saints. 

2. The other promise was particular, and thus occasioned : When 
God had told Abraham that he would be his shield and exceeding 
great reward, he replied, Lord what wilt thou give me, seeing I go 
childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ? 
and again, Behold thou hast given to me no seed ; and lo, one born 
in my house is mine heir/ Gen. xv. 2, 3. These words of Abraham 
imply some diffidence, or conflict with unbelief, or a weakness of faith 
at least ; though they also may be conceived to represent his condition 
to God, and revive the remembrance of an old promise made to him 
some time before : Gen. xii. 3, In thee shall all the families of the 
earth be blessed. And they in effect speak to this sense : Lord, how 
can I take comfort in the promised reward, since I do not see the ful 
filling of thy promise touching my seed ? But now mark the Lord s 
reply : ver. 4, This shall not be thine heir, but he that shall come 
forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir ; that is, thou shalt 
have posterity, the promised seed shall at length come of thy loins. 
And then God led him forth : ver. 5, And he brought him forth abroad, 
and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able 
to number them. Ocular demonstration leaveth a stronger impression 
upon the mind : And he said unto him, So shall thy seed be ; upon 
this Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for 
righteousness/ ver. 6 ; that is, upon this he began to grow stronger in 
the faith, more and more overcoming the doubts of the flesh, and 
embracing the great promises which God had made him. He was a 
believer before, but now he commenceth a strong believer; this is 



that which is said, ver. 18, He believed in hope against hope, that he 
might become the father of many nations, according to that which 
was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 

Secondly, The excellency of his faith, in four expressions 
I. He believed in hope against hope. Abraham was still childless, 
and so remained for some years after this assurance from God, and in 
the course of nature he had little reason to expect a child ; but he 
hoped in the word of God, when according to the order of nature all 
hope of issue was cut off. We learn, then, that spiritual hope can 
take place when natural hope faileth ; as Abraham had a strong hope 
in God when all appearances seemed to forbid hope. Most men s faith 
is borne up by outward likelihoods and probabilities, and when they 
fail, their faith faileth ; they can trust God no further than they can 
see him ; but true faith dependeth upon him when his way is in the 
dark, and there is little appearance of the things we wait for ; as Paul 
could assure them not a man should be lost, when all hope that any 
should be saved was taken away, Acts xxvii. 20-22. I prove this 

1. From the genius and nature of faith. There must be some 
difficulty in the thing to be believed, or else it is not an object of 
faith : Kom. viii. 24, But hope that is seen is not hope ; for what a 
man seeth, why doth he yet hope for ? The nature of faith and hope 
is so that it is not of things presently enjoyed ; for vision and posses 
sion exclude hope, and what is easy and next at hand, it is as if it 
were already enjoyed ; therefore it is no trial of your faith to wait for 
probable things, and such as are within the view of sense or reason ; 
but to hope against hope, when God disappointeth our confidence, and 
seemeth to beat us off from believing, yet to adhere to him, this is the 
disposition of faith. 

2. From the warrant of faith, which is the word of God. Now we 
must believe God upon his bare word, though we know not what time 
or way he will take, or by what means the things promised may be 
accomplished. In things future and invisible, we believe against 
sense. To say with Thomas, Except I see, I will not believe/ John 
xx. 25, this maketh way for atheism. In things incredible we believe 
against reason : Heb. xi. 1, Faith is 6X67^09 T&V fir) f3\e7rofMevo)v, the 
evidence of things not seen ; provided they be revealed by God. We 
must not be false prophets to ourselves, and make promises which God 
never made ; that is to interest his glory in our vain conceits : Jer. iv. 
10, Ah, Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and 
Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace ; meaning the false prophets 
using his name. And it is a snare to ourselves ; we dream of deliver 
ance when God intendeth a further trial : 1 Thes. v. 3, For when 
they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon 
ihem, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. 
But when the promise is clear, then we must believe in hope against hope. 
Sense, nature, and human reason must not be heard against faith : 
Ps. xxvii. 3, Though war should rise against me, in this I will be con 
fident ; whatever the danger was, for he had a particular promise of 
coming to the throne. It must not be, saith sense : It cannot be, saith 
natural reason : It both can and will be, saith faith. Though what 
God had promised to do, do far exceed the power of nature, his word is 
enough to faith. 


But if we have no express promise, may we not believe in hope against 
hope ? 

Ans. If believing be meant only of a confidence in God s power, not 
determining the certainty of the event. Many times we are cast upon 
God s providence, all human refuge and help faileth, there is no pos 
sibility of escape ; yet God forbiddeth despair, and thus driveth us to 
himself : 2 Cor. i. 9, But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, 
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the 
dead. He means, when the furious multitude at Ephesus was let 
loose upon him for his adherence to his way : Ps. xliv. 19, 20, Though 
thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with 
the shadow of death, we have not forgotten the name of our God. We 
have sometimes that which is equivalent to a promise, even the usual 
practice of God : Deut. xxxii. 36, For the Lord will judge his people, 
and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth their power is gone, 
and there is none shut up or left ; Gen. xxii. 14, In the mount of the 
Lord it shall be seen. 

3. The object of faith, God all-sufficient. We must neither measure 
his goodness nor power by our scantling and module. Not his good 
ness : Isa. Iv. 8, 9, For my thoughts, are not your thoughts, neither 
are your ways my ways, saith the Lord ; but as the heavens are higher 
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts 
than your thoughts ; Hosea xi. 9, I will not execute the fierceness 
of mine anger, I will not return to destory Ephraim ; for I am God and 
not man. We sin as men, but he pardoneth like a God. Nor his 
power : Zech. viii. 6, If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant 
of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes ? 
saith the Lord of hosts. The promises then made seemed impossible 
or improbable to be performed ; for the Jews were a despicable remnant, 
and the times full of dangers and fears. Keason and probability is not 
our support, but faith, which looketh to God, to whom nothing is 
impossible. Nothing can be laid in opposition to his power, or can 
overbalance his promises. We are at a loss many times, but God 
is never at a loss. You would think that man ridiculous that should 
say an horse cannot carry him upon his back because a fly can 
not. It is more ridiculous to confine God to human likelihoods and 
probabilities. We cannot do this, therefore God cannot : Ps. Ixxviii. 
41, They limited the Holy One of Israel ; that is, straitened his 
power, as if their wants were so great God was not able to supply them ; 
or their miseries so grievous, that he were not able to remove them ; or 
their enemies so strong, that he were not able to vanquish them. If 
there be any difficulty in the case, it is the fitter for an almighty power. 
Certainly we have no strong faith, if any faith, when we cannot see the 
truth of God s promises, unless we see the possiblity of their accomplish 
ment by natural means. If it pass the power of the creature, we say, 
How can these things be? Alas! you do not know God s infinite 
power. Can you say, Thus far God can go and no further ; this much 
God can do, and no more ? 

II. He considered not the difficulties : ver. 19, And being not weak 
in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about 
an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah s womb. Here 


vre learn that we must not oppose natural impediments to the power 
and truth of God. Unbelief will stir up many objections, great reason 
ings within ourselves against the promise. To hearken to these is to 
tempt ourselves, and choke our own faith. As in other sins, to pore 
upon the temptation is to parley with the devil, and suffer the evil to 
fasten itself upon our spirits ; so, in point of believing, Abraham con 
sidered not how dead and unmeet he and his wife were as to pro- 

First, I shall examine how we are, or are not to consider difficulties. 

1. In some sense it is our duty to consider them, that we may not 
go about the most serious work hand-over-head. Christ bids us sit 
down and count the charges : Luke xiv. 28, For which of you, 
intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the 
cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it ? The saints are wont to 
put hard cases to themselves : Ps. iii. 6, I will not be afraid of ten 
thousand of people that have set themselves against me round about ; 
and Ps. xxiii. 4, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow 
of death, I will fear no evil/ 

2. Therefore the ends must be observed. We must consider them 
to prevent slightness, and to weaken our security, but not to weaken 
-our confidence in the promise. When they are urged against the 
promise, they impeach the truth of God ; but when we consider them 
to prevent slightness, it is good. The difficulties of salvation must be 
sufficiently understood, otherwise we think to do the work of an age in 
a breath : Luke xiii. 24, Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many 
I say unto you will seek to enter in, and shall not be able ; Josh. xxiv. 
19, And Joshua said unto the peoples, Ye cannot serve the Lord; for 
he is a holy God. It is not so easy a matter as you take it to be. 

3. Difficulties must be thought on to quicken faith, not to weaken 
it. If they be pleaded against the promise, they weaken faith ; if they 
be pleaded to drive us to the promise, they quicken faith. What 
greater arguments are there to press us to dependence than to consider 
our impotency, the looseness of our hearts, and the strength of tempta 
tions ? 2 Chron. xx. 12, For we have no might against this great 
company that cometh against us, neither know we what to do, but our 
eyes are unto thee. But to plead against the promise is to consult 
with the wisdom of the flesh, and it hath ever fared ill with the saints : 
Luke i. 18, And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know 
this ? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 
Therefore for a while he was struck dumb. So Moses : Num. xx. 12, 
* Hear now, ye rebels ; must we fetch you water out of the rock ? God 
had bidden him smite the rock, and assured him the water should flow ; 
but he pleadeth the natural impossibility, therefore he was shut out of 
Canaan. So that nobleman, 2 Kings vii. 2, Then a lord on whose 
hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if 
the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And 
he said, Behold thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat 
thereof. But he that will not believe the truth of a promise, shall not 
partake of the benefit of it. Well, then, as Abraham regarded not 
the great difficulties that might be pleaded to his faith from his own 
.and his wife s age, so must not we. 


Secondly, I shall show you the inconveniences of this sinful con 
sidering the difficulties in all the parts of faith, assent, consent, and 

1. As to assent. There are many difficulties which may be objected 
against the truths propounded in the word ; but it is enough to a 
believer that God hath revealed them in his word, and propounded 
them to his faith. Reason is apt to reply, as Nicodemus, when Christ 
spake to him of regeneration : John iii. 9, How can these things be ? 
Carnal reason keepeth men from simple believing, or resting on what 
is revealed, till they see a reason for everything. Now we see a reason 
why we do believe, and that is the word of God or divine revelation, 
though we do not see a reason of everything which we do believe, for 
many things are mysteries. In such cases we must receive truths as 
we do pills, not chew, but swallow them, take them upon the credit of 
the revealer. To chew produceth a loathsome ejection ; to swallow a 
wholesome remedy. Believing in the common notion of it is a receiving; 
of truths upon trust from another, so it differeth from knowing ; and 
divine faith is a receiving such things as God hath revealed, because 
he hath revealed them. Therefore our first inquiry is, whether these 
things be so or no ? Not, how they can be so ? There we begin at 
the wrong end. In many cases, constat de re ; the thing is evident in 
scripture whereby it is revealed, but how it can be is beyond our reach ; 
the modus is not certain. Now, when we should believe, we dispute, 
and so cavil rather than inquire. If it be not plainly revealed by God, 
you may reject it without sin and danger ; but if it be, you must not 
contradict all that you cannot comprehend, otherwise dangerous mis 
chiefs will ensue. The true God will be no God to you, because you 
cannot comprehend the trinity of persons in the unity of the divine 
essence. Christ will be no Christ, because you cannot comprehend how 
a virgin should conceive, or how a God should become man. It is 
sufficient that it is revealed in scripture, which carrieth its own evidence 
in its forehead, shining by its own light, hath the seal and stamp of God 
upon it ; and moreover is confirmed by miracles, and handed and 
brought down to us by the universal tradition of the church through 
the successions of all ages, in whose experience God hath blessed it to the 
converting, comforting, and sanctifying of many souls. In short, to see 
a thing in its evidence is not to believe, but to receive it on the credit 
of the testifier. If you will not credit it unless the thing be evident 
in itself without his word, you do not believe Christ, but your own 
reason ; and instead of being thankful for the revelation, you quarrel 
with his truth, because it is in some things above your capacity. You 
should be satisfied with the bare word of God, and captivate your 
understandings to the obedience of it. 

2. As to consent and acceptance. There are many things may be 
objected against entering into covenant with Christ, as our unworthi- 
ness, the fickleness and looseness of our hearts ; how unable we are to 
keep covenant with him ; but these things must not be alleged against 
our duty and the free offers of the Lord s grace. 

[1.] Our great unworthiness. This is one reason why the instance 
of Abraham is produced by Paul as a pattern of faith to the gentiles. 
As Abraham considered not his natural incapacity to have children, 


so they not their unworthiness to be adopted into God s covenant. 
The gentiles were not a people unto God, but were overlooked in the 
dispensations of his grace ; but, Hosea ii. 23, c I will have mercy 
upon her that had not obtained mercy ; and I will say unto them that 
were not my people, Thou art my people, and they shall say, Thou art 
my God. Our condition is not so desperate that the mercy of the new 
covenant cannot reach us and recover us. So for particular Christians, 
they exclude and repel comfort, because they are so vile and unworthy 
and suqh sinners. If you be such a sinner, the more need of a saviour. 
You would laugh at him that would argue thus : I am too cold to go 
to the fire, too sick to send for the physician, too poor to take alms, too 
filthy to go to the water to be washed. You must not consider what 
you have been, but what you would be. Christ doth not invite us 
because we are holy, but that we may be holy. The objection were of 
weight if we did only advise you to be eased of your smart, but not to 
be rid of your burden ; if this consent were only a claim of privileges, 
and not an obligation to duties, or a submission to Christ s healing 
methods. Celsus objected against Christianity, that it was a sanctuary 
for naughty persons and men of a licentious life. Origen answereth him 
that it was not a sanctuary to shelter them only, but an hospital to cure 
them. It is not the worthy are invited, but the thirsty and the needy ; 
you are unworthy to the very last, but are you hungry ? You are un 
worthy to receive Christ, but God is worthy to be obeyed. It is not a 
matter of privilege only, but duty. 

[2.] Your hearts are so loose and changeable, you are afraid to bind 
yourselves to God. The truth is, this consent implieth a delivery over 
of yourselves to Christ, to seek happiness in the way that he hath ap 
pointed ; it is the first egress of the soul towards the execution of the 
duty of a Christian, our entry into the practice of the holy life, and an 
entry withal into a resolved war with the devil, the world, and the flesh, 
who will resist us herein ; and you must consider difficulties so as to 
fortify your resolution : Mat. xvi. 24, If any man will come after me, 
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. He will 
surprise no man : Mat. xx. 22, Are ye able to drink of the cup that I 
drink of ? and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized 
with ? And not to consider is to discourage your consent. 

Object. You will say you cannot do it by your own strength, and you 
are uncertain of God s assistance. 

Ans. Do not foretell the event, but charge yourselves with your duty. 
It is your duty to engage your hearts to God, though you cannot lay 
wagers upon your own strength. You must resolve, but continually 
depend upon Christ for the performing of your resolutions. He will 
maintain you in your way to heaven : 2 Tim. i. 12, For I know in 
whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that 
which I have committed unto him against that day. In a sense of 
your own insufficiency and deceitfulness of heart, you must still rely 
upon his grace and spirit, who hath made many promises to support 
and to keep you by his power, through faith unto salvation. 

3. For affiance in the great promise of the gospel, or offer of pardon 
and life by Christ. There seemeth to be an impossibility to sense ami 
reason from first to last. If the difficulties of salvation were suffi- 


ciently understood, we should see, from the beginning to the end, from 
the first step to its last period in everlasting glory, it is the mere 
grace and power of God that carrieth it on, in despite of men and devils ; 
and therefore it is said, Eph. i. 19, And what is the exceeding great 
ness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of 
his mighty power ? As for instance, the reconciling of a guilty soul 
to God : Eph. ii. 3, Among whom also we had our conversation in 
time past, in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and 
of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as others. The 
changing of a naughty and obstinate heart : Jer. xvii. 9, The heart is 
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked : who can know it ? 
And the giving us an holy nature and life : Job xiv. 4, Who can 
bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one. Or to quicken us 
that were dead in trespasses and sins : Eph. ii. 1, You also hath he 
quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. To strengthen a 
feeble and weak creature : 2 Cor. iii. 5, Not that we are sufficient of 
ourselves, to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of 
God. That things meet with so much opposition by the way : Eph. 
vi. 12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against princi 
palities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, 
against spiritual wickedness in high places. What can maintain us in 
the midst of so many temptations ? We at length die and rot in the 
grave as others do ; now the raising of our bodies after it is eaten by 
worms and turned to dust is a thing incredible, and to flesh and blood 
wholly impossible ; it is wholly within the reach of God s power. Now 
since we have ground to hope for all this from the word of God, even 
to pardon our many sins : Isa. Iv. 7, Let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the 
Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will 
abundantly pardon ; to change this sinful nature, that we may become 
an holy people to God : Titus iii. 5, Not by works of righteousness 
which we have done, but according to his mercy he sfiveth us, by the 
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost ; to over 
come our obstinacy, perverseness in evil, fickleness in good ; to main 
tain grace in the midst of temptations : Jude 24, To him that is able 
to keep you from falling ; and finally to raise us up out of the grave, 
we must not consider and plead the difficulties to damp faith, but to 
quicken it, going on with our duty, and wait for his salvation. 

III. He staggered not at the promise through unbelief/ Strong 
faith is so satisfied with God s promise, that it leaveth no place for con 
siderable doubtings ; as Abraham here admitted no doubts or ques 
tionings touching the promise of God, but, without disputing or argu 
ing to the contrary, depended fully upon the Lord, being persuaded lie 
could do what he had promised. There are two reasons hereof the 
immutability of his nature : Heb. vi. 18, That by two immutable 
things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong 
consolation ; and his tenderness of his word : Ps. cxxxviii. 2, For 
thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Both these breed 
this assured persuasion of God s faithfulness and steadfastness, and 
make his promise the great prop and support of faith. Now this 
staggering or not staggering at the promise, and so the weakness and 
strength of our faith, may refer to three acts or parts of faith 


1. A strong assent or clear sight of the evidence of the truth. If 
we have the word and promise of God, we should believe anything as 
surely as if we had the greatest evidence in the world. Thus some of 
the disciples doubted of the truth of Christ s resurrection : Mat. xxviii. 
27, And when they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted ; 
Luke xxiv. 21, But we trusted that it had been he which should have 
redeemed Israel. This argueth a weak faith, not vigorous and active ; 
but faith is strong as it overcomes our speculative doubts, and so doth 
settle and establish our souls in the truth : Acts ii. 36, Let all the 
house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, 
whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 

2. There is a doubting or staggering, as faith is a consent ; when 
the consent is weak and wavering, faith is weak : Heb. x. 23, Let us 
hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faith 
ful that promised. But such a confirmed resolution as leaveth no room 
for wavering and looking back argueth a strong faith : Acts xxi. 13, 
Then Paul answered, What ! mean ye to weep and to break my heart ? 
for I am ready not to be bound only, but to die at Jerusalem for the 
name of the Lord Jesus. 

3. As faith implieth a dependence and trust : James i. 6-8, But 
let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ; for he that wavereth is like a 
wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed ; for let not that man 
think that he shall receive anything of the Lord: a double-minded 
man is unstable in all his ways. Divided between God and other con 
fidences : 1 Tim. ii. 8, I will therefore that men pray everywhere, 
lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting ; Mat. xiv. 31, O 
thou of little faith ! why didst thou doubt ? Well, then, it is a strong 
faith that causeth such a fortitude, that we pass through all difficulties 
and trials without distrust or anxiety of mind. It is opposite to faint 
ing : Ps. xxvii. 13, I had fainted unless I had believed to see the good 
ness of the Lord in the land of the living. To fears and troubles : 
Mat. viii. 26, Why are ye fearful ? ye of little faith ! Strength of 
assent doth exclude speculative donbts and errors ; strength of resolu 
tion doth fortify us against worldly temptations, which beget uncer 
tainty ; temptations of profit, pleasure, or vainglory, if the heart be 
secretly biassed with these, it is opposite to faith : John v. 44, How 
can ye believe, which receive honour one of another ? And strength 
of confidence doth exclude those doubts which arise from fears of dan 
ger and terrors of sense ; in such cases we dispute away the comfort of 
the promises. 

IV. He was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was 
able also to perform/ A strong, steady, and full persuasion of the power 
of God argueth a great faith. 

1. There is no doubt of his will when we have his promise ; but the 
ability of the promiser is that which is usually questioned. Unbelief 
stumbleth at his can : Can God furnish a table in the wilderness ? 
Ps. Ixxviii. 19 ; and, How can these things be ? Luke i. 34. So 2 
Kings vii. 2, If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might this 
thing be? Nay; and the children of God themselves. Sarah was 
rebuked when she laughed: Gen. xviii. 12-14, Therefore Sarah, 
laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have 
pleasure, my lord being old also ? And the Lord said unto Abraham, 


Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, 
which am old ? Is anything too hard for the Lord ? Her laughter 
was not the laughter of exultation, but dubitation. Moses : Num. xi. 
13, Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ? for they 
weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh that we may eat. The case is 
clear ; we doubt not but in case of danger, then we are full of fears and 
suspicions ; if of his will, it is because we are so vile and unworthy ; 
but we are vile and unworthy out of danger as well as in danger, there 
fore it is of his power. 

2. God s power and all-sufficiency is to the saints the great support 
of faith in their greatest extremities. They are relieved by fixing 
their eye on God s almightiness ; as Abraham here. So Heb. xi. 19, 
\oyi<rdjj,6vo<;, Accounting that God was able to raise him up even from 
the dead. So for perseverance : Jude 24, Now unto him that is 
able to keep you from falling. And for the resurrection : Phil. iii. 21, 
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto 
his glorious bodj r , according to the working whereby he is able to sub 
due all things to himself. His power reacheth to the grave and beyond 
the grave. So for the calling the Jews : Rom. xi. 23, And they also, 
if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in ; for God is able 
to graft them in again. In short, to question his power is to put him 
out of the throne, to deny him to be God, as if he were not able to help 
bis friends, and to be a terror to his enemies. Well, then, in matters 
absolutely promised we have nothing to do but to exalt his power ; 
therefore you may reason thus : He will do it, for he is able to do it : 
Eom. ii. 23, They shall be grafted in, for God is able to graft them 
in again. In matters conditionally promised we must magnify his 
power, and refer the event to his will : Mat. viii. 2, Lord, if thou wilt, 
thou canst make me clean. 

3. There are two things enlarge our thoughts and apprehensions 
about the power of God ; they are mentioned ver. 17, Whom he 
believed, even God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things 
that be not as though they were. We have to do with a God that 
can say to the dead, Live. God s power can bring life out of death, 
something out of nothing ; resurrection and creation are easy to him. 
He that can quicken the dead can quicken those that are dead in tres 
passes and sins. By the word of his power he maketh all things to be 
that are not ; Let there be light, and there was light ; Lazarus, come 
forth, and he came forth. He causeth things to appear and exist that 
had no being before. 

Thirdly, The fruit and effect of his faith ; an exact and constant 
obedience : Isa. xli. 2, Who raised up the righteous man from the 
east, and called him to his foot. The righteous man is supposed to be 
Abraham, often designed by that character ; and he was called to his 
foot, to go to and fro at God s command ; as the centurion said, Mat. 
viii. 9, I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I 
say to this man, Go, and he goeth ; and to another, Come, and he 
cometh ; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. There are two 
great instances of Abraham s obedience 

1. His self-denial in leaving his country: Heb. xi. 8, By faith 
Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should 

SEliMON UPON ROMANS IV. 18-21 189 

after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out not knowing 
whither he went. It was a sore trial to forsake kindred, friends, lands, 
father s house and inheritance, and to seek an abode he knew not where. 
Such a total resignation there must be of ourselves to the will of God. 
This was done by him, and must be done by all that will be saved. 
We know where the land of promise is, and the way to it, but it lieth 
in an unknown world. 

2. Another trial was, Heb. xi. 17, 18, By faith Abraham, when he 
was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received the promise 
offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac 
shall thy seed be called. Because God would make Abraham an 
example of faith to all future generations, therefore he puts him to 
this trial, to see whether he loved his Isaac more than God. Now 
Abraham gave him up wholly to God s disposal, even Isaac, on whom 
the promise was settled; being assured of God power, he made all 
things ready for the sacrifice. 

Use. Let us get such a faith, even such a sincere, hearty, giving up 
ourselves to Christ, firmly to rely upon the promises, and faithfully to 
obey all his commands delivered in the gospel. The gospel is a sum 
mary of what we are to believe and do: Ps. cxix. 166, 1 have hoped 
for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. Stick to this what 
ever trial is made of you, and you have the faith of Abraham. 



And Jesus looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for 
the hardness of their hearts. MARK iii. 5. 

IN the first verse of this chapter we read that there was a rnan which 
had a withered hand, who came to Jesus for relief on the sabbath-day. 
Here was a fair occasion offered to the pharisees to display their malice. 
The sabbath was of high esteem and veneration among the Jews, and 
therefore now they thought by this means to blast the repute of Christ 
among the people. In case he should heal on the sabbath-day, their 
noise and clamour against him might seem to be justified ; therefore 
it is said, They watched him whether he would heal on the sabbath- 
day/ ver. 2. But Christ is not daunted ; he goeth on with his work 
for all their prejudices ; nay, to make the miracle more manifest, he 
biddeth him stand forth, ver. 3. However, to satisfy the people, he 
disputeth with them ; they themselves would do more to a beast than 
he was requested to do to the man with a withered hand : ver. 4, He 
saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath-day, or to do 
evil ? to save life, or to kill ? In Mat. xii. 10, it is said they pro 
pounded the question to him ; and in the llth verse, by way of answer, 
he maketh use of an argument from a beast fallen into a pit : He said 
unto them, What man shall there be among you that shall have one 
sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath-day, will he not lay hold 
on it and lift it out ? But they held their peace. They could reply 
nothing by way of answer and sufficient confutation, and they would 
reply nothing by way of approbation and consent. At their malicious 
silence Christ is both angered and grieved. There is an excellent temper 
and mixture in his affections. In Christ s anger there is more of com 
passion than of passion ; he knew how to distinguish between the man 
and the sin, and to manifest his displeasure and grief at the same time. 
The cause of both is assigned in the text, for the hardness of their 
hearts/ eVt rf} TTfopcaaet Tr)s /capSto.9 ai/row/. He was softened for their 

The point which I mean to handle is the grievousness of the sin of 
hardness of heart. Christ was grieved with it in the pharisees, and 
there is not a greater cause of offence to his Spirit. 


Doct. That hardness of heart is a grievous sin, very offensive and 
provoking to Jesus Christ. 

I shall (1.) Open the terms ; (2.) Show you the nature of this evil 
frame of heart ; (3.) The kinds of it ; (4.) The causes of it ; (5.) The 
heinousness of it; (6.) Some observations concerning this spiritual 

I. For the terms by which it is expressed, they are two, Heart, and 

1. Heart. This hardness is sometimes ascribed to the neck; as 
Prov. xxix. 1, i He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall 
suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. And then it is a 
metaphor taken from refractory oxen, that will not endure the yoke ; 
and so it noteth disobedience. Sometimes to the face ; as Jer. iii. 5, 
They have made their faces harder than a rock ; and so it noteth 
impudence ; they can no more blush than a rock or stone. But most 
usually it is ascribed to the heart, as in the text. So Ezek. iii. 7, The 
house of Israel will not hearken to thee, for they will not hearken to 
me ; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard-hearted; and 
so it noteth obstinacy. All go together, an hard heart, an hard neck, 
and an hard face. Men are first disobedient, then obstinate, then 
impudent. But it is the heart that we are to consider, which naturally, 
and in its first sense, signifieth a piece of flesh in the body, which is the 
chief seat and shop of life ; but morally and metaphorically it signifieth 
the soul : 1 Sam. xii. 20, Serve the Lord with all your heart ; that 
is, with all your soul. Now in the soul there are many faculties the 
mind, the conscience, the memory, the will and affections ; and they are 
all expressed by this term Heart. The mind is called heart : Rom. 
i. 21, Their foolish heart was darkened; that is, their mind. The 
conscience : 1 Sam. xxiv. 5, David s heart smote him ; that is, his 
conscience. The memory : Phil. i. 7, I have you in my heart ; 
that is, I am mindful of you. But usually it signifieth the will and 
affections ; as Mat. xxii. 37, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart. And this is the faculty in which this disease is seated. 
Blindness is incident to the mind, searedness and benumbedness to 
the conscience, slipperiness to the memory, deadness to the affections ; 
but hardness is incident to the will, that part of the soul by which we 
choose and refuse good or evil. 

2. Hardness. It is expressed by different terms in scripture ; 
sometimes by TTW/JCOO-I? 7779 ttapbfo}, as in the text, and Eph. iv. 18, 
which noteth a callous, brawny, insensible hardness, such as is in the 
labourer s hand or the traveller s heel ; sometimes by oveX^po/eapSt a, 
or cr/eA,7?/jft)T?79 Trjs /capita?, so it is a metaphor taken from dry bodies, 
when the parts are more condensed, and so more impenetrable. Duri- 
ties est qualitas, densas et bene compactas habens paries, difficulter 
cedens tactui. It doth not easily yield to any impressions from with 
out. So it is set forth by the hardness of the adamant : Zech. vii. 12, 
They made their hearts as an adamant stone/ They can no more be 
wrought upon to receive any impression of grace and reformation than 
the diamond or flint or hardest rock can be engraved or fashioned to 
any form by the tool of the artificer. 

II. I must open the nature of it. The hardness of heart discovereth 


itself by two properties : it is Ktjp avcucrdrjTov ical CIKIWIJTOV, an insensible 
heart, and an inflexible heart. 

1. An insensible heart, as a brawny substance or callous piece of 
flesh, like the labourer s hand and traveller s heel. This the apostle 
intimateth, Eph. iv. 18, 19, Having the understanding darkened, 
being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in 
them, because of the blindness of their heart : who being past feeling, 
&c. In one verse he chargeth them with hardness of heart, and in 
the first words of the next verse with loss of feeling. Feeling, of all 
senses, though it be not the most noble, yet it is the most necessary ; 
there is no life without it ; it is diffused throughout the whole body ; 
and in what member soever it is lost, there is no more intercourse of 
vital and animal spirits ; and where it is totally lost, there is no more 
life. There may be life when other senses are wanting ; a man may 
be deaf and yet live, blind and yet live ; but if he utterly lose his 
feeling, he cannot live. Such a dead senseless heart is the hard heart, 
as appeareth in the wicked by that great security, ease, and quiet 
which they naturally have, though lying under the guilt of many and 
grievous sins ; and though they be obnoxious to the wrath of God, yet 
they are never troubled nor affected with any sense of their condition ; 
they can sin freely in thought, foully in act, without any remorse and 
shame. Ab assuetis non fit passio. Men are not moved by such 
things as they are much used to. As they that live by the fall of 
great waters sleep quietly because they are accustomed to the noise, so 
men that are accustomed to sin can swear, and be drunk, and commit 
filthiness, or go on in some other trade of wickedness, and are never 
troubled. Mithridates through the custom of drinking poison made 
it so familiar to him that he drank it without danger. Elementa non 
gravitant in suis locis Elements weigh not in their proper place. A 
fish in the water feeleth no weight ; sin is not burdensome to wicked 
men, it is in its own place. This insensibleness is the greater where men 
will not be awakened out of their lethargic fit by all the means which 
God useth to them, by the threatenings of his word, or the judgments 
of his providence. There is a method in God s dispensations ; he 
threateneth that he may not punish, and punisheth now that he may 
not punish for ever. Now the children of God are startled at the 
threatenings, and tremble when they see a storm in the clouds before 
it falleth ; as Josiah had a tender heart, and melted at the threatening, 
2 Chron. xxxiv. 27. And they are said to tremble at the word, Isa. 
Ixvi. 2, and Ezra ix. 4. But wicked men think this is a vain scare 
crow ; and though they are most obnoxious to the judgment and wrath 
of God, yet they have no sense and tender feeling of it-; therefore God 
goeth on to his second dispensation ; he punisheth now that he may 
not punish for ever. As Absalom set Joab s barley-field on fire that 
lie might draw him to come and speak with him, so God seeketh to 
make men serious, to bring them to the throne of grace, and sue out 
their pardon, by many temporal judgments. But still wicked men start 
aside, and will not turn to him that smiteth them : Jer. v. 3, Thou 
hast stricken them, but they have not grieved ; thou hast consumed 
them, but they have refused to receive correction. As the anvil is 
smoothed into hardness by many blows and strokes, so are men more 



insensible of their condition, and will, not regard the meaning of God s 
providences. Well, then, a hard heart is insensible of what they have 
done against God, or what God hath or may do to them. And so far 
as we lose our sense and tenderness, so far is the heart hardened. 

2. It is an inflexible heart ; it is not easily bent to God s purpose ; 
say he what he will, men are as light, as vain, as mindless of heavenly 
things, as basely wedded to the delights of the flesh as ever, and obstin 
ately, and against all means to the contrary, refuse the counsel of God 
for their good. Though God hath the highest reasons on his side, and 
great variety of powerful and alluring motives to gain souls to his 
obedience, and these represented not only to the ear by his messengers, 
but to the heart by his Spirit, yet men are so addicted to their own 
wills and lusts, that they will not suffer themselves to be persuaded by 
him to accept of his offers and rich mercies in Christ ; they will not 
obey the sweet directions of his word, nor regard the motions and 
strivings of his Spirit, to let their beloved lusts go, and comply with 
the will of God. 

[1.] They are inflexible to the counsels of his word, where God 
interposeth in the way of the highest authority, straitly charging and 
commanding us under pain of his displeasure, and reasoneth with us 
in the most potent and strong way of argumentation, from the excel 
lency of his commands, and their suitableness to us as we are reasonable 
creatures ; from his great love in Christ, whom he hath given to die for 
us ; from the danger if we refuse him, which is no less than everlasting 
torment ; from the benefit and happiness of complying with his motions, 
which is no less than eternal and complete blessedness both for our 
bodies and souls ; and all is bound upon us by a strict impartial 
day of accounts, when we are to answer for our neglects, or else to 
receive the reward of our diligence. But alas ! the hard heart de- 
feateth the end of this whole contrivance. Neither the awe of God s 
authority, nor the reasonableness of his commands, nor the wonderful 
love of Christ, nor the joys of heaven, nor the horrors of everlasting 
darkness, nor the strictness of the last day s account, will work man to 
a sense of his duty, or gain him to make serious preparation for his 
own happiness and everlasting salvation. Out of what rock was the 
heart of man hewn ? What will work upon you if this doctrine, upon 
which God hath laid out all the riches of his wisdom and grace, will 
not work upon you ? Hath God another Son to die for you ? a better 
heaven to bestow upon you ? or an hotter hell to scare you withal ? 
Would you have the day of judgment more exact and severe ? or 
greater obligations to all holiness and godliness of conversation than 
those already propounded ? or more charms and persuasiveness added 
to the gospel ? Oh, no ! that cannot be. Infinite wisdom hath already 
stated these things. Or would you have God save you against your 
wills ? or thrust these things upon you without your consent? Surely 
it is obstinacy, plain obstinacy and hardness of heart, that maketh you 
stand out against God: Ps. Iviii. 4, 5, They are like the deaf adder 
that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, 
charming never so wisely. So Mat. xi. 17, We have piped unto you 
and ye have not danced ; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not 
lamented/ The sweetest strains of grace move not the obstinate sinner. 


If an angel come from heaven, he cannot bring you hetter arguments, 
for the gospel is the wisdom of God/ 1 Cor. i. 24. If one came from 
the dead, lie cannot present you with more powerful motives : Luke 
xvi. 31, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be 
persuaded though one rose from the dead. Oh ! why will you not be 
persuaded ? You do in effect say, Let God do or say what he will, 
he shall not have my heart. Well, then, this unteachableness and 
unpersuadableness is another property of hardness of heart ; and slow 
ness of heart and backwardness to God s work is a degree to it. 

[2.] It is inflexible to the motions of God s Spirit. God doth not 
only invite sinners by the word, but knocketh at their hearts by 
the pressing motions and impulsions of his grace, and yet they do 
not open to him to give him entrance. How often have we eluded the 
importunity of many warm convictions, and baffled many pangs and 
checks of conscience ! Acts vii. 51, Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised 
in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. Their ears are 
said to be uncircumcised, as they do resist the counsels of the word ; 
and their hearts, as they do resist the motions of the Spirit, who enforceth 
truths with a clearer light and conviction upon their hearts. There are 
many importunate motions and convictions which they slight and oppose. 
An hard heart goeth to hell with violence ; the word standeth in the 
way, and the Spirit standeth in the way ; but still they break through, 
and so their condemnation is more just ; as the prophet said, Isa. vii. 
13, Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but ye will weary my 
God also ? Wicked men do not only grieve God s ministers and 
messengers, but his Spirit, in refusing to accept his gracious offers. 
The crime would be less if the counsel of the messengers were not 
enforced by the motions and inspirations of the Holy Ghost. God is 
not behindhand with a sinner. If the words of men offer occasion of 
suspicion and prejudice, yet these inward checks and excitements in 
their own bosoms to be more serious and diligent carry their own 
evidence with them ; and upon such a close application we should be 
ashamed to give God the denial. But they resist all inward and out 
ward means of reformation ; they resist the Spirit as well as despise 
the minister. But can the Spirit be resisted ? Certainly no, when he 
worketh according to an eternal purpose of grace ; for God never made 
a creature too hard for himself. Yea, it is said even of wicked men, 
Acts vi. 10, They were not able to resist the wisdom and Spirit by 
which he spake. The meaning is, they could not hinder his workings, 
though they thwarted his motions ; the light was so clear that they 
could not hinder the shining of it, nor contradict it, but out of obstinate 
malice. But how are they said to resist the Holy Ghost ? We had 
need to vindicate the place, because it is usually urged against the 
efficacy of divine grace. The operation of the Spirit is not irresistible, 
say they, for the Jews did always resist it. We may grant the whole. 
Wicked men of an hard heart may resist the common operations of the 
Spirit, his light and his motions, but the opposition of the elect is over 
powered by the efficacy of grace. There is a spirit of resistance in us, 
but the stronger operation of the Holy Ghost maketh it to give place ; 
we may kick against the pricks till the soul be awakened, and then 
God hath us at his own beck. Though the grace of conversion be not 


common to elect and reprobate, yet the grace that tendeth to conversion 
is common,- and this may be resisted. God may knock at the heart 
that is never opened to him ; they may have excitements, but alas ! 
they are as the rock or adamant to the tool. There is no impression 
left upon them. Object. But if God will use a fainter operation, why 
are they to blame ? I answer God is not bound, but they are bound 
to prepare their hearts to receive his motions ; let them prove God a 
debtor, and they may excuse themselves for their disobedience. 

III. The kinds of hardness. These will be known by these dis 

1. The first distinction is, that hardness of heart is either (1.) 
Natural ; or (2.) Voluntary and acquired; or (3.) Penal and judicial. 

[1.] Natural hardness of heart is a part of inbred corruption, which 
remaineth with us till God take it away by grace : Ezek. xi. 19, I 
will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and I will give them 
an heart of flesh. The stone in the heart is a disease that all Adam s 
posterity are subject unto ; it runs in the blood. It is not incident to 
Nabals only, or such as he was, men of a churlish and crabbed temper. 
No ; all men are sick, and most men die of this disease. We brought 
with us into the world a strong bent to carnal things, and by con 
sequence an averseness from God ; and it is a mighty work of grace if 
we do not carry it with us out of the world. When Nabal died, his 
heart was as a stone, and so might yours. 

[2.] Acquired and voluntary, when men do wittingly and willingly 
reject the counsel of God, and strengthen themselves in their natural 
disobedience and obstinacy ; or being invited to faith and repentance 
by God, out of love to sin resist God s call, and put away che word 
from them, and refuse to obey : Ps. xcv. 8, Harden not your hearts. 
It is our own act. And 2 Kings xvii. 14, They would not hear, but 
hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers. This increaseth 
our natural hardness, and maketh it grow more and more, till it be 
stiffened and settled in an aversion to God ; as a crooked stick or twig 
by growing becometh more difficult to be made straight. By every 
act of sin we lessen our awe of God ; and having ventured once, grow 
more bold to sin a second time. Men when they first put forth to sea 
are very fearful, but afterwards laugh at storms; so when a man 
cometh off safe from sin, he will venture again. By every act of 
disobedience our incapacity to receive grace is increased, and our 
inclination to carnal vanities is strengthened ; by frequent acts we are 
confirmed in the habit. But nothing increaseth this voluntary hard 
ness so much as refusing grace ; as no water is so apt to freeze as that 
that hath been once heated. God is provoked when we refuse his grace 
upon a closer application, and the heart is encouraged to continue in 
sin. So that by their carelessness and delay men are hardening by 
degrees. Every call defeated addeth one degree of hardness more; 
and so God is more apt to desert us and forsake us. 

[3.] Penal and judicial hardness. This adds to voluntary hardness, 
as voluntary hardness implies something above natural. Man, as 
naturally hardened, doth not turn to God ; as judicially hardened, he 
cannot. There is a great impossibility he should. This is God s act ; 
he hardeneth as a just judge, not by infusing evil, but withdrawing 


grace. In scripture God is said to harden two ways (1.) By leaving 
some in their natural hardness : Bora. ix. 18, Therefore hath he mercy 
on whom he will have mercy ; and whom he will, he hardeneth. So 
it is an act of dominion ; he passeth them by. He may do it justly ; 
he is Lord of his own grace, and is not bound to save sinners. This 
is not an act of justice, but dominion. God doth not act as a judge, 
but as a Lord ; it is matter of favour to soften, not right. (2.) By 
giving up others to a reprobate sense, which is a penal and judiciary 
act : Acts xxviii. 26, 27, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not under 
stand ; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive : for the heart of 
this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their 
eyes have they closed/ &c. There is consideration had of man s sin 
and foregoing provocations. God punisheth them by their own sin. 
Men first harden themselves ; they go beforepecccmcfo, by sinning ; then 
God cometh after judicando, by inflicting this judgment of hardness of 
heart on them. They harden themselves, and God leaveth them under 
their hardness. As Jeroboam stretcheth out his arm against the 
prophet and then God layeth a judgment upon him, that he could not 
pull it in again to him, 1 Kings xiii. 4, so men hardening themselves, 
God layeth this judgment upon them, that they shall not return to any 

2. The next distinction is, that hardness of heart is either total or 
partial. Some are in the state of hardness, others complain of it as 
their present frame. There is a difference between hardness of heart 
and an hard heart. Some hardness of heart is in God s children : 
Mark vi. 52, They considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their 
heart was hardened ; and Mark xvi. 14, He upbraided them for 
their unbelief and hardness of heart. Original hardness of heart is 
not altogether taken away by grace. Much of the heart of stone, or old 
averseness from God and holy things, remaineth with God s children ; 
but yet they are not wholly insensible, and wholly inflexible to God s 
purpose ; their hearts are bent to his testimonies, though ever and 
unon they are apt to fall back to the old bias. Therefore David 
prayeth, Ps. cxix. 36, Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not 
to covetousness. The children of God do often complain of deadness 
and unaptness for holy things ; yet there is not in them that obstinacy, 
impenitency, and hardness of heart, that is in the wicked : Rom. ii. 5, 
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thy 
self wrath against the day of wrath. In the one it is bemoaned, in 
the other not ; in the one it ariseth from negligence and drowsiness, in 
the other from flat disobedience and enmity to God. When God s 
children give too free a contentment and license to the flesh, they have 
not that sense, that liveliness in prayer, that readiness to obey, that 
delight in the word, as at other times ; but the other are contemptuous 
and scornful, and do not set their hearts this way, to please God or 
enjoy his favour. In the wicked there is a careless security, no sense 
of their eternal condition ; they banish it out of their thoughts : Amos 
vi. 3, Ye put far away the evil day. If it intrude upon them, they 
look upon it as a melancholy interruption ; they seek to put off what 
they do not put away ; yea, there is a plain reluctancy and opposition 
to good things, and a contempt of God s messages. But in the other 


there may be some hanging off from God, for original sin is not quite 
done away, especially under a distemper occasioned by carnal liberty : 
Luke xxi. 34, Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life ; 
and so that day come upon you unawares. A Christian is a compound 
creature ; he hath hardness as well as softness. When, their hardness 
prevaileth, for the present they mourn less for sin, and do not tremble 
at the word, and are not affected with providences, slight the warnings 
and motions of the Holy Spirit, are more dead in duty, find not alike 
savour in the promises, and duties seem more irksome to them. An 
hard heart maketh their work seem hard and tedious. 

3. The next distinction is, that hardness of heart is either felt or 

[1.] Felt, as by men under a preparative work, and in God s children 
for hardness there may be in them ; yea, it is their condition as long 
as they are in the world. Grief for hardness is a good sign that there 
are some tender parts left. An heart judicially hardened can never 
feel that hardness, nor grieve for it ; but the children of God fear it as 
the greatest evil, and complain of it as the greatest burden, and so 
accordingly strive against it. Thus Ephraim bemoaned himself, and 
his obstinacy and inflexibleness : Jer. xxxi. 18, I have surely heard 
Ephraim bemoaning himself thus : Thou hast chastised me, and I was 
chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke : turn thou me, and 
I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my God. There is hope of 
cure when they are sensible of the disease : they fear it in themselves 
and others as the greatest evil : Heb. iii. 12, 13, Take heed, brethren 
lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from 
the living God: but exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, 
lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Of all 
judgments, the judgment of the hard heart is worst. They com 
plain of it as the greatest burden : Isa. Ixiii. 17, Lord why hast 
thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy 
fear ? They find much deadness and dulness of spirit ; they are not 
affected with God s presence in duties, nor with his providences in the 
world. This is their complaint and burden, Lord I have a stiff neck, 
that will not easily be brought under the strict duties of religion, to 
meditate and to pray in private ; I have a proud stubborn heart, too 
hard for me to take down. Thus do they complain of these things, 
and strive against it. As a man that hath a stone in the bladder, he 
useth good means to soften it, and is careful of his diet, so are God s 
children sensible, and therefore fearful and careful, often bemoaning 

[2.] Unfelt ; so it is in wicked men, who never consider the frame 
of their hearts, or bemoan themselves because of spiritual evils. The 
heart of stone is not sensible of itself; and so God s children for a 
while may be under great desertions and the guilt of heinous sins, and 
be insensible ; after gross falls they may lie in hardness for a while, till 
God rouse them up again. Great falls are like a blow upon the head, 
that stuns us and amazes us for a while, and it is some good while ere 
we recover again. David s conscience was not presently awakened. 
Spiritual lethargies are long fits. David lay ten months from the con- 


ception to the birth of his child, and yet all this while did formally use 
God s ordinances and public service. Nathan comes to him after the 
child was born : 2 Sam. xii. 14, The child that is born unto thee shall 
surely die. And he never relented till Nathan came to him, as 
appeareth by the title of the 51st psalm, A Psalm of David, when 
Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone into Bathsheba. 
All this while grace was not dead, but in a deep sleep. The least sin 
maketh way for hardness of heart, much more sins against conscience ; 
there is a more long sequestration then. God will not let you enjoy 
the comforts and effectual presence of his spirit. These blows and 
wounds will leave you for dead for a long while. 


And Jesus looked round about on them with anger, being grieved 
for the hardness of their hearts. MARK iii. 5. 

IV. THE causes of hardness of heart. 

1. Ignorance. The blind mind and the hard heart always go together : 
John xii. 40, He hath blinded their minds, and hardened their hearts, 
that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their 
hearts. Men are first unteachable, then unpliable. Obstinacy be- 
ginneth at sottishness of conceit. He that knoweth not what he ought 
to do careth not much what he doth. The children of God never feel 
hardness in their hearts but when the light in their minds is unactive 
or obscured ; there is a kind of darkness for that time. We see that 
the most carnal wretches, when they come to die, are sensible ; when 
the mind is cleared from the fogs of lust, and conscience is awakened, 
then they feel a great weight of sin upon them. Light always begets 
tenderness, as in a clear vessel the dregs do soon appear. Well, then, 
either they are ignorant, or have but a naked theory, not the lively 
light of the Spirit ; and hence it is that their hearts are hardened. 

2. Unbelief ; for it is faith that maketh all truths active and lively. 
The great motives and arguments of religion are mainly fetched from 
things to come. Now it is not enough to know the things of the world 
to come, but there must be an hearty assent to them, as if we did see 
them before our eyes. Things that are at a distance are as nothing to 
us, as the stars appear as so many spangles, they lose much of their 
greatness. Men sin, and no evil cometh of it, therefore they grow bold 
and senseless in sin : Eccles. viii. 11, Because sentence against an evil 
work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is 
fully set in them to do evil. They grow remiss and slack in their 
duty. The reward is not by and by : Mai. iii. 14, Ye have said, It is 
in vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordin 
ances, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts ? 
We are for a present good. Now, Faith is the substance of things 
hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen/ Heb. xi. 1. It maketh 


things present as if we did see them with our eyes, as if the judgment- 
seat were set and the books were opened. Those that hardened their 
hearts did not believe what God said was true, Heb. iii. 7-18. If 
men did believe there were an heaven, and hell, and judgment to come, 
they would not lie in their sins, they could not be unpliable to God s 
motions. All disrespect of promises and threatenings cometh from un 
belief. Christ did chide his disciples for their unbelief and hardness 
of heart, Mark xvi. 14. What is the reason that though we preach 
the law and the judgment of God so much to you, and beseech you to 
come in and receive Christ, and you shall be saved, and this time after 
time, and day after day, and yet the word hath no effect upon you, 
you are as ignorant and careless as ever ? The reason is you do not 
believe. Certainly the word would work otherwise than it doth if you 
did believe it. If one should tell a man that such an earthly potentate, 
if he would but come to him and visit him, would raise him to great 
honour, it would be the first thing he would do. Truly so, if you did 
believe that coming to Christ were the only way to happiness, you would 
mind it more seriously than you do. Again, if you did believe that 
the word of God is true, that God is a just God ; if the drunkard did 
believe that drunkards should be damned ; or .the adulterer did believe 
that no adulterer shall inherit the kingdom of God ; or if the vain per 
son or the gamester did believe that they must give an account of their 
misspent time, and idle words, and vain communication, they would 
not sport themselves in their sins as they do. If men did believe that 
God calleth when and whom he listeth, they would not defer their 
repentance and put off the motions of the Spirit, but would strike while 
the iron is hot, and let out the sails when the wind bloweth. But men 
do not believe, and therefore go on in their sins as they do. Tell men 
of earthly things, of a commodity which, if they would but buy, it 
would yield an hundred for one, surely they would not neglect the 
market. We press men to renounce but a little ease and carnal 
pleasures, and to use diligence to get Christ into their hearts, and they 
shall have a hundred for one ; but men want faith, therefore Christ 
lieth by as a refuse commodity. There is nothing breedeth hardness 
of heart so much as unbelief of what God can and will do. 

3. Custom in sinning. As an highway is trodden hard by long 
travelling in it, so the heart by long custom groweth more obstinate 
every day. In sin there is not only a fault, guilt, but a blot, a stronger 
inclination to the practice of the same sin again ; as a brand that has 
been once in the fire is more apt to burn again. Every new oath is as 
oil to the tongue, to make it more glib and fleet in the repetition of 
that oath or vain speech. There is a natural tenderness in men whilst 
young, at least, a lesser degree of hardness, which will get strength by 
use and age if not in time cured : Jer. xiii. 23, How can ye do good 
that are accustomed to do evil ? Water when it first freezeth will 
not bear the weight of a pin, but afterwards by continual freezing it 
cometh to bear a cart-load. 

4. Hypocrisy. Take it for dissembling, whereby we deceive others ; 
or formality, whereby we deceive ourselves. For dissembling: the 
pharisees were a dissembling generation, and they are the famous 
instances of hardness of heart in the first gospel days. Hypocrisy is a 


constant lie, and every He is a sin against light. When men take a 
religion out of design, their pretences condemn them. Men sin, and 
are secured against the stroke of the word and checks of conscience by 
their fame and plausible appearance. Then for formal performing of 
good duties : Prov. vii. 14, I have peace-offerings with rne ; this day 
have I paid my vows. I do this and that, I read so many chapters a 
day, and keep to my church. Men think they have done enough 
though they have done never so little. Hardness of heart is often occa 
sioned by the ordinances. Now how do ordinances harden ? They may 
harden partly as they irritate corruption, but chiefly as they are trusted 
in. Duties soundly done humble men, as new wine rendeth and break- 
eth old bottles all to pieces. But when formal duties are used as a 
sleepy sop to stop the mouth of conscience, the heart is insensibly 
hardened. Every man must have a religion to lean to. Conscience, 
like the stomach when it hath no solid food, draweth wind. 

5. Pride and stubborness against God. Men scorn to be controlled : 
Exod. v. 2, And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey 
his voice to let Israel go ? I know not the Lord, neither will I let 
Israel go ; Neh. ix. 29, They dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto 
thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, and withdrew 
the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear ; Jer. xiii. 
15, Hear ye, and give ear ; be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken/ 
Men scorn to submit to ordinances, to be checked by God s messengers, 
and say, What have we to do with them ? In this light of Christianity 
the contempt is cast upon the messenger, though indeed the heart 
riseth against the authority of God himself. One great cure of hard 
ness of heart is seriously to meditate on God s power : Deut. x. 16, 17, 
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff- 
necked ; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, a 
great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor 
taketh reward. Do you know what God is? Will you contend with 
him ? You will fail in the enterprise ; you cannot be hard-hearted if 
you would, in the issue of the combat. Pride is the root of all sin. 
What is the reason men dare sin ? They think they shall carry it out 
well enough for all God, and so suffer their lusts to perk above the 

6. The deceitfulness of sin : Heb. iii. 15. Lest any of you be 
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Now, how doth sin deceive 
us, and so harden the heart ? 

[1.] By general invectives. We all cry out of sin, and complain of 
sin, and yet all this while regard it in our hearts. We make sin a 
notion, and so defy it in the general, when in particulars we love it all 
the while ; as many ignorant people defy the devil but hold the crown 
upon his head, for he is the ruler of the darkness of this world. The 
devil careth not for ill words so he can keep possession of the heart. 
We make sin the common packhorse to bear all our burdens. Men 
content themselves with empty declamations or forms of satire and 
invective, yet the heart liketh it well enough, and so is insensibly 
hardened ; they are not serious and particular. Men look upon 
matters of religion as abstracted ideas and matters of fancy. Oh I 
take heed of this. 


[2.] By delaying : Acts xxiv. 25, Go thy way for this time ; when 
I have a convenient season I will call for thee. Christian, it is but a 
deceit ; take heed thy heart be not hardened by it. What reason hast 
thou to presume of that which God can only give ? If CaBsar had 
read the letters overnight to prevent the conspiracy, he had been safe. 
What security have you, either of time or grace, but your own pre 
sumptions ? and he that is security to himself is a fool. It is true all 
may be redressed by repentance, but this is not in thy power, and thy 
hardness by delaying increaseth every day. 

[3.] It cometh lapped up in carnal baits of profit and pleasure, to 
gratify our lusts and interests. Sin pretends great advantage; but 
be not deceived, it will harden thy heart, and destroy thee ; it cannot 
profit thee. 

[4.] It hath many colours wherewith to beguile a man. It presents 
itself in another dress than its own ; and therefore we have need to 
have our eyes about us : Prov. xxviii. 14, Happy is the man that 
feareth always : but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. 
Many sins lie secret, unrepented of, and so the heart is hardened. 

[5.] It will increase upon thee ; it groweth to a custom by degrees ; 
it is of a bewitching nature, and soaketh into a man insensibly, from 
thought to consent, then to action, then to reiteration, then to custom. 
First men excuse sin, then justify it, then glory in it, and in time they 
grow senseless and confirmed in a habit of sin, and are loath to quit it. 
At first temptations seemed horrible ; the first committing of sin much 
perplexed the soul ; but in time it is not so burdensome, yea, it is 
become pleasing and delightful. Be not deceived and hardened by 
saying, It is a little one, and my soul shall live ; unless we take it 
betimes, as Peter went out immediately and wept bitterly, it cannot 
easily be subdued. Sampson knew that Delilah had purposed to betray 
him into the Philistines hands, and yet he could not leave her. Though 
sin cost men temporal and eternal life, yet they cannot give it over. 

[6.] That God will be merciful ; this is another thing whereby we 
are deceived, a presumption of impunity: Ps. 1. 21, These things hast 
thou done, and I kept silence ; thou thoughtest that I was altogether 
such an one as thysejf ; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order 
before thine eyes. So Deut. xxix. 19, 20, And it came to pass, when 
he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, 
saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine 
heart, to add drunkenness to thirst. Be not deceived ; mark what 
follows: The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the 
Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses 
that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall 
blot out his name from under heaven/ Take heed of the deceitfulness 
of sin. These are the causes of hardness of heart. 

V. The heinousness of it. 

1. It is a contending with God, deofia-^la, a fighting with God. The 
hard heart is the greatest enemy God hath on this side hell. That 
there is a contest between God and a hard heart who shall have the 
better, the instance of Pharaoh showeth, God sendeth a message to 
him, and meeteth with a repulse. His message to Pharaoh was, Exod. 
v. 1. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go. And 


this proud creature hath the boldness to deny him : ver. 2, And 
Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let 
Israel go ? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. And he 
standeth it out after many warnings and foregoing judgments. And 
he doth not stand alone, but hath more fellows in the world : Neh. ix. 
29, They dealt proudly, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 
but sinned against thy judgments, and withdrew the shoulder, and 
hardened their neck, and would not hear. Every command of God, 
every offer of grace, is a message from God : To you is the word of 
this salvation sent, Acts xiii. 26 ; and it should be respected with as 
much reverence as if an angel himself were the messenger. Only here 
is the difference ; God saith to Pharaoh, Let my people go ; to us 
he saith, Let sin go. It is pity he should have the repulse. Sin will 
be as bad an inmate to the soul as the Israelites were a snare to Egypt ; 
they were fain to thrust them out at length, and were glad they could 
be so rid of them. I say, this is the contest between God and his 
creatures, whether sin shall go or tarry, whether Christ shall be accepted 
or no ? He sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh ; and he hath sent 
prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers to us. Let idols, images, and 
false worship go ; swearing, sabbath-breaking, adultery, murder, dis 
obedience to parents, lying, covetousness, let it all go ; there should not 
be a hoof left. This is God s message. Now, if you will try it out, 
you shall see whose word shall stand, God s or yours ? Jer. xliv. 28 ; 
his threatenings, or your vain and delusive imaginations ? If you put 
it to the trial, you have more boldness than an angel: Jude 9, Yet 
Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil (he disputed 
about the body of Moses), durst not bring against him a railing accusa 
tion/ An angel durst not use one passionate word, and will you dare 
to set up other gods, to profane the sabbath, to swear, lie, or be drunk, 
and to say, We will not let these things go, let God say or do what ho 
will to the contrary ? The contest on God s part is managed for a 
long time in a mild condescending way. He beseecheth his own 
creatures: Jer. xiii. 15, 16, Hear ye, and give ear ; be not proud, for 
the Lord hath spoken : give glory to the Lord your God, before he 
cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains ; 
and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and 
make it gross darkness. Be not obstinate ; it is better that you should 
take down the stoutness of your hearts than that I should pull it down. 
Let me have the glory of this conquest voluntarily ; I shall carry it at 
length. You dream of happiness and pleasure ; alas ! you cannot enjoy 
these vain delights long. Come, leave them, and I will make you as 
happy as heart can wish, but if not, take that that followeth ; you will 
stumble into the dungeon of hell, and then be as miserable as almighti- 
ness can make you : Job ix. 4, He is wise in heart, and mighty in 
strength; whoever hardened himself against God and prospered? 
You will never get the day of God; if you contend with him, there is 
nothing to be expected but blows. You may indeed overcome him, 
but it is not by resisting, but stooping ; a tender heart overcometh him : 
Jer. xxxi. 20, Is Ephraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for 
since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore 
my bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy upon hiin, 


saith the Lord ; andlsa. Ivii. 18, I have seen his ways, and will heal 
him ; I will lead him also, and restore comforts to him, and to his 
mourners. But an hard heart is no match for God ; it is ever foiled in 
the enterprise : if they yield not to his mercy, they are consumed by his 
wrath. Pharaoh would contend with God, but found his maker too 
hard for him at last ; so Julian the apostate. Ezek. xxii. 14, Can thy 
heart endure, or can thy hands be strong in the days that I shall deal 
with thee ? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it ; and 1 Cor. x. 
22, Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 
It is a foolish contest ; it ever endeth with our destruction. 

2. It is in itself the sorest of all judgments. When other means are 
urged in vain, God giveth them up to hardness of heart ; it is one of 
the chains of darkness, in which captive souls are held unto eternal 
judgment. A stormy conscience, that lieth under the power of perplex 
ing despairing fears, is not so bad as an hard heart. They are both 
chains of darkness, despair, and obstinacy, as in the devils ; but in men, 
despair may make way for repentance. God hath them in the briers ; 
many are brought to heaven by the gates of hell. God hath begun 
with them, but left these. Again, it will end in despair. The heart 
that is not sensible now will then be sensible enough. We read of 
the worm that never dieth, and the fire that shall never be quenched/ 
Mark ix. 44. In hell men will remember how every sabbath God did 
stretch out the arms of his mercy to embrace them, and they would 
not ; how Christ offered a plaster of his own heart s blood to cure them, 
but they refused it, and made light of it ; how the Holy Ghost put 
many good motions into their hearts, but they rejected these thoughts, 
and would not be interrupted in their ease and false peace. Oh ! the 
deep wounds and stings these thoughts will occasion when it is too- 

3. It never goeth alone, but bringeth other judgments along with it. 
Pharaoh had plague upon plague : Zech. vii. 12, They made their 
hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words 
which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit, by the former prophets ; 
therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts ; more than 
ordinary displeasure. So Prov. xxix. 1, He that, being often reproved, 
hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without 
remedy. They shall be destroyed, not afflicted only, and that without 
remedy ; there shall be none to help. And Horn. ii. 5, After thy hard 
ness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against 
the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God/ 
God will harden his heart against you, shut up his bowels against you 
in your- greatest straits ; when his patience is quite spent, God will 
retaliate: Zech. vii. 12, 13, They made their hearts as an adamant 
stone, lest they should hear the law, &c. Therefore it is come to pass, 
that, as he cried and they would not hear, so they cried and I would 
not hear, saith the Lord of hosts/ There is a time when the stoutest- 
hearted sinner, who careth least for God, shall stand in need of his help, 
and would give the whole world for one favourable look from God. 
But, oh, no ! not a glimpse, not the least answer. God s children meet 
with sad suspensions sometimes : Cant. v. 6, I sought him, but I could 
not find him ; I called him, but he gave me no answer/ He seemeth 


not to hear their prayers when they are dead to his counsels ; he will 
make them sensible of their unkind, ungracious treating of him. 

4. It is the great hindrance in the spiritual life ; it depriveth you of 
grace. The Spirit of God will not animate a stony heart ; a body of 
flesh is only fit to be animated with a living soul ; so the heart of flesh, 
or tender heart, by the Spirit of God : Ezek. xi. 19, 20, I will give 
them one heart, and I will put a new Spirit within you, and I will take 
the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh, 
that they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them ; 
and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. So Isa. Ivii. 15, 
Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name 
is Holy ; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a 
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to 
revive the heart of the contrite ones/ There is God present with his 
graces. God hath two places of special residence the highest heaven, 
and the humblest heart. In the one is the presence of his glory, in 
the other of his grace. When the spirit is humbled and softened, it 
is a fit pillow for God to rest on ; the hard heart hindereth us in duty, 
it is an hard heart that maketh our work hard. If once the will were 
gained, all things would be easy in religion : Horn. viii. 7, The carnal 
mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, 
neither indeed can be. It is not subject to God, but averse from him. 

VI. The observations concerning this spiritual malady. 

1. With spiritual hardness of heart there may be a natural and 
sinful tenderness. Some men have a natural softness and sweetness of 
spirit as to commerce with men, yea, rather a faulty easiness, yet they 
are very hard-hearted as to God ; as Zedekiah : Jer. xxxviii. 5, The 
king is not he that can do anything against you. He was easily drawn 
by company and evil counsel. Usually it is so ; an hard heart is like 
wax to the devil, but as a s tone to God, hardened against goodness, but 
exorable and easy to be entreated by sin and Satan. If the devil do 
but whist, they find an irresistible power in his temptations. If carnal 
men do but hold up the finger, it is a strong cord to draw them to 
excess. The looks and speeches of the harlot are enough to cause them 
to follow, though it be like an ox to the slaughter: Prov. vii. 21. 22, 
* With much fair speech she caused him to yield ; with the flattering 
of her lips she forced him : he goeth after her straightway as an ox to 
the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. God may 
plead and tell us of grace and glory, but we mind it not. A diamond 
is not wrought upon but by its own dust. On the contrary, men may 
have a stout heart in dangers that are very yielding and trembling in 
point of sins : Prov. xxviii. 14, Happy is the man that feareth always ; 
but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. David could 
encounter lions, bears, and giants, yet in what a weeping humble pos 
ture is he when he hath to do with God ! It is good to be a coward 
in sin, puling and weak-hearted as to any contest with God. 

2. Small sins harden as well as great sins; it is hard to say which most. 
It is confessed for the present little sins do not deaden and harden the 
heart so much as great ; as a prick of a pin maketh a man start, but 
an heavy blow stunneth him, and leaveth him dead for a while. David, 
when he cut off the Inp of Saul s garment, and had some revengeful 


intention against his soveriegn, he quickly perceived his error : His 
heart smote him/ 1 Sam. xxiv. 5. But when he committed the foul 
sin of adultery, he lay insensible for a long space of time. But on the 
other side, little sins do by degrees harden. Great sins are apparent 
and liable to the judgment of conscience, but we neglect small sins, and 
so a custom groweth upon us, and we are insensibly hardened by our 
carelessness and constant neglect of our souls. A surfeit or violent 
distemper maketh us run to the physician, but when a disease groweth 
upon us by degrees, it proveth mortal ere we regard it ; therefore we 
should make conscience of daily failings : Heb. iii. 13, Exhort one 
another daily, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened 
through the deceitful ness of sin. Great falls, as they astonish us for 
the present, so they awaken conscience afterwards, and so we regard 
that and other sins ; as when a great sound hath awakened us out of a 
deep sleep, we easily hear lesser sounds ; but men slide into a carnal 
frame of heart unawares. Qui nunquam delirat, semper erit fatuus. 
We would never grow wise but for some notable acts of folly. Chryso- 
stom saith that we should be more watchful of small sins than of great. 
Nature abhorreth these, but the other slide into us. A little leak 
unespied drowneth the ship as well as a great breach. If we would 
look more to small things, so many great mischiefs would not ensue. 

3. Sins of omission harden as well as sins of commission, yea, some 
times more ; a neglect of duties as well as the practice of gross sins ; 
because they use not the means whereby the heart may be kept soft 
and in a due remembrance of God and their duty to him. An instru 
ment never so well in tune, if it lie by, it soon groweth out of kilter. 
In every sin of commission there is a sin of omission, but not the con 
trary. A man may be civilly harmless, inoffensive, and yet have a 
very hard heart, if he hold no communion with God, and neglect the 
means whereby the heart may be kept tender. The neglect of good 
duties is a more general means of destruction than the commission of 
evil. Men are estranged from God by the neglect of the word and 
prayer : Ps. xiv. 4, They call not upon the Lord ; attend not upon 
the means of grace with that life and seriousness they ought to do. 

4. None are so confident of the goodness of their hearts as those that 
have an hard heart ; for the more any spiritual disease increaseth upon 
us, the less it is felt. There is hope, whilst there is some complaining 
of sin, that there is some tenderness left. The hardest heart must needs 
be the most confident, because they use no recollection and reflection 
upon themselves : Jer. viii. 6, No man repented him of his wickedness, 
saying, What have I done ? What am I, what have I done ? Yea, 
they slight their danger, take up every vain pretence and allegation to 
maintain their carnal peace and quiet : Deut. xxix. 19, And it come to 
pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in 
his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination 
of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst : the Lord will not spare him, 
&c. Broken-hearted Christians are sensible of the holiness of God, 
and what an hard matter it is to hold communion with him, and observe 
their own weakness and unworthiness ; and therefore they complain of 
the badness of their hearts, that there is no greater bent towards God, 
and are always suspicious of their spiritual condition. 


5. Hardness of heart is most apt to creep upon us in times of ease 
and prosperity. Solomon saith, Prov. i. 32, The prosperity of fools 
shall destroy them ; and Eom. ii. 4, 5, Despisest thou the riches of 
his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering ; not knowing that 
the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hard 
ness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against 
the day of wrath. Usually in the times of God s goodness and patience, 
men are besotted with the pleasures of the flesh, and then lose their 
feeling. Nothing bringeth a brawn upon the heart so much as sen 
suality and an inordinate use of the creatures ; it taketh away the 
heart ; and usually in a prosperous condition men grow sensual and 
careless. Pharaoh himself, when under the rod, could speak as good 
words as another ; but when he was well at ease, then his hardness 
returned upon him ; as metal in the furnace is very yielding and melt 
ing, capable of any impression, but out of the furnace it returneth to 
its wonted firmness and consistency. The greatest plague was upon 
his heart when he wanted other plagues. Men do well in their wicked 
ness, enjoy themselves with comfort, and then fear nothing. We see 
in the brute creatures, when they are in good plight, they grow 
more fierce ; so doth man that aboundeth in ease and pleasure ; his 
worldly happiness maketh the heart gross and senseless. We had need 
to take heed of an hard heart at all times, but especially when we 
are like to be corrupted with ease and pleasure. A sensual heart will 
be senseless. 

6. Hardness of heart is a grievous sin at all times, but then most 
sinful when most unseasonable ; for time is an aggravating circum 
stance in all things, so in this. Now when is it unseasonable ? In 
times of judgment and times of gospel grace. 

[1.] In times of judgment : 2 Chron. xxviii. 22, In the time of his 
distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king 
Ahaz. There is a brand set on him. Certainly the times we live in 
are extraordinary times. We have seen many changes and great 
effects of God s anger for sin ; we have now many spiritual judgments 
upon us, error and blasphemy, great divisions and breaches among 
God s people, and scandals of them that profess the gospel. An hard 
heart now is most unsuitable ; it is like a garland of rosebuds in a 
day of mourning. Clearly upon some the strokes of God s providence 
have lighted very sore ; if they shall add hardness of heart to their 
other plagues, who will pity them ? When all the corrections of an 
angry God cannot draw any sensible and serious thoughts from them, 
how sad is this ! I tell you, Christians, it looketh like hell to continue 
sinning under suffering, and to be obstinate against God and the coun 
sels of his grace for your salvation ; it speaketh much of a spiritual 
plague added to temporal judgments. If we did persuade you to a 
party only, it were more excusable ; but when we press you to come to 
Christ, and you still remain obstinate and hard-hearted, this is sad. 
If the ministry were only used as a state engine to engage you in such 
a faction and design, you might have something to plead for yourselves. 
Pardon me for dealing thus freely with you ; we are debtors to all, 
Rom. i. 14. Would you be troubled if the base should rise against 
the honourable ? It were a judgment certainly ; but what are you to 


God ? Poor base worms ! will you contend with your maker ? You 
would complain of it as an heavy burden, and strange inversion of all 
states and conditions, if men of mean and low fortunes should be at 
the top, and have power and domination over the ancient gentry and 
nobility of the land. Be it so ; but I would have you to consider i 11 
the mean time what an horrible presumption it is, and how God may 
take it, that you stout it out against the fear of God. Alas ! there is 
a greater distance between you and him than between you and your 
fellow-creatures. For you to contest it with God, to swagger it and 
outbrave his ordinances, to contend with his Spirit ! how may God 
complain of this, if it be so grievous to you to be outbraved by your 
fellow-creatures ! 

[2.] Times of light and great gospel grace. An hard heart in 
gospel days is the very reproach of ordinances. Many think the 
ministry and ordinances useless things. Why ? Because there is so 
little success. You make them useless, and then there will not want 
those that decry them apace: 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2, We then, as workers 
together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of 
God in vain ; for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and 
in the day of salvation have I succoured thee : behold now is the 
accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation. An hard heart 
should be a thing now quite out of fashion. In a time of ignorance, or 
a time of restraint of preaching, when visions are not open, or under a 
dead sleepy ministry, God might dispense with what he will not under 
u clear discovery of his will. But now, when the doctrine of the gospel is 
so clearly opened, and Christ so freely tendered, now to be estranged 
from the fear of God is as unsuitable as if we should revert to the 
fashions of barbarism, or those kind of clothes or dresses which our an 
cestors wore before they were reduced to this pitch of civility where- 
unto we are now arrived. You would laugh at garments of an antique 
fashion, and if the gallants of the age should put on the dress of Adam, 
or be clothed with skins newly taken from the beasts offered in sacri 
fice ; a blind mind and a sottish obstinate heart is more uncomely in 
the eye of God. Will you be strangers in Israel, and lose the bless 
ings of the times by refusing the stricter ways of God ? 

7. Hardness of heart groweth and increaseth on us more and more, 
if we let it alone : Zech. vii. 11, 12, But they refused to hearken, and 
pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not 
hear ; yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they 
should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent 
in his Spirit by the former prophets. There are so many degrees men 
tioned ; first they grow slight and careless, and do not care to hear 
what you say ; then they refuse to obey what they have heard ; then 
they grow sermon-proof; they can hear, and have no benefit by it. 
As long as the word doth any way affect a sinner, there is some hope ; 
but within a while conscience smiteth not, and men have gotten the 
victory over their fears and scruples ; and thus they go on from natural 
to voluntary, and from voluntary to judicial hardness of heart, and so 
are a ready prey for the devil. 

8. Dilatory excuses are the last refuge of an hard heart. When 
they can no longer withstand a conviction, they adjourn and put off 


the compliance with God s will, and so elude the importunity of the 
present conviction. Felix his heart boggled : Acts xxiv. 25, and as 
he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, 
Felix trembled, and said, Go thy way for this time ; when I have a 
convenient season I will call for thee. Mind the present season, when 
God is affording opportunities of getting grace : Heb. iii. 7, 8, To-day, 
if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts ; Ps. cxix. 60, I 
made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. Zaccheus, 
Luke xix. 6, He made haste, and came down, and received him joy 
fully. Peter and Andrew, Mark iv. 20, They straightway left their 
nets and followed him : Paul, Gal. i. 16, Immediately I conferred not 
with flesh and blood. If God hath given you any will and inclination 
for the present, it is an advantage. Sin, the longer it continueth, the 
stronger it groweth. He that doth not go over at the fountain-head 
will not be able to go over when the stream groweth broader ; and the 
farther he goes downward, the broader still he findeth it. Every day s 
impenitency bringeth on a new degree of hardness. Would a man 
that is to drink that which to his knowledge is poisoned put the more 
into his cup, and then take it off, out of a presumption that at length 
he shall find an antidote ? Alas ! thou mayest be poisoned and dead 
before the antidote comes. 


And Jesus looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for 
the hardness of their hearts. MARK iii. 5. 

USE 1. Of trial. Is this our state ? Take the two properties to judge 
by insensibleness and inflexibleness. 

First, A hard heart is insensible ; insensible of providences, of the 
word, and of the state of the soul. 

1. Insensible of providences. 

[1.] Of mercies : either of the author of mercies ; they never look 
up to the God of their mercies : Hosea ii. 8, She did not know that I 
gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold; 
as swine, that feed upon the acorns, but never look up to the tree from 
whence they fall : Cant. iv. 1, * Behold thou art fair, my love ; behold 
thou art fair ; thou hast doves eyes. As doves peck, and look upwards. 
It is a sign of a tender heart to see God in every mercy. A drowsy 
and inattentive soul never heedeth it, is wholly swallowed up in present 
enjoyments, and looketh no further. It is our privilege above the beasts 
to know the first cause ; other creatures live upon God, but they are 
not capable of knowing God ; they glorify God in their kind, but we 
may know him. Idolatry and sottishness had never crept into the 
world if men had owned the first cause ; or of the end of mercies, which 
is to draw in our hearts to God : therefore they are called cords of a 
YOL. 2.Y11. O 


man : Hosea xi. 4, I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of 
love ; Esther vi. 3, What honour and dignity hath been done to 
Mordecai for this ? 2 Sam. vii. 2, Then the king said unto Nathan 
the prophet, See now I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God 
dwelleth within curtains. When the heart is urging to duty upon 
this score, God hath been good to me, he hath given me food and 
raiment ; what have I done for God ? Now the heart is hard when 
we are not sensible of his daily providence and gracious supplies in this 
kind : 2 Sam. xii. 7-9, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed 
thee king over Israel, and delivered thee out of the hand of Saul ; and 
I gave thee thy master s house, and thy master s wives into thy bosom, 
and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah ; and if that had been 
too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil 
in his sight ? David had lost his awe of God, because he had not a 
thankful sense of the mercies of God. 

[2.] Of corrective providences. The body is a tender part with 
wicked men ; when they are straitened for bodily conveniences, they will 
complain ; yet the hard heart is still insensible of judgments. They 
are insensible of the author or deserving cause ; they do not look 
upward nor inward ; and though doctrinally right in these things, yet 
they do not seriously consider it, and recall it to mind. Opinion is one 
thing, and consideration is another. Wicked men may take up good 
opinions, but they do not consider the force and consequence of them. 

(1.) They do not see the hand of God in them : Isa. xxvi. 11, Lord, 
when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see. They look on these 
things but as a chance : 1 Sam. vi. 9, And see, if it goeth up by the 
way of his own coasts to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great 
evil ; but if not, then we shall know that it was not his hand that smote 
us, it was a chance that happened to us. If men own God s hand, 
they should take up the matter with him ; but they own it doctrinally, 
though not practically. A godly man hath explicit thoughts of God. 
Job doth not say, The Sabeans and the Chaldeans, but, The Lord 
gave, and the Lord hath taken away, Job i. 21. They do not com 
plain, when they are crossed, of chance, but the Lord is angry ; and 
when they are stricken, they consult with him, and humble themselves 
before him. Wicked men are sensible of the smart of the rod, but not 
of the hand that holds it. 

(2.) They do not see the deserving cause of them, which is sin : 
Lam. iii. 39, 40, Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for 
the punishment of his sins ? Let us search and try our ways, and turn 
again to the Lord. If sickness cometh, if a relation be taken away, if 
an estate be blasted, a waking conscience looks to the cause ; they would 
see the mind of God in the rod. When Israel fell before the men of 
Ai, Joshua looketh out for the troubler ; so do God s children. 

2. Insensible of the power of the word ; they have no taste, no feel 
ing of the powers of the world to come : Jer. xxiii. 29, Is not my word 
like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock 
in pieces ? There is a breaking and a melting power in the word. 

[1.] What law- work hath been wrought on you ? what shakings of 
heart, and feeling of the powers of the world to come ? Have you 


been roused and startled out of your natural condition ? Many will 
assent to this truth, that all are miserable by nature ; but wast thou 
ever sensible that this was thy case, and accordingly affected ? Wert 
thou ever feelingly convinced of thy misery ? Otherwise we do but 
learn these things as a parrot learneth them, by rote. What feeling 
have you of your cursed estate by nature ? Have you had any exper 
ience of the terrors of the Lord ? You know the misery of man by 
nature, but have you ever felt it ? 

[2.] What gospel-work hath been wrought on you ? what taste have 
you had of the good word of God ? what experience of the .efficacy of 
the Spirit ? 1 Peter ii. 3, If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is 

3. Insensible of the state of the soul ; they never look after it. If 
the body feel but the scratch of a pin, or want but a night s sleep, we 
complain presently ; but the poor soul, though oppressed with lusts 
and unfit for duties, is never minded nor regarded, and they have no 
heart to pray for a release out of that spiritual judgment. To own the 
plague of our own hearts argueth tenderness : 1 Kings viii. 38, Which 
shall know every man the plague of his own heart. When we complain 
of lusts more than fevers, and indisposition of soul more than weakness 
of body, the languishing of grace more than outward consumption, the 
stone in the heart more than the stone in the bladder and kidneys. 
We find Ephraim bemoaning himself, being ill at ease for an untoward 
heart : Jer. xxxi. 18, I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning him 
self thus : Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock 
unaccustomed to the yoke. Did you ever complain of the hardness of 
your heart, and lay it before God ? Do you not bemoan your spiritual 
distempers when lazy and backward ? Where is your relish for the 
word ? your delight in spiritual things ? Isa. Ixiii. 17, Lord, why 
hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from 
thy fear ? 

Secondly, A hard heart is inflexible. That will be known where it 
is more gross. 

1. By a refusal of the word, when men will not give God the hearing : 
Zech. vii. 11, 12, But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the 
shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear ; yea, they 
made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, 
and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the 
former prophets. They refused to hear, either to vouchsafe their pre 
sence or attention : Acts xiii. 46, Ye put it from you, and judge your 
selves unworthy of eternal life. The case is clear in these, whereas to 
others it is doubtful ; what needeth more dispute in the matter ? 

2. By an unteachableness, so as not to apprehend ought that is spiritual. 
To be ignorant is one thing, to be unteachable is another : Ezek. xii. 
2, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which 
have eyes to see, and see not ; they have ears to hear, and hear not : 
for they are a rebellious house ; Acts xxviii. 26, Go unto this people, 
and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand ; and seeing 
ye shall see, and shall not perceive. They do not see what they do 
see ; they have no spiritual discerning, though a grammatical know 
ledge : Job v. 14, They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope 


in the noonday as in the night. They are simple in the midst of 
rational advantages ; as the disciples : Luke xxiv. 16, Their eyes were 
holden, that they should not know him. They see the general truth, 
but make no application. When a man is shown a thing, and he 
minds it not, but his mind is on another object, that man may be said 
to see and not to see, because he doth not regard it. Or a maa that 
hath a matter come before him, he heareth it, but his mind being 
otherwise employed, he regardeth it not ; in which sense he may be 
said to hear and not to hear. Not to apply is not to regard ; in seeing 
rationally and literally, he doth not see spiritually, with any life and 
power. There is a literal knowledge, and there is a spiritual know 
ledge ; the literal knowledge is that which the hard heart may have. 
It is said, 2 Cor. iii. 3, Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle 
of Christ, ministered by us ; written not with ink, but with the Spirit 
of the living God ; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of 
the heart. It is an allusion to the law of Moses, Consider it in the 
letter, as separated from the Spirit, and only as a law written in stone, 
wherein there is a naked direction of life, but no power; so a stony 
heart may see, but in seeing they see not. But the Spirit of Christ 
writeth it on the mind and heart, and niaketh the heart docile and 
tractable : Rom. vii. 6, That we should serve in newness of spirit, and 
not in the oldness of the letter. The letter of the law only manifested 
duty, but gave no power to perform it ; it discovered corruption, but 
gave no strength to subdue it ; it was written in tables of stone, to 
show the hardness of man s heart. But now the law, when it cometh 
in upon us with a spiritual light, sof teneth and strengtheneth the heart, 
and inaketh it docile and pliable to God s counsel. 

3. By an unwillingness to be admonished in public or private ; if in 
public, the greater the evil. Private admonition is a kind of charge, 
a closer application. To storm against private admonition argueth an 
ill spirit, when men are loath to be disturbed in the ways of sin. But 
much more against public admonition, where the application ariseth 
not so much from a personal charge as from their own consciences. 
When men cannot endure sound doctrine, it is a dangerous crisis, that 
which the prophet Jeremiah speaketh of, chap. vi. 10, To whom shall 
I speak and give warning, that they may hear ? Behold, their ear is 
uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken ; behold, the word of the Lord 
is unto them a reproach, they have no delight in it. Surely men 
delight in Satan s arms when they are loath to be plucked from thence. 
Satan hath made his nest there, and is loath to be disturbed : 2 Sam. 
xxiii, 6, 7, But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust 
away, because they cannot be taken with hands ; but the man that 
shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear. 
The sons of Belial are compared to thorns that cannot be touched with 
hands, but rend and tear those that meddle with them. Men are angry 
that they cannot quietly enjoy their lusts. Plausible strains are very 
suitable to a carnal heart, or tame lectures of contemplative divinity ; 
but sound doctrine, that rendeth and teareth the conscience, is not 

4. By scoffing at the word. The chair of the scorner is a prefer 
ment in sin : Ps. i. 1, Blessed is the man that walketh not in the 
counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sittetli 


in the seat of the scornful ; Jer. xxiii. 34-36, And as for the prophet, 
and the priest, and the people that shall say, The burden of the Lord, 
I will even punish that man and his house. Thus shall ye say every 
one to his neighbour, and every one to his brother, What hath the 
Lord answered ? and what hath the Lord spoken ? And the burden 
of the Lord shall ye mention no more ; for every man s word shall be 
his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the 
Lord of hosts our God, &c. The prophets used to begin their pro 
phecies with The burden of the Lord ; and they would in mockery 
demand, What burden they had from the Lord for them ? Now shall 
we hear again of the burden of the Lord. Saith God, Every man s 
word shall be his burden ; that is, you shall dearly pay for this 
scoffing language ; your words shall be your burden. But these marks 
may not be close enough, let me propound other things. 

[1.] Did you ever lay down the buckler before God, and say, I have 
done foolishly ; I will do so no more ? Were you ever feelingly con 
vinced, and your lusts powerfully subdued ? Did you ever say, as 
Paul, Acts ix. 6, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? Every man 
carrieth on his opposition against God till he be brought to yield by a 
mighty Spirit breaking in upon him. When were the wings broken 
that you could fly no longer ? the will subdued, that you said, Lord I 
have too long stouted it out against thee, so that you were willing to 
be at peace with God ? Isa. xxvii. 5, Let him take hold of my strength 
that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me. 
Were you ever forced to cry quarter ? Didst thou ever apprehend God 
ready to smite and give fire upon thee, and then in a submissive 
posture did entreat him to stay his hand ? 

[2.] What effect hath the word upon you ? Isa, Ixvi. 2, To this 
man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and 
trembleth at my word. It is a great part of sensibleness to tremble at 
the word. What meltings and yieldings of heart do you express? 
Doth it put you upon recourse to God ? 2 Chron. xxxiv. 27, Because 
thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God when 
thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants 
thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes 
and weep before me, I have even heard thee, saith the Lord. Didst 
thou ever humble thyself before the Lord, to clear up matters between 
God and thy soul, and to get thy doubts resolved, and thy lusts 
mortified ? 

[3.] What pliableness has there been in thee to the Holy Ghost s 
motions ? A man that hath a tender heart yieldeth to the motions of 
the Holy Spirit : Ps. xxvii. 8, When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; 
my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. There is a 
quick echo to God s voice : Isa, vi. 8, I heard the voice of the Lord 
saying, Whom shall I send ? and who will go for us ? Then said I, 
Here I am ; send me/ There is not only a readiness to obey, but he 
offers himself to the work. When we grow lazy and backward in holy 
tilings, and hang off, it is a high degree of hardness of heart. 

Use 2. Exhortation. 

1. To press us to beware of hardness of heart; it is a grievous sin, 
I shall use three arguments 

[1.] It depriveth you of grace. (See before, p. 205.) 


[2.] It unfitteth you for duty while we are under the power of it. 
An hard heart is forced and superstitious. With what coldness and 
formality did David pray during the suspension of God s grace ! We 
come into God s presence with great backwardness and reluctancy while 
we are under the power of a hard heart. 

[3.] It fitteth for judgment. The heart groweth harder and harder, 
and the mind blinder and blinder, till it be cast into an utter indis 
position and impossibility of repentance. Hardness of heart turns a 
man into a beast, nay, into a devil ; and according to our sin so is 
God s wrath : Bom. iii. 5, After thy hardness and impenitent heart, 
thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and 
revelation of the righteous judgment of God. 

2. To press us to come out of this evil frame of spirit. Argu 

[1.] As long as the heart is hard you are very remote from the com 
forts of the gospel. Christ came to heal the broken-hearted, Luke. 
iv. 18. So Mat. ix. 12, 13, They that be whole need not the physician, 
but they that are sick : I came not to call the righteous, but sinners 
to repentance. You are full of sin, but not sick ; as a toad is full of 
poison, but the toad is not sick, because it is natural to him. Will a 
physician go about to cure a toad ? Men lie under a great weight of 
sin, yet they sleep, and eat, and drink, and trade, and look as well as 
ever, feel no pain, nor anything to trouble them. These men have no 
need and will to be cured, and, of all men, are most properly said to 
be dead in trespasses and sins ; they neither break an hour s sleep, nor 
abate one drachm of their carnal delights, but are heart-whole. The 
physician hath no desire to meddle with them that will not take what 
he prescribeth, as carnal men will not submit themselves to God s 

[2.] You are very remote from the work of the gospel. As God 
maketh a way for his anger, so he maketh a way for his mercy and 
grace. The heart is fitted and prepared for the Spirit s residence. It 
is softened before it is quickened : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, I will take 
away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of 
flesh ; and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in 
my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. The 
vital spirit is not infused till the body be organised and formed. God 
made Adam out of the dust of the ground, and then breathed into him 
the breath of life. The Spirit of grace coming into the tender heart 
maketh way for itself. 

Now for the cure of it, I will recommend unto you two means, two 
graces, and two ordinances. 

First, Two means, light and love. 

1. Light : Jer. xxxi. 19, Surely after that I turned I repented ; 
and after that I was instructed I smote upon my thigh ; I was ashamed, 
yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. 
Men that know not the nature and danger of sin are little troubled 
about it. Where there is no knowledge there is lit.tle conscience. 
When the troops of Syria were smitten with blindness, they were easily 
led into the midst of their enemies, 2 Kings vi. 18, 19 ; and when they 
thought themselves at Dothan they were in Samaria. Ignorance, 


Because it is not always accompanied with gross acts, is little thought 
of ; but it is a bloody sin. If men did know God and themselves more, 
they could not be satisfied with their condition. Ignorance is the 
greatest cause of hardening. 

2. Love. I do not consider it as a grace, but as an argument to 
melt the soul. It is a forcible argument and a kindly argument. 

[1.] It is a forcible argument. Saul relented when David had an 
advantage against him, and spared him in the cave : 1 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17, 
Saul lift up his voice and wept ; and he said to David, Thou art more 
righteous than I ; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have 
rewarded thee evil. To make the heart relent, it is good to study 
God s kindness, not only how he hath spared us, but how he hath 
blessed us. 

(1.) For temporal mercies, " creation and providence. For the 
mercies of creation : We all condemn the rebellion of Absalom for 
rising against his father. God made us out of nothing ; none so much 
a father as God, and yet we rebel against him. If we had lost a limb, 
an eye, a tooth, or an arm, would we injure him that could restore us 
these things? God gave them to us at first ; how should the thoughts 
-of this soften our hearts ! Then for the mercies of providence : 
Nathan mentions God s mercies to David to humble him : 2 Sam. 
xii. 7-9, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee 
out of the hand of Saul ; and I gave thee thy master s house, and thy 
master s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and 
of Judah ; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given 
unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the 
commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight ? It is God that 
feedeth and maintaineth you, and preserveth you. Men stand upon 
their honour in the world, to be true to their interest, not to be unthank 
ful to their preservers. Now God giveth us life and breath and all 
things. You value these things when they are given you by men, 
much more should you when they are given you by God. Is water the 
worse because it cometh from the fountain and not from the cistern ? 
Water is purer in the fountain. We have more reason to value mercies 
when they come from God, that so great a majesty should look after 
you : Ps. cxiii. 6, * Who humbleth himself to behold the things that 
are in heaven and in the earth ; that God that standeth not in need 
of you, as man doth of the meanest ; that God whom you have offended, 
whose favour you are so much concerned about. In a small gift from 
a king, the favour is valued : we are continually fed and maintained 
at the expense and care of his providence. 

(2.) For spiritual mercies ; they melt the heart. What great love 
Christ showed in the business of our salvation, what he left, what he 
suffered, what he purchased ! 

(1st.) What he left. That love that is accompanied with self-denial is 
accounted the highest. IJow many degrees did the sun of righteous 
ness go back ! etcevcoatv kavrov\ Phil. ii. 8, He humbled, or emptied 
himself. There was a veil upon his godhead : when he was rich, for 
our sakes he became poor, 2 Cor. viii. 9. In the fulness of the God 
head he abstained from the use of it. Did Christ leave heaven, and 
wilt not thou leave thy lusts ? Was he made the Son of man, and wilt 


not thou be made the son of God ? It was his abasement, but it is 
our advancement. 

(2c?.) What he suffered. We are more affected with what men 
suffer for us than with what they do for us. Cubitum sine manu. 
To show the stump of the arm where the hand was lost was an effec 
tual plea : Zech. xii. 10, They shall look upon me whom they have 
pierced ; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only 
son, and be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his 
first-born. Sin doth most affect the heart when we consider the wrong 
done to Christ by it. Amor doloris causa The more a man loveth 
another, or apprehends that he is loved of him, the more he is grieved 
that he hath any way injured him. Your sins strike at Christ, and 
have pierced him ; shall not your hearts be pierced when his head was 
pierced with thorns, his hands and feet with nails, his heart with 
sorrows ? Can you look upon Golgotha with dry eyes and a careless 
stupid heart ? Think that you heard Christ say, Behold, is any sorrow 
like to my sorrow ? Will you still go on in your rebellion against 
me ? Ts all nothing, all that I have done and suffered for you ? 

(3d) What hath he purchased for us ? He gave himself a ransom 
and price, a ransom to free us from death and hell. We would love a 
man that should get a pardon for our lives when we are condemned to 
die: 1 Thes. i. 10, Even Jesus, who delivered us from the wrath to 
come/ There was never any such wrath past or present ; it is a thing 
to come, when we shall stir up all his wrath. And a price to purchase 
for us the favour of God, and our eternal abode with him in heaven. 
Heaven is called the purchased possession, Eph. i. 14. If we were 
to be annihilated, or to spend our time in some obscure place, it were 
mercy ; but to be for ever with the Lord, and to be filled up with God, 
who can express the greatness of this mercy ? And all this is freely 
offered to you in the gospel. Things that concern us affect us; and 
therefore surely this should melt the heart : Rom. xii. 1, I beseech 
you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God. What ! shall not 
mercy prevail ? Joel ii. 13, And rend your heart, and not your 
garments, and turn unto the Lord your God ; for he is gracious and 
merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of 
the evil. Surely God s graciousness and readiness to receive returning 
sinners should work upon us. An hammer will easily break an hard 
stone against a soft bed ; but if it be laid on an hard solid body, that 
will not give way underneath, strike as hard as you will, it is kept from 
breaking ; so smite thy soul on the gospel, hell and damnation may be 
the hammer ; but then lay thy soul upon the gospel and gospel con 
siderations, then it breaketh all to shatters. Strike thy soul with the 
blows of God s wrath against the law, and it resists still ; all doth but 
make us desperate ; but now remember the mercies of the Lord, how 
freely he inviteth returning sinners, and this breaks the heart to 

[2.] It is a kindly argument ; the heart is not till then kindly 
humbled for sin as sin. An apprehension of wrath is one thing, godly 
sorrow is another thing ; the former is necessary, but not enough : 2 
Kings xxii. 19, Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast 
humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake 


against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should 
become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept 
before me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Threateriings may 
terrify, but this melts the heart, and begets a serious remorse for sin, 
as offensive, displeasing, and grievous unto God : 2 Cor. vii. 10, For 
godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of ; 
but the sorrow of the world worketh death ; Ezek. vi. 9, And they 
that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they 
shall be carried captives ; because I am broken with their whorish 
heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a 
whoring after their idols ; and they shall loath themselves for the evils 
which they have committed in all their abominations. Not only for 
the evils which they have suffered, but which they have committed ; 
for the evil that is in sin, not for the evil that is after sin : 2 Chron. 
xxxii. 26, Hezekiah, humbled himself for the pride of his heart. Not 
only for the inconvenience and mischief done thereby, but because God 
was offended. That Christian Niobe wept much because she loved 
much, Luke vii. 47. 

Secondly, There are two graces faith and fear. 

1. Faith. As reason maketh a difference between a man and a beast, 
so doth faith between a man and a man. It is faith bringeth us under 
the power of a truth, and maketh light active. Three times Christ re 
proached his disciples for hardness of heart, and still the cause given 
is unbelief : Mark vi. 52, They considered not the miracle of the 
loaves for their hearts were hardened ; Mark viii. 17, Why reason ye 
because ye have no bread ? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand ? 
have ye your heart yet hardened ? Mark xvi. 14, Afterwards he 
appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them 
because of their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed 
not them which had seen him after he was risen. A man is dull, 
stupid, and senseless till faith maketh light break in upon the heart 
with power ; till then he will not make use of his eyes, ears, or memory.. 
All affections follow persuasion. Faith persuadeth of death, and hell, 
and judgment to come. We would not trifle away the day of grace 
if we did believe the goodness of God offering favour and life eternal 
in Christ. Hcec audiunt quasi somnianies Men entertain these things 
as a dream, and are only a little troubled for the present, till they 
thoroughly believe them. 

2. Fear. It is always made a preservative against hardness of heart : 
Isa. Ixiii. 17, Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and 
hardened our heart from thy fear ? Fear argueth a constant sense of 
God s presence, and a deep respect to him, so as that we are loath to 
offend him ; it makes the soul to walk as in God s company, and there 
fore it is kept humble : Prov. xxviii. 14, Happy is the man that fear- 
eth alway ; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. 
It will make us tender of offending God, and yielding to our own cor 
ruptions, though never so secret. Who is the man that is opposed to 
him that hardeneth his heart ? He that feareth alway. Careless 
ness breedeth senselessness ; but now, when we are continually watchful, 
and say, Shall I thus and thus offend God ? the heart is kept in a good 


Thirdly, There are two ordinances the word and prayer ; for 
water, if never so scalding, will return to its natural coldness. 

1. The word : 2 Chron. xxxiv. 19, It came to pass, when the king 
had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes ; and ver. 27, 
Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before 
God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the 
inhabitants thereof, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me, I 
have even heard thee also, saith the Lord ; Heb. iii. 7, 8, To-day, if 
ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. A conscionable hear 
ing the word will prevent hardness of heart : Jer. xxiii. 29, Is not my 
word like a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the 
rock in pieces ? There is the double work of the word legal and 
evangelical ; the breaking and the melting power of it. There is a 
great deal of difference between breaking the ice with a staff, and thaw 
ing or melting it : break it in one place, and it f reezeth in another ; 
melting is more universal. There are legal breakings and gospel melt 
ings ; there sin is discovered, here it is subdued. But then you must 
use the word as an ordinance, receive it in faith and obedience ; use it 
in obedience, when you are discouraged in point of faith: Luke v. 5, 
Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing ; never 
theless at thy word I will let down the net. But use it not only in 
obedience, but in faith ; you must hear the word, not only as a moral 
lecture or legal discourse, or as a means of literal instruction, but evan 
gelically, waiting for the power and presence of God. 

2. Prayer. God will be specially owned in this work. No creature 
in the world can soften and turn the heart, but only God. He that 
made the heart can only change it : Ezek. xi. 1 9, And I will give them 
one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you ; and I will take the 
stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh/ It 
is God only that gives a teachable mind, a pliable will, and ready affec 
tions. Go, then, and practise this duty ; beg of God to give you a 
heart more pliable to the work of grace, more capable to be renewed, 
more soft and ready to receive the impressions of grace, and be earnest 
with him for this. 

I shall now give you some further advice. 

1. In the first place, begin with conversion to God ; look for a 
change of state. Kepentance in particular cases is neither right nor 
acceptable, as long as men do not mind conversion to God, and a change 
of state by regeneration. When the tree is good, then the fruits are 
answerable. Get the heart of stone taken away, and then labour to 
preserve a tender frame. It is a fruitless course to look after a good 
frame, till we are brought into a good estate. Natural hardness is the 
cause of habitual hardness ; till that be taken away by regeneration all 
cometh to nothing. 

2. Be tender how you use your light. Men wax bold by sinning 
against light, and seem to get a victory over their consciences. When 
the candle is put out, lust will be stirring. Light and reason is God s 
bridle on man to keep him in awe. Well, then, use your light ten 
derly. If it be but an half light, search further ; if it be a full light, 
walk by it. If you are children of the light, you will have no fellow 
ship with the unfruitful works of darkness. 


3. After you have sinned, take up betimes ; as Peter went out, and 
wept bitterly ; for sin will fret, and soak in more and more. 

4. Use frequent recollection and communing with your hearts. Man 
hath reason, and can talk with himself. God, that cannot err, surveyed 
every day s work, and found it good. Cast up your account at the foot 
of every page. He that runneth in debt, and never casteth up his 
accounts, will sink at last. A man is insensibly hardened for want of 
searching and ransacking his conscience ; there is no serious repentance 
without it : Lam. iii. 40, Let us search and try our ways, and turn 
again to the Lord. God will search you if you leave the work to 

5. Improve afflictions. It is a means God hath appointed to shake 
us out of our security. We are apt to be lulled asleep with the delights 
and pleasures of sin till we feel the sharp rod of afflictions : 2 Chron. 
xxviii. 22, And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more 
against the Lord : this is that King Ahaz. They are monsters of 
nature and hopeless wretches that are not reclaimed by afflictions. God 
sets a brand on Ahaz, like a dogged servant that will not stir, beat him 
never so much. Unprofitableness under the rod is an ill presage. In 
hell sinners are always suffering and always sinning. 

6. Beware of those things which are both steps unto, and causes of, 
hardness of heart ; for one degree is the cause of another ; as when sin 
is committed without remorse, and swallowed without grief. 

7. Beware of extenuating sin, of having less thoughts of it, and being 
less troubled about it. At first it seemed a horrible thing, a burden too 
heavy for us ; but afterwards it grows less light, and the heart more 
insensible, and sin more delightful. The burden of sin increaseth in 
the children of God as light and acquaintance with God increaseth. 
That which they made nothing of at first groweth very heavy. 

8. Keep grace in a constant exercise. Let the fire be kept always in 
that came down from heaven, 2 Tim. i. 6, Wherefore I put thee in 
remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God that is in thee. 

9. Frequent the society of God s people. Want of care of our com 
pany is a great fault ; for company hardeneth in sin or humbleth. The 
very example of God s people will be a great help to you ; how tender 
they are, how watchful, what meltings of heart they have in prayer, how 
they make conscience of the least sin, how they complain of themselves, 
Oh ! what a hard heart have I ! Coals lying together keep fire. This 
is a means to keep us tender : Heb. iii. 13, But exhort one another 
daily while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the 
deceitfulness of sin/ 



I will harden his heart, that he shall not let my people go. 
EXOD. iv. 21. 

I HAVE spoken of hardness of heart as it is proper to man. I shall now 
speak of that judicial hardness which is inflicted by God ; a notable 
instance whereof we have in Pharaoh, that was raised up that God 
might in him make his power known ; that is, he was born into the 
world, and advanced to royal dignity, that the world may know what 
God can do against an obstinate contradicting creature. And accord 
ingly it is applied by the apostle : Rom. ix. 17, For the scripture 
saith unto Pharoah, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, 
that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be 
declared throughout all the earth. Therefore it is an instance worth 
the viewing. 

In this place God acquainteth Moses of it aforehand, to fortify him 
against all discouragements. He was to deal with an obstinate crea 
ture, but it was that which God had foreseen and foredecreed : 4 I will 
harden his heart, that he shall not let my people go. 

The point or head of doctrine is, God s hardening of sinners. You 
may take it in the form of a proposition, for the help of the weakest. 

Doct. God himself hath a hand in the hardening of obstinate sinners. 

About fourteen times is the hardness of Pharaoh s heart spoken of ; 
and thrice it is said, He hardened his own heart : Exod. viii. 15, 
4 When Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, 
and hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had said. So ver. 32, 
And Pharaoh hardened his heart at that time also, neither would he 
let the people go ; and again, chap. ix. 34, And when Pharaoh saw 
that the rain, and the hail, and the thunders were ceased, he sinned 
yet more, and hardened his heart, he and all his servants. In all the 
other places it is ascribed to God himself. Man hardeneth, and then 
God hardeneth. When God blindeth a man, he first closeth his own 
eyes ; and when God hardeneth a man, he first contracted! a brawn 
and stiffness upon his own heart. Pharaoh in hardening himself is 
charged with two things slighting of the judgment: chap. vii. 23, 
4 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his 


heart to this also. And contempt of the threatening : chap. viii. 15, 
He hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as the Lord 
had said. And the very same thing also is said to be of God : chap. 
vii. 13, He hardened Pharaoh s heart, that he hearkened not unto- 
them, as the Lord had said. 

For the clearing of this, I shall (1.) Give you some observations 
from the story ; (2.) Show you how God hardeneth ; (3.) The causes 
of it. 

I. I shall give you some general observations from the story ; for in 
the story of Pharaoh we have the exact platform of an hard heart. 

1. Between the hard heart and God there is an actual contest who 
shall have the better. The parties contesting are God and Pharaoh. 
(See the first Sermon on Mark iii. 5.) 

2. The sin that hardened Pharaoh, and put him upon this contest, 
was covetousness and interest of state. Jacob s seventy souls that he 
brought down to Egypt were grown to six hundred thousand fighting 
men, besides children ; and to let such a company of men go, whom 
they used as slaves, besides the prey of their herds and flocks, seemed 
hard to Pharaoh. Which is not only an item to magistrates, to re 
tain nothing which God hateth out of interest and reason of state, 
but also to private Christians. Whatever of gain and advantage we 
may fancy in sin, it will at length prove a certain loss. If God send a 
message for our right eye, we must pluck it out ; or for our right hand, 
we must cut it of. It is dangerous to deny God anything. If he 
demand Israel, and all the flocks and herds, let them go ; the sweetest 
interests, the dearest pleasures, the most gainful employments, if they 
are unlawful, let them go. There is an usual contest between interest 
and duty, between pleasure and obedience, between profit and the 
command ; but it is better our own faith should give the command, 
the victory, than God s power : 1 John v. 4, This is the victory 
that overcomes the world, even our faith. He had before spoken 
of keeping the commandments, ver. 3, and presently he speaketh of 
victory over the world/ The world is the great enemy of the com 
mandments ; and till it be overcome, a Christian can have no comfort, 
but still be contesting with God, as Pharaoh was, and slighting every 

3. This contest on Pharaoh s part is managed with slightings and 
contempt of God ; on God s part, with mercy and condescension. On 
Pharaoh s part with slightings and contempt of God : Exod. v. 2, 
And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to 
let Israel do ? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. 
Words of profane contempt. Who is the Lord ? as if he should 
say, Am not I king of Egypt ? who is my peer, much less my supe 
rior and my lord? I know not the Lord. Ere God hath done 
with Pharaoh he shall know him to the purpose. Mark the words, I 
know not ; and then, I will not. Hardness is the usual effect of 
blindness. Errors of mind go on to errors of heart. I will not know, 
I will not hear of it ; I care not for such a duty, nor will I weigh or 
consider what is God s will concerning me. The eye aifecteth the 
heart. Pharaoh did not consider what it was to deal with God, and 
then doubleth the burdens of the Israelites. But now, on God s part 


it is managed with sweetness and kindness. God from the beginning 
foreknew the hardness of Pharaoh s heart, and therefore might have 
swept him away of a sudden, but he giveth him frequent warnings and 
convictions. He would have men convinced ere they are punished. 
Foregoing mercy showeth the righteousness of ensuing wrath. In all 
the progress of the story the first miracles were before him, the next 
upon him. And every judgment is threatened before it be executed ; 
God telleth what he would do to warn Pharaoh. In one plague it is 
notable that God doth not only threaten the judgment, but sendeth a 
gracious warning to bid him take his cattle out of the fields : Exod. ix. 
19, Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast 
in the field ; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in 
the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down 
upon them, and they shall die/ To show that God delighteth not in 
the ruin and destruction of the creature, and to make Pharaoh the more 
liable to condemnation, and to spare such among the Egyptians as had 
some fear of God remaining in them, but chiefly to harden Pharaoh 
the more : Exod. x. 1, And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto 
Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, 
that 1 might show these my signs before him. Moses might say, Lord, 
therefore let me never go to Pharaoh ; but saith God, Go in unto 
him, for I have hardened his heart. God continueth the means, 
though he denieth grace ; and the wicked must be admonished, though 
they will not be reformed. In the hardening of sinners, God usually 
observeth this course : by mercies and the means of grace they are 
convinced and hardened at the same time ; there is still new matter of 
glorifying God, and hardening the creature. 

4. The first plague on Pharaoh s heart is delusion. Moses worketh 
miracles, turneth Aaron s rod into a serpent, rivers into blood, bringeth 
frogs, and the magicians still do the same ; God permitteth these 
magical impostures, to leave Pharaoh in his wilful error. It is pro 
bable that what the magicians did was not real, but a mere delusion of 
the senses ; but the Lord doth not discover the cheat, because his pre 
sent aim was not to shame Satan, but to harden Pharaoh ; therefore 
he suffered the devil to imitate the true miracles without discovery. 
It is sad when men choose false teachers to themselves, and God suffer- 
eth them to be blinded : Hosea iv. 17, Ephraim is joined to idols ; let 
him alone. They may have some parts, plausible elocution, gifts of 
prayer ; there may be common effects wrought by them ; these things 
blind men, and their hearts are set upon familism and antinomianism ; 
let them alone : Exod. vii. 22, The magicians of Egypt did so with 
their enchantments, and Pharaoh s heart was hardened. This was one 
means of hardening his heart, the magicians wrought the same miracles 
that Moses and Aaron did. God suffereth men to be hardened by their 
own choice. 

5. God was not wanting to give Pharaoh sufficient means of convic 
tion. The magicians turned their rods into serpents, but Aaron s rod 
swallowed up their rods, Exod. vii. 12 ; which showeth God s super- 
eminent power. They could not deliver him from the frogs, though 
they could bring frogs. God may surfer the devil to add to the judg 
ment, but to relieve them is an act of mercy : the magicians could add 


to the plagues, but they could not deliver him from them ; the devil 
can sooner bring a plague than remove it. This was warning enough ; 
there was difficulty enough to harden them, and light enough to con 
vince them. Again, the magicians were nonplussed in their art : 
Exod. viii. 18, And the magicians did so with their enchantments to 
bring forth lice, but they could not/ They sought to bring forth lice, 
and could not, being hindered by God s will. They that could bring 
forth frogs could not bring forth lice ; the greater the possibility, the 
more are the magicians abashed ; this was an easy miracle. All colour 
of excuse is taken away from Pharaoh ; they confess, This is the finger 
of God, Exod. viii. 19 ; and yet Pharaoh s heart was hardened ; as 
many will riot be won to the truth by the confession of those that led 
them into the mistake. Nay, afterwards the magicians themselves 
were smitten with boils : Exod. ix. 11, 12, And the magicians could 
not stand before Moses because of the boils ; for the boil was upon the 
magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. And the Lord hardened the 
heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them. If the hard heart 
go to hell, it is not for want of light, but grace. We may wonder as 
much at the success as at the plagues. To what a height of obstinacy 
will man come if he be let alone to plagues ! for all this while 
Pharaoh s heart was hardened. 

6. Observe, in one of the plagues Israel might have stolen away, 
whether Pharaoh would or no : Exod. x. 22, 23, And Moses stretched 
forth his hand towards heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all 
the land of Egypt three days ; they saw not one another, neither rose 
any from his place for three days ; but all the children of Israel had 
light in their dwellings. They were not only deprived of the light of 
heaven, but of candles and torches ; the air was condensed with thick 
clouds, and the mists and vapours so thick, that they would easily have 
damped them, and put them out again. Now whilst they were under 
the power of three days darkness, the Israelites might have stolen 
away, and have gone three days journey in the wilderness before they 
could have made any pursuit ; but God had more miracles to be done. 
When he hath to do with a hard heart, he will not steal out of the 
field, but go away with honour and triumph. This was to be a public 
instance, and for intimation to the world : 1 Sam. vi. 6, Wherefore 
then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened 
their hearts ? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they 
not let the people go, and they departed ? The Philistines took 
warning by it, and it will be our condemnation if we do not. 

7. In all these plagues I observe that Pharaoh now and then had 
his devout pangs. In an hard heart there may be some relentings, 
but no true repentance. We have him confessing, Exod. ix. 27, I 
have sinned this time : the Lord is righteous ; and I and my people 
are wicked ; and chap. x. 16, 17, I have sinned against the Lord 
your God, and against you : now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin 
only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that he may take away 
from me this death only/ So chap. xii. 32, Be gone, and bless me 
also. Hardened sinners may have their gripes and sensible touches, 
and so some faint purposes of reformation. But that which was defec 
tive, and showeth it was not true repentance, was 


[1.] Because it was only extorted by present horror : Job xxvii. 10, 
* Will he always call upon God ? A still will send forth water as well 
a fountain, but it is by drops, and by force : Prov. v. 11-13, And 
thou mourn at last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed ; and 
say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof ? 
and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to 
them that instructed me ? The lecher hath his penitent moods. A 
malefactor on the rack will confess freely. Vows of men are very fre 
quent. Oh 1 that men would be such when they are well as they pro 
mised to be when they were sick 1 

{2.] Because the aim of all was ease and safety. Pharaoh s cry is 
not, Take away iniquity, but, Take away this plague. Offers of nature 
after ease are found in hypocrites. Esau sought the privileges of the 
birthright with tears, quid perdiderat, non quid vendlderat ; not be 
cause he sold it, but because he had lost it. Nature may be sensible 
of present evil. 

[3.] Because it was vanishing. The good motions of an hard heart 
are of no long continuance ; they pass through, and are gone like a 
flash of lightning. Pharaoh s remorse for the frogs and grasshoppers 
was as a cloud soon blown over. Till there be sound repentance, re 
morse must needs be short, for it is an unpleasing penance. Water 
heated is the colder afterwards, because it is rarefied ; after it hath 
thawed a little, it will freeze the harder. Pharaoh after every respite 
was hardened anew ; it is the temper of those that are doomed to de 

[4.] Because his purposes came so short and lame of what God ex 
pected. An hard heart, when it cannot prevail against God, would 
fain compound with him. First he gave leave : Exod. viii. 25, Go ye, 
sacrifice to God in the land ; then ver. 28, I will let ye go, that ye 
may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, only ye shall not 
go very far away ; then chap. x. 11, Go now, ye that are men, and 
serve the Lord. Their children were to remain for hostages. Then, 
ver. 24, Go ye, serve the Lord, only let your flocks and your herds be 
stayed ; let your little ones also go with you. Their cattle were to 
remain for a pawn, and their flocks and their herds for a forfeiture if 
they returned not, and a recompense for the damage of Egypt. But 
God would not abate him a hoof. An hard heart yieldeth to God by 
halves. Pharaoh hucketh with him ; first they might sacrifice in the 
land ; then go a little way, three days journey ; then he would keep 
their children, then their flocks and herds. An hard heart never 
yieldeth to God his whole demand ; the devil is loath to let go his 
hold. How do men huck with God in duties contrary to their affec 
tions or prejudicial to their interests ? 2 Kings v. 18, In this thing 
the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the 
house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I 
bow myself in the house of Eimmon ; when I bow myself in the house 
of Kimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. They have 
their reservations, and in this and that thing they will be excused. 
These are but deceitful pangs. Pharaoh doth often eat his words, and 
retract every grant. 

8. In process of time his hardness is improved into rage and downright 



malice : Exod. x. 28, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my 
face no more; for in the day thou seest my face thou shalt die/ 
Vessels, when they come to the lees, they grow sour and tart; so 
Pharaoh began to run dregs. Or as beasts by long baiting grow mad 
and furious, so it was with Pharaoh. Men first slight the truth, and 
then are hardened against it, and then come to persecute it. A river, 
when it hath been long kept up, swelleth and beareth down the bank 
and rampire ; so do wicked men rage when their consciences cannot 
withstand the light, and their hearts will not yield to it. 

9. At length Pharaoh is willing to let them go. After much ado 
God may get something from a hard heart ; but it is no sooner given, 
but retracted ; like fire struck out of a flint, it is hardly got, and 
quickly gone : Hosea vi. 4, Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and 
as the early dew it goeth away. Many may have some show of good 
ness, at least at some times, who yet are little the better, and their 
condition nothing the better ; it proveth a great snare and neck-break 
to them ; its unsoundness is presently seen in its inconstancy. 

10. The last news that we hear of hardening Pharaoh s heart was a 
little before his destruction : Exod. xiv. 8, And the Lord hardened 
the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children 
of Israel. Pharaoh begrudgeth his own grant, as if he had yielded too- 
far. Hardness of heart will not leave us till it hath wrought our full 
and final destruction. God always besotteth when he meaneth to de 
stroy. Never any were hardened but to their own ruin. As God, that 
loveth his own, loveth them to the end, so God, that hateth those that 
are hardened, hateth them to the end. Pharaoh is first plagued and 
then destroyed. This is the upshot of all : Job ix. 4, Who hath 
hardened himself against him, and prospered ? The beginning is 
imposture and delusion, the middle obstinacy, and the end ruin. 

11. How God hardeneth. It is a point that needeth explication. 
God is not and cannot be the author of sin ; if God should cause it, 
man should sin of necessity, and then his punishment would not be 
just, he being under force. God hath not brought upon any necessity 
of sinning ; and God, that is good, cannot be the cause of evil. If God 
were the immediate author, it would be no sin, for whatever God doth 
is good. 

How then doth he harden the heart ? I answer (1.) Negatively - r 
(2.) Affirmatively. 

1. Negatively. In the explication of this matter we must avoid both 
extremes ; some say too much of it, others too little. 

[1.] We must not say too much, lest we leave a stain and blemish 
upon the divine glory. 

(1.) God infuseth no hardness and sin as he infuseth grace. All 
influences from heaven are sweet and good, not sour. Evil cannot 
come from the Father of lights. God enforceth no man to do evil. 

(2.) God doth not excite the inward propension to sin ; that is 
Satan s work. He persuadeth it not ; it hath neither command, nor 
approbation, nor influence, nor impulse from heaven. In all these 
ways we must look upon man s sin. All sin is a child begotten by 
that incubus of hell on the corrupt soul of man ; it is poured out as 
milk into the womb of their hearts, and there it is curdled as cheese. 


[2.] We must not give it too little. God doth not harden by bare 
prescience, because God foreseeth other sins, and yet they are not 
ascribed to God; he is not said to kill, or to steal, or to do wrong, as 
he is to harden. There is a difference between God s concurrence to 
this sin and others. It is not only by way of manifestation, that is, by 
his plagues and judgments he declareth how hard it is. God hardened 
Pharaoh, say some, that is, by frequency of judgments showed how hard 
his heart was. The prayer by which we deprecate this evil showeth the 
meaning of it. We would not say, Lord, show not how hard I am by 
thy many judgments upon me; but, Lord harden not my heart, lead 
me not into temptation, incline not my heart to any evil thing. And 
it doth not hold good in other instances : Deut. ii. 30, Sihon king of 
Heshbon would not let us pass by him, for the Lord thy God hardened 
his spirit, and made his heart obstinate. There was no such long 
process to make it evident they had hard hearts. So Josh. xi. 20, 
For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should not 
come against Israel in battle. So that there is somewhat besides an 
evident manifestation to the world by continued judgments that it is 
hard. Nor is it by a mere idle permission (for there is besides that 
his decree, and a judicial action of providence), as if God were like the 
heathen s Jupiter, who was feasting in Ethiopia while things were out 
of order in Greece. Or at least such think God hath no more to do 
than a man that standeth on the shore and seeth a ship ready to be 
drowned when he might have helped it ; there is somewhat more than 
so. Nor is it merely by desertion and suspension of grace. It is true 
this is a part, but not all ; as a captain leaving his soldiers in the 
midst of a battle, may be said to leave them in the enemies hands. 
God concurreth not only by way of permission and patience, but by 
way of action and power ; not making hardness, but doing and willing 
the things whereby the sinner is hardened. Besides his decrees, there 
is his judicial sentence, and an active providence in order thereunto. 
Many things concur to the hardening of the heart, all which God willeth 
and intendeth, but justly. The wicked take these occasions of their own 
accord ; Satan tempteth out of his own malice ; but all this cannot be 
done without the will of God ; there is at least a permissive intention. 
If there were not God s overruling it, then he were not God omnipotent ; 
there is a supreme power overruling and ordering everything that is 
done in the world. It was God s will that Pharaoh should be hardened, 
that he might dispose of it to the ends of his providence : Exod. ix. 16, 
And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in 
thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the 
earth. If there were only a naked idle permission, then it may be said 
that he suffereth the heart to be hardened rather than hardeneth it, 
which is the phrase used. 

2. Affirmatively, how God doth harden. The inward way is won 
derful ; as God s drawing sinners is secret, so is his hardening. But 
if you ask me by what means it is accomplished ? I answer 

[1.] By desertion, by taking away the restraints of grace, whereby 
he letteth them loose to their own hearts : Ps. Ixxxi. 12, So I gave 
them up unto their own hearts lusts, and they walked in their own 
counsels. Man in regard of his inclinations to sin is like a greyhound 


held by a slip or collar ; when the hare is in sight, take away the slip, 
and the greyhound runneth violently after.the hare, according to his 
inbred disposition. Men are held in by the restraints of grace, which, 
when removed, they are left to their own swing, and run into all excess 
of riot. Thus God took away his good Spirit from Saul : 1 Sam. xvi. 
14, But the Spirit of the Lord departed from him, and an evil spirit 
from the Lord troubled him. Take away the pillar that sustaineth the 
house, and then the house falleth of itself. God taketh away his grace, 
and then all runneth to ruin ; as darkness ensueth upon the withdraw 
ing of light. Now herein God is not to be blamed. 

(1.) Because he is debtor to none. He may give his grace to whom 
he pleaseth, and withhold it as he will ; he is not bound to give or con 
tinue, but is free to bestow or withhold. Man sinneth when he doth 
not hinder sin, because he is bound to hinder it all that he can : Nek 
xiii. 17, Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto 
them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath- 
day ? When the people profaned the sabbath, and they did not 
restrain them. 

(2.) He knoweth how to make the best of any evil, to turn the 
greatest evil into the greatest good, which man cannot do, and ought 
not, being under a rule. We must not do evil that good may come of 
it : Rom. iii. 8, And not rather, as we be slanderously reported, and 
as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come ; whose 
damnation is just. 

(3.) There is an actual forfeiture. God is so far from being bound 
to continue grace, that he is bound in justice to withdraw what is 
given. When men stop their ears, God may shut them. But 

[2.] By tradition. He delivereth them up to the power of Satan, 
who worketh upon the corrupt nature of man, and hardeneth it ; he 
stirreth him up as the executioner of God s curse ; as the evil spirit 
had leave to seduce Ahab : 1 Kings xxii. 21, 22, And there came 
forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. 
And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith ? And he said, I will go 
forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. 
And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also ; go forth and 
do so. There is a permissive intention, not an effective ; Satan is the 
efficient and instrument, God is the judge ; he permitteth Satan to 
excite and stir up their evil natures: they grieve his Spirit, and then 
God withdraweth, and leaveth. them to an evil spirit ; as in Saul : 
1 Sam. xvi. 14, But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and 
an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. The light of the Spirit of 
the Lord is gone, and then Satan filled him with rage and fury and 
cruelty. It is said, An evil spirit from the Lord, because he was 
sent from God to punish him for his sins. 

[3.] There is an active providence, which disposeth and propoundeth 
such objects as, meeting with a wicked heart, maketh it more hard. 
God maketh the best things the wicked enjoy to turn to the fall and 
destruction of those that have them. Sometimes natural comforts: 
Jer. vi. 21, Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will lay stum 
bling-blocks before this people ; and the father and the sons together 
shall fall upon them, the neighbour and his friend shall perish. Their 


table is made a snare, and an occasion and preparation and means to 
ruin them. They harden themselves by despising the goodness and 
patience of God : Rom. ii. 4, Or despisest thou the riches of his good 
ness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the good 
ness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? Sometimes corrections and 
chastisements ; these produce nothing but a greater contumacy ; as a 
resty horse, the more he is spurred forward, the more he goeth back 
ward ; or as a. fierce bull or bear groweth mad with baiting. In what 
a sad case are wicked men left by God ! Mercies corrupt them, and 
corrections enrage them ; as unsavoury herbs, the more they are 
pounded, the more they stink. Sometimes by spiritual ordinances and 
advantages ; the most spiritual means do them no good : Isa. vi. 10, 
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and 
shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears. 
and convert and be healed. He that bringeth in the light blindeth 
the owl. Water poured on lime maketh it burn the more ; so do the 
means of grace hurt wicked men, irritating their corruptions, or they 
resting in them. Sometimes by withdrawing the word and means of 
grace and prayers of his people : Acts xix. 9, When divers were 
hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the 
multitude, he departed from them ; Jer. vii. 16, Pray not thou for 
this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make inter 
cession to me, for I will not hear thee/ Do not any longer strive 
between me and them. Sometimes by disposing and ordering the 
deceits of false teachers : 2 Thes. ii. 10, 11, They received not the love 
of the truth, that they might be saved : and for this cause God gave 
them up to strong delusions, that they should believe a lie ; Job xii. 
16, The deceived and the deceiver are his/ This doth not fall out 
without a providence. The water runneth its own course, but the 
miller maketh use of it to drive his engine. As all things work to 
gether for good to them that love God, so all things work for the worst 
to the wicked and impenitent. Providences and ordinances ; we read 
of them that wrest the scriptures to their own destruction, 2 Peter iii. 
16. Some are condemned to worldly happiness ; by ease and abund 
ance of prosperity they are entangled : Prov. i. 32, The prosperity of 
fools shall destroy them ; as brute creatures, when in good plight, 
grow fierce and man-keen. If we will find the sin, God will find the 
occasion. I shall instance in Judas ; Christ had reproved him for be 
grudging Mary s bounty, and ye read, Markxxvi. 16, From that time 
he sought opportunity to betray him/ He was offended with Christ s 
reproof. Judas was hurried on with wrath and avarice ; and when 
men are resolved, God in his providence suffereth them to have a fit 
opportunity. The priests, alarmed with the miracle of raising Lazarus 
from the dead, by which many were drawn to believe in him, were 
thinking how to seize on him, and Judas comes in the nick, and 
asketh them, What will ye give me, and I will betray him to you ? 

Use. Let us take warning by Pharaoh s example, that this great 
judgment light not upon us. The Philistines, that were otherwise a 
blind and stupid people, yet were affected with it. Dngon was broken 
in pieces, and they were smitten with em rods once and again, and 
they begin to consult what to do. Their diviners told them, 1 Sam. 


vi. 6, Wherefore do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and 
Pharaoh hardened their hearts ? when he had wrought wonderfully 
among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed ? 
God delighteth not in judgment, and therefore he hath made a pre 
cedent once for all ; here is Pharaoh set up, that all succeeding ages 
may stand in fear. God would not have us learn to our bitter cost, 
but take example by others. Qui alieno malo non sapit, gravius 
punitur He that will not take warning by others shall be more 
grievously punished. la judgments it is better to take example than 
to become examples. If thy life should be nothing else but Pharaoh s 
story acted over again (for certainly there is an exact parallel between 
this case and the course of every obstinate sinner), how great will thy 
doom be ! God was angry with Belshazzar because he was not warned 
by Nebuchadnezzar s example : Dan. v. 22, And thou his son, Bel- 
shazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this. 
You have known and heard of the way of God with Pharaoh ; God 
hath a quarrel with some of you for your lusts and vanities ; do you 
think to bear it up against warnings with peace and quiet ? Your 
lusts may not bring you to present ruin, that you may be the more 
hardened in them ; but be sure that God will have the best at last ; 
and then I leave you to judge what will be your condition when you 
fall under the weight of his displeasure. Have you not some qualms 
of conscience sometimes about your eternal condition ? doth not con 
science say, Surely I am not so careful to make my peace with God as 
I should be ? Upon every such stirring } r ou are the more estranged 
from God if you do not improve it. Conscience will repeat over these 
warnings to you when you lie upon your death-beds ; and then you will 
sadly howl over your neglects, and wish your magicians and old com 
panions far from you ; then you will send for Moses and Aaron, and 
it may be too late. When God is showing mercy, the last mercies are 
the best, and the farther he goeth the sweeter he is ; and when God is 
punishing, the last punishments are the sorest, and the farther he goeth 
the more bitter. 

I will propound two considerations 

1. From the evil of an hard heart. 

[1.] It is a contest with God, not only with his greatness and power, 
but also with his goodness and mercy, and therefore it must needs 
succeed ill with us. Before God breaketh out with fury he treateth 
with us in a mild condescending way ; he beseecheth his own creature : 
Jer. xiii. 15, 16, Hear ye, and give ear ; be not proud, for the Lord hath 
spoken : give glory to God before he cause darkness, and before your 
feet stumble upon the dark mountains ; and while ye look for light, he 
turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 

[2.] An hard heart makes us rebels to God and slaves to everything 
else ; for we are wedded to some inferior thing ; we are our own 
Pharaohs, and will not let ourselves go : 2 Tim. iii. 4, Lovers of 
pleasures more than lovers of God. 

[3.] It is in itself the sorest of all judgments. 

[4.] It never goes alone, but brings other judgments along with it. 

[5.] It is the great hindrance of the spiritual life. (See Sermon on 
Mark iii. 5.) 


2. From the parties whom it may befall, not only the open wicked, 
"but in some measure God s own children ; for God may harden two 
ways as a judge, and as a father ; by way of punishment, and by way 
of correction. By way of punishment again two ways totally and 
finally. Some are totally hardened, and have nothing of a soft heart 
in them, and yet not finally; the dreadful sentence of obduration 
is not yet passed upon them, as it may be upon others, and that dur 
ing life, when God leaveth them to their own hearts counsels, with 
out any check or restraint of providence, or purpose to reclaim them. 
These three kinds I must then speak of God s hardening the wicked 
in general, his final hardening, and his hardening in part his own 


I will harden his heart, that he shall not let my people go. 
EXOD. iv. 21. 

FIRST, Of God s hardening wicked men in general as a judge. The causes 
of it are 

1. Ignorance ; for light and love make the heart tender. Light is 
that which we are now to take notice of. Light begets tenderness, as 
it discerneth sin, and maketh us sensible of it, especially the lively light 
of the Spirit: Bom. vii. 9, I was alive without the law once; but 
when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died/ Sense of guilt 
and punishment soon flashed in his face; as in a dungeon the worms 
crawl as soon as light is brought in : Jer. xxxi. 19, After I was 
instructed, I smote upon my thigh ; I was ashamed, yea, even con 
founded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Instruction 
breedeth remorse, and awakeneth men out of their stupid security ; but 
while men continue in their ignorance they are stupid and senseless. Now 
thus men may be for a long time, and yet afterwards God may make 
the scales fall off from their eyes, and open their eyes, and turn them 
from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, Acts 
xxvi. 18. However, affected and vinceable ignorance, when men are 
willingly ignorant and err in their hearts, that is, when men have 
powerful and enlightening motives and yet remain ignorant, this is 
very dangerous. And for the present, that ignorance is one cause of 
their hardening is evident, because the worst usually when they come to 
die are sensible ; their mind is then cleared from the fogs and steams of 
lust, and conscience being awakened, they then feel their load, and a 
great weight of sin lying upon them, and most wish they had lived in 
a more strict and ready obedience to God s will. 

2. Unbelief. There is an hardness of the heart against the light and 
offers of the gospel, when Christ is tendered, but not received, and 
the cause of that is ignorance, affected ignorance ; and there is an 
hardening of the heart against the truth once received, out of love of 


their temporal peace, liberty, and safety of life and estate ; this cometh 
from unbelief, and want of a sufficient sense and sight of the world to 
come ; which hardness is caused by the veiglement and importunities 
of the flesh, craving its satisfactions in the present world, and denying 
or disbelieving the blessedness to come. If men did believe heaven 
and hell, they would be more pliable to God s motions, and more deaf 
to the importunities of the flesh ; but that this is a cause of hardening 
appeareth by Christ s chiding his disciples for their unbelief and hard 
ness of heart : Mark xvi. 14, Afterward he appeared unto the eleven 
as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hard 
ness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after 
he was risen. 

3. Sinning against light, either by way of omission or commission. 
This provoketh God to give us over to more hardness of heart. By 
way of commision is easily granted, but it is also by way of omission : 
James iv. 17, To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to 
him it is sin. They will find it to be sin in the sad effects of it. (See 
Sermon on Mark iii. 5.) 

4. Custom in sinning. (See Sermon on Mark iii. .5.) 

5. Small sins may occasion this judgment, and harden the heart as 
well as great sins. It is not easy to say which doth most ; indeed great 
sins get into the throne presently, but small sins insensibly and by 
degrees : Ps. xix. 13, Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous 
sins ; let them riot have dominion over me/ A small sin may get the 
upperhand of a sinner, and bring him under in time ; and after that, 
it is habituated by constant custom, so that he cannot easily shake off 
the yoke, and redeem himself from the tyranny thereof, as if a man be 
addicted to any vanity and foolish delight. These do not exercise 
dominion over the enslaved soul till they have gotten strength by many 
and multiplied acts. But presumptuous sins by one single act weaken 
the Spirit, and give a mighty advantage to the flesh, even almost to 
a complete conquest. So that for the present little sins do not harden 
the heart so much as greater. (See Sermon on Mark iii. 5.) 

Now all these causes concur to the hardening of the heart, and 
making it as a stone, but yet out of these stones God can raise up 
children to Abraham. 

Secondly, Of God s final hardening, when God leaveth men to perish, 
and will no more treat with them. Now here I shall show (1.) That 
there is such a dispensation ; (2.) The causes of it. 

1. That there is such a dispensation. 

[1.] It is an usual dispensation for God to leave men to perish in their 
sins, and that irreversibly, even before death, and will be entreated no 
more for them. It appears by many places of scripture : Eev. xxii. 11, 
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still ; and he which is filthy, let 
him be filthy still. Those which remain obstinate after many warnings 
and calls, it is usual with God to give them over to their lusts, that 
they may be ripe for hell : Ezek. iii. 27, He that heareth, let him 
hear ; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear ; for they are a rebellious 
house. As if God should say, Let them now do what they will, I am 
at a point. Now sometimes their condition is irreversible, which is 
clear, because when God hath given them over, how shall they repent, 


nnd break off their sin ? God s oath is passed : Ps. cxv. 11, Unto whom 
I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest/ God 
standeth sworn to condemn and destroy them. If they should have any 
anguish of conscience and remorse stirred up in them, God will have 
no regard to it : Prov. i. 26, 27, I also will laugh at your calamity, I 
will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, 
and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish 
cometh upon you ; Hosea v. 6, They shall go with their flocks and 
with their herds to seek the Lord, but they shall not find him, he hath 
withdrawn himself from them/ When men have neglected God s 
seasons, and begin to be surprised with death, then they would fain 
have comfort and pardon ; but instead thereof the Lord puts them off. 
No; you would have none of me: Ps. Ixxxi. 11, 12, But my people 
would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me : so I 
gave them up unto their own hearts lust, and they walked in their 
own counsels/ Instead of compassion they are mocked, and turned 
over to their evil courses and carnal company : John viii. 21, I go my 
way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins/ That this may 
be before death appeareth because grace is confined to a season : Isa. Iv. 
6, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while 
he is near. And that season is not always as long as life : Luke xix. 
42, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things 
which belong to thy peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes/ 
The day of grace is bright but short. We may mourn over many thus ; 
when the measure of their iniquities is filled up, God giveth over call 
ing and expecting and waiting for their repentance. It is true the 
time is not to be known by any man of himself, nor by others concern 
ing him ; we cannot state the number of calls, because circumstances 
are diverse, and light breaketh in with warnings in a different degree. 
There is a great deal of variety in the Lord s dispensations, therefore 
all must use the means, and warn we must to the last. We can only 
say in the general, that after God hath done with them, and expects 
no good from them, he may let them live for the glory of his justice ; 
as after God had hardened Pharaoh s heart, yet he continued his life, 
that he might show his power in him: Exod. ix. 16, And in very 
deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power, 
and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth/ You 
may survive your final hardness, as a monument of God s justice in the 

[2.] It is a just dispensation. It is just with God to take the refusal 
and be gone, and to cease to deal with your hearts any more, when, after 
all the melting entreaties of his grace, you cast him off; he commands, 
and you will not obey ; he is willing, and you are not willing ; he entreats, 
and you will not hearken ; he wishes : Deut. v. 29, that there were 
such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my com 
mandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their 
children for ever ! he laments : Ps. Ixxxi. 13, that my people had 
hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways ! and you 
will not join with him. He is grieved that his offer of grace is not 
received, and you will not lament. It is but just that a man should 
be left to his own choice, that a man should miss of that salvation which 


he cared not for ; that if, after warnings, convictions, and entreaties, 
he will be filthy, he should be filthy still. In hell conscience will 
acquit God ; eyeo e/io? rov rwv atria, I have been the cause of all this to 

[3.] It is a merciful dispensation to the rest of the world. We are 
told of these things beforehand, not that we may despair, that is an ill 
consequence ; but that, as we love our souls, we should take heed of 
resisting grace, and turning our backs upon our own mercies. It is a 
merciful and fatherly warning to strike in betimes, and own the God 
of our mercies. Delay is that that undoeth all the world. Now this 
is the best cure of delay. 

2. The causes of it. 

[1.] Sinning away the light of nature. By nature men have some 
knowledge of good and evil. There are icoivai evvotai, some common 
principles, as that God is, and must be worshipped, that we must do 
wrong to none, nor pollute ourselves with promiscuous lusts. The heart 
of a pagan would rise against it : Rom. ii. 14, 15, For when the gentiles, 
which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, 
these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which show the 
work of the law written in their hearts. Now, when men hold the light 
of nature in unrighteousness, Eom. i. 18, when they hold poor truth 
fettered and bound that it cannot break out into an holy conversation, 
this provoketh God to give them up to hardness. There are many sins 
which nature discovereth, and may be avoided upon such reasons and 
considerations as nature suggesteth. Now, when men put the finger 
into nature s eye, or will not suffer reason to exercise any dominion, 
but let loose the reins to lust, God leaveth them to a carnal and sottish 
heart. Though by the light of nature men cannot convert to God, 
yet by the light of nature men may practise many duties and avoid 
many sins. The gentiles were left to an unsound injudicious mind. 
When men fall into foul sins against the light of nature, conscience 
loseth its feeling and tenderness : Eph. iv. 19, Who being past feeling, 
have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness 
with greediness. Hearts prejudiced against the things of God may 
grow to very stones. 

[2.] Refusing God s many calls: Prov. xxix. 1, He that, being 
often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and 
that without remedy/ God may bear with us a while after one or two 
or more reproofs, but when we are often reproved and often convinced, 
and yet will not be reclaimed, God may give us over. The exact date 
of Christ s patience, or the number of his calls ere the fatal period of 
final induration cometh, we know not ; but when it is often, you are in 
danger. Take heed of forfeiting your own mercies by refusing the 
most earnest motions of the word and Spirit. When God importuneth 
to be heard and obeyed, his Spirit being thus resisted and refused, God 
will be at length wearied, and will not give as much grace as before : 
Isa. Ixiii. 10, But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit ; therefore 
he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Scevit 
infelix amor. Gen. vi. 3, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, 
for that he also is flesh/ The heathens did acknowledge that the 
TOTTIKOI 6eol, the gods of cities and nations, did for the provocation of 


the inhabitants forsake their altars and temples. The more calls and 
convictions we resist in this kind, the more difficult and improbable is 
the reducing a sinner to God ; every day he groweth more wicked and 
profane. To resist the clamours of conscience is sad, but to weary and 
grieve the Spirit is dreadful : Ezek. xxiv. 13, In thy wickedness is 
lewdness; because I have purged thee, and thouwast not purged, thou 
shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my 
fury to rest upon thee. God sets them over the fire till their hearts 
begin to be warmed, and then lets the sun remain on them. 

[3.] Gross hypocrisy. This is a constant lie, a contempt of God, an 
habitual and customary stifling and smothering of checks of conscience; 
for their form and profession showeth what they should be, and if they 
were what they seem to be, all would be well. Men have light enough 
to take on the form of religion, and sin enough to resist the power of it. 
And therefore their judgment is the greater ; for their whole life being 
a constant rebelling against the light, they are left to perish by their 
own deceivings; 2 Thes. ii. 10, 11, Because they received not the 
love of the truth, that they might be saved, for this cause God shall 
send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie. The car 
nal Christian being not brought to true faith and sincere repentance, 
God giveth them up that they may be deceived by every vain pre 

[4.] Apostasy from grace received. Men are not only warmed, but 
begin to have a taste. They that take up with some profession of the 
things of God, but afterwards fall away again to looseness and vanity 
and worldliness, they are more left by God than others : Heb. vi. 4-6, 
For it is impossible for them who were once enlightened, and have 
tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 
and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to 
come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance. For 
they dishonour him more, and bring an evil report upon God. The 
devil hath more power over them ; as a prisoner that hath made his 
escape, if he be taken afterwards, hath more chains put upon him : 
*2 Peter ii. 21, 22, For it had been better for them not to have known 
the way of righteousness, than after they have known it to turn from 
the holy commandment delivered unto them : for it is happened unto 
them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit 
again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 
They themselves are made more incapable of ever owning the ways of 
God again ; it is impossible they should renew themselves, it groweth 
up into wilful malice : Heb. x. 26, For if we sin wilfully after we have 
received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice 
for sins. Grace will not pardon them, the Mediator will not intercede 
for them. Apostates sunt maximi osores sui ordinis Apostates hate 
the ways they have professed : Hosea v. 2, The revolters are pro 
found to make slaughter. None so cross and malicious and perverse 
in their cause. 

[5.] Sottish despair (there is a raging despair, and a sottish despair ; 
the one is when conscience is terrified , the other when it is stupefied), 
when to custom in sinning there is added a passionate will : Jer. iL 
25, Thou sayest, There is no hope ; no, for I have loved strangers, 


and after them will I go ; Jer. xviii. 11, And they said, There is no 
hope, but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do 
the imagination of his evil heart. Tlpodiprjatf OVK ecrrlv a&vvdrwv, 
men do not use to consult about things that are impossible. It is said 
of the Israelites, Exod. vi. 9, They hearkened not unto Moses for 
anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage. Lust is so deeply rooted that 
they cannot help it ; the case is desperate, they are at a point ; as we 
use to say, Past cure, past care ; they grow out of heart, and so lie 
down under the power of their lusts ; they resolve to persist in their 
sins, to live as they list, and it is to no purpose to speak to them. 

Thirdly, Of God s hardening as a father, in a way of the highest 
fatherly anger and displeasure. This may be so : Isa. Ixiii. 17, 
Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our 
heart from thy fear ? This is a partial hardness. There may be 
desertion in point of grace, though some tenderness left in the under 
standing, that discerneth good and evil ; in the conscience, that is 
dissatisfied in its present state ; in the will, that owneth the ways of 
God ; so that there is a general purpose to please him in all things. 
Yet the heart groweth dead and stupid ; there is an inaptness for 
holy things ; they are less sensible of the evil of sin ; they have not 
such delight in the word, nor rejoicing in hope, nor freedom for prayer, 
nor patience under afflictions, nor complacency in communion with 
God. And it is sad when it is so, when to sense there is little differ 
ence between them and the wicked ; there is hardness in a stone, and 
hardness in a piece of wax. I will show the causes of this, and the 
means to cure it. 

1. The causes of this are 

[1.] Sinning against conscience. There are sins of daily incursion 
and sudden surreption ; and there are sins of presumption, into which 
God s children may in some rare cases fall, but then they make great 
waste and havoc in their souls ; as David s great sin, by which he lost 
that free spirit, and was forced to beg a new creation, as if all were to 
begin again : Ps. li. 10-12, Create in me a clean heart, God, and 
renew a right spirit within me ; cast me not away from thy presence, 
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me ; restore unto me the joy of thy 
salvation, and uphold me by thy free Spirit. Many are the mischiefs 
which come by such sins. Partly God s love is obstructed, that he is 
not so ready to do them good : Isa. lix. 2, Your iniquities have separ 
ated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from 
you, that he will not hear ; that is, the good-will and favour of God 
is, as it were, bound up, and hindered from showing itself in all those 
gracious effects which otherwise it would put forth for our comfort and 
peace. He doth not actually pardon their sins, nor make them par 
takers of spiritual benefit sin so ample and full a measure as otherwise 
he would ; but holds his hand, and cuts you short in spiritual blessings, 
which otherwise he would plentifully dispense unto his people. Partly 
they exceedingly weaken the work of grace which is wrought upon 
their hearts. Their faith is more dead, their love is more cold than it 
was, hope is languid, the spiritual life is interrupted, and at a stand ; 
though the seed of God remains, yet it cannot put forth itself with 
such vigour and efficacy. Yea, they may never recover such a portion 


of tlie Spirit as they had before : 2 Chron. xvii. 3, Jehoshaphat walked 
in the first ways of his father David/ as having some note of blemish 
n his latter ways. These sins, in short, as a wound in the body, let 
lit our blood and strength. As a prodigal, that hath once broken 
after he hath been set up, is not trusted with a like stock again, so 
God s children may not recover that largeness of spirit and fulness of 
inward strength and comfort which they had before ; as many after a 
great disease do not regain that pitch of health which formerly they 
had, but may carry the fruits of their disease with them to their graves. 
Partly because acts are intermitted. When the soul is distempered, it 
is unfit for action. Either duties are omitted, or else done in such an 
overly manner as doth increase our distemper, and harden us the more. 
In what a sorry fashion did David worship till God awakened his con 
science by Nathan! Prayer is interrupted: 1 Peter iii. 7, As heirs 
together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. 

[2.] Grieving the Spirit: Eph. iv. 30, And grieve not the Holy 
Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. All. 
sin is a grief to the Spirit, especially filthiness and bitterness. Com 
pare this with ver. 29, 31, Let no corrupt communication proceed out 
of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that 
it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let all bitterness, and wrath, 
and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with 
all malice. Now the grieving of the Spirit makes a great breach in 
our grace and comfort, as the Spirit is our sanctifier and comforter. 
To speak only of the last : When the Spirit is grieved, we have not 
such a sense of God s love : For the love of God is shed abroad in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us, Horn. v. 5. We 
have not that liberty and confidence in prayer we once had : 1 John 
iii. 21, Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence 
towards God. Nor those lively hopes of glory and final redemption, 
in that text, Eph. iv. 30, Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby 
ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Nor that comfort in re 
proaches, nor courage in afflictions, nor strength to resist sin, nor that 
readiness and cheerfulness in obedience that once they had. So that a 
Christian is like Sampson when his locks are gone ; all delightful com 
munion with God is suspended, and a Christian doth not act like a ser 
vant that is in his master s favour. 

[3.] Carnal liberty. When a man giveth too much contentment to 
the flesh, the spirit or better part is in bonds : Ps. cxix. 37, Turn 
uway mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in thy 
way. A man that lets loose the reins to worldly vanity will soon find 
hardness coming on his heart, and see a need to ask quickening grace : 
Luke xxi. 34, Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life. 
Worldly comforts over-affected or immoderately used clog and enslave 
the heart, and so we are more unpersuadable and disobedient to the 
motions of his Spirit, and the counsels of his grace. Therefore, if we 
will take heed that our hearts be not hardened, let them not out too 
freely to worldly things, lest they be withdrawn from God ; but rejoice 
here as if you rejoiced not, that you may keep up your liberty to 


[4.] Pride and self-sufficiency : 2 Chron. xxxii. 31, Howbeit in the 
business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto 
him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him 
to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. Paul was 
permitted to be buffeted, that he might be kept humble : 2 Cor. xii. 7, 
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance 
of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the mes 
senger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 
"When you trust to yourselves, God leavethyou to yourselves ; and then 
we are as a glass without a bottom, broken as soon as out of hand : 
James iv. 6, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble/ 
It is not so much understood of a moral humility, or a lowly carriage 
towards men, as of an evangelical humility, which consists in broken- 
ness of heart, or a sense of our unworthiness and weakness ; these are 
influenced by grace, but others are left to fall and miscarry by their 
own presumptuous confidence. And therefore, if we would not incur 
any degree of this judgment, we must take heed of pride and spiritual 
security. Those that feel the daily and hourly necessity of grace have 
more of the supplies of the Spirit, they are oftener waiting upon God : 
Ps. xxv. 5, On thee do I wait all the day. Christ hath taught us to 
beg daily bread, daily pardon, and daily strength against temptations, 
that he might engage us to be often with God, and keep in a constant 
dependence on him, that the heart might be kept more awful, tender, 
and serious. 

[5.] Carelessness and spiritual sloth. When we carelessly entertain 
the motions of his Spirit, and lie upon the bed of ease, he is gone : 
Cant. v. 2, 3, I sleep, but my heart waketh : it is the voice of my be 
loved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, 
iny undefiled : for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the 
drops of the night. I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on ? I 
have washed my feet, how shall I defile them ? and ver. 6, I rose up to 
open to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was 
gone/ God s children may stifle many a pressing conviction and 
motion in their souls, hang off from the throne of grace and other good 
duties, and upon every frivolous pretence keep away from God. This 
unkind and ungracious dealing will cost them dear. Neglect of the 
means of grace quencheth the Spirit : 1 Thes. v. 19, 20, Quench not 
the Spirit ; despise not prophesyings/ Therefore we should be more 
diligent in the use of means : Mark iv. 24, Unto you that hear shall 
more be given. We must more carefully obey the sanctifying motions 
of the Spirit if we mean to avoid hardness of heart. 

2. The means to cure it. 

[1.] Bewail the evil, and complain of it before God, who alone can 
help us. We complain of hard times, of the hard dealings of men, of 
hard duties. Durus est hie sermo, this is a hard saying, and who can 
hear it ? But we seldom complain of that which we should most com 
plain of, hardness of heart. The Lord is pleased with these complaints : 
Jer. xxxi. 18, I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus . 
Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed 
to the yoke. Spiritual distempers must be most laid to heart. God s 
children in some degree are inflexible and insensible ; there is too great 


touchiness, and impatiency to be admonished, too much disobedience to 
the Spirit s sanctifying motions ; they are too often benumbed with the 
delights of the flesh, and cares of the world. 

[2.] Hasten your repentance and return to God : Ps. cxix. 60, I 
made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments ; Gal. i. 16, 
Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. To press this, let 
us consider these things 

(1.) How soon God may take an advantage against us we cannot 
tell. He hath not told us at what number of calls he will depart, and 
give us over to our own hearts ; but he hath bid us not to delay, and 
lose the present season : Heb. iii. 7, 8, To-dayifye will hear his voice, 
harden not your hearts. The command is as express for the time as 
for the duty ; there is no season like the TO vvv, the present season. It 
is but a flattering presumption to think that God will always stand 
waiting. Felix had but one call that we hear of, and he fooled it away 
to a more convenient season. 

(2.) Every day spent in an unregenerate condition brings us nearer 
to destruction, and puts us upon a greater disadvantage : Kom. xiii. 11, 
Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Apari, we may 
say ; now is our damnation and final impenitency nearer. 

(3.) Every call sets us yet nearer still. Sins are ripened by every 
call, as iron oft heated and oft quenched is the harder. When men are 
often sermon-scorched, they prove at length sermon-proof. The holy 
God will not cast his pearls before swine : Isa. Iv. 6, Seek ye the Lord 
while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near/ 

(4.) A presumptuous going on in sin, upon a supposition that we 
shall repent at last, is the very next door and step to hell. You wit 
tingly continue under the devil s power. Life is uncertain. God may 
take you away in the act of sin, as he did Zimri and Cosbi, Korah and 
his accomplices ; or he may deny that space to call for mercy that you 
think of, for death doth not always give warning ; or by an apoplexy, or 
lethargy, or some stupefying distemper, he may deprive you of the use 
of your reason. Let this rouse and awaken you out of your fond pre 

[3.] Beware of tendencies to it, when the heart begins to harden ; 

(1.) When you are not sensible of God s withdrawings, when there 
are any suspensions of his grace, the comfort and conduct of his Spirit, 
and the soul is stupid. It is sad not to be sensible of the accesses and 
recesses of the Spirit : Mat. ix. 25, The days shall come when the 
bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. Grace 
stands in a continual watchfulness and observation of all God s deal 
ings. Felt desertions are grievous, but not so dangerous as those that 
are unfelt. It is some good degree of grace not to be quiet without 

(2.) When you scorn at reproof, when you are not only actors, but 
defenders of sin, and bear up yourselves impudently and stubbornly in 
your transgressions : Jer. vi. 10, To whom shall I speak and give 
warning, that they may hear ? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and 
they cannot hearken ; behold, the word of the Lord is unto them a 
reproach. They are of an unteachable, untractable disposition ; they 


think we rail when we do reprove. The devil hath then two victories 
one by the scorn and opposition that is cast on the reprover, and the 
other by the hardening of the heart of the fretting and reproved sin 
ner ; that anger that should be turned upon the sin is turned upon the 

"(3.) When ordinances grow powerless. You live under ordinances, 
and receive no profit by them ; you have much means, and can see no 
fruit : Isa. vi. 9, 10, Hear ye indeed, but understand not ; and see ye 
indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make 
their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and 
hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and 
be healed. The word is powerful ; if it softens not, it hardens. 

(4.) When our worldly comforts are apt to prove a snare to us : Mai. 
ii. 2, I will curse your blessings, yea, I have cursed them already, be 
cause ye do not lay it to heart. When your table is made your snare, 
your meat becomes your poison, your estate is but as golden fetters to 
bind and chain your heart to the world ; your honours blow you up. 
When you do not take comforts as the mercies and blessings of God, to 
praise him for them, and to devote yourselves in the strength of them 
to his service. 

(5.) When corrections go away without fruit : Jer. v. 3, Thou hast 
stricken them, but they have not grieved ; thou hast consumed them, 
but they have refused to receive correction ; they have made their faces 
harder than a rock, they have refused to return. God will have an 
account of every dispensation ; afflictions are upon the register as well 
as mercies. Christians should never advance more in Christianity than 
under the cross. 

(6.) When we are lazy and loath to admit Christ into the heart. 
It being thronged with creature comforts, we keep him at the door 
knocking, and will not open to him : Eev. iii. 20, Behold, I stand at 
the door and knock ; Cant. v. 3, c I have put off my coat, how shall 
I put it on ? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them ? This 
laziness and spiritual security is a cause and beginning of hardness of 

(7.) When trivial and slight temptations prevail against the sense 
of our duty ; when for a piece of bread, and handfuls of barley they 
will transgress, and sell the righteous for a pair of shoes ; when they 
are as a stone to God s counsels, but as wax to all other things. 

(8.) When the heart grows vain and frothy ; for a slight heart will 
be an hard heart ; or God gives men over to a reprobate sense and an 
injudicious mind. These are the forerunners of hardness of heart, 
which we should beware of, and carefully watch against. 


It (i.e., the a^ed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt 
bruise his heel. GEN. iii. 15. 

THESE words are a part of the gospel preached in paradise, or the 
first promise of grace and life made to mankind, now fallen and dead 
in sin. As God was cursing the serpent, he draweth out this comfort to 
our first parents, who were confounded with the sense of sin and their 
defection from God. Satan s condemnation is our salvation. He did 
the first mischief, therefore the crushing of his head giveth hope of our 
deliverance out of that state of misery into which he hath plunged us. 

The words are dark in comparison of the larger explications of the 
grace of God by Jesus Christ which were after delivered to the church. 
Who would look for a great tree in a little seed ? Yet the seminal 
virtue doth afterward diffuse and dilate itself into all those stately and 
lofty branches in which the fowls of the air do take up their lodging 
and shelter. So do these few words contain all the articles and 
mysteries of the Christian faith, which are the fountains of our solid 
peace and consolation. In the seed of the woman is contained all the 
doctrine concerning the incarnation of the Son of God ; in the bruising 
of his heel, his death and sufferings ; in the crushing of the serpent s 
head, his glorious victory and conquest. As obscure as the words are, 
an eagle-eyed and discerning faith could pick a great deal of comfort 
out of them. The ol TrpeafivTepot, the elders, mentioned Heb. xi. 
2, the antediluvian fathers, so famous throughout all ages for their 
laith and confidence in God, had no other gospel to live upon. Abel, 
that offered a better sacrifice than Cain, Enoch, that walked with God, 
Noah, that prepared the ark, did all that they did in the strength and 
upon the encouragement of this promise. 

The words are considerable 

1. For the person who speaketh them, the Lord God himself, who 
was the first preacher of the gospel in paradise. The draught and 
plot was in his bosom long before, but now it cometh out of his mouth. 

2. For the occasion when they were spoken. When God hath been 
but newly provoked and offended by sin, and man, from his creature 
and subject, was become his enemy and rebel, the offended God comes 
with a promise in his mouth. Adam could look for nothing but that 
God should repeat to him the whole beadroll of curses wherein he had 

* Treacked the fifth of November. 


involved himself, but God maketh known the great design of his grace. 
Once more, the Lord God was now cursing the serpent, and in the 
midst of the curses promiseth the great blessing of the Messiah. Thus 
doth God in wrath remember mercy, Hab. iii. 2. Yea, man s sentence 
was not yet pronounced. The Lord God had examined him, ver. 8-10, 
but before the doom there breaketh out a promise of mercy. Thus 
mercy gets the start of justice, and triumpheth and rejoiceth over it in 
our behalf : James ii. 13, Mercy rejoiceth against judgment." 

3. They are considerable for their matter, for they intimate a victory 
over Satan, and that in the nature which was foiled so lately. Man by 
sin had not only incurred God s wrath, but put himself under the power 
of the devil, who had a legal power over fallen man, such as the execu 
tioner hath from the judge over the condemned person, and a tyrannical 
power by conquest, man being seduced by him from God. Therefore 
it is good news to hear of a victory over Satan, and that his power 
shall be destroyed. 

In the former part of the verse you have the combat ; in the text 
the success. 

[1.] The conflict and combat : And I will put enmity between thee 
and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It cannot be 
understood of the hatred and antipathy between men and serpents, 
though that be alluded unto. To what end should God thunder curses 
and condemnation upon the serpent, a brute creature, that understood 
them not ? Therefore it is meant of the war between the devil and 
mankind, Satan and his instruments ; for wicked men are called his 
seed : John viii. 44, Ye are of your father the devil ; and Ignatius 
calleth Menander and Basilides, rrjv rov tcarjov ofaos 7rapa<f>voiSa, 
the spawn of the old serpent. And on the other side, the seed of the 
woman, by way of eminency, Christ and his confederates. But I shall 
not consider the conflict now as carried on between the two seeds, but 
between the two heads, Christ the prince of life, and the devil who 
hath the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. It was begun between the 
serpent and the woman ; it is carried on between the seed of the woman 
and the seed of the serpent : but the conflict is ended by the destruc 
tion of one of the heads ; the prince of death is destroyed by the prince 
of life. 

[2.] The success and issue of the combat Where observe (1.) 
What the seed of the woman doth against the serpent, He shall 
bruise thy head ; (2.) What the serpent doth against the seed of the 
woman, Thou shalt bruise his heel. 

(1.) There is something common to both ; for the word bruised is 
used promiscuously both of the serpent and the seed of the woman. 
In this war, as usually in all others, there are wounds given on both sides; 
the devil bruiseth Christ, and Christ bruiseth Satan. 

(2.) There is a disparity of the event, He shall bruise thy head, r 
and Thou shalt bruise his .heel ; where there is a plain allusion to 
treading upon a serpent. Wounds on the head are deadly to serpents, 
but wounds in the body are not so grievous and dangerous ; and 
a serpent trod upon, seeketh to do all the mischief it can to the 
foot by which it is crushed. The wound given to the head is mor 
tal, but the wound given to the heel may be healed. The seed of 


the woman may be cured, but Satan s power cannot be restored. The 
devil cannot reach to the head, but the heel only, which is far from any 
vital part. 

(1st.) For the first clause, It shall bruise thy head. The seed of 
the woman crushed the serpent s head, whereby is meant the overthrow 
and destruction of his power and works : John xii. 31, Now shall the 
prince of this world be cast out ; 1 John iii. 8, For this purpose the 
Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the 
devil. The head being bruised, strength and life is perished. His 
kingdom and strength is his head ; that is gone, that tcpd? Oavdrov, 
that power of death/ Heb. ii. 14, the power to deceive and detain 
captive souls: Col. i. 13, Who hath delivered us from the power of 

(2d.) For the other clause, Thou shalt bruise his heel. Where 
(1.) Note the intention of the serpent, who would destroy the kingdom 
of the Redeemer if he could ; but he can only reach the heel, not the 
head. (2.) The greatness of Christ s sufferings ; his heel was bruised, 
as he endured the painful, shameful, accursed death of the cross. 

Doct. That Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, is at enmity with 
Satan, and hath entered the lists with him ; and though bruised in the 
conflict, yet he finally overcometh him, and subverteth his kingdom. 

I. That Jesus Christ is the seed of the woman. That he is one of 
her seed is past doubt, since he was born of the Virgin, a daughter of 
Eve. That he is The seed, the most eminent of all the stock, 
appeareth by the dignity of his person, God made flesh : John i. 14, 
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ; or, God manifested 
in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16. As also by his miraculous conception : 
Luke i. 35, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of 
the highest shall overshadow thee ; therefore also that holy thing which 
shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. So Mat. i. 23, 
A Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they 
shall call his name Emanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us. 
He that was God-man in one person, and thus wonderfully conceived, 
without a male or company of man, might well be looked upon as the 
seed of the woman here spoken of. Now, if you ask what necessity 
there was that the conqueror should be the seed of the woman, because 
the flesh of Christ is the bread of life, and the food of our faith ? I 
shall a little insist upon the conveniency and agreeableness of it. 

1. That thereby he might be made under the law, which was given to 
the whole nature of man : Gal. iv. 4, God sent forth his Son, made of 
a woman, made under the law. He that came to repair our lost con 
dition needed to subject himself to the precepts of God s law, that by 
obedience he might recover what by disobedience was lost, and might 
be to us a fountain and pattern of holiness in our nature ; and there 
fore Christ in our nature truly subjected himself, and conformed him 
self to the law of God, that general and moral law which all men are 
obliged unto. He performed the duties of the first table : Luke ii. 49, 
Wist ye not that I must be about my Father s business ? He took 
all occasions to glorify God. And the duties of the second table, as to 
his natural and reputed parents : Luke ii. 51, He went down with 
them, and was subject to them. 

2. That he might in the same nature suffer the penalty and curse of 


the law, as well as fulfil the duty of it, arid so make satisfaction for our 
sins, which as God he could not do. He was made sin for us, 2 Cor. 
v. 21, and was made a curse for us/ Gal. iii. 13 ; Phil. ii. 8, He 
became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. There was a 
curse denounced against those who yielded not personal obedience ; 
and he came in the sinner s room to undergo it, that the justice of God 
might be eminently demonstrated, the lawgiver vindicated, and the 
breach that was made in the frame of government repaired, and God 
manifested to be holy, and an hater of sin, and yet the sinner saved 
from destruction. 

3. That in the same nature which was foiled he might conquer Satan. 
As a tempter he conquered him hand to hand in a personal conflict, 
repelling his temptations, Mat. iv. As a tormentor, and one that had 
the power of death, so he conquered him by his death on the cross : 
Heb. ii. 14, Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and 
blood, he also himself took part of the same, that through death he 
might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. 
Christ would stoop to the greatest indignities to free us from this 
enemy, and to put mankind again into a condition of safety and happi 
ness, that he having conquered, they might also conquer. 

4. That he might take compassion of our infirmities, having experi 
mented them in his own person. Therefore he assumed human nature 
that he might have assurance of this : Heb. ii. 17, 18, Wherefore in 
all things it behoved him to be like unto his brethren, that he might 
be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining unto God, 
to make reconciliation for the sins of the people ; for in that he him 
self hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are 
tempted. We have now assurance that he will pity us, more than one 
who is a stranger to our blood. He hath had trial of our nature and 
our miseries and temptations, and will be more sensible of the heart of 
a tempted man, and will mind and attend upon our business as his own. 

5. That he might take possession of heaven for us in our nature : 
John xiv. 2, 3, I go to prepare a place for you ; and if I go and pre 
pare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that 
where I am, there ye may be also. The devil comes to depress our 
nature, and Christ came to exalt it ; he endeavoured to make us lose 
paradise, and Christ gave us heaven. Man fallen is strangely haunted 
with doubts about the other world. Now he that came to save us and 
heal us did himself in our nature rise from the dead, that he might 
give us a visible demonstration of the life to come, which he had 
promised to us, that we might more regard the offer. He himself hath 
seized upon it, that the rest of the seed may be possessed of it ; and 
hath carried our nature thither, that in time our persons may be 

6. That after he had been a sacrifice for sin, and conquered death by 
his resurrection, he might also triumph over the devil, and lead cap 
tivity captive, and give gifts to men in the very act of his ascension 
into heaven : Eph. iv. 8, Wherefore he saith, When he ascended on 
high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Having 
foiled his enemies on the cross, it is fit he should triumph over them, to 
assure the world of his conquest, and give such a measure of his gifts 


and graces to his church as might help them to scatter the ranks of 
the battle. His victory is shown to be complete as to the head ; and 
as to the rest of the seed of the woman, who are all willing to enter 
into confederacy with him, he hath left ordinances and an almighty 
Spirit, that they may get to heaven after him. 

II. That Christ is at enmity with Satan, and hath entered into the 
conflict with him. 

1. We must state the enmity between Christ and his confederates, 
and Satan and his instruments. For it is said in the beginning of the 
verse, I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed ; which is 
principally to be understood of the Lord Christ, and of his confederates 
in the second place ; against Satan in the first place, and his instru 
ments on the other side. There is a double enmity which Christ hath 
against Satan, and so he undertakes the war against him as contrary to 
his nature and office. 

[1.] There is a perfect enmity between the nature of Christ and the 
nature of the devil. The nature of Satan is sinful, murderous, and 
destructive ; for it is said, he was a liar and murderer from the begin 
ning, John viii. 44 ; and 1 John iii. 8, He that committeth sin is of 
the devil ; for the devil sinneth from the beginning : for this purpose 
the Sou of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the 
devil ; again, ver. 12, Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and 
slew his brother : and wherefore slew he him ? because his own works 
were evil, and his brother s righteous. Now the nature of Christ is 
quite contrary. It is the devil s work to do all the hurt that he can to the 
bodies and souls of men ; and it is Christ s work to do good, and only 
good : Acts x. 38, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy 
Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that 
were oppressed with the devil ; for God was with him. Christ did 
nothing by way of malice and revenge ; he used not the power that he 
had to make men blind or lame, or to kill any; no, not his worst 
enemies, when he could easily do it, and justly might have done it. 
No ; he went up and down giving sight to the blind, limbs to the lame, 
health to the sick, life to the dead. He rebuked his disciples when they 
tempted him to destroy some for their contempt by calling for fire 
from heaven, telling them they know not what manner of spirit they 
were of ; for the Son of man is not come to destroy men s lives, but to 
save them, Luke ix. 55, 56. It was unlike his spirit and design. All 
his miracles were acts of relief and favour, not pompous, not destruc 
tive ; bating only two, the blasting the unfruitful fig-tree, which was 
an emblematical warning to the Jews, and suffering the devil to enter 
into the herd of swine, which was a necessary demonstration of the 
devil s malice and destructive cruelty, who, if he could not afflict and 
destroy men, would enter into the herd of swine, that the poor crea 
tures might perish in the sea. Thus there was a perfect contrariety 
of nature between Christ and Satan. 

[2.] An enmity proper to his office and design. For he came to 
destroy the works of the devil, 1 John iii. 8 ; and was set up to dis 
solve that sin and misery which he had brought upon the world. The 
devil sought the misery and destruction of mankind, but Christ sought 
our salvation. Satan is the great destroyer of the creation, and Christ 


is the repairer of it. Now salvation and destruction are diametrically 
opposite ; so are the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan, the 
function and office of Christ as a saviour, and the purpose and design 
of the devil as Abaddon, the destroyer. And therefore Christ proveth 
that he had not the least confederacy with Satan ; for then his king 
dom would be divided against itself, and how could it stand ? Mat. 
xii. 25, 26. It was impossible the Saviour could befriend the destroyer, 
or the destroyer the Saviour. No ; their ends and designs are perfectly 

Now, as there is such an enmity between Christ and Satan, so there 
is between the rest of the confederates on either side. 

(1.) An enmity or contrariety of nature. The seed of the serpent 
inherits his venomous qualities ; for as these are an estate opposite to 
God, so they are to the people of God, and seek their destruction by 
all cruel and bloody means. All people of a false religion, whether 
infidels, idolaters, or heretics, are of bloody and desperate principles, 
their minds being efFerated by their false religion, and the influence of 
their great guide and leader, who is the devil : Jude 11, They have 
gone in the way of Cain. 

Let me instance in antichrist and his abettors and adherents, who is 
the devil s eldest son. Witness their bloody practices that have been 
acted on the stage of Christendom for so many years. What a deal 
of blood hath been sucked by these leeches in England in Queen Mary s 
days, in Germany, France, and the Netherlands ! Witness of late 
their horrible slaughters in Ireland, Piedmont, and the hellish powder 
plot, the deliverance from which we commemorate this day ; this was 
a flash of their malice, by which they would have blown up the whole 
state at once. On the other side, Christ conveyeth his holy, meek, and 
lamb-like nature to his sincere worshippers and followers. There is 
indeed a contrariety of nature to the carnal, so as they do not run with 
them into the same excess of riot, so as their righteous souls are vexed 
with the impure conversation of the wicked, so as they are grieved to 
see people go by droves to hell, and list themselves in the devil s service. 
But there is no destructive enmity. If they hate the wicked, it is with 
an hatred opposite to the love of complacency, but not with an hatred 
opposite to the love of good-will. There is an enmity to Satan, and 
his works, yet a pity to the persons inveigled and deceived by him. 
The wicked hate that holy disposition which is in the hearts of God s 
people, and therefore malign and persecute them. But on the other 
side there is a contrariety of disposition : Prov. xxix. 27, An unjust 
man is an abomination to the just, and he that is upright in the way 
is abomination to the wicked. There is odium offensionis, but not 
inimicitice. ; an hatred of offence, but not of enmity. They bear with 
them with patience, pursue their recovery, strive to rescue poor captives 
out of the snares of the devil, but aim not at their destruction : 2 Tim. 
ii. 25, 26, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if 
God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of 
the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of 
the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 

(2.) There is an enmity of design. As Christ actually employeth 
arty as soldiers to fight under his banner, so they participate of the 


enmity of his design and office. Every private Christian is one of 
Christ s soldiers ; for we give up our faculties and powers as weapons : 
Rom. vi. 13, Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from 
the dead, and your members as instruments/ or weapons, oVXa, of 
righteousness unto God. And the graces of the Spirit are called 
armour of light : Rom. xiii. 12, Let us cast off the works of darkness, 
and let us put on the armour of light. And we are bidden to put on 
the whole armour of God, because we wrestle not against flesh and 
blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of 
the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, 
Eph. vi. 11, 12. The ministers and those in a public station are 
leaders under Christ the general, and are by office and employment 
engaged in this warfare against the kingdom of the devil. And there 
fore the apostle biddeth Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier 
of Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. ii. 3 ; and the apostle says, 2 Cor. x. 4, The 
weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the 
pulling down of strongholds. They must set themselves against the 
devil and his kingdom. 

2. The enmity being such between the seeds, Christ sets upon his 
business to destroy Satan s power and works. 

[1.] His power. Satan hath a twofold power over fallen man legal 
and usurped. 

(1.) The legal power is that which the apostle calleth the power of 
death, and the terrors which follow upon it : Heb. ii. 14, 15, That 
through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that 
is, the devil ; and deliver them who through fear of death were all 
their lifetime subject to bondage. The devil hath no power, as a 
judge, to condemn sinners: he is not dominus mortis, the Lord of 
death ; but minister mortis, the minister of death ; for, being con 
demned of God, the poor sinner is put into his hand that he may either 
terrify or stupefy him, and so more and more involve him in the curse 
of God s broken law ; and also he may hasten his death and everlasting 

(2.) Satan hath a tyrannical usurped power. So the devils are 
called rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. vi. 12, the blind, 
idolatrous, superstitious world ; and Satan is called The prince of this 
world/ John xiv. 30, and The God of this world/ 2 Cor. iv. 4. God 
made him an executioner, but we make him a prince, a ruler, and a 
God. Now Christ, as a priest, disannulleth his legal power by his 
death and the merit of his sacrifice ; and Christ, as a true king, and 
head both of men and angels, pulls down Satan as an usurper, delivers 
the poor captive souls out of his power ; and as a prophet he dis- 
covereth his cheats and delusions. 

[2.] His works. There is a twofold work of Satan the work of the 
devil without us, or the work of the devil within us. 

(1.) The work of the devil without us is a false religion, or those 
idolatries and superstitions by which Satan s reign and empire is upheld 
in the world. This is destroyed by the doctrine of the gospel, accom 
panied with the all-powerful Spirit of God. And therefore, when the 
gospel was first preached by Christ s messengers, the devil fell from 
that great and unlimited power which he had before in the world : 


Luke x. 18, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. It is an 
allusion to his first fall ; as lightning flasheth and vanisheth, and never 
recollecteth itself again, so Now shall the prince of this world be cast 
out, John xii. 31. When Christ did first set upon the redemption of 
mankind, the apostles went abroad to beat the devil, and hunt him 
out of his territories ; and they did it with great effect. Therefore 
this is made one argument by which the Spirit doth convince us of the 
truth of the gospel : John xvi. 11, He shall convince the world of 
judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. The silencing 
of his oracles, the suppressing of his superstitions, the destroying of the 
kingdom of wickedness and darkness, was an apparent evidence of the 
truth of the gospel. The old religion, by which the devil s kingdom 
was supported everywhere, went to wrack , no more the same temples, 
the same rites, the same gods ; all was made to stoop and bow before 
God as worshipped in Christ. 

(2.) There is the work of the devil within us. This concerneth the 
recovering particular persons out of the snare of the devil, who were 
taken captive by him at his will and pleasure. Here we must dis 
tinguish between the purchase and application. The purchase was 
made when Christ died : Col. ii. 15, Having spoiled principalities and 
powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it ; 
that is, on his cross. Christ s death was Satan s overthrow ; then- was 
the deadly blow given to his power and kingdom. This was the price 
given for our ransom, and the great means of disannulling all that 
power Satan had before. The application is begun in our conversion ; 
for then we are said to be turned from Satan unto God : Acts xxvi. 18, 
1 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from 
the power of Satan unto God. Then we are rescued out of the devil s 
clutches, and adopted into God s family, that, being made children, we 
may have a child s portion. 

III. That in this conflict his heel was wounded, bitten, or bruised 
by the serpent. 

1. Certain it is that Christ was bruised in the enterprise ; which 
showeth how much we should value our salvation, since it costs so dear 
as the precious blood of the Son of God incarnate : 1 Peter i. 18, 19, 
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible 
things, as silver and gold, &c., but with the precious blood of Christ, as 
of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He thought not his 
whole humiliation, from first to last, too much for the overthrowing of 
the devil s kingdom, nor any price too dear to redeem poor captive 

2. But how was he bruised by the serpent ? Certainly on the one 
hand Christ s sufferings were the effects of man s sin and God s hatred 
against sin and his governing justice ; for it is said, Isa. liii. 10, ( It 
pleased the Father to bruise him. Unless it had pleased the Lord to 
bruise him, Satan could never have bruised him. On the other side, 
they were also the effects of the malice and rage of the devil and his 
instruments, who was now with the sword s-point and closing stroke 
with Christ, and doing the worst he could against him. In his whole 
life he endured many outward troubles from Satan s instruments ; for 
all his life long he was a man of sorrows, wounded and bruised by Satan 


and his instruments: John viii. 44, Ye are of your father the devil, 
and the lusts of your father ye will do ; he was a murderer from the 
beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in 
him. But the closing stroke was at last ; then did the serpent most 
eminently bruise his heel. When Judas contrived the plot, it is said, 
the devil entered into him : Luke xxii. 3, Then entered Satan into 
Judas Iscariot, being one of the twelve. When the high priest s 
servants come to take him, he telleth them, Luke xxii. 53, This is 
your hour, and the power of darkness. The power of darkness at 
length did prevail so far as to cause his shameful death ; this was their 

3. It was only his heel that was bruised. It could go no further ; 
for though his bodily life was taken away, yet his head and mediatory 
power was not touched : Acts ii. 36, This same Jesus whom ye have 
crucified, God hath made both Lord and Christ. Again, his bodily 
life was taken away but for awhile. God would not leave his soul in 
the grave : Ps. xvi. 10, Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither 
wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. The counsel and 
purpose of God concerning man s redemption had then been wholly 
frustrated : For if Christ be not risen, your faith is vain ; ye are yet 
in your sins, 1 Cor. xv. 17. Once more, though Christ was bruised, 
yet He was not conquered. When the Jews and Roman soldiers were 
spoiling him, and parting his garments, then was he spoiling principal 
ities and powers ; and when Satan and his instruments were triumphing 
over the Son of God, then was he triumphing over all the devils in hell, 
for by death he destroyed him that had the power of death. This was 
a necessary means of conquest ; and Christ must overcome Satan by 
suffering himself to be overcome visibly by him. The devil doth not 
conquer Christ by death, but Christ doth conquer him. And still all 
the temptations of the devil are but the wounding of the heel ; the 
loss is not great to Christ or his members : as Dan is compared to a 
serpent by the way, or an adder in the path, that biteth the horse- 
heels, so that his rider shall fall backward, Gen. Ixix. 17. Such is the 
craft of Satan; he doth not usually bring temptations before our 
reason, but they enter in at the backdoor of sensual appetite ; but though 
he bite the heel, the life of grace is secured. Satan prevailed so far 
against Christ that his wicked instruments brought him to the cross, 
pursued him to the death there. But, 2 Cor. xiii. 4, Though he was 
crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God ; or, 
as it is in 1 Peter iii. 18, Being put to death in the flesh, but quick 
ened by the Spirit. So for Christians, he may divers ways wound and 
afflict us in our outward interests, but the inner man is safe : 2 Cor. 
iv. 16, Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is 
renewed day by day. Nay, we may be bruised in the heel by divers 
temptations and slips into sin ; yet the vitals of grace are not hurt, 
there is no total extinction of our love to God. 

I should come now to the fourth branch, that though Christ was 
bruised in the conflict, yet it endeth in Satan s total overthrow. His 
heel was bruised, but Satan s head was crushed. But of that anon. 

In the meantime, by way of use, let me press you cheerfully to 
remember and celebrate this victory of Christ. The duty we are 


engaging in is an eucharist, and we come to rejoice in God our Saviour. 
Let me bespeak you, in the psalmist s words, Ps. xcviii. 1, sing 
unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things ; his 
right hand and his holy arm have gotten him the victory ; or, Ps. 
cxviii. 15, 16, The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the taber 
nacle of the righteous ; the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly ; the 
right hand of the Lord is exalted ; the right hand of the Lord doth 
valiantly ; Ps. cvi. 2, Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord ? 
who can show forth all his praise ? 

[1.] The conqueror is the seed of the woman, or the Son of God 
incarnate. Oh ! let us bless God for so great a mercy : Luke i. 68-76, 
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for he hath visited and re 
deemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in 
the house of his servant David ; as he spake by the mouth of his holy 
prophets, which have been since the world began : That we should be 
saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us ; to 
perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy 
covenant, the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he 
would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hands of our 
enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness 
before him all the days of our life/ What ! shall the Son of God come 
from heaven to subdue the kingdom of Satan, and to deliver men from 
this bondage, and we be no more affected with it ? 

[2.] The manner of overcoming ; it is by suffering a shameful, pain 
ful, and accursed death : Rev. i. 5, 6, Unto him that loved us, and 
washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and 
priests to God and his Father ; to him be glory and dominion for ever 
and ever, Amen/ Again, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to 
receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and 
glory, and blessing, Rev. v. 12 ; and ver. 9, For thou wast slain, and 
hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and 
tongue, and people, and nation ; that by a death which he deserved 
not he should destroy the death which we deserved. 

[3.] Who is overcome ? The devil : Rev. xii. 10, Now is come 
salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of 
his Christ ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused 
them before our God day and night ; ver. 11, And they overcame 
him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony ; and 
they loved not their lives unto the death ; ver. 12, Therefore rejoice, 
ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them : woe to the inhabitants of the 
earth and of the sea ; for the devil is come down unto you, having great 
wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. O chris- 
tians ! what will raise your hearts in thanksgiving to God, if not these 
three arguments which I have plainly mentioned to you ? for the 
matter needeth no descants. The incarnation of the Son of God, who 
came as the seed of the woman, that he might free mankind from the 
power the devil had over them by sin. Then the merit and satisfaction 
of our Saviour, for he was bruised in his heel. And then the dissolu 
tion of Satan s power, and the freeing of mankind out of his hands, 
either as a tempter or a tormentor. 

[4.] The effects of the victory when it is applied to us. I shall 
mention three 


(1.) Our conversion to God, and the destruction of sin in our hearts, 
or our actual deliverance from Satan: Luke xi. 21, 22, When a 
strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace ; but when 
a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he .taketh 
from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 
This was our case ; all was in a sinful quiet and peace. When wind 
and tide go together, no wonder if their be a calm. Satan s suggestions 
and our corruptions suited the one with the other. But blessed be 
God that this carnal security is disturbed, that the kingdom of God is 
come upon us ; that Christ, by a sacred rescue, hath dispossessed Satan, 
and destroyed sin. Oh ! let us give thanks unto the Father, who 
hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in 
light ; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated 
us into the kingdom of his dear Son, Col. i. 12, 13. 

(2.) Kemission of sins : Acts xxvi. 18, To open their eyes, and to 
turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto 
God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance 
among them that are sanctified, by faith that is in me ; Col. i. 13, 14, 
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated 
us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption 
through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Christ s subjects have 
the privileges of his kingdom. Now bless the Lord, my soul ; and 
all that is within me, bless his holy name : bless the Lord, my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits ; who pardoneth all thy iniquities, and 
healeth all thy diseases, Ps. ciii. 1-3. 

(3.) Our own personal victory over Satan s temptations. In part 
now. We renew that covenant now, wherein we engaged to fight 
against Satan : 1 John ii. 14, I have written unto you young men, 
because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye 
have overcome the wicked one. Fully hereafter : Kom. xvi. 20. The 
God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The God of 
peace, as pacified in Christ. Now this is matter of thanksgiving : 1 
Cor. xv. 57, Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our 
Lord Jesus Christ ; that Christ will take us along with him in his 
triumphant chariot, and help our weak faith and faint hope, and that 
we may conquer the tempter and accuser. 

IV. Though Christ s heel was bruised in the conflict, yet it endeth 
in Satans final overthrow ; for his head was crushed, which noteth the 
subversion of his power and kingdom. 

To explain this, we must consider (1.) What is the power of 
Satan ; (2.) How far Satan was destroyed by Christ. 

First, What is the power of Satan ? It lieth in sin. And Christ 
destroyed him, as he made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting 
righteousness, and made reconciliation for iniquities, Dan. ix. 24 ; 
namely, as he reconciled man to God, and restored God s image and 
life eternal. In short, the power of Satan may be considered either 
as to single persons, or his interest in the corrupt world, or the 
tiinful race of apostate Adam, who in their degenerate estate make up a 
confederacy or party, that may be called the kingdom of the devil. 

1. As to single and individual persons ; all his power over them is 
by reason of sin, which was introduced by his subtlety and malice. 

There are three things in sin the power, the guilt, the being. 


Whilst any of these remain, Satan hath some power ; and all these 
Christ came to dissolve, but by several means and at several times. 

[1.] The devil s power lieth in the corruption of our natures ; for 
men continuing in the apostasy from God are of Satan s party : Eph. 
ii. 1-3, And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and 
sins ; wherein in time past ye walked, according to the course of this 
world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that 
now worketh in the children of disobedience ; among whom also we all 
had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling 
the desires of the flesh, and of the mind. This was the power that 
Satan had over us, to rule us and govern us by the lusts of the flesh. 
This was our daily walk and trade, without any remorse for it, or any 
desire to change our condition. And we are the more confirmed in it 
by the general and corrupt example of those among whom we live. 
Now, whilst we follow these sinful motions and suggestions, Satan is 
our prince and God ; the corrupt nature maketh us readily to entertain 
his motions, and we are taken captive by him at his will and pleasure, 
2 Tim. ii. 26. 

Now how doth Christ take away this power ? 

I answer By converting grace, which is not only a turning from 
sin to God, but from Satan to God : Acts xxvi. 18, To open their eyes, 
and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan 
to God ; whereby the reign of sin is broken ; for as long as sin reigneth, 
Satan is in peaceable possession: Luke xi. 21, When a strong man 
armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace ; and the devil, who 
hath lost his seat in heaven, hath still a throne in the hearts of men, 
and lords it over them as his slaves. Now the reign of sin is broken 
when Christ puts an enmity into your hearts against it : I will put 
enmity between thy seed and her seed ; for sin dieth as your love to 
it dieth, and is mortified and subdued as your enmity increaseth. 
Well, then, they that are converted to God are possessed with a spirit 
of enmity to Satan and his ways, such as they had not before whilst 
they remained in the degenerate estate. Therefore it is said, Ezek. 
xxxvi. 26, A new heart will I also give to you, and a new spirit will 
I put within you ; such as none else have till the Redeemer work upon 
them : 1 Cor. ii. 12, We have received not the spirit of the world, but 
the Spirit which is of God. The spirit which possesseth the generality 
of men is the worldly spirit that inclineth to earthly and sensual sat 
isfactions ; but this Spirit maketh them look after the great things 
promised by Christ, and the great things required by Christ ; in short, 
a spirit quite opposite to the satanical spirit. The satanical spirit is 
contrary to God and man. To God: Col. i. 21, And you that were 
sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet 
now hath he reconciled. To man : James iv. 5, The spirit that 
dwelleth in us lusteth to envy. But this spirit begetteth in us love to 
God and man, that we may seek his glory and the good of others. 
Now till this spirit be planted in us, we have not changed parties and 
masters. The being of sin is found in all, but the reign only in the 
unconverted ; therefore the reign of sin must be broken by the dwell 
ing of this spirit in us. Sin will put strongly for the throne again, but 
you must pray earnestly : Ps. cxix. 133, Order my steps in thy word ; 


and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. And watch con 
stantly, as ever mindful of your baptismal vow and covenant : Rom. 
vi. 11, Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but 
alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And then you will 
find Christ overcoming more and more the satanical spirit, and enlarg 
ing you into the liberty of God s children. 

[2.] The guilt of sin, which is an obligation to punishment, and 
ariseth from the sentence of condemnation pronounced by the law 
against sinners. Our misery ariseth first from the violation of the 
precept of the law, and then from the sanction and penalty threatened. 
And so also therein lieth Satan s power, as we are obnoxious to the 
wrath of God ; for therein he is the minister and executioner of death, 
as God maketh use of all his creatures according to their inclination. 
And so this wrathful revengeful creature is the instrument of his wrath. 
He hath an advantage against us by the law of God, the precepts 
whereof we have broken, and so incurred the penalty ; and so Satan 
cometh on as one that hath the power of death. Those obstinate and 
careless souls who refuse the government of the Lord s grace and spirit 
are put into his hands ; as when the Spirit of the Lord departed from 
Saul, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him, 1 Sam. xvi. 14. He 
doth or may terrify and afright the consciences of men with the dread 
ful expectation of death and the consequences of it, especially the sick 
and the dying. He that formerly tempted then beginneth to trouble ; 
and he that formerly showed you the pleasant baits of sin will then 
show you the hook ; he who now representeth pardon easy, will then 
represent it as impossible. And when death cometh, he hath power to 
hale away the sinner to torments ; for as the good angels carry the 
souls of the faithful to Christ, Luke xvi. 22, 23, so probably the devil 
hath a power to carry them to hell. Now, as the devil hath this power 
of death, he bringeth men into sin that he may bring them into terror. 
Yea, Satan hath a great hand in the troubles of conscience which befall 
God s children. 

Well, then, how is this power destroyed ? By satisfying the law, 
Christ destroyeth the power of the devil. For first, he blotted out 
the handwriting that was against us, and then spoiled principalities 
and powers, Col. ii. 14, 15. And when he doth actually justify, we 
feel the comfort and benefit of it : Rom. viii. 33, 34, Who shall lay 
anything to the charge of God s elect ? It is God that justifieth : who 
shall condemn ? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, 
who is even at the right hand of God ; who also maketh intercession 
for us. Our advocate is more gracious in court than our accuser. 
Having paid our ransom, and interceding for us and pleading it, 
\\hat accusation from the law can stand against those who have 
canbraced this gospel? 

[3.] The being of sin ; for while it remaineth there is somewhat of 
Satan left which he worketh upon. There is a remnant of his seed in the 
best : the godly are yet in the way, but not at the end of the journey ; 
and therefore he hath leave to assault them while they are here ; but 
Christ will perfect the conquest which he has begun, and so the very 
being of sin shall at length be taken away : Jude 24, To him that 
is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the 


presence of his glory ; and Eph. v. 27, That he might present it to- 
himself, a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing ; 
but that it should be holy and without blemish. At death sin is 
totally disannulled, the physician of our souls will then perfect the 
cure. As in the first moment of our birth we were sinners, so in the 
moment of our expiration all sin dieth. Christ taketh that time to 
finish his work. No sinner can enter into the state of bliss ; but the 
veil of the flesh being rent, we are immediately admitted into the sight 
of God, and so made exactly perfect. 

2. As to the general case, or his interest in the corrupt world. It is 
true the kingdom of Satan yet remaineth ; but he doth and shall divide 
the spoil with the strong : Isa. liii. 12, Therefore will I divide him a 
portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong/ 
And though his doctrine and religion meeteth with opposition in the 
world, yet it doth prevail upon opposition, and against opposition, and 
by opposition ; when in the seasons of it he cometh to set his kingdom 
on foot : Eev. vi. 2, I saw a white horse, and he that sat on him had 
a bow, and a crown was given unto him ; and he went forth conquering 
and to conquer. This is an emblematical representation of the rise 
and progress of Christ s kingdom. Where you may note his furniture, 
a crown and a bow. The crown noteth his dignity, the bow his 
armour and strength : Ps. xlv. 3-5, Gird on thy sword upon thy thigh, 
thou most mighty, with thy glory and majesty ; and in thy majesty 
ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness ; 
and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things : thine arrows are 
sharp in the heart of the king s enemies, whereby the people fall under 
thee. Christ having the grant of a kingdom over the nations, is every 
way furnished with power to obtain it, by means proper to the medi 
atory dispensation, by his word, Spirit, and providence. 

[1.] His word, which is called The rod of his strength, Ps. ex. 2 ; 
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God, 
2 Cor. x. 4. When Christ will work, the world cannot resist its con 
vincing power ; those that feel it not fear it : John iii. 20, Every one 
that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his 
deeds should be reproved. 

[2.] His Spirit. Now what can stand before the mighty Spirit of 
God, convincing men of the truth of his religion? John xvi. 8-11, 
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of right 
eousness, and of judgment : of sin, because they believe not on me : of 
righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more : of 
judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. Showing hereby 
Christ was the Messiah, and therefore they were guilty of great sin 
who did not believe on him ; that he was a righteous and innocent 
person, and no seducer, because Christ rose from the dead and went to 
the Father ; that he was an exalted prince, above Satan, and whatever 
things were looked upon as divine powers. Many that were not con 
verted were convinced of this. 

[3.] His providence. All judgment was put into Christ s hands, to 
be improved for the advancement of his mediatory kingdom : John v. 
22, For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judg 
ment to the Son. He hath the government of all things, angels, and 


all events that fall out in the world. None of the creatures are left to 
their own arbitrament or uncertain contingences, but under the govern 
ment of a supreme providence, which is left in Christ s hands. Thus 
} r ou see, though the devil s interest be held up by the combined interests 
of the world agreeing together to promote the idolatries and supersti 
tions wherewith he hath inspired them, yet Christ is able to break and 
dissolve all this force and power. 

Secondly, How far was Satan destroyed or his head crushed ? 

1. Negatively. 

[1.] Non ratione essentice, not to take away his life and being. No ; 
there is a devil still, and shall be, even when the whole work of Christ s 
redemption is finished ; for then it is said, Rev. xx. 10, The devil that 
deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the 
beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night 
for ever and ever. So Mat. xxv. 41, Depart from me, ye curr,ed, into- 
everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels/ Then eternal 
judgment is executed on the head of the wicked state. Sentence was 
passed before, and the devil feareth it : Mat. viii. 29, Art thou come 
hither to torment us before the time ? He was condemned before, 
but then it is executed upon him ; he is finally punished, and shall for 
ever remain with the damned. 

[2.] Non ratione malitice, not in regard of malice ; for the enmity 
ever continueth between the two seeds, and Satan will be doing though 
it be always to loss : 1 John iii. 8, The devil sinneth from the begin 
ning. Therefore he is not so destroyed as if he did no more desire the 
ruin and destruction of men. He is as malicious as ever. The devil 
is always at the old trade of destroying souls, and watcheth all advan 
tages, and observeth our motions and inclinations, to make use of 

2. Affirmatively, it remaineth that it is ratione potentice, in regard 
of his power. But the question returneth, How far is his power de 
stroyed ? for he still governeth the wicked, and possesseth a great part 
of the world. Therefore the devils are called, Eph. vi. 12, The rulers 
of the darkness of this world. He molesteth the godly, whether con 
sidered singly and apart, or in their communities and societies. Singly 
and apart he may sometimes trouble them and sorely shake them, as 
wheat is winnowed in a sieve : Luke xxii. 31, Simon, Simon, behold, 
Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. And 
in their communities and societies: Ps. cxxix. 1, 2, Many a time 
have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say : many a 
time have they afflicted me from my youth. 

Ans. Though he may afflict and molest the people of God, yet he 
cannot totally prevail over them. 

[1.] There is enough done by way of merit to break the power of 
Satan, or that whole kingdom of darkness which is united under one 
head called the devil. The price and ransom is fully paid for captive 
souls : The Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world, John i. 
29. There need no more to be done by way of merit and satisfaction 
to bruise the serpent s head and to dissolve that woful work which he 
hath introduced into the world. Now, not only the comfort of parti 
cular believers is ascribed to the death of Christ, but the success of the 


gospel over false religions ; as 1 Peter i. 18, Forasmuch as ye know 
that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, 
from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, 
but with the precious blood of Christ. He purchased the power of re 
covering souls out of their apostasy at a dear rate. Therefore, though 
the superstitions of the world were entailed on people by a long de 
scent, yet when we go forth to preach the gospel in the virtue and value 
of the blood of Christ, that will work mighty wonders for the destruc 
tion of the kingdom of the devil. 

[2.] Christ is upon the throne, and we are under his protection ; 
therefore the devil cannot totally prevail as to those who have interest 
in him. As to single believers : John x. 28, None is able to pluck 
them out of my hand. Or as to their communities and societies : Mat. 
xvi. 18, Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell 
shall not prevail against it. The gates of hell signify the power and 
policy of hell, for there was their armoury and their counsel. Christ 
expecteth their most subtle and furious assaults, but all should be but 
as the dashing of waves against a rock, end in foam, and shame to the 
aggressors and assailants. So that besides his merit on the cross, there 
is his power in heaven, as now sitting upon the throne. 

[3.] The victory is carried on so as that our duty and trials may not 
be excluded. 

(1.) Though Satan s head be crushed, yet still there is room for our 
duty, that we may use the means for our safety, as good soldiers of 
Christ, and live as in a continual fight. These are set down, 1 Peter 
v. 8, 9, Be sober and vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a 
roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour ; whom re 
sist steadfast in the faith. 

(1st.) Sobriety, or an holy moderation as to the comforts and 
delights of the present life. The devil, the flesh, and the world are in 
conspiracy. By the baits of the world he enticeth our flesh to a neglect 
of God and heavenly things ; therefore we must use the world as if we 
used it not, lest our hearts be burdened and depressed, and disabled 
from seeking after our great end and happiness. 

(2c?.) Vigilancy and watchfulness is necessary, that we may stand 
upon our guard, avoiding snares, and forecasting hazards, lest we fall 
as a ready prey into the mouth of the tempter : 1 Cor. xvi. 13, Watch 
ye, stand fast in the faith, quit yourselves like men, be strong. The 
first point of a Christian soldier is to watch ; conscience must stand 
porter at the door, examining what cometh in and what goeth out. 
The devil watcheth all advantages against us, that he may spy where 
we are weakest ; and if the enemy watch and we sleep, we cannot be 

(3d) Steadfast resistance in the faith. When we are yielding, Satan 
gets ground ; but when we believingly and steadfastly resist, he is dis 
couraged. This steadfast resistance in the faith is (1.) Adhering to 
the privileges of the gospel as our happiness ; (2.) Persevering in the 
duties thereof as our work ; resolving not to let go our hold, but by 
patient continuance in well-doing to wait for the mercy of our Lord 
Jesus unto eternal life. Now if Christ should so destroy the devil as 
to exempt from this duty, the whole gospel would be in vain, and the 


promises and precepts of it to no purpose, and all the furniture of grace 
which Christ hath purchased for us and promised to us be lost and 
useless. Surely Christ hath not so crushed the serpent s head but that 
we need to be sober and watchful and steadfast in the faith ; otherwise 
we were not his soldiers, but his enemies. 

(2.) Not to exempt us from trials of our sincerity. God will have all 
obedience to be tried and honoured by opposition, and sometimes by 
sharp and grievous opposition : Eev. ii. 10, The devil shall cast some 
of you into prison, that you may be tried. Thus Job was remitted to 
Satan for his trial : chap. i. 12, And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, 
all that he hath is in thy power. And Paul had his messenger of 
Satan for his trial, to see what shift he could make, with sufficient 
internal grace under outward and vexatious evils, 2 Cor. xii. 7-10. 
Now better undergo the fiery trial than the fiery torment. Tried we 
are then, but not destroyed. God may let loose the wolf to drive us 
into the fold, and exercise us with temptations, but not suffer us to be 

[4.] In the external management of the mediatorial kingdom there 
are many vicissitudes and interchanges of the outward condition of the 
church. Sometimes God doth notably defeat Satan and his instruments, 
and the devil s kingdom visibly goeth to wrack ; as at the first promul 
gation of the gospel, though the world was captivated under Satan, 
rooted in former superstitions, yet Christ prevailed and got ground by 
the rod of his strength and the word of his kingdom, though Satan 
everywhere had his temples wherin he was worshipped and his oracles 
were resorted to with great reverence. Till the Hebrew child silenced 
him, he ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink- 
offerings, yea, often the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they 
sacrificed to him ; yet all of a sudden his strongholds were demolished, 
the idols broken, whom they and their fathers had worshipped and 
prayed unto in their distresses and adversities, and blessed in their pros 
perities; the temples broken down, the altars polluted and set at 
nought, and the world turned from these vanities to the living God. 
But a little while after the fires were kindled, and the professors of the 
true religion were butchered and slaughtered ; but then they overcame 
him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and 
not loving their lives unto the death, Kev. xii. 11. So that when the 
church seemed weakest and her enemies strongest, then she had more 
for her than against her. When Satan s instruments were killing 
Christians, then they were pulling down Satan s throne and advancing 
Christ s ; so that it is better to be a simple soldier on Christ s side than 
commander of a whole army against him. When the persecutors had 
done, Satan raised up heretics in the church, as worms that bred in 
the body, and devoured it ; yet Christ confounded them, and in a little 
time brake each sect in pieces, and those that were the great scourge 
and vexation of one age were scarce known to the next but by their 
names and some obscure reports. The light of the gospel did soon 
scatter these mists as soon as they did arise. Last of all came the 
great apostasy of antichristianism, whereby the simplicity of the Chris 
tian doctrine was turned into school niceties, the worship of the gospel 
into a theatrical pomp and the pageantry of ridiculous ceremonies, and 



the discipline of the church into a temporal domination ; and all this 
supported by the blood of the saints and worldly grandeur, and the 
combined interests of many popish nations. And here are the ebbs 
and flows between the two shores of Christ and antichrist amongst us. 
You know by what a bloody design Hagar the bondwoman, that was 
cast out, sought to weaken and vaunt it over Sarah ; but the Lord broke 
the snare, and our foot is escaped. 

[5.] If the promised seed had not bruised the serpent s head the 
world had been in a worse case than it is. There is some conviction and 
restraint where conversion taketh not place. Consider how Satan 
reigneth where Christ hath not pursued him with his gospel, or where 
Christ hath withdrawn his gospel for the ingratitude of men. Surely 
there is a difference between the places where people live in the dregs 
of Christianity, and there where the devil is worshipped and idolatry 
set up. 

[6.] Though there be not a total destruction of the kingdom of Satan, 
yet it is in an absolute subjection to the throne of the mediator. The 
kingdom of sin and Satan are so far destroyed as not to hinder the 
demonstration of mercy to the elect, and as to be subservient to the 
demonstration of his justice to others, who neglect or contemn the 
remedy offered, which is God s great design that the elect may obtain, 
though the rest be hardened. 

[7.] That in time Christ will destroy all opposite reigns and kingdoms. 
He doth some sooner, others later ; but there will be an universal and 
absolute subjection to Christ at the day of judgment. Infernal spirits 
shall then bow the knee to him, Phil. ii. 10, with Kom. xiv. 10, 11, 
and that with Isa. xlv. 23. Then saints shall judge angels, 1 Cor. vi. 
2, and the whole mystery of iniquity will then be finished and come to 

Use 1. Thankfulness and praise to our mediator. The eternal God 
hath selected a people from the rest of the world to praise him for the 
mystery of his love here in the assemblies of his people ; for God 
inhabiteth the praises of Israel/ Ps. xxii. 3 ; and hereafter, that he may 
have the thanks of his glorified saints for ever. Consider to this end 
how Satan s design is crossed and counterworked in the mystery of our 

1. Satan s design was to dishonour God by a false representation, as 
if envious of man s happiness : Gen. iii. 5, God doth know that in the 
day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be 
as gods, knowing good and evil. And so to weaken the esteem of 
God s goodness. Now in the work of our redemption God is wonder 
fully magnified, and represented as amiable to man ; not envying our 
knowledge and delight, but promoting it by all means, even with great 
care and cost : 1 John iv. 8, God is love. 

2. To depress the nature of man, that in innocency stood so near 
God. Now that the human nature, so depressed and abased by the 
malicious suggestions of the devil, should be so elevated and advanced, 
and be set up far above the angelical nature, and admitted to dwell 
with God in a personal union, oh ! let us now cheerfully remember 
and celebrate this victory of Christ. Our praise now is a pledge of our 
everlasting triumph. This table is spread for us in the sight of our 


enemies, and we come to have intimate communion and fellowship 
with him at his table. 

Use. 2. To exhort us to make use of Christ s help for our recovery 
out of the defection and apostasy of mankind. Oh ! let Satan be 
crushed in you, and the old carnal nature destroyed. He that so will 
ingly entered into the conflict on the cross, though his heel were bruised, 
will as willingly employ the power of the Spirit to help you ; the one 
was in order to the other. Christ doth not only enter upon the work 
by conquest, but hath much to do with every individual person before 
he can settle his kingdom in their hearts. There is a combat between 
Christ and Satan for the rescue of every sinner, and we are not easily 
brought to change masters. Now yield to him, suffer him to save you. 
You look to the outward interest of Christ in the world, and you do 
well ; but it is easier to bring men to own a true religion than to bring 
them under the power of it. Christ s greatest victory is the overcoming 
men s corruptions and carnal inclinations, to purify their polluted souls, 
and to set up Christ s government in the heart, where once Satan ruled. 
The kingdom of Christ within us is the most excellent kingdom : Luke 
xi. 20, If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the 
kingdom of God is come upon you. If once we become Christ s, we 
will more really care for his interest in the world. 

Use 3. To show us the nature of Christ s victory, and wherein it 
consisteth ; not in an exemption from troubles, nor in a total exemp 
tion from sin for the present. 

1. Not in an exemption from troubles. No ; you must expect con 
flicts. Though Satan s deadly power be taken away, our heel may be 
crushed. Christ hath delivered us from the present evil world : Gal. 
i. 4, c Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from this 
present evil world. Not that the world should trouble us no more, 
but that the world should not be a snare to us. He came not to 
exempt us from trouble, but to save us from our sins/ Mat. i. 21 ; 
To deliver us from wrath to come, 1 Thes. i. 10. We have the 
victory which he purchased for us, if the devil and the world do not 
hinder the fruition of eternal glory. Our victory over Satan is mostly 
gotten by patience even to the death ; and so those that are killed all 
the day long are more than conquerers through him that loved them, 
Bom. viii. 35-37. Satan s main spite is not at your worldly interests, 
but your souls. God may give him sometimes a power over your 
worldly and bodily interests, but he doth not give him a power over 
your souls. Though he get his will over your bodies, yet, if he get 
not his will over your souls, it is you that conquer, and not Satan ; 
therefore in the Christian sense suffering is conquering. If he do not 
draw you away from God and Christ, though he and his instruments 
have great power over you, it is your heel only is bruised, but your head 
is safe. 

2. It is not a total exemption from sin. Necessary vital grace is 
only absolutely secured ; you shall receive no deadly wound to destroy 
your salvation. The godly sometimes may be foiled. Satan stirred up 
David to number the people : 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3, I am jealous over you 
with a godly jealousy ; for I have espoused you to one husband, that 
I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ : for I fear lest by any 


means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds 
should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ ; 1 Cor. vii. 
5, That Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. Yea, God may 
employ Satan in punishing his people ; as when the Israelites mur 
mured, he sent evil angels among them, Ps. Ixxviii. 49, and they 
were destroyed of the destroyer, 1 Cor. x. 10. Because careless souls 
are apt to fall asleep, God permitteth him to be the executioner of his 

Use 4. To animate and encourage Christ s servants in their war 
against Satan s kingdom, at home and abroad, within and without: 
Not to give place to the devil, Eph. iv. 27. Christ whom we serve 
is more able to save than Satan is to destroy. 

1. The devil is a creature, but Christ is the sovereign Lord, who 
hath power over him and all creatures. The devil s tempting is by 
leave : Job i. 12, And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath 
is in thy power ; Luke xxii. 31, And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, 
behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. 
He could not enter into the herd of swine without leave from Christ : 
Mat. viii. 31, So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, 
suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. When we are in Satan s 
hands, Satan is in God s hands. 

2. The devil is an usurper, Christ is the heir of all things. Satan is 
the god of this world by usurpation, but by lawful ordination Jesus 
is both Lord and Christ : Acts ii. 36, Therefore let all the house of 
Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye 
have crucified, both Lord and Christ/ 

3. The devil hath only a persuasive force, no constraining efficacy. 
He cannot change the heart, or create any new principles and habits 
there, which were not before. But God can put his law into our in 
ward parts, and write it in our hearts/ Jer. xxxi. 35. He can only 
propound alluring baits or objects to the outward senses and fancy, 
but God worketh immediately on the heart. 

4. If the devil be vigilant and assiduous in his temptations, he is 
matched and overmatched. Christ is always mindful of the affairs of 
his people ; he doth ever make intercession for us before God : And 
he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep/ Ps. cxxi. 4. 
Satan daily bloweth the bellows, inflaming our corruptions, suggesting 
temptations ; but the Spirit is as watchful in our hearts, maintaining 
his interest there. 

5. The devil s malice is restrained, for he is held in chains of dark 
ness : 2 Peter ii. 4, If God spared not the angels that fell, but cast 
them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to 
be reserved unto judgment ; meaning thereby not only the powerful 
restraints of providence, but the horror of their own despairing fears. 
Chains imply restraint, but chains of darkness, horror. He himself 
believeth and trembleth : James ii. 19, Thou believest that there is 
one God, thou doest well ; the devils also believe and tremble/ 

6. The Lord Jesus doth often give out demonstrations of his power 
and providence. Partly in protecting, strengthening, assisting his 
people, and prospering their just endeavours for the advancement of 
his kingdom, so that all the machinations of the wicked against them 


come to nought. Partly in making fearful havoc and destruction in 
Satan s kingdom. In protecting his people, sometimes he destroyeth 
their enemies : Isa. xxvii. 4, Who would set the briers and thorns 
against me in battle ? I would go through them, I would burn them 
together. Sometimes infatuateth their counsels : Job v. 12-14, He 
disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot per 
form their enterprise : he taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and 
the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. They meet with dark 
ness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night. 
Sometimes he hideth his people in the secret of his presence : Ps. xxxi. 
20, Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride 
of man ; thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strifes 
of tongues. He smiteth his enemies by an invisible curse : Job xx. 
26, All darkness shall be hid in his secret places ; a fire not blown 
shall consume him ; it shall go ill with him that is left in his taber 
nacle/ He divideth them : 2 Chron. xx. 23, The children of Ammon 
and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay 
and destroy them ; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants 
of Seir every one helped to destroy another. Christ is the assailant, 
and makes fearful havoc in the devil s kingdom. The word of truth is 
come into all the world, and pulleth down idolatrous and false worship : 
Col. i. 6, The word of truth is come unto you, as it is in all the world, 
and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day you heard 
of it, and knew the grace of God in truth. 



And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide* 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

THE context is spent in describing the journey of Rebekah with Abra 
ham s servant, and the text showeth the occasion of the first inter 
view between Isaac and Rebekah ; he goeth out into the fields to 
meditate, and of a sudden he seeth the camels coming. 

I cannot pass by this accident without some remark and observation. 
Isaac goeth to meet with God, and he meeteth with God and Rebekah too 
Godliness hath the promises of this life and that which is to come ; there 
is nothing lost by duty and acts of piety and worship. Seneca said the 
Jews were an unhappy people, because they lost the seventh part of .their 
lives, meaning the time spent in the sabbath. This is the sense of nature, 
to think all lost that is bestowed on God. Flesh and blood snufFeth 
and crieth, What a weariness is it ! and what need all this waste ? 
Oh ! let me tell you, by serving God you drive on two cares at once. 
Worldly interests many times are cast into the way of religion, and, 
besides the main design, these things are added to us. Wonderful are 
the providences of God in and about duties of worship. Some have 
gone aside to pray, and escaped such as lay in wait to destroy them ; 
and Luther tells a story of one that balked a duty and fell into a danger, 
passed by a sermon, and was presently surprised by thieves. Others 
there are that thought of nothing but meeting God in his worship, and 
God hath made their duties an occasion of advancing their outward 
comforts. Certainly it is good to obey all impulses of the Spirit ; there 
may be somewhat of providence as well as grace in it : Isaac went out 
to meditate in the field at the even-tide ; and he lift up his eyes and 
saw, and behold the camels were coming. 

In the words you have several circumstances : the person, Isaac ; 
his work, He went out to meditate ; the place, In the field ; the 
time, At even-tide. 

1. For the person, Isaac, I need not say much, because I would not 
digress. He was Abraham s son, and God said of Abraham, Gen. 
xviii. 19, I know him, that he will command his children, and his 
household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do 
justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that 


which he hath spoken of him. Good education leaveth a savour and 
tincture upon the spirit, at least an awe and a care of duties and exer 
cises of religion ; and therefore it is no wonder to hear of Abraham s 
son that had been trained up in the way of the Lord, to go out to 
meditate ; it is a seal of the blessing of education, again Isaac was 
now in his youth ; certainly he could not be very old. Sarah was 
ninety years old when the promise was first made to her of a son : Gen. 
xvii. 17, Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in 
his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old ? 
and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear ? Now Sarah was but 
one hundred and twenty-seven years old when she died, Gen. xxiii. 1 T 
and this match was immediately after her death ; for just as he received 
Kebekah he left off his mourning for Sarah : Gen. xxiv. 67, And 
Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah s tent, and took Eebekah, and 
she became his wife ; and he loved her : and Isaac was comforted after 
his mother s death. Probably Isaac was now a little above thirty. 
Isaac, a young man, that was now entering into the world, goeth out to 
meditate. Usually we make religious exercises the work of grey hairs, 
and after we have spent the heat and flower of our spirits in the vanities 
of the world, we hope to make amends for all by a severe and devout 
retirement. Young and green heads look upon meditation as a dull 
melancholy work, fit only for the phlegm and decay of old age ; 
vigorous and eager spirits are more for action than thoughts, and their 
work lieth so much with others that they have no time to descend into 
themselves. But the elder world was more innocent ; the exercises of 
Isaac s youth were pious ; he went out into the fields to meditate. 

2. To open his work to you, to meditate, or, as it is in the margin, 
to pray, Tl^ 1 ?, the word used in the original is indifferent to both senses ; 
it properly signifies muttering, or an imperfect and suppressed sound. 
The Septuagint sometimes renders it by aetSew, to sing, but here they 
render it by dSoXea-^crai, which signifies to exercise himself, and most 
properly a sportive exercise, as if his going abroad had been only to 
sport and recreate himself after the toil of the day. But that is not so 
probable ; the Holy Ghost would not put such a mark upon such a cir 
cumstance. Therefore I suppose the Septuagint s word must be taken 
more largely to comprise also a religious exercise. But how is it ? To 
pray or meditate ? I would not recede from our own translation with 
out weighty cause ; most other translations look that way. Symmaclms 
renders it \a\rja-at, to speak ; Aquila, o/itX^crat, to discourse as with 
others, that is, with God and his own soul ; and so it suiteth with the 
force of the original word, which properly signifies to mutter, or such 
a speaking as is between thoughts and words. So that the meaning is, 
he went aside privately to discourse of God, and the promises, and of 
heavenly things. 

3. The place, { In the field. Partly for privacy ; deep thoughts 
require a retirement. Many of David s psalms were penned in the 
wilderness. He that would have the company of God and his own 
thoughts had need go aside from other company, and be alone that he 
may not be alone, that the mind, being sequestered from all distractions, 
may solace itself the more freely in these heavenly thoughts : Exod. 
iii. 1, Moses led the flock to the back-side of the desert and came to 


the mountain of God, even to Horeb. He goeth aside from the other 
shepherds, that he might converse with the great shepherd and bishop 
of our souls, and there he seeth the vision of the burning bush. When 
God would communicate his loves to the church, he inviteth her into 
the wilderness : Hosea ii. 14, Therefore behold I will allure her, and 
bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. The 
most familiar and intimate converses between God and the church are 
in private. So the spouse inviteth the bridegroom: Cant. vii. 11, 
Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field, let us lodge in the 
villages. In these solitary and heavenly retirements, to which no eyes 
are conscious and privy, we have most experience of God and of our 
selves. Duties done in company are more easy ; byends and man s eye 
and observance may have an influence upon our worship, and therefore 
meditation is difficult and tedious, because it is a work of retirement, 
that hath approbation from none but our Father that seeth in secret. 
Partly because the field is an help to meditation, fancy and invention 
being elevated and raised by the sweetness, variety, and pleasure of it, 
there being on every side so many objects and lively memorials of God. 
However in this sense the circumstance is not binding. Some do better 
in a closet than in a field or garden, where the senses being locked from 
all other objects, the mind may fall more directly upon itself, which 
otherwise in a field or garden would skip from object to object, without 
pitching upon any seriously. 

4. The last circumstance in the text is the time, In the even-tide, 
which is also a matter of an arbitrary concernment. Time in itself is 
but an inactive circumstance ; all hours are alike to God ; he taketh no 
more pleasure in the sixth or ninth hour than in the first hour ; only 
you should prudently observe when your spirit is most fresh and smart. 
To some the morning is quickest, the fancy being fittest to offer spiritual 
and heavenly thoughts, before it hath received any images and repre 
sentations from carnal objects abroad. Morning thoughts are, as it 
were, the virgin thoughts of the mind, before they have been prostituted 
to these inferior and baser objects, and so are more pure, sublime, and 
defecate ; and then the soul, like the hind of the morning, with a swift 
and nimble readiness climbeth up to the mountains of myrrh and 
frankincense : Cant. iv. 6, Until the day break, and the shadows flee 
away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frank 
incense ; and it tendeth much to season the whole day when we can 
talk with the law in the morning: Prov. vi. 22, When thou awakest, 
it shall talk with thee. To some the evening seemeth fitter, that, 
when the gayishness and vanity of the spirit hath been spent in business, 
their thoughts may be more serious and solemn with God; and after 
the weights have been running down all day through their employ 
ments of the world, they may wind them up again at night in these 
recesses and exercises of piety and religion ; as David says, Ps. xxv. 1, 
Unto thee, Lord, do I lift up my soul. To others the silence and 
stillness of the night seemeth to be an help, and because of the curtain 
of darkness that is drawn between them and the world, they can the 
better entertain serious and solemn thoughts of God. David speaks 
everywhere in the ppnlms of his nocturnal devotions: Ps. Ixiii. 6, 
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the 


night-watches. The expression is taken from the custom of the Jews, 
who divided the night into so many watches. Whilst others were repos 
ing their bodies on their beds, David was reposing his soul in the 
bosom of God, and he gave the less rest to his eyes that he might give 
the more to his soul. So Ps. cxix. 148, Mine eyes prevent the night- 
watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Certainly in the night, 
when we are taken off from other business, we have the greatest com 
mand of our thoughts, and the covert of darkness that God hath stretched 
over the world begetteth a greater awe and reverence. Therefore Mr 
Greenham, when he pressed any weighty point, and perceived any care 
less, used to beg of them that, if God by his providence should suffer 
them to awake in the night, they would but think of his words. 
Certainly the mind, being by sleep emptied of other cares, like a mill 
falleth upon itself, and the natural awe and terror which is the effect 
of darkness helpeth to make the thoughts more solemn and serious. 
So that you see much may be said for the conveniency of either of these 
seasons, evening, or morning, or night. It is your duty to be faithful 
to your own souls, and sometimes to take the advantage either of the 
night, or of the day, or of the morning, or of the evening, as best suits 
us. David saith, Ps. cxix. 97, Oh ! how love I thy law ! it is my 
meditation all the day/ So he describes his blessed man : Ps. i. 2, 
His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate 
day and night ; that is, sometimes in the day, and sometimes in the 
night ; no time can come amiss to a prepared spirit. Isaac s hour was 
in the even-tide ; in the evening he went out to meditate, in which two 
things are notable 

[1.] That he made duty his refreshment. He had wrought all the 
day, and in the evening he goeth to recreate himself with God. What 
a shame is it that what was his solace is our burden ! If we had a 
spiritual discerning, we should soon see that there is no delight to that 
of duty, and no refreshment like that which we enjoy in the exercises 
of religion and in communion with God. The world s delights are 
vain and dreggy ; they may provoke laughter, but they cannot yield 
any pure, solid, and true contentment. It was Christ s meat to do his 
Father s will : John iv. 34, My meat is to do the will of him that sent 
me, and to finish his work. It was sweeter to Job than his appointed 
food to hear God s word : Job xxiii. 12, I have esteemed the words 
of his mouth more than my necessary food. And David saith, Ps. 
cxix. 54, Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my 
pilgrimage. All the comfort he had to drive away the sad and dis 
consolate hours of his pilgrimage was to exercise himself in the study 
and meditation of God s word. And it was Isaac s evening comfort 
to go out and meditate. Gracious hearts must have spiritual delights, 
the word, and obedience, and prayer, and meditation. As one said, 
Aid hoc non est evangelium, aut nos non sumus cliristiani Either these 
histories are not true, or our hearts are much unlike theirs. Oh ! how 
sweet would it be if we could make duty a recreation and our work our 
pleasure ; that in the close of the day this might be our solace, after 
the work of the day to take a turn with God in the mount, and to 
walk in the garden of love, and, as David saith, Ps. civ. 34, My 
meditation of him shall be sweet ; I will be glad in the Lord. Isaac 
went out at even-tide. 


[2.] That at the evening his spirit was still fresh and savoury ; this 
was the time not of necessity, but choice. Many spend their heat and 
strength in the world, toiling all day, and in the evening come and 
offer God a drowsy yawning prayer, when all the vigour of their spirits 
is wasted. You should bring forth the best wine at last ; never so 
engage in the world as to hinder a duty. It should be the wisdom of 
Christians to guide their affairs with such judgment that duties may 
not become a burden and a weariness. Now a soul encumbered with 
business cannot act with such delight and freedom as it ought. Too 
often do we suffer the lean kine to devour the fat. Mary hath cause 
to complain of Martha ; so much time is spent in the world that we 
have no heart or strength for communion with God ; and usually when 
all are asleep and wearied out with the world, then we call to duty. Oh ! 
remember in the evening and close of the day your affections should be 
quick and free for spiritual things. Isaac went out at evening-tide. 

I shall sum up the intent of the whole verse in this one point 

Doct. That it is the duty of Christians to sequester and set apart 
some time and place for solemn meditation, or the exercising their 
souls in heavenly and holy things. 

My purpose is to speak of meditation, a duty unaccustomed and 
unpractised ; both the practice and the knowledge of it are become 
strangers to us. The times are times of action and tumult, and we all 
think that we have so much to do with others, that few desire to con 
verse with God and themselves. Our case is somewhat like theirs in 
Nehemiah s time, Neh. iv. 17, With one hand they wrought in the 
work, and with the other hand held a weapon. We are forced to 
fight and quarrel for our religion, that we may rescue the innocent and 
holy principles of it from violation and scorn. I observe that many 
Christians use the sword, they spend the heat and strength of their 
spirits in controversies ; but I. doubt they do not use the trowel enough, 
and are not so serious in private retirements as they are earnest 
in public defences. Therefore I shall make it my work to press 
the duty of meditation. My method shall be this : I shall show 
(1.) What meditation is; (2.) The necessity and profit of it; (3.) 
The rules that serve to guide us in this holy work and business ; (4.) 
The lets and hindrances of it, with the helps and remedies against 
them ; (5.) The object or matters upon which you are to meditate, 
which I shall handle first, generally ; secondly, particularly. 

I shall give you some hints of meditation on those objects which 
are most usual and most practical. 

I. What meditation is. Before I can define it I must distingush it. 

1. There is that which we call occasional meditation, which is an 
act by which the soul spiritualiseth every object about which it is con 
versant. A gracious heart is like an alembic, it can distil useful medita 
tions out of all things it meeteth with. Look, as it seeth all things in 
God, so it seeth God in all things. Our Lord at the well discourseth 
of the water of life, John xxi. 10. At the supper of the pharisee 
one discourseth of eating bread in the kingdom of God, Luke xiv. 15. 
There is a chemistry and holy art that a Christian hath to turn water 
into wine, brass into gold, to make earthly occasions and objects to 
minister spiritual and heavenly thoughts. God trained up the old 


church by types and ceremonies, that upon a common object they might 
ascend to spiritual thoughts ; and our Lord in the new testament 
taught by parables and similitudes taken from ordinary functions and 
offices among men, that in every trade and calling we might be 
employed in our worldly business with an heavenly mind, that, whether 
in the shop, or at the loom, or in the field, we might still think of 
Christ and heaven. There is a parable of merchant-men, a parable 
of the sower, a parable of a man calling his servants to an account. 
In all these similitudes Christ would teach us that we should still think 
of God and heaven. So small a matter as a grain of mustard-seed 
may yield many spiritual applications. 

2. There is set and solemn meditation. Now this is of several sorts, 
or rather, they are but several parts of the same exercise. 

[1.] There is a reflexive meditation, by which we wholly fall upon 
ourselves. This is nothing else but a solemn parley between a man 
and his own heart : Ps. iv. 4, Commune with your own hearts upon 
your bed, and be still. When in a solemn retirement, reason and 
inward discourse returneth and falleth back upon itself. Of all the 
parts of meditation this is the most difficult, for here a man is to exer 
cise dominion over his soul, and to be his own accuser and judge; it 
is against self-love, and carnal ease. We see all our shifts are to avoid 
our own company, and to run away from ourselves. Guilty man, like 
a basilisk dieth, by seeing himself. Hence the worldly man choketh 
his soul with business, lest his thoughts, for want of work, like a mill 
should grind upon itself. The voluptuous person melteth away his 
days in pleasure, and charmeth his soul into a deep sleep with the 
potion of outward delights, lest it should awake and talk with him. 
Oh ! then, necessary it is that a Christian should take some time to 
discourse with himself, to ask of our own souls, what we are ? what 
we have been? what we have done? Jer. viii. 6; what straits, what 
temptations we have passed through, and how we have overcome 
them ? You would think it strange of two men that conversed every 
day for forty or fifty years, and all this while they did not know one 
another ; yet this is the case between us and our souls ; we live a long 
time in the world, and are strangers to ourselves. 

[2.] There is a meditation, which is more direct, and that is of two 
sorts (1.) Dogmatical, whose object is the word ; (2.) Practical, whose 
objects is our own lives. There is more of search and apprehension 
in the first, there is more of plot and contrivance in the second ; the 
one is more conversant about doctrines, the other about things ; the 
latter catcheth hold of the heel of the former, for where dogmatical 
meditation endeth, there practical meditation beginneth. 

(1.) Dogmatical meditation is when we exercise ourselves in the 
doctrines of the word, and consider how truths known may be useful 
to us. It differeth from study, partly in the object ; study is conver 
sant about a thing unknown in whole or in part : Kom. xii. 2, That 
ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of 
God ; but meditation is an act of knowledge reiterated, or a return of 
the mind to that point to which it arrived before ; it is the inculcation 
or whetting of a known truth, the pause of reason on something already 
conceived and known, or a calling to remembrance what we know 


before. Partly in the end ; the end of study is information, but the end 
of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections : Josh. i. 8, 
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou 
shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do 
according to all that is written therein. Study is like a winter s sun, 
that shineth but warmeth not ; but meditation is like the blowing up 
of the fire, where we do not mind the blaze, but the heat. The fruit 
of study is to hoard up truth, but the fruit of meditation is to practise 
it. Curious inquiries have more of the student in them than the 
Christian. In study we are rather like vintners, that take in wines to 
store themselves for sale ; in meditation we are like private men, that 
buy wine for our use and comfort. A vintner s cellar may be better 
stored than a nobleman s, but he hath it for others use. The student 
may have more of notion and knowledge, his cellar may be fuller, but 
he hath it not for taste and necessary refreshment, as the Christian 

(2.) More practical and applicative meditation is when we take our 
selves aside from worldly distractions, that we may solemnly debate 
and study how to carry on the holy life with better success and advan 
tage, when we are wise in our sphere : Luke xvi. 8, The children of 
this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light, et? 
rrjv yeveav, in their generation ; it is an Hebrew phrase for the man 
ner, course, and sphere of our lives : Gen. vi. 9, These are the genera 
tions of Noah ; Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation, and 
Noah walked with God ; so to be wise in our generation is to be wise 
in our manner of living and business. So it is said, Ps. cxxii. 5, He 
will guide his affairs with discretion, which noteth plotting and wise 
foresight, choosing our way, or devising our way, as Solomon calleth 
it: Prov. xvi. 9, A man s heart deviseth his way. It is a great part 
of a Christian s employment. The scriptures call for it for a minister : 
2 Tim. ii. 15, Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman 
that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, to 
devise how to carry on his ministry with most honour and success. 
So for private Christians : Heb. x. 24, Let us consider one another, to 
provoke unto love and to good works. We should consider one 
another, each other s gifts, dispositions, and graces, that so our spiritual 
converse and commerce might be the more improved. By this kind 
of meditation piety is made more prudent, reasonable, and orderly. 
Christians that live at haphazard, and order their lives at adventure, 
without these rational and wise debates, if they do not stain their pro 
fession with foul indiscretions, yet find much inconvenience and toil 
in the holy life, and are not half so useful as others are. Certainly 
we should learn this of the children of this world. A wicked man is 
plotting for his lusts: Rom. xiii. 14, Make no provision for the flesh 
to fulfil the lust thereof, p,r) rroiela-6e irpovoiav. They make provision, 
they are catering how they may feed such a lust and satisfy such a 
carnal desire. Therefore certainly we should take care for the conven- 
iencies of the holy life, how we may be most useful for God, and pass 
through our relations with most advantage, and cast our businesses 
that they may be the least disadvantage to religion, and consider how 
particular duties may be the most dexterously accomplished : Ps. 


cxvi. 12, What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits 
towards me ? 

These are the kinds of meditation. The definition may be formed 
thus : Meditation is that duty or exercise of religion whereby the mind 
is applied to the serious and solemn contemplation of spiritual things, 
for practical uses and purposes. 

I shall open the description by the parts of it. 

1. It is a duty and exercise of religion. 

[1.] That it is a duty and exercise of religion appeareth by the 
evidence of scripture, where it is commanded, Josh. i. 8, This book 
of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate 
therein day and night. It is made a character of a godly man : Ps. i. 
2, His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he medi 
tate day and night. It is commended in the practice and example of 
the saints that were most famous in scripture ; Isaac in the text, Moses 
and David. And as it is plain by the evidence of scripture ; so by the 
light of nature and reason. God that is a spirit deserveth the most 
pure and spiritual worship, as well as such as is performed by the body. 
The thoughts are the eldest and noblest offspring of the soul, and the 
solemn consecration of them is fit for God. In the gospel meditation 
is called for. I find in the Old Testament the main thing there called 
for is meditation in the law ; in the gospel we are directed to a new 
object, the love of Christ : Eph. iii. 17-19, That ye, being rooted and 
grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is 
the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love 
of Christ, which passeth knowledge ; that is the study of saints. I 
confess it is more called for in the Old Testament ; being gross and 
carnal, they needed greater enforcements to spiritual duties ; but now it 
suiteth every way with the nature of our worship : John iv. 24, God 
is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and 
in truth/ Now worship in spirit and in truth is more agreeable to 
our state. Meditation is a pure and rational converse with God ; it is 
the flower and height of consecrated reason. 

[2.] It is not a duty of an arbitrary concernment. It is not only a 
moral help that may be observed or omitted, but a necessary duty, 
without which all graces would languish and wither. Faith is lean 
and ready to starve unless it be fed with continual meditation on the 
promises ; as David saith, Ps. cxix. 92, Unless thy law had been my 
delight, I should then have perished in my affliction. Thoughts are the 
caterers of the soul, that purvey for faith, and fetch in food and refresh 
it with the comfort of the promises. Hope is low, and doth not arise 
to such a fulness of expectation till by meditation we take a deliberate 
view of our hopes and privileges : Gen. xiii. 17, Arise, walk through 
the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it, for I will give 
it unto thee. Our hopes arise according to the largeness of our thoughts. 
It is a great advantage to have our eyes open to view the riches of our 
inheritance, and to have a distinct view of the hope of our calling. 
The apostle prays for the Ephesians, chap. i. 18, The eyes of your 
understandings being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope 
of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in 
the saints. Men of barren thoughts arc usually of low hopes, and for 


want of getting to the top of Pisgah to view the land, our hearts sink 
within us. Certainly hope thriveth best on the mount of meditation. 
Then for love, the sparkles of affection will not flow out unless we beat 
upon the will by constant thoughts. Affection is nourished by appre 
hension, and the more constant and deliberate the thoughts are, the love 
is always the deeper. Those Christians that are backward to the duty 
of meditation find none of those impulses and meltings of love that 
are in others ; they do not endeavour to comprehend the height and 
breadth and length, and depth of the love of Christ, and therefore no 
wonder that their hearts are so narrow and so much straitened towards 
God. Affections always follow the rate of our thoughts, if they are 
ponderous and serious. Then for obedience, or keeping the spirits 
constantly in a religious frame ; to others good motions come like 
flashes of lightning, and are as soon gone, as their thoughts are slight 
and vanishing, but deep musing maketh the fire burn, and keepeth a 
constant heat and flame in the spirits, not by flashes. And as for duty, 
so for comfort ; a man that is a stranger to meditation is a stranger to 
himself. In acts of review you enjoy yourselves, and you enjoy your 
selves with far more comfort in these private recesses ; you have most 
experience of God, and most experience of yourselves. Moses when he 
went aside to meditate had the vision of the fiery bush. Usually God 
cometh in, in the time of deep meditation, and an elevated heavenly 
mind is fittest to entertain the comforts and glory of his presence. 

Thus you see it is a necessary duty. Many think it is an excuse to 
say it doth not suit with their temper ; that it is a good help, but for 
those that can use it. I answer 

(1.) It is true there is a great deal of difference among Christians ; 
some are more serious and consistent, and have a greater command 
over their thoughts, others are of a more slight, weak spirit, and are 
less apt for duties of retirement and recollection. But our unfitness is 
usually moral rather than natural, not so much by temper as by disuse ; 
and moral unfitness cannot exempt us from a moral duty. Inky water 
cannot wash the hand white, or a sin exempt me from a duty. Indis 
position, which is a sin in me, doth not disannul my engagements to 
God; as a servant s drunkenness doth not excuse him from work. 
That it is a moral unfitness appeareth by two things 

(1st.) Disuse and neglect is the cause of it. Those that use it have 
a greater command over their thoughts. Men count it a great yoke, 
but custom would make it easy. Every duty is an help to itself, and 
the more we meditate the more we shall. It is pleasant to them that 
use it : Ps. i. 2, His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law 
doth he meditate day and night. Fierce creatures are tame to those 
that use to command them, and if a man did use to govern his thoughts, 
he would find them more obedient. 

(2d.) Want of love. Thoughts are at the service of love ; we pause- 
and stay upon such objects as we delight in : Ps. i. 2, His delight is 
in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 
Love naileth and fasteneth the soul to the object or thing beloved ; as- 
we see we can dwell upon carnal pleasures because our heart is there ; 
as Solomon gives this reason why a carnal man cannot dwell upon a 
Kiid and solemn object, because his heart is in the house of mirth, 


Eccles. vii. 4. We usually complain we want temper and we want 
matter ; but the truth is we want an heart. David saith, Ps. cxix. 1)7, 
Oh ! how love I thy law ; it is my meditation all the day. Delight 
some objects will engross the thoughts. Therefore see if it be not a 
moral distemper. 

(2.) Suppose it be a natural unfitness, yet while you have reason it 
is not total and universal, and therefore cannot excuse. We see in 
other duties, some have the gift of utterance, and have a great savouri- 
ness and readiness of expression for prayer ; others are more bound up 
and restrained ; but this can be no plea for them wholly to neglect 
prayer. Duty must be done as we are able ; God will hear the breath 
ing, panting soul as well as the rolling tongue. So it is in meditation ; 
some are more for musing, and can better melt out their souls in devout 
retirements, others can show their love better in zealous actions and 
public engagements for the glory of Christ; yet still, though there be 
a diversity of gifts, we are all bound to the same duties, and though 
we be fitter for some rather than others, yet none must be neglected in 
their order and course. 

(3.) The rank and place that meditation hath among -the duties. 
Meditation is a middle sort of duty between the word and prayer, and 
hath respect to both. The word feedeth meditation, and meditation 
feedeth prayer ; we must hear that we be not erroneous, and meditate 
that we be not barren. These duties must always go hand in hand ; 
meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer. 

(Ist.) To hear and not to meditate is unfruitful. We may hear and 
hear, but it is like putting a thing into a bag with holes : Hag. i. 6, 
He that earneth. wages, earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes ; 
James i. 23, 24, 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. Bare hearing begets but 
transient thoughts, and they leave but a weak impression, which is 
rather like the glance of a sunbeam upon a wall ; there is a glaring for 
the present, but a man never discerneth the beauty, the lustre, and the 
order of the truths delivered till he cometh to meditate upon them ; 
then we come clearly to see into the truth, and how it concerneth us, 
and how it falleth upon our hearts. David saith, Ps. cxix. 99, I have 
more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my 
meditation. The preacher can but deliver general theorems, and draw 
them down to practical inferences ; by meditation we come to see more 
clearly and practically than he that preacheth. We see, in outward 
learning, they thrive best that meditate most ; knowledge floateth, till 
by deliberate thoughts it be compressed upon the affections. 

(2d) It is dangerous to meditate and not to hear because of errors. 
Man will soon impose a deceit upon himself by his own thoughts. 
Fanatic spirits that neglect hearing pretend to dreams and revelations. 
We have a sophister and an heretic in our own bosoms, which soon 
deceiveth without a stock and treasure of some knowledge ; for men 
would be vain in their imaginations were not their thoughts corrected 
by an external light and instruction. Jude calleth those fanatic persons 
kvvjrviatpiJbevoi, filthy dreamers, Jude 8. All practical errors are 
men s natural imaginations gotten up into a valuable opinion. 


(3d) It is rashness to pray and not to meditate. What we take in 
by the word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. These 
three duties must be so ordered that one may not jostle out the other. 
Men are barren, dry, and sapless in their prayers for want of exercising 
themselves in holy thoughts : Ps. xlv. 1, My heart is inditing a good 
matter ; and then it follows, I will speak of the things which I have 
made touching the King ; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. The 
heart yieldeth matter to the tongue ; the word signifieth, boileth and 
frieth ; a word from mincha, their meat-offering ; the oil and the 
flour was to be kneaded together, and then fried in a pan, and then 
offered to the Lord; implying we must not come with raw dough- 
baked offerings, till we have concocted and prepared them by mature 
deliberation. It is notable that often in scripture prayer is called by 
the name of meditation, because it is the product and issue of it ; as 
Ps. v. 1, Give ear to my words, Lord: consider my meditation. 
Implying that his prayer was but the expression of his deliberate and 
premeditated thoughts. So Ps. xix. 14, Let the words of my mouth 
and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Lord, my 
strength and my redeemer/ It is the vent of the thoughts. 

2. Whereby the mind is applied to the serious and solemn consi 
deration. I add this to distinguish it from occasional meditation, and 
those good thoughts that accidentally rush into our minds, and to note 
the care and intenseness of the soul in such an exercise : Prov. xviii. 1, 
Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and inter- 
meddleth with all wisdom ; then is a man fit for these solemn and holy 
thoughts, and for intermeddling with all wise and divine matters, when 
he hath divorced himself from other cares, and is able to keep his 
understanding under a prudent confinement. 

3. Of spiritual things. This noteth the object, and so I call matters 
that are of an useful consideration ; as for instance, God, that we may 
fear him ; sin, that we may abhor it ; the works of God for the 
Creator s glory; any useful subject. So David limiteth it : Ps. xlix. 
3, My mouth shall speak of wisdom ; and the meditation of my heart 
shall be of understanding/ He meaneth of the state and end of man. 
Generally the object in the Old Testament is of the law. 

4. For practical uses and inferences. This noteth the end. Medi 
tation is not to puzzle the head with notions, but to better the heart 
The proper use of this exercise is to set on those great practical heads 
of religion, to work the heart to a greater care of duty and detestation 
of sin. To a greater care of duty : Ps. cxix. 15, I will meditate in 
thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways ; and to a greater detes 
tation and hatred of sin : Ps. cxix. 11, Thy word have I hid in mine 
heart, that I might not sin against thee. 




And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

II. I AM now come to the necessity and profit of meditation, or motives 
to press to this duty. I shall urge such as will serve also for marks ; 
for when it is well performed, you will find these effects wrought in 
you. Meditation is the mother and nurse of knowledge and godliness, 
the great instrument in all the offices of grace ; it helpeth on the work 
of grace upon the understanding, affections, and life, for the under 
standing of the doctrine of godliress, for the provoking of godly affec 
tions, and for the heavenly life. 

1. In point of understanding it is of great advantage to us in the 
entertainment of the doctrines of religion. 

[1.] To give us a clearer and more distinct sight of them. A man seeth 
the meaning, scope, and order of all points of religion, when he cometh 
to meditate on them. Knowledge without meditation is but an hear 
say knowledge ; we talk after one another like pan ots, and as the moon 
that shineth with another lustre without any light rooted in its own 
body : Kom. ii. 20, Which hast the form of knowledge, and of the 
truth in the law, pop^pa-iv rfjs yvcaa-eatf, a map of knowledge ; we 
have nothing but the lean apprehension of others. As the philosopher 
said, TO, fjuev \eyova-iv 01 veoi, a\Xa ov Tria-revova-iv, they repeat them by 
rote, without affection and belief ; so we speak one after another by rote, 
but do not so distinctly discern the worth and excellency of Christianity 
as when we come to meditate upon it : John iv. 42, Now we believe, 
not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know 
that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. Most men s 
knowledge is but traditional ; they never made an essay, and tasted the 
sweetness of Christ, or of their own thoughts. Oh ! do but try ; bare 
apprehensions of the report of Christ is but tradition, not religion. 
When we come to exercise our own thoughts thereon, then we see him 
ourselves ; the sight is more clear when it is steady and fixed. To one 
that passeth by, to see men dancing and frisking seemeth lightness and 
madness, but when he cometh nearer, and heareth the music, and 
observeth that they keep time, and pace, and measure with it, he findeth 
art in that which he thought frenzy. The beauty and excellency of 
religion is not discerned by a transient glance ; when we come to medi 
tate, and so see what is our beloved above all beloveds, then we admire 
him. The Christian religion is not to be taken up by chance, but by 
choice ; not because we know no other, but because we know no better 
then our affections to it are the more rational, the judgment having had 
a clearer sight and trial. 

[2.] That we may the better retain them. When an apple is tossed 
to and fro in the hand, it smelleth of it when the apple is gone, as when 
civet hath been long kept in the box the scent remaineth when the 
civet is taken out. A constant light is a great friend to memory, and 
sermons meditated on are remembered long after they are delivered. 
We do not forget those friends whom we have entertained with any 


solemnity. Solemn and serious thoughts leave a charge upon the 

[3.] That they may be always more ready and present with us. AH 
sins do arise out of incogitancy or forgetfulness. As for instance, dis 
trust : Heb. xii. 5, Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh 
unto you as unto children ; Luke xxiv. 6, He is not here, but is 
risen : remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee. 
A temptation gets the start of holy thoughts. It were a mighty 
advantage to have truths always ready. Now this is the Spirit s office : 
John xiv. 26, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the 
Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring 
all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. But 
now, for an outward help, there is no such thing as meditation : Prov. 
vi. 21, 22, Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them 
.about thy neck : when thou goest, it shall lead thee ; when thou 
.sleepest, it shall keep thee ; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with 
thee ; that is, shall be always present with thee. Continual medita 
tion maketh religious thoughts actual and present. 

2. It is a great advantage to the work of grace upon the affections. 
Ponderous thoughts are the bellows that kindle and inflame the affec 
tions ; they blow up those latent sparkles of grace that are in the soul. 
Impure thoughts stain the heart, and convey a taint and filth to the 
soul : 2 Peter ii. 14, Having eyes full of adultery. When the fancy 
is rolled upon unclean objects, lust is kindled. Lust, revenge, covetous- 
ness, they are all fed with thoughts ; a wicked spirit distilleth sin into 
the quintessence of villany, the imaginations of the heart are evil. So 
suitably good thoughts leave a forcible impression upon the soul. The 
papists talk of St Francis and St Clara, that had the wounds of Christ 
impressed on them. It is true, in a spiritual way, deep thoughts leave 
the wounds and sorrows of Christ upon the heart, and do crucify us ; 
it is true morally, as well as mystically : I am crucified with Christ, 
Gal. ii. 20. Certainly you find this by experience, that when you know 
not things, you are not so thoroughly affected with them. Serious medi 
tation hath this advantage, that it doth make the object present, and as 
it were sensible ; therefore faith, which is a deep acting of the thoughts 
upon the promises, and upon glory to come, is called vTroaTaaif, the 
substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen/ 
Heb. xi. 1. It giveth the future blessedness a present subsistence in 
the soul, and therefore it must needs ravish it. It is a principle in 
nature, appetition followeth knowledge, and desire is answerable to 
that certain and clear judgment that we have of the worth, value, and 
dignity of the object. Now it is not enough that the judgment be once 
convinced, but that it stay upon the object, for things lose their virtue 
when we do not keep them in the eye of the soul. When the bird 
often leaveth her nest and is long absent, the eggs grow cold, and do 
not come to be quickened ; so do our desires grow cold and dull, which 
otherwise by a constant meditation are hatched into some life. Instance 
in any affection. Hope and trust are ripened by constant thoughts of 
the grace, power, truth, goodness, and unchangeableness of God : 2 
Tim. i. 12, I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he 
is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day/ 


Presumption is an inconstant careless apprehension, and therefore soon 
overborne : Ps. ix. 10, They that know thy name will put their trust 
in thee ; that is, that seriously consider it ; for the Hebrew word is 
used for consider ; they that know what a God thou art, how merciful, 
true, and powerful thou art, they will trust thee. So for fear, so far 
as it is sanctified it is fed by a consideration of the dreadfulness of 
Gods wrath and displeasure : Ps. xc. 11, Who knows the power of 
thine anger ? according to thy fear, so is thy wrath ; that is, who doth 
seriously consider of it ? According to those awful apprehensions that 
they form within themselves doth God s wrath more or less move them. 
So for desire, either of Christ or of heaven. Of Christ ; a serious con 
sideration of the excellency of Christ is that which ravisheth the heart. 
The spouse formeth a description of Christ, and then she saith he is all 
desires : Cant. v. 16, His mouth is more sweet, yea, he is altogether 
lovely. Enough to ravish all our desires. The value of things lieth 
hid when we do but slightly and superficially look upon them, but 
when we meditate of them, they are double to that which is seen at the 
first blush : Job xi. 6, And that he would show thee the secrets of 
wisdom, that they are double to that which is. In natural things 
serious thoughts are necessary, much more in spiritual, because the 
mind, by long use, having been inured to earthly objects and profits, 
had need to be much raised. We see that we do insensibly receive taint 
from those objects with which we do converse, and therefore we had 
need to be often and serious in meditating of the excellences of Christ, 
that by a spiritual art he may be as usual an object to us as the world. 
So for heaven, when we do not hold our hearts to the consideration of 
the glory of it, it doth not work upon us. Moses, Heb. xi. 26, Had 
respect to the recompense of the reward, eVeySXevre ; he had an eye to 
it. The word noteth a serious and intent consideration ; we should 
again and again consider it, and be sending our thoughts as spies into 
the land of promise, to bring us reports and tidings of it, as love 
between men is maintained by constant visits and letters. So for 
sorrow for sin past : Ps. li. 3, My sin is ever before me ; and Jer. 
xxxi. 19, Surely after that I was turned I repented ; and after that 
I was instructed I smote upon my thigh ; I was ashamed, yea, even 
confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. When we 
come deeply to consider our errors, and the unkindness of them, that 
begetteth a sad sense. So for hatred and displicency against sin. Evil 
affections are nourished by thoughts, and kept up in life and strength, 
for thoughts are pabulum animce, the food of the soul: Kom. vii. 13, 
Sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is 
good, that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 
The sinfulness of sin appears by considering the purity of the law, the 
majesty of God, and the kindness of Christ. So for joy and delight ; 
the soul is feasted by meditation, it turneth the promises into marrow : 
Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6, My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, 
and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember 
thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night-watches. Hereby 
we discern their relish and savour : Ps. xxxiv. 8, Oh ! taste and see 
that the Lord is good ; the thoughts, taste, and the relish is left on 
the affections. 


3. It is an advantage to the fruits of grace in the life ; it maketh 
the heavenly life more easy, more sweet, more orderly and prudent. 

[1.] More easy, because it calleth in all the rational help that may 
he. Keason, which otherwise would . serve the senses, and be enslaved 
to appetite and worldly desire, now is employed in the highest and 
purest use ; and therefore when reason is gained, which is the leading 
faculty, the work cometh on more easily. Meditation putteth reason in 
authority, and rescueth it from being prostituted to sense : 2 Cor. x. 
5, Casting down imaginations/ Xeyyttr/iow, reasonings, and every high 
thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing 
into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. And then for 
sense, it maketh our eyes to furnish us with matter : Job xii. 7, 8, 
But ask now the beasts, and they will teach thee ; and the fowls of 
the air, and they shall tell thee : or speak to the earth, and it shall 
teach thee ; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Every 
element giveth in an help ; he that doth not want an heart cannot want 
an object; the air, the sea, the earth giveth fuel for wisdom and 
spiritual advantage. But for want of consideration a man is worse 
than the beasts : Prov. vi. 6, Go to the ant, thou sluggard ; consider 
her ways, and be wise. 

[2.] More sweet. It bringeth the heavenly life into more liking 
with us. Duty to worldly men is irksome and unsavoury, because they 
lose the sweetness and blessedness of communion with God: Ps, 
xxvi. 3, For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes ; I have walked 
in thy truth/ This constraineth and enforceth to holiness, and gives 
encouragement to it. Others only attempt this work, but do not con 
sider the fruit of it. 

[3.] More orderly and prudent. Others do good duties by chance : 
Phil. iv. 8, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever 
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are 
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good 
report ; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think of 
these things. 

III. That which I am now to do is to give you the rules to guide 
you in this weighty affair of the Christian life. There are rules to be 
observed to fit the soul, but those I shall handle under the term of 
helps. I handle such now as must guide the soul. 

1. Whatever you meditate upon must be drawn down to application : 
Job v. 27, Lo this, we have searched it, so it is ; hear it, and know 
thou it for thy good. In meditation our aim and design is to promote 
the good of our souls. The heathen Emperor Antoninus had observa 
tions, which he called ra els epavrov, things for myself ; that is the 
proper end of this exercise, things for ourselves. In conference we 
aim at the good of others, but the end of meditation is to fall directly 
upon our own souls. All the while we stay in generals we do but bend 
the bow ; when we come to application we let fly the arrow, and we 
hit the mark when we come to return upon our own souls. Now this 
application must bt- partly by way of trial, partly by way of charge. 

[1.] The first reflection upon ourselves must be by way of trial. 
This should always be the close of all, How is it with thee, oh ! my 
soul ? or, Is not this my state ? When the apostle had taken a view 


of the doctrine of justification, he shutteth up all with a practical 
return upon his own heart: Bom. viii. 31, What shall we then say to 
these things ? How am I concerned in this truth ? So Naaianzen 
in his 41st Oration saith his custom was aTro^wprjcrai ew TO piicpov, 
to go aside to converse with God, but always in the course of the duty 
he did eavrov e r mcr^^raa 6aL, search himself. 

[2.] By way of charge and command. You should charge your 
selves to serve God with greater care. Meditation is as it were the 
heat of the cause, and after the debate you should give sentence, and 
issue forth a practical decree, as David ; now I see It is good for me 
to draw nigh to God, Ps. Ixxiii. 28. When he had been meditating of 
the providence of God in punishing the wicked, now, my soul ! thou 
seest what is best for thee, even to keep close to God. So in two 
psalms, when he had been meditating of the mercy and power of God, 
he layeth a charge upon his soul to bless God for his mercy : Ps. ciii. 
22, Bless the Lord all his works, in all places of his dominion ; bless 
the Lord, my soul ! Of his power : Ps. civ. 35, Let the sinners 
be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more ; bless 
thou the Lord, my soul ! praise ye the Lord. 

2. Do not pry further than God hath revealed ; your thoughts must 
be still bounded by the word. There is no duty that a fanatic brain 
is more apt to abuse than meditation. When men are once able to raise 
their thoughts, they soar too high, and being puffed up with their fleshly 
mind, intrude themselves into things that they have not seen, Col. ii. 
18. They are dazzled with ungrounded subtleties, and so, like a lark 
that have flown high, of a sudden fall down again. David saith, Ps. 
cxxxi. 1, Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither 
do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things to high for me. In 
spiritual exercises you must stint your thoughts with what is revealed ; 
fj,r) v 7rep(f)vovelv Trap o Bel <j>povelv, a\\a <j)poveiv et? TO aoxfipovelv, Rom. 
xii. 3, Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, 
but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the mea 
sure of faith ; that is, as God hath revealed and dispensed the measure 
of faith to you. To pry into the mysteries of the divine decrees were to 
disturb affection, not to raise it ; nice disputes feed curiosity, not 
religion. Again, regard must be had not only to the word, but to 
your own abilities. Those that soar too high fall low enough ere they 
have done. Consider what is fit for your pitch and size. Again, do 
not leave bread and wine and gnaw upon a stone, or leave practical 
matters for intricacy of dispute. 

3. When you meditate of God you must do it with great care 
and reverence ; his perfections are matter rather of admiration than 
inquiry. Some dispute whether it be best to meditate of God s essence 
or no. Certainly as it is discovered to us in his attributes it is very 
comfortable and useful : Ps. civ. 34, My meditation of him shall be 
sweet, I will be glad in the Lord. And though you should get as 
large thoughts as possibly you can of his majesty and power, yet you 
must not pry too curiously into his nature, lest you be oppressed by his 
glory. The mysteries of the trinity are matters of belief rather than 
debate, we may well cry out, u> /3a0o?, Oh, the depth ! It is enough to 
know that it is so, we cannot search how. It is said, 1 Tim. vi. 16, 


" Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can 
approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see ; and Ps. xviii. 
11, He hath made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about 
him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. God is said to 
dwell in light to show his majesty, and to dwell in darkness to show 
his incomprehensibleness. Do not entangle yourselves while you go 
about to raise your zeal ; the full knowledge of these things is our 
portion in heaven. 

4. In meditating on common things, keep in mind a spiritual pur 
pose. God hath endowed man with a faculty to discourse, and employ 
his mind on earthly objects to spiritual purposes: Eccles. iii. 11, He 
hath set the world in their heart. Mundum tradidit disputationi 
eorum ; the meaning is, he hath endowed him with natural light to 
contemplate on his handiwork. The mind is soon apt to grow common 
and vain, and therefore here you have need of more care and watchful 
ness : Ps. viii. 34, When I consider the heavens, the work of thy 
fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, what is 
man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou 
visitest him ? Basil calleth them SiSaa-rjaXeiov KOL Traibevrepiov 
tyvxcov, a school to teach us not knowledge but religion : Ps. xix. 1 , 
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth 
his handiwork. Philosophers study the creatures to find out their 
natural causes, we to find out arguments of worship and religion. 

5. Take heed of creating a snare to your souls. Some sins are 
catching, like fire in straw, and we cannot think of them without 
infection and temptation ; the very thoughts may beget a sudden 
delight and tickling, which may pass through us like lightning, and 
set us all on fire : Ezek. xxiii. 19, She multiplied her whoredoms in 
calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played 
the harlot in the land of Egypt Though the prophet speaketh of 
spiritual fornication, yet there is a plain allusion to outward ; it is an 
allusion to an unchaste woman, who feedeth a new fire by remembering 
her vile lusts. Some temptations cannot be supposed without sin ; it 
is less dangerous to suppose the temptation of Peter than the tempta 
tion of Joseph, of Peter that was tempted to deny his master, than of 
Joseph who was tempted to folly with his mistress. This direction is 
not unnecessary ; you know not how apt a carnal heart and busy devil 
may be to taint the best duties, and how soon an innocent thought 
may degenerate into an unclean glance. The apostle would have some 
sins not named among the saints : Eph. v. 3, But fornication and all 
uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as 
becometh saints. 

6. Meditate of those things especially which you have most need of. 
There is the greatest obligation upon the heart. The matter is not 
arbitrary ; there you will find most help, and there the benefit will be 
most sensible. Seasonable thoughts have the greatest influence. The 
servants of God have sometimes meditated on his power, sometimes on 
his mercy, sometimes on his providence, according as their affairs and 
temptations call for it : Ps. Ivi. 3, What time I am afraid, I will 
trust in thee. In a time of fear he would think of arguments of 


7. Whatever you meditate upon, take heed of slightness. Transient 
thoughts leave no impression. See that you meditate but of one thing 
at once. Hoc age, mind the work you are about, is a good rule in 
meditation as well as prayer, the thoughts should be under a restraint 
and wise confinement. A skipping mind, that wandereth from one 
meditation to another, seldom profiteth. In meditation be not like the 
dogs of Nile, that snatch here and there, or like the bee, that passeth 
from flower to flower. A constant fixed light worketh most. The 
apostle speaketh of apostates that they have flashy tastes : Heb. vi. 4, 5, 
They were once enlightened, and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were 
made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, 
and the powers of the world to come. . They had vanishing and fleeting 
motions : James i. 25, He that looketh into the law of liberty, 
6 Se Trapaicvtyas, he that boweth down to take a deliberate view ; it is 
a metaphor taken from them that stoop down, and bend their bodies 
toward a thing that they may narrowly pry into it. The same word 
is used to imply that narrow search which the angels use to find out 
the mysteries of salvation by : 1 Peter i. 12, Which things the angels 
desire Trapaicvtyeiv, to look into/ an allusion to the cherubim, whose 
faces bowed down towards the ark, as desirous to see the mysteries 
therein contained. There must be a deep sight and serious inculca 
tion : Luke ii. 19, But Mary kept all these sayings, and pondered 
them in her heart/ <ri;/i/3aXXoucra ; she examined, compared them , 
traversed them to and fro in her mind, which is afterwards expressed, 
ver. 51, She kept all these sayings in her heart/ There is a folly in 
man, when once we apprehend a thing ; curiosity being satisfied, we 
begin to loath it, the first apprehension having as it were deflowered it, 
but at last they lose their power and virtue. When digestion is pre 
cipitated there is no nourishment, and when the meditation is not deep 
and ponderous we have no comfort, no lively perception and feeling of 
it in our hearts. A glance doth not discover the worth of anything ; 
he that doth but cast his eye upon a piece of embroidery doth not dis 
cover the art of it. 

8. Come not off from holy thoughts till you find profit by them, 
either sweet tastes and relishes of the love of God, or high affections 
kindled towards God, or strong resolutions begotten in yourselves. 
Usually God droppeth in sweetness into the hearts of his people, as all 
those ecstasies of love in the Canticles were occasioned by medita 
tion. But we cannot always expect raptures and high elevations ; it 
is some fruit if it maketh you fall to prayer and holy complaints. 

9. Be thankful to God when he blesseth you in meditation, or else 
you will find difficulty in the next. Christians often forget to return 
God the glory : Cant. i. 4, Draw me, we will run after thee, the king 
hath brought me into his chambers ; we will be glad and rejoice in thee, 
we will remember thy loves more than wine ; the upright love thee. 
That which goeth up in vapours cometh down in showers. So the 
psalmist, Ps. Ixvii. 5, 6, Let the people praise thee, God, let all the 
people praise thee ; then shall the earth yield her increase, and God 
even our own God, shall bless us. There is a mutual access and recess 
between the rivers and the sea, so there is between blessings and praises. 
In this duty God is jealous lest we should give the honour to ourselves, 
because there is so much work of our own thoughts : Ps. Ixiii. 4, 5, 


Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee: 
thus will I bless thee while I live, I will lift up my hands in thy name. 
Not only in my necessity, but for ever, for such sweet experiences. 

10. Do not bridle up the free spirit by the rules of method. That 
which God calleth for is religion, not logic. When Christians confine 
themselves to such rules and prescriptions, they straiten themselves, 
and thoughts come from them like water out of a still, not like water 
out of a fountain. Voluntary and free meditations are most smart and 
pregnant. In all arbitrary directions, that make only for the conveni- 
ency of the duty, you must remember we come to you like Paul to the 
Corinthians : 1 Cor. vii. 12, To the rest speak I, not the Lord. We 
do not prescribe, but advise. 

11. Your success in the duty is not to be measured by the multitude 
and subtlety of the thoughts, but the sincerity of them. Christians 
puzzle and disquiet themselves because they look too much at gifts ; 
you should covet the best gifts, but not inordinately : Ps. li. 6, Thou 
desirest truth in the inward parts. In prayer God looketh more to 
the impulses of zeal than the flowers of rhetoric ; so in meditation, if 
we are less subtle, it is no matter, so we be more devout. 

12. You must begin and end all with prayer. Duties are subser 
vient one to another. In the beginning you must pray for a blessing 
on the duty, and in the end commend your souls and resolutions to 
God. There is no hope in your own promises, but God s. They were 
in an high pang of zeal when they offered so freely to the service of 
the house of God ; but David prays, 2 Chron. xxix. 28, Lord God 
of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the 
imaginations of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare 
their hearts to seek thee. Our motions are fleeting and vanishing ; 
God must preserve in us these resolutions of consecrating ourselves and 
all that is ours to him. 


And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

MY work now is to handle the lets or hindrances of meditation, 
together with the helps and means that may quicken you to the per 
formance of it. The lets may be sooner discovered than remedied, 
as the nature of many diseases is better known than the cures, and 
therefore they are called opprobria medicorum, the disgrace of the 
physician s skill ; so these remain as marks and memorials of the fall. 
Entire and uninterrupted visions are the privileges of heaven ; we must 
be contented with our broken and imperfect measures ; it is enough 
that we have doves eyes/ Cant. iv. 1 ; that we can peck and look up 
ward, and enjoy some temperate glances on the glory of our hopes, 
though we be not transported with the ravishments of a constant 


and steady vision. We cannot expect to be absolute ; we shall still 
have cause to be humbled ; it is enough if we can be encouraged 
against despair ; for many find themselves so unfit that they have not 
hopes enough to attempt the duty. To these I shall speak chiefly in 
this discourse. I had thought to have handled the lets severally, and 
then the helps ; but I think it would be better to suit each discourage 
ment with its proper helps. 

The lets and hindrances are of several sorts, some common to this 
with other duties, and others more peculiar to the duty of medita 

First, I begin with the first sort, such hindrances as are common to 
other duties, and they are four sloth, love of pleasure, a guilty con 
science, and an unwieldy mind. 

1. There is a spiritual slothfulness. Men lie upon the bed of ease, 
and are loath in good earnest to apply themselves to what is painful 
and difficult. If grace would drop to them out of the clouds, or God 
would be contented with some faint lazy wishes, or some cold and 
yawning expressions of a drowsy devotion, they would be religious ; but 
where duties must cost labour and self-denial, and put them to pains, 
men withdraw the shoulder, and hang off. Therefore Solomon saith, 
Prov. xxi. 25, The desire of the slothful killeth him, for his hands 
refuse to labour. They would fain have grace, and perform what God 
requires, but are loath to take pains. Now, as this is a prejudice 
against all other duties, so especially against the duty of meditation ; 
partly because of all duties it is most difficult and tedious to the flesh ; 
it is a duty lying within the soul ; we cannot so easily command our 
own thoughts. Now inward duties are the most difficult, because we 
cannot always exercise a dominion over our own spirits. Partly because 
it is a private duty, to which God alone is conscious. In public duties 
secular interests and ends have a great constraint, and therefore we 
excite the heart to be more intent and serious. We see byends make 
men deny themselves, but where there is not this to prompt them, they 
either omit the work, or turn it into a slight and idle practice. 

How shall we do to shake off this spiritual sloth ? I answer 

[1.] You must consider that a lazy spirit is most unfit for Christianity. 
The whole Christian life is carried on with much labour and diligence. 
You were as good never look after Christ and heaven as refuse labour. 
There is nothing required in the whole compass of religion but what 
will cost you a great deal of pains. Faith is a work : John vi. 29, That 
is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. It is 
not a barren idle speculation, nor a naked apprehension, but a matter 
of difficulty and diligence to bring Christ and the soul together, and to 
lodge the soul in the bosom of Christ. Love is labour : Heb. vi. 10, 
God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love. It 
is not a naked profession, but there is labour in it ; take it either for 
love to God or men. For love to God, that is not a fellow-like 
familiarity, but a laying out ourselves in his service ; or for love to 
men, that doth not consist in a few good words. Debts are not paid 
with a noise of money ; you do not satisfy the commandment by say 
ing, Depart in peace, be ye warmed, be ye filled, if you give them not 
those things which are needful to the body, James ii. 16. So for 


obedience : it is expressed by a constant course of work and labour : 
1 Cor. xv. 58, Be ye steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the 
work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in 
vain in the Lord. Religion is a constant exercise ; there are no loiterers 
in heaven. God s work must not be followed with a faint wish and a 
slack hand. Men mistake religion if they think it a broad and easy way 
where men may live at large. No ; the gate is narrow and the path 
is strait, and few there be that find it ; it is a work, not a sport and 
play ; and men had as good lay all thoughts of God and Christ aside 
as to resolve upon an easy course, and flatter themselves with an 
expectation that they shall go to heaven with a lazy wish, and fancy 
such a short cut and passage to heaven as will cost no pains. 

[2.] It is better to take pains than to suffer pains, and to be bound 
with the cords of duty than with the chains of darkness. The bonds 
of duty are not gyves, but ornaments, for duty is the greatest freedom : 
Ps. cxix. 45, I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts. You 
will never be more free than when you once make experience of God s 
service. How sad is it to see men prejudiced against such pains as 
yield freedom and comfort for the present and glory for the future, and 
take pains for that for which they shall suffer eternal pains ! Isa. v. 18, 
Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it 
were with cart ropes. They moil and toil in the work of Satan as a 
horse in a mill, and labour for their own destruction. Consider the 
devil s work is drudgery and his reward is death ; yet such is the 
wretchedness of man, that he accounteth nothing toilsome but God s 
work, and nothing pleasant but the accomplishment of his own lusts, 
to be lust s vassal and pride s slave, and to be at the command of every 
covetous and unclean desire. How do men toil in the world, go to 
bed late, rise early, eat the bread of sorrows, exhaust and waste their 
strength and spirits, and yet there is sin in the work, and hell in the 
wages ! Oh ! consider, if it seem difficult, which is better, to labour for 
a season, or suffer for ever ? which is the end of them that live in the 
constant neglect of a known duty. 

[3.] There is nothing so hard in God s service but he hath manifested 
love enough to sweeten it. We begrudge a few thoughts of God, and 
God had thoughts of us before all worlds : Ps. xl. 5, Many, Lord 
my God, are the wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy 
thoughts which are to us-ward ; they cannot be reckoned up in number 
unto thee : if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than 
can be numbered ; Ps. cix. 13, How precious also are thy thoughts 
unto me God ! How great is the sum of them ! Who can tell 
what a condescension it was for infiniteness to think of poor worms, 
and that he should before all worlds plot and design our salvation ? 
And when the plot came out, there was a great deal of love to sweeten 
duty. The Lord Jesus Christ thought no danger too great, no suffer 
ing or extremity too hard, no work too difficult for our sakes, what a 
mercy is this ! God hath not only required obedience, but discovered a 
love that may sweeten the difficulties of it. 

[4.] There is no difficulty in religion wholly insuperable and too 
hard for an active and industrious spirit. Those that follow on after 
God do at length find him to their comfort. A faint pursuit is the 


cause of discouragement. When a flint doth not strike fire at the first, 
we strike again : Prov. x. 4, He becoraeth poor that dealeth with a 
slack hand, but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. It is a rule in 
grace as well as nature ; let us therefore follow on till we have overcome 
the difficulty that is before us. 

[5.] A lazy backward heart must be urged forward with the greater 
importunity. When David was shy of God s presence, he lays a 
command upon himself : Ps. xxxii. 5, I said I will confess my trans 
gressions unto the Lord ; he maketh reason to issue out a decree and 
positive conclusion. So Ps. xxxix. 1, I said I will take heed to my 
ways, that I sin not with my tongue. So by just analogy we may 
gather that the soul should in this case determine, I will go and try, 
and see what may be done ; I will keep off from God no longer, but 
will go to him. 

2. Another let and hindrance is love of pleasures. Men that would 
pass their time in mirth are unwilling to be so solemn and serious. 
When children s minds are set to play, it is irksome to hear of school 
or of their books ; so when the heart is set for pleasure, it is a hard 
matter to bring the soul to religious performances. 

How shall we do to wean the soul from pleasures ? 

[1.] Consider to love pleasure is to gratify the beast in us rather 
than the angel. Man is in part an angel and in part a beast ; he hath 
a nature common to both. Now when men study altogether to gratify 
their sensual part, it is to turn men into beasts. To serve our lowest 
faculty, and to enjoy pleasures without remorse, is the happiness of the 
beasts ; to eat, and drink, and sleep, and sport is but to do as the beasts 
do ; a man s delight should be in the pure and free exercises of reason. 
If men would exercise themselves herein, they would find the greatest 
delectation would be in the contemplation and view of truth : Ps. xix. 
8, The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. That taste 
which hypocrites have of the good word of God, Heb. vi. 5, is merely 
such as scholars have in the height of speculation and study, because 
the gospel is such an excellent contrivance, and a sublime satisfying 
truth. Nulla major voluptas quam fastidium voluptatis ; there is no 
greater pleasure than a disdain of sensual pleasures. 

[2.] Consider the sweetness of religious exercises is far better than 
that of carnal pleasures, as that heat is more manly that is gotten by 
exercise than by hovering over the fire. It is hard, I confess, to abjure 
accustomed delights ; pleasantness is connatural to us ; but we should 
consider that by communion with God in spiritual exercises delight is 
not abrogated but preferred, and advanced to a more noble becoming 
object ; it is taken out of Egypt that it may grow in Canaan, trans 
planted out of a fen into a paradise, that it may thrive in a better 
soil ; it is less dreggy, but more masculine and grave : Ps. civ. 34, 
My meditation of him shall be sweet ; I will be glad in the Lord ; 
Eph. v. 4, Neither filthiness nor foolish talking n6r jesting which are 
not convenient, but rather giving of thanks. We keep the affection, 
but change the object. The comforts of Christianity are expressed by 
terms proper to the delights of the senses, to teach us this excellent art, 
to keep the affection and change the object, and by an holy sleight and 
wile to cozen the soul into better joys. Here delight is most pure and 


more free, no excess is vicious. Castce delicicG mece sunt scriptures 
tuce ; thy scriptures are my chaste delights. The pleasures of the world 
are but sugared baits ; a man may soon lose himself ; but here by trial 
you will find the same sweetness with less hazard and danger. 

[3.] We may make choice of matter more pleasant to allure the 
soul. All the objects of meditation are not dark and gloomy ; there 
are some things pleasing to nature the variety of providences, the 
beauty of the creation, the excellent contrivance of the gospel. All 
objects are not mournful, and in case of such a temptation we may 
allure the soul ; and when we are not so fit for the severe exercises of 
the closet, we may, as Isaac, go out into the fields to meditate, and 
heighten fancy and imagination by objects more pleasant. 

3. The next general hindrance is a guilty conscience. When the 
soul is under the burden of guilt, we are loath to be serious and alone, 
lest the mind should fall on itself ; of all things we then desire to flee 
the company of ourselves, and therefore meditation is an unpleasant 
duty. We cannot think of God but as of a judge, nor of a world to 
come but as of our own ruin. A guilty conscience would fain obliter 
ate the thoughts of God ; as the guilty heathens, Kom. i. 28, They 
did not like to retain God in their knowledge ; that is actual, sound, 
distinct thoughts of God. It is said, James ii. ] 9, The devils believe 
and tremble. Thoughts of God impressed the more horror on them, 
therefore they cried out, Mat. viii. 29, Art thou come hither to torment 
us before the time ? So guilty men are under these horrors, They 
are all their lifetime subject to bondage, Heb. ii. 15 ; which, though it 
be not always felt, is soon awakened : Job xxi. 14, Therefore they say 
unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy 

What shall we do to remedy this. 

[1.] Get your Conscience cleansed by the hearty application of the 
blood of Christ. A galled conscience is much discomposed and un 
settled, and unfit for such an exercise ; musing requireth a quiet sedate 

[2.] There are matters comfortable that maybe of excellent relief to 
the spirit. When the soul is sadly humbled, and bondage is indeed 
revived, there is an hope set before us to which we may fly for refuge : 
Heb. vi. 18, That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible 
for God to lie, we may have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge 
to lay hold upon the hope set before us. The wounded soul may run 
up to the mountains of myrrh and frankincense. So David, Ps. xciv. 
19, In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight 
my soul. 

4. Another let and hindrance is unwieldiness of spirit to spiritual 
and heavenly duties. The heart is many times burdened and oppressed, 
and sunk down with its own burden and weight, that it cannot be 
lifted up to any holy duties, and so is unfit for any exercise of religion. 
This our Saviour bids his disciples have a care of : Luke xxi. 34, Take 
heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with sur 
feiting and drunkenness and cares of this life. Pleasures and cares do 
as it were hang a weight upon the soul that it cannot mount up to God 
in heavenly exercises. This is expressed by a fat heart: Isa. vi. 10, 


Make the heart of this people fat ; that is, spiritually dull, as it is 
observed of the ass, which is the simplest of all creatures, it hath the 
fattest heart. There is a spiritual dulness and listlessness that is apt 
to seize upon us. 

What shall we do to help this ? 

[1.] Learn a holy moderation and sobriety in outward businesses 
and pleasures. As the apostle says of prayer, Eph. vi. 18, Watching 
thereunto ; the same rule holds good in meditation. Watch that you 
may always keep the soul in a fitness for the duty ; order your affairs 
with great wisdom, that you may not jostle out so necessary a duty. 
When a man is encumbered with business, there is no room left for 
such an exercise ; if he let loose his heart disorderly all the day, he will 
find this spiritual dulness to seize on him. 

[2.] Keep the body in a fit frame, that it may not be a clog to the 
soul, but a dexterous instrument. There is a sanctification of the body : 
1 Thes. v. 23, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I 
pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless 
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the apostle commands, 
1 Thes. iv. 4, That every one of you should know how to possess his- 
vessel in sanctification and honour/ Men emasculate and weaken 
their strength and spirits, and so the body loseth its fitness. 

Secondly, There are hindrances that are peculiar to the duty of 
meditation. I shall name but two barrenness of thoughts and incon 

1. Leanness and barrenness of thoughts. When we go about to 
meditate, we have no matter whereupon to bestow our time and 
thoughts, and so Christians are much discouraged. This is opposite to 
that which the scripture calls the abundance of the heart : Mat. xii. 34, 
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ; that is, 
when there is a holy treasure in the soul. 
Now to remedy this 

[1.] You must not give way to it, but try and use constant exercise. 
When we give way to such indispositions, they prove an utter bondage. 
Voluntary neglects are punished with penal hardness, and evils grow 
upon us ; as to lie in the dirt will make us more filthy, and by little and 
little men are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The apostle 
speaks of them that have aurBijrjput ^e^v^vaar^iva : Heb. v. 14, Who 
by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and 
evil. All habits are increased by frequent acts, long disuse makes the 
duty uncouth. Wells which are at first a puddle are the sweeter for 
draining. If we are under indisposition, should we not strive to come 
out of it ? The more we work, the more vigorous and free is the soul 
for the work of God. 

[2.] Get a good stock of sanctified knowledge. Let there be a 
treasure in your hearts : Mat. xiii. 52, Every scribe which is instructed 
in the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, 
which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old/ Those 
that buy by the penny will be sometimes in want: Prov. vi. 21, 22, 
Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. 
When thou goest it shall lead thee, when thou sleepest it shall keep thee, 
and when thou awakest it shall talk with thee/ This is the way to make 


truths present and ready in the thoughts ; when we have laid them 
up, we can the better lay them out. 

[3.] When the heart is barren, think of your own sins and corrup 
tions, and the experiences of God to your own souls. If we did not 
want an heart we could never want matter, did we but consult with 
our own experiences : Ps. xl. 12, Innumerable evils have compassed 
me about ; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not 
able to look up ; they are more than the hairs of mine head, therefore 
mine heart faileth me. And if nothing else will come to hand, medi 
tate upon your present unfitness for any holy duty. 

[4.] You may season and affect your mind before meditation with 
some part of God s word. Heading is a good preparative, and when 
we have taken in food, we may exercise our depastion and digestion 
upon it. 

2. A loose -garish spirit, that is apt to skip and wander from thought 
to thought. There is a madness in man ; his thoughts are light and 
feathery, tossed to and fro, and like the loose wards in a lock, only 
kept up whilst we are turning the key. This doth much discourage 
Christians, that they cannot keep up their affections and command 
their thoughts. 

How shall we help and remedy this ? 

[1.] When you go to meditate, you should exercise a command and 
restraint upon yourselves. This is expressed in scripture by trussing 
up the loins of your minds : Luke xii. 30, Let your loins be girded 
about ; an allusion to their hanging garments, that they trussed up 
when they went about any work, that they may be compact and succinct. 
Lay a command upon yourselves : Zeph. ii. 1, Gather yourselves 
together, yea, gather together, nation not desired ! 

[2.] Pray and call in the help of God s Holy Spirit : Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, 
Unite my heart to fear thy name. Lord, make my heart one. He 
that could stay the sun can stay the fleeting of your thoughts. 

[3.] Dry up these swimming toys and fancies with the flame of 
heavenly love. Love unites the heart, and where we have a pleasure, 
there we can stay : Ps. cxix. 97, Oh, how love I thy law ! it is my 
meditation all the day. 

[4.] Let the course of your lives be grave and serious. The mind is 
according to the course of the life. You flatter yourselves when you 
think you are able to command spiritual thoughts on a sudden, when 
you have suffered your thoughts to rove and wander : Prov. xvii. 24, 
Wisdom is before him that hath understanding, but the eyes of a fool 
are in the ends of the earth ; here and there and everywhere. 

[5.] Watch against the first diversion ; how plausible soever it be, 
look upon it as an intruding that breaks the rank. The devil injects 
good thoughts sometimes that he might divert your other thoughts. 
Charge your thoughts that they may not disturb your meditation : 
Cant. iii. 5, I charge you, ye daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir 
not up, nor awake my love till he please/ 

[6.] When you come to meditate in God s presence, do not bring 
the world with you ; purge yourselves of all carnal affections : Ezek. 
xxxiii. 31, Their heart goeth after their covetousness. Always consider 
this, the prevailing lust will engross the thoughts. To a distracted 


inind no place is a solitude ; the very closet is a market-place. There 
fore before meditation we should purge our hearts of worldly affections. 


And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

I SHALL not wholly divert from the subject in hand, though I shall a 
little interrupt the method of it. My purpose is now to speak of that 
meditation that is proper to the sacrament. 

The main part of that worship is dispatched in thoughts. Here we 
come to put reason to the highest and most sublime use, to be an 
instrument and servant to faith and love. 

But now the thoughts proper to the Lord s supper are many. There 
are an union of mysteries, yea, so many, that they are a burden to some 
Christians, and a snare to those that are most scrupulous. It will be 
necessary therefore to give you some directions how you may guide 
yourselves in this duty for your best advantage. It is a matter of 
great profit to be wise and skilful in duties. Many that know the 
general nature of them know not how to manage them. David saith, 
Ps. cxix. 27, Make me to understand the way of thy precepts, so shall 
I talk of thy wondrous works ; intimating that then we perform duties 
with most success when we go about them with most wisdom and 
understanding ; and when we are skilled in the way of God s precepts, 
we shall understand those marvellous acts of grace which he vouch- 
safeth to his people. 

Now it is good that every one according to his talent should help 
one another s joy, and therefore I shall now speak a little to this pur 
pose, and the rather because it will much conduce to the opening of 
the doctrine of meditation in the general. My method shall be this 
(1.) I will show the usual defects of Christians in this service, with 
their necessary remedies ; (2.) I shall handle some cases. 

First, The usual defects and faults of people in this duty, I mean 
so far as they concern meditation, and they are four barrenness, 
stupidity, roving of thoughts, and a lazy formality. 

1. Barrenness. This is a great trouble to Christians, when their 
understandings are unfruitful, and they cannot enlarge themselves in 
pertinent and necessary thoughts. 

Now how shall we do to get our hearts to be fruitful in holy thoughts ? 

[1.] There must be a solemn preparation for this service. It is 
good to breathe ourselves in some religious exercises beforehand, that 
we may run the more freely without fainting. Spiritual dispositions 
do not come on us of a sudden ; Christians are deceived that look for 
rapt and sudden motions ; there must be a time to put off the shoes 
off our feet when we come upon holy ground to converse with God in 
so sweet a service ; we must lay aside the distractions of the world, 


and not come reeking from the world into God s presence. There 
must be a time to raise the soul into a zealous height and ardour ; 
there must be a blowing of the fire, for here you come to flame, your 
thoughts are to flame out in great and raised ascents : Cant. i. 12, 
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth 
the smell thereof/ Wood doth not blaze and flame as soon as it is 
laid on. 

[2.] Those solemn and preparative thoughts are chiefly to be spent 
in these two things the nature of the supper, and the love of Christ 
in the institution of it. 

(].) The nature of the supper. You are to consider the great 
things that are offered to you, and the great blessings and benefits 
which God cometh to represent, exhibit, and seal up to your souls : 
Mat. xi. 7, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see ? Christ 
examineth the grounds of their resort and concourse to him. It is 
good to consider what we are about, and the dainties of the banquet 
we are invited to, what assurance the outward signs are to give you, 
what communion we have with Christ and his graces. We are barren, 
because we do not consider our work, and the nature and importance 
of it. 

(2.) The love of Christ in the institution of it. (1.) The time when 
it was instituted : 1 Cor. xi. 23, The Lord Jesus Christ the same 
night in which he was betrayed, took bread. The Lord Jesus Christ 
had thoughts of the greatest good to man when man was executing the 
greatest spite and malice against him. And the rather because it is 
an act of mercy that Christ frequently useth to surprise sinners in the 
midst of their wickedness. When Saul was breathing out threatenings 
against the disciples, God had a design of love to him, and smites him 
from his horse. Some are smitten with conviction in the height of 
provocations. We read in ecclesiastical story of a young man that 
came to stab St John who was converted by him ; so many come to 
jeer and catch at a sermon, and have been converted by it. (2.) The 
rights which he instituted, appointing bread and wine, symbols of 
pleasure and delight. As a physician conveys health to us in a golden 
pill, so doth Christ convey spiritual nourishment to us by those 
elements which we take pleasure in. The outward observance is com 
fortable. God doth not require us to lance ourselves, and to exercise 
the body with whips and cords ; the rites are not bloody, as in circum 
cision, but bread and wine. And yet this is nothing to the inward 
sweetness, meat and drink which the world knows not off : John iv. 32, 
I have meat to eat which ye know not of. 

(3.) The advantage and relief that faith has from these things of 
ftense. God speaketh to you now, not by words, but things. He doth 
as it were embody religion, and represent it to the senses : Gal. iii. .1, 
foolish Galatians ! who hath bewitched you, that you should not 
obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set 
forth crucified among you ? that is, in the word or sacraments ; here 
God doth as it were hold forth Christ dying before your eyes. It is a 
pleasure to see things by picture, though we know the person ; so 
though we have an image of Christ in the word, and may know his 
person there, yet it is a great relief to us to see Christ in the supper by 



these outward symbols, where sense may teach faith what strength of 
grace and what sweetness of comfort to expect from Christ. These 
thoughts through the blessing of God will raise the soul into a frame 
of religion, that when you come to this ordinance you will not be so 
dry and barren. 

2. Wandering when the heart is prepared and set towards God, how 
shall we do to keep it from roving, and prevent those excursions which 
are apt to carry away the heart. 

[1.] Get an awe and dread of God. Labour to have the deepest 
apprehensions of the presence of God as possibly may be. Strong 
affections, especially fear, lock up the mind, and do not suffer it to flit 
abroad. Now fear is not unseasonable to this duty, but rather proper, 
because of the excellent mysteries by which God condescendeth ano! 
approacheth us. Chrysostom calls it terribilis mystica mensa, the 
dreadful mysterious table, and therefore now our apprehensions should 
be most aweful. When Jacob had a sight of God, says he, Gen. xxviii. 
17, How dreadful is this place ! And the psalmist saith, Ps. Ixviii. 
35, God ! thou art terrible out of thy holy places. Mixed affec 
tions do best in the sweetest worship : Ps. ii. 11, Serve the Lord with 
fear, and rejoice with trembling; Hosea iii. 5, They shall fear the 
Lord and his goodness in the latter days. Here we are to have dis 
tinct thoughts of his holiness and goodness, and therefore we should 
fear before him, lest we forget ourselves to be poor guilty creatures ; 
and fear confineth the soul, and will not suffer it to run abroad. 

[2.] Chide the heart for your vain excursions. Christians might 
have more command over their hearts if they would but hold the reins 
a little straiter, and check their souls ; they are not so sadly sensible of 
the idle roving of the brain, which do not so directly carry them after 
the evil, though they make them to neglect the good. Take up your 
selves, as David doth about his lumpishness : Ps. xlii. 5, Why art 
thou cast down, my soul ? and why art thou disquieted in me ? 
Did I come hither to think of anything but Christ and heaven ? Did 
I come to think of news, vanity, business, and lust ? My work is to 
discern the Lord s body, not to think of worldly toys. Is this to remem 
ber and fruitfully to insist upon his death ? Look, as Christ did chide 
his disciples, Mat. xxvi. 40, What ! could ye not watch with me one 
hour ? so chide your heart. Cannot I keep my heart free for God a 
little while ? In heaven duty will be my constant work, and if my 
heart wander now, how shall I be able to hold it for ever ? In the 
supper God ties my soul by outward rites ; lest my eyes should carry 
away my heart, God would exercise my eyes. Certainly if you would 
chide your souls the heart would not steal so many glances. But 
usually our hearts do not steal away ; we dismiss them, and let them 
go. God gave reason a command of your thoughts at first, and we 
might exercise it more than we do. 

3. Stupidness. Many times the soul is surprised with deadness and 
amazement ; it neither actually thinks of evil nor of good, but is at a 
dead pause and stay. For this I shall urge a double help. 

[1.] By earnest ejaculations call in the help of the Spirit : Cant. iv. 
16, Awake, north-wind, and come, thou south ; blow upon my 
garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Desire God to breathe 


upon the soul with a fresh gale and excitement ; that he would take a 
coal from his own altar, that the perfume might burn bright. Censers 
must not be kindled with strange fire. Oh ! raise and quicken this 
dead soul ! Kemember the first Adam was made a living soul, the 
last Adam was made a quickening spirit/ 1 Cor, xv. 45. 

[2.] Call upon your own hearts. It is a mistake of Christians to 
think they are only to call upon God ; you are also to call upon your 
selves, and to deal with your own souls by way of quickening : Ps. Ivii. 
8, Awake up, my glory ; awake, psaltery and harp : I myself will awake 
early. Charge your souls, awake to the consideration of heavenly 
mysteries. Speak to your own hearts, as David lays a charge upon 
himself : Ps. ciii. 1, Bless the Lord, my soul ; and all that is with 
in me bless his holy name. The children of God are brought in 
speaking to themselves, Oh ! my drowsy, blockish heart ! how coldly 
dost thou think of Christ ! This dead heart will not become the ser 
vice of the living God. 

4. A lazy formality. Either we cannot get the soul to this worship, 
or we perform it slightly. We content ourselves with a few careless 
glances, and lazy barren thoughts. To remedy this, consider, in so 
sweet a duty God doth not only require affection, but height of affec 
tion, an holy ardour, earnestness and raisedness of spirit : Cant. iv. 6, 
Until the day break and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the 
mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense ; an allusion to 
the censers used in the Levitical worship. God requires such thoughts 
as will comfort, revive, and quicken our souls. Such thoughts as end 
in affection. Leave not off till you can say as the spouse, Cant. ii. 5, 
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. 
Do not leave meditating of Christ till you can bring your souls to a 
holy ravishment, and your hearts are wounded with impatient desires 
after communion with Christ. No thoughts will work but those that 
are serious. 

Secondly, I will propound some cases, which shall not only concern 
the duty of the Lord s supper, but some of them the duty of meditation 
in general. 

Case 1. flow can we do, because of variety of matter that is to be 
meditated upon, that plenty makes us barren ? And in such straits of 
time, how can we run through all ? I shall answer to this in three 

1. The mind of man is eve/xy^?, working, and much may be done by 
thoughts in a short time. The mind s motion is not so slow as that of 
the body, which is burdened with a mass and clod of flesh, and there 
fore must have time for its action, but the soul is quick. There are 
two sorts of meditations in the supper, as indeed in all other matters 
pregnant apprehensions and enforcing reasons. (1.) Pregnant 
apprehensions, suitable to each circumstance of the duty. Now these 
are absolutely necessary ; as in blessing the elements, and setting them 
aside for this use, think of the eternal decrees of God, by which Christ 
was separated to the office of mediator. In breaking the bread, your 
thoughts must act afresh on the sorrows of Christ s cross, and those 
bruises wherewith he was broken for our iniquities. Thus it is good 
to follow every part of the duty with some devout and religious 


thoughts. (2.) Enforcing; reasons, when we pitch upon one matter, 
and inculcate it, and whet it upon the soul according to our present 
distress and exigencies, which is a pleading with our own hearts from 
the main design and end of the duty. 

2. It is not good to skip from matter to matter hastily ; partly be 
cause a light touch leaves very little impression, and therefore, as long 
as milk cometh, suck on the breasts of consolation. Hold reason and 
faith to its work ; when things drop thus on their own accord, they 
are sweetest, as life-honey that drops of itself from the comb, or as 
marrow, that the bone.droppeth of its own accord ; as the lamb sucks 
the dam s dugs till they cease dropping. When thoughts come, freely 
entertain them. Partly because we cannot think of all at once ; one 
thought would but intrude and thrust out another ere we have received 
comfort and profit, and in a throng and crowd of thoughts there is 
little good done. And besides it would draw a tediousness upon the 
soul if every time we should renew the same thoughts ; God appointed 
this variety for our relief, not our burden. 

3. There must be a wise choice in such variety of matter according 
to your necessities and wants : Job v. 27, Hear it, and know thou it 
for thy good. Things that nearly concern us do most affect us, and 
thoughts in season are most affecting ; while we are here in the world 
we are always humbled with some present want. Now these wants 
are known by search and trial, and therefore is examination appointed 
as a preparative to receiving, that we may know our wants. 

Case 2. Is it good to bind ourselves to such or such a meditation ? 
Will not this hinder much sweetness, which we should otherwise reap 
by the duty ? and will it not exclude other thoughts which God by his 
spirit might raise up in our minds ? and so we shall defraud ourselves 
of much sweetness and comfort in the duty. To this I answer 

1. In every particular duty a Christian should have one main parti 
cular aim, either the removing of such a doubt the relieving of such a 
want, the beating down of such a corruption, or the receiving of such a 
grace. Upon a trial you will find some special need for the supply of 
which you wait upon God. And there are several reasons why it is 
good for a Christian to be thus particular ; partly because it discovers 
sincerity, and prevents much guile ; partly because one case may be 
best managed and carried on at one time, either in prayer, by wrestling 
with God, or in meditation by argument and pleading with ourselves ; 
partly because the comfort and success will be most sensible, as a 
needle that toucheth but in one point entereth sooner than a blunt thick 
piece of iron that toucheth many, so particular things are most sensible, 
;ind leave a quicker and smarter sense upon the soul ; partly because 
when you are thus particular it will make you come with fresh and 
renewed affections. It is good to drive on this main care, and the bent 
and design of your thoughts must run that way : 2 Cor. xii. 8, And 
for this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me. 

2. God usually comes in over and above our aims and expectations : 
Eph. iii. 20, He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we 
ask or think. Solomon asked wisdom, and God gave him riches and 
honour in great abundance. Jacob desired of God to be kept in the 
way, and God made him two bands. The prodigal comes with a 


modest request, Make me a hired servant, and the father puts on him 
the best robe, and entertains him with the fatted calf. We seek to 
subdue such a lust, and the Lord comes in with an overflow of comfort. 
He would have such a doubt removed, and it may be the Lord comes 
in with a high tide of sensible appearance to his soul and increase of 

3. You should do in the Lord s supper as in prayer. You meditate 
in prayer, but not to exclude supervenient thoughts and sudden motions ; 
so here, you meditate on your own wants and needs, and leave the 
Spirit to his free assistance. When we use the most prudent course, 
it is no straitening to the Spirit of God. In all preparations we 
leave ourselves at a liberty to receive his free breathings and coming 
into our souls. We keep matter ready at hand to kindle our thoughts 
to feed our confessions and petitions, so it is good to keep matter ready 
at hand to feed our meditations, and to drive on the main care, waiting 
for supervenient assistances. 

Case 3. Whether there be required of a Christian a fixing of the 
soul in a steady view and contemplation of God in quietness and silence, 
without any variety of discourse ? Or whether God doth now raise 
and heighten the soul to a sole act of vision and intuition without 
any discourse, or the traverses of reason, in the supper or any other 
ordinance ? 

That you may understand the case, you must know that the school 
men and other writers of devotion usually distinguish between consid 
eration, meditation, and contemplation. Consideration is a thinking of 
truth, and a rolling of it in the understanding and memory. Medi 
tation is an enforcing of truth upon the soul by discourse or variety 
of pressing arguments. Contemplation is the fruit and perfection of 
meditation ; and this they make a supernatural elevation of the mind, 
by which it adhereth to God, and pauseth in the sight of God and 
glory without any variety of discourse ; the soul being dazzled with the 
majesty of God, or the glory of heaven, and transported into a present 
joy, the use of reason is for a time suspended, and the soul is cast into 
a kind of sleep and quietness of intuition, staring and gazing with 
ravishing sweetness upon the divine excellences and the glory of our 
hopes. In short, contemplation is a ravishing sight without discourse, 
the work of reason not discoursing, but raised and ecstasied into the 
highest way of apprehension. 

Now it is inquired whether there be any such thing required 
of a Christian ? or whether there be any such dispensation in these 
latter times of the gospel ? As, for instance, Paul had the glory of 
God and Christ presented to him ; he did not barely think of these 
things by the apprehensions of the mind, or discourse of these things 
by the enforcement of reason, but he had an intuition, a steady view 
or sight of these things, such as did, as it were, ravish his soul from 
his body. Doth God use such a dispensation now ? I. answer in these 

1. In the primitive times these dispensations and raptures were more 
usual. We read of John s rapture, Kev. i. 10, I was in the Spirit on 
the Lord s day. Mark, he doth not say the Spirit was in him, as it is 
present in the heart of every child of God ; but he was in the Spirit/ 


which intimateth height and plenty of revelations. So we read of 
Peter s rapture while he was praying : Acts x. 10, He fell into a 
trance, e r rre r rrea-ev eV avrov eWracri?, a trance fell upon him, noting 
that those raptures are things of dispensation rather than choice and 
duty ; they fall upon us, we do not work ourselves into them. So we 
read of Paul s rapture : 2 Cor. xii. 2, I knew a man in Christ above 
fourteen years ago (whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out 
of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth), such an one caught up to the 
third heaven. Whether these things were framed by way of represen 
tation to the soul, or whether the soul were for a time separated from 
the body and was transported into heaven, Paul himself was at a loss, 
and could not determine and resolve the case. 

2. These dispensations may still be, though not in the same height 
and manner which the apostles enjoyed. God may do it still, for he 
is left to the liberty and sovereignty of his own dispensations; and 
though sight, and the beatifical vision and contemplation be the happi 
ness of the next world, yet in some measure God may begin it here, 
that his children may enter into their inheritance by degrees, and may 
be beforehand led into the suburbs of heaven. As a father gives the 
child not only a part of the estate, but sometimes the liberty of the 
whole house, so God may give us here in this world not only those more 
Temperate enjoyments of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and the 
first-fruits of the Spirit, but he may lead us into the suburbs of heaven, 
and put us above the clouds into the glory of the world to come. 
Though there may be such a dispensation, yet not in the same manner 
that the apostles enjoyed it, for that was peculiar to them ; and there 
fore when the apostle Paul had reported his rapture, he pleaded that 
he had the sign of an apostle: 2 Cor. xii. 12, Truly the signs of an 
nn apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and 
wonders, and mighty deeds. With these raptures there was a concom 
itant revelation of the will of God. And they were for other ends; 
these raptures were not so much excesses of religion, but revelations 
for the great ends of the gospel. John s rapture was to receive the 
visions of God for the comfort of the churches ; Peter s to go to the 
Gentiles ; Paul s that he might have commission for the apostleship, and 
the mark and sign of an apostle. Therefore though God may use some 
such dispensation (for we know not what he may do out of sovereignty), 
yet not in the same way, and for the same end. 

3. Those raptures and transportations, which the children of God 
now feel sometimes, proceed from strong pangs and ecstasies of love, 
which for a while do suspend and forbid the distinct use of reason, and 
cast the soul into a quiet silent gaze. Observe that love, where it is 
moderate, venteth itself in thoughts and words, and it is a great help 
to make the inward sense more acute and sharp ; but where it is 
vehement and strong, it is contented with itself, and satisfied with its 
own heat, ardour, and intenseness, therefore there is not such a distinct 
actual discourse. As when a man huggeth and embraceth a friend, 
the closer he huggeth him, the less distinctly doth he behold and 
take a view of him; so in the embraces of love, when the soul 
falleth into the arms of Christ, and claspeth about Christ with the 
arms of its own love, it hindereth the distinct exercise of reason, and 


those offices of discourse by which the soul would otherwise reflect 
upon him. A man that desireth a precious jewel, at first he vieweth 
it with greediness and delight, but afterwards he layeth it up in 
his bosom, and wholly pleaseth himself in the possession of it; so 
the soul that thirsts after Christ pleaseth itself in the consideration 
of his beauty and perfection, and dwells upon it with religious thoughts, 
but afterwards love growing very strong, and being heightened unto the 
utmost degree, shutteth the eyes of our souls, and we only please our 
selves in a more intimate feeling, and in the sweetness of our embraces. 
Great and high affections must needs hinder the use of reason, because 
all our strength and vigour runneth out into one faculty, and then such 
a poor limited creature as man is cannot attend other offices and em 
ployments of the soul. It is very notable in the whole life of Christ 
that he had no ecstasy, propter maximam capacitatem supernaturalern 
animce, because of the extraordinary perfection of his person, and the 
large capacity of his soul ; he had a transfiguration, yet all the while 
in the midst of that he had a temperate use of reason, Mat. xvii. The 
disciples were indeed surprised by those glimpses and emissions of his 
glory ; they were overwhelmed, so that they fell on their faces, and 
-were sore afraid, ver. 6. Poor man, being of a lesser capacity, cannot 
suffer such a feeling and high tide of affection without some transpor 
tation and ravishment beyond the support of reason, for the strength 
and vigour of his soul is melted out to Christ in love. Now the soul 
being of a limited power and capacity, the more strongly it attendeth 
one office and function, the less can it serve others. Look, as a flame, 
when it ascendeth, endeth in a point, and groweth narrower and thinner, 
so such high flames and such glorious ascents of affection usually mind 
but one thing, and do not permit the soul any variety of discourse, but 
fix it in one thought, and in one steady and deliberate gaze. 

4. Usually such experiences of God s children are given in to them 
in the most social duties. As in the time of prayer ; Peter s trances 
fell upon him in prayer. Ordinary ecstasies carry some proportion 
with that which is extraordinary, and usually the soul flames out to 
God, and breaks forth in religious accents in the time of prayer. And 
so such strong affection oversets the soul in the time of the Lord s 
supper: Cant. v. 1, Eat, friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 
beloved. Be drunk with loves. That whole song concerneth our com 
munion with Christ in heaven and in the ordinances ; above all, in the 
ordinance of the supper, which is the pledge of heaven. So also in 
the height of meditation ; when the soul hath been spent and much 
exercised itself in that work, after the labowr of meditation God giveth 
in this silence and rest in the steady contemplation of his love and 
glory, and the mind being inflamed and heightened with spiritual 
thoughts and exercises, suffereth a kind of transportation. It is very 
notable that those ravishments that were between Christ and the 
spouse were in the palm-tree: Cant. vii. 8, I said, I will go up to 
the palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof ; now also thy 
breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like 
apples. There Christ would satisfy himself with the church s breasts, 
and there she should be satisfied with his love. The palm-tree hath u 
long naked bark, and carrieth all its leaves, branches and fruits upwards ; 


it noteth the religious ascent of the soul in spiritual exercises, when 
the thoughts do not run out in underwood and lower branches, in 
earthly thoughts and carnal distractions. Well, then, in the top of the 
palm-tree there we taste the sweetness of Christ, and the soul is ravished 
and spiritually made drunk with the clusters of his grapes. 

5. These experiences, where God seeth fit to give them, are given to 
persons of much holiness and religion : Mat. v. 8, Blessed are the pure 
in heart, for they shall see God. Those bright and clear souls are 
more fit to enjoy the sight of God ; when by constant and daily exer 
cise the heart hath been subdued to a religious frame, the Lord may 
then give in those ravishing sweets, and those gazes upon his beauty 
and glory. There are degrees in the sense of God s love. Hypocrites 
have but a taste and a little sip, as the merchant that selleth wine will 
give a taste to those that do but cheapen it. Christians whose spirits 
are not defecated or cleared from the clouds of passion or purged from 
the dregs of carnal interests seldom meet with those sweet and rich 
experiences ; to such an intimate discerning the senses had need be 
exercised. The lute had need be rightly strung and tuned that maketh 
a ravishing melody ; easy, lazy, and gross hearts feel none of these rapt 
motions and strong qualms of affection : God usually gives them to 
those that are purged and purified. 

6. These rich experiences are very fleeting and vanishing, and but 
now and then bestowed. We have not such high experiences under 
lock and key, and at the command of our own endeavours. God given 
them when he seeth fit, and when he pleaseth they pass away again. 
If they were constant, and God should continually pour in, the vessel 
would break, and the soul could not sustain itself under the burden of 
it. The disciples in the transfiguration were astonished and fell down 
for fear, they could not bear the glory, though but for a little while : 
Mat. xvii. 6, And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, 
and were sore afraid/ Our present state is not capable of these trans 
ports long ; the soul is not extended and enlarged to such a capacity 
and fitness, neither is the body qualified. We are in the animal state 
now, the deliberate contemplation is our portion in heaven, when sin 
and weakness is done away, and when we have that which the apostle 
calls a spiritual body, 1 Cor. xv. 44 ; that is, a body fit for those higli 
communications, and for the continual presence of God. This is an 
extraordinary indulgence, which, if continued, would destroy and abro 
gate the economy and dispensation of grace. This pause of reason 
upon the majesty of God and the glory of heaven is somewhat like the 
sun s standing still in Joshua s time, which, if it were so always, would 
burn up the frame of nature ; therefore God hath ordained that it 
should roll hither and thither. Motion and change is fitter for this 
state to which God hath subjected us. 

7. Such ravishing experiences are not to be sought for, but referred 
to the good pleasure of God. We cannot pray for them in faith, having 
no promise of them, and we must not be too hasty to eat of the fruits 
of paradise before our time. It is enough for us to go to heaven in the 
usual roadway, and not like Elijah, in a fiery chariot. Look, as in 
outward things we are not to desire riches, but a competency ; if God 
casteth them in upon our endeavours, we should be thankful ; so 


in meditation we must mind those enjoyments which are more temperate, 
and leave other things to God. It is good to content ourselves with 
grace, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, though we have not those 
transports and high ecstasies of love and affection. We must not 
tempt God with immodest requests and expectations, but sit down 
humbly and quietly, and if the master of the feast bid us to sit higher, 
and call us to a more choice dispensation, well and good. These 
experiences are not to be ranked among duties, but among enjoyments ; 
we shall not be called to an account for the want of them, for we are 
not obliged to pursue them ; they are acts of God s magnificence and 
indulgence to the soul. Many times Christians oppress their souls by 
their indiscreet aims ; it is good to keep an even hand, that we may not 
vex ourselves with the disappointment of a rash and foolish trust. 
Some are altogether careless, and content themselves with any frame 
of spirit in worship ; others are not satisfied but with ecstatic and rapt 
motions. Look, as it is with a lute-string, if it be too slack, it doth 
not sound at all, if it be too high stretched, it is hoarse and screeching ; 
so it is with our souls in duty ; when we are careless, there is no melody 
made to God, but if we be too high strained, then the soul is oppressed 
with its own aims, and with a pursuit of things above our reach ; the 
temperate middle way should be our aim. 

8. Upon all such experiences we should be careful and watch our 
hearts, because many times herein we delude ourselves ; we call that a 
rapture which is but the suppositions of a troubled fancy, or some fanatic 
delusions by which Satan abuseth an over-credulous and superstitious 
soul. Dotage many times passeth under the pretence of vision, and 
the extravagances of a wild zeal seemeth rapture. Always observe 
their end and scope ; if they end in pride, and prove a temptation, they 
are from the devil, and not from God. Experiences from God enlarge 
our hearts for service, and make us more humble, as the highest flames 
tremble most. These souls that are called to the highest enjoyments 
are most humble. It is true we are apt to be puffed up with a revela 
tion from God, as Paul was puffed up with the abundance of revelations, 
but there was a subsequent dispensation, some cross to humble him : 
2 Cor. xii. 7, And lest I should be exalted above measure through the 
abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, 
the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above 
measure. This is through the corruption of our nature, which God 
preventeth in his children by such dispensations. But if it tendeth to 
make us neglect piety, and to be above duties, it is against the nature 
of religion, which presseth us to wait upon God with the more encourage 
ment, because we have already discerned his beauty and glory : Ps. 
Ixiii. 2, To see thy power and glory so as I have seen thee in the 

Thus I have done with this case, in which I have been in the high 
mountains. I shall come to the valleys, which, as they are more easy 
of access, so usually they are more fruitful. What follows will be more 



And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

CASE 4. When must we meditate ? 

1. In the general, something should be done every day ; seldom 
converse begetteth a strangeness to God, and an unfitness for the duty. 
It is a description of God s servant, Ps. i. 2, His delight is in the law 
of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night/ At least 
we should take all convenient occasions. It is an usual way of natural 
men to make conscience of duties after a long neglect ; they perform 
duties to pacify a natural conscience, and use them as a man would use 
a sleepy potion or strong waters ; they are good at a pinch, not for 
constant drink. Alas ! we lose by such wide gaps and distances 
between performance and performance ; it is as if we had never done 
it before. 

2. For the particular time of the day when you should meditate, 
that is arbitrary. I told you before you may do it either in the silence 
of the night, when God hath drawn a curtain of darkness between you 
and the things of the world ; or in the freshness of the morning, or in 
the evening, when the wildness and vanity of the mind is spent in 
worldly business. 

3. There are some special solemn times, when the duty is most in 
season; as 

[1.] After a working sermon ; after the word hath fallen upon you 
with a full stroke, it is good to follow the blow ; and when God hath 
cast seed into the heart, let not the fowls peck it away : Mat. xiii. 19, 
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth 
it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was 
sown in his heart. Ruminate on the word, chew the cud ; many a 
sermon is lost because it is not whet upon the thoughts : James i. 23, 
24, He is like a man that .beholdeth his natural face in a glass ; for 
he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth 
what manner of man he was : Mat. xxii. 22, When they heard these 
things, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. You should 
roll the word in your thoughts, and deeply consider of it. 

[2.] Before some solemn duties, as before the Lord s supper, and 
before special times of deep humiliation, or before the sabbath. Medi 
tation is, as it were, the breathing of the soul ; that it may the better 
hold out in religious exercises, it is a good preparative to raise the spirits 
into a frame of piety and religion. When the harp is fitted and tuned, 
it doth the better make music ; so when the heart is fixed and settled 
by a preparative meditation, it is the fitter to make melody to God in 

[3.] When God doth specially revive and enable the Spirit. It is 
good to take advantage of the Spirit s gales ; so fresh a wind should 
make us hoist up our sails. Do not lose the Spirit s seasons ; the Spirit s 
impulses are good significations from God that now is an acceptable 


Case 5. What time is to be spent in the duty ? 

I answer That is left to spiritual discretion. Suck the teat as long 
as milk cometh. Duties must not be spun out to an unnecessary length. 
You must neither yield to laziness, nor occasion spiritual weariness ; 
the devil hath advantage upon you both ways. When you rack and 
torture your spirits after they have been spent, it makes the work of 
God a bondage ; and therefore come not off till you find profit, and do 
not press too hard upon the soul, nor oppress it with an indiscreet zeal. 
It is Satan s policy to make you out of love with meditation by spinning 
it out to a tediousness and an unnecessary length. 

Case 6. Whether should the time be set and constant ? 

I answer It is good to bind the heart to somewhat, and yet leave it 
to such a liberty as becomes the gospel. Bind it to somewhat every 
day, that the heart may not be loose and arbitrary. We see that 
necessity quickeneth and urgeth, and when the soul is engaged it goes 
to work the more thoroughly. Therefore the Lord asks, Jer. xx. 21, 
Who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me ? It is good 
to lay a tie upon the heart ; and yet I advise not to a set stinted hour, 
lest we create a snare to ourselves. Though a man should resist dis 
tractions and distempers, yet some business is unavoidable, and some 
distempers are invincible. I have observed this, that even religious 
persons are more sensible of their own vows than of God s commands ; 
when men have bound up themselves in chains of their own making, 
their consciences fall upon them, and dog them with restless accusations, 
when they cannot accomplish so much duty as they have set and pre 
scribed to themselves. And besides, when hours are customary and set, 
the heart groweth formal and superstitious. 

Case 7. Are all bound to meditate ? are the ignorant ? are men of an 
unquiet nature ? are servants ? are ministers ? 

1. Are the ignorant, and men of barren minds, that have not a good 
stock of knowledge ? I answer Yes, they are bound to this as well as 
other duties, though they cannot do it well ; it is their duty to strive 
that the word of God may dwell richly in them. It is a mark of a 
godly man; every man is bound to be skilful in the scriptures: Jer. 
xxxi. 34, They shall all know me, from the least of them to the 
greatest of them, saith the Lord. God hath no child so little but he 
knows his father, therefore all are bound in some measure to be able to 
discourse of God and of the things of God. 

2. But some are of an unquiet nature, fit for public duties, but not 
for private exercises ; are they bound as well as those of softer spirits, 
and fitter for meditation ? I answer This is not temper, but distemper, 
the unquiet spirit must not totaliter cessare, wholly discontinue this 
work. They are to mind wherein they may serve God most, but not 
totally desist from a work so necessary, and of such great importance. 

5. Are servants bound to it, whose time is not their own ? I answer 
They should do what they can ; God is more merciful to them, but 
those that are in bondage to others may find some leisure for God. 

4. Are ministers obliged ? Their whole work is a study, their em 
ployment is a continual meditation. I answer There is a difference 
between meditation arid study. In study we mind the good of others, 
in meditation the good of our own souls. Things work with us accord- 


ing to our end and the aims that we propose to ourselves. Public 
teaching is no such trial of our hearts ; there is a natural pride in us 
to urge us to teach others, and that makes so many intrude into the 
ministry ; there is some kind of authority in it, that we exercise over 
others ; but we are to mind the good of our own souls, and to regard 
private duties. There is a greater engagement upon us than others, 
because we have the help of art and education, and have greater advan 
tages than others, and therefore we should not lose so sweet a comfort. 
It is strange that papists confine it altogether to spiritual men, as if it 
were not a lay duty, and usually we lay it aside, as if study would serve 
the turn, and it did not belong to us. 

V. My work is now to speak of the object of meditation, which I am 
first to handle in general, and then in special. 

First, In the general consideration of the object I am to speak (1.) 
Of the choice of the object ; (2.) The manner how to work upon it. 

1. For the choice of the object, I need not press you to choose that 
which is seasonable, and what suiteth with your own case. A sermon 
worketh more forcibly when it is suitable, so do thoughts when they 
are seasonable, and direct to the present case of the soul : Ps. xciv. 19, 
In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my 
soul ; he meaneth sad thoughts, then it was his advantage to exercise 
himself in seasonable comforts, like a shower of rain on new-mown 
grass ; it would be burnt up with the drought, which if rain had come 
seasonably might have flourished and grown up with a fair herbage ; 
so the soul is parched with a temptation, if it be not watered with suit 
able thoughts. We faint not/ saith the apostle, for we look not to 
the things that are seen, but to the things that are not seen, 2 Cor. 
iv. 16-18, viz., by reviving our Christian hopes ; and therefore the exi 
gencies of the soul must be served. Food in thirst doth enrage rather 
than please. It is not enough to consider what is good, but what is 
seasonable. Things mistimed and misplaced lose their force and 
operation; as the blood when it is in vessels is the continent of life, 
but when at is out it breedeth diseases, so truths out of their order and 
place do not nourish the heart, but oppress it ; as if you should talk of 
hell and the severity of God s judgment to those that are dejected, tin s 
were to speak to the grief of those whom God hath wounded, and when 
the back is ready to break to lay on more load. 

I shall for the present (having spoken largely in the general direc 
tions) give you but two rules 

[1.] Choose that which is profitable. There is a great deal of differ 
ence between the objects of meditation ; some are more speculative, 
others altogether practical. There are matters speculative revealed in 
the word which yet have their use and profit ; as the fall of the angels, 
the order of providence, &c. ; yet out of these the heart may distil 
matter of practical use and profit. All the benefit we receive from 
these truths lieth in our meditation of them. But then there are others 
that are altogether practical, and these should chiefly be chosen. The 
mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Matters 
practical are there to be ground for bread to the soul ; they that hunt 
after fancies do but misemploy their thoughts, and beat chaff into 
dust, and do not grind good corn for nourishment ; and that is the 


reason why many times mean Christians excel those of the best gifts, 
because they spend their time in subtle inventions and inquiries, and 
whilst we strive to be more subtle they are more sincere. Oh ! con 
sider the soul is diseased while it is only fed with quails and fine 
notions ; there is more delicacy but less nourishment. Notions that 
are airy tickle the fancy, and move the lighter part of the affections, 
but those considerations that are grave and masculine convince most 
soundly, and work most deeply : Wisdom entereth into the heart, 
Prov. ii. 10. Look, as wicked men do not please themselves in abstrac 
tions of sin, they devise wickedness to accomplish it, so the Christian 
should not satisfy himself with nice speculations, but employ his 
thoughts about practical matters to promote holiness in his heart and 

[2.] Choose matters to meditate upon in an orderly and apt method. 
But you will say, Do you think this useful to confine the soul to 
method in meditation, to prescribe a set course to ourselves ? Shall 
we not jostle out seasonable thoughts ? I answer 

(1.) It is lawful a-nd necessary to prescribe to ourselves a course and 
method, partly that we may know our work, and that we may not be 
to seek both of a subject and how to work upon it ; therefore, that you 
may keep your religious exercises together, and know how to pass from 
one to another, it is good to keep a set course. Partly because things 
work with us according to method ; it is the way of knowledge and 
affection ; the soul finds it an excellent advantage when things are 
aptly suited and ranked in their order. God himself hath disposed all 
his works in order, so should we ours. You will find an advantage 
when you take your rise low, and go on from matters more plain and 
obvious to those that are more mysterious. There are shallows for the 
lambs of God, and there are deeps for those of an higher growth and 
stature. You must pass from the most obvious matter of Christianity 
to those that are of more sublime speculation. The rise of the sun is 
first low, and gildeth with its beams the eastern parts, and then riseth 
higher to the top of the heavens ; so in your progress there are the 
third heavens to which you must ascend, but first you must pass the 
first and second heavens. Before we search the depths of the Spirit, it 
is good to search the depths of the belly (I compare Paul s expression 
with Solomon s), to begin with the knowledge of ourselves before we 
come to the knowledge of God. Prius redi ad te quam rimari prce- 
sumas quce supra te, is a rule of Bernard, who was of much experience 
in these exercises ; first return to ourselves, and by an orderly progress 
to go on from examination of ourselves, before we soar up to the con 
templation of the divine glory. You know what Christ saith, John iii. 
12, If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye 
believe if I tell you of heavenly things ? They were spiritual matters 
he spake of, regeneration and principles of religion ; yet in comparison 
of deeper mysteries of religion, and because he had set them out by 
earthly similitudes of generation, water and the wind, he called them 
earthly things. Christ trained up his own disciples this way ; first 
he begins with plain matters : John xvi. 12, 1 have yet many things 
to say unto you, but you cannot bear them yet. There were greater 
mysteries above the reach and size of their present capacity. So the 


apostle Paul speaketh of wisdom for them that are perfect : 1 Cor. ii. 
6, Howbeit we speak wisdom to them that are perfect ; that is, for 
them that had made some progress in religion ; perfect, not absolutely, 
but in comparison with babes and novices. Therefore it is good, with 
Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus, and not presently with the spouse to 
beg the kisses of his mouth, but to go on by degrees. 

(2.) Though we must contrive a method and course, yet there must 
be a liberty left for things, for all seasons and occasions. As in the 
world, though a man hath disposed his business, yet he reserveth a 
liberty for incidental and unthought of occasions ; so in these spiritual 
matters, and in the course of religious exercises, you must not bind 
up yourselves from these occasions. I shall name four 

(ls.) Working and forcible sermons. It is not good to lose the 
heat that we have gotten at the word, but to go home and chew the 
cud. In the word there is ingestion ; in meditation you turn it into 
nourishment. There must be a time for concoction, and when the 
seed is scattered, it must be covered. 

(2c) For present impulses, keep yourselves free, that you may 
not lose the advantage of such impulses. Many times Christ cometh 
leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills, Cant. ii. 8. 
He impelleth our hearts on a sudden and unlooked for, by causing 
holy thoughts to shoot into our minds ; by representing our unworthi- 
ness, coldness, and deadness of life ; or else he inflameth us by repre 
senting the beauty and loveliness of grace. Then it is good those thoughts 
should take the next turn, and our method must give way to God s dis 
pensation. As general nature altereth its course in some great par 
ticular exigencies, fire descendeth, and water ascendeth, so in this case 
the general work must be interrupted. It is a kind of resisting God 
not to entertain these motions ; I do not mean when they come upon 
you in the necessary work of your callings, but only that they may have 
the next turn. 

(3d.) For remarkable providences, when God casteth us upon such 
objects as stir up special veneration and reverence, as some marvellous 
events, or creatures that discover his wisdom and glory, or sudden 
death of one near us, it is of excellent use while such experiences are 
warm to go home and consider of them ; as Waldo, a rich merchant 
of Lyons, was conversing with a friend, and he fell down dead, and 
presently he went home, and thought of the uncertainty of life, and 
the necessity of providing for a future state, and God blessed these 
thoughts for his conversion. Or else the sad falls of a person eminent 
for religion, when we see some glorious star fall like lightning from 
heaven, these are accidents that must not be passed over without some 
mark and consideration, and then God doth as it were call you off from 
your usual thoughts. 

(47i.) The present exigence of the Spirit. Choose that which is season 
able, and what suits with your own case ; a sermon works more forcibly 
when it is seasonable. Thus David : Ps. xciv. 19, In the multitude 
of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. He means 
his sad thoughts ; it was an advantage to him then to solace himself 
with those comforts God had provided. The scripture useth this 
similitude of rain upon new-mown grass. Kain when it comes season- 


ably refresheth the grass and causes it to spring up, which otherwise 
would be burnt up with the drought and heat of the season ; so the 
soul would be parched with a temptation if it be not watered with 
seasonable thoughts. But I have spoken to this point before. 

But you will say, What is the method that we should use ? 

Ans. Though I cannot exactly prescribe it, yet give me leave to 

(1.) For those that are wholly to begin this duty, it is best first to 
meditate about meditation, the nature, use, and excellency of it, and how 
they may carry it on with success ; it is a good preparative to the 
whole work. I do direct you to this course, because this is that which 
the soul standeth in need of ; this will lay a charge and necessity upon 
the soul. As to pray is a good preparative to prayer, so to meditate on 
meditation is a good preparative to meditation. To quicken you, con 
sider the motives alleged, and when you have done all, say, soul ! 
do but go and try ! Lord ! help me, and keep this up in the thoughts 
of thy servant! 

(2.) For the general method, it is good to keep the method of the 
Spirit. The method of meditation should follow that of God s dispen 
sation : John xvi. 8, When the Spirit is come, he shall reprove the world 
of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. First begin with sin, which 
is more easy and familiar to the understanding ; it is good to lay the 
foundation of all in the mortifying and purgative way ; and then go to 
righteousness, and after the extermination of sin we shall be fitter to enter 
tain the love of God, and then go to judgment. . Take another method ; 
first consider the great end of man, that you may come to yourselves ; 
then the evil of sin, that you may bemoan and avoid it ; then the 
miseries of the world, or the vanity of the creature, that you may con 
temn it ; then the horrors of death, the severity of judgment, the tor 
ment of hell, that you may prevent it ; then the excellences of Christ, 
the privileges of the godly, the rare contrivance of the gospel ; then of 
providence, of heaven, of God and his attributes, his power, his wisdom, 
his eternity, &c., with suitable scriptures for each of these. 

2. For the manner how you must work upon these objects. 

[1.] There must be pregnant thoughts and apprehensions. Deep 
consideration begins the work ; you must set your hearts to consider the 
subject, for when the heart is once set, these thoughts through the 
blessing of God will come in freely. It is often spoken in scripture of 
setting our hearts to seek the Lord ; when the heart is set for prayer, 
God comes in with a great enlargement ; so when the heart is set to 
consider, you will have serious and solemn thoughts. If vain thoughts 
trouble you and interpose, yet still set the heart and go on ; as a man 
in a journey, though dogs come out and bark upon him, he rideth on ; 
to run after every cur would be a great hindrance and diversion ; so if 
you stand quarrelling with ever vain thought, you lose your purpose, and 
so the devil will gain that by a reflex act which you seek to reject in 
a direct act ; as criers in a court in calling for silence many times make 
the greatest noise. Mr Greenham was wont to lift up his heart in a 
short ejaculation, and so go on. 

[2.] There are serious enforcements and rational inculcations. Things 
barely propounded do not work ; it is by lively reasons they are whetted 


upon the soul. Look, as it is in going to sea, those that only mind 
passage do not stay upon the ocean, and therefore do not fetch up the 
treasures of the great deep, but those that go to fish cast out the net 
again and again, so must you ; you must cast in reason upon reason, 
enforcement upon enforcement, till you bring up treasure, cast on weight 
upon weight till it weigh down. Now these rational enforcements are 
four by arguments, similitudes, comparison, colloquies or soliloquies. 

(1.) By arguments that are most effective. Inquire what kind of 
arguments have most force upon the spirits. The usual arguments you 
should look after are causes and effects ; by the one knowledge is 
increased, and by the other affections are stirred. Do not emptily 
declame, but see that your eye may affect your heart. Choose such 
arguments as are evident and strong ; you have them in the word and 
in sermons, and you should have them in your hearts : Luke vi. 45, 
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that 
which is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart 
bringeth forth that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart 
the mouth speaketh. A good man should be able to bring forth good 
arguments, that he might bring his heart powerfully to the acknow 
ledgment of the will of God ; for what did God give you faculties, and 
the use of reason and discourse, and such helps in the ministry, but for 
such a purpose ? 

(2.) By similitudes. The word will furnish you upon every point. 
Heaven speaketh to us in a dialect of earth. Heavenly mysteries are 
clothed with a fleshly notion. . In the Book of Canticles communion 
with Christ is set forth by banquets and marriages, and spiritual things 
are shadowed out by corporal fairness and sweetness. In other places 
of scripture Christ s kingdom is set forth by an earthly kingdom, the 
word of God by a glass, the wrath of God by fire. Now apt similitudes 
have a great force upon the soul for two reasons partly because they help 
apprehension, and partly because they help discourse. There is as it 
were a picture for the thoughts to gaze upon. By similitudes we come 
to understand a spiritual thing that we know not, being represented 
by sensible things with which they are acquainted ; the thing is twice 
represented to the soul in reality and in picture, as a double medium 
helpeth the sight, the glass and the air in spectacles ; a shilling in a 
basin of water seemeth bigger, so it is here. Yea, they yield matter 
for much enlargement, and help discourse, as when they brought God 
the blind and the lame : Mai. i. 8, Offer it now unto thy governor ; 
will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person ? saith the Lord of 
hosts. Sin is expressed by death ; now the soul may reason thus : I 
tremble at death, why do I not tremble at sin ? So mortification is 
physic ; I can dispense with the trouble of physic for my body, this will 
make my soul healthy. 

(3.) By comparisons, wherein other things are like or unlike the things 
we meditate upon. I urge this because it is a natural help ; it is a rule 
of nature that contraries being put together do mightily illustrate one 
another ; as when you compare fairness and deformity, black and white, 
deformity is more odious, and black is more black. So if I would con 
template the beauty of virtue and of the spiritual life, I would compare 
it with the filthiness of vice, and of the profane life. So when you 


compare the pleasant path of wisdom with the filthy and dreggy delights 
that are in the path of sin, you gain upon the soul. Put earthly things 
into the scales with heavenly, and see which weigheth heaviest, set 
heaven against hell, and heaven against the world. Our Saviour 
teacheth us to meditate by way of comparison : Mat xvi. 26, For what 
is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world aiid lose his own 
soul ? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ? So by 
comparing yourselves with other creatures, as thus ; when you would 
shame yourselves for your disobedience, you may argue thus : All things 
obey the law of their creation, the sun delighteth to run his race, the 
stars keep their course, and do not go beside the path God hath set 
them, and I only have found out my oWn path. So for your uncom- 
fortableness in the ways of God ; you may say, Wicked men delight 
to do wickedly, but I do not delight in the service of God ; shall it not 
be a pleasure to me to be exercised in the duties of religion ? shall I 
not rejoice in the Lord ? 

(4.) By colloquies and soliloquies ; colloquies and speeches with God, 
and soliloquies with ourselves. Thoughts are more express and formal, 
but when turned into words and speeches, it is a sign the affections are 
stirred. Strong affections must have vent in words ; speech is an help 
in secret prayer. 

(1st.) In colloquies with God, either by way of complaint: Lord, I 
am poor, and needy, and worldly. Lord, my heart is naked, and void 
of grace. Or else by way of request ; as the infant will show the apple 
or jewel, or whatever it hath received, to the parent or nurse, so the 
soul representeth to God whatever it hath gotten by meditation, and 
taketh occasion further to converse with God, and beg grace of him. 

(2d) In soliloquies with your own souls, and these are either by way 
of urging the heart or charging it. (1.) By way of urging the heart. 
As suppose you have been meditating on the glorious salvation that 
was purchased by Jesus Christ, let this be the close of all, How shall 
we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? Heb. ii. 3. So if you have 
been meditating on the sinfulness of sin, fall upon your own hearts : 
Rom. vi. 21, What fruit shall we have in those things whereof ye are 
now ashamed, for the end of those things is death ? Or if you have 
been meditating of hell and the wrath of God, speak to your heart : 
Ezek. xxii. 14, Can thy heart endure, or can thine hand be strong in 
the day that I shall deal with thee ? Art thou stronger than God, 
that thou canst wrestle with him ? Or if you have been meditating on 
your sinfulness, or the course of your own wicked lives, you may return 
upon your heart : Micah vi. 8, He hath showed, man, what is good, 
and what doth the Lord require of thee ; and ver. 6, Wherewith 
shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God ? 
How shall I get a ransom to redeem my soul from the guilt of sin ? 
(2.) By way of charge and command. Suppose you have been medi 
tating of the benefit of God s service, and the danger of going a- whoring 
from him : Hosea ii. 7, She shall say, I will go and return to my first 
husband, for then was it better with me than now. Or if you have 
been meditating of the benefits of God to your souls, you may return 
upon your hearts by way of charge : Ps. cxvi. 7, Return unto thy rest, 
O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with me. God hath 

YOL, xvii. u 


opened his good treasure to thee, this hath been thy portion, therefore 
Return unto thy rest. Well, then, thus do, and then be watchful 
that you do not lose what you have wrought. Isaac digged wells and 
the Philistines dammed them up ; so when the soul hath digged a well 
of salvation, Satan will seek to dam it up ; therefore be watchful. 


And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

SECONDLY, I come now to the particular objects of meditation 

First, I begin with that which is the chief end of man, a necessary 
work that you may come to yourselves : Luke xv. 17, el? eavrbv 8e 
\do)v, When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants 
of my father s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with 
hunger ! That is, when he began to consider of his condition, it put 
better thoughts into him. Therefore, that we may come to ourselves, 
it is good to consider the end why we were created, and the errand upon 
which God sent us into the world, to reason thus with ourselves : Why 
was I sent into the world ? Why do I live here ? to get an estate, or to 
get into Christ ? to wallow in pleasures, or to exercise myself in com 
munion with God ? to heap up perishing things together, or to make 
my everlasting state more sure ? When the end is rightly stated, men 
know their work, and so live up to the purposes of their creation. But 
alas ! many know other things, but are ignorant of themselves, and 
so pass on carelessly to their own ruin ; like him that gazed on the stars, 
and fell into a deep pit, their eyes are upon the ends of the earth, but 
they do not consider their souls. Others, for want of considering the 
end of their lives, are so far from living as Christians, that they scarce 
live as men, but either as beasts or as devils. Delight in the pleasures 
of the world transformeth a man into a beast ; it is their happiness to 
enjoy pleasures without remorse, and to gratify the body ; and delight 
in sin transformeth a man into a devil. Worldly pleasures are not 
bread, and sinful pleasures are poison. You that are allured by the 
pleasures of the world, which are lawful in themselves, you lay out 
your money for that which is not bread ; and you to whom it is meat 
to do evil, you feed upon that which is rank poison ; the world cannot 
satisfy, and sin will surely destroy. Thus men beguile themselves, and 
do not consider of the end of their lives, till their lives be ended, and 
then they make their moan. Usually when men lie a-dying, then they 
cry out on this world how it hath deceived them, and how little they 
have fulfilled the end of their creation. Partly because then conscience 
is awake, and puts off all disguises ; and partly because present things 
are apt to work upon us, and when the everlasting estate is at hand, 
the soul is troubled that it did no more think of it. Oh ! consider, it 
is better to be prepared than to be surprised. Think not only of your 


last end, but of your chief end ; what should be the great aim of your 
lives, even before death comes ? All religion lies in this, in fixing the 
aim of your life ; all the difference between men and men is in their 
chief good and utmost end. 

In the managing of this meditation, I shall pursue it in this method ; 
not that I prescribe to you, but that I may set some bounds to my own 
discourse. However I shall use such a method as is most facile and 
obvious, not exceeding the capacity and reach of the meanest. The 
work of such a meditation may be divided into three parts (1.) The 
considering work ; (2.) The plotting and contriving work ; (3.) The 
arguing work. 

First, In the considering work you may propound these or such 
like things to your thoughts. 

1. Man was made for some end. All God s works are referred to 
the service and use of his glory : Prov. xvi. 4, The Lord hath made 
all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of wrath. God, 
being a wise agent, must have an end ; now God could have no other 
end but himself and his own glory, for the end must be more worthy 
than the means, something better and above all created things ; and 
if God made all things for himself, then man, who was the visible 
masterpiece of the creation, the lesser world, the compendium and sum 
of all God s other works. So the apostle, Horn. xi. 36, For of him, 
and through him, and to him are all things. All things are of him as 
a creator, through him as a preserver, and to him, or to his glory ; 
from him as the first cause, to him as the last end. Certainly God 
did not make such a glorious creature as man for any low use. The 
whole creation was for man s use, and man was for God s glory : Ps. 
viii. 3, 4, When I consider the heavens, the works of thy fingers, the 
moon and the stars that thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art 
mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him ? He was 
God s deputy and vicegerent, created to enjoy the comfort of other 
creatures, and to exercise dominion over them ; the whole world is his 
palace, arched with heaven, and floored with earth, but still, that he 
might be faithful to his Maker, and do his homage to God, and give 
him the rent and tribute of his glory and praise. And therefore if the 
heavens do declare the glory of God, and the creeping things, and all 
beasts in their rank and place, much more should man, who was 
furnished with higher privileges, and with an higher capacity. We 
have faculties that are especially suited to this purpose ; therefore it is 
said, 1 John v. 26, He hath given us an understanding that we may 
know him that is true/ Certainly God never made such a glorious 
creature for wealth or pleasures, but for an higher use and purpose, 
even for himself. If you do but look upon his mind and understand 
ing, you will find it to be a wrong and debasement to take it off from 
a spiritual use, and put it to a carnal. 

2. This end is the enjoying and glorifying of God. To enjoy God 
is man s happiness, and to glorify God is man s work ; by glorifying 
God he comes to enjoy him, and he enjoyeth him that he may glorify 
him. Herein he differeth from other creatures ; they were made only 
to glorify him, not to enjoy him, but man to glorify him, and enjoy 
him too. 


[1.] He was made to enjoy him, for that is his happiness. Domine, 
fecisti nos propter te, et irrequietum est cor nostrum, donee perveniat 
ad te. The soul is made up of unlimited and restless desires ; there 
are such crannies and chinks in the soul that cannot be filled up but by 
the enjoyment of God; we were made for him, and we are not quiet 
till we do enjoy him. Nature will teach us to grope after an eternal 
good, as the Sodomites did after Lot s door in the dark : Acts xvii. 28, 
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, 
and find him. So Ps. iv. 6, There be many that say, Who will show 
us any good ? * It should be translated, The many say, &c. ; for this 
is the voice of the multitude ; all are for good, for something that is 
every way satisfying and contentful. There are some remains of entire 
reason and right nature, as Job s messengers said, Job i. 15, And I 
only am escaped alone to tell thee. There are some obscure instincts 
that are alone escaped out off the ruins of the fall, to tell us that God 
is our chiefest good, and therefore must be our utmost end. But the 
scriptures go further, and teach us that there is no way of enjoying 
God but in Christ, and till then man can never be happy. God is the 
centre of the soul, the place of the soul s rest. All things move to their 
own place, so should man to God. It is monstrous to see things move 
contrary to the impulse of nature, to see fire to descend, or a stone to 
leap upward; so it is as monstrous in grace for our souls to descend, 
and to cleave to those things which are without us, which were made 
only to rest in God ; our souls are of a heavenly original, and therefore 
should tend thither. - Say then, This is that which will make me happy 
here and hereafter, and therefore why should I run elsewhere ? It is 
against grace and nature. There is a principle in nature by which all 
creatures aim at their own satisfaction ; there is a weight and propen- 
sion that poiseth them to their happiness. If I would show myself a 
Christian or a man, all my comfort lieth in enjoying God in Christ : 
Isa. xlvi. 8, Kemember this, and show yourselves men/ He is a 
beast that can satisfy his soul with the world, and he is a devil that 
can satisfy his soul with sin. Let me show myself a man, and return 
to my own rest. Things are miserable when they do not attain their 
end ; so shall I be out of my place, tossed to and fro till I return to 
God ; the faculties of the soul are misplaced, and are as a member out 
of joint. 

[2.] He was made to glorify God. The creatures do it necessarily ; 
we must do it voluntarily and by choice. This must be the care of 
our hearts (1.) In every business ; (2.) In every enjoyment. 

(1.) In every business, be it never so trivial and low, even in the 
ordinary refreshments of nature : 1 Cor. x. 31, Whether therefore ye 
eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. These 
common actions of eating and drinking must be done upon reasons of 
religion. In a king s house there are many officers, but they are all to 
please the king ; so in my calling, in my duties, all must be done for 
the glory of the great God. All things must be measured by this rule, 
and give place to this great end, how I may glorify God, whether in the 
shop or in the closet, in my outward calling or in my private duties, or in 
my public relations or engagements, so far am I to mingle with any out 
ward business as I may still enjoy God, and be serviceable to his glory. 


This is to make religion your work, and not your play and recreation, 
when still in every business God is at the utmost end, whatever present 
ends I have. If nature interpose to make us look after our particular 
conveniences, yet this is but in subordination to God s glory. 

(2 ) In every enjoyment, whether it be natural or spiritual. I am 
to desire outward increase and estate, but I cannot desire it lawfully, 
but so as I may honour God with it. Agur measureth every estate 
by ends of religion : Prov. xxx. 8, 9, Give me neither poverty nor 
riches, but feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full and 
deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ; or lest I be poor and steal, and 
take the name of God in vain. As God should be at the end of every 
business, so at the end of every enjoyment, though it be spiritual. It 
is a mistake in Christians to think that spiritual blessings are only to 
be desired for themselves. I must desire the pardon of my sins, not 
merely for itself, but that God may be glorified in pardon. I must 
desire grace not only that I might be saved, but that God may be 
glorified in my salvation : Eph. i. 6, To the praise of the glory of 
his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. The 
creature s aims are never regular but when they suit with God s. In 
the work of redemption Jesus Christ pleased not himself, but had an 
aim at the Father s glory : Eom. xv. 3, For even Christ pleased not 
himself. So should we in the comforts of redemption, not please our 
selves merely in the consideration of our own happiness, but rejoice in 
it as God s ends are promoted in it, that God is glorified in pardoning 
my sin, or giving me grace and salvation. Though it be a difficult, 
yet it is a necessary piece of self-denial to desire salvation in a subor 
dination to God s glory. 

Secondly, For the contriving plotting work. The end being once 
fixed, we are to consider generally by what means it may be accom 
plished, and more particularly how you may observe and carry it on to 
the glory of God. 

1. Generally, by what means we may accomplish it. Every end is 
obtained by apt and fit means, and God, as he hath ordained the end, 
so he hath appointed the means. The whole duty of man is to fear 
God and keep his commandments, Eccles. xii. 13. The whole duty is 
comprised in obedience and fear ; obedience respects the rule, and fear 
the principle. Or obedience and love ; he instanceth in that principle 
that was most suitable to the present dispensation. In the Old Tes 
tament, fear is the beginning of wisdom, fear is represented as the great 
principle of duty and worship, as in the New Testament, love : 2 Cor. 
v. 14, The love of Christ constraineth us ; 1 John v. 3, This is the 
love of God, that we keep his commandments. The meaning of that 
place is, that God hath required entire obedience out of an holy and 
upright principle. Look, as God hath appointed to the creatures a 
law of creation by which they are bounded to their stated times and 
paths, as the psalmist saith of the waters of the sea, Ps. civ. 9, Thou 
hast set a bound, that they may not pass over, that they turn not again 
to cover the earth, so God hath given a moral law and rule to the 
rational creature, which must be observed by love and reverence. So 
it is said, Eph. ii. 10, We are the workmanship of God, created in 
Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath before ordained that we 


should walk therein. God having by the same decree and wise counsel 
ordained both end and means, he hath given us a rule by which we 
are to be guided in serving his glory. 

2. More particularly, how you may observe and carry it on in this 
way according to the will of God. A Christian is to be wise in his 
generation ; that is, in the course and sphere of his employments to 
manage the holy life by a wise foresight. A man that is a child of 
God hath wisdom if he would improve it : Luke xvi. 8, For the chil 
dren of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of 
light. Christ makes it to be the application of the parable of the 
unjust steward; he was plotting aforehand how he should maintain 
himself when he was turned out of his service ; so Christ would hence 
commend to us spiritual wisdom, how the children of light should plot 
and contrive how to manage their course according to the will of God ; 
as the prodigal contrives aforehaud how he shall make his address 
most acceptably to his father : Luke xv. 18, I will arise and go to my 
father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven 
and before thee. He is searching out meet words, words of humble 
ness and submission, by which he might work upon his father s bowels. 
So if this be my end, to enjoy God and glorify him, how shall I order 
my life so as to maintain most communion with him, and so as I may 
most promote his glory ? Neh. i. 11, Grant me mercy in the sight 
of this man ; for I was the king s cup-bearer. He showeth the reason 
why he did undertake the work ; he was a courtier, and had the liberty 
of address to Artaxerxes ; Mnemon, he was devising what he might 
do for God in that station. So you should be contriving : This is my 
place, and these are my relations ; what shall I do for God as I am a 
minister, a magistrate, a master of a family ? how may I serve the 
great end of my creation, and promote the glory of God ? Such fore 
sights make the holy life to be a life of care and choice ; not merely 
of chance and peradventure, but managed and guided with discretion 
for the glory of God. 

Thirdly, For the arguing work. In such a meditation as this is 
you must dispute and argue with the soul, that you may gain it from 
base and inferior objects, which would divert you from looking after 
the great end of your conversation, which is the glorifying and enjoy 
ing of God. 

Follow the method formerly prescribed by pregnant reasons, apt simili 
tudes, forcible comparisons, and by holy colloquies and soliloquies. 

1. By pregnant reasons. Debate thus with yourselves, Why should 
I look after other things, when my end is to enjoy God ? Take these 

[1.] Other things cannot satisfy and yield any solid contentment to 
the spirit : Isa. Iv. 2, Wherefore do you spend your money for that 
which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? 
Carnal affections are most irrational ; why should I lavish away my 
choice respects upon those things that will do me no good ? The 
things of this world cloy rather than satisfy. A man is soon weary of 
worldly comforts, therefore he must have shift and change. When 
we have wealth and honour, we want peace and contentment ; nay, 
sometimes the particular pleasure must be changed because of satiety 


and loathing which will grow upon us. A man may be weary of life 
itself, and it may be a burden to him, but never of the love of God ; 
you never heard any one complain of too much communion with God. 
Heavenly comforts are more lovely when they are attained than when 
they are desired ; one taste ravisheth, and imagination is nothing to 
feeling. Worldly things cannot satisfy the affections. Man s heart is 
made up of vast and unlimited desires, because it was made for God, 
-and cannot be quiet till it enjoy God. He that is all-sufficient can 
only fill up those crannies and chinks that are in man s heart. But 
alas ! if they could satisfy the affections, they cannot satisfy the con 
science ; they cannot calm and lull conscience asleep. There is no 
proportion between conscience and worldly things ; these are a covering 
too short for us ; there will be trouble, though we have abundance. 

[2.] They are not durable and lasting. An immortal soul is for an 
eternal good. It is the greatest misery that can be to outlive our 
happiness. We have a soul that will never perish, and why should we 
labour after things that perish? When the things are gone, our 
affection will increase our affliction; we shall be the more troubled 
because we loved them so much. All things under the sun are there 
fore vexation, because vanity: Eccles. i. 14, I have seen all the works 
that are done under the sun, and behold all is vanity and vexation of 
spirit. That which is vain and flashy will vex the soul with disap 
pointment ; we can enjoy nothing with contentment but what we 
enjoy with security : Isa. xl. 6, All flesh is grass, and all the goodli- 
ness thereof is as the flower of the field. The flower may be gone, 
the blustering of the wind and the scorching of the sun may soon 
deface the beauty and glory of the flower, and then it remains a rotten 
and neglected stalk : Prov. xxiii. 5, Wilt thou set thine eyes upon 
that which is not ? The men of the world call them substance ; they 
think they are the only things, when of all these Solomon says they 
are not. How fading are honours ! Haman was one day high in 
honour, and the next day high on the gallows. Therefore these things 
being so fickle and of such uncertain enjoyment, they cannot give the 
soul any quiet. 

[3.] They are inferior, and below the soul ; they do not perfect 
nature, but abase it ; they suit only with the outward and baser part 
of man, and serve only the conveniences of the body. That which 
makes a man happy must be something above a man, better than him 
self ; now this is beneath your souls. You would count it absurd to 
adorn gold with dirt, or lay on brass upon silver ; it is a stain and dis 
grace, not an ornament to it. One soul is more worth than a whole 
world : Mat. xvi. 26, What is a man profited if he shall gain the 
whole world and lose his own soul ? or what shall a man give in 
exchange for his soul ? God created the world only with a word, but 
Christ redeemed the soul with his blood and sufferings, and why should 
you degrade yourselves ? Heaven thought your souls worthy of the 
blood of Christ, and you should think them too worthy to be prosti 
tuted to the world. Men do not know the worth of a soul till they 
come to die, and then what would a man give in exchange for his soul, 
to redeem his soul from the destruction of fears ? Job xxvii. 8, For 
what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God 


taketh away his soul ? When God comes by a fatal stroke or a mor 
tal disease to take away your soul, you will see that a soul once lost 
can be redeemed by no price, and how little doth the hypocrite then 
think of all his gain that he hath heaped together ? Oh ! then do not 
debase your souls. It is dishonourable among men to match beneath 
their birth and dignity ; oh ! why will you match your souls, that are 
of a heavenly original, to these base outward things ? 

[4.] All these things which we think increase our happiness do but 
add to our trouble, both to our outward, inward, and eternal trouble. 

(1.) Many times to our outward trouble. The greater gates do but 
open to the greater cares, and the more any are endowed with any 
excellency in the world, they have proportionable sorrow and encum 
brances. Moral wisdom is the best of all outward enjoyments^ yet 
that increaseth our portion of sorrow : Eccles. i. 18, For in much 
wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth 
sorrow. Many have observed that never was a man eminent for any 
outward endowment, but the joy of it was abated with an answerable 
proportion of sorrow and trouble, and their encumbrances have been 
every way suitable to their comforts. Those that have been most 
famous for outward qualities have come to some dismal end, as Sampson 
for strength, Saul for stature, Absalom for beauty, Achitophel for 
counsel and parts, Asahel for swiftness, Alexander for warlike prowess, 
Nabal for riches ; and God hath made it good by many experiences in 
our times ; the wheel of providence hath rolled upon them, and they 
have come to some sad end. So for wit and parts. Wit has been 
many a man s ruin : Isa. xlvii. 10, Thy wisdom and thy knowledge 
hath perverted thee. Many are undone by their own wisdom and 
knowledge, and the greatness of their parts, and come to sad accidents. 

(2.) For inward troubles. As children catch at painted butterflies, 
and when they have taken them, their gaudy wings melt away in their 
fingers, and there remaineth nothing but an ugly worm, so we catch at 
those things which perish in the using, but the worm of conscience re 
maineth. Many times outward blessings are salted with a curse ; we 
never have outward things as a blessing till we have an higher interest 
in them : Ps. cxxvii. 2, So he giveth his beloved sleep. Those that 
have an interest in God can rest quietly in the bosom of providence ; 
and outward comforts are given as a blessing when they are additional s 
and appendices to the covenant of grace : Mat. vi. 33, Seek ye first 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall 
be added unto you. God doth not say, Seek the world, and heaven 
shall be added to you ; but, Seek heaven, and the world shall be 
added ; for by seeking of heavenly things first, you drive on two trades 
at once for earth and heaven. But when men cumber themselves 
with the world, there is a snare upon the conscience, and they cannot 
enjoy the comfort of their condition. It will add to your inward 
trouble when God is neglected and the world sought. 

(3.) For eternal trouble. These things are temporal, and we hazard 
the loss, of eternal things for them. We never leave God but with 
disadvantage to ourselves : Jonah ii. 8, They that observe lying vani 
ties forsake their own mercy. Whenever you go off from God for a 
fleeting shadow, you loose an eternal joy. The comfort of the world 


is but for a time ; but our punishment is for ever. Ea quce ad usum 
diuturna esse non possunt, ad supplicium diulurna sunt. Why should 
we look after those things that we cannot use for ever, and so wound 
and destroy our souls for ever ? An immoderate seeking after 
temporal things will be our eternal ruin. Oh ! that men would be 
wise, not to run so great a hazard for so small a pleasure ! Kiches are 
uncertain, but the love of them brings a sure damnation : Phil. ii. 19, 
Whose end is destruction, who mind earthly things. Oh ! say then, 
Shall I overturn the quietness of my life ? shall I wound my con 
science ? shall I contract guilt and terror for the time to come, for that 
which will perish in the using and is uncertain in the enjoyment ? Let 
us leave things that perish to men that perish. Shall 1 adventure my 
soul upon so vain a pursuit ? Shall I lose eternal glory for a little vain 
glory ? Shall I make my children or kindred rich, and be poor to all 
eternity ? Shall I bereave my soul of all my hopes, and of those eternal 
joys which God hath provided for them that love him, for a possession 
that is so uncertain and so ensnaring ? 

2. You should deal with your hearts by apt similitudes. The word 
will afford you several. Who would dwell in a ditch that may have a 
goodly house in a city ? Who would leave treasures and feed off 
husks ? Who would refuse a pleasant bride for a company of nasty 
harlots ? Or who would sit on the stairs when he is called up to sit 
on the throne ? I may enjoy God in Christ, and shall I think it my 
happiness to enjoy the world ? 

3. By comparisons. Compare the world with heaven. Here you 
have the fuller wealth, and but a foretaste of heaven, but the grapes 
of heaven are better than the vintage of the world, and these present 
enjoyments are sweeter and more sure than all honours and riches in 
the world. These things are gotten with care, kept with fear, and lost 
with grief. Reason thus with yourselves : What are these pleasures 
to the joys of the Spirit ? These gratify the body, the beast, and are 
so disproportionable to reason itself, that when we have sucked out the 
quintessence of all earthly delights, they cannot yield a perfect con 
tentment. Therefore Solomon saith, Prov. xiv. 13, Even in laughter 
the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness/ -We 
see that laughter, by too much extension and dilatation of the spirits, 
causeth an aching in the sides ; in the outward expressions of jollity 
God would show how painful it is ; you will find carnal delights 
always go away, and leave some sad impressions. God s worst is better 
than the world s best ; the groans of the Spirit are better than the joys 
of the world. The groans of the word never go away, but they leave 
a contentment and drop some sweetness ; but the joys of the world 
never go away but clouds of sorrow are left behind. God s children 
rejoice in the midst of their mourning, and a glory hath risen upon 
their spirits even when they seem to be disconsolate in the eyes of the 

4. By colloquies with God. Either by way of complaint that thou 
hast sinned and been ungrateful to God : Ps. Ixxiii. 22, So foolish 
was I and ignorant ; I was as a beast before thee. Lord, this hath 
been my brutishness, to choose outward pleasure before communion 
with God, and to prefer the contentments of the world before the 


delights of thy presence. Go and humble yourselves, and say, Lord, I 
have traded with vanity, and vexed myself in unprofitable pursuits ; 
I have lived so long in the world, and have scarce minded the end 
wherefore I was sent into the world ; as if I was put into the world 
only as leviathan in the sea, to take my fill of pleasure, and bathe my 
soul in carnal delights. Or else by way of thanksgiving, if the Lord 
hath taught thee better ; as David, when he had chosen the Lord for 
his portion, Ps. xvi. 7, * I will bless the Lord, who hath given me* 
counsel/ My own reason would never have taught me so much ; that 
is a dim light ; there were some obscure instincts to sway me to my 
happiness in general, but I might have groped a"bout for the door of 
grace, but not have found it, but God gave me counsel. As Austin, 
sait h, Errare per me potui, redire non potui Lord, I could go 
astray of myself, but I could not return of myself ; so we could go 
astray fast enough out of the inclination of our own nature, but thou 
hast brought home a poor lost sheep on thine own shoulder ; if I had 
been left to the counsels of my own heart, what would have become of 

5. By soliloquy with your own souls. Expostulate with yourselves 
for your former errors and follies : Rom. vi. 21, What fruit had ye in 
those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? The end of those things 
is death/ Why should I melt away my spirit and emasculate my soul 
by stooping to such low contentments ? What have I got by turning 
away from God, but a wound and disquiet in my conscience ? Then 
charge your souls, issue out a practical decree, determine with your 
selves, Well, now I see it is best to cleave to God, I will choose God 
for my chiefest good and utmost end. Oh ! my soul, I see, with David, 
Ps. Ixxiii. 28, It is good for me to draw nigh to God/ Therefore, 
farewell my pleasure, that pleased my childish age. When I was a 
child, I did as a child ; it shall be my care now to enjoy communion 
with God, to be ruled by his word, to live to his glory. Those things 
that have intercepted the delight and contentment of my spirit, I will 
leave them to the men of the world. 


And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the even-tide. 
GEN. xxiv. 63. 

SECONDLY, I am now to propose to you another object of meditation, 
which is the sinfulness of sin, an argument very necessary and practical. 
It is necessary in several respects. Partly to humble us ; we have low 
thoughts of sin, and therefore we are but slight in the matter of humi 
liation. Until we understand the evil of sin sufficiently, we do not 
think it worthy of a tear or one hearty sigh ; but when the understand 
ing is once opened, the heart is deeply affected : Ps. vi. 6, I am weary 
with my groaning ; all the night make I my bed to swim ; I water my 


conch with my tears. We see such filthiness in sin as cannot be washed 
away without a deluge of sorrow. And it is necessary partly to awaken 
us to a greater care and conscience. Who would adventure upon a sin 
that doth but know and seriously consider what it is ? Gen. xxxix. 9, 
How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ? That 
will be the issue of such a consideration. The child will thrust his 
fingers into the fire that doth not know the pain of being scalded, or