(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us) Upload
See other formats

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



EASTER. 1906 

* M -ir> 

BX^\T^> r\ 3,5 

Shelf No. 






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. 

General Editor. 














The Epistle Dedicatory, ..... 3 

The Preference of Duties : Morals before Rituals, . . 5 

A Description of the True Circumcision, . . 23 

What Kind of Perfection is Attainable in this Life, . ' ' .' ' 56 
A Persuasive to Unity in Things Indifferent, . . . 68 

Not to be Offended in Christ, the Ready Way to Blessedness, 79 

Wisdom is Justified of her Children, . . . ' . 93 

The Faithful Followers of Christ must expect Troubles in this 
World, . ... . . .113 

The Excellency of Saving Faith, . . . .140 

A Wedding Sermon, . . . . . .162 


Preface, . . . . . . .175 

Sermon I. Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, . . . . .177 

II. Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, 189 

III. Acts iii. 26, . . . . .201 

IV. 2 Peter i. 4, . . . . .213 
V. Mark ix. 49, . . . . . 222 

VI. 2 Thes. iii 5, 235 

VII. 2 Thes. iii. 5, . . . . .246 

VIII. Eph. i. 8, . . . . .256 

IX Mat. xxvii. 46, .... 264 

X. Rom. i. 29, 30, . . ' . . . 275 

XL Gal. v. 16, . . . . 284 

XII. Job xix. 25, . . . V . 293 

XIII. 1 Tim. vi. 8, . . 306 



Sermon XIV. Eccles. ix. 11, . . . .315 

XV. Acts xxi. 14, . . . . ' 327 

XVI. John iii. 16, . . . . 340 

XVIL Deut. xxx. 15, . . . .357 

XVIII. Mat. vii. 12, . . . . 369 

XIX. Eph. ii. 10, . . . .384 

XX. Eph.il 10, T."; !)p . . 397 


Editorial Note, ...... 410 

Sermon, . . . . . . .411 


Editorial Note, .>:,.::'' ' - ''-' .... 424 
Sermon, ....... 425 


Editorial Note, . .,,-, : .,. ;; . . . 440 

Sermon, . .-.,' . . . . 441 


The Epistle Dedicatory, .' ..' . . . 456 

Sermon, ...,.,. 457 



THE publication of a complete and uniform edition of Manton's works 
is a great boon to the readers of English theology. Many of his best 
writings have been hitherto inaccessible to all who have not long 
purses and large libraries. The few who know him would gladly 
testify, I am sure, that Thomas Manton was one of the best authors 
of his day, and that his works richly deserve reprinting. 

The republication of this great divine's writings in their present 
form appears to demand a few prefatory remarks. What are Man- 
ton's special merits ? What claim has a man of the seventeenth 
century on the attention of 1871 ? What good thing is there about 
him that we should buy him and read him ? These are reasonable 
questions, to which I propose to supply an answer in the following 
brief essay. A cairn examination of Manton's real worth appears a 
suitable accompaniment to a new edition of Manton's works. 

The inquiry, it must be admitted, is not an easy one. The materials 
for forming a judgment are singularly few and scanty. Two hundred 
years have passed away since Manton was laid in the grave. He died in 
an age when his principles and his party were very unpopular, and few 
cared to be known as his friends and admirers. Except the long and 
exhaustive biography of him by Harris, which has been wisely reprinted 
in this edition, we possess little information about him. All other 
impressions about him must be based on a patient analysis of his 
voluminous posthumous works. Considerable familiarity with these 
works forms my principal claim on the reader's attention in sending 
forth this essay. 

Let me clear the way by considering an objection which is fre 
quently brought against Manton and other divines of his school 
That objection is that he was " a Puritan." I admit the fact, and do 
not deny it for a moment. A friend and associate of Baxter, Calamy, 
Owen, and Bates a leading man in all the fruitless conferences be- 


tween Puritans and Churchmen in the early part of Charles II.'s 
reign ejected from St Paul's, Covent Garden, by the disgrace 
ful Act of Uniformity a sufferer even unto bonds on account of 
his Nonconformist opinions, if ever there was an English divine who 
must be classed as a Puritan, that man is Dr Manton. But what of 
it, if he was a Puritan ? It does not prove that he was not a valuable 
theologian, an admirable writer, and an excellent man. Let me once 
for all make a few plain statements about the school to which Manton 
belonged the school of the English Puritans. It is one of those 
points in the ecclesiastical history of our country about which the 
ignorance of most Englishmen is deep and astounding. There are 
more baseless and false ideas current about them than about any class 
of men in British history. The impressions of most people are so 
ridiculously incorrect, that one could laugh if the subject were not so 
serious. To hear them talk about Puritans is simply ludicrous. They 
make assertions which prove either that they know nothing at all of 
what they are talking about, or that they have forgotten the ninth com 
mandment. For Dr Manton's sake, and for the honour of a cruelly mis 
represented body of men, let me try to explain to the reader what the 
Puritans really were. He that supposes they were ignorant, fanatical 
sectaries, haters of the Crown and Church of England men alike 
destitute of learning, holiness, or loyalty has got a great deal to learn. 
Let him hear some plain facts, which I will venture to copy from a 
work written by myself in 1868 (" Bishops and Clergy of other Days "). 

" The Puritans were not enemies to the monarchy. It is simply false 
to say that they were. The great majority of them protested strongly 
against the execution of Charles I., and were active agents in bringing 
back Charles II. to England, and placing the crown on his head after 
Oliver Cromwell's death. The base ingratitude with which they were 
afterwards treated, in 1662, by the very monarch whom they helped to 
restore, is one of the most shameful pages in the history of the Stuarts. 

" The Puritans were not enemies to the Church of England. They 
would gladly have had her government and ceremonial improved, and 
more liberty allowed in the conduct of public worship. And they 
were quite right ! The very things which they desired to see, but 
never saw, are actually recommended at this day as worthy of adop 
tion by Churchmen in every part of the land ! The great majority of 
them were originally ordained by bishops, and had no abstract objec 
tion to Episcopacy. The great majority of them had no special dislike 
to liturgies, but only to certain details in the Book of Common 
Prayer. Baxter, one of their leaders, expressly testifies that a very 
few concessions in 1662 would have retained in the Church of England 


at least sixteen hundred of the two thousand who were driven out by 
the Act of Uniformity on Bartholomew's Day. 

" The Puritans were not unlearned and ignorant men. The great 
majority of them were Oxford and Cambridge graduates many of 
them fellows of colleges, and some of them heads or principals of the 
best colleges in the two Universities. In knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, 
and Latin, in power as preachers, expositors, writers, and critics, the 
Puritans in their day were second to none. Their works still speak 
for them on the shelves of every well-furnished theological library. 
Their commentaries, their expositions, their treatises on practical, 
casuistical, and experimental divinity, are immeasurably superior to 
those of their adversaries in the seventeenth century. In short, those 
who hold up the Puritans to scorn as shallow, illiterate men, are only ex 
posing their own lamentable shallowness, their own ignorance of histori 
cal facts, and the extremely superficial character of their own reading. 

" The Puritans, as a body, have done more to elevate the national 
character than any class of Englishmen that ever lived. Ardent 
lovers of civil liberty, and ready to die in its defence mighty at the 
council board, and no less mighty in the battlefield feared abroad 
throughout Europe, and invincible at home while united great with 
their pens, and no less great with their swords fearing God very 
much, and fearing man very little, they were a generation of men 
who have never received from their country the honour that they 
deserve. The body of which Milton, Selden, Blake, Cromwell, 
Owen, Baxter, and Charnock were members, is a body of which no 
well-informed Englishman ought ever to speak with disrespect. He 
may dislike their principles, if he will, but he has no right to despise 
them. Lord Macaulay, no mean authority in matters of English 
history, might well say, in his famous essay on Milton, ' We do not 
hesitate to pronounce the Puritans a brave, a wise, an honest, and a 
useful body/ Unhappily, when they passed away, they were followed 
by a generation of profligates, triflers, and sceptics ; and their reputa 
tion has suffered accordingly in passing through prejudiced hands. 
But, 'judged with righteous judgment/ they will be found men 
of whom the world was not worthy. The more they are really 
known, the more they will be esteemed." 

Such was the school to which Manton undeniably belonged. Such 
is the truth about the Puritans. That they were not perfect and 
faultless, I freely admit. They said, did, and wrote many things 
which cannot be commended. Some of them, no doubt, were violent, 
fierce, narrow-minded sectarians ; some were half-crazy fanatics and 
enthusiasts. Yet, even then, great allowance ought to be made for 


the trying circumstances in which they were often placed, and the 
incessant, irritating persecution to which they were exposed. And 
where is the great school of religious thought which is not often dis 
graced by some weaker members ? With all their faults, the leaders of 
the party were great and good men. With all their defects, the Puri 
tans, as a body, were not the men that some authors and writers in 
the present day are fond of representing them to have been. Those 
who disparage Manton because he was a Puritan, would do well to 
reconsider the ground they are taking up. They will find it utterly 
untenable. Facts, stern facts, are dead against them. They may 
not admire Puritanism in the abstract, but they will never give any 
proof that we ought not to admire, value, and study the writings of 
Puritan divines. 

I will now proceed to offer a brief estimate of Manton s merits. For 
convenience sake, we will examine him in four points of view as a 
man, a writer, a theologian, and an expositor of Scripture. Under 
each of these heads the reader shall have my opinion of the man 
whose works are at length about to be put within reach of the public in 
a cheap and accessible form. I ask him to remember that I am no 
more infallible than the Pope ; but I can truly say that my opinion 
is the result of an acquaintance with Manton's writings of at least 
twenty years' standing. 

1. As a man, I am disposed to assign a very high place to the 
author of these volumes. He strikes me as having been, not merely 
an ordinary " good " man, but one of singularly great grace and con 
sistency of Christian character. 

He lived in an age when party spirit ran very high, and the faults 
of an adversary were carefully noted and relentlessly exposed. None, 
perhaps, found that out to their cost so thoroughly as the Puritans, 
after Charles II. returned to England, and the Commonwealth was 
overthrown. To blacken the reputation of a Puritan, and vilify him 
before the public, was too often the way to get promotion ; and woe 
to the unhappy man whose life had given even a semblance of a 
handle to his opponents I 

In an age like this, Manton occupied for several years a very 
prominent position. He was not a country parson, living scores of 
miles from London, and absorbed in unobtrusive pastoral labours 
among a rural population. On the contrary, he was a standard- 
bearer in the fore-front of the battle a city set upon a hill that 
could not be hid a man who could neither say, nor do, nor write 
anything without being observed. Did Oliver Cromwell require a 
minister to offer up prayer at the public ceremony of his undertaking 


the Protectorship ? Manton was the minister. Did the Long Parlia 
ment want a special sermon preached before its members on that great 
public event ? Manton was frequently ordered to be the preacher. 
Did the famous Westminster Assembly want a commendatory preface 
written to their Confession and Catechisms of world-wide reputation ? 
They commit the execution of it to the pen of Thomas Manton. 
Was a Committee of Triers appointed to examine persons who were to 
be admitted into the ministry, or inducted into livings ? Manton 
was a leading member of this committee. Was a movement made 
by the Presbyterian divines, after Cromwell's death, to restore the 
monarchy and bring back Charles II. ? Manton was a leader in the 
movement. Was an effort made after the Kestoration to bring about 
a reconciliation between the Episcopal Church and the Nonconfor 
mists ? Manton was one of the commissioners to act in the matter 
in the unhappy Savoy Conference. In short, if there was one name 
which more than another was incessantly before the public for several 
years about the period of the Kestoration, that name was Manton's. 
If there was one divine who, willingly or unwillingly, was constantly 
standing under the full gaze of friends and foes in London, that 
divine was the Rector of St Paul's, Covent Garden, Thomas Manton. 

Now, remembering all this, I ask the reader to observe, that through 
out this fiery ordeal Manton preserved a spotless reputation. I am 
struck with the fact, that the most violent writers of that violent day 
can lay nothing to his charge of the slightest importance. The most 
foul-mouthed and rancorous assailants of the Puritans seem unable 
to lay hold on any weak point in his character. No weapon forged 
against him seems to prosper, and no dirt sticks to his name. Even 
Antony a Wood, the prejudiced author of " Athenas Oxonienses," can 
find nothing to allege against Manton, and is obliged to content him 
self with contemptible sneers and insinuations. 

Some one may perhaps imagine that Manton was a prudent, "canny " 
man, who avoided doing anything to give offence, and had a keen eye 
to his own interests. There is not an atom of foundation for such a 
theory. When it was first proposed to bring to trial and execute 
Charles I., Manton was one of fifty-seven divines who signed and pub 
lished a bold protest against the design. When Christopher Love was 
beheaded by Oliver Cromwell on a charge of treason, Manton accom 
panied him to the scaffold, and afterwards preached his funeral sermon 
at St Lawrence Jewry, though the soldiers threatened to shoot him. 
As to minding his own interests, no man perhaps ever thought less of 
them than Manton. The mere fact that he refused the Deanery of 
Rochester, when offered to him by Charles II., and afterwards resigned 


St Paul's, Covent Garden, for conscience sake, is plain evidence that he 
never shrank from giving offence if Christ's truth, in his judgment, 
seemed to make it necessary. 

With all these facts before us, I cannot avoid the conclusion that 
Manton must have been a man of uncommon graces and singular 
consistency of character. In no other way can I account for the com 
parative absence of material faults in his life, even his enemies themselves 
being judges. A man who went down to the grave at fifty-seven, with 
so fair a reputation, after spending the prime of his life in London, 
and mingling incessantly in public affairs, must surely have been no 
common Christian. It can never be said of him that his lines fell " in 
pleasant places," and that his grace was never tried and tested ! Few 
modern divines perhaps ever passed through such a fiery ordeal as he 
did, and surely few ever came out of such with so untarnished a name. 
He must have been a rare combination of wisdom, tact, boldness, 
courtesy, firmness, sound judgment, and charity. As a godly man, I 
do not hesitate to place him in the foremost rank of Puritan divines ; 
and I ask the student of his writings to remember, as they read them, 
that they are reading the works of one who was eminently a " good 
man, and full of the Holy Ghost." 

2. As a writer, I consider that Manton holds a somewhat peculiar 
place among the Puritan divines. He has pre-eminently a style of his 
own, and a style very unlike that of most of his school. I will try to 
explain what I mean. 

I do not regard him as a writer of striking power and brilliancy, com 
pared to some of his cotemporaries. He never carries you by storm, 
and excites enthusiasm by passages of profound thought expressed in 
majestic language, such as you will find frequently in Charnock, and 
occasionally in Howe. He never rouses your inmost feelings, thrills 
your conscience, or stirs your heart of hearts, like Baxter. Such 
rhetoric as this was not Manton's gift, and the reader who expects 
to find it in his writings will be disappointed. 

I do not regard him as a writer of such genial imagination, and such 
talent for illustration and similitude, as several divines of his 
day. In this respect he is not to be compared with Brooks, and 
Watson, and Swinnock, and Adams. The pages of those worthy 
men are often like picture-galleries, in which the pictures are so 
thickly hung that you can hardly see the walls. Talent of this sort 
was certainly not in Manton's line. He paints his pictures and ex 
hibits them, and they are always well sketched ; but their number is 
comparatively small. 

Learning again does not stand out as conspicuously in Manton's 


writings as in the works of some of the Puritans. Judging by the 
list of quotations and references, you would say, that he had not so 
many authors at his fingers' end as Owen, or Caryl, or Jenkyns, or 
Arrowsmith, or Thomas Hall. Yet it is only fair to remember, that 
nearly all we possess of his works consists of sermons, and that a popular 
sermon is not the proper vehicle for an exhibition of learning. The great 
preacher will assimilate and digest the thoughts of other men, and 
make them his own, without incessantly confusing his hearers by refer 
ence to books. My own impression is that this was the case with Man- 
ton. I believe he was a great reader, and a very learned man, but that 
he had few opportunities of exhibiting his store of knowledge. In fact, 
reason and common sense point out that he could never have held the 
position he undoubtedly occupied as a London divine, and had such 
weight attached to his opinions, if he had not been a man of a well- 
furnished mind. 

Manton's chief excellence as a writer, in my judgment, consists in 
the ease, perspicuousness, and clearness of his style. He sees his 
subject clearly, expresses himself clearly, and seldom fails in making 
you see clearly what he means. He has a happy faculty of simplify 
ing the point he handles. He never worries you with acres of long, 
ponderous, involved sentences, like Goodwin or Owen. His books, if 
not striking, are generally easy and pleasant reading, and destitute 
of anything harsh, cramped, obscure, and requiring a second glance to 
be understood. For my own part, I find it easier to read fifty pages 
of Manton's than ten of some of his brethren's ; and after reading, I 
feel that I carry more away. 

Let no one, moreover, suppose that because Manton's style is easy, 
his writings show any lack of matter and thought. Nothing of the 
kind. The fertility of his mind seems to have been truly astonishing. 
Every page in his books contains many ideas, and gives you plenty to 
think about. No one, perhaps, but himself could have written such an 
immense book as he wrote on the 119th Psalm, and yet repeated 
himself so little, and preserved a freshness of tone to the end. The 
words of Dr Bates, no mean judge, are worth quoting on this point : 
" I cannot but admire the fecundity and variety of his thoughts; that 
though the same things so often occur in the verses of this psalm, yet, 
by a judicious observing the different arguments and motives whereby 
the Psalmist expresses the same request, or some other circumstance, 
every sermon contains new conceptions proper to the text." This 
witness is true. If Manton never soars so high as some writers, he is, 
at any rate, never trifling, never shallow, never wearisome, and never 
dull. It was a striking remark of one of his cotemporaries, that " he 


had heard the greatest men of their day sometimes preach a mean 
sermon, but he had never heard Dr Manton do so on any occasion." 

I close this part of my essay by reminding the reader that Manton's 
writings, with few exceptions, were originally published under very 
great disadvantages. Most of them never saw the light till after his 
death, and were printed without receiving the author's last touches 
and corrections. This is a fact which ought not to be forgotten. 
None but an author knows what a vast difference there is between a 
work in manuscript and a work in type, and how many emendations 
and corrections are made in the best of literary productions, when the 
writer sees them in the shape of proofs. For my own part, when I 
take up a book of Manton's, and remind myself that it never received 
the author's final corrections, I am amazed that his writings contain 
BO few blunders, and admire him more and more every time that I 
read him. 

3. As a theologian, I regard Manton as a divine of singularly well- 
balanced, well-proportioned, and scriptural views. He lived in a day 
when vague, indistinct, and indefinite statements of doctrine were not 
tolerated. The Christian Church was not regarded by any school as 
a kind of Pantheon, in which a man might believe and teach anything, 
everything, or nothing, so long as he was a clever and earnest man. 
Such views were reserved for our modern times. In the seven 
teenth century they were scorned and repudiated by every Church and 
sect in Christendom. In the seventeenth century, every divine who 
would achieve a reputation and obtain influence, was obliged to hold 
distinct and sharply-cut opinions. Earnestness alone was not thought 
sufficient to make a creed. Whether Episcopalian or Presbyterian, 
whether Conformist or Nonconformist, whether an admirer of Luther, 
or Calvin, or Arminius, every divine held certain distinct theological 
views. A vague, colourless, boneless, undogmatic Christianity, sup 
plying no clear comfort in life, and no clear hope in death, was a 
Christianity which found favour with none. 

Now, Manton was a Calvinist in his theology. He held the very 
doctrine which is so admirably set forth in the seventeenth Article of 
the Church of England. He held the same views which were held by 
nine-tenths of the English Keformers, and four-fifths of all the leading 
divines of the Church of England down to the accession of James I. 
He maintained and taught personal election, the perseverance of the 
saints, the absolute necessity of a regeneration evidenced by its fruits, 
as well as salvation by free grace, justification by faith alone, and the 
uselessness of ceremonial observances without true and vital religion. 
In all this there was nothing remarkable. He was only one among 


hundreds of good men in England who all taught these truths. But 
in Manton's Calvinism there was a curiously happy attention to the 
proportion of truth. He never exalts one doctrine at the expense of 
another. He gives to each doctrine that place and rank given to it in 
Scripture, neither more nor less, with a wisdom and felicity which I 
miss in some of the Puritan divines. 

Manton held strongly the doctrine of election. But that did not pre 
vent him teaching that God loves all, and that His tender mercies are 
over all His works. He that wishes to see this truth set forth should 
read his sermon on the words, " God so loved the world that He gave 
His only-begotten Son" (John iii. 16), and mark how he speaks of 
the world. 

Manton held strongly the need of preventing and calling grace. 
But that did not hinder him from inviting all men to repent, believe, 
and be saved. 

Manton held strongly that faith alone lays hold on Christ, and 
appropriates justification. But that did not prevent him urging upon 
all the absolute necessity of repentance and turning from sin. 

Manton held strongly the perseverance of God's elect. But that did 
not hinder him from teaching that holiness is the grand distinguishing 
mark of God's people, and that he who talks of " never perishing," 
while he continues in wilful sin, is a hypocrite and a self-deceiver. 

In all this, I frankly confess, I see much to admire. I admire the 
scriptural wisdom of a man who, in a day of hard-and-fast systems 
could dare to be apparently inconsistent, in order to " declare all the 
counsel of God." I firmly believe that this is the test of theology, 
which does good in the Church of Christ. The man who is not tied 
hand and foot by systems, and does not pretend to reconcile what 
our imperfect eyesight cannot reconcile in this dispensation, he is the 
man whom God will bless. Manton was such a man ; and because he 
was such a man, I think his works, like the " Pilgrim's Progress," 
deserve the attention of all true Christians. 

4. As an expositor of Scripture, I regard Manton with unmingled 
admiration. Here, at any rate, he is "facile princeps" among the 
divines of the Puritan school. 

The value of expository preaching is continually pressed on min 
isters in the present day, and not without reason. The end of all 
preaching is to bring men under the influence of God's Word ; and 
nothing seems so likely to make men understand and value the Word 
as lectures in which the Word is explained. It was so in Chrysostom's 
days ; it ought to be so again. The idea, no doubt, like every good 
theory, may be easily ridden to death ; and I believe that with 

VOL. ii. 


ignorant, semi-heathen congregations, a short pithy text often does more 
good than a long passage expounded. But I have no doubt of the 
immense value of expository preaching, when people will bring their 
Bibles to the service, and accompany the preacher as he travels on, or 
go home to their Bibles after the service, and compare what they have 
heard with the written Word. 

The readers of Manton's works will find in them a very large supply 
of expository sermons. Few, probably, are aware of the enormous 
quantity of exposition which his writings contain. They will find full 
and complete sets of sermons on Psalm cxix., on Isaiah liii., on 
Matthew xxv., on John xvii., on Komans vi., on Komans viii., and on 
2 Corinthians v. ; besides regular commentaries on James and Jude. 
In all these works they will find every verse and every sentence ex 
plained, expounded, and enforced, plainly, clearly, and usefully, and 
far more fully than in most commentaries. Indeed, I defy any one to 
preach a sermon on any text in the above-mentioned chapters, and not 
to find some useful thoughts in Manton, if he will take the trouble to 
consult him. 

The value of these expository sermons, in my judgment, is very 
great indeed ; and it is much to be regretted that hitherto they have 
been so little known. Of course they are not all of equal merit. 
Sometimes our author digresses, and wastes his time in discussing 
questions not necessarily belonging to the text. But, taking them 
for all in all, I unhesitatingly say that Manton's expository sermons 
are most valuable, and the re-publication of them in a portable form 
will prove a great blessing to the Church. 

The excellence of Manton's expository sermons, I think, lies in the 
following points. He generally sticks to the subject of each verse, 
and does not launch off into everything that may be said about each 
word. He generally gets over the ground with reasonable brevity, and 
does not weary the reader with an interminable flow of thought upon 
each expression. As an instance of what I mean, one single folio volume 
contains all his sermons on Matthew xxv., John xvii., Komans vi., 
Komans viii., and 2 Corinthians v. In striking contrast with this, 
Jacomb on Romans viii. 1-4, occupies 622 4to pages; Hildersam 
on Psalm li. 1-7, fills 720 folio pages with 150 lectures ; and Hardy 
on the 1st and 2d chapters of the 1st Epistle of John, takes up two 
4to volumes and 1100 pages! Flesh and blood of ordinary mould 
cannot stand such lengthy work as this. I hold it to be a prime 
excellence of Manton's expository sermons that, while they are very 
full, they are never too long. 

For my own part, I am painfully struck with the general neglect with 


which these expository works of Manton's have been treated of late. 
Modern commentators who are very familiar with German commentaries 
seem hardly to know of the existence of Manton's expositions. Yet I 
venture boldly to say, that no student of the chapters I have named 
will ever fail to find new light thrown on their meaning by Manton. 
I rejoice to think that now at length these valuable works are about 
to become accessible to the general public. They have been too long 
buried, and it is high time they should be brought to light. I value 
their author most highly as a man, a writer, and a theologian ; but 
if I must speak out all I think, there is no part in which I value him 
more than as a homiletical expositor of Scripture. 

It only remains for me to express my earnest hope that this new 
edition of Manton's works may prove acceptable to the public, and 
meet with many purchasers and readers. If any one wants to buy a 
good specimen of a Puritan divine, my advice unhesitatingly is, " Let 
him buy Manton." 

We have fallen upon evil days both for thinking and reading. 
Sermons which contain thought and matter are increasingly rare. 
The inexpressible shallownesss, thinness, and superficiality of many 
popular sermons in this day is something lamentable and appalling. 
Headers of real books appear to become fewer and fewer every year. 
Newspapers, and magazines, and periodicals seem to absorb the whole 
reading powers of the rising generation. What it will all end in 
God only knows. The prospect before us is sorrowful and humiliating. 

In days like these, I am thankful that the publishers of Manton's 
Works have boldly come forward to offer some real literary gold to the 
reading public. I earnestly trust that they will meet with the 
success which they deserve. If any recommendation of mine can help 
them in bringing out the writings of this admirable Puritan in a new 
form, I give it cheerfully and with all my heart. 

J. C. RYLE, 
Vicar of Stradbroke, Suffolk. 

29(A October 1870. 







To the Eight Honourable ARTHUR, Earl of Anglesey. 

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR HONOUR, In the learned ages of the world, it 
hath ever been somewhat difficult to suit books to the patronage oi 
the learned, judicious, and impartial, such as they know you are who 
know you. And when such pieces are prepared, and ready to be sent 
abroad, it is not easy to make choice of a patron worthy of such a 
treatise. This presented to your lordship, worthy of a good, hath found 
out the best, patron ; and like the incomparable ' History of Thuanus/ 
happy in its author and manner of writing, and in its patron to whom 
dedicated, fails only in the pen that dedicates it. The things it treateth 
of express much of your honour's sentiments, wishes, value, and endea 
vours to keep the root of Christianity flourishing, that Christians may 
answer their ancient character, vivimus, non loquimur, magna. It 
savoureth of that moderation which adorns the Christian ; it does with 
candour represent things in which many now dissent, that it would be 
happy for the Church of Christ if all would, on such terms, forbear 
each other, bear one another's infirmities, and show that they believe 
' the Lord is at hand.' Here, I think, is rightly stated what are the 
lesser, what are the weightier things of the law ; and here are direc 
tions which, if followed, would keep peace and love among brethren, 
and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. The author enjoys that 
sight which holiness and peace, here recommended, did lead him, and 
will lead others unto. He is eV /ia/captrot?, and reaps the fruit of those 
and other his labours, which were designed to help others to happiness 
also. Be pleased to give the publisher leave to send this into the 
world, countenanced with your honour's name and favour, which may 
induce some to read and consider what you approve, and the author 
left (as Elijah did his posthumous letter) to make the age wiser, i.e., 
holier and more peaceable. Assured of this favour from your honour, 
and hoping for this effect of the work, the publisher leaves it at your 
lordship's feet, craving leave to subscribe himself, my lord, your 
honour's most humble and obedient servant, 

H. T. 


But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not 
sacrifice. MAT. IX. 13. 

THESE words are part of Christ's plea for his converse with publicans 
and sinners, at which the pharisees took offence. 
Three answers he maketh : 

1. From their necessity, represented in a proverbial speech : ' The 
whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.' 

2. From the end of his commission : ' I came not,' as the doctor of 
the church, ' to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.' 

3. Here is a third, suggested in the words read to you, by a saying 
of the prophet Hosea, chap. vi. 6, where a general reason is intimated, 
that a ceremony of the Levitical law must not hinder a necessary 
duty of the moral law. Therefore his conversing with them for their 
edification was not unlawful nor uncomely, for all rituals must give 
way to morals ; and so those laws of not accompanying with a heathen, 
or an unclean person, were never intended to be a bar to an act of 
mercy or charity, especially spiritual mercy and charity. And there 
fore, though they held the publicans profane, and unworthy their con 
versation (therein also stretching the law), yet Christ, without any 
breach of decorum, might converse with them for their good ; for if 
acts of mercy and charity are to be preferred before the ceremonies of 
the worship of God, this act of rescuing and saving a soul is to be 
preferred before all these ritual restraints of conversation with those 
who were supposed to be unworthy or legally unclean. And it is 
notable, these words are brought, not only to vindicate this fact of 
Christ, but secretly to tax the pharisaical hypocrisy of those who 
place religion in rituals more than morals. Elsewhere you find Christ 
at this argument again on another occasion, but to the same end and 
purpose : Mat. xii. 7. When the pharisees frowned because the dis 
ciples plucked ears of corn for their necessity on the Sabbath-day : 
4 If you had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not 
sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless." So that this 


one sentence is notably useful to condemn pharisaism, or, which is 
all one, close hypocrisy, and withal to set us right in the true religion. 
In the words observe : 

1. Christ's preface. 

2. The words of the prophet quoted. 

Christ's preface is to be regarded : ' Go ye, learn what that meaneth.' 
And in the other place, ' If you had known what this meaneth.' 
This showeth that it is a point which deserveth well to be studied by 
us this saying of the Lord by the prophet, ' I will have mercy, and 
not sacrifice.' 

Where observe: 

1. The form is negative, but in the sense it is to be understood 
comparatively : ' I will have mercy rather than sacrifice.' So when 
Paul saith, 1 Cor. i. 17, ' Christ sent me, not to baptize, but to preach 
the gospel ' not chiefly to baptize, but rather to preach the gospel ; 
so here it is not a simple negation, but a comparative, that he ap 
proved of moral duties more than sacrifice. 

2. Observe the two things compared mercy and sacrifice. In the 
prophet Hosea there is another word, ' I desired mercy and not 
sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.' 
Mercy comprehendeth the duties of the second table, as the knowledge 
of God the duties of the first table. Now this piety towards God, and 
charity towards our neighbour, was more acceptable service towards 
God than all the rites of their external worship. 

Doct. There is much to be learned from God's expressing himself 
in his word that he liketh mercy to them that stand in need of it, 
better than the offering of the richest sacrifice. 

I frame the point so as it may comply with Christ's scope and purpose. 

Three things especially we learn in it : 

I. The respective value and preference of duties. 

II. The guise of hypocrites, as our Saviour pincheth and taxeth 
the pharisees often by this point. 

III. The excellency of mercy. 

I. I shall speak to the respective value and preference of duties, 
and there I shall lay down these propositions. 

1. All that God commandeth must be respected, and obedience 
endeavoured, partly because his laws are all holy, just, and good: 
Horn. vii. 12, ' The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and 
good' viz., that law by which he was convinced, and which had 
brought such trouble in his heart ; holy, as being the copy and 
draught of God's holiness ; just, as doing no wrong, no infringement 
of our just freedom ; good, as profitable to direct and perfect our 
operations nothing therein is in vain or useless. And partly because 
they are all ratified by the same authority : Exod. xx. 1, ' God spake 
all these words,' not these tvords, but all these words : ( He that said, 
Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not steal ; ' as 
the apostle improveth the observation : James ii. 11, ' For he that 
said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.' God hath ex 
pressed his will in one thing as well as another. And partly because 
in conversion we have grace given to obey all : Eph. iv. 24, ' The 
new man is created after God in righteousness and true holiness.' It 


is not only fitted for righteousness, but holiness ; not only for holiness, 
but righteousness. As the sun is placed in heaven, that he may shed 
abroad his influence everywhere, and nothing is hidden from his heat 
and light, so is grace planted in the heart, that it may diffuse itself 
in a uniform obedience, and that we may be holy : 1 Pet. i. 15, ' As 
he that hath called us is holy, in all manner of conversation.' The 
heart is framed to resist every sin, and to observe all the commands 
of God. The new creature never cometh maimed out of the birth, or 
wanting any part. Well, then, holiness and righteousness must ever 
go together, and the obedience to both tables be inseparable. We" 
must ' serve him in holiness and righteousness all our days,' Luke i.. 
75 ; not in holiness only, or in. righteousness only, but in both. 

2. Though all are to be respected, yet all duties are not equal, nor 
all sins equal. A vain thought is not so heinous a crime as the 
killing of a man ; and to blaspheme and curse God is a greater sin 
than an idle word, and idolatry than stealing of a shilling. Though 
all God's laws stand by the same authority, yet the matter of all is not 
of a like moment and consequence. And therefore the sins and duties 
are greater and lesser, according to the importance of the law : Mat. v. 
19, ' Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, 
and shall teach men so to do, shall be least in the kingdom of heaven/ 
There are commandments which may be called the least, and there 
are others which may be called the greatest De ordine modum, the 
order showeth the weight. The fundamental article of the covenant 
is to have God for our God, and to prefer natural worship before insti 
tuted, the means stated before manner and time, God before man, 
parents before others. 

3. Simple duties of the first table are greater than duties of the 
second. Christ himself saith, Mat xxii. 38, that ' this is the first and 
great commandment.' They must needs be the greatest, because the 
object of them is greatest : * God is greater than man/ as it is said, 
Job xxxiii. 12. To oppose a prince in person is more than to oppose 
his mean officer. He that sinneth against his neighbour sinneth against 
God, but not so immediately, 1 Cor. viii. 12. And 2dly, because this is 
the great bond on the heart to enforce the duty of the second, the con 
science of our duty to God : because I love, or fear, or would honour 
God, therefore I perform my duty to man for the Lord's sake. And 
so we turn second table duties into first table duties ; and so alms is 
a sacrifice, Heb. xiii. 16 ; and so obedience to masters is obedience to 
God, Eph. vi. 6. And as they enforce, so they regulate ; for we are to 
obey them in the Lord, and so as will stand with a higher duty we owe 
to God : Acts iv. 19, ' Whether it be right in the sight of God to 
hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye/ So that these are 
the greatest duties. But yet this must be understood so as the com 
parison be rightly made ; the chief of the first table with the chief of 
the second, the middle with the middle, the least with the least, ex 
ternals with externals; otherwise not. Disobedience to parents is 
more than an irreverent speech of God ; adultery a greater sin than 
coldness in worship ; stealing than not giving. The people made many 
prayers, but their hands were full of blood, Isa. i. 15. And therefore 
the order must be rightly conceived : first, love to God, then love to 


men ; first, the worship of God, and then duty to men in our several 
relations ; first, acts of outward worship, then acts of outward respects 
to men duties of piety, and also justice and charity. Thus the cir 
cumstantial and ceremonial duties of the first table must give place to 
the necessary and moral duties of the second. But when the compari 
son is duly made in the same rank, those laws which do simply and 
directly respect God are to be preferred before those duties which con 
cern men ; and sins of the highest degree against the first table are 
greater than sins of the highest degree against the second ; and in 
duties, the love of our neighbour must give place to the love of God ; 
as the love of father and mother, wife, children, friends, brethren : 
Luke xiv. 26, ' If any man hate not father and mother,' &c., ' he cannot 
be my disciple/ God is chief, and most worthy of respect. 

4. Moral and substantial duties should chiefly be made conscience 
of, and ought to take place of ceremonial observances, though belong 
ing to the first table ; for so in the text is mercy preferred before sacri 
fices. Which is to be regarded to a double end ; partly, that we may 
not rest in them as the better part of our duty. If men submit never 
so much to external institutions about religion and worship, and think 
to satisfy their consciences therewith, yet they will not at all be 
accepted and approved of God. No. He looketh more to moral 
obedience than positive commands concerning the externals of religion. 
And therefore you have morals of the first table, or the second, often 
compared with, and preferred above the externals of religion ; as 1 Sam. 
xv. 22, ' Hath the Lord any delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices ? 
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 
Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as idolatry.' 
It was spoken upon the occasion of Saul's sparing Agag, and the fat of 
the cattle for sacrifice, when he was to destroy man and beast. At 
other times it is compared with duties of the second table. The moral 
duties of the second table are better than the ceremonial duties of the 
first. If we be scanty in the one and abound in the other, it is a note 
of a hypocrite : Eom. xiv. 17, 18, ' The kingdom of God standeth not 
in meats and drinks, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy 
Ghost.' If a man do these things, he shall be accepted of the Lord, 
and approved of men. There are two expositions of that place, both 
equally probable ; the one more general, that righteousness is taken 
for all new obedience, and peace for peace of conscience, resulting from 
the rectitude of our actions, and joy in the Holy Ghost for super 
natural comfort, which the Holy Ghost puts into our hearts, by reflect 
ing on our privileges by Christ, and the hopes of the world to come. 
Now, Christianity lieth not in outward observances, but in solid godli 
ness. The other exposition is in a more limited sense ; that by right 
eousness, is meant just dealing; by peace, a peaceable, harmless, 
inoffensive sort of living ; by joy in the Holy Ghost, a delight to do 
good to one another, not dividing from, or hating, censuring, excom 
municating one another for mere rituals, but pleasing one another to 
edification. These morals are more acceptable to God, and approved 
of men, than a furious zeal for lesser things, which belong to the 
ritual part, or external order of religion. It is an argument of a 
better spirit to be more zealous for morals and substantials than 


rituals ; certainly without them we shall be of no account with God. 
And partly to 1 that, when moral duties come in competition with 
ceremonial, the moral duties at that time must take place of the other, 
and all positive commands concerning the externals of religion give 
way to them. The Lord never appointed the ceremonies of the first 
table to hinder works of mercy prescribed in the second ; therefore the 
mercy must be done, and the sacrifice left undone : as the Sabbath is 
both broken and kept when there is an evident necessity of preserving 
the creature. When David fainted, it was a moral duty to relieve 
him, though there were no bread at hand but the shew-bread : 1 Sam. 
xxi. 4, ' There is no common bread under my hands/ And Christ 
urgeth that, Mat. xii. 3, 4, ' Have ye not read what David did when 
he was an hungered ; how he entered into the house of God, and did 
eat the shew-bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for them 
which were with him, but only for the priests ?' In an extraordinary 
case of necessity, the shew-bread is as common bread. Now the reason 
is plain, because positives bind only in certain cases, but we are ever 
lastingly obliged to things moral. Therefore externals must give way 
both to obedience and mercy. Internal acts of worship are never 
dispensed with. 

5. Sacrifices come under a double consideration, as they relate to 
Christ, the substance of them all, or as external performances rested 
in by that people. 

[1.] In the first consideration, their gospel lay much in sacrifices, 
and the main duties of godliness were exercised about them, as bro- 
kenness of heart : Ps. li. 17, ' The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; 
a broken and a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise/ And 
faith in Christ, Heb. ix. 13, 14, ' For if the blood of bulls and goats, 
and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the 
purifying of the flesh : How much more shall the blood of Christ, who 
through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge 
your consciences from dead works, to serve the living God ? ' And 
covenanting with God, Ps. 1. 5, ' Gather my saints together unto me, 
those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice;' and Eom. 
xii. 1, ' I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present 
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your 
reasonable service/ 

[2.] In the second consideration, the outward bare offering, consi 
dered in itself, without faith and repentance, so God disclaimeth it : 
Isa. i. 11, 'Bring no more vain oblations;' and Isa. Ixvi. 2, 3, 'He 
that killeth an ox, is as if he slew a man ; he that sacrificeth a lamb, 
as if he cut off a dog's neck ; he that offereth an oblation, as if he 
offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an 
idol/ Their great confidence was in their sacrifices. God, therefore, 
showeth how loathsome these things were to him, without that disposi 
tion of soul which should accompany them ; being such persons as 
those were, he would take no offering at their hands. The Lord in all 
ages is uniform and like himself, in approving and enjoining duty, and 
in disliking sin. Morals are always prized by him before externals, 
and an impartial respect to necessary duties was more to him than the 

>Qu. 'too'? ED. 


greatest pomp of outward worship. It was so then, and it is so now. 
Pride, and malice, and envy, are greater evils than ceremonial unclean- 
ness, and to fear God and work righteousness a greater duty than the 
best sacrifices. The performance of external duties is not, and never 
was, a sufficient testimony of true piety ; nay, without the love of God 
and men, and a uniform obedience to his holy will, is mere hypocrisy. 
6. When the breach of a ceremonial precept bringeth with it the 
transgression of a moral precept, and is (without any absolute necessity) 
imposed in neglect and contempt of the law of God, then we are to 
run all hazards, rather than to transgress in the smallest externals ; 
because though the matter enjoined be but small, yet the contempt of 
God is a great sin, and our sincerity and obedience to God is a great 
matter. As for instance, when Antiochus pressed the Jews to eat 
swine's flesh, which in case of great extremity no question they might 
do, yet when he pressed them out of contempt of the law, they chose 
rather to be tortured to death than to yield to it. And for this they 
are registered martyrs : Heb. xi. 35, ' They were tortured, not accept 
ing deliverance, that they might receive a better resurrection.' There 
is a plain allusion to the story in the book of the Maccabees, concerning 
Eleazar, and the woman with her seven sons, so cruelly tortured. But 
these commands were contrary to the laws of God. Should they have 
said, ' God will have mercy, and not sacrifice' ? No ; in such a case 
God will have sacrifice, and not mercy. Though often advised to 
yield, they would not abate a jot of their zeal. For though the case 
be but in externals, yet there is a renunciation of our relation and 
obedience to God's law. So Daniel opening his windows, and praying 
three times a day, as he was wont to do, Dan. vi. 10. That circum 
stance might have been forborne, you will think, in a case of such immi 
nent peril of life. No ; he would neither forbear praying nor opening 
his windows ; he had wont to do so before, and without dishonouring 
God and renouncing his profession, he could not forbear to do so now. 
The promise of audience, made to Solomon at the dedication of the 
temple, required this ceremony as an effect of faith : 1 Kings viii, 
42, 43, ' When they shall pray towards this house, then hear thou in 
heaven.' And David saith, Ps. v. 7, ' In thy fear I will worship to 
wards thy holy temple/ The temple did shadow forth the body of 
our Lord Christ, the mediator, in whom only our prayers and services 
are accepted with the Father, which Solomon respected in looking to 
wards the temple. But the chief reason is, the necessity of profession, 
and open profession too, against this impious law, contrived by the 
malice of his enemies to make him afraid. Now, to show he was not 
frighted from his duty, he openeth his windows, and would not forego 
any circumstance of his duty to God. I might instance in circum 
cision (as urged by the false apostles), as necessary to our justification : 
Gal. v. 2-4, ' Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, 
Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that 
is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law: Christ is 
become of none effect unto you. Whosoever of you are justified by 
the law, you are fallen from grace.' Such is the difference when God 
calleth us to the profession of a lesser truth. Therefore the case may 
be such that externals may bear great weight. 


7. If the externals of God's worship instituted by himself must 
give place to mercy, then externals of human institution ought much 
more to give place to mercy. Sacrifices were of God's institution, and 
a way of expressing their obedience and thankfulness in his worship ; 
yet God saith, ' I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.' And twice is 
this applied by Christ to mercy towards the souls of men in the text, 
and mercy concerning the bodies of men, Mat. xii., to defend the dis 
ciples rubbing the ears of corn, because they fainted for hunger. Then 
by like reason, where the urging of externals may cross mercy to the 
souls of men, by depriving them of the means of edification, and the 
gifts of a lively ministry, or crossing mercy to the bodies of men, by 
depriving them and their families of their necessary support and main 
tenance, in such a case they should ' learn what that meaneth, I will 
have mercy, and not sacrifice.' And the peace and edification of the 
church is more valuable than that of a private man. In all external 
positive institutions, the apostles often urge charity to the souls of men, 
for which Christ died, that we neither wound them with sorrow or sin, 
as the sure rule to guide us, either in practising or forbearing our 
liberty : Rom. xiv. 15, ' Destroy not him with thy meat for whom 
Christ died/ So 1 Cor. viii. 11, 'And through thy knowledge shall 
the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died ;' that is, the scanda 
lous abuse of this knowledge. In short, if any great damage to the 
souls or bodies, scandal or inconvenience, should come upon urging 
these externals, surely they should be forborne ; for if it be the will and 
pleasure of the King of kings and Lord of lords that matters com 
manded by his affirmative precepts should be forborne for charity's 
sake, men should be persuaded to remit of the rigour of their imposi 
tions in this kind, though the things imposed were indifferent, and the 
practice of them in some cases a duty ; yet if it would destroy chanty, 
we are to leave our prayers, public and private,, forsake a sermon to 
save the life of our neighbour ;. nay, to quench the fire burning his 
house ; -nay, to help his cattle out of the ditch. But I will prosecute 
this no further. 

Let me now make some use of what hath been said. 

1. Let us take heed that we be not of the number of them that are 
serious and zealous in some things, but not in all. Partial zeal hath 
always been the note of hypocrites ; as the pharisees were earnest for 
externals, but neglected justice and charity. Saul is an instance of 
partial zeal in destroying the Gibeonites and sparing the Amalekites : 
2 Sam. xxi. 2, ' Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of 
Israel and Judah.' He was expressly commanded to root out the 
Amalekites, but he spared Agag out of seeming pity ; but useth bar 
barous cruelty in seeking to root out the Gibeonites, who were to be 
preserved by oath and covenant ; and this he is said to do in his zeal. 
Not a true zeal, surely, as aiming at God's glory ; for it tended much 
to his dishonour to have them destroyed, who were new proselytes, and 
professing religion, and had put themselves under God's protection ; 
but a preposterous hypocritical zeal, of aiming, as he pretended, at the 
welfare of the commonwealth of Israel : his main intent was popular 
applause, and to gratify them who envied the Gentiles should be in 
corporated into God's people. An hypocrite's conscience is not uniform, 


but brought upon the stage for a turn. I shall give you another 
instance in Jehu, mighty zealous in destroying the idolatry of Baal, 
which was the idolatry of the house of Ahab ; but not only cold and 
indifferent, but resolute against the destroying the calves of Dan and 
Bethel, which was the idolatry of Jeroboam : 2 Kings x. 28, 29, ' Thus 
Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Howbeit, from the sins of Jero 
boam, wherewith he made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from them, 
to wit, the golden calves in Dan and Bethel/ Keasons of state per 
suaded the one, and dissuaded the other. His interest lay in ruining 
the house of Ahab, and in taking care that the tribes might not revert 
to the house of David. Thus you see men zealous in some things 
may grievously sin in others. Therefore, my beloved, be you careful 
to regard all God's commands in their place ; piety in its place, justice 
in its place, mercy in its place. The Jews, ^after they had smarted in 
Babylon, were zealous against idols, but robbed God of his dues, never 
took care to restore the riches of the temple. Therefore the apostle 
taxeth this partiality of zeal : Horn. ii. 22, ' Thou that abhorrest idols, 
dost thou commit sacrilege ?' The latter prophets tax them much for 
that crime. The Jewish form still is hatred of idolatry, insomuch 
that they think that all the plagues that come upon them is for the 
idolatry of their fathers, especially in the sin of the golden calf in the 
wilderness; and translate the scene of their repentance far enough 
from themselves, that they may not see their present sins, both in 
breaking the moral law and despising Christ. And every party is 
observed to have their form ; one special commandment which they 
stick unto, which they are zealous for, whilst they neglect the rest. 
The reproaches of our enemies, saith the pharisee, are only for the 
fourth commandment, 1 but neglect the rest ; zealous for the Sabbath, 
but unconscionable all the week after. Oh, let there be no occasion 
for this ! Others seem to make little reckoning of other command 
ments, and insist only upon the fifth, obedience to superiors. The 
charge is sometimes carried between the third and sixth 2 command 
ment ; they will not swear, but will lie, and slander their neighbours. 
I mention these things to show what need we have to be uniform in 
our obedience unto God. 

I will mention but one motive. They that do not obey all, will 
not long obey any, but where their interest or inclinations require it, 
will break all : as Herod did many things, but one command stuck 
with him his Herodias, and that bringeth him to murder God's pro 
phet, Mark vi. 20. One sin keepeth possession for Satan, and that 
one lust and corruption may undo all. A bird tied by the leg may 
make some show of escape ; so do many think themselves at liberty, 
but the fowler hath them fast enough. 

2. Let us not rest in outward duties of worship, and place our zeal 
there, for that is an ill spirit that doth so, it is the badge of pharisaism : 
they keep a fair correspondence with God in the outward duties of his 
worship, but in other things deny then: subjection to him ; the main 
reason is, because externals of worship are more easy than the denial 
of lusts. The sensual nature of man is such, that it is loth to be 

1 Qu. ' The reproaches of our enemies saith, the pharisees are only for, &c.'? ED. 
8 Qu. 'Ninth'? ED. 


crossed, which produceth profaneness. Wherefore do men ingulf 
themselves in all manner of sensuality, but because they are loth to 
deny their natural appetites and desires, and to row against the stream 
of flesh and blood, and so to walk in the way of his own heart, and the 
sight of his eyes ? Eccles. xi. 9. If nature must be crossed, it shall 
be crossed only for a little, and in some slight manner ; they will give 
God some outward thing, which lieth remote from the subjection of 
the heart to him, therefore be zealous for externals ; and this produceth 
hypocrisy, gross hypocrisy, and dissembling, whereby we deceive others, 
and get a good name among others, by a zeal and fervency for God's 
outward institutions. And this close hypocrisy or partiality of obedi 
ence, is that whereby we deceive ourselves, exceeding in external 
actions and duties, while we neglect those substantials wherein the 
heart and life of religion most lieth : such are the love of God, con 
tempt of the world, mortification of the flesh, the heavenly mind and 
holy constitution of the soul, firmly set to please God in all things. 

Once more ; that this deceit may be more strong, men are apt to 
exceed in outward observances, or by-laws of their own; and this 
produceth superstition, either negative, in condemning some outward 
things which God never condemned, as those ordinances of men which 
the apostle speaketh of, Col. ii. 21, ' Touch not, taste not, handle 
not ;' or positive, in doing many things as duties, and crying them up 
as special acts and helps of religion, which God never instituted to 
that end and purpose : Mark vii. 7, 8, ' Teaching for doctrines the 
commandments of men.' The spirit and genius of superstition lieth 
in this neglecting many things which God commandeth, but multi 
plying bonds and chains of their own making. Sacrifices enough ! 
God shall have anything for the sin of their souls, Micah vi. 6, 7. 
Thus these three great evils, profaneness, hypocrisy, and superstition, 
do all grow upon the same stem and root. First, men must have an 
easy religion, where the flesh is not crossed, but no mortifying of lusts, 
no exercising ourselves to godliness. They can deny themselves in 
parting with a sacrifice, but the weighty things of piety, justice, and 
mercy are neglected. God shall have prayers enough, hearing enough, 
if the humour and temper of the body will suit with it. They can 
fast and gash themselves like Baal's priests ; whip their bodies, but 
spare their sins ; but the heart is not subdued to God. They can part 
with anything better than their lusts, and disturb the present ease of 
the body, by attending on long and tedious duties, rather than any 
solid and serious piety. 

II. The next lesson which we learn is, the guise of hypocrites ; for 
our Lord intimateth that these pharisees had great need to learn the 
importance of that truth, as being extremely faulty : ' I will have 
mercy, and not sacrifice.' 

1. The first thing notable in hypocrites is a partial zeal ; they 
have not an uniform conscience ; are very exact in some things, but 
exceedingly defective and faulty in others. The good conscience is 
entire and universal : Heb. xiii. 18, ' We trust that we have a good 
conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.' The sincere purpose 
and intention of his heart was to direct his life according to the will 
of God in all things. Though every one hath his failings, yet the will 


and constant endeavour of a sincere heart is to govern himself 
universally according to the will of God in all points of duty, whether 
they concern God or man : as it is said of Zachary and Elizabeth, 
Luke i. 6, That they ' walked in all the ordinances and command 
ments of the Lord blameless/ The renewed conscience doth approve 
all ; and the renewed will, which is the imperial power in the soul, 
the first mover and principle of all moral actions, is bent and inclined 
to obey all ; and the new life is spent in striving to comply with all. 
But it is not so with hypocrites. They pick and choose out the easiest 
part in religion, and lay out all their zeal there, but let other things 
go : in some duties that are of easy digestion,' and nourish their 
disease rather than cure their soul, none so zealous as they, none so 
partial as they. Now, a partial zeal for small things, with a plain 
neglect of the rest, is direct pharisaism ; all for sacrifice, nothing for 
mercy. Therefore every one of us should take heed of halving and 
dividing with God : if we make conscience of piety, let us also make 
conscience of justice; if of justice, let us also make conscience of 
mercy. It is harder to renounce one sin wherein we delight, than a 
greater which we do not equally affect. A man is wedded to some 
special lusts, and is loth to hear of a divorce from them. We have 
our tender and sore places in the conscience, which we are loth should 
be touched. But if we be sincere with God we will keep ourselves from 
all, even from our own iniquity, Ps. xviii. 23 ; such as is most incident 
to us by temper, or custom of life, or course of our interests. To 
baulk or break with God, out of private reasons of pleasure, honour, 
or profit, or any corrupt interest, is to prefer these things before 
God, and to set up another chief good in our hearts, and to prefer 
it before his favour. Thus in general. 

2. They place all their godliness and righteousness in outward 
observances or external discipline, and so their religion is more in the 
flesh and in the letter than in heart and spirit; as the pharisees 
rested in outward worship only, or some external rules, without the in 
ward and real duties either of the first or second table. Mat. xxiii. 25, 
they ' cleanse the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are 
full of extortion and excess ; ' and ver. 28, ' Ye appear outwardly 
righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.' 
And everywhere they are represented as painted tombs without, but 
had much hidden uncleanness and corruption within. There was an 
outward formality and show of religion, when they denied the power 
thereof. They should join obedience to God and love to their neigh 
bour with their outward sacrifices; but these things were of little 
value and esteem with them. Now, what sacrifices were to them, that 
external ordinances are to us ; and what their rituals were, the same 
is the mode and garb of profession among us. And, therefore, external 
profession, or the performance of external duties according to our way, 
is not a sufficient testimony of true godliness. For .Christ saith, Mat. 
v. 20, ' Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the 
scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of 
heaven.' Their righteousness was an outside righteousness, without 
that inward constitution of soul which doth belong to a renewed 
heart, and yet carried on in such a way, and applauded by men, that 


the Jews had a saying, That if but two men out of all the world 
went to heaven, the one should be a scribe and the other a pharisee. 
Christians ! it is one thing to approve ourselves to God, who 
searcheth the heart, and another thing to approve ourselves to men, 
who look only to the outside and fair appearance without. A renewed 
heart, that is unfeigned ly set to please God in all things, is more than 
all the pomp of external duties. And, therefore, we should study to 
give evidence of this by making conscience of obedience, as well 
inwardly as outwardly, growing in holiness all the days of our lives. 
This will be comfortable to us, and this will be approved of God 
hereafter, even such an holiness as is manifested in all the parts of our 
conversation, in outward carriage and secret practice, common affairs, 
and religious duties; in the worship of God, and charity and justice 
to men : Phil. iii. 3, ' We are the circumcision, which worship God in 
the spirit, and have no confidence in the flesh.' When there is a 
serious bent, and the true spiritual affections of a renewed heart to 
wards God and man, and we do not rest in outward duties, but are 
still growing in internal grace, faith, hope, and love, and are still 
purifying the heart and life, that we may constantly glorify God, and 
do good to men, this is that which is over and above the right- 
ousness of the scribes and pharisees : our duty is to serve God in the 
spirit, and to bring the inward man in subjection to him, without 
which externals are of little worth. 

3. They were more in love with ceremonies than with substance. 
Sacrifices, which belonged to the ceremonies of the law, were in high 
esteem with them ; but godliness, justice, and mercy were of little 
regard. And as outward things were preferred before inward, so the 
lesser things before the weighty : as to their duties, tithing mint, 
and anise, and cummin ; but they have omitted the weightier matters 
of the law, justice, mercy, faith. ' These ought ye to have done, and 
not to leave the other undone,' Mat. xxiii. 23. Formality and 
hypocrisy maketh men wise about that which is least to purpose. 
They make a business about ceremonies, but neglect the substance of 
religion. They enlarged their phylacteries, which were scrolls of 
parchment on which the law was written, but took no care of having 
the law of God written upon their hearts. Hypocrisy is an odd, 
trifling zeal, which runneth out upon little things. So for avoiding 
sin, Mat. xxiii. 24, ' They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.' 
More scrupulous in a little sin than a great; in small sins very 
scrupulous, in greater matters very adventurous. And because this 
is one of the main things here intended, I shall give you instances and 

[1.] Instances to prove that hypocrites have such an odd con 
science that straineth greatly at a small thing. We have them every 
where out of the word of God. Herod's making conscience of his 
oath, but not of shedding innocent blood : ' The king was sorry : 
nevertheless, for his oath's sake/ &c., Mat. xiv. 9, he caused John the 
Baptist to be beheaded. A sinner is holden in bonds which he might 
lawfully break ; rather than Herod will break his rash oath John 
shall lose his head. Of such an odd complexion is the conscience 
of carnal men. So the Jews, when Judas laid down the hire of his 


treason, and cast the money at their feet, Mat. xxvii. 6, 7, ' It is not 
lawful,' said they, ' to put it into the treasury, because it is the price 
of blood ; ' pretending to be afraid to offend in the least things, when 
they had offended in the greater. They boggled not at betraying 
innocent blood, and yet they would not meddle with the gain when it 
was thrown back to them. Another instance of the like conscience 
is John xviii. 28, ' Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the judg 
ment-hall, and it was early ; and they themselves went not into the 
judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat 
the passover.' They were careful to avoid legal pollution, and yet they 
were at the same time seeking the life of the Lord of glory. Just 
such another fit of conscience cometh upon them a little after : John 
xix. 31, They went to Pilate, and desired that the bodies might not 
hang upon the cross on the Sabbath-day, lest their great feast should 
be defiled. And thus you see that through formality and custom 
men may be strictly bound in conscience to perform the duties of 
ceremonial or external worship, whose consciences notwithstanding 
never scruple to violate the most weighty precepts of the law. Just 
of this nature was that solemn case of conscience, Zech. vii. 1, 2, about 
the keeping of their fasts, when the prophet telleth them they had 
higher matters to mind, the executing of judgment and showing 
mercy, and breaking off their oppressions, ver. 10. The Lord would 
not answer their cases about the fasts, some of which were needless 
and superfluous ; but would have them break off their known sins. 
Hitherto may be reduced the harlot in the Proverbs, that enticed the 
young man to adultery, and yet she had her peace-offerings : ' I have 
peace-offerings with me this day/ Prov. vii. 14, with the 18th ; made 
conscience of her sacrifices, but not of her honesty and chastity. Yea, 
also, we may reckon to this rank of conscience the instance of Bath- 
sheba. Even the children of God have much hypocrisy, and an odd 
kind of conscience, when they give way to wilful and heinous sin. 
The passage is, 2 Sam. xi. 4, ' David took her, and committed 
adultery with her, for she was purified from her uncleanness/ That 
uncleanness was ceremonial only; but in the meantime she was 
committing a moral uncleanness, from which she was not so careful 
to keep herself. Well, then, the consciences of men being of such 
a make, well might God say, ' I will have mercy, and not sacrifice ; ' 
substance, and not ceremony. And we have all need to take heed to 
ourselves that we do not boggle and startle at a shadow, when in the 
meantime we are stupid and senseless in sins of another nature and 
deeper dye, and preserve a tenderness in lesser things, when we give 
way to injustice and oppression. 

[2.] The reasons why hypocrites never find their consciences awake 
so much as in matters ceremonial. I shall give these two : 

First, Because these are of easiest digestion, and will sooner satisfy 
the conscience. Slight duties suit best with a heart that is unwilling 
to come under the power of religion. Conscience is like the stomach, 
which naturally desireth to fill itself ; and when it cannot digest solid 
food, it sucketh nothing but wind. They that place their confidence 
in their own righteousness, presently fly to their external shows. The 
right stating of the duties of the law, according to their due weight, 


would convince them of their mistake. Therefore, that the ell may be 
no longer than the cloth, they confine their obedience to external obser 
vations, and so make their religion as commodious for themselves as 
they can. Adultery is nothing to eating flesh in Lent, or breaking 
some external rule. The apostle saith, ' Going about to' establish 
their own righteousness, they have not submitted to the righteousness 
of God/ Horn. x. 3. Not to the way of solid righteousness and 
broken-hearted acceptance of Christ, but an external appearance of 
duty is most for their interest. 

Secondly, To put the better pretence upon their vile practices, 
therefore they must have some external ceremonies to countenance 
them. Thus the pharisees, to countenance their oppressions, ' for a 
pretence make long prayers,' Mat. xxiii. 14. That made them be 
trusted by the destitute widows, whom they deceived. As Jezebel 
would have the formality of a fast, for the better colour of her impiety 
in destroying Naboth. In days of fasts, they were wont to inquire 
after heinous offenders, to execute the law upon them, as you may see 
Num. xv. 7, 8, and Ps. cvi. 30, so to stop God's wrath. So some 
expound that, Joel i. 14, ' Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, 
gather the elders ;' that is, call a court who may inquire into offen 
ders, that they may be punished and reformed. So Jezebel calls a 
fast, for the better pretence of a court to take cognisance of Naboth's 

4. They make conscience, not only of externals instituted by God, 
but mostly of those that are devised by themselves. This very absti 
nence from converse with publicans was a thing not forbidden by the 
law, but an institution of their own ; because of their frequent con 
verse with heathens, they looked upon them as a polluted sort of men, 
and unworthy of their converse. So that this helpeth us to another 
character of hypocrites ; they are zealous for human traditions, but 
transgressors of divine commands ; God's precepts are little regarded ; 
and so prefer their own institutions before the laws of God. So Mat. 
xv. 3, ' By your traditions ye transgress the commands of God ;' 
namely, by holding that if a man had devoted his estate to God, he 
might choose whether he would relieve his parents. Men are mightily 
in love with their own customs, and place much religion in man's 
injunctions, and care not how they loosen or weaken the obligation of 
God's law by their impositions. The pharisees' great fault was, they 
would outdo the law in externals ; and then, when they had set their 
post by God's post, they were more zealous for man's inventions than 
for God's ordinances ; and this zeal is shown either by imposing upon 
themselves or others imposing upon their own consciences when they 
lie in chains of their own making; on others when they make their 
own practice the rule of others : Mat. ix. 14, ' The pharisees fast, 
John's disciples fast, thy disciples fast not.' To this head we may 
reduce Saul's rash restraining the people by his injunction and oath, 
1 Sam. xiv. 32, with ver. 38. The people had gotten a great victory, 
and Saul, out of his hypocritical zeal, commandeth them to fast till 
evening. Now what was the issue ? The people, through faintness, 
could not pursue the enemy ; Jonathan, that heard nothing of this 
curse and oath, was in danger of his life ; and the people, being 

VOL. n. B 


hunger-starved, for greediness did eat the flesh and the blood together, 
contrary to God's law, Gen. ix. 4; Lev. xvii. 13, 14. Mark there: 
though hunger could not force to transgress Saul's commandment for 
fear of death, yet it forced them to break God's express commandment 
in eating the blood, which was so expressly forbidden. And at night, 
when God answered him not, Saul thought somewhat was in the 
matter ; he goeth to cast lots, and the lot had found out Jonathan. 
Saul never thinketh of the breach of God's law first by himself, in 
imposing a rash and sinful oath ; or of the people's sin, in eating the 
blood with the flesh ; and presumeth it must needs be the breach of 
that oath which he had imposed ; and so, like a hypocrite, preferreth 
his own groundless command before the law of God, and of punish 
ing this with rigour when the other is never spoken of. I have 
brought this story to show you how zealous men are for their own 
impositions on themselves and others, and how easily they can dis 
pense with God's laws to comply with their own ; and how drunken 
ness, whoredom, and fornication do not seem such odious crimes 
as violating man's customs and institutions and private rules of their 

5. Hypocrites have a conceit of their own righteousness, and a 
disdain of others. This was the very case in the text ; they were 
angry because Christ entered into the house of Matthew, a publican, 
and did eat meat there, though he had converted him. And elsewhere 
it is made the characteristic note of the pharisees Luke xviii. 9, 
' They trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised 
others.' Men that fly to externals are soon puffed up, and nothing 
humbleth so much as a sound sense of religion ; and a solemn exer 
cising ourselves to godliness maketh us see and loathe ourselves and 
pity others. I find the pharisees enemies ever to the f reeness of God's 
grace to sinners and the work of repentance, and that the bringing of 
poor sinners to salvation was the great eyesore. They call Christ a 
wine-bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners, because of his 
social and free, but sanctified, converse with all sorts of men, Mat. xi. 
18. He would not take such a strict form as John did, because he 
would not seem to justify their pharisaical rigours. So again, 
Luke xv. 2, ' This man receiveth sinners, and eat.eth with them ;' 
because he went to them as a physician to heal their souls. 
Christ refused not familiarity with the poorest and worst, as was 
needful for their cure, and would not observe the humour of proud 
pharisaical separation, by the parables of the lost sheep and the lost 
groat, but confuteth it ; showeth that this is the spirit of the elder 
brother who envied the prodigal's return ; and telleth them in another 
place that ' Publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of heaven 
before them/ Mat. xxi. 31 ; pleadeth the cause of the woman against 
Simon the pharisee, Luke vii. 39. ' If this man had been a prophet, 
he would have known who and what manner of woman this is that 
touched him,' Luke vii. 47 : Christ telleth him, ' She had much for 
given her, for she loved much.' Well, then, a penitent, broken 
hearted sense of our own being indebted to grace, and tender com 
passion towards others that yet go astray, discovereth the true spirit 
of the gospel. But to stand aloof from others by a foolish singularity, 


Isa. Ixv. 5, which say, ' Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I 
am holier than thou.' Some, though impure and profane, counted all 
others unholy and unclean but themselves. This inclosing spirit is the 
spirit of pharisaism ; an outside strictness, without that faith, love, 
charity, meekness, usefulness, and humility, which is the very soul and 
life of Christianity. Usually gifts and outward strictness puff up men 
with a vain conceit of their own righteousness, and a censuring and de 
spising others. This one text showeth us both the spirit of pharisaism 
and the spirit of Christianity. The pharisees, who abounded in external 
observances, censured Christ for his free converse, disdained these peni 
tent people whom he invited to a better life. But now true religion 
maketh men humble and lowly in their own eyes, by acquainting them 
with the desert of sin and their own misery, and maketh men pitiful 
and compassionate towards others, more ready to help than to censure 
them, and to use all ways and means to do them good. But when 
men would shine alone in the repute of holiness, they are envious to 
those who penitently return to their duty, as those servants who had 
wrought all the day envied those that came in at the last hour, Mat. 
xx. 12, or as the elder brother envied the prodigal, or Simon the 
pharisee repined at Mary Magdalene's 1 observance of Christ. They 
esteem much of their own works, merits, sufferings, and righteous 
ness. Oh, take heed of this spirit ! 

[1.] The use of this branch is to press us to regard internals more 
than externals, and the substantial s more than the ceremonials of 
worship, and a broken-hearted, thankful sense of our Redeemer's love 
before a legal righteousness. Inward worship is love, fear, and trust ; 
outward worship is prayer, praise, hearing, reading. Outward worship 
is not a duty at all times, but inward worship is a duty at all times ; 
for we should always love God, and delight in God, and trust in God. 
Outward worship may be omitted for a work of mercy, and in case of 
invincible necessities ; but inward worship may never be omitted, never 
dispensed with. We always owe love and renewed obedience to God, 
and must depend upon him and delight in him. Outward worship may 
be counterfeited ; and external worship, without holiness, is highly dis 
pleasing to God, and never pleasing but when it is in conjunction with 
it. Hypocrites may abound in externals, but hypocrites will not de 
light themselves in the Lord, nor heartily devote themselves to him, 
so as to serve, please, and glorify him : the inward graces cannot be 
counterfeited, but the outward expression may. 

[2.] Be more careful of the substantiate than of the ceremonials of 
religion, and to mind the power of godliness more than the form. 
The substantiate of religion are the love of God and our neighbour. 
The circumstantiate are those ways of worship which God hath ap 
pointed, whereby we are visibly to express our love to him. Now, our 
main care should be, in the first place, to be entirely devoted and 
subject to God. That was Job's character, ' one that feared God and 
eschewed evil,' Job i. 11. To do that we do out of love to him ; 
obeying his laws as our rule, and depending upon his rewards as our 
happiness. And as to men, let us be faithful, and walk holily in our 

1 There is no good reason for believing that the woman alluded to was Mary Mag 
dalene. ED. 


places, callings, and relations, being just and kind unto all, but having 
an exceeding dear love for our fellow-saints and everlasting companions. 
This is more pleasing to God than the costliest sacrifices, than all our 
flocks and herds, or any outward thing that we do for him. I take 
notice of those words of God to Solomon, when he was building him a 
magnificent temple, 1 Kings vi. 11, 12, ' And the word of the Lord 
came to Solomon, saying, Concerning this house which thou art 
building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, 
and keep all my commandments to walk in them, then will I perform 
my word to thee, which I spake to David thy father.' God hath more 
respect to Solomon's faithful obedience than to that glorious building. 
So far do morals exceed ceremonials in religion. 

[3.] That you prefer a broken-hearted, thankful sense of our Re 
deemer's love, before legal and conceited righteousness of our own. 
Christ's love to sinners is that which the pharisees mainly stumbled at. 
An external show and fair pretence of a good life, which had no bottom 
of regeneration, was the superficial righteousness of the pharisees. Nico- 
demus, who had been of that sect, wondered when that was pressed 
upon him, John iii. 4, 5. An outward conformity, which was more in 
show than in substance, in form and fashion than in power, was their 
religion ; abstaining from gross sins, as murder and adultery, but not 
purifying the heart from lusts. Murder they made conscience of, but 
not of envy, malice, and hatred ; theft, but not covetousness and close 
extortion ; adultery, but not wantonness or looking upon a woman to 
lust after her, as you may see at large, Mat. v. Thus Christ presseth 
us to exceed the pharisees, who turned all obedience into an empty 
formality, wherein they puffed up themselves as mere men, and so had 
never been at the market of free grace. All their wares were their , 
own, and their righteousness of their own spinning, and therein stood 
upon their own bottom, without seeking the reconciling and renewing 
grace of the Redeemer : Luke xviii., The proud pharisee pleadeth his 
own merits rather than God's grace, but the publican pleaded mercy. 
It was long ere Paul was brought to count all but dung and dross for 
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Phil. iii. 7-9. But on the 
other side, a Christian, though he maketh progress in holiness, yet, 
from first to last, cherisheth a broken-hearted sense of his own wants, 
and a thankful remembrance of his Redeemer's love, who is all in all 
with him, both for justification and sanctification. Before pardon, 
the sinner is weakened and humbled with a sense of his lost condition, 
and then there is a constant watchfulness, with repentance and broken- 
ness of heart, which followeth pardon ; ' loving much, because much 
is forgiven,' Luke vii. 47 ; and loathing himself, in his own sight, be 
cause of his vileness and sinfulness, after God is reconciled to him, 
Ezek. xvi. 63. This is the frame of heart which suiteth with the gos 
pel state. 

III. I come to the third thing the value of mercy. I shall not 
speak of it at large, but only with respect to this scripture. 

1. It is better than sacrifice. To sacrifice is to serve God, but to 
show mercy is to be like God : Luke vi. 36, ' Be ye therefore merci 
ful, as your heavenly Father is merciful.' Now, conformity to God is 
more noble than subjection to God ; it hath more of perfection and 


blessedness in it especially, than a particular external mode and way 
of subjection to God. 

2. As it is preferred before sacrifice, so it is preferred before the 
external observation of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the great insti 
tution conducing to the enlivening of other duties ; mercy, not only to 
the souls of men as here, or bodies of men, but mercy to the bodies of 
the beasts : to help a beast out of a pit is a Sabbath-day's work, Mat. 
xii. 11, 12. 

3. It is more than gospel externals of worship. The apostle had 
spoken of being 'not hearers of the word only, but doers also/ James 
i. 22. Then saith, verse 27, ' Pure religion, and undefiled before God, 
is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep 
himself unspotted from the world.' Is this religion, to come to church, 
to hear the strictest preachers ? Doth the apostle reckon this another 
part of religion ? No ; but to ' visit the fatherless and widows/ They 
who are truly religious have such a deep sense of God's mercy to them 
that they are changed into the divine nature, that they cannot but pity 
the miserable and afflicted. Now, the ordinances of the gospel are 
rational, not so carnal and servile as the ordinances under the law. 

4. It is more excellent than all the gifts of the gospel. The gifts 
of the gospel were glorious things gifts of tongues, gifts of healing, 
gifts of knowledge and utterance : 1 Cor. xii. 31, ' Covet earnestly the 
best gifts ; and yet I show you a more excellent way.' What is that ? 
Love, charity, mercy. Though abilities are excellent things, to be 
able to edify and instruct others, yet no way to be compared with the 
grace of charity, and the performing all our duties to our brethren out 
of love to God. 

5. I cannot say it is above the graces of the gospel faith and love 
to God ; yet this I can say, that those graces are not real unless ac 
companied with charity : 1 John iv. 20, ' If a man say he loveth God, 
and hateth his brother, he is a liar ; for if a man hateth his brother 
whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ? ' 
He speaketh there of love to Christ, ver. 19, ' We love him because 
he loved us first.' There may be a great deal of hypocrisy in profess 
ing and pretending love to Christ ; and so he 'doth, certainly, who doth 
malign and persecute Christians, or not show mercy to them in their 
distresses. We daily converse with men, meet with objects of charity, 
whom we should pity ; but if we do not this, which is the more easy, 
we will not do that which is more difficult. 

6. It is the qualification of finding mercy : Mat. v. 7, ' Blessed are 
the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy/ Compassion to other men's 
bodies and souls gives this hope and confidence of finding mercy with 
the Lord, and that is all our hope. 

It will be inquired into at the day of judgment : Mat. xxv. 35-41, 
' For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat : I was thirsty, and ye 
gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in : naked, and ye 
clothed me : I was sick, and ye visited me : I was in prison, and ye 
came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, 
when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave 
thee drink ? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or 
naked and clothed thee ? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, 


and came unto thee ? And the King shall answer and say unto 
them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of 
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall 
he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, 
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' 

Oh, then, let us make conscience of this duty more than ever we 
have done. 


For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and 
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 
PHIL. III. 3. 

AMONG those that entertain thoughts of religion there ever have been 
and will be many contests who are the true church and people of God. 
The lazy place their plea and claim in external observations ; the 
serious look to the vitals and heart of religion, and cannot satisfy them 
selves in an outward form without the life and power. This was the 
very difference between the true Christians and a certain sort of 
persons who took upon them to be the circumcision. The Jews are 
often called 'the circumcision,' therefore Christ is said to be 'a 
minister of the circumcision,' as being sent to the people that were to 
be circumcised, Kom. xv. 8. And Peter is called ' the apostle of the 
circumcision,' Gal. ii. 7, 8, as being appointed to deal with that people. 
Now these Judaizing Christians, who had a zeal for the ceremonies of 
the law, did falsely boast themselves to be the only people of God and 
the true circumcision. This was the difference between them : who 
were to 'be accounted the true circumcision, the Jewish zealots, who 
placed their justification in the ceremonies of the law, or those who 
adhered to Christ only, and looked for the mercy of God through him ? 
' We are the circumcision ' say they, excluding the other and better 
sort of Christians. The one had the form, and the other the effect and 
power ; the one were circumcised outwardly, the other spiritually. The 
apostle judgeth for the latter ; the former were Kararo^rj, ' the con 
cision,' who, instead of circumcising themselves, did cut asunder the 
church of God ; but the sound believers were Treptro/Jir), ' the circum 
cision ' indeed, as being circumcised by the circumcision made without 
hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by Christ, Col. 
ii. 11. They were the true children of Abraham, who did indeed per 
form that for which circumcision was intended, ' for we are the 
circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ 
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh/ 

In the words we have a threefold description of the true cir 
cumcision : how they stand affected to God, Christ, self. 
I. They worship God in the spirit. 

II. They rejoice in Christ Jesus. 

III. They have no confidence in the flesh. 


I. They worship God in the spirit. This clause may be inter 
preted : 

1. In opposition to the legal ordinances. So it is taken, John iv. 
23, 24, ' But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers 
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth : for the Father 
eeeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit : and they that worship 
him must worship him in spirit and in truth.' The Jewish worship 
is in a sense called carnal, the Christian spiritual : Heb. vii. 16, ' A 
carnal commandment ; ' Heb. ix. 10, ' Carnal ordinances imposed on 
them till the time of reformation ; ' and ' shadows," Heb. x. 1. Now 
the Lord would have a spiritual worship, and the truth of what was in 
these shadows, these external forms, he allowed (instituted in the 
infancy of the church), so that they 'worship God in the spirit' is, 
they have embraced the true worship of the gospel, and serve God, not 
by the carnal rites of the law, but byjhe pure rational worship of the 
gospel. This is part of the sense. 

2. It implieth worshipping God with the inward and spiritual 
affections of a renewed heart : Heb. xii. 28, * Wherefore, we receiving 
a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may 
serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.' Worship flow 
ing from grace, engaging the heart in God's service, is that which God 
prizeth ; therefore a Christian should not rest in an external form : 
' God is nay witness, whom I serve with my spirit/ Bom. i. 9. 

3. It doth also imply the assistance and continual influence of the 
Boly Spirit: Eph. vi. 18, ' Praying always with all prayer and suppli 
cation in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and 
supplication for all saints ; ' and Jude, ver. 20, ' Praying in the Holy 

The doctrine is this: That a true Christian is known by his 
worship, or is one that doth worship God in the spirit. 
Here I shall show you : 

1. What is worship. 

2. Why a true Christian (1.) doth worship; (2.) why in the spirit. 
1. What is worship? It is either internal or external. The 

internal consisteth in the love and reverence we owe to God ; the 
external in those offices and duties by which our honour and respect 
to God is signified and expressed. 

[1.] Internal. The soul and life of our worship lieth in faith, and 
reverence, and delight in God above all other things : Ps. ii. 11, 
' Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling ; ' such a 
delight as will become the greatness and goodness of God. Worship 
hath its rise and foundation in the heart of the worshipper ; there it 
must begin. In our high thoughts and esteem of God especially two 
things love and trust. 

(1.) Love : Deut. vi. 5, ' Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' We worship 
God when we give him such a love as is superlative and transcendental, 
far above the love that we give to any other thing, that so our respect 
to other things may stoop and give way to our respect to God. 

(2.) The other affection whereby we express our esteem of God is 
trust, which is the other foundation of worship : Ps. Ixii. 8, ' Trust in 


the Lord at all times, pour out your hearts before him.' Delightful 
adhesion to God, and an entire dependence upon him ; if either fail 
or ;be intermitted, our worship faileth. If delight : Job xxvii. 10, 
' Will he delight himself in the Almighty ? will he always call upon 
God ? ' Isa. xliii. 22, ' But thou hast not called upon me, Jacob ; 
but thou hast been weary of me, Israel.' They that love God and 
delight in him cannot be long out of his company; they take all 
opportunities and occasions of being with God. So dependence and 
trust : Heb. iii. 12, ' Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you 
an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God ; ' James i. 
6, 7, ' 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.' Depend 
ence begets observance : they that distrust God's promises will not 
long keep his precepts. If we look for all from him, we will often come 
to him and take all out of his hands, be careful that we do not 
offend him and displease him. 

[2.] External. In those offices and duties by which our honour and 
respect to God is signified and expressed as by invocation, thanks 
giving, praise, obedience. God will be owned both in heart and life, 
in all these prescribed duties by which our affections towards him are 
acted. If God did not call for outward worship, why did he appoint 
the ordinances of preaching, praying, singing psalms, baptism, and the 
Lord's Supper ? God, that made the whole man, body and soul, must 
be worshipped of the whole man ; therefore, besides the inward affec 
tions, there must be external actions; in short, we are said to worship 
God either with respect to the duties which are more directly to be 
performed to God, or in our whole conversation. 

(1.) With respect to the duties which imply our solemn converse 
with God, and are more directly to be performed towards him such as 
the word, prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and sacraments surely these 
must be attended upon, because they are special acts of love to God 
and trust in him. And these duties are the ways wherein God hath 
promised to meet with his people, and appointed us to expect his 
grace : Exod. xx. 24, ' In all places where I record my name I will 
come unto thee, and bless thee ; ' and Mark iv. 24, it is a rule of 
commerce between us and God, ' With what measure ye mete, it shall 
be measured to you ; and unto you that hear shall more be given.' 

(2.) In our whole conversation : Luke i. 74, 75, ' That we should 
serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all 
the days of our lives.' A Christian's life is a constant hymn to God, 
or a continued act of worship ; ever behaving himself as in the sight 
of God, and directing all things as to his glory. He turneth second 
table duties into first : James i. 27, ' Pure religion, and undefiled 
before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widows 
in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world;' 
Heb. xiii. 16, ' To do good and to communicate forget not : for with 
such sacrifices God is well pleased ; ' Eph. v. 21, 22, ' Submitting 
yourselves one to another in the fear of God/ Now a true Christian 
maketh conscience of all this ; as of internal worship, so external ; as 
of solemn and sacred acts, so of a constant awfulness of God. 


2. Secondly, The reasons. 

1st, Why a true Christian doth worship God. 

2dly, Why in the spirit. 

1st, For the worship itself. 

[1.] Because they have a deep sense of his being and excellency 
impressed upon their hearts. 

(1.) His being. These two notions live and die together : that 
God is, and that he ought to be worshipped and served, Heb. xi. 6 ; 
the one immediately floweth from the other. The first command 
ment is, ' Thou shalt have no other gods before me ; ' the second, 
' Thou shalt not worship a graven image.' If God be, worship is cer 
tainly due to him : they that have no worship are as if they had no 
God. The psalmist proveth atheism by that : Ps. xiv. 1, ' The fool 
hath said in his heart, there is no God ;' and ver. 4, ' They call not 
upon God.' 

(2.) His excellency. They have a clearer sight of God than others 
have, and are more acquainted with him than others are ; and, there 
fore, are more prone to worship. When God had proclaimed his 
name, and manifested himself to Moses, Exod. xxxiv. 8, ' He made 
haste, and bowed himself to the earth, and worshipped.' None so 
ready and forward : Ps. ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will put 
their trust in thee.' 

[2.] Because they have a principle within them which inclineth 
them to God : their hearts are carried to him, as light bodies are 
carried upward. There is such a grace as godliness, 2 Pet. i. 6, and 
distinct in the notion from righteousness and holiness : 1 Tim. vi. 11, 
' Follow after righteousness, godliness ;' 2 Pet. iii. 11, ' What manner 
of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness ? ' 
What is the notion then of it ? It is tendentia mentis in Deum an 
impression left upon their hearts, which causeth a bent and tendency 
towards God, as the fountain of their mercies, the joy of their souls, 
and the centre of their rest. There is such an inclination in some 
stronger, in others more remiss ; but in all that are made partakers of 
a divine nature in some good degree, so as ordinarily to prevail over 
the inclinations of the flesh. As holiness noteth purity of life, so god 
liness an inclination to God. 

[3.] Because of their relations to God, which they own. God 
pleadeth his right : Mai. i. 6, 'If I be a father, where is mine 
honour ? if I be a master, where is my fear ? ' A father must have 
honour, and a master must have fear ; and God, who is the common 
parent and absolute master of all, must have both. A worship and 
honour in which reverence and fear is mixed with love and joy ; or, as 
the owning of a king implieth submission to his government, so the 
owning of a God adoration and worship. 

2dly, Why in the spirit ? 

[1.] Because worship without the spirit is like a body without the 
soul ; it is but the carcase of a duty. The heart must be the principal 
and chief agent in this business : Mat. xv. 8, ' This people draweth 
nigh to me with their mouths, and honoureth me with their lips, but 
their hearts are far from me.' There is no love to God, rather an 
habitual aversion from him. 


[2.] External worship is but a means to the internal ; as prayer, 
hearing, reading, receiving, tend to promote love, trust, heavenly- 
mindedness, self-denial, mortification, purity of life and conversation. 
Now, as the means are only valuable with respect to their end, so are 
these duties of hearing, reading, singing. Diligence in the use of 
means is good, but those acts that are conversant about the end are 
better, such as the love of God, and delight and trust in God; for 
finis est nobilior mediis. Nay, amongst the internal acts, as they are 
means to one another, so the nearer respect they have to the last end, 
the more noble they are ; as faith is more noble than bare knowledge, 
because knowledge tendeth to faith, Ps. ix. 10 ; love than faith, be 
cause faith tendeth to love, Gal. v. 6 ; 1 Cor. xiii. 13. Faith causeth 
love, and serveth as the bellows to enkindle this holy fire ; and in love, 
desire maketh way for delight, as its noblest act. And accordingly 
must all things be valued as they suit the great end, which is the en 
joying of God. 

[3.] A man doth not partake of the gospel blessing till he doth 
serve God in the spirit ; that is, till he be made partaker of the re 
generating grace and actual influence of the Holy Spirit. 

(1.) Of his regenerating grace: Rom. vii. 6, 'That we should serve 
in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.' New life is 
the principle of evangelical obedience ; and when we are renewed by 
the Holy Ghost, we walk in newness of conversation. The gospel is a 
ministry of the Spirit, 2 Cor. iii. 8. It not only requireth duty, but 
giveth power to perform it. The letter of the law requireth, but 
giveth no principle or inclination to do it ; that is from regenerating 
grace, or the law written upon our hearts : John iii. 6, ' That which is 
born of Spirit, is spirit ;" that is, suited, inclined, disposed, fitted for 
a spiritual life. 

(2.) Actual influence. He still worketh in us what is pleasing in 
God's sight; helpeth to mortify corruption: Rom. viii. 13, ' If ye 
through' the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' To 
perfect holiness, Heb. xiii. 21, that so we may serve God in all purity 
of life. We cannot get, nor keep, nor act, nor increase grace of our 
selves, if forsaken by the Spirit of grace ; the foulest sins would be 
come our pleasure, and the most unquestionable duties our burden. If 
he withdraw his quickening influences, you can do nothing. 

Use 1. It reproveth those that either do not worship God, or by 
halves, or not worship him in the Spirit. 

1. It disproveth their confidence that do not worship God. There 
are an irreligious sort of men that neither call upon him in public 
or in private, in the family or in the closet, but wholly forget the God 
that made them, and at whose expense they are maintained and kept. 

[1.] Let me reason with you as men. Wherefore had you reason 
able souls, but to praise, and honour, and glorify your Creator and 
Preserver ? If you believe there is a God, why do you not call upon 
him ? The neglect of his worship argueth a doubting of his being. 
If there be such a supreme Lord, to whom you must one day give an 
account, how dare you live without him in the world ? All the crea 
tures glorify him, Ps. cxlv. 10 ; they passively, but you have a heart 
and a tongue to glorify him actually. Man is the mouth of the crea- 


tion, to return to God the praise of all that wisdom, glory, and power 
which is seen in the things that are made. Now, you should make 
one among the worshippers of God. 

[2.] Let me reason with you as Christians. Are you a Christian, 
and have such advantages to know more of God, and will you be dumb 
and tongue-tied in his praise ? Have you the discovery of the won 
ders of his love in your redemption by Christ, and do you see no cause 
to own and acknowledge him ? Have you no necessities to bring to 
the throne of grace ? In Christianity, you know his particular pro 
vidence and redemption by Christ, and should you eat, and drink, and 
trade, and sleep, and never think of God ? Have you no pardon to 
sue out, no grace that you stand in need of, that you should live like 
a brute beast, go on in the circle of trade, business, comforts, and 
never think of God ? You profess you know him, but in your works 
you deny him, and sin doubly, both against the light of reason and 
Christianity. All that are not avowed atheists must have some wor 

2. It cutteth off their confidence that worship him by halves. They 
are of many sorts. 

[1.] Some worship him in public, but never in private and secret ; 
though Christ hath given us direction to enter into our closets, Mat. 
vi. 6. And surely every Christian should make conscience of secret 
duties. There are many disputes about praying in families, though 
those that take their daily bread should seek God together ; but there 
can be no dispute about praying in secret, for the precept that re- 
quireth prayer first falleth upon single persons before it falleth upon 
families and churches : 1 Thes. v. 17, ' Pray without ceasing.' This 
cannot concern families and churches ; they are done at stated times, 
when they can conveniently meet ; but every man in secret is to be 
often with God. Christ was often alone : Mark i. 35, ' He went out 
into a solitary place, and there prayed.' Surely Christ had not such 
need to pray as we have, nor such need of retirement, his love to God 
being always fervent, and so in no danger of distraction. God poured 
out the Spirit that we might go apart and mourn over soul-distem 
pers, Zech. xii. 10-14. Now, God's precious gifts are not given in vain. 
So, Acts x. 2, Cornelius ' prayed to God alway.' Therefore, certainly, 
secret prayer is a necessary duty of God's worship, to be observed by 
all that acknowledge God to be Godj and the world to be ruled by his 
providence, or themselves to have any need of his grace and pardon, or 
hope for anything from him in the world to come. Therefore, if you 
have any sense of religion, or think you have any need of particular 
commerce with God, you should make conscience of secret prayer. 

[2.] Others that make conscience of external worship, prayer, hear 
ing, reading, singing of psalms, but not of internal worship, faith, love, 
and hope. The external forms were appointed for the acting or 
increasing of internal grace ; and so they superficially are conversant 
about the means, and never mind the end. External worship is sen 
sible and easily done, but internal worship is difficult. External wor 
ship may procure us esteem with men ; but internal, acceptance with 
God. External worship satisfieth blind conscience, but doth not better 
the heart. External worship may puff us up with a vain confidence, 


but internal worship maketh us lament spiritual defects. We have 
not that purity of heart, that deep sense of the world to come, that 
absolute dependence upon God, which may quiet our souls in all 
exigencies. Surely they are better Christians that have the effect of 
the ordinances than they that have only the formality of them. The 
external duty may procure us toil and wearisomeness to the flesh, 
but the internal worship bringeth us comfort and peace. The more 
faith in Christ, and love to God, and lively hope of eternal life, the 
more is the soul comforted. Therefore, if you will always lick the 
glass, and never taste the honey, go on in a track of duties, but you 
will have no comfort in them. In short, they that go on in external 
duties may be said in some sense to serve God, but they do not seek 
after him. In pretence they make God the object of their worship, 
for they do not worship an idol ; but they do not make him the end of 
their worship. A man maketh God the end of his worship when he 
will not go away from God without God ; when he looketh to this, 
that his delight in God be quickened, his dependence upon God 
strengthened, his hatred of sin increased, and by every address to God 
is made more like God. 

[3.] It reproveth and disproveth those that put on a garb of devo 
tion when ministering before the Lord, but are slight and vain in their 
ordinary conversation. A man should be in some measure such out 
of duty as he giveth out himself to be in duty ; for his whole life 
should be, as it were, a continued act of worship: Prov. xxiii. 17, 
' Let not thy heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord 
all the day long.' We should still live in a dependence upon God, 
and in subjection to him : Ps. xvi. 8, ' I have set the Lord always 
before me : he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.' In point 
of reverence, and in point of dependence, because we are in danger to 
miscarry, both by the delights of sense and the terrors of sense. If a 
reverence of and a dependence on the great God do still possess our 
hearts, we shall carry ourselves more soberly as to the comforts of the 
world, and not be easily discouraged and daunted with the fears of the 
world. This is our preservative, and maketh us true and faithful to 
our great end. 

3. Those that do not serve God in the spirit. You should worship 
God so as it may look like worship and service performed to God, and 
due to God. It is spiritual worship God requireth, and is ever pleased 
withal. He ' seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit 
and in truth,' John iv. 23 ; and this is most agreeable to his nature : 
John iv. 24, ' God is a spirit, and they that worship him must wor 
ship him in spirit and in truth.' When hearts wander, when affec 
tions do not answer expressions, is this like service and worship done 
to an all-seeing and all-knowing spirit ? Is there any stamp of God 
upon the duty, of his majesty, goodness, and great power ? 

Use 2. For the comfort of good Christians. Here is their carriage 
towards God briefly set down they ' worship God in the spirit.' A 
Christian is described by his proper act, worship ; and by the proper 
object thereof, God; and by the proper part and seat thereof, in the 
spirit. Do you worship him with reverence, and with delight and 
arfection, with a trust, hope, and confidence ? 

30 A DESCKIi".riON OF [PHIL. III. 3. 

1. With reverence. Considering God's majesty and our own vile- 
ness. The majesty of God : Mai. i. 14, ' For I am a great king, saith 
the Lord of hosts/ Slight worship argueth lessening thoughts of 
God. Do you know to whom you speak ? It is a contempt of God 
if you think anything will serve the turn ; you have mean thoughts of 
him, and do not consider him as you ought to do. So our vileness : 
Gen. xviii. 27, ' Who am I, that am but dust and ashes, that I should 
speak unto God ? ' dust as to the baseness of his original, and ashes 
by the desert of sin. In our nearer approaches to God, thus should we 
think of ourselves. 

2. With delight and affection, as our reconciled father in Christ. 
So he is to us as the well-spring of all grace and goodness. The great 
work of the gospel is to bring us to God as a father, Gal. iv. 6. God 
as a judge, by the spirit of bondage, driveth us to Christ ; but Christ, by 
the spirit of adoption, bringeth us back again to God as a father. This 
is the evangelical way of worshipping, that in a child-like manner we 
may come to God. 

3. With trust, hope, and confidence. He knoweth all our wants, 
can relieve all our necessities : Ps. Ivii. 2, ' I will cry unto God most 
high, who performeth all things for me.' Worship would be a cold 
formality if we had to do with one that knew us not, or had not suffi 
ciency and power to help us, But God is omniscient and all-sufficient, 
and hath promised to hear and help us in our straits ; he knoweth our 
necessities when we know them not. 

II. We come now to the second character : And rejoice in Christ 

Thence observe : 

DocL That the great work of a Christian is a rejoicing in Christ 
Jesus, or a thankful sense of our Eedeemer's mercy. 

In opening this point I shall use this method : 

1st, Show you what is this rejoicing in Christ. 

2dly, I shall prove that Christ is matter of true rejoicing in his 
person, offices, benefits. 

3dly, That Christians are not sound and sincere in their profession, 
unless they do keep up this rejoicing in Christ. 

First, What is this rejoicing? (KOV ^co^evot ev Xpia-rS) 'Irjo-ov). The 
original word implieth such a degree of joy as amounts to glorification 
or boasting, or such an exultation of mind as breaketh out into some 
sensible expression of it. There are in it three things : 

1. An apprehension of the good and benefit which we have by 
Christ ; for otherwise how can we rejoice and glory in him ? 1 Cor. i. 
30, 31, ' But of him ye are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us 
wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption ; that 
according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.' 
Christ is all *, that our whole rejoicing may be in him, who hath 
enlightened us with the knowledge of the gospel, and showed us the 
way of salvation, and is the author of our justification and sanctifica- 
tiou, and of our deliverance from all calamities, and from death itself. 
These benefits are the cause of our rejoicing namely, the promises of 
the gospel, sealed by his death, and the graces conveyed to us by his 
Spirit. We rejoice and glory in him, as the only and all-sufficient 


Saviour. They that gloried in circumcision gloried in their entrance 
into the legal covenant ; they became debtors to the law, but Christ 
hath ratified it in the new covenant by his blood ; therefore here is 
more abundant cause of rejoicing. 

2. Due affections of contentment, joy, love, exultation of heart, 
that followeth thereupon. A blessing ourselves in our portion, that 
this great happiness is fallen to our share, offered to us, at least, if not 
possessed by us. The very knowledge of Christianity breedeth joy : 
Acts viii. 8, ' And there was great joy in that city,' that is, upon 
the tendering of the gospel ; much more when we believe in Christ, 
and embrace his religion, and resolve to become his disciples. They 
received his word gladly, Acts ii. 41. His doctrine must be welcomed 
with the heart, with all love and thankfulness. It is said of the jailor, 
Acts xvi. 34, that he ' rejoiced, believing in God, and all his house.' 
He was but newly recovered out of the suburbs of hell, ready to kill 
himself but just before ; so that a man would think it were easier to 
fetch water out of a flint, or a spark of fire out of the bottom of the 
sea, than to expect or find joy in such a heart ; yea, though still in 
danger of life for treating those as guests whom he should have kept 
as prisoners, yet he rejoiced when acquainted with salvation by Christ. 
More especially should we rejoice when the comfort is sealed up to our 
consciences : Bom. v. 11, ' Not only so, but we also joy in God, through 
our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atone 
ment.' The eunuch, when he was baptized, he 'went on his way 
rejoicing,' Acts viii. 39. 

3. An expression of it, by an open profession of Christ's name, 
both in word and deed, whatever it costs us. They are said to rejoice 
in Christ Jesus who in those times could profess his name, though 
with hazard and self-denial. As the Thessalonians, who received the 
word with much afHiction, and much assurance and joy in the Holy 
Ghost, 1 Thes. i. 6. And it is expressed by the parable of the man 
that found the true treasure, and for joy thereof sold all that he had 
to buy the field, Mat. xiii. 44. They are willing to lose all other con 
tentments and satisfactions for this ; Christ is enough. They needed 
this joy to encourage them against the trials which they then under 
went for Christ's sake and the gospel's sake. 

Secondly, That Christ is matter of true rejoicing, for they are fools 
that rejoice in baubles and trifles. A Christian's joy may be owned and 
justified. When Christ's birth was celebrated by angels, it is said, 
Luke ii. 10, ' Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.' Here is 
joy, and great joy in salvation by Christ. And Mary : Luke i. 46, 47, 
' My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God 
my Saviour/ Surely there is no cause of joy wanting in God, and in 
God coming as a Saviour. In short, in Christianity, all is fitted to 
fill our hearts with delight and joy. 

1. The wonderful mysteries of our redemption by Christ. Thereby, 
[1.] A way is found out for our reconciliation with God, and how 
that dreadful controversy may be taken up, and heaven and earth 
may kiss each other, 2 Cor. v. 19. Surely this is glad tidings of great 
joy to self-condemned sinners, who stood always in fear of the wrath 
of God and the flames of hell. What joy is it to a condemned man, 


that is ready every day to be taken away to execution, to hear that 
his peace is made, that pardon may be had, if he will seek it and sue 
it out ! 

[2.] A distinct relation of a defeat of the great enemies of our salva 
tion death, hell, the devil, and the world. He hath not only made 
our peace with the Father, by the blo'od of his cross, but vanquished 
our spiritual enemies, and triumphed over them, Col. ii. 14, 15. Long 
enough might we have lain in prison before the utmost farthing had 
been paid, or done anything to procure our deliverance, if our com 
passionate Redeemer had not taken the work in hand : had he turned 
us to any creature, we had been helpless. It was he purchased 
grace to overcome the devil, the world, and the flesh ; that quickened 
you when you were dead in sin ; that put Satan out of office, and 
' delivered us from the present evil world,' Gal. i. 4. And is not this 
matter of rejoicing to us ? 

[3.] That hereby he hath not only abolished death, but brought 
life and resurrection to light, 2 Tim. i. 10. By entering into that other 
world, after his sufferings, he hath given us a visible demonstration of 
the reality of the world to come, and in his gospel discovered a 
blessedness to us, which satiateth the heart of man and salveth the 
great sore of the whole creation. If God had made nothing richer 
than the world, the heart of man would have been as leviathan in a 
little pool. 

2. In the promises of Christ there is matter of joy. In the general, 
God is your God, and that is more than to have all the world to be 
yours : compare Gen. xvii. 7, ' I will establish my covenant between 
me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an ever 
lasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee,' with 
Ps. cxliv. 15, 'Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.' We 
have an eternal and all-sufficient God to live upon, and from whom to 
derive our joy and comfort ; a God infinite in power, wisdom, and 
goodness to be our portion. And where is matter of joy and comfort, 
if not in God ? Behold the difference between carnal men and the 
children of God ; the world is their portion, and God is ours ; and who 
is better provided for ? More especially we are told, 1 Tim. iv. 8, that 
' Godliness hath the promises of this life, and that which is to come.' 
Heaven and earth are laid at the -feet of godliness; what would you 
more ? Surely we have full consolation offered to us in the promises 
of the gospel ; he can want nothing to his comfort who hath an interest 
in them. To instance, in the lowest blessings, those which concern 
this life: God is our God, that can cure all diseases, overcome all 
enemies, supply all wants, deliver in all dangers, and will do it so far 
as is for our good ; and desires of anything beyond this are not to be 
satisfied, but mortified, Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. But then for the more excel 
lent promises of the new covenant, which concern another world, such 
as the pardoning of our sins, the healing our natures, and the glorifying 
of our persons : 2 Pet. i. 4, ' Whereby are given unto us exceeding 
great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of 
the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world 
through lust.' The pardon of all our sins, which are the great trouble 
and burden of the creatures. Who will rejoice like the pardoned sinner, 


who is discharged of his debt, eased of his burthen, and hath his filth 
covered ? Ps. xxxii. 1, ' Blessed is the man whose transgression is 
forgiven, whose sin is covered.' Oh, the blessedness of the man ! He 
is like one fetched back from execution. Then the taking away of the 
stony heart, and the giving of an holy and heavenly heart. Oh, what 
matter of joy is this, to have all things necessary to life and godliness,.! 
What is the trouble of a gracious heart, but the relics of corruption ? 
Rom. vii. 24. Paul groaneth sorely, but yet blesseth God for his hopes 
by Christ, ver. 25. Renewing grace is dearly bought, and plentifully 
bestowed, Titus iii. 5, 6 ; and graciously offered to those that will seek 
after it : Prov. i. 23, ' Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will pour out 
my Spirit unto you/ And this promise to be fulfilled by a divine 
power, 2 Peter i. 3. Oh, what a comfort is the Redeemer's grace to a 
soul that hath been long exercised in subduing sin ! It is true it 
groans while it is a-doing, yet the very groans of the sick show that 
life and health is sweet. Healing, renewing grace maketh other things 
sweet ; as your whole duty to God, it maketh it become your delight. 
But the great promise is eternal life : 1 John ii. 25, ' And this is the 
promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life/ That is a matter 
of joy indeed. What ! to live for ever with God ! the forethought of 
it reviveth us ; the foretaste of it is a kind of heaven upon earth, 1 
Peter i. 8. The certain hope of it will swallow up all grief and sorrow, 
Rom. v. 2, 3. So that there is no question but that in the promises 
of Christ there is matter of great joy. 

3. The enjoyments of Christianity are very pleasing. I add this 
to show you, that it is not all in expectation, if we consider not only 
what we shall be, but what we are. For the present : 

[1.] "We have peace of conscience, Rom. v. 1 ; Mat. xi. 29 ; Phil, 
iv. 7. Rest for our souls is anxiously sought after in other things, but 
only found in Christ's religion, and living according to the precepts 
and institutions thereof. As Noah's dove found not a place whereon 
to rest the sole of her foot, so we flutter up and down, but never have 
any firm peace of heart and conscience, till we submit to Christ, and 
take his counsel. 

[2.] A sense of the love of God : Rom. v. 5, ' Because the love of 
God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us ;' 
and 1 Peter ii. 3, ' If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.' 

[3.] God's presence with us, and our communion with him: 1 John 
i. 3, 4, ' And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Sou 
Jesus Christ, that your joy may be full ;' and John viii. 29. 

[4.] Access to God, with assurance of welcome and audience: John 
xvi. 24, ' Whatsoever ye ask in my name, ye shall receive, that your 
joy may be full/ 

[5.] The foretastes of the life to come, Rom. viii. 23, and 2 Cor. iii. 5. 
So that all is to stir up this delight and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

4. The precepts of Christ show that we have matter of rejoicing 
in him. What are the great duties required ? To love God ! Now 
what pain is it to delight in the Lord as our all-sufficient portion ? To 
be mindful of him, and meditate of his excellencies and benefits : Ps. 
civ. 34, ' My meditation of him shall be sweet ; I will be glad in the 
Lord/ Is it any toilsome thing to come in a childlike manner and 



unbosom .ourselves to him, and beg the renewed testimonies of his love 
to us, especially when set awork by the Holy Ghost? Gal. iv. (5. 
To believe in Christ is difficult, but pleasant ; to consider the Lord 
Jesus as the suitable remedy for the lapsed estate of mankind, both as 
to his work with God and us, Heb. iii. 1. He came to destroy sin 
and misery. Whenever we reflect upon Christ, what do we find but 
ample grounds of joy ? John xiv. 2, ' Let not your hearts be troubled ; 
ye believe in God, believe also in me ;' that is, to get off our trouble, 
consider we have an all-sufficient God, and an all-sufficient mediator: 
Bom. xv. 13, ' Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in 
believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy 
Ghost.' Kepentance requireth sorrow for sin, only as it tendeth to joy 
and comfort, Mat. v. 5. It is a tormenting, but a curing sorrow. The 
word of God taketh care that a penitent, who hath foully miscarried, 
should not be swallowed up of over-much grief, 2 Cor. ii. 7. In the 
general, repentance and mortification are our physic to expel the 
noxious humours that would bring us, not only to death, but to dam 
nation, and to keep the eoul in due plight and health. And then, for 
self-government, we are to bridle our passions and appetites : Gal. v. 
24, ' They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections 
and lusts.' The bridling our passions, it is but forbidding us to be 
miserable, and throw out everything that would disquiet the soul. 
Christ's great care was that the reasonable creature might live in 
peace and holy security, therefore hath discharged our cares, and 
sorrows, and fears : our cares, that they might not distract our minds : 
Phil. iv. 6, ' Be careful for nothing ;' and 1 Peter v. 7, ' Cast all your 
care upon the Lord.' These prohibitions show you the goodness of 
Christ. He hath made it unlawful for you to be troubled, and to per 
plex your minds with anxious and distrustful thoughts. Oh ! what 
pleasant lives we might live if we could entirely cast ourselves into 
the arms of God, and refer all things to the wisdom and powerful 
conduct of his providence ! The scripture is as plentiful also in for 
bidding sorrow : 1 Thes, iv. 13, ' Sorrow not as those that are without 
hope/ Dejection and anguish of spirit is your sin. So for fear : Isa. 
xli. 10, ' Fear not, for I am with thee ; be not dismayed, for I am thy 
God ;' Heb. xiii. 6, ' So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, 
I will not fear what man can do unto me.' What should a Christian 
fear ? Dangers by the way ? God is his helper. To be cast into hell 
when he goeth out of the world ? Christ hath showed him how to flee 
g from wrath to come ; he feareth it with a fear of caution, so as to shun 
it, but not with a fear of perplexity, so as to disquiet and perplex his 
soul, for Jesus hath delivered him from wrath to come, 1 Thes. i. 10. 
Christianity is as contrary to sadness and misery, as life to death, and 
light to darkness. For the other, the crucifying and bridling of our 
lusts, which carry us to the good things of this world, why, that is 
troublesome, to be debarred of the delights which nature affects ; but 
here are no rigorous exactions, but such as are agreeable to the reason 
able nature. Christ hath forbidden us no pleasure but what may be 
u sin or a snare to us ; he would not have man to degenerate and turn 
beast. All Christ's restraints are but necessary cautions for our safety. 
Is it burdensome to a man to keep out of danger's way, and to avoid 


such things as are destructive to his soul ? If a friend will take out 
of our hands the knife with which we would not only cut our fingers 
but our throats, is he to be blamed ? or is he your enemy who for- 
biddeth you to drink poison ? Forbidden fruit costs dear in the issue. 

5. For those duties which concern our neighbour. To love all men, 
to do good to all men, it is a blessed and godlike thing to be giving 
rather than receiving, Acts xx. 35. The delight of doing good is much 
more than the cost ; it is to be as earthly gods among our neighbours. 
This work rewardeth itself, because it is such a contentment and satis 
faction to our minds. For justice : To do as we would be done to ; 
what more pleasant ? We would have others bound by these laws, 
why not ourselves ? It is horrible to require one measure of dealing 
from them to us, and use a quite contrary ourselves. Would men 
hate, defraud, oppress others, and expect nothing but kind and 
righteous dealing from them ? this is a gross partiality. Therefore, 
as our interest calleth for justice, so doth our conscience, and it would 
be a trouble and an affront to reason not to do it. So for fidelity in 
our relations. These things maintain order of families, and conduce 
to our safety and private peace, as well as they belong to our duty to 
God ; so that on which side soever we look, we see what matter of joy 
there is in Christ. 

I come now to show you : 

Thirdly, The reasons why Christians are not sound and sincere in 
their profession unless they keep up this rejoicing in Christ. 

1. We do not else give Christ his due honour, if we do not esteem 
him who is so excellent in himself and so beneficial to us, even to a 
degree of rejoicing. The magnifying of Christ was intended by God 
in the whole business of our redemption and deliverance, that we might 
esteem him, delight in him, count all things dung and dross that we 
might gain him. Now we do not comply with this end, but have mean 
thoughts - of his grace, if we be not affected with joy at it. 

It argueth a double defect : 

[1.] That we are not sensible of our great misery without him ; 

[2.] Afiectdd with the great love he hath showed in our deliverance, 
and the felicity accruing to us thereby. 

[1.] We are not duly sensible of our great misery without him. 
Alas ! what could we have done without his passion and intercession ? 
If he had not died for sinners, what had you to answer to the terrors 
of the law, the accusations of your consciences, the fears of hell, and 
approaching damnation ? How could you look God in the face, or 
think one comfortable thought of him ? Had we wept out our eyes, 
and prayed out our hearts, and never committed sin again, this would 
not have made God satisfaction for sin past : paying new debts doth 
not quit old scores : long enough might we have lain in our blood ere 
we could have found out a ransom which God would accept ; besides 
him there is no Saviour. And then for his intercession : If he did not 
hide your nakedness and procure you a daily pardon, you would not 
be an hour longer out of hell. If he did not bring you to God, you 
could have no comfortable access to him ; your prayers would be cast 
back as dung in your faces, if the merit of his sacrifice did not make 


them accepted. And shall all this be told you, and owned by you for 
truth, and will you not rejoice that God hath found a ransom and pro 
vided an intercessor for you ? Surely it cannot be imagined that you 
are sensible of your case if you be not thankful for your remedy. 

[2.] You are not affected with the great love which Christ hath 
showed in your deliverance, nor the felicity accruing to you thereby. 
It is said, Eph. iii. 19, ' That you may know the love of God, which 
passeth knowledge/ Before he had pressed them to make it their study 
to comprehend the height, length, and breadth ; and when they have 
all done, the love of Christ passeth knowledge. Christ would pose men 
and angels with an heap of wonders in delivering us from misery and 
sin. Now should not we rejoice and make our boast of this ? Surely 
we vilify and bring down the price of these wonders of love, if we 
entertain them with cold thoughts, and without some considerable acts 
of joy and thankfulness. Shall angels wonder, and we, the parties 
interested, not rejoice ? Certainly we are not affected with the great 
felicity accruing to us. Felicity cannot be sought after without the 
highest affections and endeavours. Now, if we can rejoice in trifles, 
and not rejoice in the love of God, how can we be said to mind these 
things ? 

2. A man's joy distinguished him. There is a seeking joy and a 
complacential joy : Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the way of thy 
testimonies, as much as in all riches/ It is good to observe what it is 
that putteth gladness into our hearts : the love of God, and his good 
ness in Christ. Every man is discovered by his complacency or dis- 
placency : Ps. iv. 7, ' Thou hast put gladness into my heart, more 
than in the time that their corn and their wine increased ; ' Rom. 
viii. 5, ' 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.' To rejoice 
in the creatures, as accommodating or pleasing the flesh, is the joy of 
the carnal ; to rejoice in outward ordinances and privileges, without 
other things, is the joy of the hypocrite and common professors. Let 
us carry it a little farther. The devils and damned are out of all hope 
and possibility of joy ; the angels and glorified saints rejoice in the full 
fruition of God : there is gaudium vice and gaudium patriot ; there is 
the joy of the way, and the joy of our home at our journey's end. The 
latter is set forth, Ps. xvi. 11, ' In thy presence is fulness of joy ; at 
thy right hand are pleasures for evermore/ The other is in Christ, 
and the use of his healing and recovering methods, and the desires and 
hopes of the glory to come. This is the joy, or well-pleasedness of 
mind, which is proper to us in our journey: 1 Pet. i. 8, ' In whom be 
lieving, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.' The com 
fort of travellers differeth from that which a man hath in heaven : it 
is a joy that he hath as he is going home ; and therefore how should 
the serious Christian be described, but by his rejoicing in Christ 
Jesus ? 

Use 1. To reprove those that cannot keep up their rejoicing in 
Christ Jesus as soon as they are mated with any calamity or affliction 
in the world. Is not grace better than any natural comfort taken 
from us ? Heb. xii. 11. ' No chastening for the present seemeth to be 
joyous, but grievous : nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable 


fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Surely, 
when we have such cause of rejoicing in Christ, to be dejected with 
every little adversity showeth weak faith. Have you peace with God 
and communion with him at every turn, and shall a blasting of the 
creature destroy all your comfort ? Have you hope of glory, and can 
not you bear a disappointment in the world? Are you assured of the 
care of your heavenly Father, and his particular providence over you, 
and yet so full of grudging and repining thoughts when he retrencheth 
you a little and blasteth your worldly probabilities? Surely it argueth 
too much addictedness to present comforts and love of the ease of the 
flesh. Have you a due sense of the world to come, and that better 
and enduring substance, and yet complain so bitterly of worldly losses ? 
Have you a God in covenant with you who hath engaged all his love, 
wisdom, and power, to help you, and to turn all things to your good ? 
Rom. viii. 28. What though the trial of your faith and patience be 
very sore ? Did you capitulate with God and bargain with him how 
much you would suffer the flesh to be crossed, and that in such sharp 
afflictions you would be excused, that your gourd should not be alto 
gether smitten and dried up ? You can bear any other cross but this ; 
but was this excepted out of your resignation ? 

2. It reprove th those that cherish a carnal rejoicing. A believer 
should rejoice in Christ Jesus : Luke x. 19, 20, ' Behold, I give unto 
you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power 
of the enemy, &c. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that the 
spirits are subject unto you ; but rather rejoice because your names 
are written in heaven/ Rejoice not in this, that you are in dignity 
and honour ; this is not your felicity, nor the direct way to your 
felicity. The higher you climb, your station is the more dangerous : 
they are safer that stand on the ground, than those that are on a 
pinnacle. Rejoice not in that you have abundance of earthly riches, 
but that, you have a taste of higher and better things. Be not 
affected so deeply with lower mercies as to overlook the special mercies 
that accompany salvation. Rejoice not in this, that you have con 
venient habitations in this world, but in that you have a building of 
God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; in that 
you have comely bodies, but that you have hopes of a better resur 
rection, when this mortal shall put on immortality ; not in the 
nobility of your birth, but that you are born of the Spirit : John i. 12, 
13, 'To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become 
the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name : which were 
born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
but of God.' Rejoice not in that you have great friends to stand by 
you, but that in the new covenant you are made a friend of God, as 
Abraham was. Not in that you have costly accommodations to please 
the flesh : no, this may be the bane of your souls : Rom. viii. 13, 
' They that live after the flesh shall die ; ' and Luke xvi. 25, ' Son, 
remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.' 
(Dives fared deliciously every day, and Lazarus was full of sores, and 
desirous to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's 
table.) ' Thou hast received thy good things, and Lazarus evil things; 
but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.' 


Use 2. Is to encourage you to rejoice in Christ Jesus. Now, 
because we are helpers of your joy, 2 Cor. i. 24, and God is best 
pleased with this frame of spirit, 1 Thes. v. 16, I shall resume the 
main discourse ; and 

I. Handle the nature of it. 
II. Show you whether this joy may be without assurance. 

III. Show you the spiritual profit of it. 

IV. The helps or means by which it is raised in us. 

I. For the nature of it. It is an act of love, begotten in us by the 
sense of the love of Christ, revealed in the word, and shed abroad in 
our hearts by the Holy Ghost, whereby the soul is more affected 
with delight in the grace of the Redeemer than with all other things 

In which description observe : 

1. It is an act of love. The acts of love are two desire and delight. 
They both agree in this : that they are conversant about good, and are 
founded in esteem. We think it good. They differ, because desire is 
the motion and exercise of love, and delight the quiet and repose of it. 
Desire is expressed in that speech, Ps. Ixiii. 8, ' My soul followeth hard 
after thee/ A believer cannot forbear to seek after God. Desire of 
union keepeth us up in the pursuit of him. Delight is expressed in that 
form of speech, Ps. xvi. 5, 6, ' The Lord is the portion of my inheritance 
and my cup. The lines are fallen unto me in a pleasant place ; yea, I 
have a goodly heritage.' He hath all his joy, and pleasure, and con 
tentment in God. Desire supposeth some want or absence of the 
valued object ; delight, some kind of enjoyment. Either he is ours, 
or might be ours if we would ourselves ; for the offer is cause of joy, 
as well as the enjoyment. If our desires have reached the lovely 
object, it is cause of joy, or if it be within our reach ; as when 
Christ and his benefits are offered to us, and left upon our choice. 
And therefore it is said, Jonah ii. 8, ' They that observe lying 
vanities, forsake their own mercies.' Their own, though not possessed 
by them, yet they are offered to them : they might have been their 
own, if they did not exclude themselves. The object is in a sort 
present, and brought home to us in the offers of the gospel. 

2. It is an act of love begotten in us by the sense of the love of 
Christ. For love only begetteth love: 1 John iv. 19, ' We love him, 
because he loved us first.' The object of love is goodness. Now, we 
loved God in Christ, for the goodness that is in him, the goodness 
that floweth from him, and the goodness we expect from him ; all 
these attract our love. 

[1.] The goodness that is in him, moral and beneficial. Moral, 
which is his holiness: Ps. cxix. 140, ' Thy word is very pure, therefore 
thy servant loveth it.' If we love his law for the purity thereof, then 
certainly we must love God. How else can we study to imitate him ? 
for we imitate only that which we love and delight in as good. Then 
for his beneficial goodness, Ps. c. 5, ' For the Lord is good ; his mercy 
is everlasting ; and his truth endureth to all generations ; ' and Ps. 
cxix. 68, ' Thou art good, and doest good.' 

[2.] The goodness that floweth from him ; not only in our creation, 
but our redemption by Christ, which is the stupendous instance of his 


goodness to man : Titus iii. 4, ' After the kindness and love of God 
our Saviour towards man appeared,' &c. (In the creation there was- 
(f)i\.a<yye\ia ; in redemption, fyiXavOpoynia.} That God found a ransom 
for us, and so great as his only-begotten Son, this was love and good 
ness indeed. 

[3.] The goodness we expect from him, both in this world and the 
next. Here reconciliation and remission of sins, which is a blessing 
that doth much draw the heart of man to delight in Christ; for 
she loved much to whom much was forgiven, Luke vii. 47. We 
keep off from a condemning God, but draw nigh to a pardoning God. 
Therefore the apostle saith, Heb. vii. 19, The bringing in of this- 
better hope by the gospel doth cause us to draw nigh to God. Being 
at peace with God, and reconciled to him, we may have access with 
confidence and boldness to the throne of grace ; are no more at distance 
with God, looking upon him as a consuming fire. The gospel giveth 
us liberty to come to him, and expect the mercy and bounty of God, 
through Jesus Christ. So in the next world eternal life and glory, 
which is our great reward, merited by Christ : Mat. v. 12, ' Rejoice, 
and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven/ This is 
a solid, lasting, satisfying, substantial good. Worldly joys are but 
seeming, they appear and vanish in a moment, every blast of tempta 
tion scattereth them. Well, then, offers of pardon and life by Christ 
are the matters of this joy, as they free us from the greatest miseries, 
and bring us to the enjoyment of the truest happiness. If you ask 
me, then, Why is a Christian described rather by rejoicing in Christ 
than by rejoicing in the pardon of sins and eternal blessedness ? I 
answer, Because Christ is the author and procurer of these ;, things to 
us ; and by our joy we express not only our esteem of these benefits t 
but our gratitude and thankfulness for the mercy and bounty of God, 
and the great love of our Redeemer. 

3. The description showeth how the sense of this goodness is be- 
'gotten in us. The love of Christ is revealed in the word and shed 
abroad in our' hearts by the Holy Ghost ; and I add, believed by faith, 
and improved by meditation. 

[1.] It is revealed in the gospel, or word of salvation which is 
sent to us. Therefore it is said, Acts xiii. 48, ' When the Gentiles 
heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of God ; and as 
many as were ordained to eternal life believed/ Surely the mind of 
man, which is naturally discomforted and weakened, and strangely 
haunted with doubts and fears about the pardon of sin and eternal 
life, is mightily revived and encouraged with these glad tidings of 
this salvation dispensed to us by a sure covenant, Heb. vi. 18. And 
if the Gentiles that heard these things were glad, proportionably we 
should be glad, for the gospel should never be as stale news to sinners, 
or as a jest often told. Our necessities are as deep as theirs, and the 
covenant standeth as firm to us as it did to them ; therefore if we 
have the heajt of a guilty man, it should be as welcome to us. 

[2.] It is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. So much 
is asserted by the apostle : Rom. v. 5, ' The love of God is shed 
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us/ 
Our dry reason cannot give such a lively sense of these comforts as 


the revelation of the Holy Ghost. And this is the difference between 
a believing by tradition and believing by inspiration. Believing by 
tradition giveth us but cold thoughts of these mysteries, but believing 
by inspiration warmeth the heart, and reviveth it with an unspeakable 
joy, and is called ' tasting the good word,' which is the privilege of 
those who are enlightened by the Spirit, Heb. vi. 4 ; and a tasting 
that the Lord is gracious, 1 Peter ii. 3 ; which much differeth from the 
common reflection upon those things which flesh and blood may give 
us, or the bare reports of men stir up in us. The Spirit's light is 
lovely, and ravisheth and transporteth the soul ; and where it is per 
manent and rooted, it effectually changeth the soul. Some are alto 
gether careless, not affected at all with these things, as the habituated 
worldly sinner, 1 Cor. ii. 14. They are folly to him ; for spiritual 
things must be spiritually discerned. Some are to a degree affected 
by the common work of the Spirit, Heb. vi. 4-6 ; but it is not rooted, 
it is not predominate 1 , so as to control other affections and delights ; 
they have a rejoicing in the offers of pardon and life, but it is a joy 
that leaveth some darling sin still predominant. But there is a third 
sort that have such a taste of these things that they are renewed and 
changed by it, Heb. iii. 6. Now, then, if you would have this rejoicing 
in Christ Jesus, you must apply yourselves to Christ, in the use of the 
appointed means, for the renewing of your natures ; for love and delight 
are never forced, nor will be drawn forth by bare commands and 
threatenings, yea, and not by the proposal of promises, though the 
enjoyments be never so great and glorious. This may a little stir us, 
and this is the matter of joy, but not the cause of joy. But this joy 
proceedeth partly from the inclination when the heart is suited, and 
partly from the attractive goodness of the object ; and both are power 
fully done by the Holy Spirit as the heart is renewed, and the object 
is most effectually represented by him, Eph. i. 17, 18. And this we 
must wait for. 

[3.] It is received and believed by faith. This is often told us in 
the Scripture : 1 Peter i. 18, ' In whom believing, ye rejoice with joy 
unspeakable, and full of glory ;' and Bom. xv. 13, ' The God of hope 
fill you with joy and peace in believing.' We cannot be affected 
with the great things Christ hath done and purchased for us till we 
believe them. There is in faith three things assent, consent, and 

(1.) Assent, or a firm and certain belief of the truth of the gospel 
concerning Christ as the only sufficient Saviour, by whom alone God 
will give us the pardon of sins and eternal life : John iv. 42, ' We 
have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, 
the Saviour of the world ;' and John vi. 69, ' We believe and are 
sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.' When we 
are verily persuaded of this, as we are of anything that appeareth true 
to us, this stirreth up joy. Others have but a hearsay knowledge, not 
a believing assent. Surely Christ is a delectable object ; what hindereth, 
then, but that we rejoice in him ? Nothing but want of 'faith ; for if 
this be true, we so necessitous, and he so all-sufficient a remedy, why 
are we not so affected with these things as the worth of them doth 

1 That is, ' predominant." ED, 


deserve ? Nothing can be rationally said but that we are not soundly 
persuaded of the truth of it. 

(2.) A consent. This grace is dispensed by a covenant which 
bindeth mutually, assureth us of happiness, and requireth duty from 
us. Therefore an unfeigned consent, or a readiness to fulfil those 
terms expressed in the promise, is required of us, or a resolution to 
repent and obey the gospel. Christ hath offices and relations that 
imply our comfort, and other offices and relations which imply our 
duty ; or rather, the same do both. He is our teacher and king, as 
well as our priest ; and we must submit to be ruled and taught by 
him, as well as depend upon the merit of his sacrifice and inter 
cession : Heb. v. 9, ' And being made perfect, he became the author 
of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.' And they are so 
taught the truth that is in Jesus, that they put off the old man, and 
put on the new, Eph. iv. 20, 21. True believers must be scholars, 
daily learning somewhat from Christ; yea, his priesthood implieth 
duty, dependence, humble addresses ; a broken-hearted coming to 
God by him ; as his kingship and prophetical office implieth privi 
lege also. His defending and teaching us by his Spirit. 

(3.) There is affiance, which is a reposing of our hearts, or a rely 
ing upon God promising remission of sins and eternal life for Christ's 
sake alone that he will be as good as his word, while we diligently 
use the means ordained to this end, Eom. ii. 7. And this confidence 
hath an influence upon this joy, Heb. iii. 6, or a delightful sense of 
our Redeemer's grace. 

[4.] It is improved by meditation ; for the greatest things do not 
work unless we think of them, and work them into our hearts. The 
natural way of operation is, that objects stir up thoughts, and thoughts 
stir up affections : Ps. civ. 34, ' My meditation of him shall be sweet ; 
I will be glad in the Lord.' The more frequent and serious thoughts 
we have- of the love of God in Christ, and the more deep and pon 
derous they are, the more do they blow up this holy fire into a flame. 
Now, for this end was the Lord's Supper instituted, where the whole 
gospel is applied and sealed to us, that this delight might be afresh 
acted and stirred in us at the Lord's Table, while our minds are taken 
up in considering Christ the great apostle and high priest of our con 
fession, Heb. iii. 1. Surely it should not be an idle and fruitless 
contemplation ; it should stir up love, and what stirreth up love 
stirreth up delight. I come now to the last part of the description. 

[5.] The particular affection caused by this sense is mentioned : We 
delight in the grace of the Redeemer more than in all other things 

Where (1.) Take notice of the affection itself. 

Then (2.) The degree of it. 

(1.) The affection itself, which is delight, or a well-pleasedness of 
mind, in the grace that is brought to us by the knowledge of Christ. 
This enlargeth the heart, and filleth it with a sweetness and content 
ment; and the vent of it is praise, for the heart being enlarged, can 
not hold and contain itself : Ps. ix. 14, ' I will show forth all thy 
praise in the gates of the daughter of Sion ; I will rejoice in thy salva 
tion.' Joy cannot be kept within doors; it will break out in all 


suitable ways of expression. The heart doth first rejoice, and then 
the tongue doth overflow. The heart is filled with joy, and then the 
tongue with thanksgiving. So Ps. xxxv. 9, ' My soul shall be joyful 
in the Lord ; it shall rejoice in his salvation.' Nothing disposeth the 
heart to praise so much as this holy joy. There is no true thanks 
giving if this be not at the bottom of it. 

(2.) For the degree : The heart doth delight in Christ above all 
other things. As to the sensitive expression in the lively stirring of 
joy, we may to appearance be more affected with outward benefits, 
because fleshly objects do more work upon our fleshly senses, as carry 
ing a greater suitableness to them. Keligion is a grave, severe thing, 
not seen so much in actual transports, as in the habitual complacency 
and well-pleasedness of the mind : yet in solemn duties there may be 
as great ravishment of soul : Ps. Ixiii. 5, ' My soul shall be ravished 
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 in effect transported with it, more than with all the 
delicates and banquets of the world, and cannot hold from praising 
God. But generally it must be measured by our solid complacency 
and judicious esteem. What we prize most, and would least want, 
and would not forego for all other things ; so the saints rejoice in God 
and Christ more than in any worldly matter whatsoever : Ps. Ixxiii. 
25, ' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth 
that I desire besides thee ;' Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the way 
of thy testimonies as much as in all riches ;' 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 ;' 
Ps. Ixiii. 3, ' Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips 
shall praise thee.' This is that which they love most, and keep best, 
and are most loth to want. This is that which giveth a value to life 
itself ; and without which that which is most precious and desirable 
is little or nothing worth ; and giveth them more comfort than what 
is most comfortable in this world ; and is the most cheerful employ 
ment for their thoughts to think upon. This is delight in Christ. 

II. Whether this may be had without assurance ? And can those 
who are dark in their interest in Christ, and know not whether they 
have any grace or no, rejoice in him ? To this I answer, Yes, cer 
tainly; for there are general grounds of rejoicing, for the gospel 
bringeth glad tidings to sinners, as it offereth to them a way how to 
escape out of their misery, and enter into the peace of God. 

But more distinctly : 

1. The scripture speaketh of a twofold rejoicing in Christ before 
faith and after faith. Before faith is full-grown and is but in the 
making, as those, Acts xiii. 48, ' When they heard this, they were 
glad,' &c. ; and he that had found the true treasure, for joy thereof 
sold all that he had, Mat. xiii. 44. There was joy before the thorough 
consent though introductive of it, yet antecedent to it. And the 
reason is, because God hath showed them the way how to free them 
selves from misery, and to enjoy true felicity and happiness. Now, if 
there may be a joy before faith, certainly before assurance. The verv 


offer of a remedy is comfortable when in misery. And then there is a 
joy after faith, as joy and peace in believing, when they take the course 
to get this liberty and deliverance by Christ ; yet this is faith, not as 
surance. As a sick man, when he heareth -of an able physician who 
hath cured many of the same disease wherewith he is oppressed, he 
rejoiceth, and conceiveth some hope that he maybe cured also. When 
he hath lighted upon this physician, and beginneth to make use of his 
healing medicines, he is more glad, and expecteth the cure. But when 
he is perfectly recovered, and feeleth it, then he is glad indeed. So 
when a broken-hearted creature heareth the glad tidings of the gospel, 
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, he rejoiceth 
that God hath found out such a Saviour to recover the lapsed estate of 
mankind. But when he submitteth to Christ's healing methods, and 
trusts himself with his skill and fidelity, he is more comforted, and 
doth more intimately feel the benefit of this course in his own soul ; 
but as he groweth more assured of his health and salvation, his com 
fort still increaseth, and his joy is more unspeakable and glorious. So 
that this joy may be without assurance, for the causes of it at first are 
knowledge and faith. 

2. There is a joy that accompanieth seeking, even before we attain 
what we seek after : Ps. cv. 3, ' Let the heart of them rejoice that seek 
the Lord.' There is a great deal of contentment in this course, though 
that complacential joy which is our full reward be yet reserved for us. 
Yet there is a joy in seeking ; better be a seeker than a wanderer. This 
blessed Saviour am I waiting upon ! Though we have attained to 
little communion with him, yet it is a comfort that we are seeking 
farther measure. Delight and joy keepeth up our endeavours. 

3. When our right is cleared, then we have more abundant joy : 
2 Pet. i. 10, 11, ' Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to 
make your calling and election sure ; for if ye do these things, you 
shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be administered to you 
abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour 
Jesus Christ.' Some are afar off, others not far from the kingdom of 
God ; others make a hard shift to go to heaven through many doubts 
and fears, some sail into the haven of glory with full sails, with much 
joy and peace of soul 

III. I shall show you the spiritual profit of this joy. 

1. It is such a joy as doth enlarge our heart in duty, and strengthens 
us in. the way of God : Neh. viii. 10, ' The joy of the Lord is your 
strength/ There is a natural deadness and dulness in holy duties, 
which we often find in ourselves, which cometh to pass partly from the 
back-bias of corruption, weakening our delight in God, and partly from 
the remissness of our will towards spiritual and heavenly things. Now, 
the most proper and kindly cure of it is this delight and rejoicing in 
Christ ; for a man will readily do those things which he delighteth in, 
though toilsome and difficult. Let the heart be but affected with the 
grace of Christ, and our joy will soon vent itself in a thankful and de 
lightful obedience : 1 John v. 3, ' For this is the love of God, that we 
keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous ; ' 
Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much 
as in all riches ; ' Ps. xl. 8, ' I delight to do thy will, my God ; yea, 


Iliy law is within my heart.' The hardest services are pleasant to 
one that delighteth in Christ ; they are sweetened by his love, and 
quickened and enlivened by the sense and esteem that we have of the 
benefits he procureth for us. Shall we refuse to do anything for such 
a compassionate Saviour, who died for us to reconcile us to God, and 
bring us to the everlasting fruition of him ? So that the life of ail 
obedience dependeth on this joy. 

2. It is our cordial to fortify us against all the calamities and infeli 
cities of the present world, and maketh every bitter thing sweet to us, 
whether they be the common afflictions incident to man, or persecutions 
for righteousness' sake. 

[1.] For the common afflictions. A Christian is never in a right 
frame till he hath learned contentment in all estates ; that he doth 
not overjoy in worldly comforts, nor overgrieve for worldly losses, 
1 Cor, vii. 30, but carrieth himself as one that is above the hopes and 
fears of the world. Now, there are many means to be used that we 
may get this humble and composed frame of heart ; but the most con 
stant and effectual cure of worldly sorrow is to keep our rejoicing in 
Jesus Christ, and to be satisfied with the fruits of his redemption. 
This, like the wood that was cast in at Marah to make the bitter 
waters sweet, doth sweeten our troubles, and supply our wants, and 
swallow up our griefs and infelicities ; for we have that in Christ which 
is better than the natural comfort taken from us : 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 flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no 
herd in the stalls ; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God 
of my salvation/ He supposeth not only some want, but an utter 
destitution and desolation of all things, and yet his heart was kept up 
by joy in God. So elsewhere, Kom. xii. 12, ' Kejoicing in hope, 
patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.' The comfort of 
reconciliation with God, and the hopes of heaven, do most breed 
patience in afflictions. And, certainly, joy is the best cure of sorrow; 
contraria contrariis curantur. Now, the joy that must be opposed to 
worldly sorrow is not worldly, but either spiritual or heavenly joy. 
Spiritual in the present fruits of Christ's death : Heb. xii. 11, ' Now 
no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous ; 
nevertheless, afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness 
unto them which are exercised thereby.' Heavenly; surely eternal 
joys will best vanquish temporal sorrows : 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, despising the shame, and is set 
down at the right hand of the throne of God.' This will enable us 
patiently and cheerfully to bear all things. 

[2.] Persecutions. We need to be fortified against this, that we 
may boldly profess our faith in Christ, without any fear of sufferings, 
and may not faint under them, but bear them with courage and con 
stancy Now, this is the fruit of this rejoicing in Christ; witness 
these scriptures : Acts v. 41, ' They went away rejoicing that they 
were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name ; ' Heb. x. 34, ' Ye 
took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye 


have in heaven a better and an enduring substance/ So Mat. v. 12, 
' Eejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven ; 
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you ; ' and in many 
other places ; and 1 Peter iv. 13, ' Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers 
of Christ's sufferings ; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may 
be glad also with an exceeding joy ; ' and James i. 2, ' Count it all 
joy, when ye fall into divers trials.' Surely, Christ and heaven are 
worth something, and such. trials do in part show how much we esteem 
him, and value him above any interest of ours. 

3. It doth draw off the heart from the delights of the flesh. Not 
only contraria contrariis curantur, but similia similibus. Carnal 
pleasures put the soul out of relish with better things, and draw off 
the heart from God. A fleshly mind is easily blinded and enchanted 
with worldly vanities ; therefore, it concerneth us to check our inclina 
tion to sense-pleasing and flesh-pleasing, which is so natural to us. 
How shall it be cured but by seeking our delight elsewhere ? Every 
man must have some oblectation, for love cannot lie idle in the soul ; 
either his love is taken up with the joys of sense or the joys of faith 
with vain pleasures or with chaste and spiritual delights. The one 
spoileth the taste of the other. A spiritual mind, that is feasted with 
higher delights, cannot relish the garlick, and onions, and flesh-pots 
of Egypt : Cant. i. 4, ' We will remember thy loves more than wine/ 
And a brutish heart, that is wholly lost and sunk in these dreggy con 
tentments which gratify sense, valueth not the favour of God, thinketh 
it canting to talk of communion with him, and the joys of hope to be 
fantastical expressions. They love pleasures more than God, 2 Tim. 
iii. 4. Now, if we would restrain and check this inclination, we should 
rejoice in Christ, and delight our minds and hearts in the remembrance 
of his love and benefits. Whatever pleasure a man doth find or 
imagine to find in sensual, fleshly courses, that and much more is to 
be had in Christ, where we rejoice at a surer and more sincere rate : 
Eph. v. 4, ' Not jesting, but rather giving of thanks/ Carnal mirth 
doth not so cheer worldlings as the remembrance of the favours and 
blessings we have by Christ. Keep the heart thankful and sensible 
of God's goodness and Christ's love, and you will not need vain delights. 
So Eph. v. 18, ' Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be 
filled with the Spirit/ These are motives and marks also, for by these 
three things you may know whether you have this joy, yea or no. 

IV. The helps or means by which this joy is raised in us. 

1. A sense of sin and misery. This maketh you more sensible of 
the mercy of the deliverance, and to be more affected with it, as the 
grievousness of a disease maketh the recovery more delightful. The 
law condemned you, his ransom must absolve you ; sin made you dead, 
his grace quickeneth and puts life into you. Always as our sense of 
misery is, so is the sense of the recovery ; if one be bitter, the other is 
sweet. None prize and esteem Christ so much as the broken-hearted 
and burdened. 

2. An entire confidence in Christ : for so it followeth, ' Have no 
confidence in the flesh/ If we have no confidence in the flesh, and 
look ibr all from the mercy and bounty of God through Christ, we 
shall prize him : 1 Peter ii. 7, ' Unto you therefore which believe, he 


is precious ; ' Phil. iii. 8, ' Yea, doubtless, and I count all things 
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 

3. A constant use of the means whereby this joy may be fed and in 
creased in us ; as the word, sacraments, and prayer, The word : Ps. 
cxix. T02, ' I have not departed from thy judgments, for thou hast 
taught me.' Then prayer, suing out of our right : John xvi. 24, ' Ask, 
and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.' So for the sacra 
ments ; baptism : Acts viii. 39, ' When they were come up out of the 
water, the Spirit caught away Philip, so that the eunuch saw him no 
more ; and he went on his way rejoicing.' The Lord's Supper ; it is 
our spiritual refection. 

4. Sincerity of obedience : 1 Cor. v. 8, ' Therefore let us keep the 
feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and 
wickedness ; but with the unleaven bread of sincerity and truth.' 
Practical delight is the chiefest, above that of contemplation, a more 
intimate sense. 

We come now to the last part of a Christian's character: And 
have no confidence in the flesli. To understand it, consider there are 
two things called flesli in scripture. 

1. External privileges belonging to the worldly life ; such as wealth, 
greatness, and worldly honour. Now to glory in these is to glory in 
the flesh, and to trust in these is to trust in the flesh, which should 
be far from Christians : Jer. ix. 23, 24, ' Let not the wise man glory in 
his wisdom, nor the mighty man glory in his might. Let not the rich 
man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that 
he knoweth me, that I am the Lord,' &c. Where the prophet laboureth 
to beat them off from their vain confidences, that they might not rely 
upon their power, policy, and wealth, but a saving knowledge of and 
interest in God, whose goodness and faithfulness could only secure 
them against all evils, and procure them all manner of blessings. 

2. The outward duties and performances of religion, especially the 
ceremonies of Moses. Those, consisting in external observances, are 
called flesh ; and to have confidence in the flesh is to place our confi 
dence in external privileges and duties. For the apostle explaineth 
himself, ver. 4, ' Though I might also have confidence in the flesh : if 
any other man thinketh he may have confidence in the flesh, I more.' 
He was not any whit inferior to any of the Judaizing brethren iu out 
ward privileges and duties ; yea, had greater cause of glorying in the 
flesh than any of the pretenders among them. And then instances, in 
his Jewish privileges, circumcision, his family, his sect a pharisee ; 
his partial obedience or external righteousness ' as to the law blame 
less.' To rest on these things, then, for our acceptance with God is 
to have confidence in the flesh. And elsewhere he saith, Gal. iii. 3, 
' Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect in the flesh ? ' 
when they reverted to the ceremonies of the law. This is called flesh, 
because they consist in outward things. Corrupt nature is pleased 
with such things, and doth plead and stand for them. 

Doct. That a good Christian doth not place his hope and confidence 
of acceptance with God in external privileges and performances. 


In the first character, a Christian is described by his worship ; in 
the second, by his joy ; in the third, by his confidence. 
In handling this point, I shall show you : 

I. What are these externals which are apt to tempt men to a vain 

II. That naturally men are for a mere external way of serving 
God, and place their whole confidence therein. 

III. Why a good Christian should have no confidence in this ex 
ternal conformity to God's law. 

I. What are these externals in religion which are apt to tempt men 
to a vain confidence ? They may be referred to two heads : they are 
either commanded by God or invented by man God's externals or 
man's externals. 

1. God's externals : such as he hath instituted and appointed, either 
in the law of Moses or in the law of Christ. In the law of Moses, such 
as circumcision, with all the appendent rites. These are called, Heb. ix. 
10, ' Carnal ordinances, imposed on them till the time of reformation.' 
These were to be observed while the institution of them was in force 
and stood unrepealed, which was done at the coming of Christ : John 
iv. 23, 24, ' The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers 
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh 
such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must 
worship him in spirit and in truth.' These made great trouble in the 
infancy of the church, for the Jews and Judaizing Christians were 
loth to depart from the rituals under which they were bred and brought 
up, though Christ fully evidenced his comm'ission from heaven to re 
peal those laws, and his apostles strongly pleaded the ancient pro 
phecies which foretold it But these are of no more concernment to 
us, except to direct us how to behave ourselves in like cases. 

2. There are externals in the law of Christ, such as the sacraments 
baptism and the Lord's Supper ; hearing of the word, external 
prayer, and the like. Now the rule is that they must be used, but the 
outward act not rested in as a sufficient ground of our acceptance 
with God. Used they must be in faith and obedience, because 
God hath instituted them under great penalties. As circumcision, 
while the command was in force : Gen. xvii. 14, ' The man-child 
whose flesh is not circumcised shall be cut off from his people ; he 
hath broken my covenant ; ' so baptism : Mark xvi. 16, ' He that be- 
lieveth and is baptized shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall 
be damned.' Not want, but neglect or contempt. Therefore, all 
these duties must be used as means of salvation, and as expressions 
of the inward truth of our faith in God and obedience to him. We 
must not cast off ordinances, but yet they must not be rested in as 
sufficient grounds of our acceptance with God. While circumcision 
was in force, they relied on it, as it distinguished them from other 
nations as the genuine seed of Abraham, and so reckoned to be within 
the covenant. But the servants of God did always disprove 1 this vain 
confidence : Eom. ii. 28, 29, ' He is not a Jew which is one outwardly, 
neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh ; but he is a 
Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in 

1 That is, ' disapprove. ' ED. 


the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of 
God.' They rejoiced in a shadow when they wanted the thing sig 
nified, if there were no mortification of sin, or putting off the body of 
the sins of the flesh. But not only the apostle, but the prophet long 
before disproveth 1 their vain confidence : Jer. ix. 25, 26, ' Behold, the 
days come when I will punish them which are circumcised with the 
uncircumcised ; Egypt and Edom, with the children of Ammon and 
Moab, are uncircumcised in flesh, and all the house of Israel is un 
circumcised in heart.' God would proceed against wicked persons 
and people, circumcised as well as uncircumcised. Were those things 
spoken to them only, and not to us also ? Surely all may learn from 
hence that by a bare submission to outward rites we are not approved 
of God, without minding the true reformation of heart and life, and 
expecting the pardon of our sins by Jesus Christ. You are baptized, 
but are you washed from your sins ? You hear the word, but is it the 
power of God to your salvation ? You frequent sacraments, but is the 
conscience of the bond of the holy oath into which you are entered upon 
your hearts ? There is more required in Christianity than outward 
profession, whether in word or deed namely, the conscience of your 
dedication to God or else the work doth not go deep enough : 1 Cor. 
xiii. 3, ' 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.' 
You content yourselves with your tale and number of duties, praying 
morning and evening, and reading so many chapters ; but where is 
the spirit and the fruit of all that you do ? They that are given to 
fasting think themselves very devout if they fast often, be their hearts 
never so full of rancour. Many huddle over many prayers, but they 
do not go from their heavenly Father with a heavenly mind. They 
give alms, but live loosely. As Michal laid a statue in David's bed, 
and covering it with David's apparel, made Saul's messengers believe 
it was David himself sick in bed ; so many persons cover themselves 
with certain external actions belonging to religion, and the world be- 
lieveth them truly sanctified and spiritual, whenas, indeed, they are 
but statues and apparitions of devotion to God. But this is but a vain 
show, a placing the means instead of the end the subordinate instead 
of the ultimate end. 

2. Man's externals, invented by themselves, by laws of their own, 
and outward observances of their own devising. Men's whole religion 
running out into externals, they are not contented with the forms of 
worship instituted by God, but add somewhat of their own, and love 
to bind themselves in chains of their own making : as the Jews, not 
being perfect as appertaining to the conscience, by the use of the in 
stituted ceremonies of Moses, invented other things to make them more 

Now, as to this, I shall only 'observe : 

[1.] That as the outside of worship is most minded by a carnal 
Christian, so the inside by a renewed Christian : Mat. xv. 8, ' This 
people draweth nigh to me with their mouth, and honoureth me with 
their lips ; but their heart is far from me.' Their hearts are averse 
from God. The carnal Christian is all for uncovering the head, and 

1 That is, ' disapproveth.' -Eo. 


bowing the knee, but taketh no care of the heart : Isa. Iviii. 5, ' Is it 
such a fast that I have chosen ? a day for a man to afflict his soul ? 
is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and 
ashes under him ? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day 
unto the Lord ? ' The pharisees were zealous for washing before meat, 
as if it were an holy religious act, because it was one of their own 
traditions, Mat. xv. 2, but took no notice of inward defilement. 

[2.] They are more zealous for human inventions than moral and 
commanded duties, Mat. xv. 3, 4 for the rudiments of the world, 
as the apostle calleth them, Col. ii. 8, than the unquestionable ordin 
ances of Christ ; for a worldly religion must be supported by worldly 

[3.] I observe, that the more external pomp there is of man's de 
vising, the less spiritual truth ; for it gratifieth the natural corrup 
tion, which is all for the outside. Some few externals God intended 
for an help, but when men will be adding, they become a burden and 
an impediment. God did not abrogate his own ceremonies for men to 
appoint theirs. 

II. That naturally men are merely for an external way of serving 
God, and place their confidence therein. 

Here I shall show you : 

1. That their hearts are set upon external worship. 

2. That therein they place all their confidence. 

1. That naturally men's hearts are chiefly set upon external 
services ; and that 

[1.] Out of laziness ; externals being more easy than worship 
ping God in the spirit : Mat. xxiii. 23, ' They tithe mint, and anise, 
and cummin, but omit the weightier things of the law, ra fiapvrepa 
rov vofjbov, judgment, mercy, faith.' Conscience is like the stomach, 
which naturally desireth to fill itself, and when it cannot digest 
solid food, filleth itself only with wind. So here, outward things are 
more easy, but mortifying sin, and solid godliness, is more diffi 
cult ; this the natural man cannot digest, and therefore culleth out the 
easier and cheaper sort of religion, which puts him to no great trouble 
or self-denial. 

[2.] Out of their indulgence to the flesh. A man can spare anything 
better than his lusts, his estate, the present ease of the body, their 
children, anything for the sin of their souls, Micah vi. 6-8. The 
question is not how to satisfy justice, but how to appease conscience, 
while they retain their sins. They would buy out their peace with 
vast sums of money, mangle their flesh, like the priests of Baal, to 
spare the sin of their souls, do anything, endure anything, but the 
subduing the heart to God. The sensual nature of man is such, that 
he is loth to be crossed ; if he must be crossed, only a little, and but 
for a while ; and therefore affects an easy religion, where the flesh is 
not crossed, or but a little crossed. Now, slight duties performed now 
and then do not much trouble the flesh, where there is no mortifying 
of lusts, no serious godliness. 

[3.] Out of pride. Man is a proud creature, and would fain estab 
lish his own righteousness, and have somewhat wherein to glory in 
himself, Rom. x. 3. A russet coat of our own is better than a silken 



garment that is borrowed of another: Lukexviii. 9, 'Christ spake this 
parable against those who trusted in themselves that they were 
righteous.' There is such a disposition in men, that if by any means 
they can hold up a pretence of righteousness of their own, will not pray, 
and wait, and consecrate, and devote themselves to God, that they may 
attain his righteousness, if they have anything to plead, if they have a 
partial righteousness, if they be not to be numbered among the worst 
of men : Luke xviii. 11, ' The pharisee stood and prayed thus with 
himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extor 
tioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.' If they have an 
external righteousness, they will plead that, ' I fast twice in the week, 
I give tithe of all that I possess/ &c. A legal spirit is natural to us. 
Though men dare not pretend to a universal conformity to the law in 
a strict sense, yet, if they can make a shift to get any external con 
formity to the law, they are confident of divine acceptance. Yea, so 
sottish is their conscience, that they will catch hold of anything : 
Judges xvii. 13, ' Now I know God will bless me, because I have a 
Levite to my priest,' giving him meat and drink, and about fifty 
shillings per annum ! So willing are we to justify ourselves, by some 
thing in ourselves, or done by ourselves. Therefore, that the ell may 
be no broader than the cloth, they devise a short exposition of the law, 
that they may entertain a large opinion of their own righteousness. 

[4.] There is another reason interest. External forms of religion 
draw an interest after them, therefore the apostle saith, Kom. ii. 29, 
' Whose praise is not of men, but of God ; ' and Gal. i. 10, ' If I yet 
please men, I were not the servant of Christ.' And ' rudiments of the 
world,' Col. ii. 8. It maketh a man to be applauded and countenanced 
by the world. Let a man betake himself to such a religion, there are 
those which will back him and stand by him, and their disfavour and 
displeasure he shall incur if he forsake it. And where the false wor 
shippers are the prevailing party, he runneth great hazard by contra 
dicting such form and opinions. Therefore the heart of that man that 
is set on externals takes up with the religion of his country, whether 
true or false. 

2. They place their confidence therein. Every man that hath a 
conscience must have something to trust unto. Now, what feedeth his 
confidence but the religion which he hath chosen ? There are two 
things which detain men from God and Christ : some false imaginary 
happiness, and some counterfeit righteousness, wherein they please 
themselves. The false happiness is as their God, and the counterfeit 
righteousness is as their Christ and mediator, and so they are secure 
and senseless ; and, until God open their eyes, they neither seek after 
another righteousness, nor trouble themselves about the way whereby 
they may attain it. That men set a false happiness is evident, for 
ever since man fell trom God he ran to the creature, Jer. ii. 13, 
left the fountain for the cistern ; and if we can make a shift to patch 
up a sorry happiness apart from God, we never care for him, or will 
not come at him, Jer. ii. 31. Our pleasure, our profit, our honour, 
that is our God. And if we can enjoy these things without any rubs 
and checks, we look no farther, and will not seek our happiness in an 
invisible God, nor wait to enjoy it in an invisible world. But the 


second error is, that there is something instead of Christ to us, to keep 
the conscience quiet Our happiness is to satisfy our desires, our 
righteousness to allay our fears. Now here we run to a superficial 
religion, or something external, which is diversified according to men's 
education pagans to the epyov VO/JLOV, Horn. ii. 15, Jews to the obser 
vances of the law, Christians to baptism, outward profession, or some 
strict form without the power, under which we shelter ourselves, and 
by which we bolster up our confidence, till God convince us of our 
mistakes. And so Christ and his renewing and reconciling grace is 
neglected and disregarded, certainly not cordially accepted as our 
Kedeemer and Saviour. 

I come now to show : 

III. Why a good Christian should have no confidence in the flesh. 

1. Because till we are dead to the law we cannot live to God. Now, 
to be dead to the law is nothing else but to have our confidence in the 
flesh, or external righteousness, mortified. You hear often of being 
dead to sin, and dead to the world ; you must be also dead to the law, 
or otherwise you cannot live in Christ, and bring forth fruit unto God : 
Gal. ii. 19, ' For I through the law am dead to the law, that.I may live 
unto God ; ' and Bom. vii. 4, ' By the body of Christ ye are become 
dead to the law ; that ye may be married to another r even to him who 
is raised from the dead.' We grow dead to the law, when thereby we 
understand our sinful miserable estate without Christ, and how unable 
we are to help ourselves. By the convincing power of the law we know 
our sins; by the condemning power of the law we know the misery and 
curse we are subject unto ; by the irritating power of the law we find 
that the righteousness which the law requireth is not in us, nor can it 
be found in us. Now in one of those places we are said by the law to 
be dead to the law, and in the other, by the body of Christ. By the 
law itself we are said to be dead to the law, as it maketh us to despair 
of righteousness by that covenant. By the body of Christ (that is, by 
the crucified body, or death of Christ), so we are dead to the law, as 
we are invited to a better hope or covenant, which Christ hath estab 
lished by bearing our sins on his body on the tree, or enduring the 
curse of the law for us. Be it by the one, or the other, or both, none 
will value the grace of Christ till they be dead to the law. Men will 
shift as long as they can patch up a sorry righteousness of their own, 
mingle covenants, turn one into another, make one of both, chop, 
change, mangle, and cut short the law of God ^ do anything rather than 
come upon their knees and beg terms of grace in a serious and broken 
hearted manner. None can partake of Christ but those that have their 
legal confidence mortified, who are first driven, then drawn to him. 
None but they who are convinced of sin fly to Christ for righteous 
ness ; none but they who are left obnoxious to wrath and the curse 
prize his delivering us from wrath to come ; none but those who are 
made sensible of their impotency will seek after his renewing grace, 
but will still keep to their base shifts, mingling and blending cove 
nants, resting in a little superficial righteousness, or half-covenant of 
works, or mingling a little grace with it ; are not brought in a humble, 
penitent, and broken-hearted manner, to sue out their pardon in the 
name of Christ, and so regularly to pass from covenant to covenant. 


2. The superficial righteousness doth not only keep men from 
Christ, but set them against Christ, his way, his servants, and true 
interest in the world. These were dogs, evil-workers,, to whom the 
apostle opposeth the true Christians. Usually they that are for the 
form, oppose the power : Gal. iv. 29, ' He that was born after the flesh, 
persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.' They that have but 
the form and shadow of godliness, no more than the power of nature 
carrieth them unto, will persecute those that have the reality and truth, 
that is, the renewing and reconciling grace of Jesus Christ ; partly, 
because the true spiritual worshippers, by their serious godliness, 
disgrace and condemn those that lazily rest in an empty form ; and 
therefore they cannot endure them. At the bottom of their hearts 
they have an enmity and hatred against God, and vent it on his people: 
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.' Partly, because there is in them a 
spirit of envy and emulation ; both are rivals for the favour of God. 
The spiritual worshippers take the right way, and the formalists the 
wrong way to obtain it ; the first are received, the latter rejected. And 
they being at such great pains and costs in their wrong way, cannot 
endure that any should be preferred before them ; witness Cain and 
Abel. Where carnal confidence is, there is bitterness of spirit against 

3. Because they have so much to do with God. They that look to 
men, may rest in an outward appearance ; but one whose business lieth 
mainly with God, must look to the frame of his heart, that it be 
right set towards holiness. Now this is the course of a thorough Chris 
tian. It is God's wrath that he feareth, God's favour that is his 
life and happiness, God's presence into which he often cometh, God's 
mercy from whom he expecteth his reward, and with God he hopeth 
to live for ever. Now, bare externals are of no account or worth with 
God : John iv. 24, ' God is a spirit, and they that worship him must 
worship him in spirit and in truth ;' 1 Sam. xvi. 7, ' But the Lord said 
unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his 
stature, because I have refused him ; for the Lord seeth not as man 
seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh 
on the heart ;' Prov. xvi. 2, ' All the ways of a man are clean in his 
own eyes, but the Lord weigheth the spirit.' Men judge after the 
outward appearance, but God weigheth the spirits. 

4. Because of the nature of gospel worship, which is simple, spiritual, 
and substantial ; therefore called spirit, often in opposition to the cere 
monies of the law, and the ministration of the spirit unto life, 2 Cor. 
iii. 8. The law is called letter, and the gospel spirit. Now, for a 
Christian to turn the ordinances of Christ into flesh, which were 
appointed to be the ministration of the Spirit, this is to alter the nature 
of things, and turn the gospel, by which is all our claim and hope, into 
a dead letter. 

5. This confidence should not be cherished by a Christian, because 
it can bring no solid peace to the conscience, for the present external 
justiciaries are uncertain. The man that kept all these things from his 
youth, saith, ' What lack I yet?' Mat. xix. 20. He asketh as a man 


unsatisfied ; for our bondage doth not wear off with external duties r 
but is increased rather till we are justified in the name of Christ, and 
sanctified by his Spirit. But suppose it satisfieth blind conscience for 
the present, yet afterwards, men whose hearts are not found in God's 
statutes, fall into sad complaints, and are involved in a maze and 
labyrinth of doubts and troubles, whence they know not how to extri 
cate themselves. They have so much sense of religion as to understand 
their duty, and yet are so little brought under the power of it, as not 
to be able to make out their claim. But if this be not the case of all, 
when the hour of death cometh, we shall find all is but froth, 1 Cor. 
v. 5, 6. If we have not minded the Redeemer's grace, his whole grace, 
the imputation of his righteousness, and the regeneration of his Spirit, 
and lived in obedience to his sanctifying motions, then we shall be 
filled with horror and amazement. 

The first use is caution. Take heed of having confidence in the 
flesh, of placing religion, and valuing your interest in God, by external 
observances ; but look to this, that your hearts be upright with God 
in the new covenant. To this end : 

1. Take heed of a false happiness. The wisdom of the flesh, which 
is natural to us, doth incline us to it, James iii. 15, doth only prompt 
us to pleasure, profit, and honour. We set our hearts on vain delights, 
and are wholly carried to them, value our happiness by them. Whilst 
we indulge this sensual inclination, the soul careth not for God, other 
things are set up instead of God. The belly is god : Phil. iii. 19, 
' Whose God is their belly/ Mammon is their god, Mat. vi. 24. And 
honour and worldly greatness is another idol which men set up, while 
they value the praise of men more than the praise of God, John xii. 
43. Carnal self-love maketh idols, and sets up other gods instead of 
the true God. Now therefore make it your first work to return to God 
as your rightful lord and chief happiness, as your sovereign lord. 
If you make it your business and purpose to worship God in the spirit, 
you will rejoice in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh. Spiritual 
worship convinceth us of defects, and you will see a need of Christ's 
renewing and reconciling grace. Our treasure and happiness is our 
god. Now therefore do you value your happiness by the favour of 
God, and not by worldly things ? 

2. In the next place, take heed of a superficial righteousness ; for 
this is plain confidence in the flesh. This maketh you senseless and 
ignorant of your danger, and careless of the means of your recovery, 
and so your conviction and conversion is more difficult. And therefore 
Christ saith, that publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of God 
before pharisees and self -justiciaries, Mat. xxi. 31. No condition is 
more dangerous than to be poor and proud ; corrupt, and yet conceited 
and confident. The most vicious are sooner wrought upon than those 
that please themselves in external observances, without real internal 
holiness or change of heart. 

This is twofold : 

1. Outward ordinances. 

2. Partial morality. 

1. Outward ordinances : to rest in your attendance upon and use 
of these. Consider how displeased God was with those that submitted 


to sacraments without reformation : 1 Cor. x. 1-5, ' With many of 
them God was not well pleased, but they were overthrown in the 
wilderness.' Spiritual meat and spiritual drink could not keep them 
from destruction when they murmured, when they fell from Christ 
to idolatry, when they lusted after quails, when they tempted Christ ; 
and will he be more favourable to you? Oh, rest not then in the 
outward use of the ordinances of Christ ! God may vouchsafe you 
this favour, and yet not be well pleased with you. Many that have 
eaten and drunk in his presence, yet are finally rejected for their 
sins, Luke xiii. 26. Many prize the seal, yet tear the bond ; that is, 
break the covenant, yet seem to value the seal of the covenant, that 
they may have confidence in the flesh, in the bare external per 

2. Partial morality: those that live fairly and plausibly, but 
want the true principle, the spirit of Christ ; the true rule, the word 
of God ; the true end, the glory of God ; that are in with one duty 
and out with another ; fail in their duties to God or men ; are much 
in worship, but defective in common righteousness ; love friends, but 
cannot forgive enemies ; it may be they will forgive wrongs, but make 
no conscience of paying debts. Now there are two arguments against 
these : these neither understand the law nor the gospel ; not the law, 
its strictness, purity, and spiritual exactness ; nor the gospel, which 
ofiereth a remedy only to the penitent, those who are deeply affected 
with the pollution of their natures, the sins of their lives, and the con 
sequent misery ; but those that are puffed up with a vain conceit of the 
goodness of their estate, without any brokenness of heart. 

[1.] They are injurious to the law, as they curtail it and reduce it 
to the external work, Gal. iv. 20. Ye that desire to be under the law, 
hear what the law saith ; if you will stand to that covenant, do you 
know what it is? The duty is impossible, Horn. viii. 3. The penalty 
is intolerable, for ' the law worketh wrath ;' and it is a law of sin and 
death to the fallen creature, Rom. viii. 2. The curse is very dreadful 
and terrible. Nothing more opposite to the law than this partial 
righteousness. The law, well understood, would humble them. 

[2.] This resting in a partial external righteousness is also opposite 
to the gospel, which inviteth us in a broken-hearted manner to accept 
Christ. He came to call sinners, not those who are righteous in their 
own eyes, Mat. ix. 13. It is a remedy for lost sinners, not for them 
that need no repentance : Luke xv. 7, ' I say unto you, that likewise 
joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over 
ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.' Nothing is 
more opposite to the gospel than this confidence in the flesh. The 
woman that was a sinner was preferred before Simon a pharisee, Luke 
vii. 44 ; and the self-condemning publican before the self-justifying 
pharisee, Luke xviii. 13 ; the penitent adulteress before her accusers, 
John viii. The most despised sinners, repenting and believing in 
Christ, find more grace and place with him than those that satisfy 
themselves with some external conformities. 

A second use is by way of examination. Are you of this temper, 
that you have no confidence in the flesh ? 

If you are : 


1. You are still kept humble and thankful ; humble, with a sense 
of sin and deserved wrath ; confessing and forsaking your sins, and 
glorying in Christ only, you are kept vile in your own eyes, and in a 
humble admiration of grace : Luke vii. 47, ' Wherefore I say unto you, 
her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, for she loved much,' &c. She 
loved much, because much was forgiven. When God is pacified, yet 
you loathe yourselves : Ezek. xvi. 63, ' That thou mayest remember 
and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of 
thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee, for all that thou hast 
done, saith the Lord God.' And you ascribe all to the mercy of God 
and the merit of Christ ; blessing God for him and imploring pardon 
for your best duties, our righteousness being but as filthy rags. 

2. A partial outside obedience will not satisfy you. A heart that 
findeth rest in empty formal services certainly places confidence in the 
flesh. They neither look after the change of their natures, nor their 
reconciliation with God by Christ. They challenge God : Isa. Iviii. 3, 
' Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not ? wherefore 
have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge ?' and Luke 
xviii. 12, ' I fast twice in the week, and I give tithe of all that I possess.' 

3. Thankfulness or gratitude sets you a- work for God, rather than 
a legal conscience. Duties are performed as a thank-offering rather 
than a sin-offering, out of love to God rather than fear. 


Let, therefore, as many as be perfect be thus minded; and if in any 
thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto 
you. PHIL. III. 15. 

THESE words are inferred out of the foregoing context, as the illative 
particle therefore showeth. 

In the words are two things : 

1. His exhortation to the strong and grown Christian : Let us there 
fore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded. 

2. His condescension to the weak : And if in ant/thing ye be other 
wise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 

In the former branch we have : 

1. The term by which the strong Christian is expressed : ' As many 
as be perfect.' He had said before of himself that he was not yet 
perfect, ver. 12. Yet now he supposeth it both of himself and others : 
' Let us therefore, as many as be perfect.' Therefore perfection must 
be taken in a limited sense, to avoid the seeming contradiction. 

2. The advice or counsel given, ' Be thus minded ; ' what is that ? 
rovro (j)povelT, ' Think the same thing with me.' What that is must 
be known by the foregoing context, and may be gathered from the 
third verse. He had spoken of some false teachers and Judaizing 
brethren, who gave out themselves to be patrons and defenders of the 
circumcision, and other ceremonies of the law, as if these things did 
commend them to God. Now the apostle reproveth them, and saith 
they were not TrepcTo/Jurj, ' the circumcision,' but Acararo//,?;, ' the con 
cision,' destroyers and renders of the church, not the true people of 
God, who were sometimes noted by the term circumcision. They are 
the concision, the cutters and dividers of the church ; but we are 
7repiTOfji,r), the true circumcision, ' who serve God in the spirit, and 
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh ; ' that is, 
who have no confidence in any superficial righteousness, but seek our 
justification before God, and the renovation of our natures from Christ 
alone ; and serve God by exercising this grace in faith, love, and hope ; 
or who seek to Christ alone for his renewing and reconciling grace, 
that we may serve God in a spiritual manner, and so at length attain 


the promised glory. Now this he proveth by his own instance, who 
had as much cause to glory in the flesh as any of them, but suffered 
the loss of all things, and counted all things wherein they gloried, and 
he might have gloried, but loss and dung, that he might obtain this 
grace from Christ Jesus, and at length, after a diligent, self-denying 
course of service and obedience, be brought home to God. Now, saith 
he, ' As many as be perfect, rovro (frpoveire, mind this,' take care of 
this, and do you, with the loss of all things, press to this. 

3. His condescension to the weak, who were not satisfied with the 
abrogation of the ceremonies of the law, though they had embraced 
other parts and points of Christianity : ' And if in anything ye be 
otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.' Here 

[1.] Something is supposed, that they should not be cut off from 
the rest of Christians, either by the harsh censures or rigorous deal 
ing of the strong, or the pertinacious obstinacy of the weak. The 
perfect, that have the truth of their side, must not condemn others ; 
nor the weak must not condemn and censure them. 

[2.] Something expressed, or the reason of this mutual condescen 
sion and forbearance. If they be sincere and humble, God will at length 
show them the truth. 

I begin with his counsel to the strong and grown Christian ; and 
there I shall speak, first, of the term by which they are expressed : 
' Let as many of us as be perfect.' 

Doct. That there is a kind of perfection attainable in this life. 

I shall, first, explain the point by several distinctions. 

Secondly, prove that all Christians should endeavour to be perfect. 

For the first, there is a double perfection : perfectio termini et 
prcemii, and perfectio vice sen cognitionis et sanctitatis a perfection 
of the reward, and a perfection of grace. 

1. Of the reward which the saints shall have in heaven, where they 
are freed from all sinful weakness : 1 Cor. xiii. 10, ' When that which 
is perfect shall come, then that which is in part shall be done away.' 
In heaven there is perfect felicity and exact holiness ; then the saints 
are glorious saints indeed, when they have neither spot, nor wrinkle, 
nor blemish, nor any such thing, Eph. v. 27 ; when ' presented faultless 
before the presence of his glory,' Jude 24. Now this we have not 
in the world ; but because this we expect in the other world, we are 
to labour after the highest perfection in holiness here, because allowed 
imperfection is a disesteem of blessedness. Do we count immaculate 
purity and perfection in holiness to be our blessedness hereafter ? and 
shall we shun it, and fly from it, or at least neglect it, as if it were our 
burden now ? No surely ! ' He that hath this hope in him purifieth 
himself, as Christ is pure,' 1 John iii. 3. He that looketh not for a 
Turkish paradise, but a sinless estate, will endeavour it now, get as 
much as he can of it now. When you cease to grow in holiness you 
cease to go on any farther to salvation ; you seem to be out of love with 
heaven and blessedness when your desires and endeavours are slaked. 

2. The perfection of grace and holiness is such as the saints may 
attain unto in this life : Col. iv. 12, ' That ye may stand perfect and com 
plete in all the will of God.' So we are perfect when we want none 
of those things which are necessary to salvation, when we study to 


avoid all known sin, and address ourselves to the practice of all known 
duty, serving God universally and entirely. 

Secondly, There is perfection legal and evangelical. Legal is un- 
sinning obedience ; evangelical is sincere obedience : the one is where 
there is no sin ; the other no guile, no allowed guile. The one 
standeth in an exact conformity to God's law, the other in a sincere 
endeavour to fulfil it ; the one will endure the balance, the other can 
only endure the touchstone. 

1. The legal perfection is described Gal. iii. 10, 'Cursed is every 
one that continueth not in all the words of this law to do them.' A 
personal, perpetual perfect obedience. It supposeth a man innocent ; 
it requireth that he should continue so ; for the least offence, 
according to that covenant, layeth us open to a curse ; as the angels, 
for one sin, once committed, were turned out of heaven, and Adam out 
of paradise. The omitting of aught we are to perform, the commit 
ting aught we are forbidden, yea, the least warping, as well as swerv 
ing, by an obliquity of heart and spirit, maketh us guilty before God. 
Now this is become impossible through the weakness of our flesh. 
Kom. viii. 3. Man is fallen already, and hath mixed principles in him, 
and cannot be thus exact with God. 

2. Evangelical : when the heart is faithful with God, fixedly bent 
and set to please him in all things : 2 Kings xx. 3, ' Kemember, 
Lord, I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.' 
This may be pleaded in subordination to Christ's righteousness ; this 
perfection is consistent with weakness : 2 Chron. xv. 17, ' Neverthe 
less, the heart of Asa was perfect all his days ; ' and yet he is taxed 
with several infirmities. This perfection all must have : 1 Chron. 
xxviii. 9, ' And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy 
father, and serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind.' 
What is done for God, as it must be done willingly, readily, not by 
constraint, but the native inclination of the soul ; so perfectly, that is, 
with all exactness possible. As some may do many things which are 
good, but their hearts are not perfect with God : 2 Chron. xxv. 2, 
' He did that which is right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a 
perfect heart.' Not a sincere bent of soul towards God alone. When 
the heart is divided between God and other things, Hosea x. 2, ' Their 
heart is divided ; ' James i. 8, ' A double-minded man is unstable in 
all his ways.' A heart against a heart ; in point of faith, between 
God and other confidences ; in point of love, between God and the 
vanities of the world ; and God's interest is not chief, nor do we love 
him above all things ; in point of obedience, between pleasing God 
and pleasing men, and pleasing God and our own vain fancies and 
appetites, honouring God and promoting our worldly ends ; you set up 
a rival and partner with God. Now this perfection we must have, or 
else not in a state of salvation. 

Thirdly, There is a perfection absolute and comparative. 

1. That is absolutely perfect to which nothing is wanting. This is in 
our Lord Christ, who had the Spirit without measure ; this is in our 
rule, but not in them that follow the rule : Ps. xviii. 30, ' As for 
God, his way is perfect.' But that absolute perfection is not in any of 
the saints here upon earth, I prove by these arguments : 


[1.] Where there are many relics of flesh or carnal nature left, 
there a man cannot be absolutely perfect ; but so it is with all the 
godly, there is a double-warring working principle in them: Gal. v. 17, 
' For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, 
and these are contrary the one to the other ; so that ye cannot do the 
things that ye would.' And it is actually confirmed in Paul, witness 
his groans, Rom. vii. 24, ' Oh wretched man that I am ! who shall 
deliver me from the body of this death ? ' Mark there, the apostle 
speaketh of himself, not of another ; of himself, in his present renewed 
estate, not of his past and unconverted estate, when a pharisee. His 
past estate he had spoken of, ver. 9, ' Sin revived, and I died ; ' but, ver. 
14, ' I am carnal ;' and ver. 15, ' That which I do, I allow not ;' and 
ver. 18, ' How to perform that whic*h is good, I find not.' Many 
things there said cannot agree to a carnal man. As, for instance, not 
allowing sin, ver. 15 ; hating sin, in the same verse : ' What I hate, 
that do I ; ' so delight in the law of God, ver. 22. Again, there is a 
double man distinguished, ver. 17, ' It is no more I, but sin that 
dwelleth in me.' Again, he distinguisheth between him and his flesh, 
ver. 18 ; so between an outward and inward man, ver. 22, 23. Lastly, 
He giveth thanks for deliverance by Christ, all which are competent 
only to the regenerate. Now, these things being so, surely God's best 
servants are not absolutely perfect. 

[2.] There are none but sometimes sin : 1 Kings viii. 46, ' For there 
is no man that sinneth not ;' and Eccles. vii. 20, ' There is not a just 
man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not ;' and James iii. 2, 
' In many things we offend all ; ' 1 John i. 8, ' If we say we have no 
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' Therefore, no 
man so perfect as to be without all sin. 

[3.] There is none but need the mercy of God, and ought to pray 
for this mercy for the pardon of their daily sins, Mat. vi. 13, as we 
pray for daily bread. This petition our Lord directeth us to put up, 
not for the sins of others, but our own. Now these arguments prove 
that no man hath a righteousness that is perfect, without defects. The 
best of God's children have innumerable frailties, which may humble 
them, and which should be seriously laid to heart, and watched over, 
every step of our way to heaven. 

2. There is a comparative perfection, and that is twofold : 

[1.] When those who live under the law of Christianity are com 
pared with other institutions. 

[2.] When the professors of Christianity are compared among them 

[1.] When the professors of Christianity are compared with those 
that live under other institutions. They that submit to Christ's terms 
are said to be perfect, because Christianity itself is a perfection. For 
instance, take that one place (and the rather, that I may wrest it out 
of the hands of the Papists, who distinguish between evangelical pre 
cepts of necessary duty, and counsels of perfection, to establish monkery 
and voluntary poverty, as a more perfect state of life than that which 
the common sort of Christians live). Their most colourable place is 
Mat. xix. 21, ' Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all 
that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in 


heaven, and come and follow me.' Is not this a counsel of perfection ? 
Doth not Christ call it so ? Or is every one bound to give all his goods 
to the poor, and turn monks or anchorites ? No ; the meaning of the 
word, If thou wilt be perfect, is no more but this, if thou wilt ascend 
to that higher pitch and rule of living, to which I come to raise men, 
if thou wilt be a Christian. The perfection here spoken of is Christi 
anity itself, not a heroic eminent degree of it ; and the condition here 
required is matter of command, not counsel ; only such as if we will 
not submit to, we are not Christians ; for a man that would have the 
privileges of the gospel, he must submit to the duties of the gospel, or 
the conditions required by Christ, that is to be a perfect, thorough 
Christian. You will say, Must we sell all and give to the poor, in con 
templation of the heavenly reward ? 

Ans. 1. Every man is bound to bestow goods, land, and life as God 
shall direct, and part with all the wealth in the world whensoever it 
is required of him. Now, it may be required of us directly or by con 
sequence. Directly, by an expressed command, such as this young 
man had from Christ ; and actually to sell our estates, and give to 
the poor, obligeth none, unless we have such a like command from 
Christ himself as this young rich man had. By consequence, when we 
cannot obey any particular precept of Christ without danger of being 
undone by it. And so it obligeth all Christ's disciples to part with 
all, rather than to break with Christ ; for no man is a Christian unless 
he selleth all for the pearl of price, Mat. xiii. 46. And our Lord telleth 
us, that he that loveth anything more than him, is not worthy of him, 
Mat. x. 37 ; that is, is no Christian ; so that if it be impossible to pre 
serve our fidelity and obedience without parting with our wealth, we 
must impartially perform it, though it be with loss of estate and life 
itself ; and if we do not resolve and undertake to do so, we are no 
Christians, and cannot be saved. In baptism, we vow to forsake the 
world and follow Christ, when the world conieth in competition with 
him. If, in a time of trial, we do not perform it, we forfeit the privi 
leges of Christianity, and all title to blessedness. Therefore this per 
fection is necessary for all Christians. You esteem, prefer, choose 
Christ above all, resolving, whatever it cost you, to be faithful to him ; 
it is not a high and arbitrary point in Christianity, but a necessary 
duty. You will say, What can the strongest Christian do more than 
sell all, than part with all ? Answer, They can do it with far greater 
love, readiness, and joy, than the weak Christian can do. The differ 
ence between Christians is not in the thing done, but the manner of 
doing. Well, then, this is to be perfect, thus must you all be perfect ; 
for this perfection is necessarily constitutive of sincerity ; you are not 
true Christians without it. 

[2.] When compared with others of the same profession, believers are 
distinguished into perfect and imperfect. Though none can attain to 
absolute perfection of holiness, yet there are several degrees of grace, 
and diversities of growth among Christians, and the strong are said to 
be perfect in comparison of those weak ones who are raw in know 
ledge, or feeble and impotent in the resistance of sin. Thus the per 
fect are opposed to the babes in Christ ; as, when he had spoken of 
our ' growing into a perfect man in Christ Jesus,' he presently addeth, 


' That henceforth we be no more children,' Eph. iv. 13, 14. And 
elsewhere, when he had spoken of the ' perfect,' 1 Cor. ii. 6, who are 
skilful in spiritual things, he presently opposeth to them the ' babes 
in Christ,' chap. iii. 1. The same you may observe in Heb. v. 13, 14, 
' He that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness, for he 
is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age,' 
reXetot, ' perfect,' as in the margin. See also 1 Cor. xiv. 20, ' Bre 
thren, be not children in understanding ; howbeit, in malice be ye 
children, but in understanding be men/ ' perfect, or ripe of age.' 
These, and many other places, show the notion of perfect : it is not 
absolutely taken, but comparatively. Those who well and thoroughly 
understand Christian doctrine, and are habituated to a course of god 
liness, and have a confirmed faith and love to God, and this in oppo 
sition to novices and inexperienced Christians newly entered into 
Christ's school. Now thus we must be perfect, not always children. 
It is a monstrous thing, after many years' growth to be a babe still, 
and an infant still. This sense is of chief regard here. 

3. There is a perfection of parts, and a perfection of degrees ; that 
is growth. 

[1.] Perfection of parts is when we have all things that belong to 
a sincere Christian, or to a state of salvation ; as living creatures are 
perfect as soon as they are brought forth, for they have all things 
belonging to that creature ; it is not maimed or defective in any part : 
thus an infant is perfect the first day of his birth, as well as a man of 
riper age. Thus a Christian must have the perfection of integrity, all 
the parts which belong to a new creature ; grace to enlighten the 
mind, bend and incline the heart to God, govern the affections, rule 
the appetite ; one grace added to another, that the Christian may be 
entire and perfect, and in no point lacking, James i. 4. What is de 
fective in parts cannot be supplied by any after-growth. A Christian 
cannot be .perfect in degrees unless he be perfect in parts ; leave out 
one necessary grace and the new creature is maimed ; some leave out 
temperance, others patience, others love, 1 Peter ii. 5, 6, 7. 

[2.] There is a perfection of degrees, that is, when a thing is abso 
lute and complete, and to which nothing is wanting, and hath attained 
its ctKfjir) and highest pitch. So we are only perfect in heaven, Heb. xii. 
23, ' The spirits of just men made perfect ; ' those spirits who are un 
clothed and divested of the body ; in their mortal life only they were 
upright, 1 but in their heavenly life perfect. Here they walked with 
God, and endeavoured an universal obedience to him, and so made 
capable ; but now live with God, and are admitted into a nearer com 
munion with him than we mortals are ; they are freed from all sin 
and temptation, they are beyond growth : corn doth not grow in the 
garner, but in the field. Well, then, though we be not perfect in de 
grees, yet we must all be perfect as to parts, we must entirely resign 
ourselves to God's use, without allowing any part or corner of our 
hearts to be possessed by any other. 

4. Perfection is to be considered with respect (1.) to our growth, or 
(2.) our consummation ; here it is only in fieri, there in facto esse. 
Things are said to be done when they are begun to be done, 2 

1 That is, ' they were only upright.' ED. 


Cor. v. 17. And so they are said to be perfect who are in the way 
of perfection ; he that is in his growing estate, increasing more unto 
grace and righteousness ; 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' Beholding as in a glass the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image ; ' 2 Cor. iv. 16, 
' Though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day 
by day.' They do seriously set upon the work. Thus perfectionis taken : 

[1.] As to means. The ministry was appointed 'for the perfecting 
of the saints/ Eph. iv. 12. That they may be more enlightened and 
more sanctified ; more brought to the knowledge of God and obedience 
of his will. There are means appointed by God for the perfecting of 
grace, as well as the first working of it in us : 1 Thes. iii. 10, ' That I 
may perfect what is lacking to your faith.' 

[2.] As to the improvement of means: 2 Cor. vii. 1, 'Perfecting 
holiness in the fear of God/ making progress in the way of grace 
towards perfection, when the habit is more increased : 2 Peter i. 8, ' For 
if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall 
neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ/ And 
Christian practice is more uniform : 1 Thes. iv. 1, ' That as ye have 
received of us how ye ought to walk and please God, so that ye would 
abound more and more/ It is not enough to have grace, but we must 
grow in grace ; progress is always necessary, though exact perfection be 
not attained, so that then the heart is perfect with God, when you 
make it not a slight purpose only, but your constant endeavour to come 
up to your pattern and rule, continually striving against sin, and aiming 
at a higher degree of holiness. 

(2.) Consummate. When after all the hazards of the present life, 
when at length we shall be presented to Christ, and by Christ to God. 
Presented to Christ : Col. i. 28, ' That we may present every man per 
fect in Christ Jesus ; ' that is, fully complete, according to that holiness 
required and exemplified by Christ. And by Christ to God : Col. i. 22, 
' To present you holy, and unblamable, and irreprovable in his sight/ 

I now come to the reasons. 

Secondly, The reasons why we must be perfect, that is, not only 
sincere, having all parts of a Christian, but endeavour after the highest 
perfection, and for the present, want nothing conducible nor necessary 
to salvation. 

1. We have a perfect God : Mat. v. 43, ' Be ye perfect, as your 
heavenly Father is perfect/ God's perfection is our copy, and that is 
exact, and we are required to imitate him ; and, therefore, we must not 
set bounds to our holiness, and say, ' Hitherto shalt thou come, and no 
further ;' when we are come never so far, yet this is not like God. The 
force of this rule is not taken off, because it is limited to one perfection 
in the divine nature in the Evangelist Luke, for he readeth, instead of 
being perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, ' Be ye merciful, as 
your heavenly Father is merciful/ Luke vi. 36 that is a special way 
of Christian perfection ; but God's children must aim at the perfection 
of all virtues, not only love to enemies. As mercy is one of the divine 
perfections which we ought to imitate, so is holiness, veracity, and wis 
dom, 1 Peter i. 15, 16. Surely this direction was given in the gospel 
to some purpose or not : if not, then Christ spoke words in vain ; if to 
some purpose, we are obliged to perfection ; though we cannot fully ob- 


lain it in this life, we must still aim at more, and come more near to it. 
And having God for our pattern, we should always set him before our 
eyes, as he is represented to us in his word, and his Son Jesus Christ, 
the express image of his person, to be imitated by us. 

2. We have a perfect rule : Ps. xix. 7, ' The law of God is per 
fect ; ' and 2 Tim. iii. 17, ' The word of God is able to make the man 
of God perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work,' The strict 
ness of the law as a rule is adopted into the covenant of grace, into the 
very frame and constitution of it, and so far bindeth as to allow no 
weaknesses and imperfections, but that we must still bewail failings, 
and strive after the utmost conformity to it in all things. As we have 
a perfect pattern, so we have a law still, that is the perfect rule of all 
righteousness, and therefore we should endeavour to conform to it more 
and more. 

3. We have a perfect Redeemer : Col. ii. 10, ' Ye are complete in 
him/ We have all things from him, and in him, necessary to salva 
tion. In ourselves we are empty, destitute of everything which might 
commend us to God, but there is a fulness in Christ to be communi 
cated to all who, being sensible of their own emptiness, do seriously 
apply themselves to him ; a perfect wisdom, a perfect righteousness, 
perfect sanctification, and supplies for our perfect glory and blessedness. 
He beginneth by his Spirit to renew our natures, and this grace is still 
of the growing hand, till all be crowned in glory ; there is a complete 
fulness in our Mediator. 

4. There is a perfect reward, or a perfect state of glory, in which 
there is nothing wanting, either to holiness or happiness. The scrip 
ture describeth it by our growing up into a perfect man in Christ 
Jesus, Eph. iv. 13. We have our infancy at our first conversion, when 
liable to childish ignorance and many infirmities; we have our youth and 
growing age, when making progress in the way of grace towards perfec 
tion ; and lastly, we have our perfect manly age when we are come to 
our full pitch, when grace is fully perfected in glory. In scripture 
there is nothing said of the fading and declining time of old age. Oh ! 
blessed will that time be, when we shall be holy and undefiled, above 
the reach of temptations ; when believers receive all immediately from 
the fountain of holiness, and are filled with the fulness of all perfec 
tions. And shall we that have such hopes be lazy and negligent ? No ; 
we must press towards the mark, if we expect it as our felicity, we 
must prize it, and seek after it, and get more of it every day. 

Use 1. Is to press and exhort you to labour after Christian perfection. 

1. Motives. What you lost in Adam must be recovered in Christ, 
or else you dishonour your Redeemer. Now we lost in Adam inno- 
cency and perfect holiness, therefore you must seek to recover it by 
Christ, for certainly Christ is more able to save than Adam to destroy, 
Rom. v. 17. The abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness 
came by Jesus Christ. It is true, Christ doth his work by degrees ; 
but if we mind it not, and lazily expect that he should make us perfect, 
how will it ever be ? for God will not save us without us ; and as far 
as we hope for anything, we must endeavour after it, for Christian 

'hope is not a devout sloth, but an encouragement to diligence. 

2. We pray for perfection, and therefore we must endeavour after 


it, otherwise our prayers are a mockery. We pray, Mat. vi. 8, and 
1 Thes. v. 23, ' The God of peace sanctify you throughout, even your 
whole body, soul, and spirit/ We pray for complete sanctification in 
hope to obtain it. Prayer is not for God's sake, but ours a solemn 
binding ourselves to use the means, that we may obtain the blessings 
that we ask. 

3. In our making covenant, we purpose to do the whole will of God ; 
now where there is a purpose, there must be an endeavour and a pro 
gress, for otherwise it is not made with a true heart, Heb. x. 22. A 
man may purpose duty in a pang, which afterward he retracts in his 
conversation and practice ; he may wish for perfection, like it in the 
general, not considering it as exclusive of his beloved lusts, but there 
he will be excused. Yea, he may sincerely purpose it, yet be faint 
and slack in his endeavours. Therefore, we need to be exhorted con 
tinually to be more earnest and diligent in holiness, to avoid ' all ap 
pearance of evil/ 1 Thes. v. 22. Not to allow ourselves in the omis 
sion of any known duty, James iv. 13, or the commission of any 
known sin, though never so near and dear to us : Ps. xviii. 23, 
' I was upright before thee, and kept myself from mine iniquity/ 
Therefore, unless we comply with these exhortations, and set ourselves 
sincerely to do the whole will of God, the challenge will be brought 
against us which was brought against the church of Sardis. ' I have 
not found thy works perfect before God/ Kev. iii. 2. Your vows were 
good, but your practice is not answerable. 

4. Consider the comfort and peace of that man who doth more and 
more press towards perfection : Ps. xxxvii. 37, ' Mark the perfect man, 
behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace/ They have a 
sweet life, and a happy close, a tolerable passage through the world, 
and a comfortable passage out of the world. 

For means : 

1. See that the work be begun, for there must be converting grace 
before there can be confirming grace, life before there be strength and 
growth, as .there must be fire before it can be blown up ; for what 
good will it do to blow a dead coal, to. seek strength before we have 
life ? It is as if we should give food or physic to a dead man. The 
secure and impenitent are not to be confirmed and strengthened, but 
humbled and changed. We must first choose God for our portion 
before we can be exhorted to cleave to God, Acts xi. 23. First, the 
perfection of sincerity before the perfection of growth and progress, 
the measures and degrees following the real being of grace in the 

2. If you would be perfect, the radical graces must be strengthened, 
which are faith, hope, and love ; strong faith, fervent love, lively hope. 
Such a faith as realiseth the unseen glory, and giveth such a deep 
sense of the world to come, as that you are willing to venture all upon 
the hopes of it ; such a hope as sets the heart upon glory to come, as 
present things do not greatly move us ; such a love as levelleth all our 
actions to God's glory, and our eternal enjoyment of him, Jude 20, 

3. Use the means with all seriousness and good conscience. These 
conduce to perfect what is lacking to your faith, to root you, ground 


you in love, confirm you in hope, that the thoughts of heaven may be 
more affecting and engaging. Now the principal means are the word, 
and sacraments, and prayer. 

[1.] In the word you have principles of faith, obligations to love, 
and arguments of hope ; therefore it is said, God buildeth us up by 
the word of his grace, Acts xx. 32. 

[2.] The sacraments strengthen faith, hope, and love, as signs and 
seals of the love of God, through Jesus Christ, in the new covenant, 
that so our consolation may be more strong. They strengthen our faith 
and hope, as a bond or a vow : so they excite and engage our love and 
obedience : we bind ourselves to God anew, to pursue our everlasting 
hopes, whatever they cost us. Our great diseases are proneness to 
evil and backwardness to good : we check the one and cherish the 

[3.] Prayer ; for it is God that perfects us, 1 Peter v. 10. He must 
be sought to ; his blessing maketh the means effectual. 

4. Think much and often of your perfect blessedness, which you 
expect according to promise, which will quicken and excite you to 
more diligence. There is a time coming when the mind shall be 
filled with as much light, and the heart with as much love and joy, as 
the capacity of it is able to contain. There will be : 

[1.] A complete vision of God and Christ, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. No 
desire of the mind shall be unfilled or unsatisfied with the knowledge 
of God in Christ. 

[2.] A complete possession and fruition of God. Here we are in a 
waiting, expecting, longing posture, but there is a plenary fruition ; 
we are filled up with all the fulness of God, Eph. iii. 19, and 1 Cor. 
i. 30. God is all in all. 

[3.] A complete similitude and transformation into the image of 
Christ, 1 John iii. 2 ; Ps. xvii. 15. Here grace is mingled with cor 
ruption ; we are like God by the first-fruits of the Spirit, but unlike 
him by the remainders of corruption ; but in heaven we shall be wholly 
like him. Here we resemble Christ, but we also resemble Adam, yea, 
and often show forth more of Adam than Jesus ; but there we only 
show forth the holiness and purity of Christ, his image shineth in us 
without spot and blemish. 

[4.] A complete delectation arising from all the rest, the vision, 
fruition, and likeness of God, Ps. xvi. 11. Those delights are full 
and perpetual: our great business will be to love what we see, and 
our great happiness to have what we love. This is our never-failing 
delight ; we enter into our Master's joy, Mat. xxv. and 1 Peter iv. 13, 
' That when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad with an 
exceeding joy.' The Lord hath reserved the fulness of his people's 
joy until that time when sorrow will be no more. 

Use 2. Are we perfect, that is, grown Christians in the way to per 
fection ? 

The notes of it are : 

1. When there is such a base esteem of worldly things, that our 
affections are weakened to them every day. One half of religion is 
dying to the world, as the other half is living to God, the mortifying 
of self-love, and the strengthening and increasing our love to God. 



Self-love is gratified by the pleasures, honours, and profits of the 
world ; so love to God aimeth at the enjoyment of God, when we get 
above the hopes and fears of the world, and the delights of sense. ' I 
am crucified to the world/ Gal. vi. 14, when everything is ' loss and 
dung ' for Christ's sake. 

2. When more unsatisfied with present degrees of holiness, with a 
constant endeavour to grow better. Our maimed and defective ser 
vice is a real trouble to us ; we bewail our wants and imperfections ; 
I cannot do what I would : ' wretched man that I am ! who shall 
deliver me from the body of this death ? ' It is the grief and shame 
of your hearts that you serve God no better ; you are still groaning, 
longing, striving after greater perfection : but when you allow your 
selves in your imperfections, and digest failings without remorse, you 
are weaklings in Christianity. A true Christian desireth the highest 
degree of holiness, and to be freed from everything that is sin, cannot 
sit down contented with any low degree of grace ; it is a trouble to 
him that he knoweth and loveth God no more, and serveth him no 
better ; his smallest sins are a greater burden to liim than the greatest 
bodily wants and sufferings, Kom. vii. 23, 24. 

3. Such are more swayed by love than fear. Weak Christians are 
most obedient when most in fear of hell ; but the more we love the 
Lord our God with all our hearts, the more we advance towards our 
final estate. At first our pride and sensuality beareth sway and rule 
in us, and have no resistance, but now and then some frightenings and 
ineffectual checks from the fears of hell. Such they 1 are not converted 
yet. And if the sense of religion do more prevail upon us, yet our 
condition is more troublous than comfortable, and all our business is 
to escape the everlasting misery which we fear ; and so we may forsake 
the practice of those grosser sins which breed our fears, or perform 
some duties that may best fortify us against them. But this religion is 
animated by fear alone, without the love of God and holiness, that is 
only preparative to religion, near the kingdom of God ; but when 
really converted, we have the Spirit of his Son inclining us to God as 
a Father, Gal. iv. 6. But as yet the spirit of adoption produceth but 
weak effects ; we differ little from a servant ; it is ' perfect love casteth 
out fear,' 1 John iv. 18. When the soul loveth God, mindeth God, 
and is inclined to the ways of God, delighteth in them as they lead to 
God, then we are in a better progress, and more prepared for our final 
estate : his great motive" is love, his great end is perfect love. For 
the present he would serve him better, because he delighteth in his 
ways. ' Oh, how I love thy law ! ' Ps. cxix. 97, and ver. 140, ' Thy 
word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.' They are willing 
and ready for God ; these are thoroughly settled in a Christian course. 

4. The grown Christian is more humble, he seeth more of his 
defects than others do. Weak Christians are more liable to be puffed 
up than the wiser and stronger ; for the more men increase in grace, 
whether knowledge or holiness, the more they know their emptiness, 
unmortifiedness, and manifold sins and failings, the more they know 
of the jealousy of God's holiness, of the evil of sin, of the strictness of 
the covenant, have a deeper sense of their obligations to God, and 

1 Qu. ' such as they who ' ? ED. 


have more experience of their own slippery hearts : sin is more a 
burden to them than ever they see ; they have more l difficulties to 
grapple with, and all this keepeth them humble and low in their own 
eyes. All this is spoken to press you to look to this growth and pro 
gress which is our perfection. By the way, he that thinketh he hath 
grace enough to be saved, and careth for no more, dealeth more nig 
gardly with God than he would do in the world ; if a man hath bread 
enough to keep him from starving, would he be content ? ' There is 
no truth where no care of growth ; if our condition be safe, it is not 
sure to us. 

i Qu. ' tnan ever; they see they have &c, ' f ED. 

As many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be 
otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. PHIL. 
III. 15. 

I NOW come to the other part of the text : 

1. As many as be perfect, be thus minded : TOVTO fypovelre, think the 
same thing with me that is, forsaking all other confidences, cleave to 
Christ alone, whatever it cost you. Mind this, take care of this, be 
thus affected ; let us actually perform that to which circumcision was 
designed ; let us worship God in a spiritual manner, trusting Christ as 
the substance of all these ceremonial shadows, depending upon him for 
his renewing and reconciling grace, and adhering to pure Christianity, 
without mingling with it the rudiments of Moses. 

2. If in anything ye be otherwise minded, know not the abolition 
of the ceremonies through weakness of faith, or an affected ignorance ; 
yet having knowledge of so many saving truths, we hope in time God 
will reclaim you from your error. Well then 

[1.] Here is a difference or dissent supposed: 'thus minded/ and 
' otherwise minded.' 

[2.] Lenity expressed towards the dissenters : ' If in anything ye 
be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you.' 

Doct. That when God's people are divided in opinion, all lenity and 
mutual forbearance should be used to prevent things from coming to an 
open rupture. 

So sweet and mild was the discipline in the apostle's days, that he 
would not compel men to do whatever he or others did conceive to be 
good, or to forbear what they did conceive to be evil, but, without 
force, leave them to God's direction and illumination. 

Here let me show you : 

1. What lenity and forbearance should be used. 

2. The reasons why lenity and forbearance should be used. 

1. What lenity and forbearance should be used. Let us state it in 
these considerations : 

[1.] There may be, and often are, differences of opinion about lesser 
things in the church ; partly because of the different degrees of light 


All barks that sail to heaven draw not a like depth of water. And 
partly because of the remainders of corruption in all. Inordinate self- 
love is not in all alike broken and mortified, and so their particular 
interests have an influence upon their opinions. And partly because 
of the accidental prejudices of education and converse, &c. 

[2.] When these differences arise, we should take care they come 
not to a rupture and open breach. This is the course the apostle 
taketh here ; he doth not by and by despair of the dissenters, and reject 
them as heretics, but beareth with them, hoping in charity God will at 
length reveal their error to them by the ministry of his servants, 
through the powerful operation of his Spirit, and not suffer them to 
run on in dividing courses from the rest of his people. So should we 
do in like cases. Partly because when these differences of opinion 
breed division and separations, the church is destroyed : Gal. v. 15, 
' For if ye bite and devour one another, take heed ye be not consumed 
one of another.' Backbitings, revilings, and reproaches make way for 
a total vastation of the whole church, a ruin to both parties. Partly 
because the whole l is scandalised : John xvii. 21, ' That they may all 
be one, that the world may believe that thou has sent me/ Divisions 
in the church breed atheism in the world. Partly because there are 
enemies which watch for our halting, and by our divisions we are laid 
open to them. Our Lord and Master hath told us with his own 
mouth, that ' a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand,' Mat. 
xii. 25. Never was it so well with the people of God, but besides 
their divisions among themselves, they had common enemies ; and 
Nazianzen calls them ' Common Keconcilers/ because they should 
engage God's people to a unanimous opposition to the kingdom of 
Satan in the world. And partly because then mutual means of edifi 
cation are hindered. As long as charity and mutual forbearance 
remaineth, there is hope of doing good to one another ; but when men 
break out into opposite parties, they are prejudiced against all that 
light that they should receive one from another, suspecting every 
point as counsel from an enemy : Gal. iv. 16, ' Am I therefore become 
your enemy, because I tell you the truth ? ' When men are once 
engaged in a way of error, whosoever is an enemy to their error is 
counted an enemy to themselves; yea, they can hardly bear that 
sound doctrine which doth directly cross their opinions, but are apt to 
cavil at all that is said by a dissenter. And partly because when men 
give themselves up to separating and narrow principles, the power of 
godliness is lost, and all their zeal is laid out upon their petty and 
private opinions, and so religion is turned into a disputacity. That is 
the reason why the apostle doth so often tell them, Gal. vi. 15, ' For 
in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncir- 
cumcision, but a new creature ; ' and GaL v. 6, ' For in Jesus Christ 
neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith 
that worketh by love ; ' and 1 Cor. vii. 19, ' Circumcision is nothing, 
and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping the commandments of 
God/ Observe it where you will, and you shall find that separation 
and distance from the rest of believers, doth not befriend godliness, but 
undermine it A regiment fighting apart from the rest of the army of 

1 Qu. ' the world ? 'ED. 


Christ, is always lost through their own peevishness ; at least, they 
lose great advantages of promoting the kingdom of Christ. 

[3.] To prevent this open rupture, there must be all lenity used and 
mutual forbearance. We must not rigorously obtrude our conceits 
upon others, either by church-power, or private censure. It may be 
done either way ; sometimes by church-power, especially when it is 
possessed or invaded by the more self-seeking sort of Christians ; as 
we read in the Revelations of the beast that pushed with the horns of 
a lamb that is, used church-power, and under a pretence of church- 
constitution destroyed them that were truly the church of Christ. 
And our Lord telleth us, John xvi. 2, ' They shall put you out of the 
synagogues ; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you, shall 
think that he doth God good service.' Putting them out of the 
synagogues was an abuse of ecclesiastical power : it may be so, the 
builders may refuse the corner-stone. On the other side, private cen 
sures may as much break the law of forbearance as public censures, 
when inferiors promote their differences with turbulency, heat, and 
animosity, and rend and tear all things, yea, themselves, from the body 
of Christ, and sober Christians, censuring all that dissent from them as 
no Christians. There is such a sin under the gospel as the gainsaying 
of Korah, Jude 11. The sin of Korah is and may be committed in the 
New Testament. The sin of Korah was invading an office that no 
way belonged to him, and censured his superiors, as if they took too 
much upon them, because all the Lord's people were holy, and erected 
another ministry in their stead. He, being a Levite, would do the 
office of a priest as well as Aaron ; and when summoned to appear 
before Moses, said, ' We will not come,' Num. xvi. 11, 12. Now the 
apostle saith, in the perishing of Korah their own doom was foretold. 
Again, ver. 19, ' These are they that separate themselves, sensual, not 
having the Spirit.' Whence it is clear that private men, in their 
sphere, may rend the church. And the factions at Corinth proved it : 
1 Cor. i. 12, ' I am of Paul, and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas, 
and I am of Christ,' as impailing and impropriating the common sal 
vation to themselves. Much milder was the apostle : 1 Cor. i. 2, 
' Jesus Christ, theirs and ours.' Now what remedy is there but lenity 
and mutual forbearance ? This I shall state : 

1. As to the matter of the strife. It must be considered that 
we must dispense this forbearance as the matter will bear. There 
are great disputes about toleration ; only let me tell you now, that 
we speak not of the toleration of the magistrate, but of the church, 
what things are within the latitude of allowable differences within 
the church. The magistrate's concessions may be larger ; for in 
supernatural things, such as matters of religion are, he may bear 
with that which the church ought not to bear with in them that 
have submitted to a higher institution, or in its own members, 
or rather private Christians one with another. But in this limited 
forbearance there are extremes, and for want of right stating of things, 
men fight with their friends in the dark ; some think all things should 
be suffered ; some nothing wherein to bear with our brethren. The 
one sort of Christians is for imposing on their brethren all things that 
have gotten the vogue and the favour of authority, and that not only 


on their practice, but their judgments too ; and this in matters not 
fundamental or destructive to faith or worship, but in things contro 
versial or doubtful among godly and peaceable men. But if it should 
not go so high, contending about every difference of opinion, and urging 
our brethren with everything we conceive to be right, is a breach of 
Christian love, and destroyeth the use of those differing gifts which 
Christ hath given to the church, and crosseth his mind in the frame 
of the scriptures, which are clear in soul-saving matters ; in other 
things, especially matters of discipline and order, more dark and 
obscure. It is also contrary to the mild and gentle government of the 
apostles, who press in lesser matters a forbearance ; as Paul, Rom. 
xiv. 1, ' The weak in faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations ; ' 
receive him, own him, but do not cast him out 'of the church, nor 
trouble him for doubtful things, but let him come to himself, for men 
will sooner be led than drawn. 

The other extreme is of them that will have all things to be tole 
rated, even blasphemy and fundamental errors, as if the scriptures 
were uncertain in all things. No ; in things absolutely necessary to 
salvation, it is clear, open, and plain : ' The law is a lamp, and a light,' 
Prov. vi. 23, and Ps. cxix. 105. And in such a case we are not to 
'bid him God-speed,' 2 Epist. John 10. In such cases of damnable 
heresy, the law of Christian lenity holdeth not ; but if we agree in the 
principal articles of faith, let us embrace one another with mutual 
love, though we differ from one another in variety of rites and cere 
monies and discipline ecclesiastical. If we agree in the substantial of 
worship, let us go by the same rule, do the same thing : though in 
circumstantials there be a difference, these are matters of lesser moment 
than separation, or the other 1 division of the church. 

2. As to the persons contending, there is a difference. The apostle, 
when he persuadeth this lenity and mutual forbearance, excepts those 
that raise troubles in the church, and distinguisheth between erring 
Christians and their factious guides : Phil. iii. 2, ' Beware of dogs, 
beware of evil-workers, beware of the concision.' The poor seduced 
Christians he would have to be pitied, but the renders and cutters of 
the church, he would have them beware of such. 

3. The forbearance itself. It is not a forbearance out of necessity, 
because we dare do no otherwise, but voluntary choice out of Christian 
pity and compassion, knowing that we need as much forbearance from 
God and others, for we all have our mistakes and failings ; not a for 
bearance out of policy, till we get opportunity to suppress others : the 
sons of Zeruiah are too hard for us. God often layeth that restraint 
upon us by his providence ; and it is well he doth : but it should be the 
restraint of grace, not a respect to our own ease, lest we create trouble 
to ourselves, but upon Christian reasons. No ; the apostle showeth 
you whence this forbearance should come : Eph. iv. 2, 3, ' With all 
lowliness and meekness and long-suffering, forbearing one another in 
love ; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of 

There are four graces enforce it : 

[1.] Lowliness, which is a grace and virtue, whereby a man, from 

1 Qu. 'utter'? ED. 


the sense of his own infirmities, doth esteem but meanly and soberly 
of himself, and all that is his. 

[2.] Meekness, whereby we are rendered tractable, gentle, affable, 
and easy to be entreated and conversed withal, James iii. 17. 

[3.] Long-suffering, which is nothing but meekness extended or 
continued, and not interrupted by length of time, or multiplication of 

[4.] Love to our Christian brother or neighbour, whereby our hearts 
are inclined or well-disposed towards them for their good. ' Love 
covereth a multitude of sins,' 1 Peter iv. 8. Maketh us bear with many 
things in the person loved, 1 Cor. xiii. 4, ' Charity suffereth long, and 
is kind ; ' and ver. 7, ' Beareth all things, hopeth all things.' This is 
the forbearance we press, a forbearance out of meekness and humility 
and love for Christ's sake. 

4. In this forbearance, both strong and weak have their part, and 
are much concerned, as having either of them much to do herein. 
Which, that we may clear to you, let us consider : 

First, What they are not to do. 

1. Not to leave the truth, or to do anything against it. No; the 
apostle saith, ' Let as many as be perfect be thus minded ;' not change 
truth for error. Strings in tune must not be brought down to strings 
out of tune, but they brought up to them. 

2. Not to connive at their sin or error, for that is not love but 
hatred : Lev. xix. 17, ' Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart ; 
thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon 
him.' To let him go unconvinced is to harden him: 2 Thes. iii. 15, 
' Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.' 
The sins of others must not be let alone under the pretence of for 
bearance ; and there must be no neglect of means to reclaim them 
from their sin, but meekly we are to hold our light to them, and use 
all holy means of convincing and satisfying their judgments. 

Secondly, What they are to do. 

1. The strong are not to deal rigorously with the weak, nor insult 
over them, nor pursue them with censures, but wait till God declare 
the truth unto them, and must promote their conviction with all gentle 
ness and condescension. We are to feed Christ's lambs as well as 
his sheep, and for both we need love, John xxi. 15, 16. Among the 
flock of Christ there are variety of tempers and degrees of strength, 
both lambs and sheep. We must imitate our Lord: Isa. xl. 11, ' He 
shall feed his flock like a shepherd ; he shall gather the lambs with 
his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those 
that are with young.' We should condescend to the weak and feeble 
ones, as well as consider what the strong and confirmed can bear. 
Though we cannot love their weakness, yet we must love the weak, 
and bear with the infirmities of the weak, not break the bruised reed. 
Infants must not be turned out of the family because they cry, and 
are unquiet and troublesome ; though they be peevish and froward, 
yet we must bear it with gentleness and patience, as we do the fro- 
wardness of the sick ; if they revile, we must not revile again, but 
must seek gently to reduce them, notwithstanding all their censures ; 
to entertain them with contempt is to prejudice them quite against 


all instruction. Job would not despise the cause of his man-servant 
or maid-servant when they contended with him, Job xxxi. 13.- 

2. The weak. But who will own this title and appellation ? Be 
cause in controversies of religion, all seem to stand upon the same- 
level, and another differeth from me as much as I do from him ; their 
opinion is as far from mine, as mine from theirs ; who then shall be 
accounted weak ? 

I answer : 

1. Our rule is plain ; and as it distinguisheth error from truth, so 
weakness and partial Christianity from that which is more perfect 
and thorough. Besides, it is clear some have not the gifts of know 
ledge and experience that others have, nor such advantages of educa 
tion and study, and helps of knowing the truth ; and though they are 
not to captivate their understandings to the dictates of others, yet they 
should search and search again and again, and have double light, 
when they are by the seeming evidence of truth forced to differ. 

2. Christianity teacheth us to think meanly of ourselves, and not to 
be wise in our own conceits : Phil. ii. 3, ' In lowliness of mind, let 
each esteem others better than themselves ; ' at least, we should have 
such a sense of our imperfections as to make us tractable and 

3. If you will not own yourselves weak, do the part of the strong 
meekly, hold forth your light, produce your reasons to convince others ; 
but if you have nothing to produce but your obstinacy and ignorance, 
surely you are not only a weak, but a perverse brother. But what 
are the weak to do ? Not to rend and cut off themselves from the rest 
of Christians, or be strange to them upon every lesser dissent, nor 
to raise troubles by your censures, but to be humble, teachable, diligent 
in the use of means, to lay aside obstinate prejudices, to examine how 
it cometh to pass that the rest of the godly and you differ ; to leave 
room still for the discovery of God's mind where your grounds are not 
clear and certain, and to count it no shame to retract that former 
practice which a future conviction disproveth. 

II. The reasons. 

1. From the necessity, excellency, and utility of union. What 
more clear in the scriptures than that Christians should endeavour 
to be united ? Christ prayed for it : John xvii. 21-23, ' That they 
all may be one, that they may be one as we are one, that they may be 
perfect in one/ And the apostle enforceth it by the most vehement 
iutreaties that can be used : Phil. ii. 1,2, 'If therefore there be any 
consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the 
Spirit, if any bowels of mercy, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, 
having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind.' Who can 
withstand such an adjuration and powerful beseechings as these, that 
if ever they found any comfort by his ministry, and ever had any hope 
by Christ, ever any influence of the Spirit, ever any pity and compas 
sion over souls, that they would look after unity in judgment, love, 
and affection, and lay aside their differences, and carnal emulations ? 
Again, they caution us against those that cause divisions : Rom. xvi. 
17, 18, ' Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divi 
sions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned ; and 


avoid them ; for they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, 
but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the 
hearts of the simple.' They press unity upon us by very cogent argu 
ments, that carry the highest reason with them : Eph. iv. 4-6, 
' There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope 
of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and 
Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.' 

Seven uniting considerations are there heaped up together : 

[1.] There is one body of Christ, whereof all are members. The 
whole church maketh but one body, knit by faith to Christ, their 
head, and by the bond of love among themselves ; and the meanest 
Christian is a member in this body. Now it is unnatural if the mem 
bers of the same body should tear and destroy one another, and that 
the body of Christ should be rent and torn ; and woe be to them by 
whom it is so ! 

[2.] This body is animated by one Spirit ; that if any be a member 
of this body, it is necessary that he have the Spirit of God abiding in 
him, to renew and quicken him. Now, this one and the self-same 
Spirit, as the apostle calleth him, 1 Cor. xii. 11, worketh in all the 
saints. If his gifts be various, they proceed from the same author, 
and they are variously dispensed, to preserve society and communion, 
that one may not say to another, ' I have no need of thee/ However, 
there is but one new nature in all the sanctified. 

[3.] One hope of glory. We are all joint-heirs of the same king 
dom, we all expect one end and happiness, where we shall meet and 
live together for ever. Now those that shall meet and live together in 
glory hereafter, should live together in peace and concord here. 

[4.] There is ' one Lord/ one Mediator and blessed Saviour. Now, 
shall the servants of one Master fall at odds with themselves, neglect 
their Master's work committed to them, beat their fellow-servants, and 
eat and drink with the drunken ? 

[5.] ' One faith/ fides quce creditur : he meaneth the doctrine of 
faith in the gospel. We agree in the same fundamental truths of the 
gospel as the only object of saving faith, and shall we strive about 
things of less importance and moment ? There is but one gospel, 
which is the seed of our new birth, the rule of our faith and lives, the 
foundation of our hope, the food of our souls. 

[6.] ' One baptism/ that is, the same new covenant sealed and con 
firmed by baptism ; and when our Father's testament is clear, do we 
quarrel about petty and mean things ? 

[7.] ' One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, 
and in you all.' We have one common God and Father, whose 
eminency is above all creatures, whose presence and powerful pro 
vidence runneth through all creatures ; but his special presence, by 
the gracious operations of his Holy Spirit, is in the regenerate. Surely 
this is a strong bond of union, to be one in God. He is the common 
Father of all believers, through Jesus Christ. Some are weak, some 
strong, some rich, some poor, but they have all an equal interest in 
God. Now, for us, who are so many ways one, to be rent in pieces, 
how sad is that ! All these places, and many more, show how every 
Christian should, as far as it is possible, be an esteemer and promoter 


of unity among brethren, and not only make conscience of purity, but 
of unity also, which, next to purity, is the great badge of Christianity. 

2. From the consideration of our mutual frailties, who have all in 
part a corrupt will, guided by a blind mind. Now, as the apostle 
saith of the high priest, who is taken from men, Heb. v. 2, that he is 
' one that can have compassion of the ignorant, and them that are out 
of the way, for that he is compassed about with infirmities ; ' this 
should be verified in every one of us. One sinner ought to have com 
passion of another. The word is [AerpioTraOelv Svvdpevos, can reason 
ably bear with the ignorance of brethren, because of the common rela 
tion : Gal. vi. 1, ' Ye which are spiritual, restore him with meekness ; ' 
so ' him that is weak, receive,' Horn. xiv. 1. The apostles, being im 
mediately inspired, were more infallible than we are. 

[1.] Oh, do but consider what we were, and what we are : Tor we 
ourselves were sometimes foolish and disobedient,' Titus iii. 3. Did 
not we all sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death ? Were we not 
all ignorant of the ways of God, and the things which belong to our 
peace ? Hath God merely by his grace brought us to the knowledge 
of his truth ? and shall we contemn and disdain our weak brother, or 
insult over him, and determine and judge rashly of him? 'Who 
maketh thee to differ ? ' 1 Cor. iv. 7. 

[2.] What we are weak creatures, not infallible. Now after we are 
light in the Lord, we have our errors in knowledge and practice, some 
more, some less, according to the degree of our growth, Ps. xix. 12. 
God revealeth to his saints all necessary truth, but not every par 
ticular truth, out of wise dispensation. 

3. From the consideration of the probability of divine illumination. 

[1.] This illumination cometh from God only. It is he that power 
fully revealeth it, and settleth the heart in the belief of it : Acts xvi. 4, 
and 1 Cor. iii. 6, 7, 'I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave 
the increase.' The best means may be disappointed, till God co 
operate with them. Let us, then, with patience, use the means, and 
refer the issue to God : 2 Tim. ii. 25, ' In meekness instructing those 
that oppose themselves, if, peradventure, God will give them repent 
ance unto life.' If we seek to force men to our opinion, before 
men are convinced, that is a tyranny which will do little good ; it may 
make hypocrites, but it will never make real converts. 

[2.] This illumination is given by God by degrees. The apostle 
prayeth for the converted Ephesians, that ' God would give them the 
spirit of wisdom and revelation/ Eph. i. 17. They had it before, 
but he meaneth a greater measure. Therefore, weak Christians are 
not to be discouraged though they see not as far as others. Some see 
more, some less, according to the state and condition wherein God will 
employ them. Some need more light than others, as ministers more 
than people, governors more than inferiors ; but all have sufficient. 
Some at first see men walking like trees, Mark viii. 24, 25, but after 
wards the light groweth more clear and more distinct. In short, he doth 
not reveal his mind to his children all alike, nor all at once, but here 
a little and there a little, as narrow-mouthed vessels can take it in. 

[3.] Those who are not for the present, may be afterwards instructed 
in the truth. The apostle proceedeth in the hopes of that: 


(1.) Upon the supposition that they were already converted to the 
Christian faith, and were sincere in the belief and profession of it. 
Those that belong to God will one time or other be enlightened in the 
knowledge of all necessary truths : ' For God that hath begun a good 
work, will perfect it,' Phil. i. 6. If the saints at first conversion, 
when they were called from darkness to light, did not hinder illumina 
tion then, and the knowledge of those many soul-saving truths which 
God revealed to them then, so as to recover them from a partial error, 
we may presume that God will give them a further understanding of 
the way of salvation, though now under some error ; as Aquila and 
Priscilla expounded to Apollos the way of God more perfectly, Acts 
xviii. 26. 

(2.) Upon the supposition that they were humble and tractable : 
Ps. xxv. 9, ' The meek he will guide in judgment, the meek he 
will teach his way/ They lie open to information ; but if men be 
puffed up with self-conceits, there is more hopes of a carnal fool than 
of them, that is, a sensual and brutish man. 

(3.) That they will not neglect any means of study and prayer. 
Study for we must dig for knowledge as for silver (Prov. ii. 4) not 
only cry for it, but dig for it in the mines of knowledge ; common and ob 
vious apprehensions lead us into error. And then prayer : Ps. cxix. 18, 
' Lord open mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of thy 
law.' God must take away the veil. Now, then, upon prayer to God, 
and applying themselves to the use of holy means, God will show 
them they are deceived. If you study and not pray, it is just with 
God to leave you to your prejudices ; if you pray and neglect means, 
you must not think that God will extraordinarily inspire you, for he 
revealeth truth by his blessing on ordinary means. 

(4.) Upon suspicion that they continue in the communion of the 
church : Eph. iv. 15, ' Speaking the truth in love/ While we keep 
unity and keep love, others have greater hopes to convince, they to be 
convinced ; and so both, while they divide not, by this mutual con 
descension, may the better wait for this illumination ; but in their 
separation, their errors are confirmed while they hear but one side, 
nothing to undeceive them, but all to root them in their errors. 

(5.) He supposeth that they walked orderly according to their 
light. Now if God hath begun to enlighten them in other things, 
he will discover more truths to them, John vii. 17 ; upon the whole, 
deal tenderly with them and tolerate them, till they be taught of 

(6.) As to the nature of his confidence, ' God shall reveal/ There 
is a twofold confidence, a confidence of faith grounded on a promise, 
and a confidence of charity grounded on appearance and probability, 
1 Cor. xiii. 7. We hope the best, though the event doth not always 
follow; the former is on the forementioned grounds, the latter on 
appearance. The appearance of them ; so Gal. v. 10, ' I have confi 
dence in you through the Lord, that ye will be no otherwise minded ; 
for he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment whoever he be/ 
This confidence was grounded on charity, that through the Lord's 
grace they should be reclaimed from their error, and brought to 
embrace the truth. We are not to despair of the recovery of any, but 


in charity to hope the best of all men, as long as they are curable. 
Thus for the third reason. 

4. Fourth reason , from the tern per of those that are perfect. A grounded 
Christian beareth with the infirmities he seeth in others, and pitieth 
and helpeth them, and prayeth for them more than the weak, who are 
usually most censorious and addicted to the interest of their party and 
faction in the world, and make a bustle about opinions rather than 
solid godliness ; but the grown Christian is most under the power of 
love and a heavenly mind, and so loveth God and his neighbour, is 
most sensible of his own frailty, hath a greater zeal for the welfare of 
his church and interest in the world, and seeth farther than others do. 

Use is to press us to this lenity and forbearance to one another. 

To this end take these considerations : 

1. Consider in how many things we agree, and in how few we differ. 
There is a threefold unity ; in mind, and heart, and scope. 

In mind : Eom. xv. 5, 6, 'Now the God of patience and consolation 
grant that you be like-minded one towards another, that ye may with 
one mind and one mouth glorify God.' 

In heart: Acts iv. 32, 'And the multitude of them that believed 
were of one heart and of one soul.' 

As to the scope, Kom. xv. 5-7. Now as to the way, it is either 
the general way of faith and holiness, for all that shall be saved are of 
one mind as to the substantials of faith and worship : Jer. xxxii. 39, 
' I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for 
ever.' But there may be a different practice as to some lesser things ; 
should we for these break with one another ? 

2. Take more notice of their graces than of their infirmities. Is 
there no good thing found in them ? Kev. ii. 6, ' But this thou hast, 
that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans.' See also ver. 2 and 5. 
He beginneth and endeth with their commendation, though in the 
middle of the epistle he reproveth them for their decay ; he taketh 
more notice of what is right than what is wrong. We reflect upon the 
evil of every party, but do not consider the good. 

3. Eemember how open the enforcements to love and unity are, and 
how much the grounds of separation lie in the dark, and are in a 
doubtful case, but union is the safest part. 

4. Think of God's love and forbearance towards us before we 
received the light of his truth, and were brought to the obedience of 
his will ; as God dealt with the Israelites, so with every one of us : 
Acts xiii. 18, ' He suffered their manners in the wilderness.' If we 
had been dealt with rigorously, we had been cut off from the number 
of God's people, had such stumbling-blocks and prejudices laid in our 
way, that we should never have been converted to God. 

5. This forbearance cannot in reason be expected from others to 
ourselves, if we be not ready to repay it to others. There is no man 
which hath not infirmities of his own which call for forbearance, 
James iii. 2. In the general, every man is obliged to do as he would 
be done unto, Mat. vii. 12. So in particular, he is reproved when he 
had his own debt forgiven him, yet took his fellow-servant by the 
throat and showed him no mercy, Mat. xviii. 28. We have all our 
failings and mistakes ; usually God punisheth censures with censures, 


Mat. vii. 1, injuries with injuries. Paul, that stoned Stephen, was 
himself stoned at Lystra. So he punisheth separations with separa 
tions ; they are endless, as circles in the water beget one another. 

6. Consider how dangerous it is to reject any whom Christ will own 
for his. Will Christ admit him to heaven, and will you think him 
unfit for your communion here upon earth ? Despise not the weak 
brother, for God hath received him, Horn. xiv. 3. The Gentile 
believer must not despise the scrupulous Jewish believer, and cast out 
of his communion the Gentile Christian ; if God hath admitted him 
into his family, shall we exclude him ? So Mat. xviii. 6, ' Whosoever 
shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better 
that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast 
into the sea/ Now what greater offence than to cast them off from 
the privileges of the Christian church, either by public or private cen 
sures which are causeless or unwarrantable, at least no way grounded 
on necessary things ? 

7. As we must not on our part give offence or occasion the divisions, 
so we must not take offence when it is given by others ; for charity, as 
it provoketh not, so it ' is not easily provoked,' 1 Cor. xiii. 5. So 
likewise if a rent be made by others, we must do what we can to heal 
it. If an angry brother call us bastard, yet let us own him as a brother 
and a child of the family : for ' Blessed are the peacemakers,' Mat. 
v. 9. The world censureth us for compliers and daubers, but God 
counteth us his genuine and true children. 

8. Our endeavours after unity among the professors of Christianity 
ought to be earnest and constant : Eph. iv. 3, ' Endeavouring to keep 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.' I add this partly 
because many make fair pretences of peace and union, which their 
practice contradicteth ; all cry out of the divisions, but every one 
keepeth them up ; and partly, because when it is endeavoured we 
shall find difficulties and disappointments, but we must not rest in 
some careless endeavours, nor grow weary though we meet not with 
present success ; and partly because the instruments of so great a 
good are usually sacrificed to the wrath of both parties. We must be 
content to digest affronts, reproaches, censures, and injuries, and love 
them that hate us : 2 Cor. xii. 15, ' Though the more abundantly I 
love you, the less I am beloved of you.' 


And blessed is he ivhosoever shall not be offended in me. MAT. XI. 6. 

THESE words are the conclusion of Christ's answer to John's disciples, 
who were sent from him in prison to inquire if Christ were the true 
Messiah, or they must look for another. This message was not sent 
for his own satisfaction, but theirs ; not his own, for he had before 
openly owned Christ as such, John i. 29, but theirs : they are 
offended in Christ out of respect to their master. For answer Christ 
referreth them to his works, whether they were not such as the pro 
phets foretold were to be performed by the Messiah. 

Two things he urgeth : 

First, His miracles. 

Secondly, His preaching the gospel. 

First, His miracles. ' The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, 
the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, and 
the poor have the gospel preached to them.' This was foretold : Isa. 
xxxv. 5, .6, ' Then the eyes of the blind shall be open, and the ears of the 
deaf shall be unstopped : then shall the lame leap as an hart, and the 
tongue of the dumb shall sing.' And then for his setting afoot the 
gospel, compare Isa. Ixi. 1, with Luke iv. 18. Isa. Ixi. 1, ' The Spirit of 
the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach 
good tidings unto the meek : he hath sent me to bind up the broken 
hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening the 
prison to them that are bound.' Luke iv. 18, ' The Spirit of the 
Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel 
to the poor : he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach 
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind ; to 
set at liberty them that are bruised ; to preach the acceptable year of 
the Lord." And Luke iv. 21, 'This day is this scripture fulfilled in 
your ears.' This is here expressed, ' The poor have the gospel 
preached to them' (TTTW^OI evaj^eXi^ovrai) 'The poor are evan 
gelised ' have not only the promises of the gospel offered to them, 
but the impression and power of it is left upon their hearts. By the 
poor may be meant the humble-minded, or persons of the meanest 
and lowest condition the humble-minded, or such as were affected 
with their sin and misery. The proud resist and stand out against 
the gospel, but the broken-hearted thankfully accepted glad tidings 


of this salvation. The Messiah was to preach to 'the poor/ Luke 
iv. 18. But in Isa. Ixi. 1, it is ' the meek.' The gospel doth affect 
the poor needy soul, so as to put a stamp of grace upon it. They 
that are sensible of their sin and misery are the proper objects of this 
dispensation ; or else it may be meant of persons of the meanest and 
lowest condition. The Christian church was made up of such at 
first : James ii. 5, ' Hearken, my beloved brethren ; hath not God 
chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom 
which he hath promised to them that love him ? ' and 1 Cor. i. 26, 
' For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after 
the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called/ Christ did 
not then call the eminent and great, but the obscure and despised of 
the world, lest religion should seem to owe its growth and progress 
rather to the power of the world than to the evidence of the truth. 
Now these are said to be evangelised, that is, to have a good share in 
the blessed message, they above others being wrought upon and 
affected with it. To be evangelised implieth grace on God's part, 
and on theirs a willing reception of the impression of it, so as to be 
changed by it. The poor are all to be gospelled ; those whose 
poverty is sanctified to make way for brokenness of heart, which is 
not said to exclude the rich from all benefit ; some were called then, 
though not many. Grace, where it prevails in the heart, puts rich 
and poor on the same level. It humbleth the rich, and exalteth the 
poor, James i. 9, 10. It teacheth the one to abound, the other to be 
abased, Phil. iv. 12. Poverty and riches do as they are used. Now, 
saith Christ, tell John the things that ye hear and see ; let him 
expound the characters of the Messiah as they lie in the Old Testa 
ment ; and if they be verified in me, see what application and infer 
ence you ought to make. Therefore he dismisseth them with this 
conclusion: ' And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.' 
In which words observe : 

1. The privilege: And blessed is he: it is meant of our supreme 

2. The qualification: Whosoever is not offended in me. Where 
observe 1. It is negatively expressed: not offended. 2. There is a 
universal negative : whosoever is not. But are all those who are not 
offended at Christ saved ? I answer, No ; you must look upon this 
conclusion as annexed to the last clause of the former verse, ' The 
poor have the gospel preached unto them : and blessed is he whosoever 
shall not be offended in me.' To be offended is to be scandalised, or 
kept from owning Christ as the true Messiah: all are happy and 
blessed so far as they are evangelised, and miserable so far as scanda 
lised. When the kingdom of heaven is brought to us, nothing can 
bar us from entering into it but our being offended in Christ. But if 
we be not scandalised so as to hinder our being evangelised, then we 
are in a happy and blessed condition ; that is, blessed so far as the 
impediment of our blessedness is removed ; and indeed, that is all the 
blessedness we can attain unto in this life. Thus blessedness is 
ascribed to pardon of sins, Ps. xxxii. 1, because that taketh away the 
legal impediment. Blessedness is ascribed to sanctification, Ps. cxix. 
1, ' Blessed are the undefiled in the way,' because that removeth the 


moral incapacity, and so is a forerunner of eternal happiness: and 
here it is ascribed to not being offended in Christ when he is suffi 
ciently revealed to us, as it removeth the impediment of our faith, 
which is always some offence and dislike that we take at Christ and 
the ways of God. 

The point that I shall insist on is this : 

That whosoever, being invited to embrace the gospel, is not offended 
in Christ, is in the ready way to true blessedness. 

In the prosecution of this point I shall use this method: 

First, To show you what it is to be offended in Christ. 

Secondly, Upon what occasions men were then offended. 

Thirdly, Whether this sin were proper to that age only, or we may 
now be guilty. 

Fourthly, I shall show you the kinds of this sin. 

Fifthly, How it is true that those which escape this sin are in the 
ready way to salvation. 

First, What it is to be offended in Christ. 

1 answer To be offended in Christ is to be offended because of 
Christ ; something in him which we dislike, which is a hindrance to 
our receiving and owning him in that quality wherein he appeared 
in the world, and offereth himself to us namely, as our Lord and 
Saviour. 2icavSa\ov, in the natural sense of it, signifieth either any 
obstacle or hindrance laid in a man's way, by which the passenger is 
detained or stopped : peculiarly it is put for those sharp stakes which 
they were wont to stick in the ground in the ancient way of warring, 
to wound the feet and legs of their enemies in their pursuit of them, 
against which they used greaves of brass : most usually <TKavSa\ov 
signifieth a stone or block in the way, at which a man is apt to 
stumble and fall. So 1 Peter ii. 8, ' Unto them which believe, Christ 
is precious ; but a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence to them 
that stumble thereat.' A rock with respect to those that travel by 
sea, a stone of stumbling with respect to those that travel by land. 
So it is used here, ' Who are not scandalised at Christ.' In this 
expression there is something expressed and something supposed. 

1. It supposeth some offer and revelation made to us, that grace is 
brought home to us, and salvation offered to us. Jews and professing 
Christians are more properly said to be offended in Christ than hea 
thens who never heard nor sought after him, 1 Cor. i. 23 : ' We preach 
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks foolish 
ness.' They stumble who, being invited to come to him, dislike and 
are displeased with something in him ; or being on their way, are 
upon some occasion and temptations laid aside and prejudiced, and 
either stumble or fall in the way undertaken by them, or have no 
heart to go forward, but either directly retire or faint. 

2. It expresseth or implieth such an offence, that either they are 
kept off from Christ, or else drawn away from him. 

[1.] Some are kept off by their carnal prejudices, or offence they 
take at somewhat of Christ, and so continue in their unbelief ; thus 
Christ is said to be a rock of offence to ' the disobedient,' 1 Peter ii. 8, 
that is, the impenitent and unbelieving world, who, out of indulgence to 
their lusts, slight an offered Saviour. 



[2.] Others are drawn from him, as those that had carnal expecta 
tion when they were disappointed : John vi. 66, ' From that time many 
of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.' This is 
the offence, when we are either discouraged from, or in the ways of 

I now come to show you : 

Secondly, TJpon what occasions were men then offended in Christ. 
They were displeased with his person, sufferings, doctrine. 

1. His person. They were somewhat alarmed with his miracles, and 
the wisdom of his gracious speeches, but how to reconcile this with the 
meanness of his person they were at a loss. Sometimes his birth and 
breeding were a distaste to them : Mat. xiii. 55, 56, ' Is not this the 
carpenter's son ? is not his mother called Mary ? and his brethren, 
James, Joses, Simon, Judas ? And his sisters, are they not all with 
us ? Whence then hath this man all these things ? And they were 
offended in him.' So Mark vi. 3, ' Is not this the carpenter, brought 
up in the same trade with Joseph ? ' Thus upon the consideration of 
his mean and known beginning they forsook him. Sometimes they 
quarrelled at his country, not where he was born, but bred. He >'as 
born in Bethlehem, but bred in Nazareth, which was in Galilee, anft 
Galilee, as they conceived, was looked upon by God as a mean and 
despicable place : John vii. 52, ' Art thou of Galilee ? (speaking to 
Nicodemus), search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.' 
This was the common conceit, for Jonah was of that country. So 
John vii. 41, when some said, ' This is the Christ,' others said, ' Shall 
Christ come out of Galilee?' That country was under a reproach. 
Nay, a good man was possessed with this prejudice : John i. 46, ' Can 
any good thing come out of Nazareth ? And Philip saith, Come and 
see.' Trial would make him of another mind. But many good people 
are led away with common prejudice, and so overlook things and per 
sons of the chiefest regard, &c. Sometimes they were offended at the 
meanness of his followers : John vii. 48, ' Have any of the rulers and 
pharisees believed in him ? But this people, that knoweth not the law, 
are cursed ; ' that is, the rabble are ready to follow any false teacher, 
and such ones follow him. 

2. They were offended at his doctrine, the mysteriousness of it, as 
when he had spoken of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, they 
could not tell what to make of it. If it signified anything, it signified 
his death, and that was a point not to be touched upon in the hearing 
of them that expected a glorious, pompous Messiah, that should sub 
jugate other nations to them. Therefore Christ saith, 'Doth this 
offend you ?' John vi. 61. Yea, the offence was so great, that ' many 
of his disciples went backward, and walked no more with him,' ver. 66. 
Sometimes they were offended at the holiness of it, as when he pressed 
the pharisees, who were altogether for external observances, to look 
after an inward cleansing : Mat. xv. 12, ' Knowest thou not that the 
pharisees were offended after they heard this saying ? ' This was a 
great distaste to them to hear that a man is defiled by sin, and not at 
all by meats, and that the washing of the heart is the chief thing. 

3. The great stumbling-block of all was his sufferings. This 
offended good and bad. The good : Mat. xxvi. 31, ' All of you 


shall be offended because of me this night. For it is written, I will 
smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered 
abroad. And Peter saith, Though all men shall be offended because 
of thee, yet will I never be offended,' ver. 33. The bad : This was 
the great stumbling-block to the Jews : 1 Cor. i. 23, ' We preach 
Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block.' By this they fed 
their obstinacy and prejudice. They could not believe that he that 
was crucified as a malefactor was the Son of God and the Saviour of 
the world. 

Thirdly, Was it not proper to that age only ? I answer, No ; we 
also may be prejudiced, and guilty of this sin of being offended in 
Christ. You will say, What danger is there of that now, since Christ 
is publicly owned, and Christianity in fashion r and the world run into 
the church ? 

I shall show you : 

1. That there is danger still. 

2. What is likely to offend since Christ's exaltation. 
1. There is danger still : 

[1.] Because though the name of Christ be had in honour, yet the 
stricter profession and practice of godliness is under reproach, and the 
nominal hateth the serious Christian, though both own the same Bible, 
believe the same creed, and are baptized with one and the same 
baptism into the same profession. Those that are false to their re 
ligion will malign and scorn those that are true to it, and live up to 
the power of it. As there is no commerce between the living and the 
dead, so no true friendship between the carnal and the heavenly. Among 
the outside Christians, it will be matter of reproach to be serious and 
diligent ; and they that are so, will be accounted more precise and 
nice than wise. No wonder if they slight you, who first slight God, 
and Christ, and their own salvation. 

[2.] It may happen that the stricter sort of Christians are the poorer 
sort ; and such as carry no great port and appearance in the world ; 
and so, though they be precious in the eyes of God, yet they may be 
despised by men. Strictness of religion is many times looked upon by 
some as too mean a thing for persons of their rank and quality ; and so 
whilst the poor receive the gospel, they, to keep up their greatness, go 
the broad way to hell ; these are offended in Christ. In Salviaii's 
time, Quantus in Christiana populo honor Christi est, ubi religio igno- 
bilemfacit; Coguntur esse mali ne viles habeantur, religion makes 
them base, and men are compelled to be evil, that they may not be 
scorned and disgraced. Now we should resolve to be more vile for 
God, 2 Sam. vi. 22. 

[3.] Though men be not distasted against Christianity in whole, 
yet in part ; though they be not offended in Christ altogether, yet they 
take offence at some of his ways, wherein his glory and interest is 
concerned. In the age that we live in, many of those things that fall 
within the conscience and compass of our duty may be under a cloud 
and disesteem. Now they that have received light about these things 
should not be offended though the generality of the world decry and 
oppose them. Christ gets up by degrees ; and where the main of 
religion is received, yet all the parts and branches of it are not 


received, which must be required in their place ; and though we are 
not always bound to the positive profession of lesser things, yet we are 
bound negatively ; we must do nothing against the truth, 2 Cor. xiii. 
8. We must not renounce a truth because it is run down by a vulgar 
prejudice, but in all meekness of wisdom own the better way. Such 
constancy of mind is expected from a good man, who consults with 
conscience rather than interest. 

[4.] The world may not be able to bear the owning of these truths ; 
and therefore, those who set them afoot may be disgraced, afflicted, 
and reproachfully used ; but the knowledge of a hated truth is a greater 
argument of God's favour than the prosperity of the world : Prov. iii. 
32, ' Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways ; for 
the froward is an abomination unto the Lord, but his secret is with 
the righteous.' 

[5.] There is no man in the world but, if he run up his refusal of 
Christ, or his impenitency and unbelief, to its proper principle, he will 
find it to be some offence or dislike, either because of the inward 
constitution of his mind, or the external state of religion in the world. 
Either he cannot bring his heart to suit with the strictness, purity, and 
self-denial of Christ's religion, or Christ's religion to suit with his 
heart. As the young man, Mark x. 22, ' He was sad at that saying, 
and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.' Or else, if both 
suit, the world liketh not the match ; so that it cometh to this point, 
that he must be an enemy to God or the world : James iv. 4, ' 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.' 

2. What is likely to offend, since Christ's exaltation of his person 
in heaven, and his religion in the world ? 

[1.] The many calamities which attend the profession of it. John, 
who was his forerunner, was now in prison when Christ spake these 
words; and Christ foretelleth grievous troubles and afflictions : Mat. 
xxiv. 10, ' And then many shall be offended.' And he foretelleth us 
that we may not be offended : John xvi. 1, ' These things have I 
spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended ; ' that is, scandalised 
by the hazards which attend Christ's service, or take occasion to alien 
ate themselves from him. Yet all will not do: Mat. xiii. 21, ' When 
persecution ariseth for the word, by and by he is offended.' A 
man is offended when he findeth that which he did not look for. 
Many promise themselves ease and peace in Christianity ; and when 
it falleth out otherwise, they dislike what they formerly seemed to 

[2.] They may take offence at Christ's doctrine, at the purity, the 
self-denial, the simplicity, the mysteriousness of it. 

(1.) The purity of it. To holy men this is an argument of love : 
Ps. cxix. 140, ' Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth 
it.' But to the carnal of dislike and offence : John iii. 20, ' Every one 
that doeth evil hateth the light ; neither cometh he to the light, lest 
his deeds should be reproved,' They have somewhat to conceal, some 
what which they are loth to part with. And so, lest they should be 
found faulty, and engaged to reform themselves, they cannot endure 


the light of the gospel, and are offended at Christ's strict doctrine, as 
sore eyes are at the brightness of the sun. This light is not only shin 
ing, but scorching. 

(2.) The mortification and self-denial of it. Mortification respects 
our lusts, and self-denial our interest. Our worldly interests are the 
baits of our carnal desires or lusts. Now, to crucify the flesh or deny 
the world are both distasteful to flesh and blood ; and, therefore, they 
are apt to say, ' This is an hard saying ; ' and ' What strange doctrine 
is this ? ' 1 Peter iv, 4, ' They think it strange that you run not with 
them to the same excess of riot/ It is matter of great admiration 
that others should abandon their course of life. The sweetness of 
Christ's service is wholly hidden from them ; therefore they hate that 
religion which the} 7 do profess, and all that are serious in it. They think 
strange God should plant desires in them which he would not have 
to be satisfied. But they do not distinguish between what nature 
craveth and corruption lusteth after. That the inordinancy is from 
themselves, and therefore have a secret dislike of Christ in their souls, 
because they would do what they list, not what they ought. They 
would not be fettered by any of his laws, or look upon that fruit as 
forbidden which corrupt nature hath a longing unto, as if all necessary 
restraint were a kind of prison to them. 

(3.) The simplicity and plainness of the gospel, void of human 
wisdom and excellency of words. It is a plain thing teaching the 
way how sinners may return to God and blessedness. This doctrine 
is clad in the simple attire of a vulgar style ; and this was the offence 
of the Gentiles, who would be gratified with eloquence and profound 
knowledge : 1 Cor. i. 22, ' The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks 
seek after wisdom ; ' that is, the Jews, who were trained up in extra 
ordinary dispensations, they would have miracles and prodigies from 
heaven. The Gentiles look for profound philosophy in the gospel, 
and scorn it because they find it not there. Their offence was be 
cause they found not matter of dispute, but practice ; for they were 
altogether bred up in the uncertain debates of their philosophers. But 
little did these mind that there was a sublimity of wisdom in this 
plain doctrine (1 Cor. ii. 6, ' We speak wisdom among them that are 
perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world/ &c.),as discovering the true 
way of easing the conscience, and the nature of true happiness, which 
were the two things about which the wisest and profoundest of them 
spent all their thoughts and speculations. Nor did they mind this : 
that laws would lose their authority, if not delivered in a plain style ; 
nor would our duty so clearly be stated by man's reason as by God's 
authority. When it is to be found out by man's reason it is left more 
to the uncertainty of dispute. Bare nature is a hard book to study 
in, nor are the lessons of it so easily found out. While the wise men 
of the world were debating about felicity and happiness, practical godli 
ness died upon their hands, and men strove rather to be witty than 
good, and so delivered things more coldly, and not with that life and 
power and authority for the reclaiming and reducing man to his duty 
to God ; like the curious wits of our age, who delight to speak finely, 
father than successfully, in the matters of religion. 

(4.) The mysteriousness of it above all natural reason. The devil 


playeth on all hands ; sometimes the doctrine of the gospel is too plain, 
sometimes too mystical. It cannot enter into their hearts to conceive 
how God should be distinguished into three persons, how God should 
become man, and the like ; and therefore scoffing atheists, such as 
are rife in the latter days, question all ; and having lost the light of 
their reason, yet retain the pride of their reason, and are objecting all 
the difficulties they can think of against the truth of the word of God, 
and are apt to say, as Nicodemus, John iii. 9, ' How can these things 
be ? ' Till they see a reason for everything they will not own it. 
Indeed, we must see a reason why we believe everything, and that is, 
divine revelation contained in the word of God ; but we cannot always 
see a reason of everything which we do believe, for many things are 
mysteries, and we receive them as we do pills, not chew, but swallow 
them ; we take them upon the credit of the revealer : to chew pro- 
duceth a loathsome ejection ; to swallow, a wholesome remedy. Be 
lieving in the common notion of it is a receiving a truth upon the 
trust of another ; so it differeth from knowing, for then we reason of 
ourselves ; and divine faith is a receiving such things as God hath 
revealed, because he hath revealed them. Then our first inquiry is, 
Whether these things be so or so ? not how they can be so ? There 
fore we begin at the wrong end if we inquire first, How can this be ? 
In many cases, constat de re, the thing is evident in scripture ; but, 
non constat de modo, how it can be is beyond our reach. Now, when 
we should believe, we dispute and cavil, rather than inquire. If any 
thing be not plainly revealed by God, you may reject it without sin ; 
but if it be, you must not contradict all that you cannot comprehend 
the Trinity of the persons in the unity of the divine essence, or how 
a virgin should conceive, or how a God can become man. It is suffi 
cient that all this is revealed in scripture, which carrieth its own 
evidence in its forehead, and shineth by its own light, and hath the 
seal and stamp of God upon it. In short, to believe is not to receive 
a thing in its own evidence, but upon the credit of the testifier. If 
you will not credit it unless the thing be evident in itself, 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 somewhat 
above your capacity. You should captivate your understandings to 
the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 5. 

I now come to show you : 

Fourthly, The kinds of this sin of being offended in Christ. Three 
distinctions I shall give you : 

1. There is an offence with contempt, and an offence with dis 

[1.] The offence with contempt is when we are prejudiced against, 
or turn from the faith ; either never embrace it, or quite forsake it. 
Contempt produceth unbelief and disobedience. They are so given 
over to their sinful courses that they cannot be persuaded to relinquish 
them : John iii. 19, ' This is the condemnation, that light is come into 
the world, and that men love darkness rather than light, because their 
deeds are evil.' Nothing will gain them to submit to Christ's healing 
methods ; they think he seeketh their loss and hurt rather than their 
benefit, because he would reclaim them from their lusts. These 


reject all admonitions, and remain obstinate and impenitent in their 

[2.] The offence with discouragement : when men are staggered in 
their hope and obedience. Troubles are distasteful to the flesh, which 
seeketh its own ease. Some are discouraged in a greater, some in a 
lesser degree : Heb. xii. 3, ' Lest ye wax weary, and faint in your 
minds/ Weariness is a lesser degree of deficiency, faintness a greater. 
These terms are translated from the body to the mind. 

2. There is an offence of ignorance and an offence of malice and 

[1.] The offence of ignorance and weakness : when men are carried 
with a blind zeal. ' I verily thought that I ought to do many things 
against Jesus of Nazareth/ saith Paul, Acts xxvi. 9. Men of a super 
stitious conscience are like a blind horse, full of mettle, but ever and 
anon stumbling. But this is more pardonable : 1 Tim. i. 13, ' Who 
was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious ; but I ob 
tained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.' 

[2.] There is the offence of malice and opposition, when men err, 
not only in their minds, but in their hearts ; do not know, and do not 
desire to know ; they would not know what they know, and are will 
ingly ignorant ; nolentes audire, quod auditum damnare non possunt, 
&c. (Tertul. in Apol.) They have not a mind to know that which 
they have not a mind to do. They would not know the truth because 
they have a mind to hate it. This is spoken of, Acts xiii. 45, ' They 
were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were 
spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.' This is malice ; 
men first hate, then persecute and oppose the truth. Conviction choked 
with prejudices breaketh out into rage against that way they were con 
vinced of, or the light of which they cannot rationally withstand. 
Herod taketh offence against John the Baptist, whom he formerly liked, 
and then beheadeth him. Light resisted, or not kindly used, maketh a 
man turn devil, that he may the more deface all feelings of conscience. 
This is the malignity of revolters, Hosea v. 5 ; they will hear nothing to 
the contrary . 

3. There is a total and there is a partial offence. The total offence 
is wh'jn men will give Christ no place in their hearts, but remain in 
their infidelity : John viii. 24, ' Because ye believe not that I am he, 
ye shall die in your sins.' When they will take no warning, they shall 
perish for despising the remedy. The partial offence is, when they do 
not receive all of Christ, though they may be sound in the main ; 
these are those that the apostle speaks of, that they are ' saved as by 
fire,' 1 Cor. iii 15. Some doctrine or practice, wherein they allow 
themselves, may prove false and unchristian ; yet the man may be 
mercifully dealt with by Christ, and freed from having his portion 
with unbelievers ; yet it goeth hard with him, as one involved in a 
common fire hardly escapeth out of it ; their salvation is more difficult. 
In short, every one is more happy, as he is less apt to be offended in 
Christ ; but they are most unhappy that are most offended in him. 

I now come to show you 

Fifthly, How it is true that those that escape this sin are in the 
ready way to salvation. 


To this I answer 

1. The negative includeth the positive, and must be thus explained : 
He that is not offended, but evangelised, hath the power and virtue of 
the gospel stamped upon his heart : ' Blessed is he.' Among them 
that are offended, some forsake and fall off from Christ, others never 
come at him. But these believe so as to be changed and converted. 
Nothing hindereth them when Christ hath gained their liking and 
esteem ; for this esteem that we speak of now is not a simple specu 
lative approbation (for that may be, and no change follow : Rom. ii. 
18, ' Thou approvest the things that are excellent '), but a practical 
comparative approbation: all things considered, Christ is best for their 
turns. Always a change followeth this esteem : Phil. iii. 8, ' I count 
all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus 
my Lord/ And till we have this esteem, there is some secret offence 
that we take at Christ, either at his person, doctrine, precepts, or the 
bad entertainment they have in the world ; and for the contrariety of 
our affections, Christ and we do not close with full complacency and 

2. This esteem produceth a uniform obedience ; for they that thus 
esteem Christ will study to please him. Delight in our master 
breedeth delight in our work : Col. i. 10, ' That ye might walk worthy 
of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and 
increasing in the knowledge of God ;' and 1 Thes. ii. 12, ' That ye 
would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and 
glory.' The only way to know whether we be more or less offended 
in Christ, is to compare our conversation and practice with his pre 
cepts. His benefits commend themselves to our affections, his pre 
cepts to our consciences ; the one sweeten the other. We have such 
a good master, we can never do enough for him. If we like Christ, 
nothing will be grievous that he giveth us in charge : 1 John v. 3, 
' His commandments are not grievous/ 

3. When we are not offended in Christ we are the better fortified 
against temptations to apostasy. They are of three sorts errors, 
scandals, persecutions. 

[1.] Errors. Many are drawn away with vain pretences, * But we 
have an unction from the holy one, and know all things,' I John ii. 20. 
But they are an offence, not only of seduction, but contristation : 
Rom. xvi. 17, ' Mark them which cause errors and offences contrary to 
the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them/ These are wens 
of Christ's mystical body, not parts. Errors in the church breed 
atheism in the world. Many question the ways of God, and give over all 
religion ; because there are so many differences and sects, therefore they 
think nothing certain. Certainly God saw this discipline to be fittest 
for his people ; he hath told us there must be errors ; he would not 
have us to take up religion upon trust, without the pains of study and 
prayer. Lazy men would fain give laws to heaven, and teach God 
now to govern the affairs of the world ; they would have all things 
clear and plain, that there should be no doubt about it. But the 
Lord, in his wise providence, seeth it fit to permit these things, ' That 
they which are approved may be made manifest/ To excuse the 
trouble of a search, study, and prayer, men would have all things 


agreed, else they take offence at religion, and that is one means to 
draw them off, even after profession. The canonists say, Nonfuisset dis- 
cretus Dominus Deus, nisi unum constituent universalem judicem. 
This was their blasphemy, that God was not discreet and wise, unless he 
had appointed one universal and infallible interpreter. This is men's 
natural thoughts ; the Jews say that Christ was not the true Messiah. 
Why ? Because if he had been, he would not have come in such a 
way as to leave any of his countrymen in doubt, but would so plainly 
have discovered himself that all might know him. So many think, 
religion is but a fancy, and so fall off to atheism and scepticism at 
last, and irresolution in religion, because there are so many sects and 
divisions, and all upholding it with plausible pretences. And to excuse 
laziness or prejudice, men pretend want of certainty ; but God's word 
is plain to all that will do his will, John vii. 17. 

[2.] The scandalous and evil practices of professors. These do not 
only infect but offend many, and cause them to stumble at religion, or 
fall into a dislike of the way of salvation. Scandal is far more dan 
gerous than persecution. In persecution, though many be dis 
couraged, yet others are gained to a liking of religion. There are 
many that have been gained by the patience, courage, and constancy 
of the martyrs, but never any were gained by the scandalous falls of 
professors. Persecutions do only work upon our heart, which may be 
allayed by proposal of the crown of life ; but by scandalous actions, 
how many settle into a resolved hardness of heart ! In crosses and 
persecutions many men may have a secret liking of the truth, and a 
purpose to own it in better times ; but by this kind of scandal, men 
grow into an open and professed dislike thereof. In persecutions 
there is not a dislike of religion itself, but of the hard terms upon 
which it must be received ; but by scandals men dislike religion 
itself, and nourish a base and vile opinion thereof in their hearts, and 
so they grow loose and fall off. And this mischief doth not only pre 
vail with the lighter sort of Christians, but many times those which 
have had some taste, it makes them fly off exceedingly : Mat. 
xviii. 7, ' There will be offences, but woe unto them by whom they 
come.' Christ hath told us all will not walk up to the religion they 
own ; but a man that is not offended in Christ will not be offended at 
the disorders of those that profess his way : 1 John ii. 10, ' He that 
loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of 
stumbling in him.' All things that offend will not be taken away till 
the reapers come : Mat. xiii. 41, ' The Son of man shall send forth 
his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that 
offend, and them which do iniquity.' In the meantime he that 
loveth Christ, and loveth his brother, dareth not reason from some to 
all, from persons to. the religion; for religion is not to be judged by 
the persons that profess it, but the persons by the religion. These 
things must ever be distinguished : the rule and the practice, the form 
and the power. The form, manner, or model of truth may be com 
plete, though the virtue of this religion doth not prevail over all those 
that come under the profession of it. It is against all reason that the 
excellency of Christ should stand to the courtesy of man's obedience. 
The art is not to be judged by the bungling of the artist ; and thea 


for the other, the love of the brethren will not permit them that they 
should judge of all the rest by a few, and those the worser part. This 
is, as if a man should judge of a street by the sink or kennel, or throw 
away the whole cluster or bunch of grapes for one or two rotten ones. 
Shall the apostles be judged of by Judas ? or the good angels by the 
bad ? or Abraham's family by Ishmael ? If some make shipwreck of a 
good conscience, others keep up the honour and majesty of religion, as 
well as they disgrace it. 

[3.] The troublesome poverty and mean outside of those that pro 
fess the gospel, and their many troubles and calamities ; as in Christ's 
time the grandees and learned rabbis did not own Christ. ' Have 
any of the pharisees or rulers believed in him ? ' that is, persons of 
eminence and place. Celsus, the heathen, maketh the objection, Should 
a few mariners (meaning fishermen) prescribe to the world ? But 
God never intended that truth should be known by pomp, nor con 
demned or disallowed for troubles that accompany it. The drift of 
Christianity is to take us off from the hopes and fears of the present 
world ; therefore he that liketh Christ and his promises is not likely 
to be separated from him by persecution, Eom. viii. 37. He is held to 
him, not only by the head, but by the heart. 

Now the use that we should make of this is caution. Take heed of 
being offended in Christ. I shall show you : 

1 . Who are in danger of it. 

2. The heinousness of it. 

3. What we should do to avoid it. 

1. Who are in danger of it ? I answer 

[1.] All such as are hardened in malice and opposition against those 
that profess godliness, and have a male talent 1 against strictness, and 
are glad when it meeteth with any trouble or disgrace. The clearest 
evidence will not convince these men. Such were the froward obsti 
nate Jews, who were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that 
way, Acts xix. 9. Again, there are some that are more moderate, but 
are discouraged in their first attempts of a godly life, and so give over 
through despondency. The bullock is most unruly at the first yok 
ing ; the fire at first kindling casts forth most smoke. This they can 
not bear, therefore give it over as hopeless. And then partly the 
insincere, whose league with their lusts was never dissolved. And 
again, weak Christians, who are not fortified and rooted in the love of 
God, and the faith and hope of the gospel. 

2. I shall show you the heinousness of it. 

[1.] It is unreasonable. Whatsoever hindereth any man from coming 
to Christ or embracing the gospel, it is an offence not given but taken. 
There is nothing in Christ to make us stumble and be offended at 
him : Jer. ii. 5, ' What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that 
they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are 
become vain?' but everything that may draw our desire or delight 
towards him ; yet by men's blindness and ignorance it is very frequent: 
Luke xix. 42, ' They do not know the things which belong to their 
peace in this their day/ 

[2.] It is very natural. We are apt to set stumbling-blocks in our 

1 An almost obsolete word, meaning ill-will. ED. 


own way, and matter of offence before our own feet ; and take up 
every obvious pretence to excuse ourselves to ourselves from hearkening 
to the offers of the gospel. Flesh and blood will stumble in God's 
plainest ways : Hosea xiv. 9, ' The ways of the Lord are right ; the 
just shall walk therein, but the transgressors shall fall in them.' They 
will count every molehill a mountain, and be offended at everything 
which concerneth God, and their duty and obedience to him. 

[3.] A prejudicate opinion and malice is always apt to pick quar 
rels at truth and goodness : Acts xvii. 5, 6, ' The Jews which believed 
not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser 
sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and 
assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the 
people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason, and certain 
brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These which have turned the 
world upside down are come hither also.' So chap, xviii. 6, ' They 
opposed themselves and blasphemed.' 

[4.] It is a dangerous sin. If we continue to be offended in Christ, 
Christ will be offended at us at the last day. We get nothing by 
dashing against the corner-stone ; we hurt not Christ but ourselves : 
Mat. xxi. 44, ' Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken ; but 
on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.' 

3. What shall we do to avoid it ? 

[1.] Get a clear understanding, or a zeal according to knowledge : 
Kom. x. 2, and John ix. 39, ' For judgment I am come into the world, 
that they which see not might see, and they which see might be made 
blind.' This will be the effect of my coming, that the ignorant will 
be enlightened, and learned men will not see the things before their 
eyes ; they were hardened and left to their own prejudices. 

[2.] Get a good measure to mete things withal. The Jews were 
offended in Christ, because they were leavened with a notion of a 
pompous Messiah ; and so judged of all things concerning Christ as 
they suited with that conceit. So John vii. 24, ' Judge not according 
to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.' We judge according 
to appearance, but judge not righteous judgment. This is no good 
measure, but an idol of our hearts. Many are in an evil way, but yet 
want not their pretences. As the tradition of the elders, Mat. xix. 
2 ; and succession, John viii. 33 ; the novelty of Christ's .doctrine : 
Mark i. 27, ' What new doctrine is this ?' The vile abject condition 
of Christ and his disciples. They never enter into the merits of the 
cause, but determine it by prejudicate opinions. A good measure, 
therefore, is necessary. There is mensura mensurans, and mensura 
mensurata, a measure measuring, and the measure that is measured. 
The measure that is measured is an upright unbiased mind. 

[3.] Labour to get a mortified heart. They are most apt to be 
ecandalised that have a carnal bias upon their hearts, a contrariety of 
affections to the gospel, Luke xvi. 14 ; John v. 44 ; xii. 42, 43 ; who 
are leavened with covetousness, jealousy of reputation, fear of disgrace, 
and the like. 

[4.] Get a fervent love : Ps. cxix. 165, c Great peace have they 
which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.' It is want of a 
true and hearty love that maketh us so easy and apt to take offence. 


A second use that we make of it is this, Be sure to take heed of 
prejudices against practical godliness. 

1. Some take prejudice against the necessity of regeneration. But 
surely there is a necessity of fitting us anew to the use and end for 
which we were made. For the use see Eph. ii. 10, and for the end 
John iii. from the 3d to the 5th verse. 

2. Another prejudice is the difficulty of a godly life : Mat. xix. 25, 
' With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' 
Use will make it easy ; at first it is most hard and tedious. 

3. Another prejudice is the persecutions which attend it. Gi-od will 
have his servants and graces tried. They that go to sea must look 
for wind and waves, but in the haven we shall have rest. In heaven 
we shall enjoy full and eternal rest. 


For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hatJi a 
devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 
Beheld a man gluttonous, a friend of publicans and sinners. But 
wisdom is justified of her children. MAT. XI. 18, 19. 

IN this context Christ had likened the people of the generation in 
which he lived to boys playing in the streets, and personating (as 
children are given to imitate what they have seen in elder persons) 
sometimes festivities, acting the part of a musician, but their fellows 
danced not ; sometimes funerals, acting the part of the mourning 
women who were to weep for the dead, cry, Ah, my brother ! but they 
upbraided their fellows, that they would do nothing as they should, 
neither follow them in their mirth nor sadness. So the people of that 
generation, whatsoever messages God sent unto them, they accepted 
them not and obeyed them not. Some great exceptions they had still 
to the messengers employed. One kind of exception they have to John, 
and the quite contrary to Jesus ; and so they are not pleased, neither 
full nor fasting, as we say. Their censure of John was that he was 
an hypochondriac, or a frantic fellow ; the devil was in him that he was 
so austere. But Christ, that was gentle and affable, they censure him 
as a loose person, or favourer of such. ' For John came neither eating 
and drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came 
eating and drinking, and they say, A man gluttonous, and a friend of 
publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children/ 
In the words three things are observable : 

1. The different form and course of life wherein John and Christ 

2. Their censures both of John and Jesus. 

3. The receiving of the gospel by the unprejudiced. 

1. The different course of life wherein John and Christ appeared. 
' John came neither eating nor drinking ; ' that is, lived in a strict 
austere course of life, not after the ordinary diet of men ; for we read 
he had his raiment of camels' hair, and a leathern girdle about his 
loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey. But the Son of man 
came eating and drinking; that is, using the ordinary diet of men, and 
eating promiscuously with all company, in a more free use of the 
creatures, taking the fare as he found it, and conversing with all sorts 


of men in a familiar course of life ; sometimes with publicans, as 
Zaccheus ; sometimes with pharisees, as Simon, Luke vii. He 
observed no such abstinency, but ate meats indifferently. Sometimes 
he had nothing but barley-bread and water ; sometimes he was at feasts, 
and using wine, and conversed with men indifferently. 

2. Their censures both of John and Jesus. John ' hath a devil ; ' 
that is, he is a person possessed, out of his wits : for the Jews ascribed 
all distempers to the devil. And of Christ their censure was that he 
was ' a glutton, and a friend of publicans and sinners/ 

3. The receiving of the gospel by the unprejudiced, ' but wisdom is 
justified of her children.' This last clause needeth opening, that we 
may know what is wisdom, who are her children, and how they justify 

[1.] By wisdom is meant the doctrine of the gospel, called elsewhere, 
' The counsel of God,' as appeareth by the parallel place, Luke vii. 
29, 30, ' And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justi 
fied God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the pharisees 
and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves.' The 
gospel is called wisdom, because it is the result of God's eternal 
wisdom. The doctrine of Christ crucified is called, ' the wisdom of 
God,' 1 Cor. i. 24 ; and again, 1 Cor. ii. 7, ' the wisdom of God in a 

[2.] The children of wisdom are the professors of it. It is an 
Hebraism ; as ' children of wrath,' ' children of light,' ' children of this 
world,' &c. the professors and followers of the gospel. Wisdom hath 
her children : all are not alike indisposed ; some are begotten to God 
by the doctrine of grace. 

[3.] Justified. As this is opposed to crimination, so to justify is the 
work of an advocate. As it is opposed to condemnation, so it is the 
work of a judge. Wisdom's children will bear witness to their faith, 
or the doctrine of God, by their profession and godly life and ready 
obedience, and exalt it as much as others decry it, and every way 
manifest that they hold it for good and right. 

Many points might be observed hence, as 

1. That God sendeth forth his servants with divers dispositions ; 
some more austere in life, others more social in their carriage ; some 
sad and mournful, others cheerful and pleasant; some more thundering 
in doctrine, others more gently inducing people to repentance. Since 
God maketh use of variety of gifts and tempers, let us observe this 
wisdom, not bring all to the law of some admired instance and 
example. As there is a difference of stomachs, some for meats baked 
or roasted, others for boiled, so God fits his servants severally to do 
good, as the persons they are to treat with need. 

2. That men are qualified according to the dispensation wherein 
God useth them. John, as a preacher of repentance, was austere ; 
Christ, as a giver of pardon, mild and affable. John was to come in 
the spirit and power of Elias, and therefore to imitate him in his 
course of life. He was sent forth to raise and awaken a sleepy world 
besotted in security. But Christ, who was to come with the glad 
tidings of salvation, and to call sinners to grace and pardon, chose to 
appear in a meek, sweet, and social way of converse, that his benignity 

MAT. XL 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN". 95 

in drawing the most grievous sinners to himself might thereby be 

3. That men are apt to complain, quarrel, and except against what 
is done by God, and whatsoever methods are used to reduce them to a 
sense of their duty. Both John and Jesus were sent by God, but men 
have ever somewhat to say: John is too rough and austere, and Christ 
too sociable and familiar with sinners. They dislike the severity of 
the one, and the free converse of the other. So in other cases, old men, 
they say, dote, young men are too rash ; some they find fault with be 
cause they are so facile and easy ; with others, because they are obscure 
and deep. People are always unsatisfied. 

4. That neither the severity of the law, nor the glad tidings of 
salvation, will of themselves work upon men, unless God set in by his 
Spirit : for both the dispensation of John and Jesus was without its 

5. Though some obstinately refuse the gospel, yet others accept of 
it, and live accordingly. Wisdom hath her children, who justify and 
defend her ways as much as others impugn and oppose them, Acts 
xvii. 34. God seldom lighteth a candle but he hath some lost groat 
to seek. 

All these points might be profitably insisted on, but I shall make use 
of this text to give you this observation : 

That Jesus Christ, when he came to set up the gospel, did not tie 
himself to a wilderness-life of austerity in total abstinence from com 
mon meat and wine, as John the Baptist did, and as they thought that 
he that professed extraordinary sanctity should have done. 

In the prosecution of this point I shall use this method : 

1. I shall show you that the censures of the two things disliked in 
Christ were not just. 

2. Give you the reasons why he lived and chose this form and sort 
of life. 

3. The profitable observations that we may build thereon. 

1. That the censures of the two things disliked in Christ were not 
just. The two things disliked in Christ were : 

[1.] His diet. 

[2.] His company. 

[1.] His diet. He 'came eating and drinking:' he did eat and 
drink as other men, but with great piety, and with great temperance 
and sobriety. His piety was remarkable: John vi. 11, 'And Jesus 
took the loaves ; and when he had given thanks, he distributed them 
among the disciples ; ' and ver. 23, ' Nigh unto the place where 
they had eaten bread, after the Lord gave thanks.' All our refresh 
ments should be sanctified ; they are great mercies, though ordinary. 
They come down from heaven, and direct us to seek the blessing 
thence, from whence we have the comforts themselves. Though we 
have but slender provisions, we should be thankful ; Christ gave thanks 
for five barley-loaves and two fishes. Mark, here he doth not mention 
the miracle, but the thanksgiving. Christ had expressed himself in 
such a way as made deep impression on the standers-by, and would 
fully convince us that the blessing of all enjoyments is in God's 


His temperance and sobriety is observable ; five barley -loaves and 
two fishes were carried about, as the standing provision for himselt 
and family, Luke ix. 13. Christ's provision is such as may teach 
sobriety and contentment with a mean condition unto all. At another 
time he beggeth a draught of water to quench his thirst, John iv. 7. 
And therefore the exceptions against his diet were not just. 

[2.] Against his company. They accused him of eating with 
publicans and sinners in the text. So Luke xv. 2, 'This man re- 
ceiveth sinners, and eateth with them ;' because He went to them as a 
physician to heal their souls, Luke v. 30. He conversed with the 
meanest, and refused not familiarity with the poorest and worst, as 
was needful for their cure. The pharisees thought it to be against 
all decorum that he would speak and converse with all sorts of people, 
publicans and harlots not excepted ; but Christ coming to save all 
sorts of people, it was necessary that he should converse with all sorts 
of people. 

2. The reasons why he lived and chose this sort of life. 

[1.] Because he would not place religion in outward austerities and 
observances. Men superstitiously appoint to themselves unnecessary 
tasks, and forbid themselves many lawful things, and this they call by 
the name of holiness. When Satan, who is usually a libertine, pre- 
tendeth to be a saint, he will be stricter than Christ himself ; as the 
pharisees were in the choice of their company and outward obser 
vances. Christ foresaw this spirit would be working in the world: 
' Touch not, taste not, handle not, after the commandments and doc 
trines of men/ Col. ii. 21, 22. That men were apt to place religion 
in a simple abstinence from the common comforts of life, under a pre 
tence of more than ordinary mortification : neither eat, nor taste, nor 
touch. Over-doing in externals is usually an undoing in religion: 
the quaker's spirit and the monkish spirit is an apocryphal and 
bastard sort of holiness, a spirit that suiteth not with the temper of 
the gospel and the example of Christ. 

[2.] Christ would live a strict, but sociable and charitable life, and 
did not observe the laws of proud pharisaical separation, but spent his 
time in doing good, and healing all manner of bodily diseases, and in 
structing the souls of men upon all occasions. There is a disposition in 
men, by a foolish singularity, to stand aloof from others. The prophet 
toucheth it, Isa. Ixv. 5, ' They said, stand by thyself, come not near 
me, for I am holier than thou.' Some then, though impure and 
profane, would seem holier than others, and counted all unclean and 
polluted beside themselves. This spirit rested in the pharisees in 
Christ's time : Luke v. 30, ' The scribes and pharisees murmured 
against his disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with publi 
cans and sinners ?' So Luke vii. 39, ' If this man had been a prophet, 
he would have known who and what manner of woman this is that 
toucheth him, for she is a sinner.' And afterwards the whole people 
of the Jews were possessed with this spirit, and would not endure that 
any should converse with the Gentiles, as fearing to be defiled by 
them. Now Jesus Christ would not countenance this inclosing spirit ; 
coming to do good to all, he would converse with all. 

3. Jesus Christ coming into the world, as to redeem us to God, so 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 97 

to set us an example, would take up that course of life which was 
most imitable by all sorts of persons, and calculated, as for the honour 
of God, so for the benefit of human society. He intended his religion 
not only for recluses and votaries, but for men of all conditions, pro 
fessions, and employments, and therefore would not fright us from 
religion by affected austerities, but invite us to it by a sanctified con 
verse with all kind of companies ; and no man now can excuse him 
self, saying that he cannot imitate the form of Christ's living, since it 
is competent to all kind of persons, even those who are not shut up, 
but whose callings engage them to be abroad in the world ; for it is 
religion that puts us upon the discharge of all duties to God and man. 
The sum of it is comprised in the love of God above all, and our 
neighbour as ourselves. We love all, even enemies, with that common 
love which is due to humanity, and all that fear God with a special 
love. Now this may be exercised in the shop better than in the 
cloister and solitudes, and wherever we go we may go about doing 
good ; and this may be done by all sorts of persons, princes and pea 
sants, noblemen or tradesmen, as well as ministers and people of a 
more retired life. 

[4.] Coming into the world, to set up the kingdom of God, it was fit 
his form of life should suit with the nature of that kingdom. John 
Baptist telleth them, ' The kingdom of God is at hand ;' and Christ 
himself, that the kingdom of God was come, and was among them. 
Now what is the nature of this kingdom of God ? The apostle telleth 
you that ' The kingdom of God standeth not in meat and drink, but 
in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,' Horn. xiv. 17. 
There are two expositions of that place, and both equally probable ; 
the one more general, the other more limited and restrained to the 
context: more general, that righteousness is taken for all new obedience, 
and peace for peace of conscience, resulting from the rectitude of our 
actions; and joy in the Holy Ghost, for that supernatural comfort 
which the Holy Ghost puts into our hearts, by reflecting upon our 
privileges in Christ, and the hopes of the world to come. Now 
Christianity consists not in eating, or not eating such or such meats, 
or such kind of observances, but in solid godliness, or in the practice 
of Christian graces and virtues. The more limited sense is, that by 
righteousness is meant just dealings ; by peace, a peaceable, harmless, 
inoffensive sort of living ; by joy in the Holy Ghost, a delight to do 
good to one another ; to advance and build up one another in godli 
ness, not dividing, hating, excommunicating, censuring one another 
for lesser things and mere rituals, but pleasing our neighbour to edifi 
cation : Kom. xv. 2, and 1 Cor. x. 31-33, ' Whether ye eat or drink, 
or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God: give no offence, 
neither to Jews nor Gentiles, nor to the church of God ; even as I 
please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of 
many, that they may be saved.' This meek, holy, charitable converse 
to the glory of God, without offence and scandal, is that which pro- 
moteth God's kingdom ; and this would Christ teach us in his own 
form and course of life, conversing in a sanctified manner with all 
sorts of persons to their profit and benefit. 

[5.] Because Christ would not gratify human wisdom : as he would 
VOL. ir. o 


not gratify sense by choosing a pompous life, so he would not gratify 
human wisdom by choosing an austere life. There are two sorts of 
men in the world who are not of God the men of the world and the 
saints of this world. The men of the world are brutish sensualists, 
who are all for pomp and glory. Christ would not gratify these, but 
came meek and poor, to teach us humility, self-denial, and contenta- 
tion : Mat. xi. 29, ' Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.' 
He did not bustle in the world for respect and honour ; his complaints 
of his enemies, and his answers to them, were full of meekness, and 
stood not to abase himself for the Father's glory and men's good : so 
he did not gratify the men of the world. The saints of this world 
are such as are strict in outward observances, in eating or not eating, 
in marrying or not marrying, in forbearing such company, in such a 
number and tale of devotions, in abstaining from such lawful things ; 
these things the apostle saith ' have a show of wisdom,' Col. ii. 23. 
The world is mightily taken with bodily exercise and outward strict 
ness. As the men of the world love to pamper the body, so the saints 
of this world needlessly afflict and dishonour the body ; this hath a 
show, and nothing but a show : but Christ would not gratify these 
neither. He used a free, but a holy life, and so was censured and 
traduced as a wine-bibber and a glutton, to teach his followers to be 
contented to be 'judged according to men in the flesh, and live to God 
in the spirit/ 1 Peter iv. 6. He came to preach, and to give inward 
regeneration and renovation. To show the proper way of mortification, 
which is not by a severity of life, but by deadening the mind to the 
esteem of the world. That kind of life which consists in outward 
rigours hath some honour and reputation in the world, and maketh a 
fair show in the flesh ; but he would teach us the life which consists 
in faith, holiness, sobriety, humility of mind, charity, obedience to 
God, joy in the spirit, and comfort of the promises, which the world 
liketh not so well. Outward and rigorous observances are more plau 
sible, but the power of godliness, and a true sense of the world to 
come, the world hateth. 

[6.] To show us the true nature of mortification, which consists not in 
a bare abstinence and shameful retreat from temptations, but in a 
spirit fortified against them ; not in a monkish discontent with the 
world, but a holy contempt of it when we most freely use it ; and in 
bridling and governing the appetite and desire, rather than in scrupu 
lous refraining from the object itself; in a using of the world, but not 
abusing of it, 1 Cor. vii. 31 ; not so much scrupling the comforts of 
the present life, as a valuing and esteeming the comforts of a better 
life ; prizing more the Christian vow than any by-laws of our own. 
The apostle telleth us, 1 Tim. iv. 8, that ' bodily exercise profiteth 
little, but godliness is profitable to all things.' Abstinence from daily 
meats, wines, marriage, is an act of self-denial, but a very small one ; 
for all the good it doth is to tame the members of the body, and its 
external motions and actions, without sanctifying the heart and in 
ward part, as a lively faith, fear, and love of God doth. The profit of 
bodily exercise is little in comparison of inward piety, which is neces 
sary to a comfortable life here, and a blessed hereafter. 

Thirdly r , The observations which we may build thereon. 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 99 

1. We may observe the humanity, goodness, and kindness of that 
religion which we profess, both with respect to ourselves and others. 

[1.] Ourselves. Man consists of a body and a soul, and hath 
respects for either, else he were unnatural. The body, indeed, we are 
apt to overprize, and therefore we need not a spur but a bridle for 
our affections to the bodily life ; and therefore religion, in the precepts 
of it, interposeth by way of restraint rather than exhortation : Titus ii. 
12, ' That we should live soberly,' &c. ; and Horn. xiii. 14, ' Make no 
provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.' Do not cherish 
carnal desires. The apostle telleth you, ' No man ever yet hated his 
own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it,' Eph. v. 29. Our usual 
fault is an excessive pampering of the flesh. Some have hated their 
own souls, at least, by consequence and interpretation ; therefore we 
dare not let loose the reins, and give either encouragement or allowance 
to men to indulge their carnal desires ; yet, to avoid prejudice, we must 
grant what may be granted, for men are apt to think that religion is a 
sour thing, and abridges them of all the comforts of their lives. No ; 
besides the rich comforts it provideth for the soul, it alloweth and for- 
biddeth not so much sensitive pleasure as tendeth to the holiness of 
the soul, and furthereth us in God's service. It rebuketh and forbiddeth 
nothing but what really may be a snare to us ; it considereth all things, 
meats, drinks, marriage, wealth, honours, and dignities of the present 
world, as they have respect to God and a better world, and as they 
help and hinder us in the pleasing God and seeking immortality. 

[2.] With respect to others. The spirit of our religion may be 
known by the example of our dearest Lord. It is not a proud, dis 
dainful spirit, that refuseth the company of the meanest and worst, so 
we may do them good. He came to save sinners, and conversed with 
sinners. He came to redress the miseries of mankind,, and went up 
and down doing good ; though his familiarities were with the most 
godly, yet he disdained not the company of others. And surely his 
religion, where it prevaileth in the hearts of any, it causes them not 
only to deal justly with all, but to love all r all mankind, with a love 
of benevolence ; it maketh us to long for the good of their souls, and 
desirous also to do good to the bodies of those that are in need. It is 
said, indeed, Frov. xxix. 27, ' An unjust man is an. abomination to the 
just ; and he that is upright in the way is an abominatioa to the 
wicked.' But we must distinguish of the hatred of abomination,, and 
the hatred of enmity. We hate our sinful neighbour, as we must our 
selves much more, in opposition to the love of complacency, but not in 
opposition to the love of benevolence ; so we must neither hate our 
selves, nor our neighbour, no, nor our enemy. The business of your 
lives must be, to do good to all, especially to the household of faith. 
God's natural image is oo all men, his spiritual image on his saints ; 
and we must love God in: all his creatures, especially in. his children. 
This is true religion, consecrated by our Lord's example, 

2. We may observe, that an external holiness, which consisteth in 
an outside strictness, without that faith, love, charity, hope, usefulness, 
and activity which is the very soul and life of Christianity, usually 
puffeth up men with a vain conceit of their own righteousness, and a 
censuring and a despising *of others. This text showeth us both the 


spirit -of pharisaism and the spirit of Christianity. The pharisees, 
who abounded in outward observances, censured Christ for his free 
converses, and disdained those sinners whom he invited to a better life, 
Luke xviii. 9-12 ; and they were ignorant of true wisdom, which is 
justified, embraced, and received by all her children. Learn, then, 
that an unruly, fierce, censorious spirit, which is only borne up by ex 
ternal advantages, is not the right spirit of the gospel. True religion 
maketh men humble and low in their own eyes, acquainteth them with 
their desert, sin, and misery, and maketh them pitiful and compas 
sionate to others, and more ready to help them than to censure them, 
and to use all ways and means to do them good. 

3. The main observation is this, That a free life, guided by a holy 
wisdom, is the most sanctified life, and bringeth most honour to God, 
and is most useful to others. 

Here I shall show you ; 

1. Wherein lieth this free life, guided by holy wisdom. 

% How it is the most sanctified life. 

1. Wherein lieth this free life, guided by holy wisdom. It is said 
of Enoch, Gen. v. 22, That he ' walked with God, and begat sons and 
daughters ;' that is, dedicated himself to God's service, and lived in 
most strict holiness, And there you see the use of a conjugal life in 
its purity may stand with the strictest rules of holiness. So for worldly 
affairs, when the course of our calling engageth us in them, it is not 
using of the world, but over-using is the fault, 1 Cor. vii. 31. So for 
the comforts of this life : Ps. Ixii. 10, ' If riches increase, set not your 
heart upon them.' The business is not to withdraw them away, but 
to withdraw the affection. So for the lawful delights, there are two 
extremes, clogging and retrenching our liberty with outward burden 
some observances, or abusing our liberty to wantonness : Gal. v. 13, 
' Ye are called to liberty, only use not your liberty as an occasion to 
the flesh,' Corrupt nature venteth itself both ways ; either by super 
stitious rigours, or by breaking all bonds, and enlarging itself according 
to the licentiousness of the flesh. Meat, drink, apparel, are in their 
own nature indifferent ; neither must superstition work upon them, nor 
profaneness ; and in the mean between both lieth godliness. 

2. How it is the most sanctified life. 

[l.J Partly because it suiteth with the example of Christ. He came, 
as to expiate our offences, so to give us an example : 1 Peter ii. 21, 
'Leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps;' and 1 John 
ii. 6, ' Walk as he walked/ It is high presumption to aim at an imi 
tation- of Christ in those acts of his which he did for satisfying the 
Father's justice or proving his deity; yea, it is impossible to imitate 
him in those. Yet in actions moral we are bound to imitate him, and 
in actions indifferent, not to suffer our liberty to be straitened, but to 
govern circumstances according to that holy wisdom. Christ retired 
not from the society of men, but used the greatest freedom in a holy 

[2.] Because there is more true grace in being dead to the tempta 
tion, than to retreat from the temptation. A Christian is not to go 
out of the world, neither by a voluntary death, John xvii. 15, nor by 
an unnecessary sequestration of ourselves from business and the affairs 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 101 

which God calleth us to, 1 Cor. vii. 20, ' Let every man abide in the 
same calling wherein he was called ;' but to be crucified to the world,- 
Gal. vi. 14, that is, grace to withdraw our hearts from the world, while 
we converse in it and with it. Many real Christians, when they hear 
us press mortification and deadness to the world, think they must 
leave their callings, or abate of their necessary activity in their callings. 
Alas ! in the shop, a man may keep himself unspotted from the world, 
as well as in the closet ; in a court, as well as in a cell. We read of 
saints in Nero's household, Phil, iv, 22. He was a great persecutor, yet 
some saints could live there, within his gates : there were some pro 
fessors of the gospel. So Rev. ii, 13, ' I know thy works, and where 
thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is : and thou boldest fast my 
name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas 
was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan 
dwelleth.' In the sorest and thickest of temptations a Christian may 
maintain his integrity. In short, our way to heaven lieth through the 
world; and though, if I be left to my choice, I should choose that course 
of life in which there are least temptations, yet when God, by the 
posture of our temporal interest, or the course of our education, or the 
nature of my employment and usefulness, hath determined me to a 
life more incident to a throng of temptations, I may the better venture 
upon them, and must not leave my service for supposed snares. 
Affectation of privacy may be a slothful retreat from public business, 
and it is more glorious to beat an enemy than to fly from him ; and 
grace is seen in overcoming rather than in shunning difficulties. 

Well, then, learn from the whole, that true mortification consists in 
a change of the frame of heart ; in a resolution against the baits' of 
sense, rather than removing our presence from them ; in being not of 
the world, though we are in the world ; not in casting away our enjoy 
ments, but in an equal mind in all conditions, James i. 9, 10 : that 
to be poor in abundance, humble in high places, temperate and godly 
in the freest course of life, is to imitate the life of Christ : that then 
we are properly mortified, when our esteem, value, and affection is mor 
tified : that grace showeth itself more in choice than in necessity ; 
in an abstinence from the delights of the flesh when we have them, 
rather than when we want them : that we may follow our business and 
yet be godly : that the overcharging of the heart is the great evil that 
we should beware of ; that we may use company, but not to partake of 
their sins ; yea, to make them better, and to purify them by our 

I now proceed to the last clause : But ivisdom is justified of her 

We have observed : 

1. The different form and course of life wherein John and Jesus 

2. Their censures of both. 

3. The receiving of the gospel by the unprejudiced. 
In this last observe : 

[1.] The exceptive particle, but. Though undeserved censures are 
cast upon the ways of God, yet at length there is a wisdom found in 
them. Ignorant men mistake them, carnal men slight them, the pro- 


fane snuff at them, few or none entertain them with that respect they 
ought to do, yet this wisdom will not want advocates. 

[2.] The thing spoken of, ivisdom. By wisdom is meant the doctrine 
of the gospel, called elsewhere the counsel of God, as appeareth by the 
parallel place, Luke vii. 29, 30, ' And all the people that heard him 
justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the 
pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves.' 
The gospel method of salvation is there called the counsel of God, be 
cause it is the counsel he giveth men for their good ; as here wisdom, 
because it is the result of God's eternal wisdom and decrees. And 
elsewhere the doctrine of Christ crucified is called ' the wisdom of 
God ;' and again, 1 Cor. ii. 7, ' the wisdom of God in a mystery.' 

[3.] What is said of it, or how it is used ; it is justified. Justification 
is a relative word : as it is opposed to crimination, so to justify is the 
work of an advocate ; as to condemnation, so it is the work of a judge. 
The children of wisdom discharge both parts, chiefly the first ; they 
bear witness to their faith, or the doctrine of God concerning salvation 
by Christ, by .their profession and godly life and ready obedience, and 
exalt it so much as others .decry it, and every way manifest they hold 
it for good and right ; .only, this pleading is real, not by word but deed : 
Sapientia nan .qucerit ,vocis t testimonium sed operum, saith Hierom. 
Divine wisdom is justified more by works than by a verbal plea. 
Wisdom's children hear her instructions, follow her directions and in 
stitutes, and with diligence observe the way of salvation prescribed by 
God, though others slight it ; and so justify it against the exceptions 
and reproaches of the carnal world. 

[4.] Of whom : of her children. The children of wisdom are the 
professors of it ; those who are begotten by God by the word of truth, 
James i. 18, and are willing to attain the end by the ways and means 
wherein God affordeth it. These are Wisdom's children, begotten, 
bred up, and instructed by her ; it is an Hebraism, as ' children of 
wrath,' ' children of light,' 'children of this world/ and the like ; the 
professors and followers of the gospel. 

The point that I shall insist on is this : 

That the wisdom of God, leading men to salvation, in the Wjays and 
means pointed out in the gospel, is and should be justified of all the 
sincere professors of it. 

In managing this point, I shall show you : 

First, What is the wisdom of God in the way of salvation prescribed 
by the gospel. 

Secondly, That this wisdom is despised, slighted, and contradicted 
by the carnal world, and why. 

Thirdly, How and why it must be justified by the sincere profes 
sors of the gospel. 

First, What is the wisdom of God in the way of salvation prescribed 
by the gospel ? The sum of the gospel is this : that all those who, by 
true repentance and faith, do forsake the flesh, the world, and the 
devil, and give themselves up to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, 
as their creator, redeemer, and sanctifier, shall find God as a father, 
taking them for his reconciled children, and for Christ's sake pardon 
ing their sins, and by his Spirit giving them his grace ; and, if they per- 

MAT. XL 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 103 

severe iii this course, will finally glorify them, and bestow upon them 
everlasting happiness ; but will condemn the unbelievers, impenitent, 
and ungodly to everlasting punishment. That this is the sum of the 
gospel appeareth by Mark xvi. 15, 16 : ' Go, preach the gospel to every 
creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he 
that believeth not shall be damned ;' where you have all the Chris 
tian religion laid before you in one short view and prospect. It con- 
cerneth either the end or the means. 

1. The end. The apostle telleth you that God ' hath brought life 
and immortality to light in the gospel,' 2 Tim. i. 10 ; or clearly disco 
vered a happiness and a misery in the world to come. 

2. .The means. He hath pointed out a sure way for obtaining the 
one and avoiding the other. As to the means, Christian religion is 
considerable, either as to the entrance or the progress of it. Our Lord 
telleth us, Mat. vii. 14, ' Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which 
leadeth unto life.' He speaketh of a gate and a way. The gate 
noteth the entrance ; the way, the progress therein. In other scrip 
tures we read of making covenant with God, and keeping covenant 
with God : the covenant must not only be made, but kept. So again 
we read of dedication and use ; of devotedness to God, and faithfulness 
to him ; of our purpose and progress, choice and course ; all which 
expressions tend to the same effect. 

[1.] As to the way of entering into covenant with God, there is 
required : 

(1.) True repentance and faith : ' Bepentance towards God, and 
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,' Acts xx. 21. Kepentance respects 
God as our end, and faith respects Christ as Mediator, as the only way 
of returning to God, from whom we have strayed by our own folly and 

(2.) In the exercise of this repentance and faith, there must be a 
forsaking the devil, the world, and the flesh, and a giving up ourselves 
to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as our creator, redeemer, 
and sanctifier. For the former, there are three great enemies to God 
and us the devil, the world, and the flesh ; reckoned up, Eph. ii. 2, 3, 
' In time past ye walked according to the course of this world, after 
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 conversa 
tion in times past, in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the 
flesh and of the mind.' There all your enemies appear abreast : the 
devil as the grand deceiver and principle of all wickedness; the 
world with its pleasures, honours, and profits, as the bait by which the 
devil would deceive us, and steal away our hearts from God, and 
divert us from looking after the one thing necessary ; the flesh, as 
the corrupt inclination in us, which entertaineth and closeth with these 
temptations, to the neglect of God, and wrong of our own souls. This 
is importunate to be pleased, and is the proper internal cause of all our 
mischief ; for every man is enticed and drawn away by his own lusts. 
Now these must be renounced before we can return to God by Jesus 
Christ ; for, as Joshua told the Israelites, so must we say to all of you : 
Josh. xxiv. 23, ' Put away the strange gods which are among you, and 
incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.' 


First, There must be a renouncing of our idols before our hearts can 
incline unto the true God. We must be turned from. Satan to God, 
Acts xx. 18. And the world must be renounced, Titus ii. 12: ' Deny 
ing all ungodliness and worldly lusts.' And we must not look upon 
ourselves as debtors to the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. viii. 
10. God will have no copartners and competitors in our hearts. 

And then the second part, in exercising of our faith and repentance, 
is giving up ourselves to God the Father, Son, and Spirit, as our cre 
ator, redeemer, and sanctifier. And therefore in baptism, which is 
our first entrance and initiation into the Christian religion, we are 
baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Mat. 
xxviii. 19, which implieth a dedication and giving up ourselves to 
them, according to their personal relations. To the Father, as our 
creator, to love him, obey him, and depend upon him, and be 
happy in his love as dear children. To Christ as our Redeemer, to 
free us from the guilt of sin and the wrath of God. To the Holy 
Ghost, to guide and sanctify us, and comfort us with the sense of our 
present interest in God's love, and the hopes of future glory. 

[2.] As to our progress and perseverance, which is our walking in the 
narrow way, three things are required ; and that 

(1.) As to the enemies of God and our souls. As there is a renounc 
ing required at first, so at length there is requisite an overcoming the 
devil, the world, and the flesh : Rev. ii. 7, ' To him that overcometh 
will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the para 
dise of God/ We overcome the devil when we keep up our resistance, 
and stand out against his batteries and assaults : 1 Peter v. 8, 9, ' Be 
sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, 
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour ; whom resist stedfast in 
the faith/ We overcome the world when the terrors and allurements 
of it have less force and influence upon us : 1 John v. 4, 5, ' Whatsoever 
is born of God overcometh the world ; and this is the victory that over 
cometh the world, even our faith : who is he that overcometh the 
world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God ? ' and 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 unto me, and I unto 
the world/ We overcome and subdue the flesh when we have ' crucified 
the flesh with the affections and lusts,' Gal. v 24 ; when we get the 
mastery over the passions and affections thereof ; and though we be 
sometimes foiled, yet the drift and bent of our lives is for God and 
our salvation. 

(2.) As to God, to whom we have devoted ourselves. We must 
love him above all, and not put him off with what the flesh can spare, 
or the world will allow, or the devil will suffer us to go on contentedly 
with ; but we must serve him sincerely, ' in holiness and righteousness 
all our days,' Luke i. 75. The love and patient service of our Creator 
is our great and daily work. 

(3.) As to our end. We must live in the nope of the coming of 
Christ and our everlasting glory : Titus ii. 13, ' Looking for that blessed 
hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour 
Jesus Christ , ' and Jude, ver. 21, ' Keep yourselves in the love of God. 
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life/ 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 105 

Well, then, as we did at first thankfully accept of our recovery by 
Christ, and did at first renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, 
and consented to follow his direction, and use his means in order to 
our final happiness, so we must still persevere in this mind and reso 
lution, till our glory come in hand. This is God's wisdom. 

Secondly, Let us now see how this counsel of God is entertained 
by the carnal world. It is there despised, slighted, and contradicted. 
The world is a distracted world ; some neglect God's counsel and never 
lay it to heart : Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall we escape if we neglect so great 
salvation ? ' and Mat. xxii. 5, ' But they made light of it, and went 
their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise.' Some laugh at 
these things, and make a holy and heavenly life the matter of their scorn 
and derision : Luke xvi. 14, ' The pharisees also, who were covetous, 
heard all these things, and they derided him ; ' and Acts xvii. 32, ' Some 
mocked, and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter ; how- 
beit, certain men clave unto him and believed.' There are others who 
fasten odious reproaches on the godly. And though the Christian 
religion be so holy and innocent in its design, so agreeable to the 
nature of God and man, so well contrived to remedy our miseries, and 
to secure our true an'd proper happiness, yet the strictness of it is dis 
tasted by the world. By the profane, who have nothing to excuse 
their wickedness, it is counted hypocrisy : ' As deceivers, yet true,' 2 
Cor. vi. 8 ; because they cannot condemn the life, they judge the heart. 
By them who affect the vanities of the world, and have a passionate 
love for the pleasures and honours thereof ; because the generality of 
the world are of that mind, they brand it with the imputation of foolish 
singularity. And the carnal politicians, because it was never yet so 
well with the world, but some things which God requireth are dis 
countenanced, they tax it of disobedience, and they counted Paul as 
a mover of sedition, Acts xxv. 5 ; and because the operations of grace 
are above the line of nature, others tax it of fanaticism and enthusiasm. 
Atheists, .who are all for demonstrations of sense, sight, and present 
things, because Christianity mainly inviteth to things spiritual and 
heavenly, and to live upon the hopes of an unseen world that is yet to 
come, they judge it to be a foppery, or mere imposture, or needless 
superstition. Though both the hopes and precepts of religion carry a 
marvellous compliance with right reason, yet none of these tilings move 
them. Lastly, There are others that malign, oppose, and oppugn 
holiness. There is an everlasting enmity between the two seeds, as 
between the wolf and the lamb, the raven and the dove ; the world will 
love its own, and hate those that go a contrary course, John xv. 19 ; 
' And as he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born 
after the spirit, even so it is now,' Gal. iv. 29 ; and so it will be to the 
end of the world. When the powers of the world give any rest, yet 
the carnal seed will be mocking and scoffing, and bringing God's holy 
ways into contempt, branding them with censures and calumnies. The 
reasons of this are partly because men are drunk with the delusions of 
the flesh, and so cannot judge of spiritual things ; partly to excuse 
themselves. Men will be quarrelling at religion when they have no 
mind to practise it, and dispute away duties when they are unwilling 
to perform them ; partly, they take occasion from the failings of God's 


people, though there is no reason why they should do so. An art 
should not be condemned for the workman's want of skill ; but they do 
so. If Christians be serious to any degree of sadness, then religion is 
counted an uncomfortable thing, it mopeth them. If there be any 
differences among God's people, because of their several degrees of light, 
oh, then there are so many sects, and factions, and controversies about 
religion, they suspect all, and are true to none. If any creep into the 
holy profession, and pollute it with their, scandals, then all strictness in 
religion is but a pretence and imposture. If men be strict, and would 
avoid every ordinary failing incident to mankind, then they are more 
nice than wise, and this is preciseness and indiscretion. It were end 
less to rake in this puddle, and to reckon up all the cavils and excep 
tions which naughty men commence against the ways of God. 

Thirdly, How and why it must be justified by the sincere professors 
of the gospel. 

1. How? 

I answer Three ways : 

[1.] It must be approved and received by themselves. It is wis 
dom's children that can only justify wisdom ; they that have entertained 
it, felt the power and force of it in their own hearts ; yea, their very 
receiving is a justifying ; they show the clamourings of the world do 
not move them : therefore it must be approved by us before it can be 
recommended to others, and approved, not speculatively only, but 
practically, so as to resolve to follow after salvation in this way. 
{Speculatively, they may approve it that have but fj,6p<f>cocriv T?}? yvta- 
creo)?, Horn. ii. 18, 20 ; a form of knowledge, and dishonour it in 
their practices, as ver. 23, 24. Men may justify religion in word, by 
a bare naked approbation, and soundly vindicate it from the cavils and 
exceptions of men ; but godly men have eyes to see the beauty and 
excellence of it, and have sincerely accepted it: Acts ii. 41, 'They 
received the word gladly.' It is good news to a poor guilty con 
science to hear of a pardoning God and a merciful and faithful 
Kedeemer, the promise of eternal life, and a sure way how to come 
to it. They are said to justify God that accepted his counsel, Luke 
vii. 29, 30. The hearts of God's children are thoroughly possessed 
with the reality, excellency, and blessedness of this religion ; they 
know and believe the infinite consequence of these things ; their faith 
is a kind of justifying : John iii. 33, ' He that hath received his testi 
mony, hath set to his seal that God is true/ 

[2.] It must be professed and owned when it is vilified and in con 
tempt and disgrace in the world. We must stand to Christ and his 
ways, though we stand alone, as Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 10, and not be 
ashamed of holiness, notwithstanding trouble and contradiction. 
Christ will be confessed before men, and will be ashamed before God 
and angels of them who are ashamed of him in the world, and refuse 
to own him and his ways and truths, only because they are despised 
and contradicted and discountenanced in the world. Pleading for re 
ligion is one of the professing acts : 2 Cor. iv. 13, ' We having the 
same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore 
have I spoken ; we also believe, and therefore speak.' As David, when 
sore afflicted, did confess and avow his confidence in God, so we, 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 107 

heartily believing and approving the gospel, must make a bold profes 
sion of it. The sacraments were ordained for this purpose, for badges 
of profession. Baptism is a visible entering into covenant with God : 
Mark xvi. 16, ' He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ; and 
he that believeth not shall be damned ; ' where not only belief is re 
quired, but open profession. Baptism is a badge and a bond ; a badge 
to distinguish the worshippers of Christ from others, and a bond to 
bind us to open profession of the name of Christ. The Lord's Supper 
it is a profession of communion : 1 Cor. x. 16, ' The cup of blessing 
which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? The 
bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ ? ' 
and ver. 18, ' Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the 
altar ? ' They that did any part of the sacrifices did eat and drink 
with God at the altar ; and ver. 20, 21, ' I would not that ye should 
have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and 
the cup of devils ; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the 
table of devils/ Professing communicating with Christ is not con 
sistent with professing communicating with devils. So prayer and praise 
is a part of confessing : Bom. x. 10, ' With the heart man believeth 
unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salva 
tion.' The first is proved ver. 11, ' For the scripture saith, Whosoever 
believeth on him shall not v be ashamed;' the second, ver. 13, 'For 
whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Calling 
upon the name of the Lord in prayer and praise, it is an open professing 
act, by which we own God in Christ for our God. So the assembling 
ourselves together for public worship is a part of this profession, and 
must not be omitted for fear : Heb. x. 23, with 25, ' Let us hold fast 
the profession of our faith without wavering/ How? ver. 25, ' Not 
forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some 
is.' These assemblies were instituted for public converse with God, 
testifying their union and agreement in the same faith and worship. 
Indeed, in lesser truths, that fall within the latitude of allowable differ 
ences in the church, profession is not always a duty, for in some cases 
we may have faith to ourselves ; but a denying of God, or being ashamed 
of him, is always a sin. When called to give an account, we are with 
boldness to own our profession : Acts iv. 10, ' Be it known unto you all, 
and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of 
Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by 
him doth this man stand here before you whole;' and Dan. iii. 17, 18, ' If 
it be so, 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, king, that we will not serve thy gods, 
nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.' 

[3.] This profession must be honoured, and recommended to others, 
by a holy conversation. But now, what kind of conversation honoureth 
religion ? 

(1.) Such as is carried on with diligence and seriousness. As Noah, 
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 
the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteous 
ness which is by faith/ They behaved themselves as those that in 


earnest believed a flood, when they made such thorough preparation, 
which was a just reproof to the security and incredulity of the carnal 
world : when we do as we say, in good earnest make preparation for 
another world, otherwise religion is but suspected as a vain pretence 
and empty talk. Then we look after heaven indeed, then we believe 
it when we do the things that belief bindeth us unto. A carnal man 
that is all talk and no practice, he doth not religion so much honour 
in his words as he doth dishonour it in his works. He liveth down his 
profession, while he seemeth to cry it up: Titus i. 16, ' They profess 
that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable 
and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.' Contrary 
motions are an implicit denial of the faith, 1 Tim. v. 8 ; but laziness 
and negligence do also foment and breed atheism ; and we carry on 
the life of godliness coldly and faintly, and so our conversations, which 
should be a confirmation of the gospel, prove a confutation rather. 
Those that are disciples in name only, the word of God cometh to 
them in word only. The careless practiser is as bad as he that is 
haunted with actual doubts about the truth of Christianity. The 
troubled doubter mindeth his business, but these never regard it, and 
do in effect say that Christ and his salvation is not worth the looking 
after. As it is said of the Israelites, Ps. cvi. 24, ' They despised the 
good land, they believed not his word/ Those that resolved to give 
over the pursuit of Canaan are said to doubt of his promise. So they 
that neglect salvation do not believe the truth of it, Heb. ii. 3, 4 ; and 
though they talk high, they secretly propagate their infidelity. The 
strength of our faith should appear by the diligence of our lives, the 
seriousness of our endeavours, and the fervour of our duties. Prac 
tices do more express the image of our minds than words. The faith 
that issueth out into works doth most commend itself to others : 2 
Thes. i. 11, 12, ' That you may fulfil the work of faith with power; 
that Christ Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him/ Then is 
Christ glorified, when you live answerably to your profession, and do 
by the power of God carry on a holy life upon the encouragements of 
the promises of the gospel. 

(2.) Such as is governed by the respects of the other world. When 
we are patient and joyful under the cross, and full of hope and com 
fort in great straits, and delight in our work, which the world hateth 
and discountenanceth, and hope against hope, and live in the pro 
mises: Ps. cxix. Ill, 'Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage 
for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart/ Then we justify 
wisdom, and commend our faith to others. God was angry with 
Moses and Aaron : Num. xx. 12, ' Because ye believed not, to sanc 
tify me in the eyes of the children of Israel/ We are not only firmly 
to believe ourselves, but to sanctify him in the eyes of others ; and 
that is done by the labour of our faith, the patience of our hope, our 
joyfulness and delight in God. when we have but little in hand, and 
the readiness of our obedience even under deep sufferings. When 
the Thessalonians had received the word in much assurance and much 
affliction, and much joy in the Holy Ghost, the apostle telleth, 1 Thes. 
i. 5-7, They were ' ensamples to all that believed in Achaia and Mace 
donia/ and from them ' sounded out the word of God to other places/ 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. 109 

Thus we propagate our faith, and commend the truth of God to others. 
The life of faith is a glorious thing, but the life of sense or reason 
hath no glory in it, or a life carried on merely upon external proba 
bilities. When we can contemn this world, both the good and evil 
things of it, in hopes of a better, and part with all that is dear to us in 
this world upon the conscience of our duty, then we justify wisdom. 

(3.) By an exact purity and holiness, or a full conformity to all 
God's precepts and institutes, and by a faithful discharging all duties 
to God and men. Every true Christian should be a transcript of his 
religion : 2 Cor. iii. 3, ' Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle 
of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit.' An epistle is 
that wherein a man hath written his mind ; our conversations should 
be religion exemplified, a real sermon : Phil. ii. 16, ' Holding forth 
the word of life/ The wax hath an impression and stamp left upon 
it according to what is -engraven upon the seal. Then we honour 
religion when the impression and print of it is left upon our hearts 
and lives, and we are cast into this mould. More particularly, duties 
of relations, which are visible and easily observed, justify and honour 
religion : Titus ii. 10, and 1 Peter ii. 15, ' So is the will of God, that 
with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.' 
These conduce to the good of human societies, are most regarded, 
and make the ways of God amiable. Thus how wisdom is to be 

I now come to show you 

2. Why. 

[1.] Because of the charge that is put upon us to testify for God, and 
justify his ways: Isa. xliii. 10, ' Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.' 
They that are most acquainted with God can most witness for him. 
So wisdom's children can most justify her. They are acquainted with 
her promises and precepts, and have experience of the virtue and 
power of them in comforting and changing the heart. A report of a 
report is a- cold thing ; they that have felt somewhat in their hearts, 
that which they have seen and felt they can speak of. The world 
needeth some witnesses for God, some testimony and preparative 
inducement to invite them to embrace the ways of God. Miracles 
served for that use heretofore : Acts v. 32, ' And we are his witnesses 
of those things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given 
to them that obey him.' And in the place of miracles, there succeeded 
good conversation, or the wonderful effects of his Spirit. Grace in 
the heart and lives of his children, this is apt to beget wonder, as 
miracles did, 1 Peter iv. 4. When they can renounce the lusts which 
most are mastered by, and grow dead to worldly interests, live in the 
world above the world, in the flesh contrary to the flesh. A miracle 
strikes a little wonderment at first, but this sinketh and soaketh to 
the heart. When men are so strictly holy, so ravishingly heavenly, 
and bear up upon the hopes and encouragements of the other world, 
and are so conscientious in all duties to God and man, you show that 
religion is not a notion or an imagination. 

[2.] Wisdom deserveth to be justified by us. What is there in all 
the Christian religion but what is justifiable, or that we should be 
ashamed of ? Is it the hopes of it ? The hopes of it are such as are 


fit to be propounded to man, sought after by all the world, but nowhere 
discovered with such certainty and distinctness as in the gospel 
Nothing doth refine and ennoble the heart so much as these hopes. 
The heavenly spirit, that can support itself with the hopes of an 
unseen glory, is the only true sublime spirit ; an earthly spirit is a 
base spirit, so a sensual, the dregs of mankind. Amongst men, the 
ambitious, who aspire to crowns and kingdoms, and aim at perpetual 
fame by their heroic virtues and exploits, are judged persons of far 
greater gallantry than covetous muckworms or brutish epicures ; yet 
they are poor, base-spirited people in their highest thoughts and 
designs to that noble and divine spirit which worketh in the breast 
of those who sincerely and heartily seek heavenly things. For what 
is the honour of the world to approbation with God, temporal trifles 
to an everlasting kingdom ? Is it the way and means, the first, the 
terms of settling our souls in the way of faith end repentance ? What 
more rational? Should we return to our creator's service without 
acknowledging our offence in straying, or humbling ourselves for our 
errors, and purposing for the future to live in his love and obedience ? 
Or can we expect mercy without returning ? Reason will say our 
case is not compassionable. Or should God quit his law without 
satisfaction ? Or should we not own our benefactor, the person satis 
fying ? Certainly there is nothing more reasonable. So also for new 
obedience. Therefore wisdom deserveth to be justified by us. 

[3.] Those that condemn wisdom, yet do in some measure at the 
same time justify it. They condemn it with their tongues, but justify 
it with their consciences : they hate and fear strictness : Mark vi. 20, 
' Herod feared John, because he was a just man and a holy, and 
observed him/ They scoff at it with their tongues, but have a fear of 
it in their consciences : they revile at it while they live, but what mind 
are they of when they come to die ? Then all will speak well of a 
holy life, and the strictest obedience to the laws of God : Num. 
xxiii. 10, ' Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end 
be like his ;' and Mat. xxv. 8, ' Give us of your oil, for our lamps 
are gone out.' Oh that they had a little of that holiness and strictness 
which they scoffed at, whilst they were pursuing their lusts ! How 
will they desire to die ? As carnal and careless sinners, or as mortified 
saints ? They approve it in thesi, and condemn it in hypothesi. All 
the opposers and scoffers at godliness, within the pale of the visible 
church, have the same Bible, baptism, creed, and pretend to believe 
in the same God and Christ, which they own with those whom they 
oppose. All the difference is, the one are real Christians, the other are 
nominal ; some profess at large, others practise what they profess ; the 
one have a religion to talk of, the other to live by ; they approve it in 
the form, but hate it in the power. A picture of Christ that is drawn 
by a painter they like, and the forbidden image of God made by a 
carver they will reverence and honour, and be zealous for ; but the 
image of God framed by the Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, and 
described in the lives of the heavenly and the sanctified, this they scorn 
and scoff at. 

[4.] If we do not justify religion, we justify the world. It must 
needs be so, for these two are opposites, the carnal world and wisdom : 

MAT. XI. 18, 19.] OF HER CHILDREN. Ill 

the carnal world must be condemned, and religion justified, or reli 
gion will be condemned and the world justified. Some condemn the 
world : 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 the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the 
righteousness which is by faith/ Some justify the world, as Israel 
justified Sodom: Ezek. xvi. 51, ' But thou hast multiplied thy abomi 
nations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine 
abominations which thou hast done.' Their sin seemeth more excus 
able ; you either upbraid their security and carelessness, or countenance 
it by your own practice ; your seriousness is a real rebuke to the carnal 
world ; your working out your salvation in fear and trembling up- 
braideth their security and carelessness ; your rejoicing in God con- 
demneth their carnal delight. When you are troubled about a vain 
thought, and are watchful against a light word, you condemn them 
for their looseness and wallowing in all filthiness: but if not, you 
justify the world, and harden the wicked in their prejudices, and cause 
them to hold up their course with the greater pretence. When you 
are wrathful, proud, sensual, turbulent, self-seeking, you are an occa 
sion of stumbling unto them. Cyprian, in his book DE DUPLICI 
MARTYRIO, bringethin the heathens thus speaking: Ecce quijactant 
se redemptos d tyrannide Sathance, qui prcedicant se mortuos mundo, 
niliilo minus vincuntur d cupiditatibus suis, quam nos quos dicunt 
teneri sub regno Sathance. Quidprodest illis baptismus, quid prodest 
Spiritus Sanctus, cujus arbitrio dicunt se temperari? &c. ' Behold 
those that boast themselves to be redeemed from the tyranny of the 
devil, to be dead to the world, to have crucified the flesh : they are 
overcome by their base and brutish lusts, even as we are, whom they 
account to be still under the kingdom of the devil. What doth their 
baptism profit them ? what the Holy Ghost, whose direction they 
profess to live by ? Why should we trouble ourselves about changing 
our course, which is as good as theirs ? ' So in Salvian's time, the 
heathens were wont to upbraid the Christians thus : Ubi est Catholica 
lex quam creduntf Ubi sunt pietaiis, et castitatis exempla quce 
discuntf Evangelia legunt et impudici sunt. Apostolos audiunt, et 
inebriantur, Christum sequuntur, et capiunt, &c. ' They talk of a 
holy Christ, and yet are unjust, unclean, wrathful, covetous ; of a meek 
patient Christ, and yet are rapacious and violent ; of holy apostles, and 
yet are impure in their conversations.' Our author goeth on thus : 
Sancta d Christianis fierent, si Sancta Christus docuisset; cestimari 
d cultoribus potest iste qui colitur, quomodo bonus magister, cujus tarn 
malos esse videmus discipulos ? ' If their Christ were a holy, meek 
Christ, they would be better,' &c. And as carnal men now speak, 
For all their godliness and religion that they talk of, our life, and 
course, and dealings are as good, and honest, and justifiable as theirs.' 
Thus the wicked are justified in their way. 

[5.] Christ will one day justify all his sincere followers before men, 
and angels, and devils : Luke xii. 8, ' Whosoever shall confess me, 
him shall the Son of man confess before the angels of God.' Let us 
justify his ways, and he will justify us, and our faith at length shall 
be found to praise, and glory, and honour. Christ will then wipe off 


all the aspersions which be cast upon the children of wisdom for 
godliness-sake, as faction, pride, singularity, hypocrisy; and that which 
was branded with such ignominious titles, will then be found to be 
the very wisdom of God. 

[6.] Because of the necessity of justifying wisdom in the times we 
live in. It is said, 2 Peter iii. 3, ' In the last time there shall come 
scoffers and mockers, walking after their own lusts/ The last days 
shall be full of these profane scoffers. While truths were new, and 
the exercises of the Christian religion lovely, there was great concord 
and seriousness amongst the professors of the gospel, and then profane 
scoffers were rare and unfrequent. Before men's senses were benumbed 
with the customary use of religious duties, the notions of God were 
fresh and lively upon their hearts ; but afterwards, when the profession 
of Christianity grew into a form and national interest, and men were 
rather made Christians by the chance of their birth than choice and 
rational convictions, then the church was much pestered with this 
kind of cattle. Especially now are they rife among us, who live in the 
dregs of Christianity, when men are grown weary of the name of 
Christ, and the ancient severity and strictness is much lost, and the 
memory of those miracles and wonderful effects by which our religion 
was confirmed is almost worn out, or else questioned by men of subtle 
wits and a prostituted conscience. Therefore now mockers and men 
of atheistical spirits swarm everywhere, and it concerneth wisdom's 
children to justify it, and to maintain its former vigour and power. 

The use that we may make is double : 

1. To the enemies of wisdom. Judge not of a holy life, and those 
that profess it, at a distance and by hearsay, but try. We are not 
afraid to come to the bar with our enemies : John vii. 24, ' Judge not 
according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.' If men 
would not be blinded with visible appearance, and the mask of passion, 
prejudice, and interest, and condemn the people of God as they are 
represented in a false mirror ; judge and spare not, and where you 
find the true spirit of Christianity, take all leave, we desire no other 
trial ; but speak not against things you know not. Try, and judge 
as you find, where is the deepest sense of the other world, where the 
most careful preparation to get thither, the joy of faith, the love of 
holiness. If Christianity will allow that worldly pomp, that vanity 
and liberty, which others take, then judge the servants of the Lord as 
guilty of a foolish niceness, preciseness, and singularity; but if we 
be baptized into these things, and unquestionably and indispensably 
bound to them, either renounce your baptism, or forbear your cen 
sures, or rather choose this clear and pure way to everlasting glory. 
If you will not stand to God's word, stand to your own sober moods. 
We will make you yourselves judges, when you are serious and best 
able to judge of things, not in your passion, when lusts are stirring. 
When you are entering the confines of eternity, when conscience is 
likely to speak truth to you, you will wish then you were one of those 
poor godly men whom now you count proud, humorous, and factious. 

2. To the children of wisdom. Do not scandalise the holy ways of 
God, but justify them ; be neither ashamed of them, nor a shame to them ; 
till the ancient strictness be revived, wisdom will never be justified. 


And it came to pass, that as they went in the way, a certain man said 
unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And 
Jesus said unto him, Poxes have holes, and birds of the air have 
nests ; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And 
he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me 
first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto them, Let the 
dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of 
God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee ; but let 
me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house. 
And Jesus said unto him, No man having put his hand to the 
plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. LUKE 
IX. 57-62. 

HERE are three stories put together by the evangelist, to teach us in 
what manner we should address ourselves to follow Christ. 

The first is of a scribe that came uncalled, but his heart was not 
right with God, having a temporal bias upon it. 

The second is of one called, ver. 59. Christ saith, ' Follow me/ 
But he would first cherish, then bury, his dying father. But Christ 
would have no delays, but presently sets him about his ministry 
and service in the gospel. This, upon the authority of Clemens 
Alexandrinus, who received it upon ancient tradition, is supposed to 
be Philip. 

A third offereth himself to follow Christ ; but first he would take 
his farewell at home, and compose matters in his family. But when 
we set our faces Grodward, there is no looking back ; there must be no 
more consulting with flesh and blood ; the divine instinct must be 
obeyed speedily, and wholly, and Christ followed without reserves and 

Of these in their order. 

I begin with the first : ' And it came to pass, as they went on the 
way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whitherso 
ever thou goest,' &c. 

In which words observe: 

1. The time : ' It came to pass, as they ivent on the ivay, a certain 
man said to him.' 



2. A resolution professed : Lord, I ivill follow thee ivhithersoever 
thou goest. 

3. Christ's reply : And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and 
the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to 
lay his head. 

1. The time. In Mat. viii. 19, it is when Christ had a mind to 
retire, and had declared his purpose to go into the desert ; in Luke, 
when he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. Both may agree ; 
the one more immediately, the other more remotely ; first to the 
desert, then to Jerusalem. About that time, a certain man, seeing 
Christ about to remove from the place where he then was, offereth 
himself to be one of his disciples. This certain man is by St Matthew 
said to be a scribe. Men of that rank and order had usually a male 
talent 1 against the gospel, and are frequently coupled with the 
pharisees, men covetous and of a bitter spirit. This man seeing 
Christ did great miracles, and hoping that he would set up a temporal 
kingdom, he puts in for a place betimes that he might share in the 
honours of it. 

2. Here is a resolution professed : ' Lord, I will follow thee 
whithersoever thou goest.' Where take notice 

[1.] Of the ready forwardness of the scribe. He was not called by 
Christ, but offered himself of his own accord. 

[2.] Observe the largeness of the offer, and unboundedness of it, 
' whithersoever ; ' as indeed it is our duty to follow Christ through 
thick and thin. In the Kevelation, Christ's undefiled company are 
described to be such as ' follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,' 
Rev. xiv. 4 ; that is, obeyed him, though to their great peril and loss. 
Well, then, here is readiness, here is largeness ; it is well if all be 
sincere. Therefore let us see 

3. Christ's answer and reply: 'And Jesus said unto him, Foxes 
have holes, and the birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of man 
hath not where to lay his head.' By the tenor of Christ's answer, you 
may know what ails him, and on what foot he limped ; for this is 
spoken either by way of preparation to enable him to keep his resolu 
tion, or rather by way of probation, to try the truth and strength of 
it ; whether it were sincere and sound ; yea or nay : as the young 
man was tried, Mark x. 21, 'One thing thou lackest: go thy way, 
sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have 
treasure in heaven : and come, and take up thy cross, and follow me. 
But he went away sad at that saying/ So here, we hear no more of 
this scribe ; our Lord knew how to discover hypocrites. Two things 
were defective in this resolution : 

[1.] It was sudden and rash, not weighing the difficulties. They 
that rashly leap into a profession, usually fall back at the first trial. 
Therefore we must sit down and count the charges, Luke xiv. 28. 

[2.] There was a carnal aim in it. He minded his own profit and 
honour; therefore Christ in effect telleth him, You had best consider 
what you do, for following of me will be far from advancing any 
temporal interest of yours. The scribe was leavened with a conceit of 
a worldly kingdom, and had an eye to some temporal advantage; 

1 See note on page 90. ED. 


therefore Christ telleth him plainly, There was no worldly ease and 
riches to be expected from him ; and so, Non repulit volentem ; sed 
fingentem prodidit ' He did not discourage a willing follower, but 
discover a worldly hypocrite,' saith Chrysologus. 

The doctrine we learri from hence is this : 

They that will sincerely follow Christ, must not look for any great 
matters in the world, but rather prepare themselves to run all hazards 
with him. 

This is evident : 

1. From Christ's own example ; and the same mind should be 
in all his followers : John xvii. 16, ' They are not of the world, even 
as I am not of the world.' Our estranging of our hearts from the 
world is an evidence of our conformity to Christ. Christ passed 
through the world to sanctify it as a place of service ; but his 
constant residence was not here, to fix it as a place of rest: and 
all that are Christ's are alike affected. We pass through as strangers, 
but are not at home as inhabitants or dwellers ; and if we have little 
of the world's favour, it is enough if any degree of service for God. 

2. From the nature of his kingdom. His kingdom is not of this 
world, John xviii. 3, 6. It is not a kingdom of pomp, but a kingdom 
of patience. Here we suffer with Christ, hereafter we reign with him. 
The comforts are not earthly, or the good things of this world, but 
heavenly the good things of the world to come. This was the 
scribe's mistake. 

3. From the spirit of Christ. His spirit is given us to draw us off 
from this world to that which is to come : 1 Cor. ii. 12, ' Now we 
have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is* of 
God, that we may know the things which are given us of God/ The 
spirit of the world is that which possesseth and governeth worldly 
men, and inclineth them to a worldly happiness ; this is in all men 
naturally. Corrupt nature doth sufficiently prompt and incline men 
to look after the honours, and pleasures, and profits of this world. 
James iii. 15, the apostle, when he would describe the wisdom which 
is not from above, he saith, that it is ' earthly, sensual, devilish ; this 
wisdom corneth not from above.' Present things are known by sense, 
and known easily, and known by all. But there is a divine Spirit put 
into Christians, which inclineth them to things to come, and worketh 
graces suitable : some of which give us a sight of the truth of those 
things, as faith ; some, a taste or an esteem of them, as love ; some an 
earnest desire, as hope. This Spirit cometh from God and Christ, Eph. 
i. 17, 18. And without these graces we can have no sight nor desire of 
heavenly things : 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 discerned.' They think 
it is folly to hazard present conveniencies for future rewards, and the 
truest wisdom to live in ease, plenty, and honour. On the contrary, 
the divine Spirit convinceth us that there is no such business of 
importance as looking after eternal life ; that all the gay things of 
sense are but so many May-games to heaven's happiness ; the terrible 
things of the world are but as a flea-biting to hell torments ; and the 
pudder and business of the world but as a little childish sport in 


comparison of working out our salvation with fear and trembling. 
This Spirit helpeth us to overcome the world, and grow dead to the 
world, that we may be alive to God ; to look for no great things here, 
but in the world to come. This Spirit is that which we should all 
labour after. 

4. From the covenant of Christ. It is one thing implied in the 
gospel covenant, when our Lord Jesus sets down the terms : Mat. xvi. 
24, he saith, ' If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross and follow me ;' that is, we must so believe in Christ, 
and be persuaded of the truth of his heavenly doctrine, that we are will 
ing to deny our wit and will, natural interests and affections, and to lose 
all rather than lose our souls, or miss of the happiness he offereth us. 
Nay, taking up the cross is so considerable a part of our resignation to 
Christ and trust in him, that in Luke it is said, chap. ix. 23, let him 
' take up his cross daily.' How daily ? There are fair days as well 
as foul, and the face of heaven doth not always look sad and lowering. 
What is the meaning, then, of that, ' Let him take up his cross daily'? 
I answer first, it must be meant of daily expectation. The first day 
that we begin to think of being serious Christians we must reckon of 
the cross, we know not how soon it may come. If God seeth fit to 
spare you, yet you must be prepared for it ; stand ready, as porters in 
the streets, to take up the burden which you must carry. Daily inure 
your thoughts to the cross, that the grievousness and bitterness of it 
may be somewhat allayed. St Paul saith, Acts xxi. 13, ' I am ready 
not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of 
the Lord Jesus ;' and Eph. vi. 15, one great piece of the spiritual 
armour is, ' the preparation of the gospel of peace ;' and 1 Peter iii. 
15, ' Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh a 
reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear :' be ready in 
point of courage. Now this is necessary, because we are so apt to pro 
mise great things to ourselves, and indulge the security of the flesh by 
putting off the thoughts of the cross ; but evils familiarised are the 
less burdensome, and by renewing our resolution daily, we are the 
more fortified. Secondly, to show the continuance of our conflicts, as 
if every day there were some new exercise for our faith and patience. 
We are not to prescribe to God how long he shall afflict us, nor with 
how much affliction he shall exercise us ; 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 till God remove it. Some promise fair to 
be contented with a naked Christ though they run all hazards, because 
they hope God will not take them at their words ; but as soon as the 
cross cometh, wriggle, shift, and distinguish themselves out of their 
duty ; or else, if it be long and frequently return, quite tire and are 
faint. So that ' Take it up daily,' is as much as ' Let patience have 
its perfect work,' James i. 4. If day after day we must be troubled, 
we must be content to be troubled. If God send it daily, we must 
take it up daily. Well, then, in the new covenant we undertook this; 
the new covenant doth comprise this as a clear branch and part of it. 
Christ telleth us the worst at first ; the devil showeth us the bait but 
hideth the hook. The world useth to invite its followers with promises 
of honour and riches, but Christ telleth us of the cross, and that partly 


to discourage hypocrites, who cheapen and taste, but will not buy, 
and also to prepare sound believers for the nature and temper of his 
kingdom, which lieth in another world. But here by the way we are 
to undergo several trials, and therefore we should be armed with a 
mind to endure them, whether they come or no. God never intended 
Isaac should be sacrificed, but yet he will have Abraham tried. 

Use 1. Is information. With what thoughts we should take up 
the stricter profession of Christianity namely, with expectations of 
the cross. Christ will try us, and the world will hate us ; therefore 
let us not flatter ourselves with an easy passage to heaven. Many 
think they may be good Christians, yet live a life of pomp, and ease, 
and pleasure, free from all trouble and molestation. This is all one 
as if a soldier going to the wars should promise himself a continual 
peace or truce with the enemy, or as a mariner undertaking a long 
voyage should only think of fair weather and a calm sea, without 
waves and storms ; so irrational is it for a Christian to look for nothing 
but rest and peace here upon earth. No ; a Christian had need think 
of this to a double end, that he may be a mortified and a resolute 
man. If he be not mortified and dead to the world, he can never 
undergo the variety of conditions which his religion will expose him 
unto, and say witli the apostle, Phil. iv. 13, 14, ' I can do all things 
through Christ which strengthened me; notwithstanding, ye have 
well done that ye did communicate with my affliction.' And there is 
usually in us a propensity and inclination either to honours, riches, or 
pleasures, and the devil will work upon that weakness, Heb. xii. 13. 
That which is lame is soon turned out of the way. 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, will take care to fortify the 
weak places where there is any suspicion of an attack ; so should a 
Christian mortify every corrupt inclination lest it betray him, be it 
love of honour, pleasure, or profit. He had need be also a well 
resolved man, well shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, 
or else in hard way he will soon founder and halt. If you be Chris 
tians indeed, you will soon see the necessity of it. Pure nature itself 
is against bearing the cross. Christ showed the innocent affections of 
human nature in his own person ; it recoiled a little at the thought of 
the dreadful cup : Heb. v. 7, ' Who in the days of his flesh, when he 
had offered up prayers and supplication, with strong crying and tears, 
unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that 
he feared/ And to us it is much more grievous to suffer : Heb. xii. 
11, ' Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but 
grievous ; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of 
righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.' But corrupt 
nature will certainly draw back, unless we be armed with great resolu 
tion ; for after we have launched out into the deep with Christ, we shall 
be ready to run ashore again upon every storm, unless we be resolved ; 
therefore you need to think of the cross to breed this resolution. If 
Christians be not mortified, they trip up their own heels ; if they be 
not resolved and prepared for all weathers, they take up religion rather 
as a walk for recreation than as a journey or serious passage to heaven. 
Therefore we must all of us prepare for sufferings in this world, looking 


for no great matters here. We must expect persecutions, crosses, losses, 
wants, defamation, injuries; and we must get that furniture of heart and 
mind which may support and comfort us in such a day of trial. 

2. It informeth us what fools they are that take up religion upon a 
carnal design of ease and plenty, and will follow Christ to grow rich in 
the world ; as this scribe thought to make a market of the gospel, as 
Simon Magus did, Acts viii. 19, 20; he thought to make a gain by the 
power of miracles. There are conveniences which religion afFordeth 
in peaceable times, but the very profession at other times will engage 
us in great troubles ; and therefore men do but make way for the 
shame of a change and other mischiefs, that hope for temporal com 
modities by the profession of the gospel. There are few that are 
willing to follow a naked Christ upon unseen encouragements, but this 
must be ; for they that aim to seek the world in and by their religion 
are disclaimed by our Lord as unfit to be his servants, and indeed 
sorry servants they are who cannot live without honour, ease, and 
plenty ; therefore turn and wind to shift the cross, put many a fallacy 
upon their own souls: Gal. vi. 12, ' As many as desire to make a fail- 
show ia the flesh, compel you to be circumcised, only lest they should 
suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.' If that be their only motive, 
they are apt to desert or pervert Christ's cause. Again, the apostle 
telleth us of some ' who are enemies to the cross of Christ, whose god 
is their belly, who mind earthly things/ Phil. iii. 18, 19. Men that 
have no love to >Grod, but only serve their fleshly appetites, and look no 
higher than honours, riches, pleasures, and applause with men, will 
never be faithful to Christ. They are such as study to save themselves 
not from sin, tout from danger, and accordingly accommodate them 
selves to every interest. As the men of Keilah dealt with David, 
entertained him for a while, but when Saul pursued him were resolved 
to betray him ; they would come into no danger for David's sake. So 
they deal with Christ and religion. They profess Christ's name, but 
will surfer nothing for him. If they may enjoy him and his ways with 
peace, and quietness, and conveniency, and commodity to themselves, 
well and good ; but if troubles arise for the gospel's sake, immediately 
they fall off; not only these summer-friends of the gospel, but the 
most, yea, the best, have a secret lothness and unwillingness to con 
descend to a condition of trouble or distress. This is a point of hard 
digestion, and most stomachs will not bear it. 

3. It informs us what an unlikely design they have in hand who 
would bring the world and Christ fairly to agree, or reconcile their 
worldly advantages and the profession of the gospel. And when they 
cannot frame the world and their conveniences to the gospel, do fashion 
the gospel to the world, and the carnal courses of it. It is pity these 
men had not been of the Lord's council when he first contrived and 
preached the gospel, that they might have helped him to some discreet 
and middle courses, that might have served turn for heaven and earth 
too. But do they what they will or can, the way is narrow that leadeth 
to life, and they must take Christ's yoke upon them if they would find 
rest for their souls. They will find that pure and strict religion will be 
unpleasing to the ungodly and the carnal ; that the enmity between the 
two seeds will remain, and the flesh and the world must not always be 


pleased ; that there is more danger of the world smiling than frowning. 
As to the church in general (in Constau tine's time), Ecclesia facia est 
opibus major, virtutibus minor ; so to believers in particular, that the 
heart is corrupted by the love of the world, and men never grow so 
dull and careless of their souls as when they have most of the world 
at will ; and that we are more awakened, and have a more lively 
sense of eternal life, when under the cross, than when we live in the 
greatest ease and pomp; that Christ permitteth troubles, not for 
Avant of love to his people, or want of power to secure their peace, but 
for holy and wise ends to promote their good. 

Use 2. Is instruction. When you come to enter into covenant 
with Christ, consider 

1. Christ knoweth what motives do induce you': John ii. 25, 'He 
needeth not that any should testify of man, for he knoweth what is in 
man.' Some believed, but Jesus committed not himself unto them ; 
he knoweth whether there be a real bent or carnal bias upon the 

2. If the heart be false in making the covenant, it will never hold 
good. An error in the first concoction will never be mended in the 
second: Deut. v. 29, ' Oh that there were such an heart in them, that 
they would fear me, and keep my commandments always, that it might 
be well with them, and with their children for ever.' So Matt. xiii. 21 ; 
The stony ground received the word with joy, ' Yet hath he not root 
in himself, but dureth but for a while ; for when tribulation or perse 
cution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.' Some 
temporal thing sitteth too near and close to the heart ; you are never 
upright with God till a relation to God and a right to heaven do 
incomparably weigh down all temporal troubles, and you can rejoice 
more in the testimonies of God, fatherly love, and right to eternal life, 
than in outward things : Ps. iv. 6, 7, ' There be many that say, Who 
will show us any good ? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy counte 
nance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the 
time that their corn and their wine increased.' David speaks in his 
own name, and in the name of all those that were alike minded with 
himself. And Luke x. 20, ' Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that 
the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names 
are written in heaven/ 

3. That Christ cannot but take it ill that we are so delicate and 
tender of our interests, and so impatient under the cross, when he 
endured so willingly such great things for our sakes. We cannot lose 
for him so much as he hath done for us ; and if he had been unwilling 
to suffer for us, what had been our state and condition to all eternity ? 
We should have suffered eternal misery. If you would not have Christ 
of another mind, why will you be of another mind ? 1 Peter iv. 1, ' For 
asmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves 
likewise with the same mind ; for he that hath suffered in the flesh 
hath ceased from sin.' 

4. If you be not dead to the things of the world, you are not 
acquainted with the virtue and power of Christ's cross, and have not 
a true sense of Christianity, cannot glory in it as the most excellent 
profession in the world : Gal. vi. 14, ' God forbid that I should glory, 


save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is cruci 
fied unto me, and I unto the world.' You are in a dangerous tempta 
tion to atheism. 

5. We are gainers by Christ if we part with all the world for his 
sake, Mark x. 29, 30 ; therefore no loss should seem too great in obey 
ing his will. Certainly a man cannot be a loser by God. 

6. All worldly things were confiscated by the fall, and we can have 
no spiritual right to them till we receive a new grant by Jesus Christ, 
who is the heir of all things. Dominium politicum fundatur in pro- 
videntia, evangelicum in gratia : 1 Cor. iii. 23, ' All things are yours, 
because you are Christ's, and Christ is God's ; ' and 1 Tim. iv. 3, 
' God hath made them to be received with thanksgiving of them which 
believe and know the truth.' So that what we enjoy is by the mere 
favour of the Kedeemer, and should be parted with again when he 
calleth for it. 

Thus much for the first point. 

A second doctrine or point here offered is : 

The great poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Beasts and fowls have places to shelter themselves in, but Christ 
had no certain place of residence or dwelling wherein to rest. He cloth 
not say kings have palaces, but I have none ; rich men have houses 
and lands, but I have none. But he saith, ' Foxes have holes, and the 
birds of the air have nests ; but the Son of man hath not where to lay 
his head.' 

The reasons of this are these following : 

1. To increase the value and merit of his satisfaction. Our sins did 
deserve this, his whole humiliation, and every degree of it ; and Christ 
was content to suffer it for the ransom of our souls. It is clear this, 
that all his condescension conduced to make up the remedy more full ; 
and it is evident by the apostle that it giveth us a right to a larger 
allowance of grace: 2 Cor. viii. 9, ' For ye know the grace of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he 
become poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich/ 

2. Christ came to offer the kingdom of heaven, and the good things 
of the other world, and to draw men's minds and hearts thither. And, 
therefore, that he might appear a fit teacher of the world, by his own 
example, he taught us contempt of outward things. If he had preached 
up heavenly-mindedness, and lived himself in pomp and fulness, the 
people would not have regarded his words. ' Alexander, when his 
army grew sluggish, because laden with the spoils of their enemies ; 
to free them from this incumbrance, commanded all his own carriages 
to be set on fire ; that when they saw the king himself devote his rich 
treasures to the flame, they might not murmur if their mite and pit 
tance were consumed also.' So if Christ had taught us contempt of 
the world, and had not given us an instance of it in his person, his 
doctrine had been less powerful and effectual. 

3. To season and sanctify a mean estate and degree of life, when 
we are called to it by God's providence. Christ's own poverty teacheth 
us to bear a mean condition well : Mat. x. 25, ' It is enough for a 
disciple that he be as his master, and a servant as his lord.' Uriah 
would not give way to any softness, while Joab his general was in the 


field: 2 Sam. xi. 11, ' The ark and Israel are in tents, and my lord 
Joab and the servants of my lord are in the open fields ; shall I go 
into my house and eat and drink ? ' &c. We must be contented to 
fare as Christ did ; we cannot be poorer than Christ, as poor as we are ; 
for the poorest have some place of shelter, but he had none whereon to 
lay his head. 

1. Let this, then, enforce the former lesson, and teach us contempt 
of the world, and the riches and greatness thereof. It is some argu 
ment that the vilest are capable thereof, as well as the most generous 
and best deserving, and oftener it happeneth to be so. But this is the 
argument .of arguments, That the Lord Jesus, when he came to 
instruct the world by his example, he was not one of the rich and 
voluptuous, but chose a mean estate, as most conducible to his ends. 

2. If you be rich, yet be poor in spirit : Mat. v. 3, ' Blessed are the 
poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Let us possess 
all things as if we possessed them not, 1 Cor. vii. 31. And so James 
i. 9, 10, ' Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted ; 
but the rich, in that he is made low, because as the flower of the grass 
he shall pass away.' We should be as having nothing, sitting loose 
from earthly things, considering that shortly we shall be as poor as 
the poorest, for we can carry nothing away with us. 

3. Let us prepare ourselves to entertain poverty ; and if it be 
already come upon us, and God hath reduced us to a mean inferior 
life, let us have our hearts reconciled and suited to a low estate, so it 
may be a help to heaven, so we may have the true riches, and may 
learn to live by faith, though God feedeth us from hand to mouth ; so 
we may imitate Christ and follow him into glory, it is enough for us. 



WE have done with the first instance, of a scribe that came uncalled ; 
we come now to another. This man offereth not himself, but is called by 
Christ. ' And he said unto another, Follow me,' &c. He was already 
a disciple at large ; for in Matthew it is said, chap. viii. 21, ' Another 
of his disciples said unto him, Suffer me first to go and bury my 
father.' He was now called to a nearer and constant attendance on 
Christ. Clemens Alexandrinus, from an ancient tradition, telleth us 
this was Philip. But before he complied with this call, he desireth a 
little delay and respite, until his aged father were dead and buried. 
Whether his father were already dead, and he would do this last office 
to see him decently interred, or whether his father were yet living, 
but not likely long to continue, and he would attend him till his 
death and funeral, and then follow Christ, as Theophilact thinketh, it 
is not much material. Clear it is he putteth off the matter with an 
excuse. Even the elect do not at first so readily obey the heavenly call 
ing ; some of them may put off Christ, but when he intendeth to have 


them, lie will not be put off so, the importunity of his grace overcoming 
their unwillingness. 

But what was Christ's answer ? ' Let the dead bury their dead, 
but go thou and preach the kingdom of God ;' that is, leave that 
office to others who are not designed for this divine and holy employ 
ment It seemeth hard to many that Christ should deny him to do 
this little office of love to his father, and they know not the meaning 
of that expression, ' Let the dead bury their dead.' Therefore 

1. Let us open the expression. 

2. Show you what Christ teacheth us by this refusal. 

1. For the expression. It may be used either proverbially or 
allusively. Proverbially ; let one dead man bury another that is, let 
them lie unburied rather than my service be neglected ; or, there will 
not want others that will remove the dead out of their sight : and it 
is our wisdom to let go things unnecessary, and mind the main. Or 
else it is used allusively to the law of the Nazarites and the priests of 
the Old Testament. The law of the Nazarites is in Num. vi. 6-8, 
' All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall 
come at no dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his 
father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die : 
because the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of 
his separation he is holy unto the Lord ;' that is, he must rather 
follow his vow in honouring the Lord, than to follow natural duty in 
honouring his dead parents. Now, those whom Christ called especially 
to follow him were consecrated to that service, as the Nazarite unto 
the Lord during the days of his separation. And as they might not 
meddle even with the interment of their parents, so this excuse was 
frivolous. Or else the allusion might be to the high priests, of whom 
we read, Deut. xxxiii. 9, ' Who said to his father and his mother, I 
have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor 
know his own children/ Some think this hath reference to the 
Levites' fact, who, being commanded by Moses, killed every man his 
brother, neighbour, friend, and son, that had sinned in making or 
worshipping the golden calf, Exod. xxxii. 26-29. Bather it is meant 
of the priest's continual duty, who, by the law, if his father, mother, 
brother, or child did die, he might not mourn for them, but cany 
himself as if he did not respect or know them ; for God would have 
them more regard their function or duty in his service than any 
natural affection whatsoever. The law is, Lev. xxi. 11, 12, ' He 
shall not go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father or 
his mother ; neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane 
the sanctuary of his God ; for the crown of the anointing oil of his 
God is upon him.' Now Christ alludeth to the law to show the 
urgency of this present service and employment to which he was 
consecrated, and the burial of the dead might be left to persons less 
sacred or more at leisure. 

2. The reasons of Christ's refusal. Christ would show hereby (1.) 
That all human offices and duties must give place to the duty we owe to 
God. Duty to parents must be observed, but duty to God must be pre 
ferred before that or anything whatsoever. A truth justified by Christ's 
own example. He began betimes, at twelve years old, when he was dis- 


putingwith the doctors, and his parents sought for him : Luke ii. 49, 'He 
said unto them, How is it that you sought me ? Wist you not that I 
must be about my Father's business?' So Mat. xii. 47, 48, when his 
mother and kindred waited for him, desiring to speak with him, ' He 
answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother, and 
who are my brethren?' Obedience to God, and declaring his 
Father's will, was dearer to him than all relations. Natural and 
secular respects swayed not with him in comparison of gaining 
proselytes to heaven ; his mother's conference with him was nothing to 
his Father's service, and teaching the people a more acceptable work 
than paying a civility to his natural relations. So John ii. 4, 
' Woman, what have I to do with thee ? mine hour is not yet come.' 
His office to which he was sent by God was a matter in which she, 
though his earthly parent, was not to interpose ; God's work must be 
done in God's own way, time, and method : God hath greater authority 
over you than all the men in the world. (2.) He would teach us 
hereby that the ministry requires the whole man, even sometimes the 
omission of necessary works, much more superfluous : ' Give thyself 
wholly to these things,' 1 Tim. iv. 15. 

The words are now explained ; the practical notes are these two : 

First, That nothing in the world is a matter of such great weight as 
to be a sufficient excuse for not following of Christ. 

Secondly, That those who are called to follow Christ should follow 
him speedily, without interposing any delays. 

For the first point, that nothing in the world is a matter of such 
great weight as to be a sufficient excuse for not following of Christ, 
I will illustrate it by these considerations : 

1. There are two sorts of men. Some understand not their Lord's 
will, others have no mind to do it, Luke xii. 47, 48. Some understand 
not the terms of the gospel ; they think to have Christ, and the plea 
sures of the flesh and the world too. But there are others who under 
stand Christ's terms, but are loth to become Christ's disciples ; they 
know their master's will, but they do not prepare themselves to do it ; 
that is, they do not presently set upon the work, but make so many 
delays that it plainly appeareth that they are loth to yield to Christ's 
terms ; that is, to turn their backs upon the vanities of the world, and 
renounce their most pleasing sins, and to take the word for their rule, 
the Spirit for their guide, and eternal life for their felicity and happi 
ness : to such we now speak. 

2. They that have no mind to follow Christ put off the matter with 
dilatory shifts and excuses. To refuse altogether is more heinous, and 
therefore they shift it off for a time. Non vacat is the pretence I am 
not at leisure. Non placet, I like it not, is the real interpretation, 
disposition, and inclination of their hearts, for excuses are always a 
sign of an unwilling and backward heart. When they should serve 
God there is still something in the way, some danger, or some diffi 
culty which they are loth to encounter with. As Prov. xxvi. 13, 
' The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way, there is a lion in 
the streets/ Palestine was a land infested with lions, because of the 
many deserts and thickets that were in it, but being well peopled, they 
did rarely appear. Now the sluggard taketh this pretence from 


thence. If his business lay in the fields, there was a lion in the way ; 
if his business lay in the towns and cities, there is a lion in the streets, 
as sometimes, though but rarely, they came into places inhabited and 
of great resort. Now, if he should go about his business too early, he 
might meet with a lion in his range and walk before they were retired 
into their dens. Thus do men alarm themselves with their own foolish 
fears to excuse their idleness and negligence. So again Prov. xv. 19, 
' The way of the slothful is as an hedge of thorns, but the way of the 
righteous is made plain.' They imagine difficulties and intolerable 
hardships in a course of godliness : but it is their cowardice and pusil 
lanimous negligence which maketh the ways of God seem hard : they 
are all comfortable, plain, and easy to the pure and upright heart and 
willing mind. Come we to the New Testament : Luke xiv. 18-20, 
' They all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said, I 
have bought me a piece of ground, and I must go to see it ; I pray thee 
have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, 
and I go to prove them ; I pray thee have me excused. And another 
said, I have married a wife, and cannot come.' The meaning is, many 
were invited to everlasting happiness, but they preferred their designs 
of worldly advantages. Mark, they do not absolutely deny, but make 
excuse. Excuses are the fruit of the quarrel between conviction and 
corruption. They are convinced of better things, but being pre 
possessed and biassed with worldly inclinations, they dare not fully 
yield nor flatly deny, therefore they choose a middle course, to make 
excuses. Doing is safe, or preparing ourselves to do, but excusing is 
but a patch upon a filthy sore, or a poor covering of fig-leaves for a 
naughty heart. 

3. The usual excuses which sinners may, and usually do allege, are 
these four : The difficulty of religion, the danger that attendeth it, 
want of time, and that they have no power or strength to do good. 

[1.] For the first. It is troublesome and tedious to flesh and blood 
to be held to so much duty, and to wean our hearts from things we so 
dearly love ; and the world thinketh that we are too nice and precise 
to urge men to such a strict and holy and heavenly life, and less ado 
will serve the turn. 
To this I answer : 

(1.) Diligence is certainly necessary to all that will be saved : Phil, 
ii. 12, ' Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling ; ' 2 
Peter iii. 14, ' Be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, with 
out spot and blameless.' And, therefore, if you cannot deny the ease 
and sloth of the flesh, you are wholly unfit for the work of godliness. 

(2.) This diligence is no more than needeth, whatever the carnal 
world thinketh, who leave the boat to the stream, and hope to be ac 
cepted with God for a few cold and drowsy devotions, or some super 
ficial righteousness. A painter-stain er will think a painter-limner too 
curious, because his own work is but a little daubing. The broad way 
pleaseth the world best, but the narrow way leadeth to life. 

(3.) This diligence may be well afforded, considering that eternal life 
and death is in the case. Life! will you stop a journey for your lives 
because it is a little tedious, or there is dirt in the way, or the wind 
bloweth on you, and the like ? Since it is for God and heaven, we 


should not grudge at a little labour : 1 Cor. xv. 58, ' Therefore be ye 
steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord ; 
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord/ 
There is also death in the case. Now, which is better, to take a little 
profitable pains in godliness, or to endure everlasting torments ? To 
save a little labour or diligence in the holy life, and run the hazard of 
being miserable for ever. Which is worst ? The trouble of physic, 
or the danger of a mortal disease ? 

[2.] Another excuse is the danger which attendeth it. It may expose 
you to great troubles to own God and religion heartily ; and if there 
be peace abroad, and magistrates countenance religion, yet many times 
at home a man's greatest foes may be those of his own household, Mat. x. 

36. But for the pleasing or displeasing of your relations you must not 
neglect your duty to God ; as Jerom to Heliodorus, per calcatum perge 
patrem if thy father lie in the way, tread upon his bowels rather 
than not come unto Christ. Our Lord hath expressly told us, Mat. x. 

37, ' He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy 
of me.' Neither favour nor disfavour of our friends is a just let or 
impediment to our duty. The advantages we can or are likely to re 
ceive from parents are not worthy to be compared with those we expect 
from God, nor is their authority over us so great as God's is : Luke 
xiv. 26, ' If any man come to me, and hate not his father or mother, 
and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life 
also, he cannot be my disciple.' Though Christianity doth not dis 
charge us from obedience to parents, yet the higher duty must be pre 
ferred, namely, obedience to Christ, and loving less is hating. 

[3.] Another excuse is, I have no time to mind soul affairs. My dis 
tractions in the world are so great, and my course of life is such, that 
I have no leisure. I answer Will you neglect God and salvation be 
cause you have worldly things to mind ? Whatever your business be, 
you have a time to eat, and drink, and sleep ; and have you no time to 
be saved ? Better encroach upon other things than that religion should 
be cast to the walls or jostled out of your thoughts. David was a king, 
and he had more distracting cares than most of us have or can have, yet 
he saith, Ps. cxix. 147, 148, 'I prevented the dawning of the morning; 
and cried; I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night-watches, 
that I may meditate in thy word ; ' and ver. 164, ' Seven times a day 
do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgments.' Do you spend 
no time in idleness, vain talking, and carnal sports? and might not 
this be better employed about heavenly things ? Eph. v. 15, 16, ' See 
then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming 
the time, because the days are evil.' Vitam non accepimus brevem, sed 
fecimus, nee inopes temporis, scd prodigi sumus. God hath not set 
you about work that he alloweth you no time for, but we waste our 
time, and then God is straitened. Many poorer than you have time, 
because they have a heart and will to improve it. 

[4.] I have no power or strength to do good. And what will you have 
us do ? This is the excuse of the idle and naughty servant : Mat. xxv. 
24, ' I knew that thou wert a hard man, reaping where thou hast not 
sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed.' God sets you 
about work, but giveth you no strength, is your excuse; but certainly 


you can do more than you do, but you will not make trial. God may 
be more ready with the assistances of his grace than you can imagine. 
The tired man may complain of the length of the way, but not the 
lazy, who will not stir a foot. If you did make trial, you would not 
complain of God, but yourselves, and beg grace more feelingly. In 
short, you are not able, because you are not willing. And your im- 
potency is increased by evil habits contracted, and long custom in sin. 

I now proceed to the fourth consideration. 

4. None of these excuses are sufficient for not following of Christ. 
And that 

[1.] Because of his authority. Who requireth this duty from us, or 
imposeth it on us ? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, to whose sentence we 
must stand or fall. When he biddeth us follow him, and follow him 
speedily, to excuse ourselves is to countermand and contradict his 
authority: it is flat disobedience, though we do not deny the duty, 
but only shift off and excuse our present compliance ; for he is as 
peremptory for the time and season as for the duty. ' Now while 
it is called to-day, harden not your hearts,' Heb. iii. 7, 8. God 
standeth upon his authority, and will have a present answer. If he 
say, To-day, it is flat disobedience for us to say, To-morrow ; or Suffer 
me first to do this and that business. 

[2.] It appeareth from his charge to his messengers. Nothing can 
take off a minister of the gospel from seeking the conversion and sal 
vation of souls. We cannot plead anything to exempt us from this 
work. To plead that the people's hearts are hard, and that the work is 
difficult and full of danger, will not serve the turn. No ; ' Their blood 
will I require at thy hands.' Therefore, all excuses set aside, we must 
address ourselves to our work. Acts xx. 23, 24 : Paul went bound in 
the spirit, and the Holy Ghost had told him that in every city bonds 
and afflictions did abide and wait for him ; but, saith he, ' None of 
these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so as I 
may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have re 
ceived of my Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.' 
He was willing and ready to endure what should befall him at Jeru 
salem, and reckoned nothing of it, nor of loss of life, if he might suc 
cessfully preach the gospel, and serve Christ faithfully in the office of 
the ministry. If nothing be an excuse to us, can anything be an 
excuse to you ? Should your souls be nearer and dearer to us than to 
yourselves ? 

[3.] It appeareth from the matter of the duty imposed on you, if 
you consider the excellency and the necessity of it. 

To begin first: The excellency. All excuses against obedience to 
God's call are drawn from the world and the things that are in the 
world. Now there is no comparison between the things of the world 
and following Christ's counsel, that we may be everlastingly happy. 
The question will soon be reduced to this, Which is most to be re 
garded, God or the creature, the body or the soul, eternity or time ? 
The excuses are for the body, for time, for the creature ; but the in 
junctions of duty are for God, for the soul, and for eternity. Sense 
saith, Favour the flesh : faith saith, Save thy soul ; the one is of ever 
lasting consequence, and conduceth to a happiness that hath no end; 


the other only for a time : 2 Cor. iv. 18, ' While we look not at the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the 
things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen 
are eternal.' One turn of the hand of God separateth the neglected 
soul from the pampered body, and then whose are all these things? 

The necessity : that we may please God and enjoy him for ever. 
We can never plead for a necessity of sinning ; for a man is never 
driven to those straits, whether he shall sin more or less ; but some 
times duties come in competition duty to a father, and a special in 
junction of Christ's to follow him ; one must be subordinated to the 
other, and the most necessary must take place ; the less give place to 
the greater. Now, this is much more true of those things which are 
usually pleaded by way of hesitancy, or as a bar to our duty, as our 
worldly and carnal satisfactions. But you will say, we must avoid 
poverty and shame. But it is more necessary to avoid damnation ; 
not to preserve our temporal interests, but to seek after eternal life : 
Luke x. 42, ' One thing is necessary.' 

[4.] It appeareth from the nature of the work. To follow Christ is 
not to give to him as much as the flesh can spare, but wholly to 
devote yourselves to his service, to sell all for the pearl of great price, 
Mat. xiii. 46. And you are obliged to walk so, that all may give way 
to the glory of God, and the service of your redeemer. If He will 
employ us thus and thus, we must not contradict it, or plead anything 
by way of excuse. 

Use. Do not neglect your duty for vain excuses. The excusing 
humour is very rife and very prejudicial to us, for the sluggard hath 
a high conceit of his own allegations : Prov. xxvi. 16, ' The sluggard 
is wiser in his own conceit than seven men tha.t can render a reason.' 
In the Eastern countries their council usually consisted of seven, as 
we read of the seven princes of Media and Persia, Esther i. 14. 
Therefore let us a little disprove this vain conceit. The sluggard 
thinketh himself so wise that all others are but giddy and crazy- 
brained people, that are too nice and scrupulous, and make more ado 
with religion than needeth. But can a man do too much for God and 
heaven? 1 Thes. ii. 12. The sluggard thinketh it is a venture, and 
he may venture on one side as well as the other ; but it is a thousand 
to one against him in the eye of reason, put aside faith : in doubtful 
cases, the surest way is to be taken. But to draw it to a more certain 

1. Nothing is a reasonable excuse which God's word disproveth, 
for the scriptures were penned to discover the vain sophisms which 
are in the hearts of men : Heb. iv. 12, ' For the word of God is quick 
and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even 
to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and 
marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart ;' 
to discover the affections of a sensual heart, however palliated with 
the pretences of a crafty understanding. Certainly, our private con 
ceits must not be lifted up against the wisdom of God, nor can a 
creature be justified in going against his maker's will. Nothing can 
be reason which the God of wisdom contradicts and calleth folly : 
Jer. viii. 9, ' Lo, they have reiected the word of the Lord, and what 
wisdom is in them ? ' 


2. Nothing can be pleaded as a reasonable excuse which your con 
sciences are not satisfied is reason. Men consult with their affections 
rather than with their consciences. Conscience would draw other 
conclusions, therefore our excuses are usually our aggravations : Luke 
xix. 22, ' Out of thy own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked ser 
vant.' The master expected increase, therefore he should have done 
what he could : Job xv. 6, ' Thine own mouth condemneth thee ; yea, 
thine own lips testify against thee.' That is the strongest conviction 
which ariseth from a man's own bosom ; that is the reason why there 
are so many appeals to conscience in scripture : 1 Cor. x. 15, ' I 
speak as to wise men ; judge ye what I say.' Your own hearts tell you 
ye ought to be better, to mind God more, and the world less, to be 
more serious in preparing for your eternal estate. 

3. Nothing can be a reasonable excuse which reflects upon God, as 
if he had made a hard law which none can keep, especially if urged 
against the law of grace ; this is to say, the ways of God are not equal, 
therefore there can be no excuse for the total omission of necessary 

4. No excuse can be reasonable, but what you dare plead at the bar 
of Christ ; for that is reason which will go for reason at last. Then 
the weight of all pleas will be considered, and all negligent persons 
that have not improved the light of nature, or have not obeyed the 
gospel, will be left without excuse. What doth it avail prisoners to 
set up a mock sessions among themselves to acquit one and con 
demn another ? He is in a good condition that shall be excused in 
the last judgment, and in a bad condition that shall be condemned 

1 now proceed to the second point. 

Secondly, That those who are called to follow Christ, should follow 
him speedily, without interposing any delays. 

1. Keady obedience is a good evidence of a sound impression of 
grace left upon our hearts. There is a slighter conviction which breed- 
eth a sense of our duty, but doth not so strongly urge us to the per 
formance of it. And there is a more sound conviction, which is ac 
companied with a prevailing efficacy, and then all excuses and delays 
are laid aside, and men kindly comply with God's call : Cant. i. 4, 
' Draw me, I will run after thee.' Run ; it noteth an earnest and 
speedy motion ; the fruit of the powerful attraction of the Spirit : 
Mat. iv. 20, ' They straightway left their nets and followed him.' 
The scoffing atheistical world thinketh it easiness and fond credulity, 
but it argueth a sound impression. The impulsions of the Holy 
Spirit work in an instant, for they carry their own evidence with them : 
Gal. i. 16, ' Immediately I consulted not with flesh and blood.' In 
divinis, non est deliberandum. When our call is clear, there needeth 
no debate or demurring upon the matter. 

2. The work goeth on the more kindly when we speedily ooey the 
sanctifying motions of the Spirit, and the present influence and impul 
sion of his grace. You have not such an advantage of a warm con 
viction afterward : when the waters are stirred then we must put in 
for a cure, John v. 4. To adjourn and put it off, as Felix did, Acts 
xxiv. 25, doth damp and cool the work you quench this holy fire ; or 


to stand bucking with God, as Pharaoh did, the work dieth on your 

3. There is hazard in delaying and putting off such a business of 
concernment as conversion to God. Certainly this is a business of the 
greatest concernment, and the greatest work should be first thought of : 
Mat. vi. 33, ' Seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness 
thereof;' and most thought of: ' Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I 
desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the 
house of tbe Lord.' Now, if we delay, it is left upon great hazards. 
Life is uncertain, for you know not what a day may bring forth : 
Prov. xxvii. 1, ' Boast not thyself of to-morrow ; for thou knowest not 
what a day may bring forth." If God had given leave (as princes 
sometimes in a proclamation, for all to come in within a certain day) ; 
so if God had said, Whosoever doth not repent till thirty or forty years 
be out, there were no great hazard till the time were expired, we 
might entertain sin a little while longer. But we know not the day of 
our death, therefore we should get God to bless us ere we die. A new 
call is uncertain, 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2. It may be he will treat with us no 
more in such a warm and affectionate manner. If he call, yet not 
vouchsafe such assistances of his grace, ' if, perad venture, God will 
give them repentance unto life/ 2 Tim. ii. 25. It is a hazard or un 
certain if the Spirit of God will put another thought of turning into 
your hearts, when former grace is despised : Isa. Iv. 6, ' Call upon 
the Lord while he is near, and seek him while he may be found.' 

4. Consider the mischiefs of delaying. Every day we contract a 
greater indisposition of embracing God's call. We complain now it is 
hard ; if it be hard to-day, it will be harder to-morrow, when God is 
more provoked, and sin more strengthened, Jer. xiii. 23. Yea, it may 
be, our natural faculties are decayed, the vigour of our youth exhausted. 
When the tackling is spoiled and the ship rotten, it is an ill time to 
put to sea : Eccles. xii. 1, ' Eemember now thy creator in the days of 
thy youth.' And besides, consider the suspicion that is upon a late 
repentance. The most profane would have God for their portion at last. 

5. The reasons for delay are inconsiderable. Suppose it be our 
satisfaction in our present estate. The pleasures of sin are sweet, and 
we are loth to forego them ; but those pleasures must one day be re 
nounced, or you are for ever miserable. Why not now ? Sin will be 
as sweet to the carnal appetite hereafter as now it is ; and salvation is 
dispensed upon the same terms. You cannot be saved hereafter with 
less ado, or bring down Christ and heaven to a lower rate. If this be 
a reason now, it will for ever lie as a reason against Christ, and against 
conversion. The laws of Christianity are unalterable, always the same, 
and your hearts not like to be better. Or is it that you are willing 
now, but you have no leisure ? when such encumbrances are over, 
you shall get your hearts into better posture. Oh no ; it is hypocrisy 
to think you are willing when you delay. Nothing now hindereth but 
a want of will ; and when God treateth with thee about thine eternal 
peace, it is the best time ; but God always cometh to the sinner un 
seasonably in his own account. But consider, it was the devil that 
said, Mat. viii. 29, ' Art thou come hither to torment us before the 
time ? ' 



The use is, to reprove that dallying with God in the work of 
conversion, which is so common and so natural to us. 
The causes of it are : 

1. Unbelief, or want of a due sense and sight of things to come. If 
men were persuaded of eternal life and eternal death, they would not 
stand hovering between heaven and hell, but presently engage their 
hearts to draw nigh to God. But we cannot see afar off: 2 Peter i. 9, 
' He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off/ 

2. Another cause is security. They do not take these things into 
their serious thoughts. Faith showeth it is sure, and consideration 
bringeth it near : Amos vi. 3, ' Ye put far away the evil day.' 
Things at a distance do not move us. We should pray, and preach, 
and practise as if death were at our backs, and remember that all 
our security dependeth upon the slender thread of a frail life. 

3. Another cause is averseness of heart ; they have no mind to these 
things : Horn. viii. 7, ' The carnal mind is enmity against God.' The 
heart is inclined to worldly vanities, set against God and godliness. 
Now let us consider the heinousness of this sin. It is ingratitude and 
unthankfulness for God's eternal love: Ps. ciii. 17, ' The mercy of 
the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.' 
It is also disingenuity ; we would be heard presently : Ps. cii. 2, 
' Lord, hear me speedily.' To-day is the season of mercy, to-morrow 
of duty. We are always in haste, would have the Lord to tarry for our 
sinful leisure, when we will not tarry his holy leisure. It is also base 
self-love ; we can be content to dishonour God longer, provided at 
length we may be saved. Lastly, it is great injustice to keep God out 
of his right ; he hath been long enough kept out of his right already : 
1 Peter iv. 3, ' The time past of our life may suffice to have wrought 
the will of the Gentiles.' Therefore, let us no longer delay, but speedily 
address ourselves to entertain the motions of the Holy Spirit. 


WE are now come to the third instance, wherein we are instructed 
how to avoid miscarriages in following Christ. 

The first instance teaches us to beware of hasty and hypocritical pro 
fession, which is the fruit of resolution without deliberation, or sitting 
down and counting the charges ; this was the fault of the scribe. 

The second instance cautioneth us against dilatory shifts and 
excuses. The most necessary business must not be put off upon any 
pretence whatsoever. 

The third instance forbiddeth all thoughts of compounding, or 
hopes to have Christ and the world too ; as this man hoped first to 
secure his worldly interest, and then to follow Christ at .leisure. 
Whether this man were called, or uncalled, it appeareth not. It is 


only said in the text, ' Another also said : ' the middle person was 
only called by Christ ; the other two offered themselves. The first 
was forward, upon a mistaken ground, to share the honours of the king 
dom of the Messiah, which he supposed to be temporal. This last 
offereth himself, but his heart was not sufficiently loosened from the 
world. From both we see that ' it is not in him that willeth, nor in 
him that runneth, but God that showeth mercy,' Bom. ix. 16 ; for 
neither of those that offered themselves are accepted. 
In the words you may observe : 

1. His request. 

2. Christ's answer. 

1. His request. This third offereth himself to be a disciple of 
Christ, but with an exception that he might take his farewell at 
home, and dispose of his estate there, and so secure his worldly 
interests : ' I will follow thee, but let me bid those farewell which are 
at home in my house/ You will say, What harm in this request ? 
Elijah granted it to Elisha, 1 Kings xix. 21. When he had laid his 
mantle on him, thereby investing him in the office of a prophet, 
Elisha said, ' Let me, I pray thee, go and kiss my father and my 
mother, and then I will follow thee :' which the prophet granteth, and 
gave way to Elisha to go home and salute his friends-. 
I answer 

[1.] The evangelical ministry exceedeth the prophetical, both as to 
excellency 'and necessity, and must be gone about speedily without any 
delay. The harvest was great, and such an extraordinary work was 
not to be delayed nor interrupted. 

[2.] If two men do the same thing, it followeth not that they do it 
with the same mind. Things may be the same as to the substance or 
matter of the action, yet circumstances may be different. Christ knew 
this man's heart, and could interpret the meaning of his desire to go 
home first. He might make it a pretence to depart clean away from 
Christ. We cannot distinguish between the look of Abraham and 
the look of Lot. One is allowed T the other forbidden. Abraham is 
allowed to look towards Sodom : Gen. xix. 28, ' And Abraham got 
up early in the morning, and looked towards Sodom, and behold 
the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.' Yet 
Lot and his family are forbidden to look that way : Gen. xix. 17 r ' Look 
not behind thee.' We cannot distinguish between the laughter of 
Abraham and the laughter of Sarah : Gen. xvii. 17, ' And Abraham 
fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be 
born to him that is an hundred years old ? and shall Sarah, that is 
ninety years old, bear ? ' Now compare Gen. xviii. 12 ; it is said, 
'And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old,, shall 
I have pleasure, my lord also being old ? ' Yet she is reproved, ' For 
the Lord said, Wherefore did Sarah laugh ? ' The one was joy and 1 
reverence, the other unbelief and contempt. We cannot distinguish 
between the Virgin Mary's question, Luke i. 34, ' How can this be ? ' 
and the question of Zachary, John's father, Luke i. 18, ' How shall I 
know this, for I am an old man ? ' Mary was not reproved, but he 
was struck dumb for that speech. But though we cannot distinguish, 
God, that knoweth the secrets of all hearts, can distinguish. 


[3.] Those that followed Christ on these extraordinary calls were 
to leave all things they had, without any further care about them : 
Mat. xix. 21, 'Sell all that thou hast, and follow me, and thou shalt 
have treasure in heaven/ So Mat. iv. 19, 20, ' He saith unto them, 
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men : and they straightway left 
their nets and followed him.' So Mat. ix. 9, ' As Jesus passed forth 
from thence, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the receipt of 
custom : and he eaith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and fol 
lowed him.' Therefore it was preposterous for this man to desire to 
go home to order and dispose of his estate and family, before he complied 
with his call. 

[4.] In resolution, estimation, and vow, the same is required of all 
Christians, when Christ's work calleth for it : Luke xiv. 33, ' So like 
wise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he 
cannot be nay disciple/ 

2. Christ's answer, which consists of a similitude, and its interpre 
tation joined together. 

[1.] The metaphor or similitude. Taken from ploughmen, who 
cannot make straight furrows if they look back. So, to look back, 
after we have undertaken Christ's yoke and service, rendereth us unfit 
for the kingdom of God. Putting our hands to the plough is to un 
dertake Christ's work, or to resolve to be his disciples. Looking back, 
noteth an hankering of mind after the world, and also a return to the 
worldly life. For, first, we look back, and then we go back. First, we 
have an over- valuing of the world, and then we return to the worldly life. 

Doct. That looking back will not become those who have set their 
faces heavenward. 

We have an instance in the text of a man which pretended to follow 
Christ, which is to set our faces heavenward (for we follow Christ, 
first in labour and patience, and then into glory). But he would look 
back, and had many thoughts of what he had left at home. And he 
is pronounced unfit for the kingdom of God, that is, to be a disciple of 
Christ. And we have another instance, recommended to our observa 
tion by our Lord himself : Luke xvii, 32, ' Bemember Lot's wife ;' that 
is, remember her sin, and remember her punishment. Both are taken 
notice of, Gen. xix. 26, ' But his wife looked back from behind him, 
and she became a pillar of salt.' There was a hankering of mind after 
what she had left in Sodom. She looked back, because she had left her 
heart behind her ; there were her kindred, her friends, and her country, 
and pleasant place of abode. That look was a kind of repenting that 
she had come out of Sodom, And what was her punishment ? She 
that looked back perished as well as they that never came out. Yea, 
she is set up as a monument or spectacle of public shame and dis 
honour, to warn the rest of the world to obey God, and trust themselves 
with his providence. 

In handling this point I shall show you : 

1. Upon what occasions we may be said to look back. 

2. How ill this becomes those that have put their hands to the 

1. Upon what occasions we may be said to look back. A double 
pair I shall mention. 


The first sort of those : 

[1.] That pretend to follow Christ, and yet their hearts hanker after 
the world, the cares, pleasures, and vain pomp thereof. Certainly all 
that would follow Christ must renounce their worldly affections and 
inclinations, or else they can make no work of Christianity. I prove 
it from the nature of conversion, which is a turning from the creature 
to God, from self to Christ, and from sin to holiness. The first is 
proper to our case. As our degeneration was a falling from God to 
the cr-eature, Jer. ii. 13, so our regeneration is a turning from the 
creature to God. If we leave the world unwillingly, our dedication 
will soon come to nothing, for then our hearts are false with God in 
the very making of the covenant. If we engaged ourselves to God 
before the fleshly mind and interest were never well conquered, as we 
were not well loosened from the world, so not firmly engaged to God, 
and therefore, when our interest requires it, we shall soon forsake God. 

[2.] When men are discouraged in his service by troubles and diffi 
culties, and so, after a forward profession, all cometh to nothing : Heb. 
x. 38, ' If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.' 
The former is looking back, and this is drawing back. The one 
ariseth out of the other : all their former zeal and courage is lost, they 
are affrighted and driven out of their profession r and relapse into the 
errors they have escaped. This is the first pair. Once more, the 
other pair is this : 

There is a looking back with respect to mortification, and a looking 
back with respect to vivification. 

(1.) With respect to mortification , which is the first part of con 
version. So we must not look back, or mind anything behind us, 
which may turn us back, and stop us in our course. The world and 
the flesh are the things behind us ; we turned our back upon them in 
conversion, when we turned to God. Grace ' teaches us to deny un 
godliness and worldly lusts/ Titus ii. 12. It is the world that doth 
call back our thoughts, and corrupt our affections the world, that 
is an enemy to God, and our religion, James iv. 4. Therefore, the 
world must be renounced, and we must grow dead to the world, that 
we may be alive to God. There is no halting between both. 

(2.) With respect to vivification, or progress in the duties of the 
holy and heavenly life. So the apostle telleth us, Phil. iii. 13, 'But 
this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto those things which are before/ &c. Farther pro 
gress in holiness is the one thing thait we should mind, and that above 
all other things. This is the unum necessarium, Luke x. 42 ; the 
primum or principium, the one thing, that is, the main thing : Ps. 
xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after.' 
But how should we mind it ? Not looking to the things which are 
behind, but looking to the things which are before. The things behind 
are our imperfect beginnings, or so much of the race as we have over 
come and got through. It is the sluggard's trick to consider how much 
of the journey is past, or how far the rest of the racers are behind him. 
But he that sets heartily to his business considers how much is before, 
that he may get through the remainder of his race, and so obtain the 
prize. The things which are before us are God and heaven, and the 


remaining duties of the holy life. These we should mind, and not 
look back, as satisfying ourselves with what we have attained to 

2. How ill it becometh those that have put their hands to the 
spiritual plough. 

[1.] In respect of the covenant into which they enter, or the manner 
of entrance into it, which is by a fixed unbounded resignation of them 
selves unto God. Till this be done, we are but half Christians. As 
suppose we desire privileges, would have God to be our God, but 
neglect duties, and are loth to become his people ; or suppose we see 
a necessity of that, and so are in some measure willing to give up our 
selves to him, yet if our resolution be not fixed, or be not unbounded, 
without reserves, and against all reserves, the covenant is not con 
descended unto. We do nothing unless we do that which is further 
required of us. 

(1.) If it be not fixed, but wavering, we do but treat ; we do not 
conclude, and eome to -a full agreement with God : Acts xi. 23, ' He 
exhorted them all, that, with full purpose of heart, they would cleave 
unto the Lord.' It implieth such a resolution as carrieth the force of 
a principle. Agrippa was almost a Christian, had some enamouring 
and uncertain inclinations : Acts xxvi. 28, ' Almost thou persuadest me 
to be a Christian.' Christ is resolved to stick to his servants, and 
therefore he expects that they should be resolved to stick to him. 

(2.) If it be not unbounded, reserving nothing, but leaving all to 
Christ, to be disposed of at his will. Except but one thing, and the 
covenant is not fully concluded ; it sticketh at that article ; it is but 
hucking with God, not agreeing with God. Kesolving with reserves 
is no resolution at all. It is but dealing like Ananias and Sapphire, 
giving something, and keeping back the rest, Acts v. Christ will 
have no disciples which will not part with all. Nothing must be re 
served, neither credit, nor life, nor estate, Luke xiv. 28. Now, none 
of this can be as long as you look back, or allow that that will tempt 
you to look back ; that is, till you be thoroughly loosened from the 
world ; for whilst the heart cleaveth to any earthly thing, your resolu 
tion is unfixed. They that only take Christ upon liking, will soon be 
tempted to mislike him and hie ways ; and your resolution is not un 
bounded, whilst you set upon the profession of religion, and yet keep 
the, world, or something of the world : your heart will ever and anon 
be seeking occasions to withdraw; for you were false at heart at 
your first setting out, and treacherous in the very making of your 

[2.] With respect to the duties of Christianity, or that part of the 
kingdom of God which concerneth your obedience to him, you are 
never fit for these while the heart cleaveth to earthly things, and you 
are still hankering after the world. 

A threefold defect there will be in our duties : 

(1.) They will be unpleasant. 

(2.) They will be inconstant 

(3.) Imperfect in such a degree as to want sincerity. 

(1.) Your duty will be unpleasant to you, so far as you are worldly and 
carnal, so that you can never yield cheerful and ready obedience to God. 


Certain it is that we must serve God, and serve him with delight. 
His commandments should be kept, and they should not be grievous 
to us, 1 John v. 3. Now, what is the great impediment ? Worldly 
lusts are not thoroughly purged out of the heart ; for presently he 
addeth this reason, ' For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the 
world.' It is a hard heart maketh our work hard ; and the heart is 
hard and unpersuadable when our affections are engaged elsewhere. 
The readiness of our obedience dependeth on the fervency of our love ; 
the fervency of our love on our victory over the world ; our victory 
over the world on the strength of our faith ; the strength of our faith 
on the certainty we have of the principal object of our faith ; the prin 
cipal object of our faith is, that Jesus is the Son of God, whose counsel 
we must take, if we will be happy. And the evidence of that principle 
is the double testimony or attestation given to him from heaven, or in 
the heart of a believer. Once settle in that, that you can entirely 
trust yourselves and all your interests in the hands of Christ, and all 
duties will be easy. 

(2.) You will be inconstant in it, and apt to be ensnared again, 
when you meet with occasions and temptations that suit with your 
heart's lusts. As the Israelites were drawn out of Egypt against 
their wills, the flesh-pots of Egypt were still in their minds, and, there 
fore, were ready to make themselves a captain and return again, 
Num. xiv. 4 ; and James i. 8, 'A double-minded man is unstable in 
his ways/ Nothing will hold an unwilling heart. Demas had not 
quitted this hankering mind after the world, and therefore it pre 
vented 'him doing his duty : 2 Tim. iv. 10, ' Demas hath forsaken 
me, having loved this present world.' He left the work of the gospel 
to mind his own private affairs. The love of riches, pleasure, ease, 
and safety, if they be not thoroughly renounced, will tempt us to a like 
revolt and neglect of God. Therefore, to prevent it, when we first 
put our hands to the plough, we must resolve to renounce the world : 
Ps. xlv. 10, ' Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house.' 
Look back no more. As long as we are entangled in our lusts and 
enticements of the world, we are unmeet to serve God. Paul counted 
those things that were gain to him to be loss for Christ : Phil. iii. 7, 8, 
' 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 count them but dung, that I may win Christ.' 
Paul repented not of his choice, but showeth his perseverance in the 
contempt of the world, I have counted, and do count. He seeth no 
cause to recede from his choice. Many affect novelties, are transported 
at their first change, but repent at leisure. 

(3.) We are imperfect in it ; I mean, to such a degree as to wa*nt 
sincerity, for they bring nothing to perfection, Luke viii. 14. Their 
fruit never groweth ripe or sound, for religion is an underling. Some 
good inclinations they have to heavenly things, but their worldly affec 
tions are greater, and overtop them so, that though they do not plainly 
revolt from their profession, yet their duties want that life and power 
which is necessary, so that they bring little honour to Christ by being 

[3.] In respect of the hurt that cometh from their looking back, 
both to themselves and to religion. 


(1.) To themselves : 2 Peter ii. 20, 21, ' For if after they have 
escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our 
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, their 
latter end is worse with them than their beginning. 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 to 
them.' Many have so much of the knowledge of Christ as to cleanse 
their external conversation ; but sin and the world were never so 
effectually cast out but they are in secret league with them still ; and, 
therefore, they are first entangled, and then overcome ; first enticed by 
some pleasure or profit, and then carried away with the temptation. But 
what cometh of this ? ' Their latter end is worse than their beginning.' 
Their sin is greater, since they sin against light and taste ; their judg 
ment is greater, both spiritual and eternal ; as God giveth them over 
to brutish lusts, and to the power of Satan. And this will be a cutting 
thought to them to all eternity, to remember how they lost their ac 
quaintance with, and benefit by, Christ, by looking back to the world, 
and deserting that good way wherein they found so much sweetness in 

(2.) The mischief which is done to religion. They wonderfully dis 
honour God, and bring contempt upon the ways of godliness, when, 
after they have made trial of it, they prefer sin before it, as if God had 
wearied them, Micah vi. 3. Therefore it is just with God to vindicate 
his honour. And Satan, after he seemeth to be for a while rejected, 
taketh a more durable possession of them, Luke xi. 26. Oh, think of 
this often ! to look back after we seemed to escape doth involve us in 
the greater sin and misery. Better never to have yielded to God so 
far, than to retract at last, partly because their sins are sins against 
knowledge : Luke xii. 47, ' That servant which knew his Lord's will, 
and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be 
beaten with many stripes/ Partly because they are unthankful for so 
much deliverance, by the knowledge of Christ, as they received, and 
that is an heinous aggravation of their offence. Partly because their 
sin is treachery and breach of vows, for they turned the back upon 
the world and all the allurements thereof, when they consented to the 
covenant, and resolved to follow Christ in all conditions, till he should 
bring them into a place of rest and safety. Partly because they sin 
against experience, after they have had some relish and taste of better 
things, Heb. vi. 4. Partly because their conversion again is the more 
difficult, the devil having a greater hold of them, Mat. xii. 44. 

[4.] With respect to the disproportion that is between the things 
that tempt us to look back, and those things that are set before us. 

(1.) The things that tempt us to look back are the pleasures of sin 
and the profits of the world. Both are but a temporary enjoyment : 
Heb. xi. 25, ' The pleasures of sin, which are but for a season.' The 
pleasures of sin are base and brutish, which captivate and bring a 
slavery on the soul, Titus iii. 3. The enjoyments of the world cannot 
last long ; your gust and relish of them, within a little while will be 
gone, 1 John ii. 17 ; yet these are the things that tempt you to forget 
and draw you off from God. And will you marry your souls again to 
those sins from which they were once divorced, and for such paltry 
vanities repent of your obedience to God, even after you have made 


trial of him ? Are these things grown better, or God grown worse, 
that you should turn your hearts from him to them ? 

(2.) The things that are before you are God and heaven; recon 
ciliation with God, and the everlasting fruition of him in glory. 

Reconciliation with God, with the consequent benefits ; communion 
with God now, peace of conscience, the gift of the Spirit, and the 
hopes of glory. If there were no more than these, shall we look back ? 
Can we find better things in the world ? Alas ! there is nothing here 
but fears and snares, a vexatious uncertainty, and polluting enjoy 
ments, such as may easily make us worse, but cannot make us better. 
What is this but to forsake the cold flowing waters for a dirty puddle? 
Jer. xviii. 14, our own mercies for lying vanities, Jonah ii. 8. 

The everlasting fruition of him in glory. Shall we look back that 
are striving for a crown of endless glory, as if we were weary of the 
pursuit, and give it over as a hopeless or fruitless business ? If 
Christ will lead us to this glory, let us follow him, and go on in what 
is well begun without looking back. Never let us leave a crown of 
glory for a crown of thorns. 

Use. Is for instruction, to teach us what to do if we would set 
about the strict practice of religion. 

1. See that your worldly love be well mortified, for till you be 
dead to the world God cannot recover his interest in your souls, nor 
the divine nature be set up there with any life and power, 2 Peter i. 4 ; 
see also 1 John ii. 15, and 1 John v. 4. Till this be done, God and 
glory cannot be your ultimate end, nor the main design of your life ; 
for the world will turn your hearts another way, and will have the 
principal ruling and disposing of your lives : the world will have that 
love, trust, care, and service that belongeth to God, and be a great 
hindrance to you in the way to heaven, and you will never have peace. 
The world doth first delude you, and then disquiet you, and if you 
cleave to it as your portion, you must look for no more. Well, then, 
mortified it must be ; for how can you renounce the world as an 
enemy if your hearts be not weaned from it so far that it is a more 
indifferent thing to you to have it or want it, and that you be not so 
eager for it, or so careful about it ? 

2. Let not the world steal into your hearts again, nor seem so 
sweet to you, for then you are under a temptation. It is our remaining 
folly and backsliding nature that is ever looking to the world which 
we have forsaken. Now, when you find this, whenever the world hath 
insinuated into your affections, and chilled and cooled them to God 
and heaven, see that the distemper be presently expelled. Pray, as 
David, Ps. cxix. 36, ' Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not 
unto covetousness.' Be sure to be more fruitful in good works : Luke 
xi. 41, ' Give alms of such things as you have, and behold all things 
are clean unto you.' We renounced the world in our baptismal vow, 
we overcame the world in our whole after course. It is not so got out 
of any but that we still need an holy jealousy and watchfulness over 
ourselves. Now, that we may do both of these, I shall give you some 

[1.] Fix your end and scope, which is to be everlastingly happy in 
the enjoyment of God. The more you do so, the less in danger you 


will be of looking back. We are often pressed to lay up treasures in 
heaven, Mat. vi. 20 ; and, as those that are ' risen with Christ,' to 
4 seek the things which are above/ Col. iii. 1. Our Lord himself saitli 
to the young man, Mark x. 21, 'Go, sell all that thou hast, and give 
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasures in heaven/ If your life 
and business be for heaven, and your mind be kept intent on the 
greater matters of everlasting life, nothing will divert you therefrom ; 
you will almost be ready to forget earth, because you have higher and 
better things to mind. It is not barely thinking of the troubles of the 
world, or confessing its vanities, will cure your distempers, but the 
true sight of a better happiness. A little in hand is better, you will 
think, than uncertain hopes ; but a sound belief, which is ' the sub 
stance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen/ that 
openeth heaven to you, and will soon make you of another mind. 

[2.] Entirely trust yourself, and all your concernments, in the hand 
of God. Christ expected from all those whom he called in an extra 
ordinary manner, that they should leave all without any thought or 
solicitude about it, trusting in him not only for their eternal reward, 
but for their provision and protection by the way during their service. 
And the same in effect is required of all Christians ; not to leave our 
estates or neglect our calling, but renouncing the world, and resolv 
ing to take such a lot in good part as he shall carve out to them. 
All that enter into covenant with God must believe him to be ' God 
all-sufficient/ Gen. xvii. 1. The apostle, when he dissuadeth from 
worldliness, he produceth a promise of God's not forsaking us and 
leaving us utterly destitute : Heb. xiii. 5, ' Let your conversation be 
without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. 
For he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' On the 
other side, certainly, it is unbelief that is the cause of apostasy, or 
falling back from God : Heb. iii. 12, ' Take heed, brethren, lest there 
be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the 
living God.' Certainly, when we have resigned up ourselves to Christ 
to do his work, we may trust him boldly, and serve him cheerfully ; 
we need not look back to shift for ourselves. If you are willing to be 
his people, he will be your God and your Saviour, and then you may 
conclude that ' God, even our God, shall bless us/ Ps. Ixvii. 6. He 
will not be wanting to those that unreservedly yield up themselves to 
his obedience. 

[3.] Consider that they are deluded hypocrites that will meddle no 
farther with religion than they can reconcile it with their worldly 
happiness. Whatever glorious notions they have of God, or pretences 
of admiring free grace, it is self-denial that Christ calleth for ; and 
taking up our cross is the first lesson in his school. And true conver 
sion is a turning from the creature to God, and beginneth in mortifi 
cation ; and baptism implieth a renunciation of the devil, the world, 
and the flesh. Therefore those that will save their worldly state, and 
launch out no further in the cause of religion than they may easily get 
ashore again when a storm cometh, and love and serve God no further 
than will stand with the contentment of the flesh, and divide their 
hearts between God and the world, give God but half, and the worst 
half; surely these were never sincere with God. It is an impossible 


design they drive on, to serve two masters, Mat. vi. 24. You must 
let go Christ and glory, if you be so earnest after the world, and so 
indulgent to the flesh. 

[4.] Consider how much it is your business to observe what maketh 
you fit or unfit for the kingdom of God. The aptitude or inaptitude 
of means is to be judged with respect to the end, as they help or hinder 
the attainment of your great end ; for finis est mensura medi&rum : 
Mat. vi. 22, ' The light of the body is the eye : if therefore thine eye 
be.single, thy whole body shall be full of light.' Now our great end 
is to enjoy God for ever. And what fitteth you for this, looking back, 
or keeping the heart in heaven ? Experience will show. The ob 
servant and watchful Christian will soon find where his great hinder- 
ance lieth. How much he findeth his heart down by minding the 
world, and how he needeth to wind it up again by faith and love : Ps. 
xxv. 1, ' Unto thee, Lord, do I lift up my soul.' The world is the 
great impediment that keepeth him from God, and indisposeth him 
for his service, dampeth his love, and quencheth his zeal, and abateth 
his diligence ; he will soon find how much more he might do for God 
if he could draw off his heart more from those inferior objects. This 
is the weight that preeseth us down, and maketh us so cold and cursory 
in God's service. 

[5.] Consider, in the text, here is the kingdom of God, which is 
double the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory. The one 
is called, ' The kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,' Kev. i. 9 ; the 
other is called, ' His kingdom and glory,' 1 Thes. ii. 12. By the first 
we are prepared for the second ; and the second is the great encourage 
ment. Now they that look back are unfit for either the duties of 
Christians or the reward of Christians ; he flincheth from his duty 
here, and shall be shut out of heaven at last : 2 Thes. i. 5, ' That ye 
may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also 
suffer.' They are only counted worthy who constantly and patiently 
look for it, and venture something on it. 

[6.] Consider the great loss you will incur by looking back after 
you have put your hand to the plough. You will lose all that you 
have wrought, and all that you have suffered. 

What you have wrought : 2 John 8, ' Look to yourselves, that ye 
lose not the things which ye have wrought, but that ye receive a full 
reward.' You forfeit the reward of your good beginnings. A partial 
reward they may have in this life, while they continue their well-doing 
(for no man is a loser by God), but . not a complete and full reward 
till the life to come. Some overflowings of God's temporal bounty 
they may have, but not the crown of life and glory. So Ezek. 
xviii. 24, ' All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be men 
tioned.' All is obliterated and forgotten and made void, as to any 
interest in the great reward. This was represented in the type of the 
Nazarite : Num. vi. 12, ' The days that were before shall be lost, 
because his separation was defiled.' He was to begin all anew. 
All that you have suffered, as a man may make some petty losses 
for Jesus Christ : Gal. iii. 4, ' Have ye suffered so many things in 
vain ? if it be yet in vain/ This maketh all the cost and expense that 
you have been at to be to no purpose. 


But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; "but of them 
that believe to the saving of the soul. HEB. X. 39. 

IN the verse immediately preceding there is a dreadful doom pro 
nounced on apostates, that God will take no pleasure in them. Now 
lest they should be much affrighted with the terror of it, and suppose 
that he had too hard an opinion of them, he showeth, that though he 
did warn them, he did not suspect them, presuming other things of 
them, according to their profession : But we are not of them that 
draw back unto perdition ; but of them that believe to the saving of 
the soul'. 

In the words two things are observable : 

1. The denial of the suspicion of their apostasy. 

2. An assertion of the truth and constancy of their faith. 

That clause I shall insist upon, e'/c Trio-reo)? ei? TrepiTrolrjo-iv ^tn^}?. 
Where, first, take notice of their faith, e/c 7r/a-Ta<? ; secondly, their 
perseverance, efc ir^itroi^aiv ^1^779. The word signifieth their 
purchasing, acquiring, obtaining, finding the soul ; meaning thereby, 
that though they lost other things, they did not lose their souls. 

Doct. That a true and sound faith will cause us to save the soul, 
though with the loss of other things. 

1 Peter i. 5, ' Ye are kept by the power of God through faith unto 
salvation.' It is the power of God indeed that keepeth. He that 
reserveth heaven for us reserveth and keepeth us for heaven. But by 
what instrument or means ? By faith. To depend upon an invisible 
God for a happiness that lieth in an invisible world, when in the 
meantime he permitteth us to be harassed with difficulties and 
troubles, requireth faith ; and by faith alone can the heart be upheld, 
till we obtain this salvation. So ver. 9, ' Receiving the end of your 
faith, the salvation of your souls/ It is faith maketh us row 
against the stream of flesh and blood, and deny its cravings, that we 
may obtain eternal salvation at length. The flesh is for sparing and 
favouring the body ; but faith is for saving the soul. That is the end 
and aim of faith. 

To make this evident to you : 

1. I shall prove that all other things must be hazarded for the 
saving of the soul. 


2. That nothing will make us hazard all things for the purchasing 
or acquiring the salvation of the soul but only faith. 

1. That all other things must be hazarded for the saving of the 
soul : Mat. x. 39, ' He that findeth his life shall lose it ; and he that 
loseth his life for my sake shall find it.' So it is repeated again upon 
the occasion of the doctrine of self-denial, Mat. xvi. 25, 26. The 
saving of the soul is more than the getting and keeping or having of 
all the world ; for the world concerneth only the body and bodily life, 
but the saving of the soul concerneth eternal life. If life be lost 
temporally, it is secured to eternity, when we shall have a life which 
no man can take from us. And the case standeth thus : that either 
we must bring eternal perdition upon ourselves, or else obtain eternal 
salvation. They that are thirsty of life bodily, and the comforts and 
interests of it, are certainly prodigal of their salvation. But on the 
other side, if we are willing to venture life temporal, and all the 
interests thereof, for the saving of the soul, we make a good bargain : 
that which is left for a while is preserved to us for ever. In short, so 
much as God is to be preferred before the creature, heaven before the 
world, the soul before the body, eternity before time, so much doth it 
concern us to have the better part safe. And as men in a great fire 
and general conflagration will hazard their lumber to preserve their 
treasure, their money, or their jewels, so should we take care, that if 
we must lose one or other, that the better part be out of hazard ; and 
whatever we lose by the way, we may be sure to come well to the end 
of our journey. 

2. That nothing will make us hazard all things for the purchas 
ing or acquiring the salvation of the soul, but only faith. The flesh 
is importunate to be pleased. Sense saith to us, Favour thyself, that 
is, spare the flesh; but faith saith, Save thy soul. Faith, which 
apprehendeth things future and invisible, will teach us to value all 
things according to their worth, and to lose some present satisfaction 
for that future and eternal gain which the promises of God do offer 
to us. Now faith doth this two ways:, by convincing us of the worth 
and of the truth of things promised by God through Christ. The 
apostle, when he bloweth his trumpet, and summoneth our reverence 
and attentive regard to the gospel, in that- preface, 1 Tim. i. 15, he 
saith, ' This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that 
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners/ Salvation by 
Christ is worthy to be regarded above all things ; and if it be true, 
all things should give place unto it. Now faith convinceth us of the 
worth and truth, and maketh us to take the thing promised for all 
our treasure and happiness, and the promise itself, or the word of 
God, for our whole security. 

(1.) It maketh us to take the thing promised for all our treasure 
and happiness : Mat. vi. 19-21, ' Lay not up for yourselves treasures 
upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves 
break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasure in 
heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break 
through and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will 
be also.' It highly concerneth us to consider what we make our trea 
sure. Worldly things are subject to many accidents, and deserve not 


our love nor esteem. Only heavenly things deserve to be our trea 
sure. If our hearts be set upon these things, it is a sign we value 
what Christ hath offered. So 2 Cor. iv. 18, ' While we look not at 
the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for 
the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not 
seen are eternal/ We make these things our end, and scope, and 
happiness. It is easy to prove the worth of these things in the gene 
ral, as it is easy to prove that eternity is better than time ; that things 
incorruptible are better than those which are subject to corruption ; 
that things exempted from casualty are better than those things 
which are liable to casualty, and are not out of the reach of robbery 
and violence. But to creatures wedded to sense and present enjoy 
ment, it is difficult and hard to cause them to set their hearts on 
another world, and to lay up their hopes in heaven, and to part with 
all things which they see and love and find comfortable to their 
senses, for that God and glory which they never saw. This is the 
business of faith, or the work of the Spirit of illumination changing 
their hearts and minds. This general truth all will determine, as 
that things eternal are better than things temporal. But We under 
value these gracious promises, whose accomplishment must with 
patience be expected, whilst their future goodness cometh in actual 
competition with these bodily delights which we must forego, and 
those grievous bodily afflictions which we must endure, out of sincere 
respect to Christ and his ways. Therefore, before there can be any 
true self-denial, faith must incline us to this offered benefit, as our 
true treasure and happiness, whatever we forego or undergo to attain it. 

(2.) For the truth of it the word of God must be our whole secu 
rity, as being enough to support our hearts in waiting for it, however 
God cover himself with frowns and an appearance of anger in those 
afflictions which befal us in the way thither. The word of God is all 
in all to his people : ' Thy testimonies have I taken as my heritage for 
ever; they are the rejoicing of my soul/ Ps. cxix. 111. If a man 
hath little ready money, yet if he have a heritage to live upon, or 
sure bonds, he is well paid. So is a believer rich in promises, which 
being the promises of the almighty and immutable God, and built 
upon the everlasting merit of Christ, are as good to him as perform 
ances, and therefore cause joy in some proportion as if the things were 
in hand : 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 Ps. Ivi. 4, ' In God will I praise 
his word, in God have I put my trust ; I will not fear what man can 
do unto me.' Faith resteth upon God's word, who is able to save to 
the uttermost all that come to him by Christ. 

Use 1. Is information concerning a weighty truth, namely, what 
the faith is by which the just do live. It is such a trust or confidence 
in God's promises of eternal life through Jesus Christ as that we for 
sake all other hopes and happiness whatsoever that we may obtain it. 

To make good this description to you, let me observe : 

1. That faith looketh mainly to heaven, or the saving of the soul, 
as the prime benefit offered to us by Jesus Christ. For all attend to 
this: 1 Tim. i. 16, 'For a pattern to them who should hereafter be- 


lieve on him to life everlasting.' This was that they chiefly aimed at, 
and therefore called ' the end of our faith/ 1 Peter i. 9. For this end 
were the scriptures written: John xx. 31, ' These things 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.' The scriptures 
are written to direct us to know Christ aright, who is the kernel and 
marrow of all the scriptures, who is the great subject of the gospel ; and 
that the chief benefit we have by him is eternal life, by which all our 
pains and losses for Christ are recompensed, and from whence we 
fetch our comfort all along during the course of our pilgrimage, and 
upon the hopes of which the life of grace is carried on, and the 
temptations of sense are defeated, so that this is the main blessing 
which faith aimeth at. 

2. That the sure grounds which faith goeth upon is God's promise 
through Jesus Christ ; and so it implieth : 

[1.] That there is a God, who is ' a rewarder of them that diligently 
seek him;' for the apostle, pursuing this discourse, telleth us, Heb. 
xi. 6, that a man must believe God's being and bounty before he can 
do anything to the purpose for him. 

[2.] That this God hath revealed himself in Jesus Christ as willing 
to accept poor creatures who refuse not his new covenant and remedy 
ing grace, to pardon and life ; for the guilty creature would stand 
at a distance, and not receive his offers with any comfort and satis 
faction, had not God been ' in Christ reconciling the world to him 
self,' 2 Cor. v. 19. But now they may be invited to come to him with 
hope, ver. 20. And his gracious promises, standing upon such a bot 
tom and foundation, are the sooner believed : 2 Cor. i. 20, ' For the 
promises of God are in him, 'yea, and in him, amen, to the glory of 
God by us ; ' that is, the promises of God propounded in Christ's 
name are undoubtedly true ; they are not yea and nay, but yea and 
amen. They do not say yea to-day, and nay to-morrow ; but always 
yea, so it is, and amen, so it shall be, because they stand upon an 
immutable foundation, the everlasting merit and redemption of Christ. 

[3.] It implieth that the scriptures which contain these offers and 
promises are the word of God. For though God's veracity be unques 
tionable, how shall we know that we have his word ? It is laid at 
pledge with us in the scriptures, which are the declaration of the 
mind of the eternal God. The promises are a part of those sacred 
scriptures which were written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 
and sealed with a multitude of miracles, and bear the very image and 
superscription of God (as everything which hath passed his hand hath 
his signature upon it, even to a gnat or pile of grass), and have been 
received and preserved by the church as the certain oracles of God, 
and blessed by him throughout all generations and successions of ages, 
to the convincing, converting, sanctifying, and comforting of many 
souls, and carry their own light, evidence, and recommendation to 
the consciences of all those who are not strangely perverted by their 
brutish lusts, and blinded by their worldly affections. For the apostle 
saith, ' By the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to 
every man's conscience. For if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those 
who are lost : the god of this world having blinded their eyes, lest 


the light of the glorious gospel should shine unto them/ 2 Cor. iv. 
2-4. Upon these grounds doth faith proceed, which I have men 
tioned the more distinctly that you might know how to excite faith ; 
for besides praying for the Spirit of wisdom and illumination to open 
our eyes, we must use the means both as rational creatures and new 
creatures. And what means are more effectual than those mentioned ? 

Is there not a God ? If there be not a God, how did we come to 
be ? Thou wert not made by chance ; and when thou wert not, thou 
couldst not make thyself. Look upon thy body, so curiously framed, 
whose workmanship could this be but of a wise God ? Upon thy soul, 
whose image and superscription doth it bear ? ' Give unto Cassar the 
things which are Cresar's, and unto God the things which are God's.' 
Nay, look upward, downward, within thee, without thee, what dost thou 
see, hear, and feel, but the products and effects of an eternal power, 
wisdom, and goodness? Thou canst not open thine eyes, but the 
heavens are ready to say to thy conscience, Man, there is a God, an 
infinite eternal being, who made us and all things else. 

Now for the second : Hath not this God revealed himself gracious 
in Christ ? Nature declareth there is a God, and scripture that 
there is a Christ. As there is one God, the first cause of all, infinitely 
powerful, wise, and good, therefore it is but reasonable that he should 
be served, and according to his own will. But we have faulted in 
our duty to our creator, and therefore are in dread of his justice. 
Certainly reasonable creatures have immortal souls, and so die not as 
the beasts ; therefore there is no true happiness in these things wherein 
men ordinarily seek it. Is it not then a blessed discovery that God 
hath brought life and immortality to light by Jesus Christ ; that he 
sent him into the world to be a propitiation, and to satisfy his justice, 
and to redeem us from our guilty fears ? And shall we neglect this 
great salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ, or coldly seek after it ? 
Surely God is willing to be reconciled to man, or else he would pre 
sently have plunged us into our eternal state, as he did the angels 
upon their first sinning. But he waiteth, and beareth with many in 
conveniences ; he beseecheth us, and prayeth us to be reconciled. 
And ' how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which was 
first spoken by the Lord, and then confirmed unto us by them that 
heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and 
wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according 
to his own will?' Heb. 2-4. Would holy men cheat the world with 
an imposture, or would God be accessory in lending his power to .do 
such marvellous things ? It cannot be. 

And then for the third : Is not this a part of the word of God, 
which holy men have written to consign it to the use of the church 
in all ages ? 1 John ii. 25, ' This is the promise which he hath pro 
mised us, eternal life.' Is not this God's promise ? And will not 
God be mindful and regardful of his word ? He was wont to be ten 
der of it : Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' Thou hast magnified thy word above all 
thy name;' above all that is named, or famed, or spoken and believed 
of God. His truth and trustiness is most conspicuous. In the new 
covenant he hath given his solemn oath, as well as his word, that the 
heirs of promise ' might have strong consolation/ Heb. vi. 18. What 


is the matter that my belief of these things is so cold and ineffectual ? 
If this be God's promise, and he hath put in no exception against me 
to exclude me from the benefit of this promise, what is the reason why 
I can no more encourage myself in the Lord to seek after this salva 
tion, but am disturbed so often by distracting fears and cares, and so 
easily misled by vain delights ? Thus should we excite our faith. 

But I digress too long. 

3. The nature of this faith I express by a trust and confidence. 
There is in faith an assent, which is sufficient when the object 
requireth no more. As there are some speculative principles which 
are merely to be believed, as they lead on to other things, Heb. xi. 3, 
there an intellectual assent sufficeth. But there are other things which 
are propounded, not only as true, but good. There, not only an in 
tellectual assent is required, but a practical assent, or such as is joined 
with consent and affiance ; as suppose when Christ promiseth eternal 
life to the serious Christian or mortified believer ; there must be not 
only an assent, or a believing that this proposal and offer is Christ's, 
and that it is true ; but there must be a consent to choose it for my 
portion and happiness, and then a confidence and dependence upon 
Christ for it, though it lie out of sight, and in the meantime I be ex 
ercised with sundry difficulties and temptations. Trust is not a bare 
opinion of Christ's fidelity, but a dependence upon his word. I do 
believe there is a God, and that there is a Christ, I do well. I do 
believe that this God in Christ hath brought life and immortality to 
light, I do well still ; but I must do more. I believe that he hath 
assured his disciples and followers, that if they continue faithful with 
him, they shall have eternal life : John v. 24, ' Verily, verily, I say 
unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent 
me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.' I 
know that Christ hath fidelity and sufficiency enough to make good 
his word. This is well, but I must go farther ; that is to say, I must 
choose this eternal life that is offered to me for my felicity and por 
tion ; this is consent : and I must continue with patience in well 
doing, depending upon his faithful word whilst I am in the pursuit of 
it ; this is trust or confidence. As this world is vanity, and hath 
nothing in it worthy to be compared with the hopes which Christ hath 
given me of a better life, so I choose it for my happiness. But as 
I judge him faithful that hath promised, and depend upon him that 
he will make good his word, though this happiness be future, and 
lieth in another, an unseen, an unknown world, to which there is no 
coming but by faith, this is the trust, and by that name it is often 
expressed in scripture. It is nothing else but a sure and comfortable 
dependence upon God through Jesus Christ, in the way of well-doing, 
for the gift of eternal life : Ps. cxii. 7, ' His heart is fixed, trusting in 
the Lord.' So Isa. xxvi. 3, ' Thou keepest him in perfect peace 
whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee/ The New 
Testament also useth this term, 2 Cor. iii. 4, ' Such trust have we 
through Christ to Godward ; ' and 1 Tim. iv. 10, ' For therefore we 
both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.' 
Well, then, this trust is more than an assent or bare persuasion of the 
mind that the promises are true ; yea, it is more than a motion of the 
VOL. n. K 


will towards them as good and satisfying ; for it noteth a quiet repose 
of the heart on the fidelity and mercy of God in Christ, that he *.vill 
give this blessedness, if we do in the first place seek after it. The 
more we cherish this confidence, the more sure we are of our interest, 
both in Christ and the promise : Heb. iii. 6, ' Whose house we are, if 
we hold fast our confidence, and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end ;' 
and ver. 14, ' We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the begin 
ning of our confidence steadfast unto the end ; ' and Heb. x. 35, a little 
before the text, ' Cast not away your confidence, which hath great 
recompense of reward.' In all which places confidence noteth our 
resolute engaging in the heavenly life, because we depend upon Christ's 
rewards in another world. In our passage to heaven we meet with 
manifold temptations ; we are assaulted both on the right hand arid 
on the left with the terrors of sense, which are a discouragement to 
us, and the delights of sense, which are a snare to us. Confidence or 
trust fortifieth us against both these temptations, the difficulties, 
dangers, and sufferings which we meet with in our passage to heaven, 
yea, though it should be death itself ; for faith seeth the end glorious, 
and that the salvation of our souls is sure and near if we continue 
faithful with Christ. On the other side, affiance or trust draweth the 
heart to better things, and we can easily want or miss the content 
ments of the flesh, the pomp, and ease, and pleasure of the present 
life, because our hearts are in heaven, and we have more excellent 
things in view and pursuit. '.This breedeth a weanedness from the baits 
of the flesh, and a rejection and contempt of what would take us off 
from the pursuit of eternal life : 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27, ' I run not as one 
that is uncertain ;' as if he had said, I am confident, therefore I am 
mortified to the world. 

4. The immediate fruit and effect of it is a forsaking all other hopes 
and happiness for Christ's sake, and for the blessedness which he offer- 
eth. That forsaking all belongeth to this affiance and trust is plain, 
because I can neither trust God nor be true to him till I can venture 
all my happiness upon this security ; and if God calleth me to it, 
actually forsake all upon these hopes. This will appear to you by 
these arguments : 

[1.] By the doctrinal descriptions of the gospel-faith. Our Lord 
hath told us that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchantman: 
Mat. xiii. 45, 46, ' The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman 
seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great 
price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it/ And certainly he 
knew the nature of that faith better than we do. Many cheapen the 
pearl of price, but they do not go through with the bargain, because 
they do not sell all to purchase it. No ; you must have such a sense 
of the excellency and truth of salvation by Christ, that you must 
choose it, and let go all that is inconsistent with this choice and trust. 
You must be resolved to let go all your sinful pleasures, profit, and 
reputation, and your life itself, rather than forfeit these hopes. So 
Luke xiv. 26, ' If any man come unto me, and hate not father and 
mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and 
his own life, he cannot be my disciple.' So ver. 33, ' Whosoever 
he be that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.' 


After such express declarations of the will of Christ, why should we 
think of going to heaven at a cheaper rate, and that the covenant 
will be modelled and brought down to our humours ? Christ's ser 
vice will bring trouble with it. All that is precious in the world must 
be renounced, or else we shall not be able to hold out. The same is 
inferred out of the doctrine of self-denial, Mat. xvi. 24. It is the im 
mediate fruit, yea, the principal act of our trust ; for if God be trusted 
as our felicity, he must be loved above all, and all things must give way 
to God. The same is inferred out of the baptismal covenant, which is a 
renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, and a giving up ourselves 
to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as our God. This renouncing im- 
plieth a venturing of all, that we may obtain this blessedness, or 
eternal life. 

[2.] By all the extraordinary calls and trials that are propounded as 
a pattern to us. Faith was ever a venturing all, and a forsaking all, 
upon the belief of God's veracity. Let us see Noah's faith: Heb. 
xi. 7, ' By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen 
as yet, prepared an ark for the saving of his house.' That warning 
that God gave him of the flood was extraordinary, but they were 'of 
things not seen as yet ; ' whilst these things were in the mind of God, 
no man or angel could know them; and after God revealed them, there 
was nothing but his bare word for it. But Noah believed, and what 
then ? At God's prescription, with vast expense, he prepareth an ark, 
and that was selling all. He was of a vast estate, or else he could not 
have prepared such a fabric, so many years in building, and so fur 
nished ; but this was the prescribed means to save his household. In 
the next place, let us consider Abraham's trial, who was the ' father of 
the faithful.' His first trial was, Heb. xi. 8, ' By faith Abraham, when 
he was called to go out to a place which he should afterwards receive 
for an inheritance, obeyed, not knowing whither he went.' Here was 
trusting and venturing all upon God's call. He forsook his kindred, 
and father's house, and all, to seek an abode he knew not where. 
Therefore we must forsake the world, and all things therein, yea, life 
itself, having our thoughts and affections fixed on heaven. There must 
be a total resignation of heart and will to God. We owe God blind 
obedience. To forsake our country, kindred, friends, inheritance, is a 
sore trial ; yet this was done by him, and must be done by all that will 
be saved: we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and forsake 
father and mother, wife and children, all relations. All this he did for 
a land which he neither knew where it was nor the way to it. Our 
God hath told us, he will bring us into the heavenly Canaan. His 
second trial you have recorded, ver. 17, ' By faith Abraham, when he 
was tried, offered up Isaac ; and he that received the promises offered 
up his only son.' God would try Abraham, that he might be an 
example of faith to all future generations, whether Abraham loved God 
or his son Isaac more. But he did not shrink upon trial ; he offered 
him up ; that is, in his heart he had parted with him and given him 
wholly unto God, and made all ready for the offering, being assured of 
God's fidelity ; even Isaac, upon whom the promises were settled, must 
be offered. Children, dear children, everything must be given up to 
God. In the next place, consider we the Israelites in the Bed Sea ; 


Heb. xi. 29, ' By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry 
land.' God commands Moses, when in straits, to strike the sea with 
his rod, and Israel to pass forward, and expect the salvation of God, 
promising to deliver them. They did so, and the sea was divided, and 
the waters stood like walls and mountains, as if they had been con 
gealed and turned to ice, and the bottom, which never saw sun before, 
is made like firm ground, without mud and quicksands. Thus en 
tirely will God be trusted by his people, and they must put their all 
into his hands. If God will have it so, faith must find a way through 
the great deep. No dangers so great that we must decline. Come we 
now to the New Testament ; Christ's trial of the young man : ' Jesus 
said unto him, Go thy way, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven,' Mark x. 21. But he could 
not venture on Christ's command, and went away sad. The promise 
of eternal life and treasure in heaven could not part the young man and 
his great estate, and therefore he continued incapable of eternal bliss. 
This young man is set forth in the Gospel as a warning to others. So 
in Peter's trial, Mat. xiv. 29, 30. If Christ bid Peter come to him 
upon the waters, Peter must come, though the storm continueth, and 
lie be ready to sink at every step. 

[3.] By all the instances of faith in the ordinary and common case of 
salvation. Moses had faith, therefore he forsook all honours, pleasures, 
and treasures, for he trusted God, and waited for the recompense of 
reward, Heb. xi. 24-26. It is endless in instancing in all : take 
these, Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, know 
ing in yourselves that ye have a better and more enduring substance.' 
They' were not discouraged, but took this rapine joyfully, which 
argued a lively faith in Christ, and a sincere love to him. It goeth 
near to the hearts of worldlings to part with these things ; but they 
valued Christ as infinitely more precious than all the wealth of the 
world. If they lost their goods, yet if they lost not Christ, they were 
happy enough ; for then they still kept the title to the enduring sub 
stance. Thus you see what is faith ; such a trusting in God for 
eternal life as maketh us willing to forsake all, rather than be unfaith 
ful to Christ. Others may delude you, enchant your souls asleep with 
fine strains of ill -understood and abused grace. But if you would not 
be deceived, take the faith and Christianity of Christ's recommenda 
tion, which is the faith now described. Are we in the place of God, 
that we can make heaven narrower or broader for you? Surely 
it is grace, rich grace, that God will pardon us, and call us to eternal 
life by Jesus Christ. Now, if you will have it, you must believe to 
the salvation of the soul, so believe, as to quit all other things to 
obtain it. 

Use 2. Is for examination. Let us examine our spiritual condition, 
whether it be good or bad, whether our faith be sincere, our profession 
real, whether we tend to perdition or to salvation, whether we believe 
to the saving of the soul ; that is, if we care not what we lose, so we 
may obtain the heavenly inheritance. Have you such a trust as that 
you can venture the loss of something which is dear to you for this 
trust ; yea, not only something, but all things ? Certainly we have 
not a true belief of the promise of eternal life if we can venture no- 


thing upon it, hazard nothing for it. Now we venture things upon 
the account of God's promise four ways : 

1.1 In a way of mortification. 

2.] In a way of self-denial. 

3. In a way of charity. 

4. In a way of submission to providence. 

1. In a way of mortification. Denying ourselves the sinful plea 
sures of the senses. Our sins were never worth the keeping ; these 
must always be parted with, other things but at times; therefore I can 
venture but little upon the security of eternal life, if I cannot deny my 
fleshly and worldly lusts, and a little vain pleasure, for that fulness of 
joy which is at God's right hand for evermore. I have God's word for 
it, that if I mortify the deeds of the body I shall live, Horn. viii. 13. 
It is yet hard to abjure accustomed delights ; and to hearts pleasantly 
set, the strictness of a holy life seemeth grim and severe ; but a be 
liever, that hath a prospect into eternity, knoweth that it is better to 
deny the flesh than to displease God to take a little pains in rectify 
ing our disordered hearts and distempered souls, than to endure pains 
for evermore ; and that a little momentary delight is bought too dear, 
if it be bought with the loss of eternal joys. No ; let me lose my lusts 
rather than lose my soul, saith he. Every man's heart cleaveth to 
those things which he judgeth best, and the more it cleaveth to better 
things, the more it is withdrawn from other things. Therefore faith, 
showing us the truth and worth of heavenly things, and taking God's 
word for its security, it mastereth our desires and carnal affections. It 
is the ' stranger and pilgrim ' (whose mind is persuaded of things to 
come, and whose heart is set upon them) that ' abstaineth from fleshly 
lusts,' 1 Peter ii. 11. Upon the assurance of God's word he is taking 
his journey into another world. Though the flesh will rebel, yet he 
counterbalanceth the good and evil which the flesh proposeth, with the 
good and evil of the other world which the word of God proposeth, 
and so learneth more and more to contemn the pleasures of sin and 
curb his unruly passions. ' Mortify your members upon earth, for your 
life is hid with Christ in God,' Col. iii. 3-5. And they that look for a 
life of glory hereafter will choose a life of purity here upon earth. It 
is the unbeliever findeth such an impotency in resisting present tempta 
tions ; he hath not any sense, or not a deep sense, of the world to come. 
[2.] In a way of self-denial. What ! can you venture and forego that 
way upon the security of God's promise ? Mortification concerneth our 
lusts, and self-denial our interests. What interest can you venture 
upon the warrant of the promise ? Christ saith, ' He' that denieth me 
before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven,' Luke xii. 9 ; 
and again, ' Whosoever will save his life shall lose it,' &c., Luke 
ix. 24 ; and once more, ver. 26, ' Whosoever shall be ashamed of me 
and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he 
cometh in his glory.' Now urge the soul with the promises. Am I 
willing to hazard my temporal conveniences for the enduring sub 
stance ? to incur shame and blame with men, that I may be faithful 
with God, and own his interest in the world ? and do I so when it 
actually cometh to a trial ? The heart is deceitful, and a temptation 
in conceit and imngination is nothing to a temptation in act and deed. 


Therefore, when your resolutions are assaulted by temptations of any 
considerable strength, do you acquit yourself with good fidelity ? Can 
you trust God when he trieth your trust in some necessary point of 
confession, which may expose you to some loss, shame, and hazard in 
the world ? 

[3.] In a way of charity and doing good with your estates. That 
religion is worth nothing that costs nothing ; and when all is laid out 
upon pomp and pleasure and worldly ends, as the advancing of your 
families and relations, and little or nothing for God upon the security 
of his promise, or only so much as the flesh can spare, to hide your 
self-pleasing and self-seeking in other things. Can you practise upon 
that promise, and try your faith : Luke xii. 33, ' Sell that you have, 
and give alms ; provide yourselves bags that wax not old, a treasure 
in the heavens that faileth not.' What have you ventured in this 
kind ? Do you believe that ' he that giveth to the poor lendeth to 
the Lord' ? and that he will be your paymaster ? Do you look upon 
no estate so sure as that which is trusted in Christ's hands ? And 
are you content to be at some considerable cost for eternal life ? Most 
men love a cheap gospel, and the flesh engrosseth all. Faith gets 
little from them to be laid out for God. Do not these men run a 
fearful hazard ? And while they are so over-careful to preserve their 
estates to themselves and families, do they believe to the saving of 
their souls? Or if they do not preserve their estates, but waste them, 
and are at great costs for their lusts, they do nothing considerably or 
proportionably for God. This is saving to the flesh, and they shall ' of 
the flesh reap corruption/ 

[4.] In a way of submission to providence. Whether you will or no, 
you are at God's disposal, and cannot shift yourselves out of his hands, 
either here or hereafter. But yet it is a part of your duty voluntarily 
to surrender yourselves to be disposed of and ordered by God accord 
ing to his pleasure : to be content to be what he will have you to be, 
and to do what he will have you to do and suffer, is included in sell 
ing all. You must submit to be at God's finding, which is that 
poverty of spirit spoken of Mat. v. 3, ' Blessed are the poor in spirit ;' 
such whose minds and spirits are subdued, and brought under obedi 
ence to God. You must be content to enjoy what God will have you to 
enjoy, and to want what he will have you want, and to lose what he 
will have you lose : 2 Sam. xv. 26, 27, and Job i. 21, ' The Lord gave, 
and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.' 
Many seem to resign all goods, life, and all to the will of God. 
But it is because they secretly think in their hearts that God will 
never put them to the trial, or take from them what they resign to 
him ; but they are not prepared for a submission to all events. Like 
those that make large promises to others, when they think they will 
not take them at their words. So their hearts secretly except, and 
reserve much of that they resign to God. But this is false-dealing, 
and is shown in part in murmuring when God taketh anything 
from us. 


Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 

1 PET. I. 9. 

THE apostle here giveth a reason why believers rejoice in the midst 
of afflictions ; they are qualified thereby to receive salvation, yea, in 
part have it already, ' Keceiving the end of your faith, the salvation 
of your souls/ 

In which words observe : 

1. The benefit : the salvation of our souls. 

2. The grace which qualifieth us for that benefit : faith. 

3. The respect between the benefit and the grace ; it is reXo?, the 
end, or reward. 

1. The benefit, which may be considered as consummated, or as 
begun ; and accordingly the word Kofuty/jievoi must be interpreted. 
If you consider it as to consummation and actual possession, so we 
receive it at death, when our self-denying obedience is ended ; and 
for the present we are said to receive it, because we are sure to receive 
it at the close of our days. We believe now that we shall at length 
have it, and therefore rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 
(2.) If you consider it with respect to inchoation or begun possession, 
we have ah undoubted right now, and some beginnings of it in 'the con 
solations of the Spirit. Now we receive it in the promises ; we receive 
it in the first-fruits, which are some forerunning beams of the day 
light of eternal glory. 

2. The grace which qualifieth and giveth us a title to this benefit 
is faith. The word faith is taken in scripture sometimes for fides 
quce creditur ; sometimes for fides qud creditur, for the doctrine or 
grace of faith. The first acceptation will make a good sense here, 
namely, that the whole tenor of Christian doctrine leadeth us to the 
expectation of, and diligent pursuit after, eternal salvation. It is the 
whole drift of the Christian religion. But I take it rather for the 
grace. This is the prime benefit which faith aimeth at, as I shall 
show you by and by. 

3. The respect between faith and salvation. It is re'Xo?, the end ; 
or the word signifieth the fruit and the reward. As reXo<? is taken 
for an end and scope, the scripture favoureth that notion : Kara 
(TKOTTov Suaicci), I press towards the mark or scope, Phil. iii. 14. And 
2 Cor. iv. 18, ovcoTrovtre?, the salvation of our souls is the prime 


benefit which faith is not only allowed, but required to aim at. A 
believer levelleth and directeth all his actions to this end, that at 
length he may obtain eternal life. Sometimes it is put for the fruit 
or reward : Rom. vi. 22, ' Being made free from sin, and become ser 
vants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlast 
ing Itfe.' The issue of all, the final result, was your salvation. 

The point that I shall insist on is this : 

Doct. That the end and reward of faith is the salvation of our 

I shall open the point by explicating three questions : 

1. What is this salvation of our souls ? 

2. What right the believer hath to it ? 

3. What is that saving faith which giveth us a title to it ? The 
last is most important. 

1. What is the salvation 'of the soul? It is not meant of temporal 
deliverance, or an escape from danger, as some would affix that sense 
upon it, but of eternal life, or our happy estate in heaven. This 
.belongeth to our whole man, the body as well as the soul ; but the 
soul is the chief part of man, and that which is first glorified. When 
men come first into the world, first the body is framed, and then the 
soul cometh after ; as we see in the creation of Adam, first his body was 
organised, and then God breathed into him the spirit of life. And we 
see it in common generation, when the body is first framed in the 
womb, then it is quickened by a living soul. This lower region of the 
world is properly the place of bodies, therefore reason requires that 
the body, which is a citizen of the world, should first be framed, that 
it may be a receptacle for the soul, which is a stranger, and cometh 
from the region of spirits that is above. But when we must remove into 
these heavenly habitations, then it is quite otherwise ; for then the soul, 
as a native of that place, is presently admitted, but the body, as a 
stranger, is forced to reside in the grave till the day of judgment ; and 
then, for the sake of the soul, our bodies also are admitted into heaven. 
This is the ordinary law for all private persons. Christ, indeed, who is 
the head of the church, and the prince of this world and that which 
is to come, his body as well as his human spirit was made a denizen 
of heaven as soon as he ascended. He entered into heaven not as a 
private citizen, but as king and lord of the heavenly Jerusalem, and 
therefore carried both body and soul along with him. But as to us, 
first the soul goeth there, as into his ancient seat and proper habitation, 
and afterwards the body followeth. 

Well, then [1.] At death our souls go to Christ, and enter into a 
state of happiness : Phil. i. 23, ' I desire to be dissolved, and to be 
with Christ.' The soul is not annihilated after death, nor doth it sleep 
till the resurrection, nor is it detained by the way from immediate 
passing into glory ; but if it be the soul of a believer, as soon as it is 
loosed from the body it is with Christ : Luke xxiii. 43, ' Verily, I say 
unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.' He asked to 
be remembered when Christ came into his kingdom ; and Christ 
assureth him of a reception there that day, as soon as he should 

[2.] In due time the body is raised and united to the soul, and then 


Christ will be 'glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that 
believe,' 2 Thes. i. 10. Such glory and honour will be put upon those 
who are but newly crept out of dust and rottenness ; the saints them 
selves, and all the spectators, shall wonder at it. 

[3.] There is another period in this happiness, our everlasting 
habitation in heaven, near unto the throne of God, and in the pre 
sence of his glory : John xiv. 2, ' In my Father's house are many man 
sions.' There we shall also have the company of angels and blessed 
spirits, and make up one society with them : Heb. xii. 23, ' To the 
general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written 
in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men 
made perfect.' This is the sum of the salvation which we expect, or 
our everlasting happiness with God in heaven. 

2. What is the right of believers, or the interest of faith in this 
great benefit ? 
I answer 

[1.] It doth not merit this reward, for it is not a reward of 
due debt by virtue of any intrinsic righteousness in, us, or any 
thing that we can do and suffer, but of mere grace and favour : 
Eph. ii. 8, ' For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not 
of yourselves, it is the gift of God/ The apostle is very tender 
of the honour of grace, and the interest of grace in our salva 
tion. From the first step to the last period, all is of grace ; and 
this glory of his free grace God must not be robbed of, neither in 
whole nor in part. We have all from his elective love, we have all 
from the merit and righteousness of Christ, and all from the almighty 
operation of the sanctifying Spirit. Faith itself is a gift and fruit of 
God's grace in us : ' To you it is given to believe,'' Phil. i. 29. There 
fore surely it is God's free grace, favour, and good-will which cloth 
freely bestow that salvation on the elect, which Christ by his merit 
hath purchased ; and that very faith by which we apply and make out 
our actual tlaim and title is wrought in us by the Spirit ; so that there 
is nothing in the persons to whom all this is giten to induce God to 
confer so greit benefit on us. 

[2.] Thou^i it be an undeserved favour, upon which our works have 
no meritorious, influence, yet believers have an undoubted right by the 
grant and pronise of God, wherein they may comfort themselves, and 
which they maj plead before God: John iii. 16, ' God so loved the 
world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in 
him should not parish, but have life everlastingly ; ' and John v. 2-i, 
' Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my words, and be 
lieveth in him tha\ sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come 
into condemnation^ but is passed from death to life.' And in many 
places where the bdiever is qualified as the heir of glory. He that en- 
tertaineth Christ's coctrine, and receiveth and owneth him as the true 
Messiah and Saviourof the world, and dependeth upon him, and obeyeth 
him, this man hath full right and new-covenant title to eternal life. 
. [3.] He hath not oily a new-covenant right, but a begun possession. 
We have some small beginnings, earnests, and foretastes of it in this 
life ; partly in the graces, partly in the comforts of the Spirit. 

(1.) In the graces oUhe Holy Spirit. For salvation is begun in our 


new birth, Titus iii. 5 ; and therefore sanctifying grace is called ' im 
mortal/ or ' incorruptible seed,' 1 Peter i. 23. There is an eternal 
principle put into them which carrieth them to eternal ends. The 
life is begun in all that shall be saved, and it is still working towards 
its final perfection. The apostle telleth us, that ' he that hateth his 
brother hath not eternal life abiding in him,' 1 John iii. 15 ; whereby 
he implieth that he that loveth his brother, or hath any saving grace, 
he hath eternal life begun in him. 

(2.) As to comforts, so they have some foretastes of that sweetness 
which is in heaven by the life and exercise of faith, which is followed 
with peace and joy, Rom. xv. 13 ; or in their approaches to God in 
the word and prayer, where God most familiarly manifests himself 
unto his people, 1 Peter i. 3 ; or upon some apprehensions of his favour, 
or the exercise of hope and love, 2 Peter i. 8. By these or the like 
ways, the Spirit of God gtveth us the foretaste. Surely such an author, 
such an object, must needs put ravishing and heavenly joy into tha 
heart of a believer. 

(3.) They are also made meet to partake of the heavenly inheritance, 
Col. i. 12. There is jus Jicereditarium, and jus apiitudinale. The 
difference is as between an heir grown and in his nonage, when a 
child in the cradle. As their natures are more renewed and purined, 
and their souls weaned from the delights of sense, they are changed 
into the divine nature. 

3. What is that saving faith which giveth us a title to it ? This de- 
serveth to be cleared, that we maynot deceive ourselves with a false claim. 

Saving faith is such a believing in Christ, for reconciliation with 
God, and the everlasting fruition of him in glory, as maketh us to 
forsake all things in the world, and give up ourselves to the conduct 
of the word and Spirit for the obtaining of it. 

[1.] The general nature of it I express by believing. There is in 
it assent, consent, and affiance. 

(1.) Assent. That leadeth on the rest, when we beliere the truth 
of God's word, Acts xxiv. 14, 15, especially those practical truths 
which do most nearly concern our recovery to God ; as concerning 
man's sin and misery, that we have broken his laws, aad are obnox 
ious to his justice, and have deserved punishment for our sins, Rom. 
iii. 23. And concerning Christ, his person and office, that he is the 
Son of God, and that he came from God, to bring homf sinners to God, 
and what he hath done to reconcile us to him : 1 Peter iii. 18, ' For 
Christ also hath once suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, that 
he might bring us to God, being put to death in thf flesh, but quick 
ened by the Spirit.' And also concerning your dity and happiness, 
the end and the way. There is no other end and aappiness but God, 
no other way but the Mediator, and the means appointed by him, 
John xiv. 6. Now these and such like truths must be believed that 
is, in the sense we are now upon, assented unto as faithful sayings, and 
worthy of all acceptation and regard. 

(2.) There is a consent in faith, whether you apply it to the word or 
Christ. If Christ be propounded as the objec; of it, it is called a 
receiving: John i. 12, 'But as many as received him, to them gave 
he power to become the sons of God/ So :he word: Acts ii. 41, 


' They gladly received his word ; ' that is, embraced the gospel cove 
nant, being really affected with what he had spoken concerning their 
sin and their duty. Without this, the assent is but intellectual and 
speculative, not practical ; an opinion, not an act or motion of the 
new nature. I am to receive the Christ offered, to embrace the cove 
nant propounded, to accept of the blessings offered for my happiness, 
and to resolve upon the duties required as my work. This is consent, 
or a hearty accepting of Christ, or the covenant of grace offered to us 
in his name. 

(3.) There is affiance, trust, dependence, or confidence, which is a 
quiet repose of heart in the mercy of God or fidelity of Christ, that he 
will give me pardon and life, if I seek after it in the way that he hath 
appointed. This cometh in upon the former ; for when I consent to 
seek my happiness in God, through Christ, I depend upon the security 
of his word, that so doing I shall obtain it. This entitleth us to the 
reward : Heb. iii. 6, ' Whose house we are, if we hold fast the con 
fidence, and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end ; ' and ver. 14, ' For 
we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our con 
fidence steadfast unto the end ; ' and Heb. x. 35, ' Cast not away your 
confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.' The happiness 
which Christ promiseth us is spiritual, and for the most part future, 
and lieth in an unseen and unknown world ; but whilst we are engaged 
in the pursuit of it, we must depend upon his faithful word. That 
must be security enough to us, to engage us to continue with patience 
in the midst of manifold temptations, till we obtain what he offereth 
to us. These three must be often renewed assent, consent, and 

[2.] It is a believing in Christ. I make Christ the special object 
of this belief, not as exclusive of the Father or the Spirit, but because 
of the peculiar reference which this grace hath to the Mediator in this 
new and gospel dispensation, which was appointed for the remedy of 
the collapsed estate of mankind. So Acts xx. 21, ' Repentance towards 
God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.' He speaks of repentance 
as respecting God, and faith as respecting Christ. These are the two 
recovering graces : repentance is necessary because of the duty we owe 
to our Creator and supreme Lord ; and faith respects our Redeemer, 
who principally undertook our recovery to God. Christ is believed in, 
in order to the salvation of our souls. 

(1.) Because he purchased and procured this salvation for us as 
mediator of the new testament : Heb. ix. 15, ' He is the mediator of 
the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of 
the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are 
called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.' By the 
intervention of his death sins are expiated, that penitent believers 
might have everlasting life. 

(2.) Because it is by him promised, or in his name : 1 John ii. 25, 
' This is the promise which he hath promised us, even eternal life.' 
Christ's great business as a prophet is to discover with certainty and 
clearness such a blessed estate that it may be commodious for our 
acceptance, laid at our doors ; if we will take it, well and good. He is 
{ Amen, the faithful witness,' Rev. iii. 14, who came with a commis- 


sion from heaven to assure the world of it ; and to confirm his mes 
sage, he wrought miracles, died, and rose again, and entered into that 
happiness which he spake of, ' that our faith and hope might be in 
God,' 1 Peter i. 21. Guilty man is fallen under the power and fear 
of death, and 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, and ascerid into heaven, that he might give a visible 
demonstration, both of the resurrection and life to come, which he hath 
promised to us. And when he sent abroad messengers in his name to 
assure the world of it, their testimony was accompanied with divers 
signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, Heb. ii. 3, 4, that 
the stupid world might be alarmed to regard the offer, and by this 
evidence be assured of the truth of it ; therefore still it is a believing 
in Christ. 

(3.) Because as king he doth administer and dispense the blessings 
of the new covenant ; and among them, as the chief and principal, this 
salvation unto all those who are qualified. And therefore it is said, 
Heb. v. 9, ' Being made perfect through sufferings, he is become the 
author of eternal salvation to all that obey him.' Every effect must 
have some cause ; and this noble and glorious effect of eternal salva 
tion could have no other cause but Christ ; and he, as perfected and 
consecrated, is the author and efficient cause of it. For as king, he 
sendeth down the Holy Ghost to reveal the gospel, and work faith in 
the hearts of men, to qualify them for pardon and salvation ; and 
all those that sue for pardon and salvation in his name, by the plea of 
his blood before the throne of God, and promise obedience to his laws 
and institutes, he actually bestoweth pardon and eternal salvation upon 
them. There be many other ministerial and adjutant causes, which 
conduce to this effect. But he is the principal ; and the word amo?, 
which signifieth a cause in general, is fitly by our translation termed 
the author of eternal salvation. So that still you see a new reason 
why saving faith should be described to be a believing in Christ. 

[3.] The prime benefits which faith respecteth I make to be two 
reconciliation with God, and the everlasting fruition of him in glory. 

(1.) Reconciliation is necessarily eyed and regarded by the guilty 

First, Because there hath been a breach by which we have lost 
God's favour and happiness. We have to do with a God whose nature 
engageth him to hate sin, and whose justice engageth him to punish 
it. And before we can be induced to treat with him, such a reconcilia 
tion is necessary for all mankind as that he should be willing to deal 
with them upon the term of a new covenant, wherein pardon and life 
might be offered to penitent believers. This reconciliation is spoken 
of, 2 Cor. v. 19, ' God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto him 
self, not imputing their trespasses : and hath committed unto us the 
word of reconciliation ;' that is, upon the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, 
ransom, and satisfaction, there was so much done towards an actual 
reconciliation with God, that he offered a conditional covenant to as 
many as were willing to enter into his peace. He provided a sufficient 
remedy for the pardon of sin, if men would as heartily accept of it as 
it was freely given them ; and the office of ambassadors was appointed 


to beseech men so to do. And unless this had been done, a guilty soul 
could never be brought to love a holy, sin-hating God, engaged by 
justice to damn the sinner. But it must be a loving, reconciled God, 
that is willing to forgive, that can be propounded as an object of faith 
and love, or as an amiable God to us : Ps. cxxx. 4, ' There is forgive 
ness with thee, that thou'mayest be feared.' 

Secondly, Reconciliation is necessarily eyed by the penitent believer, 
because this reconciliation and recovery by Christ consists both in the 
pardon of sin and the gift of the sanctifying Spirit. 

1st, One branch of the actual restitution of God's favour to us is 
the pardon of sin, without which we are not capable of life and happi 
ness, Eph. i. 7. The possible conditional reconciliation consists in 
the offer of pardon, and the actual reconciliation in the actual pardon 
and forgiveness of our transgressions, and then the man beginneth 
to be in a blessed estate, Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. 

2dly, The other branch is the gift of the sanctifying Spirit, 
which is the great testimony and pledge of his love ; then is our pardon 
executed, or actually applied to us, and we receive the atonement, 
Rom. v. 11 ; and 2 Cor. v. 18, ' All things are of God, who hath 
reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ ; ' that is, all things which 
belong to the new creature, ver. 17. And that is the reason why God 
is said to sanctify as a God of peace, that is, as reconciled to us in 
Christ : see 1 Thes. v. 23, ' And the very God of peace sanctify you 
wholly ; ' and Heb. xiii. 20, 21, ' Now the God of peace, that brought 
again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, 
through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in 
every good work to do his will/ &c. And in all God's internal govern 
ment with the saints, he showeth his pleasure or displeasure with the 
saints by giving or withholding and withdrawing the Spirit, as it were 
easy to prove to you. Well, then, you see the reasons why, in believing 
in Christ, we reflect the eye of our faith on reconciliation, as the prime 
initial benefit. 

(2.) The next great consummating benefit is the everlasting fruition 
of God in glory ; for Christ's office is to recover us to God, and bring 
us to God, which is never fully and completely done till we come to 
heaven. Therefore the saving of the soul is the prime benefit offered 
to us by Jesus Christ, to which all other tend, as justification and 
sanctification, and by which all our pains and losses for Christ are re 
compensed, and from which we fetch our comfort all along the course 
of our pilgrimage, and upon the hopes of which the life of grace is 
carried on, and the temptations of sense are defeated. So that this is 
the main blessing which faith aimeth at : see the scriptures, 1 Tim. i. 
16, ' For a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to 
everlasting life.' Wherefore do men believe in Christ, but for this 
end, that they may obtain everlasting life ? Wherefore were the 
scriptures written? John xx. 31, ' These things are written that ye 
might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ; and that be 
lieving, ye might have life through his name/ The scriptures are 
written that we might know Christ aright, who is the kernel and mar 
row of them ; and the chief benefit we have by him is life, or the sal 
vation of our souls ; and therefore well may it be called in the text 
' the end of our faith.' 


[4.] In the next place, I add the immediate acts and effects of it : 
(1.) Such as maketh us to forsake all things in this world ; and 
(2.) Give up ourselves to the conduct of the word and Spirit, for the 
obtaining this happiness. 

(1.) To forsake all things in this world. As soon as we address 
ourselves seriously to believe, we turn our backs upon them namely, 
upon the pleasures, and honours, and profits of this world. We for 
sake them in vow and resolution when we are converted and begin to 
believe, for conversion is a turning from the creature to God. As soon 
as we firmly believe, and hope for the fruition of God in glory, as pur 
chased and promised by Christ, our hearts are weaned and withdrawn 
from the false happiness, not perfectly, but yet sincerely. And we 
actually renounce and forsake them at the call of God's providence, 
when they are inconsistent with our fidelity to Christ, and the hopes 
of that happiness which his promises offer to us. Now that our faith 
must be expressed by forsaking all, yea, that it is essential to faith, 
and nothing else is saving faith but this, as appeareth 

First, By the doctrinal descriptions of it in the gospel (which I 
shall describe to you according to my usual method). Our Lord hath 
told us, Mat. xiii. 45, 46, that ' the kingdom of heaven is like a mer 
chantman seeking goodly pearls ; who, when he had found one pearl 
of great price, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.' And 
surely he knew the nature of faith better than we do. Many cheapen 
the pearl of price, but they do not go through with the bargain, be 
cause they do not sell all to purchase it. Faith implieth such a sense 
of the excellency and truth of salvation by Christ that you must choose 
it, and let go all which is inconsistent with this choice and trust. All 
your sinful pleasures, profit, reputation, and life itself, rather than 
forfeit these hopes : Luke xiv. 26, 'If any man come to me, and 
hate not father and mother, and brother and sisters, yea, and his 
own life, he cannot be my disciple ;' and ver. 33, ' Whosoever he 
be that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.' 
After such express declarations of the will of Christ, why should 
we think of going to heaven at a cheaper rate ? Christ must be 
preferred above all that is nearest or dearest, or else he will not be 
for our turn, nor we for his. The same is inferred out of the doc 
trine of self-denial : Mat. xvi. 24, ' If any man will come after me, 
let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.' For 
self-denial hath a greater relation to faith, and is nearer of kin to faith, 
than the world imagineth ; it is the immediate fruit of our trust. If 
God be trusted as our supreme felicity, he must be loved above all 
things, and all things must give way to God. If Christ be trusted as 
the way to the Father, all things must be counted dung and loss that 
we may gain Christ, Phil. iii. 8. The same is inferred out of the bap 
tismal covenant, which is a renouncing the devil, the world, and the 
flesh, and a choosing Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for our God. If 
there be a choosing, there must be a renouncing. The devil by the 
world tempts our flesh from the Christian hope ; therefore idols must 
be renounced before we can have the true God for our God : Josh, 
xxiv. 23, ' Put away the strange gods which are among you, and in 
cline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.' Naturally our god is our 


belly while carnal, Phil. iii. 19. Mammon is our god, Mat. vi. 24. 
The devil is our god, Col. i. 13 ; and Eph. ii. 2, 3, ' Wherein in 
times 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 conversa 
tion in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the 
flesh and of the mind ; and were by nature the children of wrath, even 
as others.' Besides the nature of the thing, baptism implieth this re 
nunciation, 1 Peter iii. 21 ; and this renunciation is nothing else but 
a forsaking all that we may have eternal life by Christ 

Secondly, It appeareth by reasons : 

First, For faith cannot be without this forsaking. 

Secondly, Nor this forsaking without faith. 

First, Faith cannot be without this forsaking ; for faith implieth a 
sight of the truth and worth of those blessed things which are to come, 
and so to take the thing promised for our happiness, and the promise 
for our security. (1.) There is no true sound faith till we take the ever 
lasting fruition of God in glory for our whole felicity ; till our hearts 
be set upon it, and we do desire it, intend it, wait for it, as the chief 
good and blessedness. The upright heart is known by its treasure : 
Mat. vi. 20, 21, ' Lay up treasure in heaven ; for where your treasure 
is, there your heart will be also.' Now, if this be so, other things will 
be lessened ; all other hopes and happiness is nothing worth, and will 
appear so if compared with this better part, with what we account our 
treasure ; you will see all this world is vanity, and hath nothing in it 
worthy to be compared with the salvation of our souls. (2.) There is 
no true faith where the word and promise of God is not taken for our 
security, so as our trust in his word may quiet and embolden us against 
temptations, and give us stronger consolation than all the visible things 
on earth, Ps. cxix. Ill, and Heb. vi. 18. We should do more and 
go farther upon such a promise, than for all that man can give unto 
us. Earthly pleasures and possessions should be small things in regard 
to the promise of God. This should make us row against the stream 
of the flesh, and cross its desires and appetites, and deny the conveni 
ences of the world, and all because we have God's promise of better 

Secondly, This forsaking cannot be without faith ; because the flesh 
is importunate to be pleased with present satisfactions, and loth to 
part with things which we see and love for that God and glory which 
we never saw, to quit what is present for. what is future, and with 
patience to be expected. The flesh is for pleasing the body, but faith 
is for saving the soul : Heb. x. 39, e/c Trio-reto? efc Trepnrotrjaiv ^rv^rj<; : 
purchasing the soul with the loss of other things. So that this is faith, 
nothing but faith, and other faith is not true and sound. 

(2.) It maketh us to give up ourselves to the conduct of the word 
and Spirit for obtaining this happiness. I add this, because the word 
is our rule, Gal. vi. 16 ; and the Spirit our guide, Horn. viii. 14. And 
faith is not only an apprehension of privileges, but a consent of sub 
jection. And the sound believei devoteth himself to the love, fear, 
service, and obedience of God, 2 Cor. viii. 5 : ' They first gave up 
themselves to the Lord, and to as by the will of God ;' that is, to the 


apostles as Christ's messengers, to be directed in the way to heaven : 
Ps. cxix. 38, ' Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to 
thy fear.' This now is saving faith. 

The use is, to exhort you to believe to the saving of the soul. 

To this end : 

1. Because faith is the gift of God, beg ' the spirit of wisdom and 
revelation, that your eyes may be opened, that you may see what is 
the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his in 
heritance in the saints,' &c., Eph. i. 17, 18. That you may be con 
vinced of the truth and worth of the blessedness promised, and know 
and see it, not by a traditional report, but in the lively light of the 
Spirit, such as may affect and engage your hearts. Naturally we 
are purblind, 2 Peter i. 9 ; have no acute discerning, but in back and 
belly concernments. We know what is noxious or comfortable to 
the present life, pleasing or displeasing to the flesh ; but are little 
affected with the danger of perishing for ever, the need of Christ, 
or the worth of salvation. And till God make a change, how slight 
and sensual are we ! 

2. Think often and seriously how much the saving of the soul is 
better than the saving, or getting, or keeping all the world : Mat. xvi. 
26, ' What will it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and 
lose his own soul ? ' So much as God is to be preferred before the 
creature, heaven before the world, eternity before time, the soul before 
the body ; so much must this business of saving the soul have the pre 
eminence, and be preferred before the interests of the body and the 
bodily life. But, alas ! what poor things divert us from this happiness ; 
the satisfying of the flesh, the pleasures of sin for a season ; a little 
ease, or profit, or vainglory this is all for which we slight heaven 
and our own salvation. 

3. Put yourselves into the way of salvation, by seeking reconciliation 
with God by Christ. You are invited in the universal conditional offer, 
John iii. 16. It is offered to all that will repent and believe, and there 
is no exception put in against you to exclude you ; why then will you 
exclude yourself ? Therefore, come forward in the way of faith, and 
God will help you. 

4. Mind often the genuine effect of the true faith. It makes you for 
sake all, that you may be obedient to Christ, and resolved upon it. 

Therefore consider (1.) The necessity of it. You can neither trust 
God nor be true to him till your heart be loosened from the pleasures 
and profits and honours in the world, and you can venture all upon 
the security of his promise. Other hopes and happiness will divert us 
from the true happiness, and the good seed will be choked by the cares 
of this world and voluptuous living, that you can bring nothing to per 
fection. Either you will turn aside by open defection or apostasy, or 
else be a dwarf and cripple in religion all your days. Either in mortifi 
cation, in denying the sinful pleasures of the senses, you will slight the 
fulness of joy at God's right hand for a little vain pleasure, which, 
when it is gone, it as is a thing of nought (it is the pilgrim abstaineth 
from fleshly lusts he that runneth not as uncertain, that keepeth down 
his body, 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27) or in a way of self-denial, run few hazards 
for Christ. It may be they may make some petty losses, but do not 


sell all for the pearl of great price ; or, in a way of charity. How else 
can you lend to the Lord upon his bond, or the security of his promise ? 
Prov. xix. 17, ' He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord, 
and that which he hath given will he pay him again/ 

(2.) Consider the profit. Whatever a believer loseth by the way, 
he is sure to have it at the end of his journey : Mat. xix. 28, ' Jesus 
said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed 
me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne 
of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve 
tribes of Israel.' You will be no losers by God at the last. 


And brought her unto the man. GEN. II. 22. 

THE words belong to the story of the first marriage that ever was cele 
brated in the world, between the first man and the first woman ; a 
marriage made by God himself in paradise, who, when he built the rib 
taken from Adam into a woman, from a builder becometh her bringer : 
He brought her unto the man, saith the text. 

God's bringing Eve to Adam implieth five things : 

1. His permission, allowance, and grant; for that Adam might 
thankfully acknowledge the benefit as coming from God, God himself 
brought her ; whether in a visible shape, as prefiguring Christ's incarna 
tion, and with what ceremony he brought her since the Holy Ghost 
hath not expressed it, I shall not now inquire ; it is enough that God 
brought her to give her to him as his inseparable companion and meet- 
helper. This bringing was the full bestowing her upon him, that they 
should live together as man and wife. 

2. His institution and appointment of marriage as the means of pro 
pagating mankind. God's adduxit is, by our Saviour's interpretation, 
conjunxit: Mat. xix. 6, 'Those whom God hath joined together,' &c. 
Otherwise what need this bringing, for she was created just by him in 
paradise, when Adam was fallen into a deep sleep ; not in another 
place ; which showeth that marriage is an honourable estate. God 
was the first author of it ; his act hath the force of an institution. 

3. For the greater solemnity and comely order of marriage. Adam 
did not take her of his own head, but God brought her to him. When 
we dispose of ourselves at our own wills and pleasures, being led there 
unto by our own choice, without consulting with God, or upon carnal 
reasons, without the conduct of God's providence, we transgress the 
order which God hath set in the first precedent of marriage, and 
cannot expect that our coming together should be comfortable. Much 
more doth it condemn the unnatural filthiness of whoredom, whereby 
men and women join and mingle themselves together without God, 
the devil and their inordinate lusts leading them. God would not put 
Adam and Eve together without some regard, as he did the brutish 
and unreasonable creatures ; but doth solemnly, as it were, bring the 
manness by the hand to the man, and deliver her into his hands, hav 
ing a more honourable regard and care of them. God cannot abide 
that brutish coming together as the horses do, neighing, in the rage of 
unbridled lusts, upon their mates, Jer. v. 8. No ; Adam stayeth till 


she is brought to him. Phis honour and special favour God vouch- 
safeth mankind above all other creatures ; he himself, in his own per 
son, maketh the match, and bringeth them together. 

4. To dispense his blessing to them. The woman was created on 
the sixth day, as appeareth Gen. i. ; and it is said that when he had 
' created them male and female, he blessed them/ ver. 28. He doth 
enlarge things here, and explaineth what there he had touched briefly. 
When he had made the woman, he brought her to the man, and blessed 
them both together ; showing thereby that when any enter into this 
estate, they should take God's blessing along with them, upon whose 
favour the comfort of this relation doth wholly depend. Those whom 
God bringeth into it are likely to fare best, and they that resign them 
selves up into his hands, to be disposed of by him, surely take the readiest 
way to obtain the happiness they expect. 

5. For a pattern of providence in all after-times. It is worth the 
observing, that Christ reasoning against polygamy, from ver. 24, com 
pared with Mat. xix. God having abundance of the spirit, as the pro 
phet speaks, Mai. ii. 15, brought the woman to one man, though there 
was more cause of giving Adam many wives for the speedier peopling 
of the world, than there could be to any of his posterity. As Christ 
observeth the number, so we may observe the thing itself. It is God's 
work still to give every one his marriage companion ; he bringeth the 
woman to the husband, and every husband to his wife, that meet 
as they ought to do. His providence doth mightily and evidently 
govern all circumstances that concern this affair, as we shall show you 
by and by. 

The point which I shall insist on is this : 

Doct. That marriages are then holily entered into, when the parties 
take one another out of God's hands. 

I. I will show you in what sense they are said to take one another 
out of God's hands. 

II. Why this is so necessary to be observed. 

I. For the first, they take one another out of God's hands two 

1. When his directions are observed. 

2. When his providence is owned and acknowledged. 

1. When his directions in his word are observed ; and so 
[1.] As to the choice of parties. When a man seeketh out a help 
meet for himself, he should in the first place seek out a helpmeet for 
himself in the best things ; for in all our deliberate and serious consulta 
tions, religion must have the first place : Mat. vi. 33, ' Seek ye first 
the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof/ &c. A man's 
chief end should be discovered in all his actions, as it must guide 
me in my meat, and drink, and recreations, and the ordinary refresh 
ments of the natural life, or else I do not act as a Christian. So much 
more in my most important and serious affairs, such as marriage is, 
and upon which my content and welfare so much dependeth. Cer 
tainly, he that would take God's blessing along with him, should make 
choice, in God's family, of one with whom he may converse as an heir 
with him of the grace of life. A Christian, saith the apostle, is at 
liberty to many, d\\a povov ev Kvpia>, ' but only in the Lord/ 1 Cor. 


vii. 39 ; he is at liberty to rejoice, but in the Lord ; to eat, and drink 
and trade, but in the Lord ; so to marry, but in the Lord. Religion 
must appear uppermost in all his actions, and guide him throughout. 
The mischiefs that have come by a carnal choice should be sufficient 
warning to Christians : Gen. vi. 2, ' The sons of God went in unto 
the daughters of men, and took them wives, because they were fair/ 
They were swayed by carnal motives (or because rich, or nobly 
descended, it is all one), and what was the issue of it ? There came 
of them a mongrel race of giants, that rose up against God and his 
interest in the world. Many times, by a carnal choice, all the good 
that is gotten into a family is eaten out, and within a little while re 
ligion is cast out of doors : Ps. cvi. 35, ' They were mingled among 
the heathen, and learned their works ; ' Neh. xiii. 25, 26, ' I con 
tended with them, and made them swear by God, Ye shall not give 
your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters to your sons ; ' 2 
Kings viii. 18, ' He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel ; for the 
daughter of Ahab was his wife/ Valens, the emperor, married with an 
Arian lady, and so was ensnared so far as to become a persecutor of the 
orthodox. The wife of the bosom hath great advantages, either to the 
perverting or the converting a man's heart to God; or else, if they should 
not prevail so far, what dissonancy and jarrings are there in a family when 
people are unequally yoked, the wife and husband drawing several ways ! 

[2.] As to consent of parents. God here in the text, as the com 
mon parent, taketh himself to have the greatest hand in the bestow 
ing of his own children. He brought her unto the man ; and ordinary 
parents are his deputies, which must bring and give us in marriage, 
especially when young, and under their power. The scripture is ex 
press for this : Exod. xxii. 17, ' If her father wholly refuse to give her 
unto him,' &c. ; 1 Cor. vii. 38, ' He that giveth her in marriage,' &c. 

[3.] As to the manner of procuring it, that they labour to gain one 
another by warrantable, yea, religious ways, that we may lay the 
foundation of this relation in the fear of God ; not by stealth, or carnal 
allurements, or violent importunities, or deceitful proposals, but by 
such ways and means as will become the gravity of religion ; that 
wcanedness and sobriety that should be in the hearts of believers ; that 
deliberation which a business of such weight calls for ; and that re 
verence of God, and justice that we owe to all ; that seriousness of 
spirit, and that respect to the glory of God with which all such 
actions should be undertaken : Col. iii. 17, ' Whatsoever ye do, in 
word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks 
to God and the Father by him/ When this is observed, we are said 
to take one another out of God's hands. 

[4.] Especially clearing up our right and title by Christ. Meats, 
drinks, marriage, they are all sanctified by the word and prayer, and 
appointed to be received by thanksgiving of them that believe and re 
ceive the truth, 1 Tim. iv. 3-5. There is a twofold right dominium 
politicum ct evangelicum ; dominium politicum fundatur in provi- 
dentid, evangelicum in gratia political right is founded in God's 
providence, evangelical right in grace. We have a civil right to all 
that cometh to us by honest labour, lawful purchase, or inheritance, 
and fair and comely means used ; which giveth us a right not only be- 


fore men, but before God ; not by virtue of their laws, but his grant. 
By a providential right, all wicked men possess all outward things, 
which they enjoy as the fruits and gifts of his common bounty, it is 
their portion, Ps. xvii. 14. Whatever falleth to their share in the 
course of God's providence, they are not usurpers merely for possess 
ing what they have, but for abusing what they have. They have not 
only a civil right to prevent the encroachments of others by the laws 
of men, but a providential right before God, and are not simply re 
sponsible for the possession, but the use. But then there is an evan 
gelical or new-covenant right. So believers have a right to their 
creature comforts by God's special conveyance, that sweeteneth every 
mercy, that it comes wrapt in the bowels of Christ. ' The little which 
the righteous hath is better than the treasures of many wicked ; ' as 
the mean fare of a poor subject is better than the dainties of a con 
demned traitor. And this we have by Christ, as the heir of all things, 
and we by him, 1 Cor. iii. latter end. So all those things do belong 
to them that believe, as gifts of his fatherly love and goodness to us 
in Christ. As we take our bread out of Christ's hands, so we must be 
married to Christ before married to one another ; the marriage cove 
nant should be begun and concluded between Christ and you. 

[5.] For the end. The general and last end of this, as of every 
action, must be God's glory, 1 Cor. x. 31, and Col. iii. 17. A Chris 
tian's second-table duties and first-table duties should have on them. 
HOLINESS TO THE LORD. All the vessels of Jerusalem must have God's 
impress. More particularly our increase in godliness, and the propa 
gation of the holy seed must be aimed at. Where one person is a 
believer, much more where both, they beget sons and daughters to 
God ; ' but now are they holy,' 1 Cor. vii. 14. But those out of the 
church beget sons and daughters to men, merely to people the world. 
Seth's children are called * sons of God,' Gen. vi. 1, 2. In the careful 
education of children, the church is upheld. 

2. When his providence is owned and acknowledged. It is the 
duty of them that fear God to own him upon all occasions, especially 
in such a business. Heathens would not begin such a business with 
out a sacrifice. There is a special providence about marriages. God 
claimeth the power of match-making to himself, more than he doth of 
ordering any other affairs of men : Prov. xix. 14, ' Kiches and honours 
are an inheritance from our fathers ; but a good wife is from the Lord.' 
Inheritances pass by the laws of men, though not without the inter 
vention of God's providence, who detennineth to every man the time 
of his service, and the bounds of his habitation, where every man shall 
live, and what he shall enjoy. The land of Canaan was divided by 
lot ; but marriage is by the special destination of his providence, 
either for a punishment to men, or for a comfort and a blessing. 
Here providence is more immediate, by its influence upon the hearts 
of men ; here providence is more strange and remarkable, in casting 
all circumstances and passages that did concern it. Estates fall to us 
by more easy and obvious means, and, therefore, though nothing be ex 
empted from dominion of providence, yet a good wife is especially 
said to be of the Lord. So also Prov. xviii. 22, ' Whoso findeth a 
wife, findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.' A wife. 


that is a wife indeed one that deserveth that name he that findeth 
her, it is a chance to him, but an ordered thing by'God. He hath not 
only experience of God's care, but his goodness and free grace to him 
in that particular. Well, then, God must be owned, sought, glorified, 
in this particular. The husband, in the catalogue and inventory of 
his mercies, must not forget to bless God for this, and the wife for the 
husband. The Lord was gracious in providing for me a good com 
panion ; I obtained favour from the Lord. God is concerned in this 
whole affair, he brought the woman to the man ; he giveth the por 
tion, which is not so much the dowry given by the parents, which is 
little worth, unless his blessing be added with it, as all the graces and 
abilities by which all married persons are made helpful one to another. 
He giveth the children, Ps. cxxvii. 3, ' Lo, children are an heritage 
from the Lord ; ' their conception and formation in the womb is from 
God. Parents know not whether it be male or female, beautiful or 
deformed. They know not the number of the bones, and veins, and 
arteries. He giveth them life ; a sentence of death waylayeth them 
as soon as they come into the world. He giveth them comfort ; there 
is a great deal of pride, and arrogancy, and self-willedness in all the 
sons and daughters of Adam, which makes them uncomfortable in 
their relations. A wife would soon prove a Jezebel, and not an 
Abigail, and a husband a Nabal, and not a David, by Satan's malice 
and our own corruption ; a help would soon become a snare. They 
that would perform the duties of this relation need strongly to be sup 
ported with the assistance of God's Spirit. ' Finally, my brethren, be 
strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,' Eph. vi. 10. So 
that, since God giveth all, surely his providence must be owned and 
acknowledged ; and you ought to say, this is the wife God hath chosen 
for me, and this is the husband God hath chosen for me. 

II. Why is this so necessary a duty ? It doth in a great measure 
appear from what is said already. But farther 

1. It will be a great engagement upon us to give God all the glory 
of the comfort we have in such a relation, when you do more sensibly 
and explicitly take one another out of God's hands. We are apt to 
look to second causes ; he that sendeth the present is the giver, not he 
that bringeth it to us. The Komans were wont once a year to cast gar 
lands into their fountains, by that superstition owning the benefit they 
had by them. However, it hath a good moral to us in the bosom of 
it, that we should own the fountain of our blessings, and not ascribe 
them to our own wisdom and foresight, but the grace and favour of 
God, who, in the mere lottery and chance of human affairs, was 
pleased to choose so well for us. Jacob owned his fountain when he 
was become two bands, Gen. xxxii. 10. So should we ; of Mm, through 
him, to him, do mutually infer one another. What we have from 
God, must be used for God. God is very jealous that we will not 
look to the original and first cause of our mercies : Hosea ii. 8, ' She 
did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied 
her silver and gold ; and therefore will I return, and take away my 
corn, and wine, and oil, and flax,' &c. It is the way to lose our com 
forts, when we do not own and acknowledge God's hand in them. We 
are drowned in sense, inured and accustomed to second causes, so that 


God's hand is invisible and little regarded, we know it not, or heed it 
not. Now that we may look up and own the first cause, and give him 
his due honour, it is good to have explicit and actual thoughts in the 
receiving of our mercies, so as to take them out of God's hand ; to 
draw aside the veil and covering of the creature, that you may re 
member the giver. 

2. That we may carry ourselves more holily in our relations, it is 
good to see God's hand in them. Every relation is a new talent 
wherewith God intrusteth us to trade for his glory ; and to that end 
we must make conscience to use it. In Mat. xxv., the master deli 
vered to every one his goods apart, and they that had the benefit re 
ceived the charge. We are often pressed to do things, as in and to 
the Lord, upon religious and gracious reasons. It hath been the 
credit of religion, Dent tales mercatores, tales maritos, tales exactores 
fisci, &c. Let history show such husbands, such wives, &c. The 
Christian religion maketh a man conscientiously careful and tender of 
his duty to man, not from a natural principle, or from our own ease, 
peace and credit, but from the conscience of our duty to God. Now 
it must not lose this credit by you. God puts us into relations to see 
how we will glorify him in them ; there is something more required of 
you than as single Christians. God that puts a man into the ministry, 
requireth that he should honour him, not only as a Christian, but as 
a minister. And God that calleth a man into the magistracy, re 
quireth that he should honour him as a magistrate. So to be a master 
of a family, and a wife or husband, there is another talent to be ac 
counted for. An ambassador that is sent into a foreign country about 
special business, must give an account, not only as a traveller, but as 
an ambassador, of the business he was intrusted with. God will have 
honour by you as a wife, or as a husband ; you have a new oppor 
tunity to make religion amiable, that the unbelieving world may see 
how profitable the heavenly life is to human society. 

3. That we may more patiently bear the crosses incident to this 
state of life if God call us to them. They that launch forth into the 
world, sail in a troublesome and tempestuous sea, and cannot expect 
but to meet with a storm before they come to the end of their voyage. 
The married life hath its comforts, and also its encumbrances and 
sorrows. Now it will sweeten all our crosses incident to this condi 
tion, when we remember we did not rashly enter into it by our own 
choice, but were led by the fair directure and fair invitation of God's 
providence ; we need not much be troubled at what overtaketh us in 
the way of our duty, and the relations to which we are called. That 
hand that sent the trouble will sanctify it, or he will overrule things 
so that they shall work for our good. If God call us into this estate, 
he will support us in it. It is a great satisfaction to you that you are 
acting that part in the world which God would have you act ; that 
you can say, I am there where God hath set me, and therefore will 
bear the troubles that attend that state and condition of life. If a 
man run on his own head, and inconveniences arise, they are more un 
comfortably borne. It is true, that God doth fetch off his people from 
the afflictions they have brought upon themselves by their sin and folly, 
such is the indulgence of his grace ; yet those sufferings are the more 


uncomfortable that take us out of the way of our duty ; and God hath 
undertaken only to keep us in all our ways, but not out of our duty, 
Ps. xci. 11. The promises are not to foster men in their running 
after folly, but to encourage them in their several callings and state 
of life wherein God hath set them ; there we may abide with comfort, 
and expectation either of God's blessing or his support. We tempt 
God when we venture upon a state of life which he hath not called us 
to, and have not his warrant ; but when it is not good for us to be 
alone, and the Lord sends an helpmate for us, he will not forsake us. 

4. We may with the more confidence apply ourselves to God, and 
depend on him for a blessing upon a ,wife of God's choosing, or 
a husband of God's choosing. We have access to the throne of 
grace with more hope, because we have given up ourselves to his 
direction: Prov. iii. 6, 'In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he 
shall direct thy paths.' God will order things for the best, when we 
do not lead, but follow him, we still consult with God, and dare not 
undertake anything but what is agreeable to his will. And will God 
mislead us and direct us amiss, or turn us into a by-way or crooked 
path ? It is said, Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24, ' The steps of a good man, 
are ordered by the Lord, and he (that is the Lord) delighteth in his 
way ; though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord 
upholdeth him with his hand.' It is a blessed thing to be under 
God's conduct, to be led on or led off by so wise, and powerful, and 
all-sufficient a guide ; for such he delights to do them good, and 
taketh pleasure in his resolutions to prosper them. Sometimes they 
shall have a taste of the evils of the world, but they shall not be 
ruined by them. They may fall, but they shall not be dashed in 
pieces; it is an allusion to a vessel that gets a knock, but is not 
broken by the fall. 

5. It is an help to make us more ready to part with one another 
when Godi^willeth it. All temporal things, we receive them from 
God, upon this condition, to yield them up to God again, when he 
calls for them. The law concerning all created enjoyments is, ' The 
Lord giveth, the Lord taketh,' Job i. 21. We make a snare for our 
selves, and receive them not in a right notion, if we do not receive 
them as mortal and perishing comforts, whioh God may demand at 
pleasure, and so keep the soul loose, and in a posture of submission, if 
God should cross us and disappoint us in them. Thus must we use 
all outward comforts with that weanedness and moderation as to chil 
dren, estates, and all temporal blessings, &c., that will become a sense 
of the frailty that is in them, and the wheelings and turnings of an 
uncertain world. It is the apostle's direction : 1 Cor. vii. 29, ' The 
time is short, it remains that those that have wives be as though 
they had none ;' not as to be defective in our love to them and care 
over them ; no, there is rather to be an excess than a defect here : 
Prov. v. 19, 'Be thou ravished always with her love;' but as to a 
preparation of heart to keep or lose, if God should see fit, to be con 
tented to part with a dear yoke-fellow, or at least with an humble 
submission and acquiescence, when God's will is declared ; and some 
what of this must be mingled with all our rejoicings, some thoughts 
of the vanity of the creature. Leavened bread was to be eaten with 


the thank-offerings in the feast of tabernacles, when the barns were 
full. 'Man at his best estate is vanity/ Ps. xxxix. 5. Now, to 
help us to do this, it is good to consider he that hath the right to 
give hath also the right of taking away; and as you must not be 
overjoyed with the receiving, so not be over-sad with parting. 


Use 1. Let us seek God by earnest prayer when any such matter 
is in hand. Marriages, we say, are made in heaven before they are 
made on earth. Pagans, before the awe of religion was extinguished, 
would begin with their gods in any weighty enterprise. A Joveprin- 
cipium was an honest principle among the heathens. Laban con 
sults with his teraphim ; Balak sendeth for Balaam to give him coun 
sel ; heathens had their sybils, and oracles at Delphos. So far as 
any nation was touched with a sense of a divine power, they would 
never venture upon any weighty thing without asking the leave or 
the blessing of what they supposed to be God. So for God's children, 
it was their constant practice ; they durst not resolve upon any course 
till they had asked counsel of God. David always ran to the oracle of 
the ephod : ' Shall I go up to Hebron ?' Jacob in his journey would 
neither go to Laban nor come from him without a warrant. Jehosha- 
phat, when the business of Ramoth Gilead was afoot, doth not lead 
forth the captains of the army but he sends for the prophets of the 
Lord : 1 Kings xxii. 4, 5, ' Inquire, I pray thee, of the word of the 
Lord this day.' So Judges i. 1, ' Who shall go up and fight against 
the Canaanites?' It is a contempt of God, and a kind of laying 
him aside, when we dare undertake anything without his leave, 
counsel, and blessing; and these are the things we are to seek in 

1. His leave. God is the absolute Lord of all things, both in heaven 
and earth, and whatsoever is possessed by any creature is by his 
indulgence. Whatever store and plenty we have by us, our Saviour 
teacheth us to beg our allowance, or leave to use so much as is 
necessary for us, or the portion of every day : ' Give us, a-rj^epov, this 
day our daily bread.' It is a piece of religious manners to acknow 
ledge God's right and sovereignty. It is robbery to make use of a 
man's goods, and to waste them and consume them, without his leave. 
All that we have or use is God's, who reserveth the property of all to 
himself. In distributing to the creatures, he never intended to divest 
himself of his right ; as a husbandman, by sowing his corn in the 
field, is not dispossessed of a right to it. God hath dominium ; we 
have dispensationem of life, and all the comforts that belong to it. 
Life is his ; man is a custos, a guardian of it for God. Gold and silver 
is his ; man is a steward to improve it for God. Adam had no 
interest in Eve till God brought her to him, and bestowed her on him. 
Every one of us must get a grant of God of all that he hath ; the 
Lord he possesseth the house that we dwell in, the clothes we wear, the 
food we eat ; and so, in the use of all other comforts, we must have a 
license from God, and take his leave. God is said to have given 
David the wives that he had into his bosom. 


2. His counsel and direction when the case is doubtful and our 
thoughts are uncertain : Prov. iii. 5, ' Lean not to thy own under 
standing.' We scarce know duties, certainly we cannot foresee events ; 
therefore a man that maketh his bosom his oracle, his wit his 
counsellor, will choose a mischief to himself, instead of a comfort and a 
blessing. Therefore we ought chiefly, and first of all, to consult with 
God, and seek his direction, for he seeth the heart, and foreseeth 
events. We can only look upon what is present, and there upon the 
outward appearance. Therefore God can best direct us in our choice, 
he knoweth the fittest matches and consorts for every one ; who hath 
a prospect of all things in one moment of time, and by one act of the 
understanding, and so can best dispose of human affairs for the profit 
and comfort of the creature : Jer. x. 23, ' Lord, I know that the 
way of man is not in himself : nor is it in the sons of men to direct 
their steps ;' that is, to order their affairs so as they may have felicity 
and comfort in them. So Prov. xx. 24, ' Man's goings are of the 
Lord ; how can a man then understand his own way ? ' We cannot 
foresee the event of things, what is expedient, what not. Man would 
fain work out his happiness like a spider, climb up by a thread of his 
own spinning. But alas ! all our devices and fine contrivances are 
gone with the turn of a besom. He that will be his own carver, seldom 
carveth out a good portion to himself. They intrench upon God's 
prerogative, and take the work out of his hands ; and therefore no 
wonder if their wisdom be turned into folly. 

3. We ask his blessing. God doth not only foresee the event, but 
order it ; by his wisdom he foreseeth it, and by his powerful providence 
he bringeth it to pass. Therefore God, that hath the disposal of all 
events, when our direction is over, is to be sought unto for a blessing ; 
for every comfort cometh the sooner when it is sought in prayer ; and 
whatever God's purposes be, that is our duty: Jer. xxix. 11, 12, ' I 
know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts 
of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye 
call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken 
unto you;' Ezek. xxxvi. 37, ' I will for this be inquired of by the 
house of Israel, to do it for them.' So in this case we read, John ii. 
2, when there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, ' both Jesus was 
called and his disciples to the marriage.' Married persons do need, 
and therefore should seek, Christ's presence to their marriage, that he 
would vouchsafe his presence and countenance. Be sure to invite 
him, and take him along with you, that he may strengthen you by his 
grace, and dispose all providences about you for your comfort. He 
puts the greatest honour upon the marriage when he doth enable you 
to carry yourselves graciously in that relation, and to God's glory ; 
and he hath the power of all providences put into his hand, as well as 
all grace. 

Use 2. Is advice to persons that are entering into this relation. 

1. Negatively. See that God be no loser by the marriage. 

2. Positively. Be sure that God be a gainer. 
These are the two proffers I have to make to you. 

1. Negatively. Let not God be a loser ; he never intended to give 
you gifts to his own wrong. 


Now that will be : 

[1.] If he be not the only one, and the lovely one of your souls. 
God must not have an image of jealousy set up; he must still be 
owned as the chiefest good. A wife is the delight of the eyes, but not 
the idol of the heart. Still you must be sure that his place be not 
invaded, that you may say, Ps. Ixxiii. 25, ' Whom have I in heaven 
but thee ? and whom do I desire on earth in comparison of thee ? ' 
Carnal complacency must not weaken your delight in God ; it is apt 
to do so. The excuse of one of those that was invited to the marriage- 
feast was, ' I have married a wife, and I cannot come,' Mat. xxii. 
Surely Christ would teach us thereby that this relation may become a 
snare, and encroach upon the prerogatives of God ; he may be jostled 
out of the heart by the intrusion of some earthly comfort. 

[2.] If you be diverted from the earnest pursuit of heavenly things, 
either by carnal complacency or distracting cares and worldly encum 
brances. There will be a time when we shall ' neither marry nor be 
given in marriage,' Luke xx. 35. And that is our happiest time ; 
present contentments must not weaken the lively expectation of it, and 
steal away the heart into a mindlessness of it. Would God bring you 
to one another, think you, to turn off your thoughts and hopes for this 
blessed time when he shall be all in all ? No ; your comforts by the 
way in your pilgrimage must not hinder your delight in your com 
forts at home and in your country ; this would be like a great heir in 
travel that should guzzle in an alehouse, and never think of returning 
to his inheritance. 

[3.] God would be a loser if you be less resolute in owning God's 
truth than you were before. Oh, take heed of daubing in religion ! 
We must hate all for Christ, Luke xiv. 26. We must be as true still 
to make good our engagement to him. Wife and children must be 
undervalued for the gospel ; we may be put to the trial whether we 
will cleave to them or Christ, who is our choice husband. The bond 
of religion is above all bonds ; all bonds between husband and wife, 
father and children, end in death, but the bond of Christ is eternal: 
your children will not lose by your faithfulness to God. 
2. Positively. Let God be a gainer. 

[1.] By your daily praises, and blessing God for his providence, that 
hath brought you into this relation : ' I obtained favour from the 

[2.] By living to God in this relation, performing the duties thereof 
so as your converse may be some lively resemblance of the communion 
between Christ and liis church : Eph. v. 25-30, ' Husbands, love 
your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself 
for it ; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of 
water, by the word ; that he might present it to himself a glorious 
church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it 
should be holy, and without blemish. So ought men to love their 
wives as their own bodies : he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. 
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth 
it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, 
of his flesh, and of his bones.' 

[3.] By being mutual helps to one another in the best things, by 


the advancement of piety and godliness. The love of Christ doth 
not only enforce the husband's duty as an argument, but points forth 
the right manner of it as a pattern. Christ's love is sanctifying love : 
so should theirs be, such a love as showeth itself by sincere and real 
endeavours to bring about one another's spiritual and eternal good. 
Love one another, ' as heirs together of the grace of life/ 1 Peter 
iii. 7. 



IT may seem a just discouragement from publishing more sermons at 
this time, when there are such numbers abroad in the hands of all ; 
for the abundance of things useful is fatal to their value, and the 
rareness exceedingly enhances their price. If men were truly wise, 
spiritual treasures should be excepted from this common law, yet 
plenty even of them causeth satiety. But the following sermons have 
that peculiar excellence that will make them very valuable to all that 
have discerning minds, and such a tincture of religion as makes them 
capable of tasting the goodness of divine things. 

I shall say nothing particularly here of the intellectual endowments 
of the author, in which he appeared eminent among the first, nor of 
his graces to adorn his memory ; for a saint that is ascended into 
heaven, and crowned with eternal glory by the righteous Judge, needs 
not the weak, fading testimony of praise from men. Besides, that 
universal esteem he had from those who knew his ability, diligence, 
and fidelity in the work of God, makes it unnecessary for them who 
were his admirers and friends. And for those who are unacquainted 
with his worth, if they take a view of his works formerly printed, or 
the present sermons, that deserve equal approbation, they will have 
the same opinion with others. I will give some account of the ser 
mons themselves. 

The main design of them is to represent the inseparable connection 
between Christian duties and privileges, wherein the essence of our 
religion consists. The gospel is not a naked, unconditionate offer of 
pardon and eternal life in favour of sinners, but upon most convenient 
terms, for the glory of God and the good of men, and enforced by the 
strongest obligations upon them to receive humbly and thankfully 
those benefits. The promises are attended with commands to repent, 
believe, and persevere in the uniform practice of obedience. The 
Son of God came into the world, not to make God less holy, but to 
make us holy, that we might please and enjoy him ; not to vacate our 
duty, and free us from the law as the rule of obedience, for that is 
both impossible and would be most infamous and reproachful to our 
Saviour. To challenge such an exemption in point of right, is to 
make ourselves gods ; to usurp it in point of fact is to make our 
selves devils. But his end was to enable and induce us to return 
to God, as our rightful Lord and proper felicity, from whom we 
rebelliously and miserably fell by our disobedience, in seeking for 
happiness out of him. Accordingly the gospel is called ' the law of 
faith/ as it commands those duties upon the motives of eternal hopes 


and fears, and as it will justify or condemn men with respect to their 
obedience or disobedience, which is the proper character of a law. 
These things are managed in the following sermons in that convincing, 
persuasive manner as makes them very necessary for these times, when 
some that aspired to an extraordinary height in religion, and esteemed 
themselves the favourites of heaven, yet woefully neglected the duties of 
the lower hemisphere, as righteousness, truth, and honesty ; and when 
carnal Christians are so numerous, that despise serious godliness as 
solemn hypocrisy, and live in an open violation of Christ's precepts, 
yet presume to be saved by him. Though no age has been more 
enlightened with the knowledge of holy truths, yet none was ever more 
averse from obeying them. 

I shall only add further, that they commend to our ardent affec 
tions and endeavours true holiness, as distinguished from the most 
refined unregenerate morality. The doctor saw the absolute necessity 
of this, and speaks with great jealousy of those who seem in their dis 
courses to make it their highest aim to improve and cultivate some 
moral virtues, as justice, temperance, benignity, &c., by philosophic 
helps, representing them as becoming the dignity of the human 
nature, as agreeable to reason, as beneficial to societies, and but tran 
siently speak of the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit, that is 
as requisite to free the soul from the chains of sin as to release the 
body at the last day from the bands of death ; that seldom preach of 
evangelical graces, faith in the Eedeemer, love to God for his admirable 
mercy in our salvation, zeal for his glory, humility in ascribing all 
that we can return in grateful obedience to the most free and power 
ful grace of God in Christ, which are the vital principles of good 
works, and derive the noblest forms to all virtues. Indeed, men may 
be composed and considerate in their words and actions, may abstain 
from gross enormities, and do many praiseworthy actions by the rules 
of moral prudence; yet, without the infusion of divine grace to cleanse 
their stained natures, to renew them according to the image of God 
shining in the gospel, to act them from motives superior to all that 
moral wisdom propounds, all their virtues, of what elevation soever, 
though in a heroic degree, cannot make them real saints. As the 
plant animal has a faint resemblance of the sensitive life, but remains 
in the lower rank of vegetables, so these have a shadow, an appear 
ance of the life of God, but continue in the corrupt state of nature. 
And the difference is greater between sanctifying saving graces wrought 
by the special power of the Spirit, with the holy operations flowing from 
them, and the virtuous habits and actions that are the effects of moral 
counsel and constancy, than between true pearls produced by the 
celestial beams of the sun, and counterfeit ones formed by the smoky 
heat of the fire. In short, the Lord Jesus, our Saviour and Judge, who 
purchased the heavenly glory, and has sole power to give the actual 
possession of it, assures us that ' unless ajnan be born of the Spirit, 
he can never enter into the kingdom of God.' The supernatural birth 
entitles to the supernatural inheritance. Without this, how fair and 
specious soever the conversation of men appears, they must expect 
no other privilege at last but a cooler place in hell ; and the coolest 
there is intolerable. W. BATES. 


Blessed is lie whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, 
and in whose spirit there is no guile' Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

THE title of this psalm is ' A psalm of instruction,' and so called be 
cause David was willing to show them the way to happiness from his 
own experience. Surely no lesson is so needful to be learned as this. 
We all would be happy: the good and bad, that do so seldom agree in 
anything, yet agree in this, a desire to be happy. Now, happy we 
cannot be but in God, who is the only, immutable, eternal, and all- 
sufficient good, which satisfies and fills up all the capacities and desires 
of our souls. And we are debarred from access to him by sin, which 
hath made a breach and separation between him and us, and till that 
be taken away there can be no converse, and sin can only be taken 
away by God's pardon upon Christ's satisfaction. God's pardon is 
clearly asserted in my text, but Christ's satisfaction and righteousness 
must be supplied out of other scriptures, as that 2 Cor. v. 19, ' God 
was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their 
trespasses to them/ Where the apostle clearly shows that not im 
puting transgressions is the effect of God's grace in Christ. And we do 
no wrong to this text to take it in here ; for the apostle, citing this scrip 
ture Rom. iv. 6, 7, tells us, that 'David describeth the blessedness of 
the man unto whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works, 
when he saith, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, whose 
sin is covered ; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute 

In the words you have : 

1. An emphatical setting forth of a great and blessed privilege; that 
is, pardon of sin. 

2. A description of the persons who shall enjoy it : in whose spirit 
there is no guile. 

The privilege is that I shall confine my thoughts to ; it is set forth 
in three expressions : forgiving transgression, covering of sin, and 
not imputing iniquity. The manner of speech is warm and vehement, 
and it is repeated over again : blessed is the man. 

I shall show what these three expressions import, and why the 
prophet doth use such vehemency and emphatical inculcation in set 
ting forth this privilege. 

1. WJiose transgression is forgiven, or who is eased of his trans 
gression ; where sin is compared to a burden too heavy for us to bear, 
as also it is in other scriptures : Mat. xi. 28, ' Come to me, all ye that 
are weary and heavy laden/ 

2. Whose sin is covered ; alluding to the covering of filth, or the 

178 THE FIRST SERMON. [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

removing of that which is offensive out of sight. As the Israelites 
were to inarch with a paddle tied to their arms, that when they went 
to ease themselves they might dig, and cover that which came from 
them: Deut. xxiii., you have the law there, and the reason of it, ver. 14, 
' For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp ; therefore 
shall thy camp be holy, that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn 
away from thee.' 

And then the third expression is, to whom the Lord imputeth no 
sin ; that is, doth not put sin to their account. Where sin is com 
pared to a debt, as it is also in the Lord's Prayer : Mat. vi. 12, ' For 
give us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors/ Thus is the act 
set forth. 

The object of pardon about which it is conversant is set forth under 
divers expressions iniquity, transgression, and sin ; as in law many 
words of like import and signification are neaped up and put together, 
to make the deed and legal instrument more comprehensive and effec 
tual. I observe it the rather because, when God proclaims his name, the 
same words are used : Exod. xxxiv. 7, ' Taking away iniquity, trans 
gression, and sin.' Well, we have seen the meaning of the expression. 
Why doth the holy man of God use such vigour and vehemency of in 
culcation 'Blessed is the man,' and again 'Blessed is the man'? 
Partly with respect to his own case. David knew how sweet it was to 
have sin pardoned ; he had felt the bitterness of sin in his own soul, to 
the drying up of his blood, and therefore he doth express his sense of 
pardon in the most lively terms ' Blessed is the man whose iniquity is 
forgiven,' &c. And then partly too with respect to those for whose 
use this instruction was written, that they might not look upon it as a 
light and trivial thing, but be thoroughly apprehensive of the worth 
of so great a privilege. Blessed, happy, thrice happy, they who have 
obtained pardon of their sins, and justification by Jesus Christ. 

The doctrine, then, which I shall insist upon is this : That it is a 
great degree and step towards, yea, a considerable part of our blessed 
ness, to obtain the pardon of our sins by Christ Jesus. I shall evidence 
it to you by these three considerations : 

1. I shall show what necessity lies upon us to seek after this 

2. Our misery without it. 

3. I shall speak of the annexed benefits, and our happiness if once 
we attain it. 

1. The necessity that lies upon us, being all guilty before God, to 
seek after our justification, and the pardon of our sins by Christ. That 
it may sink the deeper into your minds, I shall do it in this scheme or 
method: First, A reasonable nature implies a conscience; a conscience 
implies a law ; a law implies a sanction ; a sanction implies a judge, 
and a judgment-day (when all shall be called to account for breaking 
the law) ; and this judgment-day infers a condemnation upon all man 
kind unavoidably, unless the Lord will compromise the matter, and 
find out some way in the chancery of the gospel wherein we may be 
relieved. This way God hath found out in Christ, and being brought 
about by such a mysterious contrivance, we ought to be deeply and 
thankfully apprehensive of it, and humbly and broken-heartedly to 


quit the one covenant, and accept of the grace provided for us in 
the other. 

[1.] A reasonable nature implies a conscience ; for man can reflect 
upon his own actions, and hath that in him to acquit or condemn him 
accordingly as he doth good or evil, 1 John iii. 20, 21. Conscience is 
nothing but the judgment a man makes upon his actions morally con 
sidered, the good or the evil, the rectitude or obliquity, that is in them 
with respect to rewards or punishment. As a man acts, so he is a 
party ; but as he reviews and censures his actions, so he is a judge. 
Let us take notice only of the condemning part, for that is proper to 
our case. After the fact, the force of conscience is usually felt more 
than before or in the fact ; because before, through the treachery of the 
senses, and the revolt of the passions, the judgment of reason is not 
so clear. I say, our passions and affections raise clouds and mists 
which darken the mind, and do incline the will by a pleasing violence ; 
but after the evil action is done, when the affection ceaseth, then guilt 
flasheth in the face of conscience. As Judas, whose heart lay asleep 
all the while he was going on in his villainy, but afterwards it fell upon 
him. Thou hast ' sinned in betraying innocent blood.' When the 
affections are satisfied, and give place to reason, that was before con 
demned, and reason takes the throne again, it hath the more force to 
affect us with grief and fear, whilst it strikes through the heart of a 
man with a sharp sentence of reproof for obeying appetite before reason. 
Now this conscience of sin may be choked and smothered for a while, 
but the flame will break forth, and our hidden fears are easily revived 
and awakened, except we get our pardon and discharge. A reason 
able nature implies a conscience. 

[2.] A conscience implies a law, by which good and evil are distin 
guished ; for if we make conscience of anything, it must be by virtue 
of some law or obligation from God, who is our maker and governor, 
and unto whom we are accountable, and whose authority giveth a force 
and warrant to the warnings and checks of conscience, without which 
they would be weak and ineffectual, and all the hopes and fears they 
stir up in us would be vain fancies and fond surmises. I need not 
insist upon this, a conscience implies a law. The heathens had a law, 
because they had a conscience : Bom. ii. 15, ' Which show the work 
of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, 
and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one 
another.' They have a conscience doth accuse or excuse, doth require 
according to the tenor of the law. So when the apostle speaks of 
those stings of conscience that are revived in us by the approach of 
death, he saith, 1 Cor. xv. 56, ' The sting of death is sin, and the 
strength of sin is the law.' Those stings which men feel in a death- 
threatening sickness, are not the fruits of their disease, but, justified by 
the highest reason ; they come from a sense of sin y and this sense is 
strengthened and increased in us by the law of God, from whence con 
science receives all its force. 

[3.] A law implies a sanction, or a confirmation by penalties arid 
rewards ; for otherwise it is but an arbitrary rule or direction, which 
we might slight or disregard without any great loss or danger. No ; 
the law is armed with a dreadful curse against all those that disobey 

180 THE FIRST SERMON. [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

it. There is no dallying with God, he hath set life and death before 
us ; life and good, death and evil, Deut. xxx. 15. Now the precept, 
that is the rule of our duty, and the sanction is the rule of God's pro 
cess, what God will do, or might do, and what we have deserved should 
be done to us. The one shows what is due from us to God, and the 
other what may justly be expected at God's hands ; therefore, before 
the penalty be executed, it concerns us to get a pardon. The scripture 
represents God as ' angry with the wicked every day,' standing con 
tinually with his bow ready, with his arrow upon the string, as ready 
to let fly, with his sword not only drawn but whetted, as if he were 
just about to strike, if we turn not, Ps. vii. 11-13. 

[4.] A sanction implies a judge, who will take cognisance of the 
keeping or breaking of this law ; for otherwise the sanction or penalty 
were but a vain scarecrow, if there were no person to look after it. 
God, that is our maker and governor, is our judge. Would he 
appoint penalties for the breach of his law, and never reckon with us 
for our offences, is a thought so unreasonable, so much against the 
sense of conscience, against God's daily providence, against scripture, 
Avhich everywhere (in order to this, to quicken us to seek forgiveness 
of sins) represents God as a judge. Conscience is afraid of an invisible 
judge, who will call us to account for what we have done. The apostle 
tells us, Horn. i. 32, the heathen ' knew the judgment of God, and that 
they that have done such things as they have done are worthy of death.' 
And providence shows us there is such a judge that looks after the keep 
ing and breaking of his law, hath owned every part of it from heaven by 
the judgments he executes : Rom. i. 18, ' The wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ;' hath 
owned either table, by punishing sometimes the ungodliness, and some 
times the unrighteousness of the world ; nay, every notable breach by 
way of omission or commission. The apostle saith, ' every transgres 
sion,' and 'every disobedience.' These two words signify sins of omission 
or commission : it hath been punished, and God hath owned his law, 
that it is a firm authentic rule. And the scripture also usually makes 
use of this notion or argument of a judge to quicken us to look after 
the pardon of our sins : Acts x. 42, 43, ' And he hath commanded us 
to preach and testify to the people, that it is he that was ordained of 
God to be the judge of the quick and dead. To him give all the pro 
phets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall 
receive remission of sins/ So Acts iii. 19-21. Surely we that are to 
appear before the bar of an impartial judge, being so obnoxious to him 
for the breach of his holy law, what have we to do but to make sup 
plication to our judge, and prevent execution by a submissive asking 
of a pardon, and accepting the grace God hath provided ? 

[5.] A judge implies a judgment-day, or some time when his justice 
must have a solemn trial, when he will reckon with the lapsed world. 
He reckons sometimes with nations now, for ungodliness and unright 
eousness, by wars, and pestilence, and famine. He reckons with par 
ticular persons at their death, and when their work is done he pays 
them their wages : Heb. ix. 27, ' It is appointed ibr all men once to 
die, and after that the judgment.' But there is a more general and 
final judgment, when his justice must have a solemn trial, which is in 


part evident in nature ; for the apostles did slide in the Christian 
doctrine mostly by this means into the hearts of those to whom they 
preached : Acts xxiv. 25, ' He reasoned of righteousness, temperance, 
and judgment to come.' The particularity of it belongs to the gospel 
revelation, but nature hath some kind of sense of it in itself, and they 
are urged to repent, ' because God hath appointed a day wherein he 
will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath 
ordained ; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he 
hath raised him from the dead,' Acts xvii. 31. God judgeth the world 
in patience now, but then in righteousness, when all things shall be 
reviewed, and everything restored ; virtue to its public honour, and 
vice to its due shame. 

[6.] If there be a solemn judgment-day, when every one must receive 
his final doom, this judgment certainly infers a condemnation to a 
fallen creature, unless God set up another court for his relief ; for now 
man is utterly disenabled by sin to fulfil the law, and can by no means 
avoid the punishment that is due to his transgression. I shall prove 
this by three reasons : The law to fallen man is impossible; the penalty 
is intolerable ; and the punishment, for aught that yet appears, if God 
do not take another course, is unavoidable. 

(1.) The duty of the law is impossible. The apostle tells us 'what 
the law could not do, in that it was weak through the weakness of our 
flesh.' It could not justify us before God, it could not furnish us with 
any answer to his demands, when he shall call us to an account. Man 
is mightily addicted to the legal covenant, therefore it is one part of a 
gospel minister's work to represent the impossibility of ever obtaining 
grace or life by that covenant. Man would stick to the law as long as 
he can, and will patch up a sorry righteousness of his own, some few 
superficial things. He makes a short exposition of the law, that he 
may cherish a large opinion of his own righteousness ; and curtails 
the law of God, that the ell may be no longer than the cloth, and 
brings it down to a poor contemptible thing, requiring a few external 
superficial duties of men. We read often of being ' dead to sin,' and 
' to the world ;' it is as certainly true we must be ' dead to the law.' 
Now how are we dead to the law ? The scripture tells us in one 
place, that ' through the law we are dead to the law ;' and in another 
place, that we are ' dead to the law through the body of Christ/ The 
first place is Gal. ii. 19, ' Through the law I am dead to the law.' 
Men are apt to stand to the legal covenant, and have their confidence 
in the flesh, to place their hopes of acceptance with God in some few 
external things, which they make their false righteousness. For the 
carnal world, as it cries up a false happiness as its God, so men have 
a false righteousness which is their Christ. Now through the law they 
are dead to it. How ? The law supposeth us as innocent, and requires 
us to continue so : ' Cursed is every one that continues not in every 
thing,' &c. Suppose a man should exactly fulfil it afterwards, yet the 
paying of new debts will not quit old scores. And then we are ' dead 
to the law by the body of Christ,' Horn. vii. 4 ; by the crucified body 
of Christ, by which he hath merited and purchased a better hope and 
grace for us. Well, the duty is impossible. 

(2.) The penalty is intolerable, for who can stand when God is 


angry ? Ezek. xxii. 14, ' Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands 
be strong, in the day that I shall deal with thee ? ' We that cannot 
endure the pain of the gout or stone, how shall we endure the eternal 
wrath of God ? It is surely a very ' dreadful thing to fall into the 
hands of that living God/ that lives for ever to punish the transgressors 
of his law. 

(3.) The punishment is unavoidable, unless sin be pardoned, and 
you submit to God's way : for I would ask you, what hope can you 
have in Go4, whose nature engageth him to hate sin, and whose justice 
obligeth hirfi to punish it ? 

(1st.) Whose nature engageth him to hate sin and sinners : Hab. i. 
13, ' He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.' I urge this for a 
double reason : partly because I have observed that all the security ot 
sinners, and their neglect of seeking after pardon by Jesus Christ, it 
comes from their lessening thoughts of God's holiness ; and if their 
hearts were sufficiently possessed with an awe of God's unspotted 
purity and holiness, they would more look after the terms of grace God 
hath provided : Ps. 1. 21, ' Thou thoughtest I was altogether such an 
one as thyself.' Why do men live securely in their sins, and do not 
break off their evil course ? They think God is not so severe and 
harsh, and so .all their confidence is grounded upon a mistake of God's 
nature, and such a dreadful mistake as amounts to a blasphemy: ' Thou 
thoughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself/ The other reason 
is this, particularly because I observe the bottom reason of all the fear 
that is in the hearts of men is God's holiness : 1 Sam. vi. 20, ' Who 
is able to stand before this holy God ? ' and ' Who would not fear 
thee ? for thou art holy/ Kev. xv. 4. We fear his power ; why ? 
because it is .set on work by his wrath. We fear his wrath ; why ? 
because it is kindled by his justice and righteousness. We fear his 
righteousness, because it is bottomed and grounded upon his holiness, 
and upon the purity of his nature. 

(2dly.) His justice obligeth him to punish sin, that the law might not 
seem to be made in vain. It concerns the universal judge to maintain 
the reputation of his justice in reference to men, and to appear to them 
still as a righteous God : Gen. xviii. 25, ' Shall not the judge of all the 
earth do right ? ' and Horn. iii. 5, 6, ' Is God unrighteous to take 
vengeance? how then shall he judge the world?' These scriptures 
imply, that if there were the least blemish, if you could suppose he 
should fail in point of righteousness, this were to be denied, that God 
should be the judge of the world. Therefore God's righteousness and 
justice, which gives to every one their due, must shine in its proper 
place ; he will give vengeance to whom vengeance is due, and blessing 
to whom blessing belongs. In our case punishment belongs to us, and 
what can we expect from this God but wrath and eternal destruction ? 
Therefore if all this be so, if a conscience suppose a law, a law a 
sanction, a sanction a judge a judge some time when his justice must 
have a solemn trial, and this will necessarily infer condemnation to a 
fallen creature what then shall we do? 

[7.] From this condemnation there is no escape, unless God set up 
another court and chancery of the gospel, where condemned sinners 
may be taken to mercy, and their sins forgiven, and they justified and 


accepted unto grace and life, Upon terms that may salve God's honour 
and government over mankind. There is a great deal of difference 
between the forgiving private wrongs and injuries, and the pardoning 
of public offences ; between the pardon of a magistrate, and the pardon 
of a private person. When equals fall out among themselves, they 
may end their differences in charity, and in such ways as best please 
themselves, by a mere forgiving, by acquitting the sense of the wrong 
done, or a bare submission of the party offending. But the case is dif 
ferent here : God is not reconciled to us merely as the party offended, 
but as the governor of the world ; the case lies between the judge of the 
world and sinning mankind ; therefore it must not be ended by mere 
compromise and agreement, but by satisfaction, that his law may be 
satisfied, and the honour of his justice secured. Therefore to make 
the pardon of man a thing convenient to the righteous and holy judge 
to bestow, without any impeachment to the honour of his justice and 
authority of his law, the Lord finds out this great mystery, ' God mani 
fested in our flesh/ Jesus Christ is ' made under the law, to redeem 
them that were under the law/ Gal. iv. 5 ; and is ' become a propitia 
tion to satisfy God's justice,' Kom. iii. 25, 26. And so God shows 
rnercy to his creatures, and yet the awe of his government is kept up, 
and a full demonstration of his righteousness is given to the world. 

[8.] This being done conveniently to God's honour, we must sue out 
our pardon with respect to both the covenants, both that which we 
have broken, the law of nature, and that which is made in Christ, and 
is to be accepted by us as our sanctuary and sure refuge. 

(1.) We must have a broken-hearted sense of sin, and of the curse 
due to the first covenant ; for it is the disease brings us to the physi 
cian ; the curse drives us to the promise, and the tribunal of justice to 
the throne of grace ; and the avenger of blood at our heels, that causeth 
us to fly to our proper city of refuge, and to take sanctuary at the 
Lord's grace, Heb. vi. 18. So that if you mince and extenuate sin, 
you seem to hold to the first covenant, and had rather plead innocent 
than guilty. No ; if you would have this favour, you must confess your 
sins : 1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to 
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness/ You 
must confess your sins, and with that remorse that will become offences 
done to so great a God. And there must not only be a sense of sin, 
but of the curse and merit of sin also ; for we must not only accuse, 
but judge ourselves, that God may not judge and condemn us, 1 Cor. 
xi. 31. Self-accusing respects sin, and is acted in confession ; self- 
judging respects the curse or punishment that is due to us for sin, 
and it is a person's pronouncing upon himself according to the tenor 
of the law what is his due, acknowledging his guilt, and this with 
much brokenness of heart before God, when he hath involved himself 
in God's eternal wrath and displeasure. I observe, that the law-cove 
nant is in the scripture compared to a prison, wherein God hath shut up 
guilty souls, Born. xi. 32, ' He hath concluded or shut them up, that 
he may have mercy upon them ;' Gal. iii. 21, ' He hath shut them up 
under sin/ The law is God's prison, and no offenders can get out of 
it till they have God's leave; and from him they have none, till they 
are sensible of the justice and righteousness of that first dispensation, 

184 THE FIRST SERMOX. [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

confess their sins with brokennness of heart, and that it may be just 
with God to condemn them for ever. 

(2.) We must thankfully accept the Lord's grace, that offers pardon 
to us. For since God is pleased to try us a second time, and set us 
up with a new stock of grace, and that brought about in such a 
wonderful way, that he may recover the lost creation to himself, surely if 
we shall despise our remedy, after we have rendered ourselves incapable 
of our duty, no condemnation is bad enough for us, John iii. 18, 19. 
Therefore we should admire the mercy of God in Christ, and have 
such a deep sense of it, that it may check our sinful self-love, which 
hath been our bane and ruin. And since God showed himself willing 
to be reconciled, we must enter into his peace, not look upon ourselves 
in a hopeless and desperate condition, but depend upon the merit, 
sacrifice, and intercession of Christ, and be encouraged by his gracious 
promise and covenant to ' come with boldness, that we may find grace 
and mercy to help in a time of need,' Heb. iv. 16. Thus you see the 
need we have to look after this pardon of sin. 

2. Secondly, I must show our misery without this ; and this will be 
best done by considering the notions here in the text. Here is filth 
to be covered, a burden of which we must be eased ; and here is a 
debt that must be cancelled : and unless this be, what a miserable 
condition are we in ! 

[1.] What a heavy burden is sin, where it is not pardoned ! Carnal 
men feel it not for the present : elements are not burdensome in their 
own place ; but how soon may they feel it ! Two sorts of consciences 
feel the burden of sin a tender conscience, and a wounded conscience. 
It is grievous to a tender heart, that values the love of God, to lie 
under the guilt of sin, and to be obnoxious to his wrath and displea 
sure : Ps. xxxviii. 4, ' Mine iniquities are gone over mine head, as a 
burden too heavy for me.' Broken bones are sensible of the least 
weight; certainly a broken heart cannot make light of sin. What 
kind of hearts are those that sin securely, and without remorse, and 
are never troubled ? Go to wounded consciences, and ask of them 
what sin is : Gen. iv. 13, ' Mine iniquity is greater than I can bear ; ' 
Prov. xviii. 14, ' A wounded spirit, who can bear ? ' As long as the 
evil lies without us, it is tolerable, the natural courage of a man may 
bear up under it ; but when the spirit itself is wounded with the sense 
of sin, who can bear it ? If a spark of God's wrath light upon the 
conscience, how soon do men become a burden to themselves ; and 
some have chosen strangling rather than life. Ask Cain, ask Judas, 
what it is to feel the burden of sin. Sinners are ' all their lifetime 
subject to this bondage ; ' it is not always felt, but soon awakened : it 
may be done by a pressing exhortation at a sermon ; it may be done 
by some notable misery that befalls us in the world ; it may be done 
by a scandalous sin ; it may be done by a grievous sickness, or worldly 
disappointment. All these things and many more may easily revive 
it in us. There needs not much ado to put a sinner in the stocks of 
conscience. Therefore do but consider to be eased of this burden ; oh 
the blessedness of it ! 


[2.] It is filth to be covered, which renders us odious in the sight of 
>d. It is said, Prov. xiii. 5, that 'a sinner is loathsome.' To 


whom ? To God. Certainly he is of purer eyes than to "behold 
iniquity. To good men. ' The wicked is an abomination to the 
righteous ; ' the new nature hath an aversion to it. Lot's righteous 
soul was vexed from day to day with the conversation of the wicked. 
A wicked man hates a godly man with a hatred of enmity and 
abomination ; but a godly man doth not hate a wicked man with a 
hatred of enmity that is opposite to good-will but with that of 
abomination, which is opposite to complacence. It is loathsome to 
an indifferent man, for holiness darts an awe and reverence into the 
conscience. 'The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour/ 
and a wicked person is a vile person in the common esteem of the 
world : horrible profaneness will not easily down. Nay, it is loath 
some to other wicked men. I do not know whether I expound that 
scripture rightly, but it looks somewhat so, ' Hateful and hating one 
another.' We hate sin in another, though we will not take notice of 
it in ourselves. The sensuality and pride and vanity of one wicked 
man is hated by another ; nay, he is loathsome to himself. Why ? 
because he cannot endure to look into himself. We cannot endure 
ourselves when we are serious. ' They will not come to the light, lest 
their deeds should be reproved.' And we are shy of God's presence ; 
we are sensible we have something makes us offensive to him, and we 
hang off from him when we have sinned against him; as it was 
David's experience, Ps. xxxii. 3. That was the cause of his silence : 
he kept off from God, having sinned against him, and had not a heart 
to go home and sue out his pardon. Oh, what a mercy is it, then, to 
have this filth covered, that we may be freed from this bashful incon- 
fidence, and not be ashamed to look God in the face, and may come 
with a holy boldness into the presence of the blessed God ! Oh, the 
blessedness of the man whose sin is covered ! 

[3.] It is a debt that binds the soul to everlasting punishment ; and 
if it be not pardoned, the judge will give us over to the jailer, and the 
jailer cast us into prison, ' till we have paid the uttermost farthing,' 
Luke xii. 59. To have so vast a debt lying upon us, what a misery 
is that ! Augustus bought that man's bed who could sleep soundly 
when he was in debt so many hundred of sesterces. Certainly it is 
a strange security that possesseth the hearts of men, when we are 
obliged to suffer the vengeance of the wrath of the eternal God by our 
many sins, and yet can sleep quietly. Body and soul will be taken 
away in execution ; the day of payment is set, and may come much 
sooner than you think for ; you must get a discharge, or else you are 
undone for ever. Our debt comes to millions of millions ; well, if the 
Lord will forgive so great a debt, oh, the blessedness of that man, &c. 
Put altogether now ; certainly if you have ever been in bondage, if 
you have felt the sting of death and curse of the law, or been scorched 
by the wrath of God, or knew the horror of those upon whom God 
hath exacted this debt in hell, certainly you would be more and more 
affected with this wonderful grace. ' Oh, the blessedness of the man 
to whom the Lord imputeth not his transgressions ! ' 

Thirdly, The consequent benefits. I will name three : 
[1.] It restores the creature to God, and puts us in joint again, in a 
capacity to serve, and please, and glorify God : Ps. cxxx. 4, ' There is 

186 THE FIRST SERMON. [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' Forgiveness in 
vites us to return to God, obliges us to return to God, and take it as 
God dispenseth it; it inclines us to return to God, and encourages us 
to live in a state of amity and holy friendship with God, pleasing and 
serving him in righteousness and holiness all our days. Certainly it 
invites us to return to God. Man stands aloof from a condemning 
God, but may be induced to submit to a pardoning God. And it 
obligeth us to return to God, to serve, and love, and please him who 
will forgive so great a debt, and discharge us from all our sins ; for 
she loved much to whom much was forgiven. It inclines us to serve 
and please God ; for where God pardons he renews, he puts a new life> 
into us that inclines us to God : Col. ii. 13, ' He hath quickened you 
together with Christ, having forgiven all your trespasses.' And it 
encourages us to serve and please God : Heb. ix. 14, ' How much more 
shall the blood of Christ cleanse your consciences from dead works, 
that ye may serve the living God ? ' and that in a suitable manner, 
that you may serve God in a lively, cheerful manner. A poor creature 
bound to his law, and conscious of his own disobedience, and obnoxious 
to wrath and punishment, is mightily clogged, and drives on heavily ; 
but when the conscience is purged from dead works, we serve the living 
God in a lively manner ; and this begets a holy cheerfulness in the 
soul, and we are freed from that bondage that otherwise would clog 
us in our duty to God. 

[2.] It lays the foundation for solid comfort and peace in our own 
souls, for till sin be pardoned you have no true comfort ; because the 
justice of the supreme governor of the world will still be dreadful to 
us, whose laws we have broken, whose wrath we have justly deserved, 
and whom we still apprehend as offended with us, and provoked by 
us. We may lull the soul asleep with carnal delights, but the virtue 
of that opium will be soon spent. All those joys are but stolen 
waters, and bread eaten in secret, a poor, sorry peace, that dares not 
come to the light and endure the trial, a sorry peace, that is soon dis 
turbed by a few serious and sober thoughts of God and the world to 
come ; but when once sin is pardoned, then you have true joy indeed- 
' Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee,' Mat. ix. 2. Then misery 
is plucked up by the roots: 'Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people.' 
Why ? ' Her iniquity is forgiven,' Isa. xl. 1, 2 ; ' And we joy in God 
as those that have received the atonement,' Horn. v. 11. The Lord 
Jesus hath made the atonement ; but when we have received the 
atonement, then we joy in God, then there is matter for abundant 
delight, when ' the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the 
Holy Ghost given unto us.' 

[3.] When we are pardoned, then we are capable of eternal happi 
ness. Pardon of sin is gratia removens prohibens, that grace that 
removes the impediment, that takes the make-bate out of the way, 
removes that that hinders our entrance into heaven. Sanctification 
is the beginning ; but till we are pardoned, there can be no entrance 
into heaven : now this removes the incapacity. 1 observe remission 
of sins is put for all the privilege part, as repentance for the duties : 
Acts v. 31, ' Him hath God exalted to give repentance and remission 
of sins.' There are two initial benefits repentance, as the foundation,. 


of the new life ; and remission of sins, as the foundation of all our 
future mercies. There are two chief blessings offered in the new 
covenant, pardon and life, reconciliation with God, and the everlasting 
fruition of him in glory ; and the one makes way for the other : Acts 
xxvi. 18, ' To open their eyes, and to turn them from Satan to God, 
that they may receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among the 
saints.' When we are pardoned, then we are capable to look for the 
blessed inheritance; the impediment is taken out of the way that 
excludes from it. 

And thus you see ( the blessedness of the man whose transgression 
is forgiven, whose filth is covered, and unto whom the Lord will not 
impute his sin.' 


1. Let us bless God for the Christian religion, where this privilege 
is discovered to us in all its glory, and that upon very commodious 
terms, fit to gain the heart of man, and to reduce him to God : Micah 
vii. 18, ' Who is a God like unto thee among all the gods, pardoning 
the transgressions of thine heritage ? ' The business of religion is to 
provide sufficiently for two things, which have much troubled the 
considering part of the world; a suitable happiness for mankind, 
and suitable means for the expiation of sin. Happiness is our great 
desire, and sin is our great burden and trouble. Now these are fully 
made known and discovered to us by the Christian faith. The last is 
that we are upon, the way how the grand scruple of the world may be 
satisfied, and their guilty fears appeased ; and that we may see the 
excellency of the Christian religion above all religions in the world, 
it offers pardon upon such terms as are most commodious to the 
honour of God, and most satisfactory to our souls ; that is, upon the 
account of Christ's satisfaction and our own repentance, without 
which our case is not compassionable. The first I will chiefly insist 
on. The heathens were mightily perplexed about the way how God 
could dispense with the honour of his justice in the pardon of sin. 
That man is God's creature, and therefore his subject ; that he hath 
exceedingly failed and faulted in his duty and subjection to him, and 
is therefore obnoxious to God's just wrath and vengeance, are truths 
evident in the light of nature and common experience ; and therefore 
the heathens had some convictions of this, and saw a need that God 
should be atoned and propitiated by some sacrifices of expiation ; and 
the nearer they lived to the original of this tradition and institution, 
the more burdened and pressing were their conceits and apprehensions 
thereof. But in all their cruel superstitions there was no rest of soul ; 
they knew not the true God, nor tne proper ransom, nor had any sure 
way to convey pardon to them, but were still left to the puzzle and 
distraction of their own thoughts, and could not make God merciful 
without some diminution of his holiness and justice, nor make him 
just without some diminution of his mercy. Somewhat they conceived 
of the goodness of God by his continuing forfeited benefits so long : 
' God left them not without a witness ;' but yet they could not recon 
cile it to his justice or will to punish sinners ; and all their appre 
hensions of the pardon of sin were but probabilities, and what was 

188 THE FIRST SERMON. [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

wrought to procure merit was ridiculous, or else barbarous and un 
natural, giving ' their first-born for the sin of their soul,' Micah vi. 7. 
And all those notions they had about this apprehended expiation were 
too weak to change the heart or life of man, or to reduce him to God. 
Come we now to the Jews. The Jews had many sacrifices of God's 
own institution, but such as ' did not make the comers thereunto per 
fect, as pertaining to the conscience,' Heb. ix. 9 ; and the ransom that 
was to be given to provoked justice was known but to a few. They 
saw much of the patience and forbearance of God, but little of the 
righteousness of God, and which was the great propitiation. Till 
' God set forth Jesus Christ to be a propitiation, through faith in his 
blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are 
past through the forbearance of God ; to declare, I say, at this time, 
his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that 
believes in Jesus,' Rom. iii. 25, 26. Their ordinances and sacrifices 
were rather a bond acknowledging the debt, or pre-signifying the 
ransom that was to be paid, and their sacrifices did rather breed 
bondage ; and their ordinances were called ' an handwriting of ordi 
nances that were against them.' The redemption of souls was then 
spoken of as a great mystery, but sparingly revealed : Ps. xlix. 3, 4, 
' My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and the meditation of my heart 
shall be of understanding. I will incline mine ear to a parable, I will 
open my dark sayings upon the harp.' What was that wisdom ? 
What was that dark saying ? ' The redemption of souls is precious ; 
it ceaseth for ever.' As it lies upon mere man's hand, ' none can give 
a ransom for his brother.' Eternal redemption by Christ was a dark 
saying in those days, only they knew no mere man could do it. And 
in more early times, in Job's time, he was ' an interpreter, one of a 
thousand,' that could bring this message to a distressed sinner, that 
God had found out a ransom. This atonement, then, that lies at the 
bottom of pardon of sin, was a rare thing in those days. Let us bless 
God for the clear and open discovery of this truth, and free offer of 
grace by Jesus Christ. 

The second use is to quicken us to put in for a share in this blessed 
privilege. I have spent my time in presenting to you what a blessed 
thing it is to have our sins pardoned. Christians, a man that flows in 
wealth and honour, till he be pardoned, is not a happy man. A man 
that lives afflicted, contemned, not taken notice of in the world, if he 
be a pardoned sinner, oh, the blessedness of that man 1 They are not 
happy that have least trouble, but they that have least cause ; not they 
that have a benumbed conscience, but they that have a conscience 
sound, established, and settled in the grace of God, through Jesus Christ 
our Lord, and bottomed upon his holy covenant, and that peace and grace 
he offers to us ; this is the happy man. By these and such like argu 
ments I would have you put in for a share of this privilege. But what 
must be required ? I would fain send you away with some directions. 

Let me entreat you, if this be such a blessed thing, to make it your 
daily, your earnest, your hearty prayer to God, that your sins may be 
pardoned, Mat. vi. 12. Our Lord hath taught us to pray (for we 
make but too much work for pardoning mercy every day), ' Every day 
forgive us our trespasses.' To-day, in one of the petitions, is common 


to all that follow ; as we beg daily bread, we must beg daily pardon, 
daily grace against temptations, tinder the law, they had a lamb every 
morning and every evening offered to God for a daily sacrifice, Num. 
xxviii. 4-6. Wo are all invited to look to the Lamb of God, that 
taketh away the sins of the world. Surely we have as much need as 
they more cause than they ; because now all is clear, and openly made 
known unto us. God came to Adam in the cool of the day ; he would 
not let him sleep in his sins : before night came, he comes and rouseth 
his conscience, and then gives out the promise of the seed of the woman 
that should break the serpent's head. In reconciliation with God, let 
not the sun go down upon God's wrath, Eph. iv. 26. A man should 
not sleep in his anger, nor out of charity with man ; surely we should 
make our peace with God every day. If a man, under the law, had 
contracted any uncleanness, he was to wash his clothes before evening, 
that he might not lie a night in his uncleanness. We should daily 
earnestly come to God with this request, Lord, pardon our sins. But 
what ! must those that are already adopted into God's family, and taken 
into his grace and favour, daily pray for pardon of sin ? Though upon 
our first faith our state be changed, and we are indeed made children 
of God, and heirs of eternal life by faith in Christ Jesus ; yet he that 
is clean, need wash his feet. We contract a great deal of sinful de 
filement and pollution by walking up and down here in a dirty world; 
and we must 1 every day be cleansing our consciences before God, and 
begging that we may be made partakers of this benefit. The Lord 
may, for our unthankfulness, our negligence, our stupid security, revive 
the memory of old sins, and make us look into the debt-book (that 
hath been cancelled) with horror, and make us ' possess the sins of our 
youth.' An old bruise is felt upon every change of weather. When 
we prove unthankful, and careless, and stupid, and negligent, and do 
not keep our watch, the Lord may suffer these things to return upon 
our consciences with great amazement. Guilt raked out of its grave 
is more frightful than a ghost, or one risen from the dead. Few be 
lievers have, upon right terms, the assurance of their own sincerity ; 
and though God may blot sins out of the book of his remembrance, 
yet he will not blot them out of our consciences. The worm of con 
science is killed still by the application of the blood of Christ and the 
Spirit. This short exhortation I would give you, the other would take 
up too much time. 


Blessed is Tie whose transgression is fen-given, whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man unto ivliom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, 
and in whose spirit there is no guile. Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

IN this text I observed, that it is a great degree and step towards, 
yea, a considerable part of our blessedness, to obtain pardon of our 
sins upon the account of Christ's righteousness. I showed the 


necessity which lies upon men, who are all become guilty before God, 
to look after this pardon ; and thereupon took occasion to represent 
the excellency of the Christian religion, that hath provided a salve 
for the great sore that runs upon all mankind, above that of the 
pagans, and also that of the Jews, to whom this mystery was but 
darkly revealed. To proceed to another use, to exhort you to put in 
for a share in this blessedness, to persuade you to it, let me use a few 

1. Till you are pardoned you are never blessed; there is an 
obstacle and impediment in the way hinders your blessedness. What 
though you flow in wealth, ease, and plenty ; yet as long as this black 
storm hangs over your head, and you know not how soon it will drop 
upon you, you cannot be accounted happy men. Do you account him 
a happy man who is condemned to die, because he hath a plentiful 
allowance till his execution ? or him a happy man that makes a fair 
show abroad, and puts a good face upon his ruinous and breaking 
condition, but at home is pinched with want and misery, which is 
ready to come upon him like an armed man ? or him a happy man 
that revels it out in all manner of pleasure, but is to die at night ? 
Then those that remain in the guilt of their sins may be happy. But 
now, on the other side, a pardoned sinner is blessed whatever befalls 
him. If he be afflicted, the sting of his affliction is gone, that is sin ; 
if he be prosperous, the curse of his blessings is taken away; the 
wrath of God is appeased, and so every condition is made tolerable or 
comfortable to him. 

2. Nothing less than a pardon will serve the turn. Not forbearance 
on God's side, nor forgetfulness on ours. 

[1.] It is not a forbearance of the punishment on God's part, but a 
dissolving the obligation to the punishment. God may be angry with 
us when he doth not actually strike us : as the psalmist says, Ps. vii. 
11-13, ' God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he 
will whet his sword ; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He 
hath also prepared for him the instruments of death ; he ordaineth 
his arrows against the persecutors.' In the day of his patience he 
doth for a while spare ; but God is ready to deal with them hand to 
hand, for he is sharpening his sword at a distance ; he is bending his 
bow : the arrow is upon the string, and how soon God may let it fly 
we cannot tell ; therefore we are never safe till we turn to God, and 
enter into his peace. Wherever there is sin there is guilt, and 
wherever there is guilt there will be punishment. If we dance about 
the brink of hell, and go merrily to execution, it argues not our sin, 1 
but stupidity and folly. 

[2.] On our part, our senseless forgetfulness will do us no good. 
Carnal men mind not the happiness of an immortal soul, and they are 
not troubled because they consider not their condition ; but they are 
not happy that feel least trouble, but those that have least cause. A 
benumbed conscience cannot challenge this blessedness ; they only put 
off that which they cannot put away, which God hath neither for 
given nor covered. They do but skin the wound till it fester and 
rankle into a dangerous sore. God is the wronged party, and supreme 

1 Qu. ' the pardon of our sin ' ? ED. 


judge, to whose sentence we must stand or fall. If he justifies, then 
who will condemn ? We may lay ourselves asleep, and sing peace to 
ourselves ; but it is not what we say, but what God saith : ' There is 
DO peace, saith my God, to the wicked.' 

3. A pardon is surely a great blessing, if we consider, first, the evils 
we are freed from ; and, secondly, the good depending upon it. 

[1.] The evils we are freed from. Guilt is the obligation to punish 
ment, and pardon is the dissolving or loosing that obligation. Now, 
the punishment is exceeding great, no less than hell and damnation ; 
and hell is no vain scarecrow, nor is heaven a May-game. Eternity 
makes everything truly great. Look at the loss an eternal separation 
from the comfortable presence of God : Mat. xxv. 41, ' Go, ye cursed,' 
&c. ; and Luke xiii. 27, ' Depart, ye workers of iniquity.' When God 
turned Adam out of paradise, his case was very sad, but God took 
care of him, made him coats of skins to clothe him, gave him a day 
of patience, afterwards promised the seed of the woman, who should 
recover the lapsed state of mankind, and so intimated hopes of a 
better paradise. That exile, therefore, is nothing comparable to this ; 
for now man is stript of all his comfort, sent into an endless state of 
misery, where there shall be no hope of ever changing his condition. 
Now, to be delivered from this that is so great an evil, what a blessed 
ness is it ! For the pcena sensus, the pain as well as the loss, our Lord 
sets it forth by two notions : Mark ix. 44, ' The worm that never dies, 
and the fire that shall never be quenched.' The scripture speaks of 
the soul with allusion to the state of the body after death. In the 
body worms breed usually, and many times they were burnt with fire. 
Accordingly, our state in the world to come is set forth by a worm and 
a fire. The worm implies the worm of conscience a reflection upon 
our past folly and disobedience to God, and the remembrance of all 
the affronts we have put upon Christ. Here men may run from the 
rebukes of conscience by many shifts, sports, distracting their minds 
with a clatter of business ; but then there is not a thought free, but 
the damned are always thinking of slighted means, abused comforts, 
wasted time, the offences done to a merciful God, and the curse 
wherein they have involved themselves by their own folly. The fire 
that shall never be quenched notes the wrath of God, or those un 
known pains that shall be inflicted upon the body and soul ; which 
must needs be great, because God himself will take the sinful creature 
into his own hands to punish him, and will show forth the glory of his 
wrath and power upon him. When God punisheth us by a creature, 
the creature is not a vessel capacious enough to convey the power of 
his wrath ; as when a giant strikes with a straw, that cannot convey 
his strength. But when God falls upon us himself, ' It is a fearful 
thing to fall into the hands of the living God/ How dreadful is that ! 
Is it not a blessedness to be freed from so great an evil ? Then a little 
mitigation, a drop to cool your tongue, would be accounted a great 

[2.] If we consider the good depending on it. You are not capable 
of enjoying God, and being happy for evermore, till his wrath be ap 
peased, and your sins forgiven ; but when that is once done, then you 
may have sure hope of being admitted into his presence : Rom. v. 10, 


' If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled by his death, much 
more being now reconciled shall we be saved by his life ; ' that is to 
say, it is far more credible that a reconciled man should be glorified, 
than that a sinner and rebel should be reconciled. If you can pass 
over this difficulty, and once get into God's peace, then what may you 
not expect from God ? The first favour to such as have been rebels 
against him facilitates the belief of all acts of grace. 

Now, what must we do that we may be capable of this blessed pri 
vilege, that our sins may be pardoned, and our filth covered, and our 
debt may be forgiven ? I shall give my answer in three branches : 

I. I will show you what is to be done as to your first entrance into 
the evangelic state. 

II. What is to be done as to your continuance therein, and that 
you may still enjoy this privilege ; and 

III. What is to be done as to your recovery out of grievous lapses, 
and falls, and wounds, as are more troublesome to the conscience, for 
which a particular and express repentance is required. 

I. As to our first entrance into the evangelic state ; that is by faith 
and repentance : both are necessary to pardon, Acts x. 43, ' To him 
give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever be- 
lieveth in him shall receive remission of sins.' There remission of sins 
is granted to a believer. Now repentance is full out as necessary, 
Acts ii. 38, ' Kepent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of 
Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins ; ' Luke xxiv. 47, ' And that 
repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among 
all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.' What is in another evangelist, 
' to preach the gospel to every creature,' in this is, ' that repentance 
and remission of sins should be preached in his name.' And this is 
preaching the gospel ; for the gospel is nothing else but a doctrine of 
repentance and remission of sins. So if we will not hearken to the 
vain fancies of men who have perverted the scripture, but stand to the 
plain gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ; these two duties are necessary 
to pardon. Christ's satisfaction is not imputed to us, but upon terms 
agreed on in the covenant of redemption. As to the impetration there 
is required the intervention of Christ's merit, so to the application 
faith and repentance, without which we are not pardoned. These two 
graces have a distinct reference, and it is intimated by that passage of 
Paul, for he gives this account of his ministry, Acts xx. 21, ' Testifying 
both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, 
and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.' Here, in short, repentance 
respects God, to whom we return, and faith Jesus Christ, by whom we 
return. From God we fell, to God we must return ; we fell from him 
as we withdrew our allegiance, and sought our happiness elsewhere ; 
and we return to him as our rightful Lord and our proper happiness. 
And then faith in Christ is necessary, because the Lord Jesus is the 
only remedy for our misery, who opened the way to God by his merit 
and satisfaction, and doth also bring us to walk in his ways by his 
renewing first, and then reconciling grace ; and faith is that that 
respects him. Who will take physic of a physician whose art he does 
not trust, or go to sea with a pilot whose skill he questions ? Who 
will venture his eternal interest in Christ's hands, if he be not per- 


suaded of his ability and fidelity, as one that is able to make our peace 
with God, and bring us to the enjoyment of him ? But I would not 
lightly mention it, but bring it to a distinct issue. 

1. I will show you it is for the glory of God and comfort of the 
creature that there should be a stated course of entering into God's 
peace, or applying the gospel ; for we must not so look to the impetra- 
tion, or merit and righteousness of Christ, as not to consider the appli 
cation, and how we come to have a title to these things. 

2. I will show that these two graces and duties are faith and repent 
ance, which do in many things agree, and in other respects differ. 

3. I will show you that they, differing in their use, are required for 
distinct reasons and ends. 

4. The use of these graces will plainly discover their nature to you, 
so that a poor Christian, that would settle his soul upon Christ's terms, 
and this blessed gospel made known to us, need not any longer debate 
what is repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus 

1. It is for the glory of God and the comfort of the creature 
that there should be a stated course of applying the privileges of 
the gospel, or of entering into God's peace. 

[1.] It is certainly for the glory of God. It is not meet that 
pardon and life should be prostituted to every one that will hastily 
challenge theso privileges. Pardon we are upon; our case is not 
compassionable till we relent and submit to God's terms. I would 
appeal to your own consciences : surely it is more suitable to the 
wisdom of God that a penitent sinner should have pardon rather 
than an impenitent, or one that securely continues in his sins, and 
despiseth both the curse of the law and the grace of the gospel. It 
is not agreeable to the honour of God, and the wisdom of his trans 
actions with man, that such should have benefit by him. Again, for 
faith : it is not meet we should have benefit by one we know not 
and trust not. Whatever be God's mercy to infants, who are not in 
a capacity to know and trust him, yet, in adult and grown persons, 
it is necessary we should not have such great privileges settled upon 
us without our knowledge, or besides and against our wills. God will 
have our consent in a humble and solemn way, that we may come 
and thankfully accept what he hath provided for us. So this is very 
much for the glory of God. 

[2.] And then for our comfort, that we may make our claim, that 
we may state our interest with the greater certainty and assurance ; 
for when great privileges are conditionally propounded, as they are 
in the new covenant, our right is suspended till the conditions be 
performed ; and certainly our comfort is suspended till we know they 
be performed, till we know ourselves to be such as have an interest 
in the promises of the gospel. I have told you, Blessed are they 
whose sins are pardoned. But, saith the soul, if I knew my sins were 
pardoned I should think myself a blessed creature indeed. What 
would you reply to this anxious and serious soul ? God hath made 
a promise, an offer of pardon by Christ : the offer of pardon is the invi 
tation to use the means that we may be possessed of it. But then the 
eerious anxious soul replies still, To whom is this promise made ? How 

VOL. n. N 


shall I come to know that I am thus blessed and accepted by God, 
and that my sins are pardoned? What is to be replied here? 
Look to whom the promise is made. Certainly it is made to some, 
or to all. If you say the promise is to all, you deceive the most ; if 
to some, you must say, from scripture, to them that repent and believe 
to the penitent believer. Here is the shortest way to bring the 
debate to an issue, wherein our comfort is so much concerned, to see 
we be penitent believers. For thus the application is stated, and the 
fixing these conditions is the more for the glory of God, and the 
comfort of the creature. 

2. The two graces or duties upon which it is fixed faith and re 
pentance do in many things agree, in other respects differ. 

[1.] They both agree in this, that they are both necessary to the 
fallen creature, and do concern our recovery to God, and so are proper 
to the gospel, which is provided for the restoration of lapsed man 
kind. The gospel is a healing remedy, and therefore is Christ so 
often set forth by the term of a physician. The law was a stranger 
to both these duties ; it knew no such thing as repentance and faith 
in Christ ; for, according to the tenor of it, once a sinner, and for 
ever miserable. But the gospel is a plank cast out after shipwreck, 
whereby we may escape and come safe to shore. 

Again, they both agree in this, that they concern our entrance and 
first recovery out of the defection and apostasy of mankind, for after 
wards there are other things required; but as to our first entrance 
into the evangelic state, both these graces are required, and the acts 
of them so interwoven, that we can hardly distinguish them. 

Again, they both agree in this, that they have a continual influ 
ence upon our whole new obedience. For the secondary conditions 
of the covenant do grow out of the first, and these two graces run 
throughout our whole life. Kepentance, mortifying sin, is not a work 
of a day, but of our whole lives, and the like is faith. 

Again, they agree in that both are effected and wrought in us by 
the Holy Spirit ; that God, who requires these things, gives them. 

Lastly, they agree in this, that the one cannot be without the other, 
neither repentance without faith, nor faith without repentance ; partly, 
because there is no use of faith without repentance. Christ as media 
tor is the means ; now the means are of no use without respect to the 
end. Now Christ and the whole gospel grace is the means to come to 
God. Besides, these things cannot be graces but in a concomitancy. 
Repentance without faith, what would it be ? When we see our sins, 
and bewail them, despair would make us sit down and die, if there 
were not a Saviour to heal our natures and convert our souls. Neither 
can faith be without repentance ; for unless there be a confession of 
past sins, with a resolution of future obedience, we continue in our 
obstinacy and stubbornness, and so we are incapable of mercy, our 
case is not compassionable. 

In short, repentance without faith would degenerate into the horror 
of the damned, and our sorrow for sin would be tormenting rather 
curing to us. And then faith would be a licentious and presumptuous 
confidence without repentance : unless it be accompanied with this 
hearty consent of living in the love, obedience, and service of God, with 


a detestation of our former ways, it would be a turning the grace of 
God into wantonness. Therefore these two always go together. Which 
is the first, I will not enter upon ; but the one cannot be without the 

[2.] Let me show you wherein they differ : the one respects God, 
the other Christ. 

(1.) Repentance towards God. While we live in sin, we are not 
only out of our way, but out of our wits. ' We were sometimes foolish 
and disobedient, serving divers lusts and pleasures,' Titus iii. 3. We 
live in rebellion against him against whom we cannot make our party 
good ; and withal contenting ourselves with a false transitory happi 
ness instead of a solid and eternal one, we never come to our wits 
again till we think of returning to God. As the prodigal, when ' he 
came to himself,' he thought of returning to his father ; and Ps. 
xxii. 27, ' They shall remember, and turn to the Lord.' So long as 
we lie in our sins, we are like men in a dream, we consider not from 
whence we are, nor whither we are going, nor what shall become of 
us to all eternity ; but go on against all reason and conscience, pro 
voking God, and destroying our own souls. Man is never in his true 
posture again, till he returns to God as his sovereign Lord and chief 
happiness : as our sovereign Lord, that we may perform our duty to 
him ; and our felicity and chief good, that we may seek all our happi 
ness in him. And none do repent but those that give up themselves 
to obey God and to do his will, as he is the sovereign Lord : 1 Peter 
iv. 2, ' That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh, 
to the lusts of men, but to the will of God ; ' and look upon him as 
their chief happiness, and prefer his favour above all the sensual 
pleasures of the world, that they may be able in truth to say, ' Whom 
have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth I desire 
besides thee,' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. This is repentance towards God. 

(2.) There is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This grace is neces 
sary, that we may own our Redeemer, and be thankful to him, as the 
author of our deliverance : Rom. vii. 25, ' wretched man that I am ! 
But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' And also faith 
is necessary, that we may trust ourselves in his hands. We are to 
take Christ as our prophet, priest, and king ; to hear him as our pro 
phet : Mat. xvii. 5, ' This is my beloved Son, hear him/ We are to 
receive him as our Lord and King : Col. ii. 6, ' As ye have received 
Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.' We are to consider him 
as the great high priest of our confession : Heb. iii. 1, ' Let us con 
sider the Lord Jesus, the great apostle and high priest of our confes 
sion/ Hear him we must as a prophet, that we may form our hopes 
by his covenant, and frame our lives by his holy and pure doctrine. 
Receive him we must as a king, that we may obey him in all things. 
Consider him as a priest, that we may depend upon the merit and 
value of his sacrifice and intercession, and may the more confidently 
plead his covenant and promises to God. Now without this there can 
be no commerce between us and Christ. Who will learn of him as a 
prophet, whom he takes to be a deceiver ? obey him as a king, who 
doth not believe his power ? or depend upon him with any confidence 
or hopes of mercy, if he doth not believe the value of his merit and 


sacrifice? Herein these things differ repentance towards God, and 
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ; the one respects the end, God ; the 
other the means, Christ. Kepentance more especially respects our 
duty ; faith, our comfort. Kepentance, newness of life for the future, 
and returning to the primitive duty, the love of God, and obeying his 
will ; faith, pardon of what is past, and hope of mercy to come. In 
short, to God we give up ourselves as our supreme Lord ; to Christ as 
Mediator, who alone can bring us to God : to God, as taking his will 
for the rule of our lives and actions, and preferring his love above all 
that is dear in the world ; to Christ as our Lord and Saviour, who 
makes our peace with God, and gives the Holy Spirit to change our 
hearts, that we may for ever live upon him as our life, hope, and 
strength. Thus I have briefly showed you how repentance respects 
God, and faith our Lord Jesus Christ. 

3. That these graces having their peculiar reference, are required 
in order to pardon, for distinct reasons and ends. 

First, Kepentance is required for these reasons : 

[1.] Because otherwise God cannot have his end in pardon, which is 
to recover the lost creation, that we may again live in his love and 
obedience. Surely Christ came to seek and save that which was lost. 
Now, to be lost, in the first and primitive sense, was to be lost to God. 
Take the lost sheep or groat, it was lost to the owner, the son to the 
father ; and so, if Christ came to save that which was lost, he came to 
recover us to God, therefore said to redeem us to God. 

[2.] Neither can the Redeemer do his work for which God hath 
appointed him : 1 Peter iii. 18, ' He died, the just for the unjust, that 
he might bring us to God.' We accept him in all his offices for this 
end : ' I am the way, truth, and life ; no man comes to the Father but 
by me.' Therefore, whole Christianity, from the beginning to the 
end, a short description of it is this, a coming to God by Christ : 
Heb. vii. 25, 'He is able to save to the uttermost' Whom? 'all 
those that come to God by him.' 

[3.] Without it we should not have our happiness. It is our hap 
piness to please and enjoy God. We are not in a capacity to please 
and enjoy God till we are returned to him : ' They that are in the 
flesh cannot please the Lord ; ' nor to enjoy him here, for here ' we 
see his face in righteousness ,' nor hereafter, for ' without holiness no 
man shall see God/ 

Secondly, But why is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ required, and 
so much spoken of in scripture ? I will content myself but with two 
reasons at this time : 

[1.] Faith in Christ is most fitted for the acceptance of God's free 
gift. Faith and grace do always go together, and are put as opposite 
to law and works : Kom. iv. 16, 'It is of faith that it may be of grace:' 
Eph. ii. 8, ' For by grace ye are saved through faith, and not of your 
selves, it is the gift of God ; not of works, lest any man should boast.' 
Faith establishes and keeps up the interest and honour of grace; for 
it is the free grace and favour of God to condescend to the rebel world, 
so far as he hath done in the new covenant. We present ourselves 
before him as those that stand wholly to his mercy, have nothing 
to plead for ourselves but the righteousness and merit of our Re- 


deemer, by virtue of which we humbly beg pardon and life to be 
begun in us by his Spirit, and perfected in glory. 

[2.] Why faith in Christ ? Because the way of our recovery is so 
strange and wonderful. It can only be received by faith ; sense can 
not convey it to us, reason will not, and nothing is reserved for the 
entertainment of this glorious mystery, pardon, and salvation by our 
Redeemer, but faith alone. If I should deduce this argument at 
large, I would show you nothing but faith, or the belief of God's testi 
mony concerning his Son, can support us in these transactions with 
God. The comfort of the promise is so rich and glorious, sense and 
reason cannot inform us of it : ' Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive, the things God 
hath prepared for them that love him,' 1 Cor. ii. 9. It is not meant 
only of heaven, but of the whole preparations and rich provisions God 
hath made for us in the gospel. It is not a thing can-come to us by 
eye or ear, or the conceiving of man's heart ; we only believe and 
entertain it by faith. And then, the persons upon whom it is bestowed 
are so unworthy, that certainly it cannot enter into the heart of man 
that God will be so good, and do so much good to such. Adam, when 
he had sinned, grew shy of God, and ran away from him. Besides, the 
way God hath taken for our deliverance is so supernatural : ' God so 
loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son, that whosoever 
believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life/ That 
God should become man, that he should submit to such an accursed 
death for our sakes, is so high and glorious, it can only be entertained 
by faith. Besides, our chief blessedness lies in another world : ' He 
that lacketh faith is blind, and cannot see afar off.' Here in this 
lower world, where our God is unseen, and our great hopes are to 
come, where the flesh is so importunate to be pleased, where our 
temptations and trials are so many, and difficulties so great, we are apt 
to question all, and we can never keep waiting upon God, were it not 
for faith, and a steady belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. For these 
reasons (if you look into the scriptures), it is why faith is so much 
insisted upon, that we may keep up the honour of God's grace, and 
because this grace of the Redeemer is so mysterious and wonderful. 

4. The use of these two graces discovers their nature. What is 
faith and repentance ? Repentance towards God is a turning from 
sin to God. The terminus a quo of repentance is our begun recovery 
from sin, and therefore called, ' Repentance from dead works,' Heb. vi. 
1. The terminus ad quern, to which we return, is God, and our being 
devoted to God in obedience and love. God never hath our hearts till 
he hath our love and delight, till we return to a love of his blessed 
majesty, and delight in his ways. This is called in scripture some 
times a turning to God, in many other places a seeking after God, a 
giving up ourselves to God : 2 Cor. viii. 5, ' They gave up them 
selves to the Lord.' This is the repentance by which we enter into 
the gospel state. Now what is faith ? Besides an assent to the gospel, 
which is at the bottom of it, it is a serious, thankful, broken-hearted 
acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, that he may be to every one of us 
what God hath appointed him to be, and do for every one of us what 
God hath appointed him to do for poor sinners ; it is serious and 

198 THE SECOND SERMON". [Ps. XXXII. 1, 2. 

broken-hearted, done by a creature in misery, and thankful for such a 
wonderful benefit, a trusting to this Redeemer, that he may do the 
work of a redeemer in our hearts, to save us from the evil of, and 
after, sin. 

And thus I have briefly opened this necessary doctrine, as clearly 
laid in the scripture. And this is your entrance in the evangelic 

II. For our continuance therein ; for we must not only mind our 
entrance, but our continuance. Our Lord Jesus tells us of a gate and 
a way : the gate signifies the entrance, and the way our continuance. 
And we read of making and keeping covenant with God ; we read of 
union with Christ, that is our first entrance. For this faith is the 
closing act, and expressed sometimes by a being married to Christ. 
But there is not only an union with Christ, but an abiding in him: 
' Abide in me, and I will abide in you/ Now as for our continuance, 
I would show you that the first works are gone over and over again, 
faith and repentance are still necessary : ' For the righteousness of 
God is revealed from faith to faith.' And repentance is still necessary. 
But I shall only press two things first, new obedience ; secondly, 
daily prayer. 

1. New obedience is required : 1 John i. 7, ' If we walk in the light, 
as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the 
blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.' Holy walking 
is necessary to the continuance of our being cleansed from sin, and 
therefore mercy is promised to the forsaking of our sins : Prov. xxviii. 
13, ' He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy ; ' Isa. 
Iv. 7, ' Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his 
thought ; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy 
upon him ; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.' Our 
hearts were not sound with God in the first covenanting if we undo 
what was done : ' If we build again the things we have destroyed, then 
we are found transgressors/ Gal. ii. 18. Well, then, a man that seeks 
after pardon, seeks after it with the ruin and destruction of sin. Sin 
was the greatest burden that lay upon his conscience, the grievance 
from whence he sought ease, the wound pained him at heart, the 
disease his soul was sick of. And was all this anguish real ? And 
shall a man come to delight in his sores again, and take up the burden 
he groaned under, and tear open the wound that was in a fair way of 
healing, and willingly relapse into the sickness he was almost recovered 
from with so much ado ? Sure this shows our first consent was not 
real and sincere. And then Christ will be no advocate for them that 
continue in their sins. ' Our God is a God of salvation," we cannot 
enough speak of his saving mercy ; but ' he will wound the head of 
his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in 
his trespasses,' Ps. Ixviii. 20, 21. 

2. Daily prayer. [This was spoken unto at the close of the first 
sermon.] Mat. vi. 12. Our Lord hath taught us to pray (for we 
make but too much work for pardoning mercy every day), ' Every day 
forgive us our trespasses.' To-day in one of the petitions, is common 
to all that follow ; as we beg daily bread, we must beg daily pardon, 
daily grace against temptations. Under the law they had a lamb every 


morning and every evening offered to God for a daily sacrifice, Num. 
xxviii. 4-6. We are all invited to look to the Lamb of God, that taketh 
away the sins of the world. Surely we have as much need as they 
more cause than they, because now all is clear and openly made known 
unto us. God came to Adam in the cool of the day ; he would not let 
him sleep in his sins : before night came he comes and rouseth his 
conscience, and then gives out the promise of the seed of the woman 
that should break the serpent's head. In reconciliation with God let 
not the sun go down upon God's wrath, Eph. iv. 26. A man should 
not sleep in his anger, nor out of charity with man ; surely we should 
make our peace with God every day. If a man under the law had 
contracted any uncleanness, he was to wash his clothes before evening, 
that he might not lie a night in his uncleanness. We should daily, 
earnestly, come to God with this request, Lord, pardon our sins. But 
what ! must those that are already adopted into God's family, and taken 
into his grace and favour, daily pray for pardon of sin ? Though upon 
our first faith our state be changed, and we are indeed made children 
of God, and heirs of eternal life by faith in Christ Jesus, yet he that 
is clean need wash his feet. We contract a great deal of sinful defile 
ment and pollution by walking up and down here in a dirty world, and 
we must every day be cleansing our consciences before God, and 
begging that we may be made partakers of this benefit. 

III. The third thing is our recovery out of grievous lapses and falls. 
In them there is required a particular and express repentance ; and re 
pentance and faith must be carried with respect to those four things that 
are in sin : culpa, the fault, reatus, the guilt, macula, the stain and blot, 
and poena, the punishment. You know the law supposeth a righteous 
nature that God gives to man, therefore in sin there is a stain or blot, 
defacing God's image. The precepts of the law require duty, so it is 
culpa, a criminal act ; the sanction of the law as threatened makes 
way for guilt, as executed calls for punishment ; you see how it ariseth. 

1. For the fault in the transgression of the law, or the criminal 
action. See that the fault be not continued ; relapses are very dan 
gerous. A bone often broken in the same place is hardly set again. 
God's children are in danger of this before the breach be well made 
up, or the orifice of the wound be soundly closed ; as Lot doubled his 
incest, and Samson goes in again and again to Delilah. But in wicked 
men frequently, as that king sent fifty after fifty, and nothing would stop 
him. There is an express forsaking of sin required of us, otherwise it 
would abolish all the difference between the renewed and the carnal. 

2. The guilt continues till serious and solemn repentance, and 
humiliation before God, and suing out our pardon in Christ's name. 
1 John i. 9, he speaks of believers : ' If we confess our sins, he is 
faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all 
unrighteousness.' There must be a solemn humbling for the sin, and 
then God will forgive us. Suppose a man forbear the act, and never 
commit it more (as Judah forbore the act, after he had committed 
incest with Tamar, but it seems he repented not till she showed him 
the bracelets and the staff) ; yet with serious remorse we must beg our 
peace humbly upon the account of our Mediator. Therefore some 
thing must be done to take away the guilt 


3. There is the blot or evil inclination to sin again. The blot of 
sin in general is the defacing of God's image, but in particular sins it 
is some weakening of the reverence of God. A man cannot venture 
to act a grievous wilful sin, but there is a violent obstruction of the 
fear of God. A brand that hath been in the fire is more apt to take 
fire again ; the evil influences of the sin continue. Now the root of 
sin must be mortified, it is not enough to forbear or confess a sin, but 
we must pull out the core of the distemper before all will be well. 
As Jonah, he repented of his tergiversation and forsaking his call. 
The fault was not repeated : he goes to Nineveh and does his duty. 
Yet the core of the distemper was not taken away ; for you read of him, 
Jonah iv. 2, ' Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? 
therefore I fled before unto Tarshish : for I knew thou wert a gracious 
God, and repentest thee of the evil.' On the contrary, Peter fell into 
a grievous sin, denying his Lord and Master with oaths and exe 
crations; but afterwards, John xxi. 15, Christ tries him: Jesus saithto 
Simon Peter, ' Lovest thou me more than these ? ' pointing to the rest 
of his disciples. Peter had been bragging, Mat. xxvi. 33, ' Though 
all men forsake thee, yet I will not forsake thee.' Now when he was 
foiled, though he had wept bitterly for his fault, Christ tries if the 
cause be removed : ' Lord, saith he, thou knowest all things, thou 
knowest that I love thee/ But he doth not say now, ' more than these.' 
The root of the distemper was gone ; Peter is grown more modest now 
than to make comparisons. 

4. There is the punishment. Now we must deprecate eternal 
punishment, and bless God for Jesus Christ, ' who hath delivered us 
from wrath to come.' But as to temporal evils, God hath reserved a 
liberty in the covenant to his wisdom and fatherly justice, to inflict 
temporal punishments as he shall see good. ' If they break his stat 
utes, and keep not his commandments ; then will he visit their trans 
gression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless 
my loving-kindness I will not utterly take from them, nor suffer my 
faithfulness to fail/ Ps. Ixxxix. 32, 33. If 'judgment begin at the 
house of God/ what shall become of the sinner and ungodly ? The 
righteous are recompensed upon earth, partly to increase their repent 
ance, that when they smart under the fruit of sin, they may best judge 
of the evil of it. God doth in effect say, ' Now know it is an evil and 
bitter thing to sin against me/ God doth not do it to complete their 
justification, but to promote their sanctification, and to make us warn 
ings to others, that they may not displease God as we do. Now for 
these reasons the Lord, though he doth forgive the sin and release the 
eternal punishment, yet he reserves a liberty to chastise us in our per 
sons, families, and relations. Therefore what is our business? Humbly 
deprecate this temporal judgment : ' Lord, correct me not in thine 
anger, nor chasten me in thy hot displeasure/ We should be instant 
with God to get it stopped or mitigated ; but if the Lord see it fit it 
shall come, patiently submit to him, and say, as the church, ' I will 
bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him/ 
These afflictive evils, some of them belong to God's external govern 
ment, and some to his internal. Some to his external government, as 
when many are sick, and weak, and fallen asleep : ' When we are 


judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned 
with the world.' A rod dipped in guilt may smart sore upon the back 
of God's children, if they will play the wantons and rebels with God. 
Eli broke his neck, his sons were killed in battle, the ark taken. But 
then there are some other things belonging to his internal government, 
as the withdrawing the comforts of his Spirit, or the lively influences 
of his grace ; for this was the evil David feared when he had gone into 
wilful sins: Ps. li. 11, 12, ' Cast me not away from thy presence, and 
take not away thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy 
salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit.' When God's children 
fall into sin, though the Lord doth not utterly take away his loving- 
kindness from them, he may abate the influences of his grace so far as 
they may never recover the like measure again as long as they live. 


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. ACTS 
III. 26. 

THESE words are the conclusion of the second sermon that was preached 
after the pouring out of the Spirit, and in them you may observe three 
things : 

I. The parties concerned : unto you first. 

II. The benefit offered : God, having raised up his Son Jesus, hath 
sent him to bless you. 

III. The blessing interpreted, or what kind of blessing it is we shall 
have by the Mediator : he hath sent him to bless you, in turning every 
one of you from your iniquities. 

Let me a little open these, before I come to observe anything. 

I. For the parties concerned : unto you first. Why was the first 
offer of Christ made unto the people of the Jews ? For sundry 
reasons. Partly : 

1. Because they were the only church of God for that time, and the 
people that were in visible communion with him. And God hath so 
much respect for the church, that they shall have the refusal and the 
morning-market of the gospel. And whatsoever dispensations of grace 
are set on foot shall be first brought to them : ' He hath showed his 
statutes unto Jacob : he hath not dealt so with other nations,' Ps. 
cxlvii. 19. 

2. They were the children of the covenant : ' Ye are the children of 
the covenant/ therefore ' unto you first.' God was in covenant with 
their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and God follows a covenant 
people with more offers of grace than he doth vouchsafe unto others, 
and bears with sin after sin till he can bear no longer. And when the 
branches of the covenant-stock run quite wild, then they are cut off, 
Bom. xi. 20. 

3. Christ came of them after the flesh, and was of their seed, Rom. 


ix. 5 ; to teach us first to seek the salvation of our kindred, and 
countrymen, and near relations : those that are nearer to us lie next our 
work and service. Therefore, to you first. 

4. That he might magnify his grace and faithfulness, not only in 
the matter of the gospel, but even in the first offer of it. He doth 
magnify his faithfulness herein, for it is said, ' Christ is the minister 
of the circumcision to confirm the truth to their fathers,' Rom. xv. 8. 
God had promised their fathers that he would raise up a Saviour, 
therefore he must be first discovered here ; and he magnifies his 
grace, for there was Christ preached where he was crucified. They 
had the first handsel of this good news, and wrath came not upon them 
to the uttermost till they had despised the gospel, as well as killed the 
Lord of glory, 1 Thes. ii. 14, 15. 

5. This was necessary too for the confirmation of the gospel : to 
you first Christ did not sneak nor steal into the world clancularly 
and privately, but he would have his law set up where it was likely 
to be most questioned. They were most concerned to inquire into the 
truth of matters of fact upon which the credit of the gospel had 
depended. If he had first gone to the Gentiles, the Jews might have 
objected their condemning Christ as a malefactor, and that his 
messengers and apostles durst not set on foot the report of his 
miracles, life, and death in their confines. But Christ would have the 
gospel preached there, where, if there were any falsehood in it, it might 
easily be disproved ; and because the main of the Jewish doctrine was 
adopted into the Christian, and was confirmed by the prophecies of 
the Old Testament, they were the only competent judges to whose 
cognisance these things should be first offered. Therefore he saith, 
' Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to 
bless you.' 

6. That the ruin of that nation might be a fit document and proof 
of God's severity against the contemners of the new gospel, Acts 
xiii. 45-47. There it is showed that they were the first people to 
whom it was offered, and they contemned it, and therefore wrath came 
upon them to the uttermost. Therefore this did authorise and confirm 
this doctrine, wherever it should be preached and offered. 

7. That the first ministers might be a pattern of obedience, to 
preach where God would have them, to preach in the very face and 
teeth of opposition. Christ appoints their station. The Jews were 
like to be the most virulent enemies against the gospel, because the 
rulers put Christ to death : Go, preach the gospel to all nations, but 
begin at Jerusalem, though there you meet with a great deal of spite 
and opposition. Now, because of these reasons, ' Unto you first, the 
Lord, having raised up his Son,' &c. 

II. The second thing to be explained is the benefit offered: 
wherein is set forth the great love of God unto the people to whom 
the gospel comes. 

1. In designing such a glorious person as Jesus Christ : having 
raised up his Son Jesus. 

2. In that he gave notice, and did especially direct and send him 
to them : hath sent his Son. 

3. Why he came among them in his word : it was to bless them. 


[1.] In designing the person who should do them good, ' God hath 
raised up his Son Jesus/ It may seem to be meant of his resur 
rection from the dead ; but I think rather to raise up is to exalt, to 
call, to authorise, to appoint to some notable work ; and it is used for 
installing, consecrating, as in this very chapter: ver. 22, 'He shall 
raise up a prophet from among you ; ' Acts xiii. 23, ' Of this man's 
seed hath God raised up to Israel a Saviour ; ' that is, hath put 
authority upon him, given him commission to save sinners, raised up, 
designed him to this work. But then : 

[2.] The special direction of his providence : ' God having raised 
up his Son Jesus, hath sent him to bless you.' Sometimes the word 
is said to be sent to us: Acts xiii. 26, ' To you is this word of salva 
tion sent.' He doth not say, We have brought this salvation to you, 
but ' To you it is sent/ God hath a great hand in directing the 
course of the gospel. And sometimes Christ is said to be sent, as 
here in the text ; for where the gospel is preached to a people, Christ 
is sent to them as a token from heaven; if he be neglected, you 
despise the riches and bounty of God, and the best and choicest gift 
that ever could be bestowed upon the sons of men. Therefore he 
saith, ' God having raised his Son, hath sent him/ Where the gospel 
goes, there Christ is sent ; there he conies that he may have work to do. 

[3.] Here is the end and purport of his coming ; not to take 
vengeance of the affronts and contumelies they had put upon him, 
but he comes to bless. For the opening of this word, you must look 
to the preceding verse. He speaks of the covenant made with 
Abraham, ' In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed/ 
Now Jesus was sent unto them to assure this blessing. The blessing 
is any good that accrues and results to us from the covenant of grace, 
but chiefly those special blessings we have by Christ, reconciliation 
with God, and life eternal, those things which he minded to purchase 
for us, and hath dispensed to us by his gracious covenant. This is the 
blessing intended, All nations are to be blessed in the seed of 
Abraham; now God having raised Christ of this man's seed, hath 
sent him to bless you. 

III. Here is the blessing interpreted and restrained, and that is 
conversion from sin : ' In turning every one of you from his sins/ 
They expected a pompous Messiah, that should make them an opulent 
and potent nation. But Christ came upon another errand, to convert 
souls unto God. Only mark, when the apostle speaks this, he speaks 
it not of the intention of God, but the offer of his grace ; otherwise 
every particular Jew must be converted, or God missed his end. God 
may send him to bless, and yet some may contemn the offer ; others 
God prevents by the special efficacy of his grace, or else all would con 
temn it. They that do contemn it are justly passed by; and they that 
receive it, owe it to his grace, and not to themselves. It was the 
secret purpose of his grace to bring in many, and this brought in 
three thousand men. There were others refused this blessing offered 
from the Mediator, and they justly perish for their unbelief. 

The point, though there be many, that I shall insist on, is : 

Doct. That a main blessing we have by Christ is to be turned from 
our iniquities. 


I. Here I shall inquire, What it is to be turned from sin. 

II. I shall show you, That certainly this is a very blessed thing. 

III. That this is the great blessing of the Mediator that we have 
by Christ in the gospel. 

IV. In what manner Christ turneth us from our iniquities. 

I. What it is to be turned from sin. Take these considerations: 

1. Man fallen, lay under the power and guilt of sin : he was 
c dead in trespasses and sins, and liable to the wrath of God,' Eph. ii. 
1-3. So man was both unholy and guilty. 

2. Christ came to free us from both these. The guilt: Eph. i. 
7, ' In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of 
sins ; ' and the power : Titus iii. 5, ' He hath saved us by the washing 
of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.' To be freed from 
guilt, and delivered from hell and wrath to come, is a blessing for 
which we can never be sufficiently thankful; but to be freed from 
sin, that is the greater mercy, and therefore ' he hath sent his Son to 
bless you, in turning every one of you from your sins/ 

3. To be turned from sin implies our whole conversion. Though 
one part only be mentioned, the term from which, yet the term to 
which is implied ; that we are turned to God as well as turned from 
sin ; to God, as our happiness, and our supreme Lord, that we may 
love him, and be happy in being beloved by him. Acts xxvi. 18. 

4. That remission of sins is included in our conversion to God. 
The meaning is, that he may turn you from your unbelief and im- 
penitency, and so make you capable of his pardon and mercy ; for so 
it is explained, ver. 19, ' Kepent, and be converted, that your sins 
may be blotted out,' &c. Without sound repentance the Mediator's 
blessing will not be had ; and when Christ came to save us from 
wrath, his way was to turn us from sin. These two must not be 
severed : ' God hath exalted him to be a prince and Saviour, to give 
repentance and remission of sins,' Acts v. 31. You see, then, what 
is meant by the blessing the Mediator offers, to be turned from our 

II. It is a blessed thing to be made partakers of this benefit. 
Blessedness imports two things : negatively, a removal of evil ; and 
positively, a fruition or enjoyment of some great good. When we are 
turned from our sins, there is both. 

1. An immunity from, or a removal of, the great evil, and that is 

[1.] The great cause of offence between God and us is taken out of 
the way : Isa. lix. 2, ' Your iniquities have separated between you 
and your God, and have hidden his face from you.' Sin makes the 
distance between you and God, that you cannot delight in God, nor 
God in you. You cannot delight in God, for your hearts are alienated 
from him. You are become ' enemies in your mind by wicked works.' 
Where sin reigns, man is an enemy to God ; partly through carnal 
prepossession : there is something takes up his heart, and diverts it 
from God : 1 John ii. 15, 'If any man love the world, how dwelleth 
the love of the Father in him ? ' His heart is taken up with another 
love. And partly through carnal liberty : we cannot enjoy our lusts 
with that freedom and security, by reason of the restraints of his law, 


that would curb us and cut us short of our desires ; and partly 
through slavish fear. We hate those whom we fear. A condemning 
God can never be loved by a guilty creature. We look upon him as 
one that will call us to an account for our sins. Now, all these 
reasons concur to show us, that till sin be taken away, we cannot love 
nor delight in God, neither can God love us and delight in us. God 
will not have communion with us while we are in our sins. Christ, 
when he came to bring us to God, he came not to make any change 
in God, to make God less holy, but to make us holy and amiable in 
his sight. The reasonable nature cannot digest this conceit, that the 
holy God should take sinners into his bosom without any change. 
Would it become the governor of the world to be indifferent to good 
and bad, the holy God to be a friend to sinners ? The new nature in, 
us showeth the contrary ; for that causes an abomination and abhor 
rence both of impurity and the impure ; as Lot's righteous soul was 
vexed with the Sodomites. And we are told, 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/ If a man be sanctified but 
in part, he cannot delight in the wicked freely to converse with them. 
He hath a hatred, not of enmity so as to seek their destruction, not a 
hatred opposite to good-will that is contrary to the nature of grace, 
which is made up of love but a hatred of abomination, which is 
contrary to the love of complacency ; he cannot take any delight in 
him. Now, then, without a manifest reproach to the holy God, we 
cannot imagine he should admit sinners into an intimate communion 
with him : ' Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity,' Ps. v. 5. God 
said to the prophet, Jer. xv. 19, ' Let them return unto thee, but 
return not thou to them.' God will not return to us in our sins, but 
we must come off from our sins to him. 

[2.] We are freed from the great blemish of our natures. Sin 
defaced the image of God in us : Rom. iii. 23, 'All have sinned, and 
come short of the glory of God.' We lost not only the favour of 
God, but the image of God ; the great excellency of our nature was 
eclipsed and defaced. Now the plaster will not be as broad as the 
sore, nor our reparation by Christ correspondent to our loss by Adam, 
if our nature be not healed, and the image of God restored in us. If 
Adam had only left us guilty, the pardon of sin had been enough ; 
but he conveyed an evil nature, and therefore we must be turned 
from our sins, as well as pardoned, otherwise Christ would not restore 
all that Adam took away, Ps. Ixix. 4. Is he a good physician that 
takes away the pain, and leaves the great disease uncured ? But 
Christ has procured the favour of God for us, and repaired the image 
of God in us, and therefore certainly put us into a way of blessedness 
again. Holiness was our primitive excellency and amiableness. 

[3.] We are freed from that that is the great burden of the crea 
ture, as well as his blemish. Whatever it be to the common sinner, 
that is no matter ; he hath no right thoughts of things, and is besotted 
with his carnal choice ; for sin is an evil, whether it be felt or no. 
But the awakened sinner is sensible not only of the guilt of sin, but it 
is his greatest burden that he should have a nature inclines him to 
grieve and dishonour God. Pharaoh could say, 'Take away this 

206 THE THIRD SERMON. [ACTS 111. 26 

plague.' But a penitent, broken-hearted sinner cries, ' Take away all 
iniquity.' They desire a change of this state by regeneration. There 
fore the promises of the gospel, considering a penitent soul under such 
a distress, are suited to the case : 1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, 
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all 
unrighteousness.' If you know what sin is, and penitently bemoan 
yourselves to God, you will be troubled with the power and pollution 
of it, as well as the guilt : Micah vii. 18, 19, ' Who is a God like 
unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression 
of the remnant of his heritage ? He will turn again, he will have 
compassion, he will subdue our iniquities.' A heart truly affected 
doth not only desire pardon and ease, but power against sin. A man 
that hath his leg broken would not only desire ease of his pain, but to 
have his leg set right again. A leprous condemned malefactor desires 
not only to be freed from the sentence of condemnation, but to be 
cured, or his pardon will do him no good. Now, surely, it is a great 
blessing to be turned from our sins, to be freed from that a penitent 
soul finds to be so great a burden ; and the Mediator gives us a not 
able proof of his love in it. 

[4.] Being turned from our sins, we are freed from the great bane of 
our persons and all our happiness. Sin is a cursed inmate, it fires the 
lodging where it is entertained and harboured, unless speedily cast out 
of doors ; it involves us in the curse of the law, ' The wages of sin is 
death ;' therefore Christ, that he might free us from misery, doth first 
free us from sin. If pardon of sin be a blessing, certainly to be turned 
from sin is a blessing (for the one cannot be had without the other) ; 
till you are turned from sin you cannot be pardoned, not justified till 
you are sanctified : Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, ' Blessed is the man whose sin is 
forgiven, and whose iniquity is covered, and unto whom the Lord will 
not impute his sin, in whose spirit there is no guile.' When God hath 
given us a holy sincere heart, and turned us from our sins, then we 
have the blessedness of pardon : ' There is no condemnation to them 
that are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit/ 
Eom. viii. 1. We are freed from the condemning power of the law 
when freed from sin, and all that woe and wrath that belongs to every 
soul that doth evil. 

By all these considerations it appears how great a blessing the turn 
ing us from sin is in the privative notion, that is, the removal of so 
great an evil. 

2. Take blessedness in the positive notion, that is, to enjoy a great 
good ; and it will appear it is a blessed thing to be turned from our 

[1.] Because this is the matter of our serenity, comfort, and peace 
here, and the pledge and beginning of our eternal felicity hereafter. 
The soul can never be settled in a holy peace till it be turned from 
its sins ; we can never find rest till we get out of Satan's yoke and 
get into Christ's blessed liberty : ' The fruit of righteousness is peace,' 
Isa. xxxii. 17. We are freed from those unquiet and troublesome 
thoughts wherewith others are haunted. A wicked man's soul is in a 
mutiny, one affection wars against another, and all against the con 
science, and the conscience against all ; but where the heart is framed 

ACTS 111. 26.] THE THIRD SERMON. 207 

to the obedience of God's will, there is peace. Pax est tranquillitas 
ordinis, when all things keep their place, as in an accurate orderly life 
they do : Gal. vi. 16, ' As many as walk according to this rule, peace 
and mercy be upon them, and the whole Israel of God.' There is 
peace, for there is a harmonious Accord between God and them, and 
between them and themselves : Ps. cxix. 165, ' Great peace have they 
that love thy law ;' not only peace, but great peace, ' a peace that 
passeth all understanding.' Whilst we are in our sins, there is ever 
a fear of the war which is between God and us, and there is a war in 
ourselves, conscience disallowing our practices, and our practices dis 
liking the conduct of conscience, so that there is no peace to the 
wicked. But when the Lord Jesus hath taken us in hand, and begun 
to cure us, and frame us aright, and show us his wonderful grace in 
turning us from our sins, here is matter provided for serenity and 

[2.] It is the pledge of our eternal felicity hereafter ; for heaven is 
the perfection of holiness, or the full fruition of God in glory. Now, 
when the Mediator begins to take away sin, he blesses you ; for the life 
is then begun which shall be perfected in heaven. Unless it be begun 
here, it will never be perfected there : for ' without holiness no man 
shall see God/ Heb. xii. 14. But if it be begun, it will surely be per 
fected there ; for ' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' 
The vision and fruition of God is begun here, the spirit of holiness is 
the earnest of our inheritance, Eph. i. 13, 14. Oh, what blessedness is 
it then to have the new heart planted into us by Christ, and to live the 
new life ! It is the beast about you that delights in the momentary, 
base, dreggy pleasures of sin. But when Christ hath turned you from 
your sins, you are blessed indeed, you are in the way to blessedness, and 
you shall be blessed for ever ; he gives peace as a pledge of happiness 
and eternal glory. 

III. I shall prove that this is the Mediator's blessing. 

1. Let me lay down this, that those blessings that are most proper 
to the Mediator are spiritual blessings. We forfeited all by sin, but 
especially the grace of the Spirit, whereby we might be made service 
able to God. Other mercies run in the channel of common providence, 
but spiritual blessings are the discriminating graces and favours that 
are given us by the Mediator : 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.' Christ came not to distribute honours, 
and greatness, and worldly riches to his followers, but to turn away 
every one of us from our sins, to reduce us to God, that we may love 
him, and be beloved of him. He came as a spiritual Saviour, to give 
us grace rather than temporal happiness. Most men have a carnal, 
Jewish notion of Christ, they would have a temporal safety and 
happiness, they would have deliverance from affliction, rather than 
deliverance from sin. To be 'delivered from every evil work' is 
more than to be 'delivered from the mouth of the lion.' This is most 
proper to the Mediator, 2 Tim. iv. 18. A sanctified use of troubles is 
more than an exemption from them ; a carnal man may have exemp 
tion from them, but not a sanctified use of them. Poverty, lameness, 
blindness, are not as bad as ignorance, unruly lusts, and want of grace. 

208 THE THIRD SE11MON. [ACTS 111. 26. 

Moral evils arc worse than natural. Daniel was cast into a lion's den, 
you would think that was a misery ; but it was a greater misery when 
Nebuchadnezzar was thrust out among the beasts, being given up to 
a brutish heart. Exemption from trouble may be hurtful to us, but 
deliverance from sin is never hurtful to us. 

Among the spiritual blessings we have by the Mediator, conversion 
from sin to God is the chiefest we have on this side heaven. That it 
was the main part of Christ's undertaking, I shall prove by scripture 
and reason. For scripture, the text is clear for it ; for thus the apostle 
interprets the covenant-blessing, ' In thy seed shall all nations of the 
earth be blessed,' namely, ' God hath sent him to bless you.' Wherein ? 
' In turning every one of you from your sins.' ' He shall be called 
Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins/ Mat. i. 21 ; not only 
from the guilt, but the power of sin ; not only from the evil after sin, 
but the evil of Km itself. Denominatio est a majori the name is taken 
from what is chiefest. And so when he is promised to the Jews, ' The 
Redeemer shall come out of Sion, and he shall turn away ungodliness 
from Jacob.' There is his principal work : 1 John iii. 5, Christ came 
' to take away sin, and in him is no sin.' He means not only the con 
demning power, but the power of it in the heart ; for he is pleading 
arguments for holiness, why believers should not run into sin, which 
is ' a trangression of the law.' One is from the undertaking of Christ, 
he came ' to take away sin ;' and from the example of Christ, ' in him 
is no sin.' He plainly means the power of sin. 

2. Now, to give you some reasons why this is the chief benefit, most 
eyed by Christ, and should be most regarded by us. 

[1.] Christ's undertaking was principally for the glory of God : ' All 
the promises are in him, yea and amen, to the glory of God ;' and it 
should not be a question which should have the precedence, the glory 
of God or our good. Christ came to promote God's glory, and that 
must have the precedence of our benefit. Now, then, the abolishing 
the guilt of sin doth more directly respect our interest and good ; but 
the abolishing the power of sin, or the turning and cleansing the heart 
from it, doth more immediately respect the glory of God, and our sub 
jection to God. Therefore Christ would not only pacify the wrath of 
God, but his chief work, that doth mostly concern the glory of God, 
was to heal our evil natures, and prevent sin for the time to come. 

[2.] To be turned from sin is to be freed from the greatest evil ; for 
pardon gives us an exemption from punishment, which is a natural 
evil, but conversion gives us freedom from our naughty hearts, which 
is a moral evil ; and, certainly, vice is worse than pain, and sin than 
misery. Besides, sin is the cause of all evil, and the taking away the 
cause is more than ceasing the effect. 

[3.] This hath nearer connection with the life of glory. Pardon 
only removes the impediment, but the sanctifying and healing of our 
natures is the beginning of the life of glory, and introduction into it. 
Pardon removes our guilt, which hinders our happiness ; therefore, 
divines say, justification is gratia removens prohibens, that that re 
moves the impediment ; but the sanctifying the heart is an introduc 
tion into our glorious state, and the more sanctified the more meet to 
be partakers thereof, Col. i. 12. Now that which doth positively make 


us capable of glory and happiness is a greater privilege than that which 
only removes the impediment. 

[4.] That is the greatest benefit which makes us more amiable in 
the sight of God, and is the object of his delight. Now he delights 
in us as sanctified rather than pardoned. We love him, indeed, for 
pardoning and forgiving so great a debt : ' She loved much, because 
much was forgiven her ; ' but God delighteth in holiness, and the re 
flection and impress of his own image upon us : Prov. xi. 20, ' The 
upright in the way are his delight.' When the Spirit hath renewed 
us according to the image and nature of God, that makes us amiable 
in his sight, and an object of divine complacency ; therefore, surely 
this is the great privilege and blessing we have by the Mediator here 
in this world. I come to the fourth thing. 

IV. In what way doth Christ turn us from our iniquities ? 

1. He doth purchase this grace for us ; and 

2. He works it in us. 

1. He purchase th this grace for us that we may be turned : 1 Peter 
ii. 24, ' He bore our sins in his own body upon the tree, that we, being 
dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness.' That was his end, not 
only to lay the obligation upon us, but to procure the grace whereby 
we may be enabled to do so. This sacrifice was a truly propitiatory 
sacrifice, whereby God was appeased, and forfeited blessings restored. 
The loss of God's image was a great part of our punishment, and it is 
a part of our deliverance that Christ hath purchased this grace as well 
as pardon. He hath given himself for us, that he might cleanse us, 
and sanctify us, and make us a pure and holy people unto God, Eph. 
v. 25, 26. 

2. As he hath purchased it for us, so he works it in us, partly by 
the power of his internal grace, and partly by blessing and sanctifying 
external means and helps for such an end and purpose. 

First, I say, by the power of his internal grace changing our hearts 
and minds : Titus iii. 5, 6, ' He saved us by the washing of regenera 
tion, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly 
through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; ' and he acteth in us as Christ's 
Spirit, and as we are members of Christ. It is the Spirit enlightens the 
mind, so that we begin to see the evil that is in sin, the necessity to get 
rid of it : 'After I was instructed, I smote upon the thigh ;' and also to 
overcome the obstinate heart of man and turn it to God, and to fix the 
inclination of the soul against sin. In short, by his preventing grace 
he doth convert us, by his exciting grace sanctify us, by his assisting 
grace he makes us persevere, in turning us more and more from sin to 

Secondly, He sanctifies and blesses external helps and means. I 
shall instance in two ordinances and providences. 

[1.] Ordinances, such as the word and sacraments : John xvii. 19, 
' I sanctified myself, that they might be sanctified by the truth,' that 
is, the preaching of the word. ' He gave himself for his church, that he 
might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water through the 
word.' Mark these and other places of scripture, and you will find the 
merit of Christ doth reach the ordinances, that by them grace may be 
conveyed, and sin might be mortified and subdued in us. The word 



calls us to excite our resolutions against sin, and strengthen them to 
avoid occasions to cut off the provisions of the flesh, to make it our 
daily task to war and strive against it ; and none conscientiously wait 
upon the word but something by every attendance is given out for the 
weakening of sin and setting them afresh against it. And then the sac 
rament, that represents the death of Christ as the price of our dying to 
sin ; and it represents him as the pattern according to which we must 
be conformed, that we may know that our old man is crucified, and 
that we may renew our covenant with God, and our resolutions, and 
bind ourselves to more serious endeavours against sin. The Lord Jesus, 
after he had procured the Spirit, and this wonderful grace to turn us 
from our sins, hath appointed congruous and fit ordinances, whereby 
he may dispense this grace to us more and more. And as he sancti 
fies ordinances, so 

[2.] Providences ; for we are threshed, that our husks may fly off. 
Wherefore doth he chasten us sometimes, and very sorely, but to 
make us out of love with sin : ' The fruit of all shall be to take away 
sin,' Isa. xxvii. 9 ; and ' He chastens us verily for our profit, that we 
may be made partakers of his holiness,' Heb. xii. 10. By all these 
means we are sanctified, by ordinances and providences, and by the 
all-powerful grace of this Holy Spirit. 

Thus I have opened the fourth thing, how the Lord Jesus doth turn 
us from our sins. 

The uses we may make of this point are : 

I. Of information. It informs us : 

1. Of the vain hopes of the carnal, and such as yet live in their 
sins ; for at present they have no interest in him, and so living and 
dying will find him rather a judge than a Saviour, for the greatest part 
of their work is undone. We must be saved from the guilt and power 
of sin, and the latter is the proper sign of our recovery. We are 'jus 
tified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified also in the Spirit of 
our God.' Christ did not purchase our salvation by piecemeal, nor 
can we receive it by piecemeal ; a whole Saviour we must have, or no 
Saviour. She was the true mother that pleaded against the dividing 
of the infant. They are true Christians, I am sure, who would have 
Christ undivided, who would have him ' wisdom, and righteouness, and 
sanctification, and redemption ; ' for if you take him in one respect and 
neglect him in another, especially the chief thing you should make use 
of him for, you do not take him at all. Therefore the carnal, that live 
in their sins, are at present excluded from all claim to Christ. 

2. It shows us what we should mainly seek in our prayers. Leave 
not the Redeemer till he hath blessed you with his principal blessing. 
Our prayers for temporal happiness are not so welcome to Christ as 
our prayers for sanctifying grace and power against sin. Natural sense 
will put us upon asking corn and wine and oil ; but the new creature 
saith, Lord, take away iniquity. Every man hath a sense of outward 
evils, and would fain be at ease ; but every man hath not a sense of 
sin, and an hunger and thirst after righteousness. Self-love will 
prompt us to beg exemption from trouble, but sin is the worst burden 
to a tender heart. When your children ask you for apples and plums, 
and such things as are pleasing to their childish appetite, they do not 


please you so much as when they desire you to teach them and instruct 
them in their duty, that they may not offend God and you. When you 
ask temporal things of God, you do not sin, for God hath given a liberty 
to ask daily bread ; but when you ask grace, that you may be free from 
sin, that you may not offend God, or be a scandal to the gospel, this 
is most pleasing to God. When Solomon had asked wisdom, and not 
riches and honours, the thing pleased the Lord. These prayers are 
most acceptable to God, they will bring their answers with them ; then 
you set your Eedeemer about his proper work, for God ' sent him to 
bless you, in turning every one of you from your sins.' Nay ; if you 
beg only for pardon, and do not mind the destruction of sin, you are no 
more willing to be saved than the devils are. Certainly the devils are 
willing to be saved from the wrath of God. Every creature seeks its 
own ease, and they would be eased of their torments. Every one would 
have eternal life : ' Evermore give us this bread.' But you are un 
willing to be saved upon Christ's terms, if you will not let him mortify 
your lusts, and submit to his healing. 

3. If this be the Mediator's great blessing, to turn you from your 
sins, then it follows that those who have their corruptions most 
mortified are the best Christians. The Eedeemer hath been at work in 
their hearts, and they have most of the Mediator's blessing. He is not 
the best Christian that hath the most plausible gifts, that can with art 
and parts best perform outward duties, that hath the strongest memory, 
clearest apprehension, readiest elocution ; but he that hath a humble, 
mortified, holy, pure, and self-denying spirit ; for this is a more 
weighty point of Christ's undertaking, to make you holy, humble, and 
meek, than to furnish you with gifts, and make you free in speech. 
Again, he is not the best Christian that hath most fanatical raptures of 
joy, or pretended admirations of grace ; but he that is crucified to the 
world, and hath felt the power of Christ's death. Many who are not 
careful, watchful, and exact in their conversations, yet will pretend to 
live upon Christ, and think they need not be so scrupulous to be 
troubled about their sins. These neglect the main end of Christ's 
coming, which was to turn every one of us from our iniquities. 

4. It shows the necessity and excellency of holiness. The necessity 
of it will appear thus: It is not only an evidence of our interest in the 
relative privileges, such as pardon, adoption, and the like ; not only 
necessary by way of gratitude for salvation received, but it is necessary 
as a part of salvation itself. This is the salvation, the blessing of the 
Kedeemer, this is the thing wherein he hath showed his free grace, in 
that he hath purchased the Spirit to heal our natures, and restore the 
image of God to us which was defaced by sio. Herein is Christ a 
Saviour, in saving his people from their sins, and ' he hath saved us by 
washing us in the laver of regeneration.' And once more, it is not 
only a main part of our salvation, but a necessary means to obtain the 
rest. No obtaining pardon without conversion, nor heaven till sin be 
quite done away. Secondly, The excellency of holiness appears. Fof 
this end we are redeemed by Christ, Luke i. 74, 75. And renewed by 
the Holy Ghost, Eph. iv. 24. Yea, our everlasting blessedness con 
sists in the perfection of holiness, Eph. v. 27. 

It informs us how much Christians are to blame, that they im- 


prove their Christianity no more to get power and strength against sin. 
Christ, consider him as a prophet, priest, or king, doth still discover 
himself to be one that came to take away sin. As a prophet, he hath 
given us such a doctrine as is fit for such a use, John xvii. 17. His 
word is the best glass to see corruption. The highest motives in the 
world are propounded to purge it out His calls, promises, and 
threats are all to take away sin ; and as a priest, he hath paid the 
price that was necessary to preserve the honour of God's justice, that 
there might be no stop in the way of that abundant grace, and that 
we may have the gift of the Spirit, 1 John i. 7. Because his blood was 
that meritorious price that was shed, that we might be turned from 
sin, and this blood is pleaded before God, ' He lives for ever to make 
intercession for you,' that in all your conflicts and temptations you may 
have necessary strength against sin. As a king, he doth powerfully by 
his Spirit maintain his interest against the devil, world, and flesh, and 
helps you to overcome sin. He is ' the captain of your salvation.' 
Yet lamentable it is to see what a poor cowardly spirit is in most 
Christians, how soon captivated with every slender assault and petty 
temptation, and their resolutions so soon shaken, not so much for want 
of strength, as sluggishness and cowardice, and want of care. Men 
spare their pains, and then cry out they are impotent, when there 
is such grace provided in the Redeemer. Like lazy beggars that 
personate and act diseases because they would not work, they are 
not able to stand before the slightest motions of sin, because they do not 
stir up themselves and improve the grace they have, or might have by 
Christ. Certainly idle complaints of sin will not become those that 
profess an interest in Christ, for his main great undertaking, which is 
by all methods carried on still, is the taking away sin. So much for 
the information. 

II. Take home with you this truth in your hearts, that Christ's work 
is to turn you from sin, and it is the great blessing we have from him 
in the new covenant. Then do not neglect this work, nor contemn 
this blessing. You know the fault of those, they made light of these 
things. Especially do not resist this work, nor grieve the Holy Spirit 
of Christ which would work it in you, and quench not his sanctifying 
motions ; rather deliver up yourselves to all his healing methods, and 
be so far from resisting, that you should improve the power of his grace 
every day. He turns us indeed by way of efficiency, but we turn our 
selves by submission to his blessed motions. He draws, and we run 
after him. Therefore, every time Christ offers this saving help, thou 
art put to thy choice, whether thou wilt have Christ or sin to reign over 
thee. Christ, that doeth it for thee, must do it in thee. Christ is the 
author that turns, but the sinner is the subject, and he first works upon 
you, and afterwards he works by you. He converts you to God by the 
victorious impressions of his grace, and afterwards, ' ye through the 
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body.' We cannot do it ; Christ 
must do it, but he will do it in his own way. He hath sanctified 
ordinances to convey this to you. Now, wilt thou wait diligently till 
it be accomplished ? The physician cures the disease, but the patient 
must take the appointed medicine. You must not expect he should 
cure it, and thou feel it not, as it were by spells and charms without 


thee, without putting thee to the trouble of physic. Take up a 
resolution to look after the cure of thy soul, and observe the whole pro 
gress of the work, arid what a wound is given to sin in every ordinance : 
what in the word, what in the Lord's Supper ; how thy resolution is 
strengthened against it ; how the carnal nature wears off every day. 
The work is not perfect in an instant, but he is still turning ; therefore 
when thou beginnest to be dead to sin, die more. Ye are dead, there 
fore mortify. Christ hath perfectly bought off all sin in every kind and 
degree ; should not we strive to have all that he hath purchased ? At 
least do not strengthen thy bonds, the sin thou canst not avoid hate it, 
and keep up the lively resistance still. Hear diligently, pray earnestly, 
watch narrowly, and keep thyself from thy sin : do not only pare the 
nails of it, but cut off thy very right hand, and mortify and subdus it 
yet more and more, that Christ may have his conquest in thy soul. 


Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, 
that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having 
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 PET. 

IN these words the apostle extolleth the grace of God towards us in 
the gospel. In them take notice of: 

First, The means. 

Secondly, The end and use of them. 

Thirdly, The method and order in which this effect is wrought 
in us. 

First, The means whereby God conveys his grace to us, viz., the 
promises of the gospel, which are set forth : 

1. By their excellency : exceeding great and precious promises. 

2. Their freeness : are given to us. 

1. Their excellency is set forth by two adjuncts. They are ' ex 
ceeding great and precious : ' ra /i^ytcrra KOI rifjiia eVa^eX/ia-m. The 
one noteth their intrinsic worth and value ; they are ' exceeding great.' 
The other, our esteem of them ; they deserve to be ' precious' to us. 

[1.] Ta fieyurra, so called from the matter of them, which are great 
and precious gifts, such as pardon, and life begun in sanctification 
and perfected in glory. 

[2.] Ta rifjiia 7ra^ye\/j.aTa, precious, deserving and challenging 
our esteem, being so suitable to our necessities and desires. Our 
necessity ariseth from the fears of misery so justly deserved. Our 
desires are after a proper happiness, which is only offered to us in 
the promises of God, not only as probable, but as certain to be ours, 
if duly qualified. Now these promises, being so great and precious, 
should attract us to all purity and holiness ; for what is greater, and 


deserveth to be more esteemed by us, than remission of sins, and an 
inheritance among the sanctified? 

2. Their freeness : given, made freely, made good freely. 

Secondly, The end and use of them: that by these ye might be 
partakers of the divine nature. 

By the divine nature is not meant here the essence of God, but his 
communicable excellencies, or such divine properties as can be im 
parted to the creature, and these not considered in their absolute 
perfection, but as they are agreeable to our present state and capacity. 
These are sometimes called ' the image of God : ' Col. iii. 10, ' The 
new man, which is renewed in holiness after the image of him that 
created him ; ' because they imply a likeness to him. And sometimes 
'the life of God : ' Eph. iv. 18, ' Being alienated from the life of God/ 
because it is a vital principle. And here ' the divine nature/ and 
that for two reasons : 

1. Because these are communicated to us by God ; they are created 
in us by his divine power, and therefore the word created is so often 
used on this occasion : Eph. ii. 10, ' We are his workmanship, created 
in Christ Jesus ;*'2 Cor. v. 17, ' If any man be in Christ, he is a new 
creature.' Creation is proper to God. We have them by virtue of 
our communion with him. They flow from God, as the light doth 
from the sun. 

2. Because by these perfections we somewhat resemble God. There 
fore it is said, 1 Peter ii. 9, ' We show forth his praises : ' ra<? apera?, 
his virtues or divine attributes, his ' wisdom, goodness, bounty, holi 
ness ;' for in these we most resemble him. If you take in his power, 
there is some resemblance of that too, as to the moral exercise in 
taming our own flesh, mastering our inordinate lusts and passions, 
and vanquishing all temptations. This is a spiritual power, and so 
spoken of Prov. xvi. 32, ' He that is slow to anger is better than the 
mighty ; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city/ 
And travra la^vco, ' I can do all things through Christ that strengthens 
me/ Phil. iv. 13. To live above the hopes and fears of the world is a 
great ability and power. And vanquishing the world is made the 
fruit of the new birth : 1 John v. 4, ' That which is born of God over- 
cometh the world.' And in that place where the spirit of a Christian 
is described, it is said to be 'a spirit of love, power, and of a sound 
mind/ 2 Tim. i. 7. We conceive God to be a spiritual being, of in 
finite wisdom, goodness, and power. To his wisdom answereth the 
spirit of a sound mind ; to his goodness, a spirit of love ; and what is 
the original and pattern of the spirit of power, the very name dis- 
covereth, namely, God's own power. So all his attributes leave their 
impress upon us. 

Thirdly, The way, method, and order how we receive this benefit 
of the divine nature. ' Having first escaped the corruption that is 
in the world through lust.' As we die to sin, the divine nature in- 
creaseth in us. There is a putting off before there can be a putting 
on : Eph. iv. 22-24, ' We put off the old man, which is corrupt by its 
deceitful lusts.' We begin the work of sanctification with mortifica 
tion in the first place, and then proceed to the positive duties of a new 
life ; for the plants of righteousness will not thrive in an impenitent 


and unmortified heart. As the corruption of sin is driven out and 
expelled, so the divine nature succeedeth. Intus existens prohibet 
alienum, these things are not consistent, cannot be joined together. 
The corruption that is in the world and the divine nature can no 
more agree than darkness and light, Kom. xiii. 12. But let us see 
how this mortification is expressed. 

1. What is to be avoided. 

2. The manner of shunning it. 

1. What is to be avoided : ' The corruption that is in the world 
through lust.' Observe, sin is called corruption, as often in scrip 
ture, because it is a blasting of our primitive excellency and purity ; 
Gen. vi. 12, ' All flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth ; ' Ps. 
xiv. 1, 'They are all corrupt and abominable;' that is, degenerated, 
fallen from their pristine or former purity. Observe, the seat of this 
corruption is said to be in the world, where lust and all uncleanness 
reigneth ; therefore called (judo-para /coo-pov, ' the pollutions of the 
world/ 2 Peter ii. 20. The generality of men are defiled with them, 
corrupted in their faith, worship, and manners ; therefore conversion 
is called for under these terms : Acts ii. 40, ' Save yourselves from 
this untoward generation.' Conversion to God implies a renouncing 
or an escaping the evil fashions and corruptions of the world, or 
'having no fellowship with them,' with their sins, but 'reproving 
them rather/ So that the question is, whether we will conform our 
selves to God or the world ? whether we will have fellowship with the 
corruptions of the world, or be partakers of the divine nature ? We 
must avoid the one to obtain the other. Lastly, observe, that this 
corruption is said to reign in the world ' through lust/ Besides the 
bait there is the appetite ; it is our naughty affections that make our 
abode in the world unsafe and dangerous. If it were not for lust, 
neither the baits nor the examples of the world would pervert or hurt. 
Mortify the lust, and you have pulled up the temptations by the roots. 

2. The manner of shunning, in the word escaping. There is a 
flying away required, and that quickly, as in the plague, cito longe ; 
or from a fire which hath almost burned us, or a flood that breaketh 
in upon us. We cannot soon enough escape from sin : Mat. iii. 7, 
' Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ;' Heb. vi. 18, 
' Who have fled for refuge/ &c. No motion but flight becomes us in 
this case. 

Doct. That the great end and effect of the promises of the gospel is, 
to make us partakers of the divine nature. 

I. Let us consider the effect or end. 
II. The means appointed to attain it. 

III. The influence of the one on the other. 

I. For the effect or end. There observe : 

1. That it is a natural, not a transient effect. There may be such 
a sense of the goodness, wisdom, and power of God as may produce 
a sudden passion ; as suppose of fear or love. It may only affect us for 
the present, but inferreth no change of heart and life. There is an 
impression we cannot deny, and an impression suitable to those appre 
hensions that we have of God ; but it is not a constant principle of 
holy spiritual operation. But the promises of the gospel are to breed 


in us such a temper of heart as may be a second nature to us, a habit 
or constitution of soul that may incline us to live to God. A 
habit serveth for this use, ut quis facile, jucunde et constanter agat, 
that a man may act easily, pleasantly, and constantly. (1.) To act 
easily. There is an inclination and propensity to holiness. God 
created all things with an inclination to their proper operations, as 
air to ascend, and water to descend. So the new creature hath a ten 
dency to those actions that are proper to it. Their hearts are bent to 
please God and serve him, and do whatever they do with a kind of 
naturalness, because of this bent and inclination. They act not only 
or barely as enjoined, but as inclined. The law of God is in their 
hearts, Heb. viii. 10. So act .not by constraint, but with a ready 
mind. (2.) To act pleasantly. They have not only a new bent, bias, 
and tendency, but it is a delight to do what is holy, Ps. xl. 8, as 
being in their element when they are thus employed. What is 
against nature is ingrate and harsh, but what is with nature is sweet 
and pleasant. It is hard, a kind of force, to bring them to do the con 
trary, 1 John iii. 9. There needeth some kind of violence to bring a 
good man to sin, as also a naughty man to do good. (3.) It is a con 
stant principle of holy operations, so that a man doth not only obey 
God easily, but evenly, and without such frequent interruptions of the 
holy life. Many do that which is good, or forbear evil, uneasily, be 
cause of the restraints of providence or dictates of conscience, and un 
evenly by fits and starts : Ps. cvi. 3, ' Blessed is he that keepeth judg 
ment, and doth righteousness at all times.' They are continually 
exercising of all duties of godliness, righteousness and mercy ; for the 
operations of nature are constant, however impeded, obstructed, or 
diverted at certain times. This we are to look after, that the sancti 
fying grace we have received become a new nature ; that the soul have 
a tendency and delight as to spiritual objects, and be constantly and 
easily carried to them, and this should be the whole frame and drift 
of our lives. 

2. It is a divine nature ; that is, not only such as floweth from God, 
but may carry some resemblance with him or to him. It floweth 
from God, for we are ' partakers ;' it is but a ray from his excellency, 
and it carrieth a likeness to him, or cometh nearer to the nature of 
God himself, than anything that a man is capable of. Now this is 
said for two reasons : 

[1.] To show the dignity of it. Nothing known to man is so like 
God as a sanctified soul. The saints have their Maker's express 
image ; therefore if God be excellent and holy, they are so. The 
image and picture of God and Christ is in them, not made by a 
painter or carver, but by the Holy Ghost, 2 Cor. iii. 18. This is not 
a forbidden image, which may pollute and stain our minds, or form 
in us ill thoughts and conceptions ,of God, but raise our hearts to him. 
Natural conscience doth homage to the image of God shining in the 
saints: Mark vi. 20, ' Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just 
man and a holy.' So of Moses it is said, Exod. xi. 3, ' Moses was a 
great man in the land of Egypt, and in the sight of Pharaoh's ser 
vants, and in the sight of all people.' His person and presence was 
awful to them, as having something rare in it. There is a secret 


sentiment of the excellency of holiness that draweth eyes after it, and 
maketh wicked and carnal men wonder at it, stand in awe of those in 
whom it is eminent, and extorteth a reverence from them. But espe 
cially when they come to die they have a sense of this excellency ; all 
then approve a sober, righteous, and godly life, and disallow that 
which is dissolute and carnal. Then all things appear in their own 
colours, and the fumes of lust being dissipated, they begin more 
clearly to discern the happiness of those who are made like God. 
Then those that would live with the carnal would fain die with the 
righteous : Num. xxiii. 10, ' Let my last end be like his.' When 
entering on the confines of eternity they grow wiser. 

[2.] To show the quality and condition of it. You must have a 
new nature, and such a nature as may be a divine nature. If you 
have nothing above natural men or corrupt nature, you are strangers 
to the promises of the gospel. It is a thought that possesseth many 
when they are pressed to Christian duties, they will say, we are not 
saints or angels, and therefore cannot abstain from such sins, or attain 
unto a heavenly life. But do you mark what is said here : Christians 
must be partakers of a divine nature ; and not only they are cut off 
from any privilege by Christ ' who corrupt themselves as brute beasts, 
made to be taken and destroyed,' Jude 10 that is, against the light 
of nature ingulf themselves in all manner of dissoluteness and sensu 
ality ; but also they that walk as men, only according to the rule of 
men, who mind nothing beyond the present world : 1 Cor. iii. 3, ' Are 
uot ye carnal, and walk as men ? ' that is, they are not raised above 
the pitch of mere men, and have nothing of the Spirit of God in 

[3.] This divine nature may be considered three ways. Either 
(1.) As begun; when we are first 'renewed in the spirit of our 
minds,' and regenerated ' according to the image of God,' Eph. iv. 
23, 24. There is a wonderful change wrought in sinners by reason 
of the divine qualities impressed on them ; so that the creature begin- 
neth to look like God himself : their nature is altered, their course of 
life is altered, and their designs and actions have something divine in 

(2.) As increased ; when more like God in a conspicuous degree. 
At first the impression is but weak, and this glory is darkened by 
remaining imperfections ; and we show forth much of Adam upon all 
occasions, as well as somewhat of Christ. But where any are sincere 
and diligent, the old nature is more suppressed and curbed, and the 
divine nature doth more eminently appear : 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' We are 
changed from glory to glory.' It is a work capable of spiritual pro 
gress. We should grow more like God, and come nearer to the nature 
of God every day ; and it is a shame we are not, having been so long 
acquainted with the word. 

(3.) As it is perfected in heaven ; for there we have the nearest 
communion with God, and so the highest conformity to him that we 
are capable of : 1 John iii. 2, ' We shall see God as he is, and be like 
him.' Perfectly like him ; for the being of sin is then utterly 
abolished: there is not the least stain or blemish upon a glorified 
soul. Besides, then we are like him, not only in point of holiness, 


but in point of happiness and felicity ; for God is a holy and happy 
being. Here we resemble God more in holiness and purity ; for many 
times the most eminent and exemplary holiness may be accompanied 
with remarkable afflictions ; at least, sanctifying grace doth not exempt 
us from them. But there, as our holiness is exact, our felicity is com 
plete also. First we are made holy, and then immortal, and in both 
like God. Well, then, this is the effect, ' partakers of a divine nature ;' 
so that when you come among the people of God, and you be asked 
what kind of men do you find them to be, as Gideon, in another case, 
asked Zeba and Zalmunnah concerning his brethren, who answered, 
' Each one resembled the children of a king,' Judges viii. 18, they 
were godly 1 and majestical persons, so it will be said concerning the 
saints, who are really and eminently partakers of the grace of the 
gospel : they are all children of the most high God ; as like God as 
mortal men can be, bear his image, and express resemblance of the 
grace of the gospel. 

II. Let us now see the means by which God doth accomplish this 
effect : ' To us are given great and precious promises.' 

1. It is an instance of God's love, that he will deal with us in the 
way of promises. The world is depraved by sin, and sunk into fears 
and despair of any good from God, whom we have so highly provoked. 
Therefore God invites and allures us to himself by promises ; for pro 
mises and 2 declarations of God's will in the gospel, whereby he signifies 
what good he will freely bestow us, if we will look after it. These ad 
vantages we have by them : (1.) A promise is more than a purpose ; 
for the purpose and intention of a man is secret and hidden in his own 
bosom, but a promise is open and manifest. Thereby we get the 
knowledge of the good intended to us. If God had only purposed to 
bestow all his grace upon us, we could not have known his intention 
and purpose till it were manifested in the effect ; it would have been 
as a hidden treasure or sealed fountain, of no comfort and encourage 
ment to us till we had found it. But now the word is gone out of his 
lips, we may know how we shall speed, if we will hearken to his 
counsel. God's promises are, on his part, the eruption or overflow of 
his love. His heart is so big with thoughts of good to us, that his 
love cannot stay till the accomplishment of things, but he must tell us 
aforehand : Isa. xlii. 9, ' Before they spring forth, I tell you of them.' 
He might have done us good, and given us no notice ; but that would 
not satisfy him. It is an obligation God takes upon himself, promit- 
tendo, se debitorem fecit. God's purposes are unchangeable, but pro 
mises are a security put into our hands, not only give us notice, but 
assurance that thus it shall be. We have the greater holdfast upon 
him, and may put his bond in suit : Ps. cxix. 49, ' Kemember the 
word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.' (2.) 
It is more than a doctrinal declaration. It is one thing to reveal a 
doctrine, another to promise a benefit ; that maketh a thing known, 
this maketh a thing sure, and upon certain terms; that gives us 
notice, but this gives us interest. If ' life and immortality' had been 
only ' brought to light in the gospel/ 2 Tim. i. 10, which was only 
obscurely known to the heathens, it were a great mercy that we were 
1 Qu. ' goodly ' ? ED. a Qu. ' are ' ? ED. 

2 PET. I. 4.] THE FOURTH SERMON". '219 

not left to blind guesses and dark conjectures. That eternal life is set 
before us, a thing real and excellent, is a great matter. But God hath 
put it into a covenant form and promise, 1 John ii. 25, that we may 
make our title and our claim. Surely that is matter of great comfort 
to us : Ps. cxix. Ill, ' Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for 
ever ; for they are the rejoicing of my heart.' (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 his fidelity and justice ; for 
by God's promise man cometh to have a right to the thing promised. 
It was his mercy and goodness to make the promise, but his justice and 
fidelity bindeth him to make it good : 1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, 
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all 
unrighteousness ;' 2 Tim. iv. 8. Divines say, of all lies, a promissory 
lie is the worst ; for this is not only against truth, but right, even 
though that right entirely accrueth from your own free promise. 

2. The promises of the new covenant are of a most glorious and 
valuable nature. They are not about small things, or things of little 
moment, but about worthy and dear-bought blessings. They contain 
spiritual and eternal riches ; such as the healing of our nature, the 
pardon of our sins, a safe conduct unto eternal happiness; the 
glorifying of our souls, the resurrection of our bodies, and then life 
everlasting, or an unchangeable state of happiness. These are the 
greatest things indeed, in comparison of which all the things of the 
world are but as a May-game, vain and empty, or the smallest matters, 
as the apostle calleth them, 1 Cor. vi. 2. Reconciliation with God is 
our privilege here ; and is it a light thing to be at peace with the 
living God? to enjoy his amity and love? to study and fit ourselves 
to do his will ? to live in constant communion with him now ? to have 
access to him at all times? to obtain from him whatever in reason and 
righteousness we can ask ? A Christian is never upbraided with the 
perpetuity of addresses, never denied audience, never has cause to doubt 
of success, has more familiarity with God, and a surer interest in his 
love, than the greatest favourites have in any prince or potentate upon 
earth. But then the eternal enjoyment of God hereafter : Phil. iii. 14, 
' I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling in God in 
Christ Jesus.' It is a high prize that is set before us; then we shall 
have a larger capacity to know God, and enjoy him, and receive his 
benefits : Ps. xvii. 15, ' As for me, I will behold thy face in righteous 
ness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.' Oh ! cry 
out : 1 Cor. ii. 9, ' Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for 
them that love him.' 

3. They are precious promises, worthy of our esteem ; for they are 
not about things that we have nothing to do with, but such wherein 
we are deeply and intimately concerned. In God's promises there is 
due provision made for the desires, necessities, and wants of mankind. 
Let me instance in pardon and life, the first inviting benefits, Acts 
xx vi. 18. Pardon answereth the fears, and life those desires of happi 
ness which are so natural to us. 

[1.] The consciousness of sin, and the fear of God's wrath and dis- 


pleasure, should make offers of pardon acceptable to us. The great 
scruple of the guilty creature is how sin shall be expiated and God 
appeased, Micah vi. 6, 7. We fear punishment from a holy and just 
God, and cannot get rid of bondage till sin be forgiven. The justice 
of the supreme governor of the world will be ever dreadful to us. The 
gospel serveth for this use, to give us the knowledge of salvation by 
the remission of sins, Luke i. 77. 

[2.] The other great privilege is eternal life. Corrupt nature is 
not against the offers of felicity. There was never a creature heard of 
that would not be happy, for there was never a creature but loved him 
self. Therefore what more powerful inducement to bring us into the 
way of holiness than this blessed hope set before us, that we may see 
God, and live for ever ? Titus ii. 12, 13. It is true, we are greatly 
enchanted with false happiness, but shall not such an offer be precious 
to us ? John vi. 34, ' Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give 
us this bread.' 

4. All this is given to us wretched men without any desert of 
ours; nay, we had deserved the contrary. Without our asking or 
thinking, the covenant was framed and modelled to our hands, and 
in the frame and contexture of it we may see a constant strain of 
covenant grace, in the richness of the benefits, the graciousness of the 
donor, the seasonableness of the offer, the readiness of the help, when 
once we set ourselves to seek after God, and please and serve him ; 
and, lastly, in the sureness of the reward, notwithstanding frailties and 

III. The influence of the one upon the other; or, how do these 
promises promote the divine nature ? 

1. From their drift, which is, to draw us from the creature to God, 
and the world to heaven ; to mortify the esteem of the false happiness 
which tainteth and corrupteth our natures ; and to raise us to those 
noble objects and ends which dignify and adorn the soul, and make 
it in a sort divine. It breedeth an excellent spirit in us, which is 
carried above the world, and the hopes and fears of it, 1 Cor. ii. 12. 
Alas ! what a mean spirit have they that drive no higher trade than 
providing for the flesh, or accommodating a life which must shortly 
expire ! Like foolish birds who, with great art and contrivance, 
feather a nest, which within a little while they leave. But how divine 
and god-like are they who look to higher things, to please God, enjoy 
communion with him, and live with him for ever ! 

2. The matter of the promises. Many of which concern the change 
of our hearts, the cleansing or healing of our natures : Heb. viii. 10, 
' I will put my laws in their minds, and write them in their hearts ; 
and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people ;' Ezek. 
xxxvi. 25, 26, ' Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye 
shall be clean ; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I 
cleanse you. A new heart also 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 a heart of flesh ; ' Jer. xxxiii. 8, ' And I will 
cleanse them from all their iniquity.' All which are encouragements 
of prayer to God for this benefit. If God doth not exclude us, we 
should not exclude ourselves. 

2 PET. 1. 4.] THE FOURTH SERMON. 221 

3. The conditions or terms on which our right is suspended. Not 
pardon without repentance : Acts iii. 19, ' Repent ye therefore, and 
be converted, that your sins might be blotted out, when the times of 
refreshing shall "ome from the presence of the Lord ; Acts ii. 38, 39, 
' Eepent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ 
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy 
Ghost/ &c. Not heaven or eternal life without holiness : Heb. xii. 14, 
' Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall 
see the Lord ; ' ' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God/ 
Mat. v. 8. 

4. The power with which the promises are accompanied : 2 Peter 
i. 3, ' According as his divine power hath given us all things that 
pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that 
hath called us to glory and virtue/ He gives us life temporal and 
spiritual, and that immutable life of felicity hereafter. The divine 
nature is communicated to us by virtue of the promises ; for the Spirit 
is our sanctifier, and he works by congruous means. 

Use 1. Believe the promises, for they are most sure and certain. 
God's testimony of the good things he will bestow upon us cannot 
deceive us, or beget a vain and uncertain hope. His promise is a 
testimony of his will, and against his power nothing can stand. ' There 
shall be a performance of those things spoken of by the Lord/ Luke 

2. Esteem them : Heb. xi. 13, ' These all died in faith, not having 
received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were per 
suaded of them, and embraced them.' We can never embrace them 
till we are persuaded of their truth. But then consider their worth. 
Great is the stupidity of those who are nothing taken with these things. 
If a great man engages himself any way, we make great reckoning of 
his word ; and shall we not make great matter of the word of God, 
and esteem his promises ? Esteem them so as to get them at any 
price, Mat. xiii. 46. Sell all for the pearl of price. Esteem them so 
as to be contented with a mean condition in the world. Though God 
keeps us low, it is enough to be ' made partakers of his holiness : ' 
Heb. xii. 10, ' For they verily for a few days chastened us after their 
own pleasure ; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of 
his holiness.' Esteem them so as to perform the duties required, Ps. 
cxix. 14 ; esteem them so as to keep up your rejoicing in Christ : Phil, 
iii. 8-10, ' I count all things but loss for the excellency of the know 
ledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ; ' and ver. 3, ' We are the circum 
cision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, 
and have no confidence in the flesh.' 

3. Labour to improve the belief of every promise for the increase of 
holiness, that we may be like God, pure and holy as he is : 2 Cor. 
vii. 1, 'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse 
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness 
in the fear of God.' 



For every one sliall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be 
salted with salt. MARK IX. 49. 

IN the context you have a caution which our Lord gives against 
scandals and offences given to others, either by defection from the 
truth, or by a sinful conversation. And 

1. He intimates the cause of these scandals, which is some beloved 
lust ; and that is better mortified than satisfied. There is something 
precious, profitable, and pleasant in our opinion, estimation, and affec 
tion, that calls us from God, and the duties we owe to him, and 
apprehended by us as so necessary for us, that we can no more spare it 
than a right eye, a right hand, or a right foot. 

2. Our Lord compares the loss of satisfaction in such lusts with 
the danger of perishing for ever ; and shows that (all things considered) 
it were better to be deprived of this profit, pleasure, or honour, than 
to lose eternal life, and run the hazard of eternal death. Either that 
pleasure or lust must be denied, or we perish for ever. The right 
hand must be cut off, or else we shall be cast into hell-fire. 

3. Our Lord shows the danger of perishing for ever, amplified by a 
notable description, ' Their worm never dies, and their fire shall never 
be quenched.' The scripture lisps to us in our own dialect, and 
speaks in such notions we can best understand, and therefore repre 
sents the state of the damned by what is terrible to sense. By the 
worm is meant the anguish of conscience, by fire the wrath of God. 
Memoria prceteritorum, sensus presentium, metus futurorum. The 
torment of the wicked arises partly from, their own consciences. 
There is a vexing remembrance of what is past, their folly in the 
neglect of grace ; and there is a bitter sense of that doleful state into 
which they have now plunged themselves, and a fear of what is yet to 
come. Now, beside this remorse for their folly, there is also a ' fire 
that shall never be quenched/ or the sharp torments that are prepared 
for the wicked. 

4. Here is a collation or comparison of opposites the pains of hell, 
with the trouble of mortification. First or last we must endure 
troubles and difficulties. Now it is much more eligible to take pains 
in the mortifying of sin, than to bear eternal pains in the punishment 
of it. This is that which is expressed in the text, ' For every one 
shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.' 
In the words 

1. Observe, a double salting, either with fire or ivith salt ; the 
one referring to one sort of people, and the other to the other. They 
agree in the common nature : for salt is of a fiery nature, and apt to 
consume ; but they differ in the matter to be consumed, Salt con 
sumes the superfluous moisture, which is apt to cause putrefaction ; 
but the fire consumes the substance itself ; so that to be salted with 
fire is to be given up to everlasting destruction. Fire consumeth 
all things ; and God is called ' a consuming fire ' to the wicked, Heb. 
xii. 29. ' 


2. Here is also an allusion to sacrifices ; for every man that lives 
in the world must be a sacrifice to God. The wicked are a sacrifice 
to God's justice ; but the godly are a sacrifice dedicated and offered 
to him, that they may be capable of his mercy. The first are a sacri 
fice against their wilfs, but the godly are a free-will offering, a sacri 
fice not taken but offered. Now, the law of all sacrifices was, that 
they were to be salted with salt : Lev. ii. 13, ' And every oblation of 
thy meat-offering shalt thou season with salt ; neither shalt thou 
suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat 
offering ; with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.' Three times 
it is repeated there, to show that every sacrifice must be salted. That 
the wicked, the objects of God's vindictive justice, are accounted 
sacrifices, is evident by scripture. When the destruction of Moab is 
spoken of : Isa. xxxiv. 6, ' The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, 
it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, and 
with the fat of the kidneys of rams ; for the Lord hath a sacrifice in 
Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.' So Jer. xlvi. 
10, God threatens there that the sword shall devour, and be made 
drunk with their blood, ' For the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice 
in the north country, by the river Euphrates.' What is in these 
places called a slaughter is also called a sacrifice. So when God 
intended a great carnage of his enemies, he calls upon the fowls of 
heaven, Ezek. xxxix. 17, ' Assemble yourselves, and come to my sacri 
fice ; ' with an allusion to the beasts offered in sacrifice. This may be 
gathered from the signification of the sacrifices, the burnt-offerings 
especially, which signified the guilt of the sinner; the death of Christ, 
which is the propitiation for sin ; and the obedience of the sacrificer, 
as devoted to God. Now the first signification took place, and had 
its effect upon them, if they neglected the other two meanings of the 
sacrifices ; and therefore they were to be looked on as salted with fire ; 
whereas the other, who were accepted, were salted with salt. 

3. The third observation for the opening of this is the two references 
of these saltings, or the distinct and proper application of them. 

[1.] To the wicked : ' For every one shall be salted with fire ; ' that 
is, every one of them spoken of before, who indulged their corrupt 
affections, who did not entirely and heartily keep the covenant of God, 
and renounce their beloved lusts. 

[2.] Here is the application to the godly : ' Every sacrifice shall be 
salted with salt ; ' that is, every one that is not a sacrifice by con 
straint, but voluntarily surrenders and gives up himself to God, to be 
ordered and disposed of according to his will, he is salted, not with 
fire, but with salt, which every one that is devoted to God is bound to 
have within himself. So while some are destinated to the wrath of 
God, and salted with fire to be consumed and destroyed, others are 
salted with salt, preserved and kept savoury in the profession and 
practice of godliness. The doctrine is this : 

Doct. The grace of mortification is very necessary for all those who 
are devoted to God. 

I shall prove three things : 

I. That the true notion of a Christian is, that he is a sacrifice, or a 
thank-offering to God. 


II. That the grace of mortification is the true salt, whereby this 
offering and sacrifice should be seasoned. 

III. I shall show you the necessity of this salt, that we may keep 
right with God in the duties of the covenant. 

I. The true notion of a Christian is, that he is a sacrifice to God. 
This is evident by Bom. xii. 1, ' I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies 
of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto 
God, which is your reasonable service ; ' that is, the reasonable part, 
which was figured by the sacrifices and oblations of the law : and so 
Isa. Ixvi. 20, ' They shall bring your brethren for an offering unto the 
Lord.' Under the law, beasts were offered to God, but in the gospel 
men are offered to him ; not as beasts were to be destroyed, slain, and 
burnt in the fire, but to be preserved for God's use and service. In 
offering anything to God, two things were of consideration ; there was 
a separation from a common, and a dedication to a holy use, and they 
both take place in the present matter. 

1. There is a separation of ourselves from a common use. The 
beast was separated from the flock or herd for this special purpose, 
to be given to God. Thus we are separated and set apart from the 
rest of the world, that we may be a people to God. We are ' no more 
our own/ 1 Cor. vi. 19 ; and we are ' no more to live to ourselves, 
but to him that died for us,' 2 Cor. v. 15. We are not to live to the 
world, to the flesh, or to such things as the natural heart craves ; we 
have no right in ourselves to dispose of ourselves, of our time, 
of our interest, of our strength, but must wholly give up ourselves 
to God, to be disposed, ordered, governed by him at his own will and 

2. There is a dedication of ourselves to God, to serve, please, honour, 
and glorify him. 

[l.J The manner of dedicating ourselves to God is to be considered. 
It is usually done with grief, shame, and indignation at ourselves, that 
God hath been so long kept out of his right, with a full purpose to re 
store it to him with advantage : 1 Pet. iv. 3, ' The time past may suf 
fice to have wrought the will of the flesh, and of man ;' it is high time 
to give up ourselves to the will of God ; we have been long enough, too 
long, dishonouring God, destroying our souls, pleasing the flesh, living 
according to the flesh and the course of the world ; therefore they de 
sire to make restitution : Rom. vi. 19, ' For as ye have yielded your 
members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity ; even 
so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holi 
ness.' Their forepast neglects of God and duty to him fill their hearts 
with shame, therefore they resolve to double their diligence, and to be 
as eminent in holiness as before they were in vanity and sin. 

[2.] It is with a deep sense of the Lord's love in Christ ; for we 
give up ourselves to God, not as a sin-offering, but as a thank-offering: 
Rom. xii. 1, 'I beseech you by the mercies of the Lord ;' and 2 Cor. 
v. 14, ' For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, 
that if one died for all, then were all dead ; and that he died for all, 
that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but 
unto him that died for them, and rose again.' They are ravished with an 
admiration of God's goodness in Christ, and so give up themselves to him. 


[3.] They do entirely give up themselves to G-od, not to be his in a 
few things, but in all, to serve him with all their faculties : ' You are 
not your own, but are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God both 
with your bodies and souls, which are God's,' 1 Cor. vi. 20 ; and to 
serve him in all conditions : Eom. xiv. 8, ' Whether we live, we live 
unto God, or whether we die, we die unto God ; for living or 
dying we are the Lord's/ They are willing to be used for his glory, not 
only as active instruments ; but as passive objects, they give up them 
selves to obey his governing will, and to submit to his disposing will, 
to be what he would have them to be, as well as to do what he would 
have them to do : Phil. i. 20, ' According to my earnest expectation 
and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all 
boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, 
whether it be by life or by death.' Thus with all their faculties, in every 
condition of life, are they to be devoted to God in all actions. It is 
said, Zech. xiv. 20, 21, that 'holiness to the Lord shall be written,' 
not only ' upon the bowels of the altar and the pots of the Lord's house,' 
but also ' upon all the pots of Jerusalem ;' not only upon the vessels of 
the temple, but upon common utensils ; that is, translate it into a gos 
pel phrase, that not only in our sacred, but even in our common and 
civil actions, &c., we should live as a people that are offered up to 

[4.] The end why we give up ourselves to God is to serve, please, 
and glorify him : Acts xxvii. 23, ' His I am, and him I serve ; ' to 
please him by the obedience of his will : Kom. xii. 1,2, 'Ye present 
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your 
reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye 
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is 
that good and acceptable and perfect will of God ; ' Col. i. 10, ' That 
ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in 
every good work/ And also to glorify him is their end and use. 
Phil. i. 21, 1 Cor. x. 31. This is the dedication by which a Christian 
becomes a spiritual and a holy sacrifice unto God. Now we must be 
sincere and real in this, partly 

(1.) Because the truth of our dedication will be known by our use : 
many give up themselves to God, but in the use of themselves there is 
no such matter ; they carry it as though their tongues were their own, 
and had no Lord over them, Ps. xii. 4. They speak what they 
please ; they use their hearts as their own, to think and covet what 
they please ; their hands as their own, to do what they please ; their 
bodies as their own, to prostitute them to all excess and filthiness ; 
and their wealth and strength and time as their own, either to spare 
it, or lavish it according as their lusts guide and incline them. No, 
no ; a sincere Christian makes conscience of his dedication to God, the 
reality and sincerity of it is seen in the use of themselves, and if he be 
tempted to do anything contrary to this vow and dedication, his heart 
riseth against the temptation : 1 Cor. vi. 15, ' Shall I take the mem 
bers of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God 
forbid/ In point of fidelity to God, as we are in covenant with him, 
we must be careful that we employ and use what is God's for the glory 
of God ; we must make conscience of alienating that that is sacred, 



that that is the Lord's : your thoughts, your affections, your time, 
your strength, do all belong to him. 

(2.) Because God will one day call us to an account : Luke xix. 23, 
' He will demand his own with usury.' We shall be called to a 
reckoning, what we have done for God, what part and portion he hath 
had in our time, our strength, our parts, our interest ; therefore every 
prudent and wise Christian should himself keep a faithful and con 
stant reckoning how he lays out himself for God, for he must have a 
share in all things that we have or do. 

(3.) We must be very sincere in this, because we are under the eye 
and inspection of God, who considers whose business we do, his or our 
own : Luke i. 75, ' That we should serve him in holiness arid right 
eousness before him all the days of our life.' We are ever before him, 
and though he doth not presently call us to an account, yet many 
times now he punisheth us for our neglect and mindlessness of his 
interest : Ezek. xvi. 8, ' Ye entered into a covenant with me, and 
became mine.' That was the reason of his judgments against them. 
When those that are his do not carry themselves as his, when that 
that is sacred is profaned by a common use, then a judgment is coming 
upon a nation, if dedicated to God, and it warps from him, or upon a 
person, if his ways be not upright with him. 

II. The next thing I am to do is to prove that the grace of morti 
fication is the true salt wherewith this offering and sacrifice should be 
seasoned. There is some dispute what is meant by the salt which 
Christ recommends to his disciples, and what was figured by the salt 
in the sacrifice, whether wisdom or zeal. In general, it is the grace of 
the Holy Spirit, by which sin is subdued and prevented ; and the mean 
ing suits exactly with the emblem and representation : for 

1. Salt preserves flesh from putrefaction by consuming that super 
fluous and excrementitious moisture, which otherwise would soon cor 
rupt ; and so the salt of the covenant doth prevent and subdue those 
lusts which would cause us to deal unfaithfully with God. Alas ! 
meat is not so apt to be tainted as we are to be corrupted and weakened 
in our resolutions to God, without the mortifying grace of the Spirit. 
' That which is lame is soon turned out of the way, unless it be healed,' 
Heb. xii. 13. And nothing is so unstable and mutable as an unmortified 
soul ; therefore we can never behave ourselves as a sacrifice and an offer 
ing to God, unless we ' mortify our members which are upon earth, inor 
dinate affections, covetousness, and the like,' Col. iii. 5. In short, the 
flesh is that which is apt to be corrupted, and therefore the grace that 
doth preserve us must be something that doth wean us from the in 
terests of the flesh, and what is that but the mortifying grace of the 
Holy Spirit ? The apostle saith, Eph. vi. 24, ' Grace be with all 
them that love the Lord Jesus in sincerity,' or ' in incorruption.' There 
are many crooked lusts which are apt to corrupt us and withdraw our 
love to other things, but when these are mortified and subdued, that 
we may have a greater amplitude of affection towards God and Christ, 
then we are said to love him in sincerity and in incorruption. 

2. Salt hath an acrimony, and doth macerate things and pierce into 
them ; and so the grace of mortification is painful and troublesome to 
the carnal nature. How healthful and useful soever it be to the soul, 


no question it is distasteful to curb our affections, and govern our 
hearts in the fear of God, and to row against the stream of flesh and 
blood ; but yet it is wholesome, it is a crucifying of the flesh, to handle 
it as Christ suffered on the cross, to give it vinegar and gall ; but yet 
this is necessary ; this is the thing which our Lord intends here in the 
context, that the sacrifice must be consumed or macerated ; we either 
must suffer the pains of hell or the pains of mortification ; we must be 
salted with fire or salted with salt. It is better to pass to heaven with 
difficulty and austerity, than to avoid these difficulties and run into sin, 
and so be in danger of eternal fire. The strictness of Christianity is 
nothing so grievous as the punishment of sin. The philosophers, when 
they speak of the nature of man, observe that in the concupiscible part, TO 
vjpov, something like moisture inclines to pleasure, in the irascible, TO 
fyv'Xjpov, something like cold inclines to fear. This salt is to fetch out 
both, by checking our sensual inclination and also our worldly fears. 
We must crucify the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof ; they 
that are Christ's have done so, Gal. \. 24. We should rather displease 
ourselves and displease all the world than displease God, or be unfaith 
ful in our duty to Christ. No profit, no pleasure, or secular concern 
ment is so necessary, so comfortable, so useful to us as salvation. 

3. Salt makes things savoury, so grace makes us savoury ; which 
may be interpreted with respect either to God or man. 

[1.] Acceptable to God when seasoned with this salt, for God would 
accept of no sacrifice without it. Not that he tasted of their meat 
offerings, or did eat the fat or flesh of bulls and goats, and drink their 
blood, and so would have it seasoned for his palate and appetite ; it is 
not so to be understood ; but in types as well as in similitudes there is 
a condescension to our sense and apprehension of things. That that 
is salted is savoury, therefore God would note his acceptation of our 
persons and services this way. By nature we are all odious, unsavoury, 
and distasteful to God by reason of sin : Ps. xiv. 3, ' They are all 
become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no not one : ' in the 
Hebrew, it is putrified, stinking like corrupt and rotten flesh. We 
must be salted and seasoned by the grace of Christ, and so we become 
amiable and acceptable in the sight of God. The more upright we 
are, the more he delighteth in us. 

[2.] To men : the more we are thus salted and mortified, the more 
shall we do good to others. Our Lord tells his disciples, Mat. v. 13, 
' Ye are the salt of the earth : but if the salt lose its savour, wherewith 
shall it be salted ? it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast 
out and trodden under foot of men.' This is spoken to the disciples 
as disciples, not as apostles and public persons. It is a mistake to 
think that only ministers are the light of the world and the salt of the 
world. No ; all Christians must shine as lights in the midst of a 
crooked and perverse generation ; all Christians must be as the salt of 
the earth. Christ's whole sermon contains general duties, and the 
disciples were not yet sent abroad as apostles, nor ever heard of such 
a commission, or that their master would send them abroad for the pro 
selyting the world to the kingdom of God : that was done afterwards, 
chap, x., and therefore here he speaks to Christians as Christians. 
Now, they are said to be salt, even as they season all those among whom 


they live. A Christian is never savoury in his conversation with 
others till he hath salt in himself ; then all his actions are seasoned 
with grace, and beget a remembrance of God ; then his words are 
seasoned with grace, and do good to others. The apostle saith, Eph. 
iv. 29, ' Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth ' that 
rotten and corrupt communication which vents itself in slandering, 
railing, ribaldry, foolish jesting at holy things, lies, cursing, and the 
like : all these come from a corrupt heart, as a stinking breath argues 
rotten lungs. These want the grace of mortification : so are all sap 
less spirits, that cannot speak anything of God seriously, but in their 
most serious discourse are as fresh as water. But go among the mor 
tified, and you receive the savour of good things from them ; you have 
not only savoury prayers and savoury sermons, but savoury confer 
ences and discourses: Col. iv. 6, ' Let your speech be alway powdered 
with salt ;' that is, do not speak idly, much less profanely, but in an 
edifying manner. Now, Christians ought to take heed they do not 
lose their savouriness, for then they do not please God nor profit man, 
and are fit for nothing but the dunghill. Thus I have proved the 
second thing, that the grace of mortification is the true salt that sea 
sons Christians. 

III. There is a necessity of this salt in all those that have entered into 
covenant with God, and have dedicated and devoted themselves to him. 

1. By our covenant vow we are bound to the strictest duties, and 
that upon the highest penalties. The duty to which we are bound is 
very strict. We have answered God in all the demands of his cove 
nant: 1 Peter iii. 21, 'For baptism saveth as the answer of a good 
conscience towards God.' The Lord demands and puts in effect this 
question, Will you die unto sin and live unto righteousness ? This is 
the tenor of the baptismal covenant that is so often, so solemnly, re 
newed at the Lord's Supper ; and you are to ' reckon yourselves to be 
dead unto sin and alive unto righteousness, through Christ Jesus our 
Lord,' Rom. vi. 11 ; reckon yourselves, that is, in vow and obligation. 
Arid the penalty is very high if we sin wilfully, Heb. x. 26 ; so that oui 
admission into Christ's family will be in vain, yea, to our further ruin 
if you do not stand to the covenant, if you keep sin still alive, and add 
fuel to the flames. 

2. The abundance of sin that yet remains in us, and the marvellous 
activity of it in our souls. We cannot get rid of this cursed inmate 
till our tabernacle be dissolved, and this house of clay tumbled into 
the dust. Paul groaned sorely under it : ' wretched man that I 
am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? ' Rom. vii. 24. 
And it is called ' sin that doth easily beset us,' Heb. xii. 1. Well, 
then, since sin is not nullified, it must be mortified. It works, it wars, 
there is a marvellous activity in it, it is very active and restless : Rom. 
vii. 8, ' Sin wrought in me all manner of concupiscence ;' he means 
sinful nature. And the apostle James tells us, chap. iv. 5, ' The spirit 
that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.' There is not a sleepy, but a stir- 
ling principle always inclining us to evil, and hindering that which is 
good. Sin doth not only make us a little flexible arid yielding, to 
temptations, but doth hurry us and impel us thereunto. It is ' a law 
warring in our members, that brings us into captivity to sin/ Rom. 


vii. 23. Corrupt nature is not a tame thing, that works not till it be 
irritated by the suggestions of Satan or temptations of the world, but 
is like a living spring, that pours out water of its own accord ; it will 
not let us alone. The heart of man is evil continually, and so it always 
hinders us from that that is good : Horn. vii. 21, ' When I would do 
good, evil is present with me.' It blunts the edge of our affections, it 
seeks to weaken our purposes by unbelieving thoughts, or drawing us 
away from God by the lure of some sensitive delight ; in stealing our 
hearts from him in the very duties and solemn addresses we make to 
him ; distracting our minds with thoughts of the world, and the pomp 
and glory thereof ; and so turns our very duties into sin, and makes 
us lose the comfort and sweetness of them : it blasts and perverts our 
most sincere endeavours. Well, then, without this salt of the covenant, 
if this be so, what shall we do ? Have we not need to keep humble 
and watchful ? If sin be stirring, we must be stirring against it, and 
improve the grace of the Holy Spirit upon the account of Christ's 
death, and use all good means that it may be subdued in us. 

3. Consider the sad consequences of letting sin alone, both either as 
to further sin or punishment. 

[1.] As to further sin. For Christ speaks here of scandals. If lust 
be not mortified, it grows outrageous ; it has foiled us before God, 
men, and angels, and exposed us to an open shame, or hardens us in a 
dead, careless course. Lusts let alone end in gross sins, and gross sins 
in final apostasy. Love of pleasure will end in drunkenness, or adul 
tery, or the rage of unclean desires, or else in such a vain, light, frothy 
spirit, which is no way fit for religion. Envy will end in mischief and 
violence, if not in murder. Judas, by his covetousness, was brought 
to betray his master. Gehazi was first surprised with covetousness, 
then blasted with leprosy, and then became a shame and burthen to 
himself. The devil trieth by lust to bring us to sin, and by sin to 
shame, and by shame to horror and despair. But do the children of 
God run into such notable excesses and disorders ? Yes ; when they 
let sin alone, discontinue the exercise of mortification ; when they do 
not remember the sacrifice must be salted with salt. "Witness David, 
who ran into lust and blood. Witness Peter, who ran into denying 
Christ with oaths and execrations. Witness Solomon, who ran into 
sensuality and idolatry. And in all of us, old sins, long since laid 
asleep, may awake again and hurry us into spiritual mischiefs and in 
conveniences, if we make not use of this holy salt. 

[2.] As to punishment. Sins prove mortal if they be not modified. 
Either sin must die or the sinner. There is an evil in sin, and there 
is an evil after sin. The evil in sin is the violation of God's righteous 
law ; the evil after sin is the just punishment of it, eternal death and 
damnation. Now, those that are not sensible, or will not be sensible, 
of the evil that is in sin, they shall be made sensible of the evil that 
comes after sin. The unmortified person spares the sin and destroys 
his own soul ; the sin lives, but he dies. In the prophet's parable to 
the king of Israel, when he had let go the Syrian, saith he, ' Thy life 
shall go for his life ; ' so our lives shall go for the life of our sin. 
' The end of these things is death,' Rom. vi. 21 ; and ' The wages of 
sin is death,' ver. 23. 


But you will say, What is this to a justified person ? ' There is no 
condemnation to them that are in Christ.' 

I answer You must take in all. Those ' who are in Christ, that 
walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit,' they have the salt of the 
covenant. But if you can suppose a justified person to live after the 
flesh, you may suppose also a justified person shall be condemned. 
Eternal death may be considered two ways either as to the merit, or 
as to the event. As to the merit, as an evil which God hath appointed 
to be the fruit of sin ; or as to the event, an evil that will certainly 
befall us. A justified person, one that is really so, may, must fear it 
in the first sense. There is such a connection between living in sin and 
eternal punishment, that he ought to represent the danger to his 
soul of living willingly and allowedly in his sins, that he may eschew 
it ; for this is nothing but a holy making use of the threatenings, or 
considering the merit of sin. But as to the actual event, and perplex 
ing trouble that ariseth from the apprehension of it ; if his sincerity 
be clear and unquestionable, he must not fear it. 

Now to make application. 

I. For the reproof of those that cannot abide to hear of mortification. 
The unwillingness and impatience of this doctrine may arise from several 

1. From sottish atheism and unbelief. They despise all sober 
spiritual counsel, they make no conscience of yielding obedience to 
God. Solomon tells us, Prov. xix. 16, 'He that keepeth the com 
mandments keepeth his own soul ; but he that despiseth his way 
shall die.' There are the different issues of a strict obedience, and a 
slight vain conversation. And mark the opposition of the two 
tempers he that keeps the commandments, and lie that despiseth his 
own ways ; that is, takes no heed to his life and actions, to order them 
according to the will of God ; he cares not whether he please or dis 
please, whether he honour or dishonour God, but leaves the boat to 
the stream, lives as his brutish lusts incline him, come of it what will 
come. He despiseth his own ways, and so runs into vanity, luxury, 
riot, fraud, injustice, and all manner of licentiousness. Now, no man 
thus despiseth his own ways but he despiseth other things which 
should be very sacred and of great regard and esteem with him. 
He despiseth God, and the word of God, and his own soul : Prov. xiv. 
2, * He that walketh in his uprightness, fears God ; but he that is 
perverse in his ways despiseth him/ He that makes conscience of 
his duty hath a high esteem ,of God, he looks on his authority as 
supreme, his powers as infinite, his knowledge of all things exact, his 
truth in promises and threatenings as unquestionable, his holiness as 
immaculate, his justice as impartial, and his goodness exercised to us 
in sundry benefits as rich and every way glorious. Therefore he dare 
not but please God ; he hath such a deep reverence for him, that he 
is always saying within himself, What will the holy and all-seeing 
God have done ? Or, ' How can I do this wickedness and sin against 
God?' But now the careless and slight person that takes no care to 
govern his actions according to the will of God, hath contemptuous 
and slight thoughts of God, as if he were a senseless idol that took no 
notice of human affairs, that sees not, or would not punish the breaches of 


his laws. They also despise the word of God: Prov. xiii. 13, 'He 
that despiseth the word shall be destroyed ; but he that fears the 
commandment shall be rewarded.' There are some gracious hearts 
that stand in awe of the word, and though their minds be never so 
much set upon a thing, yet if a commandment stand in the way, it is 
more than if an angel with a drawn sword stood in the way to keep 
them back ; they dare not break through God's hedge. But now a 
carnal, careless, and unbelieving wretch sets at nought all the precepts, 
promises, and threatenings of God, and can break with him for a trifle, 
for a little vain delight and profit. Nay, further, he despiseth his 
own soul : Prov. xv. 32, ' He that refuseth instruction, despiseth his 
his own soul.' He only cares for the body, but neglects his soul, 
scarce ever considers whether he has a soul to save or a soul to lose, 
as if he counted all fabulous which is spoken of God and immortality, 
of the day of judgment, or of heaven and hell. Now it is in vain to 
speak to these to renounce and mortify their pleasing lusts till their 
atheism and carelessness be cured. And their case is the more 
desperate because the disease doth not lie in their minds, but in their 
hearts, and comes not so much from opinion as inclination. A settled 
opinion must be vanquished by reason, but a brutish inclination must 
be weakened by almighty grace. 

2. It may come from libertinism. And these harden their hearts in 
sinning by a mistaking the gospel. 

[1.] Some vainly imagine as if God by Jesus Christ were made 
more reconcilable to sin, that it needs not so much to be stood upon, 
nor need we to be so exact, to keep such ado to mortify and subdue 
the inclinations that lead to it. They altogether run to the comforts 
of the gospel and neglect the duties thereof. Christ died for sinners, 
therefore we need not to be troubled about it. Some actually speak out 
these things as if all the mortification required were but to quell the 
sense of sin in the conscience, not to destroy the power of sin in their 
hearts, and if they can but believe strongly they are pardoned, all is 
well. If this were true, then in the hardest heart would be the best 
faith, for they have the least trouble about sin, and least conscience of 
sin. This is to cry up the merit of Christ, to exclude the work and 
discipline of this spirit, 1 yea to set the merit of his death against the 
end of it, and so to set Christ against Christ. He bore our sins : ' He 
bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we might be dead to sin, 
and alive to righteousness,' to promote this mortification that we speak 

[2.] Another sort think such discourses may be well spared among 
a company of believers, and they need not this watchfulness and holy 
care, especially against grievous sins ; that they have such good com 
mand of themselves that they can keep within compass well enough. 
It is well if you be come to this height of Christian perfection, that 
temptations make none, or no considerable impression upon you. 
But we must warn you, and that of the most gross sins. Christ 
thought fit to warn his disciples : Luke xxi. 34, ' Take heed lest your 
hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares 
of this life.' And the apostle everywhere warns Christians of malice, 

1 Qu. ' the Spirit' ? ED. 


of hypocrisy, of envy, of lying, of evil speaking : 1 Thes. iv. 6, ' Take 
heed that you do not overreach and defraud one another, for God is 
the avenger of all such.' But these men would be fed with refined 
strains of contemplative divinity, and have no sins reproved, but such 
kind of sins as would seem a credit rather than a disgrace ; like those 
diseases that are incident only to the best complexions and constitu 
tions. If you speak against something that may rather argue their 
excellency than shame them of their sin, you shall be welcome. This 
over-spiritual preaching ends in an airy religion. Is sin grown less 
dangerous, or men more skilful to avoid it than heretofore ? Cer 
tainly, he that considers how many scandalous professors there are, 
that would be accounted the people of God, hath no cause to think so. 
If Paul saw need of mortification, 1 Cor. ix. 27, we are not more strong, 
but more foolhardy. 

[3.] A third sort are such as think believers are not to be scared 
with threatenings, but only oiled with grace. But then consider, the 
words of Christ were to his disciples. And to whom did the apostle 
Paul write ? To believers questionless : ' If you live after the flesh, 
ye shall die ; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the 
body, ye shall live/ Horn. viii. 13. No part of the Spirit's discipline 
must be omitted. If one end of Christ's coming was to verify God's 
threatenings, and that the curse of the law should not fall to the 
ground, surely there is use of threatenings still. 

3. It may arise from another cause, that is, the passionateness of 
carnal affections. Men are so wedded to their lusts, they cannot leave 
them, and so strangely besotted, they are even ready to sit down and 
say they will venture their souls rather than live a strict life. Is the 
pleasing of the flesh so sweet to you ? or hell so slight a matter ? 
And will the day of judgment be so slubbered over ? There is a raging 
despair, and there is a sottish despair. The raging despair of a Cain, 
Gen. iv. 13, ' My evil is greater than can be borne ! ' when we are 
ready to sink under the burden of our sins ; and a sottish despair, 
when we are not sound with God, and loth to improve the grace of the 
Kedeemer, but say, There is no hope ; we will go on in the imagina 
tions of our own heart, Jer. ii. 25. There is no hope ; it is an evil, 
and I must bear it. If I be damned, I cannot help it, I must bear it 
as well as I can. What ! will you bear the loss of heaven, the wrath 
of the almighty and eternal God? Surely you know not what 
eternity means, what hell and heaven means. You will know, when 
the eyes that are now blinded by the delusions of the flesh shall 
be opened, when you shall see others ' sit down with Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and you shall be shut out/ Canst 
thou bear this ? If Kachel could not endure the want of children, 
and Jacob the supposed loss of Joseph, when all his sons and daughters 
rose up to comfort him ; if Ahitophel could not endure the loss of his 
credit in counsel, how wilt thou endure the loss of thy soul and the 
glory of the blessed to all eternity ? When thou hast nothing to be 
guile thy mind, and thou art divested of all other comforts, and thou 
must feed upon this for ever. So for the pains of hell. Thou that canst 
not endure to be scorched a day or two in feverish flames, or the pain 
of the stone or gout, when God arms the humours of thine own body 


against thee, and canst not endure the torment of an aching tooth, how 
canst thou endure the wrath of an eternal God ? ' Can your hearts 
endure, or your hands be made strong in the day that I will deal with 
you ? saith the Lord.' 

Use 2. Is to persuade you not to neglect the salt of the covenant. 
It may be fretting, but it is healthful; as the most salutary medicines 
are usually most troublesome. To help you to improve this kind of 
argument, which our Lord here useth 

1. Consider, there are but two sorts of men in the world, and you 
are one of them. There is no neutral, no middle state ; there are but 
two principles that men are influenced by, the flesh and the spirit ; 
and there are but two ends men propound to themselves, either the 
pleasing of the flesh upon earth, or the enjoyment of God in heaven ; 
and two places they issue into, heaven or hell. The scripture is per 
emptory, and tells you who shall go to heaven, and who shall go to 
hell: Kom. viii. 13, 'If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye 
through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live;' 
Gal. vi. 8, ' He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corrup 
tion ; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life 
everlasting.' Or consider that, Prov. xiv. 14, ' The backslider in heart 
shall be filled with his own ways, and a good man shall be satisfied 
from himself.' There are two different persons commencing and 
setting forth in the pursuit of happiness, the backslider in heart and 
the good man. The backslider in heart is one that continues m the 
apostasy and defection of mankind, that indulge th his lusts and vain 
pleasures, and for a seeming good leaves God, who is the chief good. 
But the good men are those who make it their business to keep their 
hearts chaste and loyal to God. They both desire to be filled and to 
be satisfied. The one takes his own way, and the other God's counsel ; 
and in the event both are filled. The backslider in heart hath enough 
of his own ways when they have brought him to hell ; and the good 
man hath enough when he comes to the enjoyment of the blessed God. 
And there is one truth more there, they are both filled from themselves, 
their own ways. The backslider shall have the fruit of his own choice, 
and a good man is satisfied with that course of godliness that he hath 
chosen, Prov. i. 31. Those that turn away from God, it is said, 'They 
shall eat of their own ways, and be filled with the fruit of their own 
devices ;' and Isa. iii. 10, ' Say unto the righteous, it shall be well with 
him, for he shall eat of the fruit of his own doings.' 

2. Consider the doleful condition of those that indulge their carnal 
affections ; and that either threatened by God, or executed upon the 

[1.] Consider it as it is threatened by God. If God threaten so great 
a misery, it is for our profit, that we may take heed and escape it. There 
is mercy in the severest threatenings, that we may avoid the bait when 
we see the hook, that we may digest the strictness of a holy life, rather 
than venture upon such dreadful evils. Why did our Lord repeat it 
three times, 'Where the worm never dies, and the fire is neverquenched ' ? 
but that we may have it often in our thoughts, that we may not buy 
the pleasures of sin at so dear a rate so hard a price as the loss of our 
precious souls. 


[2.] Consider the punishment as executed upon the wicked. How 
many are now burning in hell for those sins which you are ready to 
commit ? The serious consideration of it will check the fervour of your 
lusts, that you may not easily venture upon an everlasting hell. 

[3.] Consider which trouble is most intolerable to be salted with salt, 
or to be salted with fire ; with unpleasing mortification, or the pains 
of hell ; the trouble of physic, or the danger of a mortal disease. 
Surely to preserve the life of the body, men will endure the bitterest 
pill, take the most loathsome potion. Why ? their lives lie on it. And 
shall we be unwilling to such a necessary strictness, to these wholesome 
severities, which conduce to save you with an everlasting salvation ? 
There is no remedy ; trouble must be undergone. Surely a strict diet 
is better than a speedy death ; and the pricking of a vein by a chirurgeon 
is not so bad as a stab at the heart by an enemy. Better be macerated 
by repentance, than broken in hell by torments. Which is worse, dis 
cipline or execution ? Here the question is put : you must be troubled 
first or last. Would you have a sorrow mixed with love and hope, or 
else mixed with desperation ? Would you have a drop or an ocean ? 
Would you have your souls cured or tormented ? Would you have 
trouble in the short moment of this life, or have it eternal in the world 
to come ? 

[4.] Be sure you be a sacrifice dedicated to God, really entered into 
covenant with God, and set apart for his use ; that this may be your 
end, your business, your scope, to please, glorify, and enjoy him, 2 Cor. 
i. 9. We can the better speak to you when you are under a covenant 
engagement. Christ bound you to this when he died for you: he 
' sanctified himself that you might be sanctified through the truth,' that 
is, dedicated to God, John xvii. 19 ; and ' by one offering he hath per 
fected for ever them that are sanctified,' that is, them that are conse 
crated to God, or entered into a holy covenant with God. Christ bound 
you to it, and your own gratitude will suggest it to you : ' I beseech 
you, by the mercies of the Lord, present yourselves/ &c. Nay, the 
new nature will incline you to it : Bom. vi. 13, ' Yield yourselves unto 
God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as in 
struments of righteousness unto God.' The new life will presently 
discover itself by its tendency and end, if this be indeed your end and 
work to be faithful to God's covenant. 

[5.] You will see a need of denying worldly and fleshly lusts ; you will 
see nothing can be done in the spiritual life without mortification, that 
being dead to all things here below, you may be alive to God. That 
this must be your daily work, your necessity will sufficiently show. 
Are there no rebellious desires to be subdued ? No corrupt inclinations 
to be broken ? Do not you feel the bias of corruption drawing you 
off from God ? David did, therefore he saith, ( Incline my heart to thy 
testimonies, and not to covetousness.' Do not you find the sensitive 
lure prevail upon you, enticing your minds, and drawing you from the 
purity of your hopes, and strictness of conversation ? ' Every man is 
drawn away, when he is enticed by his own lusts,' James i. 14. 

[6.] Consider the sad condition of a believer that is under the correc 
tive discipline of God, though he do not vacate his justified state. A 
sinning believer, that hath made bold with forbidden fruit, how doth 


he smart for sin ? What a wound in the conscience will wilful heinous 
sins make ? Witness David, Ps. xxxii. and li. He gives an account 
how uneasy his heart did sit within him, he was afraid of God, who 
before was his joy and delight, and speaks as one ready to be cast out 
of his presence. 


And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the 
patient waiting for Christ 2 THES. III. 5. 

THERE are two things keep religion alive in the soul a love to God, 
and a hearty intent upon the coming of Christ. These are the two 
necessary graces which the apostle prays for in the text. Here is the 
love of God, that is the first grace, and the earnest or patient waiting 
for Christ. Love respects God, because he is the chief object of it, 
primum amabile, as being the first and chiefest good ; but hope or 
patient expectation respects Christ, who, at his glorious coming, will 
give us our full reward. Love is the life and soul of our present duties, 
and by patient expectation we wait for our future hope. The love of 
God urgeth us to the duties of religion, and hope strengthens us against 
temptations, whether they arise from the allurements of sense or the 
troubles of the world. Love is our breastplate that guards the vitals 
of Christianity, and hope is our helmet that covers our head, that we 
may hold up our head in the midst of all the troubles and sorrows of 
the present life, 1 Thes. v. 8. Both graces are necessary, therefore it 
will not be unprofitable to insist upon them. I begin now with the 
former, ' The Lord direct your hearts to the love of God/ where note 

1. The grace prayed for : the love of God. 

2. The efficiency which is necessary to produce it : the Lord direct 
your hearts. The word direct notes sometimes conduct and guidance, 
and sometimes bending or setting straight the thing that is crooked. 
Conduct and guidance, as we guide men that they may not go wrong : 
Ps. cxix. 5, ' Oh, that iny ways were directed to keep thy statutes/ 
Ships that are best rigged need a pilot, and they that love God most 
need to have their love ordered and directed to the best advantage of 
his glory and service. This for the first signification, guidance, and 
direction. But at other times it signifies the bending, inclining, or 
making straight what is crooked, and what bends and tends another 
way; in this sense I take it here. Our hearts are distorted and 
writhed, and averse from God and all good naturally ; yea, and after 
grace received, are apt to wander, and return to their old bent and 
bias again ; therefore, the apostle prays that God would form and set 
their hearts straight, that they may be more indeclinably fixed towards 
God ; and this prayer he makes for the Thessalonians, whose ' work of 
faith and labour of love and patience of hope ' he had so much com 
mended before, and of whose sincerity he had such great confidence; for 

236 THE SIXTH SERMON. [2 TflES. III. 5. 

those he prays that their love might be directed, and their hearts more 
fixedly set towards God. The note then will be plain and easy. 

Doct. That we cannot have or keep up any true love to God, unless 
the Lord set our hearts straight, and keep them bent towards himself. 
I shall inquire here : 

1. What is love to God ? Love is the complacency of the soul in 
what is good. Love to God is the complacency and well-pleasedness 
of the soul in God as our all-sufficient portion. To open it to you, I 
shall describe it : 

I. By its radical and internal acts. 
II. By its external effects. 

III. A little touch upon the properties of it, and then you will see 
what the love of God is. 

I. The radical and internal acts are two desire and delight ; desire 
after him and delight in him. 

1. Desire after him. Love affects union with the thing beloved ; 
and so love to God implies an earnest seeking after him, in the highest 
way of enjoyment that we are capable of in this world. This appears 
partly by the kind of mercies that we affect, and partly by the fervency 
of our endeavours after him. 

[1.] By the kind of mercies that we affect. There are some mercies 
vouchsafed to the creature that lie nearer to God than others do, and 
do least detain us from him, as his image and favour, or his renewing 
and reconciling grace. When we love God, these are sought in the 
first place, as you shall see how the temper of the saints is described 
and distinguished from the temper of the brutish multitude : Ps. iv. 
(i, 7, ' The many say, Who will show us any good ? but, Lord, lift 
thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, and this will put glad 
ness into our hearts.' The many, the brutish multitude, seek an un 
certain good, and they seek it from an uncertain author ' Who will 
show us ? ' they do not acknowledge God in these common mercies ; 
but the children of God must have his favour ' Lord lift thou up the 
light of thy countenance upon us ; ' as the beams of the sun do cheer 
and refresh the earth, this is that that doth revive their souls. So 
Mat. v. 6, ' Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness.' 
Well, then, they that desire to be like God in purity and holiness, and 
to recover his favour lost by sin, do certainly more love him than those 
that only seek temporal mercies from him. God's sanctifying Spirit 
witnessing his love to us is the greatest gift can be bestowed in this 
life, and will more witness his love than anything else can be given 
us. This the saints seek after, that they may be like God, that they 
may be accepted and well pleasing unto God this is all their ambi 
tion : 2 Cor. v. 9, ' Wherefore we labour that whether present or absent 
we may be accepted of the Lord.' Other things may please the flesh, 
but that is not their design ; those things that bring them nearer to 
God take up their mind and heart. Now as it appears by the mercies 
we affect, so it appears 

[2.] By the fervency of our endeavours after these things ; for if 
the image of God and favour of God be sought superficially, or as 
things that we may be well without, and the wealth, honours, and 
pleasures of the world be most earnestly sought after, surely we do not 


love God : Ps. Ixiii. 8, ' My soul followeth hard after thee.' The 
whole spiritual life is but a pursuit of the soul towards God ; and the 
more constantly and earnestly we seek him, to enjoy more of his saving 
graces and benefits, the more we have of the love of God in us. 
Therefore David expresseth this desire, as exceeding all other desires : 
Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek 
after, that I might dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, 
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.' He 
sought not the glory of the kingdom, success in battle, victory over his 
enemies, in the first place, or not so much as converse with God, and 
attendance on his worship in the tabernacle ; all was nothing to this, 
that he might have communion with God. Therefore this is the 
radical act of love this fervent, burning desire that carries the soul 
through all duties, ordinances, services ; they are still making their 
way to a nearer access to God, and larger participation of his grace, 
till they come eternally to enjoy him in glory. 

2. There is another internal radical act of love ; that is, a delight in 
him. Our full joy is reserved for the other world, but delighting our 
selves in God is a greater duty now ; for love being the complacence of 
the soul in God, as apprehended to be good, or a delightful adhesion 
to God as our all-sufficient portion and happiness, it cannot be imagined 
love can be without any delight in God even now. Now in this valley 
of tears, the hope of enjoying him hereafter is our comfort and solace 
in the midst of our weaknesses and afflictions, that there is a time 
coming when we shall more perfectly ' see him as he is,' and ' be like 
him,' 1 John iii. 2. The apostle tells us, ' We rejoice now in the 
hope of the glory of God; ' that we have this in expectation, that we 
shall have an estate of complete felicity and excellent holiness ; that 
we shall behold bur nature united to the godhead in the glorified 
redeemer, and our persons admitted into the nearest intuition and 
fruition of God we are capable of, and live in the exercise of a con 
stant uninterrupted love, and be perfectly capable of receiving his 
highest benefits. Surely this joy we have in our pilgrimage. But 
there is not only our hope, but our partial enjoyment of it is matter of 
happiness to us ; his favour is as life, and his frown as death to the 
soul that loves him. The saints look on God reconciled as the best 
friend, God displeased as the most dreadful adversary ; therefore if 
they have any taste of his love, their ' souls are filled as with marrow 
and fatness : ' Ps. Ixiii. 3-5, ' Because thy loving-kindness is better 
than life, my lips shall praise thee. I will bless thee while I live. 
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth 
shall praise thee with joyful lips.' But if God hide his face ; if God 
be altogether a stranger, then they are troubled indeed, Ps. xxx. 7. 
But yet we are not gone to the bottom of the matter of delighting in 
God. Those whose souls are possessed with the love of God, are so 
well pleased with him, that everything is sweet to them by the relation 
it hath to God. It is a delight to them to think of God : Ps. civ. 34, 
' I will be glad and rejoice in him ; my meditation of him shall be 
sweet/ It is a delight to them to speak of God : Eph. v. 4, ' Not 
foolish jesting, but giving of thanks.' The delight of God's children, 
or that which serves instead of jesting to Christians, is the grateful 

238 THE SIXTH SERMON. [2 TflES. III. 5. 

remembrance of the Lord's mercies, especially of our redemption by 
Christ. To draw nigh to him in ordinances, there this delight is 
exercised again. There is prayer. A gracious soul cannot be a 
stranger to it, because it cannot have a greater refreshing than to be 
alone with God, and unbosom himself with God. The hypocrite is 
rejected from being capable of this character : Job xxvii. 10, ' Will 
he delight himself in the Almighty ? will he always call upon God ? ' 
Sometimes he will call upon God, he is frighted into a little religious 
ness, it may be, when death is at his back, in great afflictions, or time 
of great judgments ; but he hath no constant delight in God. The 
constant delight in God is that that brings the saints into his presence. 
So for all other Christian duties: Ps. cxxii. 1, 'I was glad when they 
said unto me, Come, let us go into the house of the Lord.' There they 
entertained traffic and commerce with God about matters of the highest 
concernment to their precious and immortal souls. Nay, all their 
work, the whole course of their obedience, is sweetened to them, because 
it is commanded by God, and tends to the enjoyment of God : as Ps. 
cxii. 1, ' Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth 
greatly in his commandments ; ' they not only keep the command 
ments, but delight (and that greatly) to keep the commandments. 
And Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as 
much as in all riches.' Delight in God is a great act of love, to which 
we should not be strangers, even in the house of our pilgrimage, 
though we have no assurance or sensible enjoyment of his favour ; 
for it is a duty of the first commandment, that results from the own 
ing of God as our God. 

II. For the external effects of love, they are doing and suffering his 
will, when we are contented to do what God will have us do, and be 
what God will have us be. 

1. For doing. If we love God, we shall be loth to offend him, we 
shall be desirous to please him. Faith, I do confess, is a marvellous 
grace, it can apprehend things strange to nature, but it can do no 
worthy thing for God, till it be accompanied with love, Gal. v. 6. 
When the apostle tells us of that faith, that carries away the prize of 
justification, he describes it to be a ' faith working by love.' Faith 
itself serves as the bellows to blow up this flame in our hearts, as the 
next and immediate principle of action. In short, love is the over 
ruling bent of our souls, the weight and poize upon us that inclines us 
to God. And look, as all noble qualities, when restrained, cannot pro 
duce their consummate act, so love suffers a kind of imperfection, till 
it can thus break forth into some act of thankfulness to God ; but then 
it is perfected : 1 John ii. 5, ' Whoso keepeth his word, in him the 
love of God is perfect,' that is, hath attained its consummate act, that 
which it aims at. No man certainly can be owned as a perfect, sincere 
lover of God, but he that makes conscience of doing what he commands ; 
none but they have a deep sense of his majesty ; none but they have 
an esteem of his favour ; therefore they dare not hazard it by a breach 
or neglect of their duty. 

2. For suffering his will. For when the apostle prays here God 
would direct their hearts to love him, he means that they should en 
dure anything rather than deny the faith, and confess Christ whatever 


it cost them. As obedience is virtually contained in love, so also courage 
and resolution. Solomon represents love as a powerful thing, as an 
affection that will not be bribed nor quenched : Cant. viii. 7, ' Many 
waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it : if a man would 
give the whole substance of his house for it, it would be utterly con 
temned.' It is true of love in general, much more of love to God. In 
carnal matters, love is a venomous poison ; when it hath invaded the 
heart, nothing will reclaim us : but in divine matters, it is a sovereign 
antidote against temptations, both on the right hand and on the left. 
For right-hand temptations, all the riches, pleasures, honours, are con 
temned, they cannot bribe them over from Christ that really love him. 
All the floods of persecution cannot quench this holy desire. This is 
the genius and disposition of love, when once the bent of the heart is set 
towards God and heaven, they are vehemently set against anything that 
would turn them out of the way, and divert them from their purpose. 
III. To speak of the properties ; if it be sincere : 

1. It is not a speculative but practical love, not consisting in lofty 
airy strains of devotion too high for the common rate of us poor 
mortals. No ; it is put upon a surer and infallible test our obedience 
to God. Again, it consists not in a bold familiarity, but in a humble 
subjection and compliance with his will. 'He that hath my com 
mandments and keeps them, he it is that loves me/ God's love is a 
love of bounty, but ours a love of duty ; therefore we are properly said 
to love God when we are careful to please him, and fearful to offend 
him. The scripture declares both : the first, ' This is love, to keep 
his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous ; ' the 
second, Ps. xcvii. 10, ' Ye that love the Lord, hate evil/ When we 
are fearful of committing or omitting anything may be a violation of 
his law, a grief to his Spirit, or a dishonour to his name, then we are 
said to love God. Whatever lofty and luscious strains of devotion we 
may otherwise please ourselves with, here will our trial rest. He doth 
not love God that can most accurately discourse of his attributes, or 
soar aloft in the nice speculations of contemplative divinity, or pre 
tences of secrecy with God, but he that is most awful, serious and 
conscientious in his duty. 

2. It is a transcendental love we owe to God ; we must love him 
above all other things. For he must be loved as our felicity and end. 
He must have the chiefest place in our hearts, and our principal design 
must be to please, serve, and glorify him. If we seek God in order to 
other things, we do not love him, but our own lusts; nay, if all other 
things be not sought after in order to God, we do not set him up as 
our chief good or last end. ' He that loves father and mother more 
than me, is not worthy of me,' Luke xiv. 26 ; '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/ 
Many have a partial, half love to God, but a greater love to other 
things ; then God's interest will be least minded, for there is some 
thing nearer and dearer to us than God, which will be soon preferred 
before the conscience of our duty to him. No ; all must be subordi 
nated to our supreme happiness and last end, or else God is not loved 
as God. 

240 THE SIXTH SERMON. [2 TfiES. III. 5. 

But now the second thing propounded is the nature of that influence 
upon love, which is expressed here by the apostle in the word direct' 
' The Lord direct your hearts in the love of God.' What doth this 
imply ? 

[1.] It implies that God works upon us as rational creatures ; he 
changeth the heart indeed, but he doth it by direction : he ' draws' us 
to himself, but it is ' with the cords of a man ;' he teacheth while he 
draws : John vi. 44, 45, ' None can come unto me but those whom the 
Father draws ;' and he proves it by this, because ' they shall be all 
taught of God.' God's drawing is teaching, it is both by the attractive 
force of the object, and the internal efficacy of his grace ; the Spirit's 
conduct is sweet, yet powerful, accomplisheth the effect, but without 
offering violence to the liberty of man. We are not forced, but directed. 
There is not a violent compulsion, but an inclination sweetly raised 
in us by victorious grace, or the overpowering sweetness of his love. 
For ' we love him, because he loved us first/ 1 John iv. 19. And this 
love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who by giving us 
an esteem and serious remembrance of his benefits, blows up this holy 
flame in our hearts. We do not love God we know not why or where 
fore ; an account can be given of all the Spirit's operations. Look, as in 
an impression there must be a seal, and wax to the seal, and the hand 
that stamps it ; so all concur here. The word doth its part, that is 
the seal, and the heart of man receives the impression ; but to make 
it effectual and durable, the hand of God concurs, or the power of his 
Spirit. The object is the gospel, wherein God commends his love to 
us by the incarnation, death, and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ; 
as also by the new covenant, because he will work upon man after the 
nature of man ; by love he will work upon love. Beside all this, there 
is an internal powerful agent, the Holy Spirit. The external objective 
means cannot do it without the inward cause. Though God's love 
doth so gloriously and resplendently shine forth in the gospel, yet 
the heart of man is not affected with it till it be shed abroad by the 
illuminating sanctifying Spirit. The heart of man is dark and dead 
to these things till changed by grace, and when that is once done, that 
impression is according to the stamp. 

[2.] The inclination to God as our felicity and end, which is the fruit 
of this grace, is the inclination of a reasonable creature; so the inclina 
tion is necessary, but the acts are voluntary, therefore you must keep 
them up still. There is an inclination put by God into inanimate 
things, as in light and airy bodies to move upwards, and in heavy 
bodies to move downwards ; as a stone falls to the earth, but fire and 
smoke ascend, they cannot do otherwise, because they have no choice. 
But now in man there is an inclination to God and heaven, which is 
the fruit of grace. The inclination is necessary. Why ? because all 
those whom the Spirit sanctifies, he sanctifies them not in vain, he 
certainly begets this tendency in them towards God : therefore so often 
they are said in scripture to be converted or turned to God. Their 
hearts were averse before, but then they tend and bend towards him ; 
but the acts are voluntary. There is a duty lying upon us to ' stir up 
the gift of grace that is in us ;' the word is avatp-rrvpelv, 2 Tim. i. 6. 
When this holy fire is kindled in our bosoms, we must blow it up and 


keep it burning. We must not be negligent and secure, for we cannot 
reasonably imagine the idle and diligent should fare alike, that the 
Holy Ghost will direct our hearts into the love of God whether we 
will or not ; therefore, not only as we are rational agents, but as we 
are new creatures, we are obliged to use the means, and then expect 
his help and blessing. What is a prayer in the text, ' The Lord direct 
your hearts into the love of God, to the patient waiting for Christ,' 
is an exhortation, Jude 21, ' Keep yourselves in the love of God, 
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto everlasting life.' 
There is both again ; you must look to your love, that your hearts be 
kept straight and bent towards God, and not distracted with worldly 
vanities. The blessing is from God, but you must use the means ; 
this direction is not to encourage slothfulness, but industry. We must 
charge it upon ourselves, as our main work and duty : the Spirit stirs 
and quickens, we must rouse up ourselves. 

[3.] It implies there are many things would writhe, and crook, and 
turn our hearts another way the devil, the world, and the flesh. The 
devil seeks to draw us off from God, to abate the fervour of our love 
towards him ; therefore we are bidden ' to flee youthful lusts,' 2 Tim. 
ii. 22, that we may not be taken captive by him at his will and plea 
sure. Some tamely yield to his temptations, and he doth unto them 
as he listeth ; but there is more tugging and drawing to get a serious 
Christian into his snare. Therefore, we are bidden to be ' sober and 
watchful, for your adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, goes about 
seeking whom he may devour.' Sobriety is a sparing use of worldly 
delights, and vigilance is a serious diligence in the use of all those holy 
means whereby temptations may be vanquished. And as the devil, so 
the flesh : James i. 14, 'A man is tempted when he is drawn away by 
his lusts, being enticed ; ' that is, by seeking to please his fleshly mind 
and appetite. And then the world would pervert us, and offers many 
baits to that end and purpose : 1 John ii. 15, 16, 'Love not the world, 
nor the things of the world ; for if any man love the world, the love of 
the Father is not in him. For whatsoever is in the world, is either 
the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life ;' that is, 
pleasures, riches, and honours. These seem sweet baits, but there is 
a dangerous hook in them, and your love to God may soon be lessened. 
Well, then, this directing is opposed to wavering by reason of any of 
these temptations on the one or the other side, that the Holiest may 
keep in us that ardent love of God which of duty we owe to him. 

[4.] Directing notes the orderliness of the new creature. There is not 
a more beautiful thing in the world when the motions thereof are 
directed by the Spirit, for then we are in a due posture both to God, 
our neighbour, and ourselves. To God, for then the creature is kept 
in a due subjection to him, and all our motions and actions are sub 
ordinated to his glory. When we sin we are in rebellion against God, 
and set up the creature against him, as if it were more amiable and 
fitter to content and delight the soul than God, and so disturb the 
order and harmony of the world, abusing both ourselves and all things 
within our grasp to a wrong end. Look, as in the motions of a watch, 
there is such a proportion in every part, that if one wheel be wrong 
the whole is put out of frame ; so the world, that was made for us, 



and we for God, is all disordered when we use the world for ourselves 
and not for God. So as to our neighbour. Self-lovers and self-pleasers 
will never heartily do good to others. The most sincere commerce 
in the world is among those that love God. So for ourselves. Till 
the love of God rule in our hearts all is out of order. Look, as in the 
body, if the feet were there where the head should be, the disorder and 
deformity would be great ; so it is in the soul, when the beast rides 
the man, and conscience and reason are made slaves to lust and 
appetite. But when once a man is gained to love God, everything is in 
frame again, self-government is restored, due obedience to God is well 
provided for. 

To give you some reasons to show you the necessity of this, both 
as to persons regenerate and unregenerate. 

1. The necessity of God's direction to persons unregenerate. They 
cannot love God till the Lord direct and set their hearts straight. It 
is a hard thing to say (but we must not mince the matter), that in the 
carnal state we were all haters of God, Rom. i. 28. And it were well 
if this enmity and hatred were thoroughly got out of our hearts. How 
can this be ? Nature tells us that he from whom we have received 
being, and life, and all things, deserves our love. I answer Though 
men may see some reason of love to God as he is our creator and pre 
server, but as he is a lawgiver and a judge, so we all hate him. Three 
reasons there are of that natural enmity that is in the hearts of men 
against God. I would have you consider them seriously, that we may 
feelingly bewail our own aversion from God. 

[1.] Our inclination to carnal things, which prepossesseth our hearts, 
and then there is no room for any inclination to God. Naturally 
men are addicted to vain and sensual delights, for ' that which is 
born of the flesh is flesh,' John iii. 6. Having no principle to incline 
them to God, they wholly seek to please the flesh. When men once 
lost original righteousness, they took up with what came next to hand, 
and so became ' lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God,' 2 Tim. 
iii. 4. And this inclination we cannot divest ourselves of till it be 
cured by grace. Therefore the Lord promiseth this cure : Deut. xxx. 
6, ' The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of 
thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all 
thy soul/ The heart must be circumcised before it can love God. 
Till God pare away the foreskin, and till this carnal love be mortified, 
there is no place for divine love to be raised and quickened in our 
hearts. We are entangled in the love of worldly things, and shall so 
remain till God bend the crooked stick the other way, and God set our 
hearts right to himself. 

[2.] The second reason is carnal liberty, and so we hate God as a law 
giver, who would bridle our lusts. There is in the law the precept and the 
sanction. The precept is to our purpose, the sanction will come to be 
considered in the next. Because of God's restraint we cannot enjoy 
our lusts with that freedom and security we desire. His law is in the 
way, therefore the heart riseth up against God, because he hath made 
a law to forbid those things that we affect : Eom. viii. 7, ' The natural 
mind is enmity to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither 
can be ;' Col. i. 21, ' Enemies in your mind by evil works.' We love 

2 TlIES. III. 5.] THE BI^TH SERMON. 243 

sin, therefore we hace God, who forbids it, and makes it BO penal and 
damnable to us. 

[3.] Slavish fear is the cause of this enmity. This relates to the 
sanction and penalty of the law. Thus, we hate God, because we fear 
he will call us to account for our sins, and punish us ; for a condemn 
ing God, barely apprehended under that notion, can never be loved by 
a guilty creature. Thus Adam, when he had sinned, ran away from 
God, and hid himself in the bushes, Gen. iii. 7, 10. Now it is in vain 
to come and tell them of the goodness of God and his perfections till 
he change their hearts ; as you do in vain induce a guilty prisoner to 
love his judge, to tell him he is a discreet person, a man of solid judg 
ment, one well skilled and versed in the law this sticks, he is one that 
will condemn him. Therefore the gospel, as a means to induce us to 
love God, sets him forth as a sin-pardoning God : ' There is forgive 
ness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' 

2. Come we to the regenerate. The Thessalonians did excel in all 
graces, and yet the apostle prays that the Lord would ' direct their 
hearts to the love of God.' Why ? 

[1.] Because there are many defects of love in the best. To give 
some instances : 

First, Love signifies a strong inclination, or an earnest bent of heart 
towards God, as our chief good and last end. Well, then, our end is 
our measure by which we judge of all means, of the aptness and fitness 
of what is to be avoided and embraced. The seasonableness of all 
means must be determined by the end, that all means that are incon 
sistent with and impertinent to our great end may be cut off. Now all 
sins are inconsistent with making God our great end, and all vain and 
foolish actions are impertinent thereunto. Judge you by this, if we 
have such a perfect love to God, if this be love, as questionless it is. 
But now with how many impertinent and extravagant actions do we 
fill up our lives ? How many purposes, desires, words, and actions 
have we that have no respect to our great end at all ? How much do 
we live to ourselves, and how little to God ? How great a passion 
have we for earthly things, so that they can occupy and intercept the 
far greatest part of our lives ? And then judge whether we had not 
need have the bent kept up, and the tendency towards God, as our end 
and happiness: Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, 'Unite my heart to the fear of thy 
name/ It is the natural disease of man's heart to be loosed from God, 
and to be distracted in variety of worldly objects, which obtrude 
themselves upon our senses, offer themselves to us daily ; therefore it 
is not enough for a man once to resign over his heart to God, as we do 
in conversion, when this love was first wrought in us, but we need often 
to beg that God would reclaim us from this ranging after carnal 
vanities, that he would direct and keep us straight and true to our 
end, that we may love him more, and at a better rate. So, if you 
consider the nature of love ; the thing is obvious and plain, unless 
the Lord maintain this love in us, and keep it up, what will become 
of us? 

The second evidence is those slavish fears which do oppress us and 
hinder our delight in God and comfortable communion with him in 
the means of grace. Certainly the more we are under slavish fear, 


the less love we have to God and thankfulness for his grace. The 
apostle tells you, 1 John iv. 18, ' There is no fear in love ; but perfect 
love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is 
not made perfect in love.' Surely we should seek after such a spirit 
of love, that all we do for God may be done with great delight ; that 
we may not serve him by compulsion, but by inclination ; not as en 
joined only, but as inclined ; not as putting a force upon ourselves, but 
as delighting in our work. And then 

Thirdly, Another instance is our frequent preferring the profits and 
pleasures of the world before the service of God, and if it doth not go 
so far as to forfeit our right, yet how often do we expose and put our 
spiritual comforts to hazard for every trifle ? As Esau, that sold his 
birthright for a morsel of meat, Heb. xii. 15, 16. The best of us show 
too much lothness to cut off the right hand, and to pluck out the right 
eye, or to do that which is signified by it. This shows a weakness of 
love ; for where love is strong, there is a thorough inclination to God ; 
we dare love nothing above him, or against him, or without him. 

Fourthly, Our backwardness to obedience, and the tediousness we 
find in it, shows a great imperfection in our love. All goes on easily, 
sweetly, acceptably, where love is at the bottom. Gen. xxix. 20, 
Seven years to Jacob seemed as a few days, for the love that he had to 
Kachel ; and so love sweetens our obedience : { His commandments are 
not grievous/ But when we are wedded to worldly things, and will 
not be reclaimed from them, then every heavenly business is an inter 
ruption to what we would be at, what we delight in. 

Fifthly, The many conflicts we have with carnal self-love, or our 
own foolish and hurtful lusts, show our love is not perfect; as the 
weakness of faith is seen and felt by the remainders of unbelief, and 
our frequent conflicts with doubts and fears : ' Lord, I believe ; help 
thou mine unbelief,' Mark ix. 24. So the weakness of our love is 
known by the opposition of carnal and inordinate self-love. The flesh 
will say sometimes, ' Favour thyself,' or ' What a weariness is it,' 
Mai. i. 13, and grudge everything that is done for God. It doth 
excuse us in our stragglings and deviations from our great end, and 
applaud us in our negligent course of living ; as ' the sluggard is wiser 
in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason," Prov. 
xxvi. 16. Nay, sometimes it will urge us to please ourselves to the 
grief of the Spirit, and to take our fill of carnal delights. All this be 
longs to the first reason. 

[2.] There needs much to be done about our love after it is planted 
in the soul ; we need to get it rooted, to get it increased, to get it con 
tinually excited, and kept in act and exercise. 

(1.) We need to get it rooted. Our first affection to God and 
heavenly things may hastily put forth itself, as the early blossoms of 
the spring do, but they are soon nipt ; and those high tides of affec 
tions, which we find in our first acquaintance with religion, afterwards 
sink low enough. Love is more passionately expressed at first, partly 
by reason of the novelty of the things represented to us, and partly 
because of our great necessity, as men that are in a violent thirst take 
large draughts with pleasure ; and because our love is not as yet dis 
persed into the several channels of obedience, but wholly taken up with 


admirations of grace ; but yet this may vanish and decay. Our busi 
ness is to be ' rooted and grounded in love,' as the apostle saith, Eph. 
iii. 17, to get a more solid, durable affection to God. 

(2.) After it is planted it needs to be more increased : Phil. i. 9, 
* I pray God your love may abound yet more and more.' At first love 
is but weak ; there is fire, but it is not blown up into a flame ; after 
wards God gets a greater interest in our hearts, and then the constitu 
tions of our souls become more holy and heavenly. Love being the 
heart of the new creature, he that hath most love hath most grace, and 
is the best and strongest Christian. 

(3.) After it is planted in the soul it needs to be excited and kept 
in act and exercise. This is mainly intended here. For 

First, All religion is in effect but love. Faith is a thankful accept 
ance of Christ, and thankfulness is an expression of love. Kepentance 
is but mourning love ; as she wept much to whom much was forgiven, 
Luke vii. 47. Diligence in the holy life is but seeking love; 
obedience is pleasing love ; self-denial is the mortification of inor 
dinate self-love ; sobriety is a retrenching of our carnal love. 

Second, If love be not acted and kept at work, carnal love will prevail. 
The soul of man cannot lie idle, especially our affections cannot ; 
either they are carried out to God, or they will leak out to worldly 
things. When our love ceaseth, yet concupiscence ceaseth not, and 
the love of the world will soon grow superior in the soul ; for the 
neglected principle languisheth, while the other principle gets strength, 
and secures its interest to God. The 

Third is the benefit we have by keeping love in act. This makes 
us more sincere, and to act purely for God : 2 Cor. v. 14, ' The love 
of Christ constrains us : for we thus judge, that they that live should 
no more live to themselves, but to him that died for them, and rose 
again.' The constraining influence of love is that that keeps us from 
living to ourselves ; and this makes us more diligent. Labour and 
love are often coupled in the scripture : ' Knowing your labour of 
love, the work of faith and patience of hope ; ' ' and God is not un 
righteous to forget your labour of love ; ' the church of Ephesus ' lost 
her first love/ she ' left her first work,' Kev. ii. 4, 5. 

Use. Oh, then, let us seek this benefit from God, that our hearts may 
be directed into his love. 

1. The sanctifying Spirit is given us for this end, to stir up love to 
God : John iv. 14, ' The water I will give him shall be a well of 
water, always springing up unto eternal life/ It is not in the heart a 
dead pool, but a living spring. And the same is intimated, John 
vii. 38, ' He that believes in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of 
living water ; this he spake of the Spirit/ 

2. The ordinances were appointed for this end. The word, to re 
present God amiable to us, both for the goodness in him and the good 
ness proceeding from him, especially in our redemption by Christ ; and 
also for those rich preparations of grace he hath made for us in another 
world to blow up this holy fire ; and this is the end of the sacrament. 
All the dainties that are set before us in the Lord's Supper do all taste 
and savour of love. Our meat is seasoned with love, and our drink 
flows into our cup out of the wine-press of love. Whv do we eat 


of the crucified body of Christ, but that we may remember Jesus 
' who loved us, and gave himself for us?' Gal. ii. 20. And also the 
drink that is provided for us at this feast is the blood of Christ : Eev. 
i. 5, ' Who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.' 

3. All the providences of God tend to this end, that we may love 
God ; all God's mercies are as new fuel to keep in this fire. ' I will 
love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication,' Ps. 
cxvi. 1 ; ' And thou shalt love the Lord, who is the strength of thy 
life, and the length of thy days,' Deut. xxx. 20. All the mercy we 
have from God is to refresh and revive our love, that it may not 
languish and die ; nay, all the sharp corrections God sends are to re 
cover our love to God : Isa. xxvi. 9, ' My soul hath desired thee in 
the night,' saith the prophet, ' and early have I sought thee.' And 
when was that ? ' when thy judgments were abroad in the world,' 
when great and sharp afflictions were upon them. 

And into the patient ivaitingfor Christ. 2 THES. III. 5. 

THE words are a prayer ; and the apostle prays here for those things 
which are most necessary to Christians love to God, and patient 
waiting for Christ. 

I come now to handle the second branch. 

The point is this : 

Doct. That when the heart is bent by love to God, we need also the 
direction of his grace to keep it intent upon the coming of Christ. 

Four things I must speak to : 

I. What this patient waiting for Christ is. 

II. The connection between it and the love of God. 

III. That it hath a great influence upon the spiritual life, or keeps 
religion alive in the soul. 

IV. The necessity of God's concurrence hereto : ' the Lord direct 
your hearts into the patient waiting for Christ.' 

I. What is this patient waiting for Christ ? I answer It is the 
grace of hope fortifying our resolutions for God and the world to 
come, that we may continue in our duty till our work be finished and 
our warfare ended. The act of hope is three ways expressed : Some 
times by looking, which notes a certain expectation : Titus ii. 13, 
' Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great 
God and our Saviour.' Sometimes by loving or longing, which notes a 
desirous and earnest expectation : 2 Tim. iv. 8, 'Not to me only, but 
to all that love his appearing.' Sometimes by waiting, which notes a 
patient expectation, 1 Thes. i. 10. He makes it there the fruit of our 
conversion : he saith, we are ' turned to God, that we may wait for his 
Son from heaven.' This last notion is expressly mentioned in the text, 
the others are implied ; as looking, there can be no waiting for that we 


do not look for ; and longing, for delay is only troublesome to them 
that earnestly desire his coming, and build their hopes upon it. Faith 
adds certainty, and love earnestness; and both give strength to 
patience. Let us open all these things. As 

1. Looking for the coming of Christ : Phil. iii. 20, ' Our conversa 
tion is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord 
Jesus Christ.' It is not a matter of conjecture, but of faith. Eeason 
saith, He may come ; but faith saith , He will come. Nature will teach us 
it is very likely, for a guilty conscience fears the judge ; and the course 
of things is so disordered in the world, that there needs a review. 
But scripture tells us, it is very certain that ' he that shall come, will 
come, and will not tarry,' Heb. x. 37. Therefore, in the eye of faith it 
is sure and near. As Rebecca spied Isaac at a distance, so faith looks 
upon Christ as if he had begun his journey, and were now upon the 
way, and makes the believer stand ready to meet him and welcome 
him. Though it come not to pass presently, the thing is promised, 
and the time certainly determined in God's eternal purpose, which is 
enough for faith. 

2. There is a longing or a desirous expectation : 2 Peter iii. 12, 
' Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.' It is 
good to observe how differently this coming of Christ is entertained 
in the world ; it is questioned by the atheist, it is dreaded by the 
wicked and impenitent, but it is longingly expected by the godly. 

[1.] For the first sort: 2 Peter iii. 3, 4, ' There shall come in the 
last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is 
the promise of his coming?' They would eternally enjoy the plea 
sures of the present world, and therefore labour to dash all thoughts 
of this great day out of their hearts, and take up all obvious preju 
dices to smother the belief of it: they would be glad in their hearts 
to hear such news that Christ would never come. Now, their wishes 
do easily commence into opinion. Christ's coming is the burden and 
torment they would willingly get rid of; and men readily believe 
what they earnestly desire. 

[2.] The second sort. It is dreaded by the wicked and impenitent. 
And therefore hated and abhorred by them. At the mention of it 
Felix trembled, Acts xxiv. 25. There is reason for it, for Christ 
comes to them as a terrible judge. In scripture his coming is set 
forth by light, and sometimes by fire. Light is comfortable, but fire 
dreadful : 2 Thes. i. 8, ' He shall come in flames of fire to render ven 
geance to them that obey not the gospel.' But 

[3.] To the godly it is not matter of terror, but delight ; not like 
the handwriting on the wall to Belshazzar, but like comfortable 
tidings to one that expects news from far ; they long for it, and would 
hasten it if they might have their desire : Cant. viii. 14, ' Make haste, 
my beloved, and be like a young hart or roe upon the mountains of 
spices.' Christ is not slack, but the church's affections are strong, 
therefore she saith, Make haste. So Rev. xxii. 20, Christ saith, ' I 
come;' and the church, like a quick echo, takes the words out of his 
mouth, ' Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.' Christ's voice 
and the church's voice are unisons. You will say this is the desire of 
the church in general ; but doth every particular believer so desire it ? 


I answer The part follows the reason of the whole, the same Spirit is 
in all the faithful ; the Spirit in the bride says come ; the Holy Ghost 
in necessary things works uniformly in all the saints, therefore he 
breeds this desire in them. The meanest, the weakest, even those 
that tremble at their own unpreparedness, have some inclination that 
way. There may be a drowsiness and indisposition, but no total ex 
tinction of the desire of meeting with Christ. 

3. There is waiting ; and here it is expressed by its adjunct, ' patient 
waiting ; ' for patient waiting is an act of hope, as well as longing ex 
pectation : 1 Thes. i. 3, ' Knowing,' saith he, ' your work of faith, 
and labour of love, and patience of hope/ Faith, or a sound belief of 
things, will break out into practice ; therefore the work of faith, love, 
will put us upon labour, and hope produces patience. There is a 
threefold patience spoken of in scripture ; all the branches are near 
kin, for they are all begotten by hope. 

[1 .] The bearing patience ; which is a constancy in adversity, or a 
perseverance in our duty notwithstanding the difficulties and trials 
that we meet with in our passage to heaven: Heb. vi. 12, 'Be ye 
followers of them who, through faith and patience, have inherited the 
promises.' As we cannot inherit the promises without faith, so not 
without patience ; for our obedience and fidelity to Christ requires not 
only labour and great pains, but courage and constancy to suffer as 
well as to do : Heb. x. 36, ' Ye have need of patience, that after ye 
have done the will of God you might inherit the promise.' A child of 
God cannot be without patience, because he must reckon for troubles 
and molestations. We have indeed our calms as well as our storms, 
many intermissions ; but at other times God will exercise us, and show 
us our fidelity is not sufficiently tried in doing good, but before we go 
to heaven we must sometimes suffer evil. God hath something to do 
by us, and something to do with us : we must be prepared for both, 
to endure all things, and readily and willingly suffer the greatest evil, 
rather than commit the least sin, that so at length we may be accepted 
in the judgment. 

[2.] There is a waiting patience, to wait God's leisure. The evil is 
present, the good is absent ; now we long for the good as well as bear 
the evil : Kom. viii. 25, ' But if we hope for that we see not, then do 
we with patience wait for it.' This is the work of patience, to wait ; 
to refer it to the good pleasure of God when our warfare shall be ac 
complished and our troubles at an end, and our final deliverance come 
about. The time cannot be long, for what are a few years to eter 
nity ? This waiting patience is delivered to us under the similitude 
of an husbandman, James v. 7, who ' waiteth for the precious fruits of 
the earth, and hath long patience for it, till he receive the early and 
the latter rain.' The husbandman, that hath laid out all his substance 
in seed-corn, cannot hope for a present harvest, or that he should re 
ceive the crop as soon as the seed is cast into the ground. No ; it must 
lie a while there, it must endure all weathers before it can spring up 
in the blade and ear, and ripen, and be fit to be reaped. So though 
we venture all upon our everlasting hopes, yet we must expect our 
season, till we see the fruit and recompense of it. This is the waiting 


[3.] There is the working patience ; which is a going on with our 
self-denying obedience, how tedious soever it be to the flesh. Thus 
we are told, the good ground bringeth forth fruit ' with patience.' 
They were hasty to have present satisfaction, or else grew weary of 
religion, and turned aside to worldly things. So the heirs of the pro 
mises are described, Horn. ii. 7, to be those that 'continued with 
patience in well-doing.' And to the church of Ephesus God saith, 
Kev. ii. 2, 'I know thy works, thy labour, and thy patience.' Keli- 
gion is not an idle and sluggish profession, the work of it is carried on 
by diligence and faithfulness. Lusts are not easily mortified ; neither 
do graces produce their perfect work with a little perfunctory care. 
Much labour and serious diligence is required of us, we have many 
things to conflict withal, there is the burden of a wearisome body, the 
seducing flesh, unruly passions, disordered thoughts, a dark mind, 
dead affections, and sometimes the misery of a troubled conscience that 
we conflict withal : and therefore we need much patience, that we may 
not faint, but be accepted of the Lord at his coming. Well, then, to 
live in this constant and patient expectation of Christ is the perpetual 
necessary duty of all those that love him. 

II. The connection and affinity between it and the love of God ; for 
if a man love God, he will wait for the coming of Christ. The one is 
inferred out of the other, ' The Lord direct your hearts to the love of 
God, and the patient waiting for Christ.' 

1. They that love God level all their thoughts and desires to this, 
that God may be enjoyed, that God may be glorified. 

[!.] That he may be enjoyed in the fullest manner and measure 
they are capable of. Now tnis full enjoyment is the fruit of Christ's 
coming ; ' then we shall be ever with the Lord,' 1 Thes. iv. 17 ; ' When 
Christ shall appear, we shall see him as he is, and be like him ;' that 
is, like him in holiness, and like him in happiness. Our vision will 
make a transformation. The desire of union, which is so intrinsic to 
love, is never satisfied till then. Here we have a little of God in the 
midst of sin and misery. Sin straitens our capacity from receiving 
more ; and God sees fit to exercise us with misery, only affording us 
an intermixture of heavenly comfort. But our full joy is reserved to 
the day of Christ's appearing. 

[2.] They that love God desire also that God may be glorified, that 
his truth may be vindicated, his love and justice demonstrated. His 
truth is vindicated because his threatenings and promises are all accom 
plished : sin will no more be had in honour, nor pride and sensuality 
bear sway. Love to the saints will be seen in their full reward, and 
his justice demonstrated on the wicked in their full punishment. All 
matters of faith shall then become matters of sense ; and what is now 
propounded to be believed shall be felt, and God shall be glorified 
in all. 

2. The saints love Christ as Mediator ; we love him now though we 
see him not : 1 Peter i. 8, ' Whom having not seen, we love ; and 
believing in him, rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.' 
But desire to see him, as our surest and best friend. We have heard 
much of him, felt much of him, and tasted much of him, but wo 
desire to see him, especially when he shall appear in all his glory: 


Mat. xxv. 31, ' The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his 
angels with him.' All clouds about his person shall vanish, he shall 
appear to be what he is, the Saviour and judge of the world. 

3. They have a love for the church ; for the church in general shall 
at that day be adorned as a bride for her husband, and fully freed 
from all sin and trouble. It is no more eclipsed by its lamentable 
imperfections, corruption of worship, division of sects, or the persecu 
tions of the world, nor polluted by the distempers of its diseased mem 
bers : all is then holy and glorious. Christ will present it as a glorious 
church without spot or wrinkle, Eph. v. 27. 

4. They love themselves in God ; and their own happiness is then 
fully to be perfected. All the desires and hopes of believers are then 
satisfied. They that are now scorned and persecuted shall have the 
reward of their love to God, be perfectly loved by him. A gladsome 
day it will be with God's people. 2 Thes. i. 10, it is said, ' Christ 
shall be admired in the saints, and glorified in all them that believe.' 
Glorified, not actively, but objectively. Poor creatures, that are newly 
crept out of the dust and rottenness, shall have so much glory put 
upon them, that the angels themselves shall stand wondering what 
Christ means to do for them. And then for all their labour they shall 
have rest, they shall rest from their labours ; that is, all their trouble 
some work shall be over, for their pain and sorrow they shall have 
delight, 1 Peter iv. 12. For their shame they shall have glory put 
upon them both in body and soul. Our Lord Christ despised the 
shame for the glory set before him, Heb. xii. 2. 

III. It hath a great influence upon the spiritual life, and keeps reli 
gion alive in our souls. That will appear if you take either word in 
the text, waiting or patience. 

1. If you take the first notion, waiting or looking, as it draws off 
the mind from things present to things to come. 

[1.] Looking to the end of things giveth wisdom : Deut. xxxii. 29, 
' Oh, that they were wise, that they would consider their latter end.' 
It is not so much to be stood upon who is happy now, but who shall 
be happy at last. If men would frequently consider this, it would 
much rectify all the mistakes in the world. If we would inure our 
minds not to look to things as they seem at present, or relish to the 
flesh, or appear now to such short-sighted creatures as we are, but as 
they will be judged of at the last day, at Christ's appearing : how soon 
would this vain show be over, and the face of things changed, and 
what is rich, and pleasant, and honourable now, appear base and con 
temptible at the latter end ! Then shall we see that there is an excel 
lency in oppressed godliness, that exalted wickedness and folly is but 
shame and ruin. Do but translate the scene from the world's judg 
ment to Christ's tribunal, and you will soon alter your opinions con 
cerning wisdom and folly, misery and happiness, liberty and bondage, 
shame and glory ; the mistaking of which notions pervert all mankind, 
and there is no rectifying the mistake but by carrying of our mind 
seriously to the last review of all things : for then we shall judge things 
not by what they seem now, but by what they will be hereafter. 
Solomon tells us, Prov. xix. 20, ' Hear counsel, and receive instruction, 
that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.' That is true wisdom, to 

2 THES. 111. 5.] THE SEVENTH SERMON. 251 

be found wise at last. Time will come when we shall wish and say 
in vain, Oh, that we had laid up treasure in heaven, that we had 
laboured for the meat that perisheth not, that we had esteemed despised 
holiness, that we had set less by all the vanities of the world, that we 
had imitated the strictest and most mortified believer, for those are 
only esteemed and have honour in that day. More particularly 

(1.) It would much quicken us to repentance : Acts iii. 19, ' Re 
pent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the 
day of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.' All 
things shall be reviewed at Christ's coming, and some men's sins 
remain, and others are blotted out. None but those that are con 
verted and turned to God can expect that benefit. Unless we be 
recovered from the devil, the world, and the flesh, and brought back 
again in heart and life to God, there will be no escape. Now those 
that wait for this day should prepare for it, that they may stand in 
the judgment with comfort. The wicked shall have judgment with 
out mercy, but the believer shall be accepted upon terms of grace. 
Days of torment shall come to the one from the presence of the Lord, 
and days of refreshing shall come to the other. The state in the 
world of believing penitents is a time of conflict, labour, and sorrow, 
but this trouble and toil is then over, and they shall enjoy their rest. 
Consider these things, Where would you have your refreshment, and 
in what ? Many seek their refreshing now either in brutish pleasures, 
and sit down under the shadow of some earthly gourd, which soon 
withers ; but those that seek their refreshment in the enjoyment of 
God shall then be satisfied. Nothing certainly makes us so solicitous 
about a serious reconciliation with God as the consideration of this day. 

(2.) It engageth us to holiness, and puts life into our obedience. 
We that look for such things, ' what manner of persons ought we to 
be in all holy conversation and godliness? ' 2 Peter iii. 11. Men are 
secure and careless, either because they do not believe this day, or do 
not seriously think of it Could we bring ourselves to this, to think 
and speak and do as having judgment and eternity in our eye, we 
would be other manner of persons than ever we have been. What ! 
believe this day, and be so careless I It cannot be. We would not 
beat down the price of religion to so low a rate, nor serve God so 
loosely, if we did wait for the coming of Christ, who will bring every 
thing into the judgment, whether it be good or evil. We could not 
then satisfy ourselves in such a negligent profession and practice of 

(3.) It would produce a more heavenly temper and conversation. 
That is evident from the apostle's words : Phil. iii. 20, ' Our conversa 
tion is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour.' Looking for 
this salvation and this Saviour, it breeds in us the heavenly mind. 
He comes from heaven to bring us thither ; for he comes to receive 
us to himself, John xiv. 3. Therefore if we be not heavenly, our 
practice will be a contradiction to our faith. You believe that there 
is a God and a Christ and a life to come ; that this Christ came from 
God to bring us to God, that we may enjoy him in the life to come ; 
and thereupon you renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and 
give up yourselves to God, believing that this Christ will come again 


to lead all his sincere disciples and penitent believers into the glory 
and happiness of the heavenly state. If you believe this, what follows ? 
That your conversation must be heavenly, either you must live for 
heaven, as seeking it with all diligence, that you may at length cer 
tainly obtain it, and not be excluded with the wicked, or live upon 
heaven, solacing yourselves in the foresight and hopes of it. Other 
wise, to profess this faith, and yet to live as though your happiness 
were altogether in this world, were to go about to reconcile contra 
dictions ; to pretend you place your blessedness in heaven, and yet 
fly from it as a misery. You profess to look and long for that you 
have no micd to. The second notion is patience. 

2. Patience, that also hath a great influence upon religion ; for that 
which destroyeth all religion and godliness is making haste. There 
fore it is said, Isa. xxviii. 16, ' He that believes, shall not make haste.' 
God's promises are not presently effected ; and if we cannot tarry, 
but run to our own shifts, because they are next at hand, presently 
you run into a snare. On the other side it is said, Lam. iii. 26, ' It 
is good to hope and quietly to wait for the salvation of God.' When 
we can hope and wait, it mightily secures our obedience. Sense is all 
for present satisfaction, but faith and hope can tarry God's leisure, 
till those better things which he hath promised do come in hand. 
Whatever our condition be, afflicted or prosperous, we are in the place 
and station where God hath set us, and there we must abide till he 
bring us to his kingdom. Impatience and precipitation is the cause 
of all mischief. What moved the Israelites to make a goldeu calf, 
but impatience, not waiting for Moses, who, according to their mind 
and fancy, remained too long with God in the mount ? What made 
Saul force himself to offer sacrifice, but because he could not tarry 
an hour longer for Samuel, and so lost the kingdom ? 1 Sam. xiii. 
12-14. What made the bad servant, or church officer, to smite his 
fellow-servant, and eat and drink with the drunken, that is, to 
abuse church censures, countenance the profane, and smite and 
curb the godly, but only this ? Mat. xxiv. 48, ' My Lord delays his 
coming.' He sees the strictest are hated in the world, and the others 
befriended ; and honour and interest runs that way, and Christ comes 
not to rectify these disorders. c My Lord delays his coming.' Hasty 
men are loth to be kept in suspense and long expectation, and so mis 
carry. Look to all sorts of sinners. The carnal and sensual, they 
cannot wait for the time when they shall have pleasures for evermore 
at God's right hand, therefore take up with present delights. Like 
those who cannot tarry till the grapes be ripe, therefore eat them sour 
and green. Solid and everlasting pleasures they cannot wait for, 
therefore choose the pleasures of sin, that are but for a season. A 
covetous man will wax rich in a day, and cannot tarry the fair leisure 
of providence ; therefore we are told, ' He that makes haste to be rich 
cannot be innocent/ Prov. xxviii. 20. An ambitious man will not 
stay till God gives true crowns and honours in his kingdom, and 
therefore he must have honour and greatness here, though his climb 
ing and affecting to be built one storey higher in the world cost him the 
ruin and loss of his soul. All revolt and apostasy from God proceeds 
from hence, because they cannot wait for God's help, and tarry his 


fulfilling the promise ; but finding themselves pressed and destitute, 
the flesh, that is tender and delicate, grows impatient. It is tedious to 
suffer for a while, but they do not consider it is more tedious to suffer 
for evermore. Thence comes also our murmuring and distrustful 
repining : Ps. xxxi. 22, ' I said in my haste, I am cut off ; neverthe 
less thou heardest the voice of my supplication.' Just at that time 
when God was about to hear him. So, ' I said in my haste, All men 
are liars/ And thence also our unlawful attempts, and stepping out 
of God's way. Men fly to unwarrantable means, because they cannot 
depend upon God, and wait with patience. Look, as an impetuous 
river is always troubled and thick, so is. a precipitate, impatient spirit 
out of order, full of distemper, a ready prey to Satan. 

IV. The necessity of divine concurrence. The apostle prays here, 
' The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient 
waiting for Christ.' It concerns this clause as well as the former. 

1. As to the carnal and unregenerate. Till their hearts be changed, 
they can never attain to this patient waiting for Christ, for two reasons: 

[1.] In the wicked there is no sound belief of these things, for they 
live by sense and not by faith. The apostle tells us, ' He that lacketh 
grace is blind, and cannot see afar off,' 2 Peter i. 9. Things of another 
world are too uncertain, and too far off for them to apprehend, so as 
to be much moved by them. They hear of the coming of Christ, and 
speak by rote of it after others, but they do not believe it ; therefore, 
till God enlighten them, how shall they be affected with this matter ? 

[2.] There is an utter unsuitableness of heart to them. Things 
present, that suit their fancies and please their senses, carry away 
their hearts. Ps. xlix. 18, ' Whilst he lived he blessed his soul ; and 
men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself.' Men bless 
themselves, and the carnal world applauds them in a sensual course 
and way of living. They measure all happiness by their outward 
condition in the world, and please themselves with golden dreams of 
contentment ; and this being seconded with the flattery and applauses 
of the deceived world, they are fast asleep in the midst of the greatest 
soul-dangers, and so go down into hell before they think of it. 

2. Come we now to the regenerate. Such the apostle looks upon 
the Thessalonians to be. They need to have their hearts directed to 
the patient waiting for Christ, for these reasons : 

[1.] Because we have too dim and doubtful a foresight of these 
things. How dark a prospect have even the best of God's children of 
the world to come ! We may speak of others as unbelievers, but 
God knows how doubtful our own thoughts are about eternity and 
Christ's coming ; how little we can shut the eye of sense, and open 
that of faith, and say truly with the apostle, 2 Cor. iv. 18, ' We look 
not at the things that are seen, that are temporal ; but to the things 
unseen, that are eternal.' Alas ! we have no through sight into 
another world. The best Christians have need to have their eyes 
anointed with spiritual eye-salve, that their sight may be more sharp 
and piercing ; to beg ' the spirit of wisdom and revelation, to open the 
eyes of their mind, that they may see what is the hope of Christ's 
calling,' Eph. i. 17, 18. There are too many intervening clouds 
between us and eternity, that darken our sight and obscure our faith. 


[2.] Our thoughts of these things are strange and dull, and too rare 
and unfrequent. How seldom have we any serious thoughts of his 
coming, and how unwelcome are they to our hearts ! It was a com 
plaint against Israel, that they did put far away the evil day ; but 
the complaint against us may be taken up thus, that we put far away 
the good day, when all our desires and hopes shall be accomplished 
and satisfied. The atheistical world deny it, and we forget it. 
Solomon saith to the sensual young man, ' Kemember, that for all 
these things God shall bring thee to judgment.' Young men forget 
or put off these thoughts, lest, like cold water cast into a boiling pot, 
they should check the fervour, of their lusts. But, alas ! grave men, 
good men, forget these things. When Christ had spoken of his 
coming to judgment, he saith, Mark xiii. 37, ' What I say unto you, 
I say unto all, Watch/ Watching is keeping up this attentiveness 
to his second coming with all Christian vigilance and endeavour. But 
few regard the charge : therefore ' the Lord direct your hearts,' &c. 

[3.] Because our affections are so cold, and we are no more affected 
with it, but as if we were senseless of the weight of these things. 
Some dead and drowsy desires we have, but not that lively motion 
which will become hope and love. If nature say, ' Come not to 
torment us before the time/ grace should say, ' Come, Lord Jesus, 
oh, come quickly.' We are not only to look for his appearing, but to 
love his appearing. Where are these desires, that Christ would either 
come down to us, or take us up to himself, that we may live with him 
for ever ? 

[4.] This prayer need to be made for the renewed too, because 
Christians think of it with too much perplexity and fear, Is the 
sight of a Saviour unwelcome to you ? or should the drawing nigh of 
your redemption be a comfort or a terror ? Why do you then believe 
in Christ, and choose his favour for your happiness ? We thought 
that this had been all your hope, and your desire, and your great 
comfort; and shall your hope be your torment, and beget horror 
rather than joy ? Oh, beg the Lord to direct your hearts, that you 
may ' hope to the end for the grace that shall be brought unto you at 
the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ,' 1 Peter i. 13. We do not only 
wait for glory, but for grace ; and shall not this be a comfort to you ? 

[5.] We need to pray this prayer, because our preparations are too 
slender for so great a day. Serious preparation is necessary. It is 
described 2 Peter iii. 14, 'Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look 
for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, 
without spot, and blameless ; ' that is, in a state of reconciliation with 
God. But we live too securely and quietly, in an unprepared state. 
If we have the habitual preparation, we do not keep up the actual 
preparation by clarifying and refining our souls from the dregs of 
sense, by honouring God in the world with greater earnestness, that 
when our Lord comes, he may find us so doing. We do not stand 
' with our loins girt, and our lamps burning,' that when the Lord 
knocks we may open to him immediately. We do not keep up the 
heavenly desire, the actual readiness. The return of a husband after 
long absence is more welcome to the wife than to a harlot ; but she 
would have all things ready for his reception and entertainment. 


[6.] Because our motions are too inconstant. We interrupt the 
course of our obedience frequently, faint in our afflictions, do not keep 
up the fervour of our affections, and follow after salvation with that 
industrious diligence. We need often the Christian watchword, ' The 
Lord is at hand.' We lose much of our first love, intermit of our 
first works. Therefore, ' The Lord direct your hearts to the patient 
waiting for Christ.' 

The exhortation is to quicken you to take care of this grace, that 
you may be constantly exercised in it. While we are upon earth, we 
should continually be expecting Christ's coming from heaven. The 
motives may be these : 

1. Before Christ's coming in the flesh, the saints waited for him. 
' I have waited for thy salvation, Lord,' saith Jacob, Gen. xlix. 18. 
And Simeon for Christ, the Saviour of the world ; for so it is ex 
plained, ' Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.' And our Lord tells us, 
' Abraham rejoiced to see my day,' John viii. 56 ; and it is said of 
Anna and others, that they ' waited for the consolation of Israel,' Luke 
ii. 25, 38. And after Christ was come, the disciples were commanded 
to ' wait for the promise of the Spirit,' Acts i. 4. So, by parity of 
reason, we must wait for the coming of Christ ; for that is the next 
great promise to be accomplished, and the great thing to put life into 
our religion. 

2. The people of God are described by this, 1 Thes. i. 10, ' Who 
wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even 
Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.' A man would 
have thought, in those early days, they should have been described by 
their respect to what was past rather than to what was to come, which 
was at so great a distance : they should have been described by 
believing Christ was already come in the flesh, rather than waiting 
for his coming in glory. No ; this is proposed as an evidence of 
their sincerity and Christianity, ' Waiting for the coming of Christ/ 
And so it is said, Heb. ix. 28, ' That Christ would appear unto the 
salvation of them that look for him.' That is the property of true 
believers. But they that look not for his coming, love not, and long 
not for his coming, cannot expect his salvation. It is an allusion to 
the people, who, upon the day of expiation, when the high priest went 
into the holiest before the mercy-seat, were waiting for his coming 
out, that he might solemnly bless them. So must we look for Christ's 
return, now he is gone within the veil of the heavenly sanctuary, that 
he may come out and bless us with everlasting blessings. 

3. This should move us to it, the benefits that will come to us 
hereby ; for this waiting for Christ breeds in us contempt of the 
world, mortification of the flesh, tolerance and enduring of the 

[1.] It breeds in us contempt of the world ; because we look for 
higher and better things to be dispensed to us when Christ comes. 
' Set not your affections on things on earth, but on things in heaven.' 
Why ? ' For your life is hid with Christ in God. And when Christ, 
who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in 
glory,' Col. iii. 2-4. The more the heart is given to one, the other 
gets the less. Earthly things be little regarded in comparison of that 

256 THE EIGHTH SERMON. [El'H. I. 8. 

glorious state, both of soul and body, which we shall have at Christ's 

[2.] This conduceth to the mortification of the flesh ; therefore we 
deny ourselves present satisfactions, that we may not be castaways, 
disallowed in the judgment. ' Be sober, and hope to the end, for the 
grace that is to be brought to vou at the coming of Christ/ 1 Peter 
i. 13. 

[3.] The tolerance and enduring of the cross. This gives a quiet 
temper in all troubles. We may suffer now, ' but when Christ shall 
appear, we shall rejoice with exceeding joy,' 1 Peter iv. 13. And 
then our reward will very much exceed the proportion of our suffer 
ings ; they are no more to be set against them than a feather against 
a talent of lead. ' I reckon they are not worthy to be compared,' saith 
the apostle, Eom. viii. 18. It would be a disgrace to a man's reason 
that these things should bear any competition with our great hopes : 
' these light afflictions, that are but for a moment,' with ' that exceed 
ing weight of glory,' Christ shall bestow upon us. 

For means, all I shall say is this : if you wait for Christ's coming, 
look upon it as sure and as near : Kev. xxii. 12, ' Behold, I come 
quickly, and bring my reward with me.' We have the promise of 
the eternal God for it, so attested, and made out to us with such evi 
dence, that we have no reason to doubt of the recompenses of religion. 
But things at a distance, though never so great, will not leave a due 
impression upon us : therefore we must look upon this promise with a 
certainty of persuasion that it will not be long before its accomplish 
ment. Thus faith lessens the distance between hope and enjoyment, 
and enables us comfortably to wait. 


Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. 

EPH. I. 8. 

IN the context the apostle speaks of the spiritual blessings we have by 
Christ : he considers them under a threefold reference : (1.) As they 
were appointed and prepared for believers in God's decree of election. 
There was the first stone laid towards this building. (2.) As they 
were purchased by Christ in the great and wonderful work of 
redemption. (3.) As conveyed and applied to us in effectual calling, 
and so brought home to our souls. In all these God gave evident 
proofs of the riches of his free grace. For (1st,) If he ' chose us to be 
holy before the foundations of the world,' nothing anteceded his love ; 
not in us for there was nothing in being then ; we were not, and so 
could do nothing to deserve it nor in that prospect and foresight 
which God had of things ; for he could foresee nothing but what was 
the effect of his free grace : not because holy, but ' that we might be 
holy and without blame before him in love.' (2dly,) Consider his 


purpose to bring about all this by Christ, still he showed his free 
grace. For when there was nothing to move him, much to hinder 
the design of his grace, yet he found out a way to bring this about by 
Christ. (3dly,) In the effectual application to us, who were ignorant, 
obstinate, unbelieving, his grace doth more shine forth that he would 
do all this for creatures so much unworthy. Now, in the application, 
God discovers two things : (1.) His abundant favour, or the riches of 
his grace, ver. 7. That his love, so long hid in his decree, did after 
wards overflow in the effects to persons so averse and unworthy. (2.) 
His excellent wisdom in the text, ' Wherein he hath abounded to us 
in all wisdom and prudence.' 

The only difficulty in the words is, What is this wisdom and pru 
dence spoken of? Whether it imply the wisdom of God, or the wis 
dom wrought in us by the Spirit in conversion ? Many interpreters 
go for the last. The former, I suppose, is here meant, which is emi 
nently discovered in the mysteries of the gospel : Horn. xi. 33, ' Oh the 
depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! ' 
Surely it is not meant of wisdom in us ; for how little a portion have 
we of true and heavenly wisdom. Now, the two words used : ivisdom 
noteth the sublimity of the doctrine of the gospel, and prudence the 
usefulness of it. As Prov. viii. 12, ' I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,' 
which showeth there is some distinction between those words. It was 
wisdom to find out a way of recovering lapsed mankind, and it was 
prudence to dispose it into so good and convenient order that it might 
be commodious for our acceptance. If any think it relateth to the 
effects wrought in us, I am not against it. Christ is wisdom, 1 Cor. 
i. 24, and ' made wisdom ; to us, 1 Cor. i. 30. These Asiatics, to 
Avhom the apostle wrote, gloried in their secular wisdom and curious 
arts ; now the true wisdom was found in the mysteries of the gospel". 

Doct. That in the dispensation of grace by Christ, God hath showed 
great wisdom and prudence. 

When his grace overflowed to us, he showed therein not only his 
goodness but his wisdom. Now, though we can easily yield to this 
assertion, yet to make it out needeth more skill. ' The manifold wis 
dom of God' is better seen to angels than to us, Eph. iii. 10. They 
have more orderly understandings ; whereas we are confused and 
dark. Yet to discover it to you in a few particulars, the grace of the 
Redeemer may be considered three ways : 

I. As to the purchase and impetration of it by the incarnation and 
death of the Son of God. 

II. The publication of it in the gospel or covenant of grace. 

III. The application of it to particular believers. In all these God 
hath shown great wisdom. 

I. As to the purchase and impetration of grace by the death and 
incarnation of the Son of God. 

1. There is wisdom in this, that in our fallen estate we should not 
come immediately to God without a mediator and reconciler. God is 
out of the reach of our commerce, being at such a distance from us, 
and variance with us. The wise men of the world pitched on such 
a way, 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. The heathens saw so far that it was an 
uncomfortable thing to make their immediate approaches to their 



supreme God. But here is the true God and the true Mediator : 
* But to us there is but one God, 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/ One God, the Father, from whom we derive all graces, 
to whom we direct all services ; one Lord, Jesus Christ, who convey- 
eth the graces and benefits to us, and returneth our prayers and acts 
of obedience to God. This is a mighty relief to our thoughts ; for 
the apprehensions of the pure Godhead do amaze us and confound us 
when we come to consider of that glorious and infinite being. As 
heretofore, before they found out the use of the compass, they only 
coasted, as loth to venture themselves in the great ocean ; so by Christ 
we come to God. He is the true Jacob's ladder, John i. 51. 

"2. That this Mediator is God in our nature. Therein the wisdom 
of God appeared, in crossing and counter- working Satan's design. 
Satan's great design was double to dishonour God, and depress the 
nature of man. (1.) To dishonour God to man by a false represent 
ation, as if he were envious of man's happiness : Gen. iii. 5, ' God 
doth know in the day that ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened, 
and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' His first battery 
was against the goodness of God, to weaken the esteem thereof. Now, 
by the incarnation of Christ, the Lord's grace is wonderfully mani 
fested. He is represented as lovely and amiable in our eyes, not 
envying our holiness and happiness, but promoting it, and that at the 
most costly rate, and showing love to man above all his other creatures*. 
' God is love,' 1 John iv. 8. It is eminently demonstrated to us in the Son 
of God assuming our nature and dying for us, Rom. v. 8. When Christ 
was incarnate, love was incarnate. Love walked up and down and healed 
all sicknesses and diseases, love died, and love hung on a cross, love was 
buried in the grave. When that ill representation was suggested to 
us, it was necessary there should be some eminent demonstration of 
the love of God to man. Especially after we had made ourselves liable 
to his wrath, and were conscious to ourselves that we had incurred his 
displeasure ; and so it was necessary that we should have some notable 
discovery of his philanthropy, or love to mankind. Many believers 
are harassed with doubts and fears, and cannot come to be persuaded 
that God loves them. ' Herein is love,' and ' God commended his love 
to us in that his Son died for us.' (2.) The next design of Satan was 
to depress the nature of man, which in its innocence stood so near to 
God. Now that the human nature, so depressed and debased by the 
malicious suggestion of the tempter, should be so elevated and ad 
vanced, and set up so far above the angelical nature, and admitted to 
dwell with God in a personal union, it is a mighty counter-working 
of Satan, and showeth the great wisdom of God. When he laboured 
to put God and us asunder, the Lord sent his Son, who took the unity 
of our nature into his own person. 

3. That being in our nature, he would set us a pattern of obedience 
by his holy life ; for he lived by the same laws that we are bound to 
live by. He imposed no duty upon us but what he underwent him 
self, that he might be an example of holiness unto us. We learn of 
him obedience to God at the dearest rates ; contempt of the world, 
and conteutation with a low and mean estate, and to be lowly and 


meek in heart, Mat. xi. 29. Now man being so prone to imitation, it 
is the greatest effect of the wisdom of God thus to oblige us, unless we 
would be utterly unlike him whom we own as our Lord, and from 
whom we have all our hopes and expectations. 

4. That he should die the death of the cross to expiate our sins. 
Gal. iii. 13, ' Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being 
made a curse for us,' &c. ; Phil. ii. 8, ' He humbled himself, and be 
came obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ; ' that the 
justice of God might be eminently demonstrated, the lawgiver vindi 
cated, and the breach that was made in the frame of government 
repaired, and God might keep up his just honour without prejudice to 
his people's happiness, that he might be manifested to be holy, and a 
hater of sin, and yet the sinner saved from destruction, Rom. iii. 25, 
26. An absolute pardon without satisfaction might have exposed 
God's laws to contempt, as if the violation of them were not much to 
be stood upon ; therefore God dispensed his grace with all wisdom 
and prudence ; would show eminent mercy, but withal a demon 
stration of his justice and holiness, that the world might still be kept 
in awe, and there might be a full concord and harmony between his 
mercy and justice. 

5. That after his death he should rise from the dead and ascend 
into heaven, to prove the reality of the life to come, 1 Peter iii. 21. 
Guilty man is fallen under the power and fear of death, strangely 
haunted with doubts about the other world ; therefore did Christ in 
our nature arise from the dead and ascend into heaven, that he might 
give a visible demonstration of the visible resurrection, and life to 
come, which he had promised to us ; and so encourage us, by a life of 
patience in sufferings, to follow after him into those blessed mansions. 
So that from first to last you see the wisdom of God. 

II. The publication of it in the gospel or covenant of grace. It is 
' ordered in all things and sure/ 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. The messengers by 
whom it is published are not extraordinary ones, but men of like pas 
sion with ourselves. The great thing in a minister is love to souls. 
Christ saith, he ' came not to be ministered unto but to minister.' In 
the covenant of grace, you see the wisdom of God in two things : (1.) 
The privileges offered ; (2.) The terms or duties required. 

1. In the privileges offered to us, which are pardon and life. In 
these benefits, pardon and life, there is due provision made for the 
desires, necessities and wants of mankind. Pardon answereth the 
fears of the guilty creature ; and life, those desires of happiness which 
are so natural to us, and therefore are the most powerful and inviting 
motives to draw our hearts to God. 

[1.] The consciousness of God's displeasure, and the fear of his 
wrath, should make offers of pardon acceptable to us. When sin 
entered into the world, fear entered with sin. The grand scruple which 
haunteth the guilty creature is, how God shall be appeased, and the 
controversy taken up between us and his justice : Micah vi. 6, 7, 
' Wherewith shall he be appeased, and what shall I give for the sin 
of my soul?' We fear death and punishment from a holy and just 
God, and this is the bottom cause of all our troubles. Therefore till 
the forgiveness of sin be procured for us, and represented to us upon 


commodious terms, we know not how to get rid of this bondage, the 
justice of the supreme governor of the world will be ever dreadful to 
us. These fears may be for a while stifled in men, but they will ever 
and anon return upon us. Now let us admire the wisdom of God, who 
hath provided such a suitable remedy to our disease as reconciliation 
and remission of sins by Jesus Christ ; and that God showed himself 
so ready to pardon us, who are so obnoxious to his wrath and vindic 
tive justice. 

[2.] The other great privilege offered in the covenant is eternal life, 
which suiteth with those desires of happiness which are so natural to 
us. Corrupt nature is not against the offers of felicity ; we would have 
immunity, peace, comfort, glory; none would be against his own benefit, 
but every one would be willing to be freed from the curse of the law, 
and the flames of hell, and enjoy happiness for evermore. Though we 
be unwilling to deny the flesh, and renounce the credit, pleasure, and 
profit of sin, and grow dead to the world, and worldly things, yet 
never was there a creature heard of that would not be happy, for there 
was never a creature but loved himself. Now, the Lord in his cove 
nant ' hath brought life and immortality to light/ settled our happi 
ness and the way to it ; he promises that which we desire, to induce 
us to that which we are against. As we sweeten pills to children, 
that they may swallow them down the better, they love the sugar 
though they loathe the aloes. God would invite us to our duty by 
our interest ; he hath told us of a happiness full, sure, and near, that he 
may draw us off from the false happiness wherewith we are enchanted, 
and bring UB into the way of holiness, that we may look after this 
blessed hope. 

2. The terms he hath required of us. The terms are either for 
entrance, or making covenant with God ; or continuance, or keeping 
covenant with God ; for entrance, faith, and repentance are required. 

[1.] Faith in Christ. The world thinks faith quits reason and intro- 
duceth fond credulity. No ; there is much of the wisdom of God to be 
seen in it. For faith hath a special aptitude and fitness for this work : 
(1.) Partly in respect of God. Forhe having designed to glorify his mercy 
and free grace, and to make our salvation from first to last a mere 
gift, and the fruit of his love to us, hath appointed faith for the accept 
ance of this gift: Rom. iv. 16, 'It is of faith, that it might be by 
grace.' Faith and grace go always together, and it is put in opposi 
tion to the merit of works, or the strictness of the old covenant. (2.) 
As it is fittest to own Christ the Redeemer, the fountain of life and 
happiness, and our head and husband, whom we receive, and to whom 
we are united and married by faith. (3.) With respect to the pro 
mises of the gospel, which offer to us a happiness and blessedness, 
spiritual, and for the most part future. Unseen things are properly 
objects of faith : Heb. xi. 1, ' Faith is the substance of things hoped 
for, the evidence of things not seen.' (4.) It is fittest as to our future 
obedience, that it may be comfortable and willing. Now, we owning 
Christ in a way of subjection and dependence, and consenting to 
become his disciples and subjects, other duties come on the more easily, 
2 Cor. viii. 5. 

[2.] For repentance. This is the most lively and powerful means of 

. I. 8.] THE EIGHTH SERMON. 261 

bringing men to new life and blessedness. (1.) It is most for the 
honour of God that we should not be pardoned without submission, 
without confession of past sin, and resolution of future obedience. 
Common reason will tell us that our case is not compassionable while 
we are impenitent, and hold it out against God. Who will pity those 
in misery who are unwilling to come out of it ? Besides, it would 
infringe the honour of God's law and government that one continuing 
in his sins, and despising both the curse of the law and the grace of 
the gospel, should be pardoned and saved. Repentance is often called 
a giving glory to God : Mai. ii. 2, ' Ye will not lay it to heart, and 
give glory to my name / Josh. vii. 19, ' My son, give glory to God, 
and make confession to him ;' Kev. xvi. 9, ' They repented not to 
give glory to God.' Eepentance restoreth God's honour to him, as it 
acknowledges the justice of his laws. The self-condemning sinner 
acknowledges that God may destroy him, and if he save him it is 
mere mercy. (2.) The duty of the creature is best secured, and the 
penitent person more bound to future obedience, by the vow itself, or 
the bond of the holy oath into which he is entered, and the circum 
stances accompanying it, which surely induce a hatred of sin and a 
love of holiness. There will be a hearty consent to live in the love, 
obedience, and service of our Creator, with a detestation of our former 
ways. When we feel the smart of sin, such a sense of it will ever 
stick by us ; and when we are in the deepest and freshest sense of his 
pardoning mercy, when we see at how dear rates he is pleased to have 
us, and upon what free terms to pardon all our wrongs, we shall love 
much, Luke vii. 47. Surely they that are brought back from the 
gibbet and the very gates of hell by such an act of pardoning mercy 
are most likely to remember the vows of their distress, and are more 
engaged to love God and please him than others are. (3.) It is most 
for the comfort of the creature that a stated course of recovering our 
selves into the peace and hope of the gospel should be appointed to 
us, which may leave the greatest sense upon our consciences. Now 
what is likely to do so much as this apparent change, whereby we 
renounce and utterly bewail our former folly, and solemnly devote and 
give up ourselves to God by Christ ? Those things that are serious 
and advised leave a notice and impression upon the soul. This is the 
most important action of our lives, the settling of our pardon and 
eternal interest. The heart i hardly brought to this, to renounce 
what we dearly love ; therefore it is usually rewarded with some 
notable tastes of God's love : Isa. Ivii. 15, God delights ' to revive the 
hearts of his contrite ones.' 

For continuance in the new covenant, and delightful obedience 
unto God. The remedy is not only suited to the disease, but the duty 
to the reward. Our duty is to know God, and to love him ; and our 
reward is to see him, and be like him, 1 John iii. 2. There is a mar 
vellous suitableness between the end and means, holiness and happi 
ness, conformity to God, and our communion with him ; the holiness 
required of us now, and the happiness we expect hereafter; perfect 
conformity and uninterrupted communion ; and they differ only but 
as the bud and the flower, the river and the ocean : here it is begun, 
hereafter perfected. 


III. In the application of his grace to particular believers, he hath 
abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence. 

1. In the way God taketh to convert souls to himself, there is a 
sweet contemperation and mixture of wisdom and power. There is a 
proposal of truth and good to the understanding and the will, and by 
the secret power of his grace it is made effectual. We are taught 
and drawn : John vi. 44, 45, ' No man can come unto me, except the 
Father, which hath sent me, draw him.' In the 45th verse, ' And 
they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath 
heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me/ There is opening 
of blind eyes, and the turning of a hard heart: Acts xxvi. 18, 'To 
open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light,' &c. ; Eph. 
i. 18, ' The eyes of the understanding being opened,' c. ; Col. iii. 10, 
' Kenewed in knowledge.' Turning the heart'. Acts xvi. 14, ' God 
opened the heart of Lydia ;' Acts xi. 21, ' The hand of the Lord was 
with him ; and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.' 
His hand implieth his power. Thus God worketh strongly, like him 
self ; sweetly, with respect to us, that he may not oppress the liberty 
of our faculties. Christ comes into the heart, not by force, but by 
consent. We are ' transformed/ but so as we ' prove what the will 
of God is,' Rom. xii. 2. He draweth, we run, Cant. i. 4. The power 
of God and liberty of man do sweetly consist together. As God is 
said to ' create in us a new heart/ he is also said to ' give us a free 
spirit/ Ps. li. 10, 1-2. Eph. ii. 10, We are said to be ' his workman 
ship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before 
ordained that -we should walk in them/ So he ' puts a new heart/ 
and we are said to ' walk in his ways/ Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, ' A new 
heart will I also 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 a 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/ Thus God showeth forth the powerful efficacy of his grace, 
and doth also win the consent and good liking of the sinner ; he 
obtaineth his effect, and yet doth preserve the liberty of man's nature 
and the principles thereof. It is not only voluntas mota, but mutata ; 
the nature is changed and renewed. 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' But we all with 
open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed 
into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the 

2. In the persuasive and moral way, the wisdom of God is seen as 
taking the most likely course to gain the heart of man, discovering 
himself to us as a God of love, kindness, and mercy. Guilty creatures 
stand aloof from a condemning God ; our fear of his justice maketh us 
run from him : Gen. iii. 7, 10, Adam ' hid himself from the presence 
of the Lord/ So all his posterity forsake God and hate him. But 
God, though the superior, though the wronged party, maketh offers 
of peace, and showeth how willing he is to be reconciled to us. Hav 
ing first laid the foundation in the highest demonstration of goodness 
that ever could come to the ears of man to hear of, or enter into the 
heart of man to conceive ; namely, in giving his Son to die for a sinful 
world, 2 Cor. v. 19, 20. What more apt to make man relent ? And 


then, because man had fallen from the love of God to the creature, Jer. 
ii. 13, what wisdom doth God show, not only in the offers of pardon, 
but eternal life and blessedness, infinitely beyond the false happiness 
which carnal self-love inclineth us to ! that it is a shame and disgrace to 
our reason to think these things are worthy to be compared together. 
What are all the pleasures, profits, and honours we dote upon, to the 
pleasures at God's right hand ? the riches of the inheritance of the 
saints, and the glory which cometh from God. And therefore, what 
more powerful motive can be produced than this blessed immortality ? 
Indeed, God is invisible, and the glory is to come ; and sensual plea 
sures are at hand, ready to be enjoyed. But faith checketh sense : 
Heb. xi. 1, ' Faith is the evidence of things not seen.' Oh the wisdom 
of God in the frame of the gospel ! 

3. In the effect itself, the new creature, which is the wisest creature 
on this side heaven. To evidence this to you, I shall show you that 
all wisdom and prudence consisteth in three things : (1.) In fixing a 
right end ; (2.) In the choice of apt and proper means ; (3.) In a dex 
terous effectual prosecution of the end by those means. 

(1.) In fixing and propounding to ourselves a right end. A wise 
man doth not mind trifles, but is conversant about things of the greatest 
reality, necessity, and excellency : such are God and heaven. All other 
wisdom will prove but folly in the end. Others ' disquiet themselves 
about a vain show,' Ps. xxxix. 6. Poor, silly creatures cark and labour 
and turmoil to get together a few poor transitory enjoyments, where 
there is neither durable possession nor solid satisfaction. The honours, 
pleasures, and riches of the world are but pictures and shadows of the 
true honours, the true riches, and fulness of joy at God's right hand. 
Surely he is a wise man that chooseth God for his portion and heaven 
for his home : Prov. xv. 24, ' The way of life is above to the wise, to 
avoid hell beneath.' He is wise, and hath chosen the true sort of living, 
which mindeth the salvation of his soul, and looketh after eternal life. 
Surely this is above and beyond any wisdom man can pretend unto, to 
be happy, not for a while, but for ever. 

(2.) In the choice of apt and proper means. A man is wise enough 
if he knows his duty, and the way to happiness. God hath appointed 
us the way wherein to walk, to fear him, and love him, and keep his 
commandments : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep these statutes, for this is your 
Avisdom ; ' Job xxviii. 28, ' The fear of God, that is wisdom ; and to 
depart from evil, that is understanding.' There is an excellency in this 
sort of life, Prov. xii. 26. Those applaud it that do not choose it. 
All are of this mind at last, and dying are sensible of the excellency 
of it. 

(3.) A dexterous effectual prosecution of the end. This prosecution 
imports First, Diligence : He is a fool that hath a price in his hand 
and hath not a heart to lay it out on a good purchase, Prov. xvii. 16 ; 
but he is a wise man that improveth his time and labour to a good 
purpose : ' A wise man's heart is at his right hand/ Eccles. x. 2. 
Secondly, This prosecution lies in caution and circumspection to keep 
himself from sin : Eph. v. 15, ' See then that ye walk circumspectly, 
not as fools, but as wise/ Lastly, It consists in self-denial. The wise 
merchant sold all that he had for the pearl of price, Mat. xiii. 46, 47. 


A wise man doth not dally with religion, but thoroughly sets himself 
to it. 

Use 1. Be persuaded that serious Christianity is the true wisdom ; 
and the wisdom of the world, which is only conversant about worldly 
things, from a worldly principle to a worldly end, is foolishness with God. 
This is wisdom, which acquainteth us more with God, and leadeth us 
into everlasting happiness. 

2. Admire the wisdom of God in dispensing salvation by Christ, who 
could bring light out of darkness, and so great a demonstration of his 
glory out of man's sin, and vanquish Satan by the way, whereby he 
seemed most to prevail, and still attain his end by means seemingly 
contrary. There is more of divine power and wisdom showed in Christ 
crucified than in anything men could think of. It was a more glori 
ous act of power to raise Christ from the dead, than in not permitting 
him to die. He prevaileth more by laying down his life, than by being 
prosperous in the world and taking the lives of his enemies. 

3. If God hath abounded to us in all wisdom, let us not disturb the 
order of this grace by asking privileges without duties, or minding 
duties without the help of the Spirit ; or placing all in duties, so as to 
exclude the merit and satisfaction of the Redeemer ; or to eye the ran 
som so as to exclude the example of Christ. All things are well 
ordered in God's covenant ; the confusion arises from our darkness and 

4. There should be wisdom and prudence in us, for the impression 
must be accordingto the seal and stamp. Wisdom is a saving knowledge 
of divine mysteries ; and prudence, to regulate and order our actions and 
practices, to perform our respective duties to God and man. The 
apostle prays for the Colossians (Col. i. 9), that they might ' be filled 
with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understand 
ing.' All have not the same measure of saving knowledge and prudence, 
yet the least saint hath what is necessary to salvation. You must 
every day grow in those graces, for by degrees they are carried on 
towards perfection. 


And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried witli a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, 
lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou 
forsaken me f MAT. XXVII. 46. " 

IN the history of the passion you will find that our Lord Jesus was 
exercised with all kind of temptations ; affronted by men, assaulted 
by the powers of darkness, deserted by his own disciples one of them 
denied him, another betrayed him, but all fled. And thus he was not 
only ' rejected of men,' but was stricken, and smitten, and forsaken of 
God. This was as gall and vinegar to his wounds, the passion of his 
passion. The world's cruelty and Satan's rage had been nothing, if 
the brightness of the divine presence had not been eclipsed. When 
the people were set against him ' His blood be upon us and our 


children ' he complained not of that. When ' friend and lover were 
afar off,' he doth not complain of that. Judas, why hast thou betrayed 
me ? Peter, why hast thou denied me ? Disciples, why have ye for 
saken me ? But when God was withdrawn, ' My God, my God, why 
hast thou forsaken me ? ' This is his bitter complaint now. 

The words, then, are Christ's complaint, not of God, but to God. 
In them observe : 

1. The circumstance of time when this complaint was made: about 
the ninth hour. 

2. The matter of it : God \\adforsaken him. 

3. The manner of it : with vehemency, and yet with faith. There 
was faith in it, for he saith, My God. The vehemency is seen in the 
extension of his voice : he cried with a loud voice ; and by the ingemi- 
nation of the name of God : my God, my God. 

1. The circumstance of time : about the ninth hour. We read in 
the former verse, that ' from the sixth hour there was darkness over 
all the earth until the ninth hour.' At the passion of Christ the earth 
trembled, the sun seemed to be struck blind with astonishment, and 
the frame of nature to put itself into a funeral garb and habit, as if 
the creatures durst not show their glory while God was manifesting 
his anger for sin, and Christ was suffering. After three hours' dark 
ness, he complaineth not of that, but of the sad eclipse that was upon 
his own spirit. 

2. The matter complained of : why hast thou forsaken me ? It is 
not an expostulation, so much as a representation of the heavy burden 
that was upon him. Questions among the Hebrews imply earnest 
assertions; as Ps. x. 1, 'Why standest thou afar off? Why hidest 
thou thyself in the time of trouble?' that is, Lord ! thou hidest thy 
self from me. So Ps. xliii. 2, ' Why go I mourning, because of the 
oppression of the enemy ? ' that is, I do go mourning. The case is 
represented in such forms of speech. 

3. The vehemency. 

[1.] In the extension of his voice. Great griefs express themselves 
by strong cries ; for burdened nature would fain have vent and utter 
ance. And the apostle taketh notice of this circumstance, pera 
Kpavyfjs lo"xypa<;, Heb. v. 7, ' He offered prayers and tears, with strong 

[2.] In the ingemination of the name of God : My God, my God. 
These possessive particles are words of faith striving against the temp 
tation. He had great trouble of spirit, but to that he oppose th his 
interest : My God, my God. In the bitterest agonies Christ despaired 
not, but still had a most firm persuasion of God's love to him, and 
necessary support from him. But all showeth the trouble was not 
light, but heavy and grievous. 

Doct. That Christ, as suffering for our sins, was really deserted for 
a time, in regard of all sensible consolation. 

I. What was Christ's desertion ? 
II. Why it befell him. 

III. What use may we make of it ? 

I. What was Christ's desertion ? I shall, for more distinctness, 
handle it negatively and affirmatively. 


First, Negatively. 

1. It was not a desertion in appearance or conceit only, but real. 
We often mistake God's dispensations. God may be out of sight, and 
yet we not out of mind. When the dam is abroad for meat, the young 
brood in the nest is not forsaken. The children cry as if the mother 
were totally gone, when she is employed about necessary business for 
their welfare. ' Sion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, my God hath 
forgotten me/ Isa. xlix. 14, 15. In the misgivings of our hearts God 
seems to have cast off all care and thoughts of us. God's affectionate 
answer showeth that all this was but a fond surmise : ' Can a woman 
forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the 
son of her womb ? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.' 
So we think that we are cut off when God is about to help and deliver 
us, Ps. xxxi. 22. Many times we think he has quite cast us off, when 
we are never more in his heart. Surely, when our affections towards 
God are seen by mourning for his absence, he is not wholly gone ; his 
room is kept warm for him till he come again. We mistake God's 
dispensations when we judge that a forsaking which is but an empty 
ing us of all carnal dependence : Ps. xciv. 18, 19, ' When I said, My 
foot slipped, thy mercy, Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my 
thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.' He is near many 
times when we think him afar off; as Christ was to his disciples when 
their eyes were withheld that they knew him not, but thought him yet 
lying in the grave, Luke xxiv. 16. But this cannot be imagined of 
Christ, who could not be mistaken. If he complained of a desertion, 
surely he felt it. It was a real desertion. He could not misinterpret 
the dispensation of God he was now under, for such misapprehensions 
are below the perfection of his nature. 

2. Though it were real, the desertion must be understood so as may 
stand with the dignity of his person and offices. Therefore 

[1.] There was no separation of the Father from the Son ; this 
would make a change in the unity of the divine essence : John x. 30, 
' I and my Father are one ' 'E^TrepL^p^cn^. This eternal union of 
the person of the Father with the person of the Son always remained ; 
for the divine nature, though it may be distinguished into Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, yet it cannot be divided. 

[2.] There was no dissolution of the union of the two natures in the 
person of Christ, for the human nature which was once assumed was 
never after dismissed or laid aside ; '^4^&>pto-To>9, Christ ever remained 
Immanuel, God with us, or God in our nature. He was ' the Lord of 
glory/ even then when he was crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 8. It was the Son 
of God that was delivered up for us all ; not a mere man suffered for 
our redemption, but God purchased the church ' with his blood/ Acts 
xx. 28. Death, that dissolved the bond and tie between soul and body, 
did not dissolve the union of the two natures. They resemble it by a 
man drawing a sword, and holding the sword in one hand and the 
scabbard in another ; the same person holds both, though separated 
the one from the other. 

3. The love of God to him ceased not. We read, ' The Father 
loved the Son, and put all things into his hand/ John iii. 35. Now, 
he was his dear Son, or the Son of his love, Col. i. 13 ; ' In whom his 


soul delighted/ Isa. xlii. 1 ; Eph. i. 6, ' He hath made us accepted in 
the beloved ' primum amabile ; He was ' the brightness of his glory, 
and the express image of his person,' Heb. i. 3. Therefore he could 
not but love him in every state ; yea, he never more loved him as 
mediator then when on the cross, that being the most eminent act of 
his self-denial and obedience (Phil, n 7), and so a new ground of love : 
John x. 17, ' Therefore doth nay Father love me, because I lay down 
my life to take it tap again.' The Father was well pleased with the 
reconciliation of 'lost sinners, 'he loveth Christ for undertaking and per 
forming it ; therefore it is unreasonable to imagine that, now he was 
about the highest act of obedience, there was any decrease of his love 
to him. No ; his dispensation might be changed, but not his love. 
As the sun shining through a clear glass, or through a red glass, casts 
a different reflection, a bloody, or a bright, but the light is the same. 

4. His personal holiness was not abated or lessened. The Lord 
Jesus was ' full of grace and truth/ John i. 14. He had the ' Spirit 
not by measure/ John iii. 34 ; he had in perfection all divine gifts and 
graces to accomplish him for this office, Col. i. 19 ; John i. 16, he was 
anointed by the Holy Ghost, and the oil that was poured on him never 
failed. Therefore he was always most holy and pure, one that never 
knew nor did sin. Neither his nature nor his office could permit an 
abatement of holiness : Heb. vii. 26, ' Such an high priest became 
us as was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners/ The Son 
of God might fall into misery, which is a natural evil, and so become 
the object of pity, not of blame ; but not into sin, which is a moral 
evil, a blot, and a blemish. When he died, ' He died, the just for the 
unjust/ 1 Peter iii. 18. The death of Christ had profited us nothing 
if he had been a sinner for a moment ; therefore this desertion was 
not a diminishing of his holiness, but a suspension of his comfort. 

5. God's assistance and sustaining grace was not wholly withdrawn, 
for the Lord saith of him, Isa. xlii. 1, ' This is my elect servant, whom 
I uphold/ And everywhere the Lord is said to be with him in this 
work : Ps. cxxi. 5, ' The Lord is at thy right hand ; ' and Ps. xvi. 8, 
' I have set the Lord always before me : he is at my right hand, I 
shall not be moved.' Which passage is by Peter applied to Christ : 
Acts ii. 25, ' For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord 
always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be 
moved/ The power, presence, and providence of God was ever with 
him, to sustain him in his difficult enterprise. When his agonies 
began he told his disciples, John xvi. 32, ' Ye shall leave me alone : 
yet I am not alone, but the Father is with me.' The Father was with 
him when his disciples forsook him, and fled every one to his own, to 
carry him through, and that his arm might work salvation for him, 
and that he might not sink under the burden. 

Secondly, Positively. 

1. God's desertion of us, or any creature, may be understood with 
a respect to his communicating himself to us. We have a twofold 
apprehension of God, as a holy and happy being ; and when he doth 
communicate himself to any reasonable creature, it is either in a way 
of holiness or in a way of happiness. He doth now in the kingdom of 
grace communicate himself more in a way of holiness, but in the king- 


dom of glory fully in a way of happiness, both as to the body and the 
soul. These two have such a respect to one another, that he never 
gives felicity and glory without holiness, Heb. xii. 14. And a holy 
creature can never be utterly and finally miserable. He may some 
times give holiness without happiness, as when for a while he leaveth 
the sanctified, whom he will try and exercise under the cross, or in a 
state of sorrow and affliction ; therefore holiness is the more necessary. 
In his internal government God doth all by his Spirit ; now the Spirit 
is more necessarily a sanctifier than a comforter. It was by the Spirit 
that Christ was with God, and God with Christ ; therefore his deser 
tion of Christ, or any creature, must be mainly understood with respect 
to the Spirit working in any, either as to holiness or comfort. When 
God withdraweth either holiness or happiness, one of them, or both, 
or any degree of them, from any creature, he is said to desert them. 
Now apply this to Christ. It is blasphemy to say that Christ lost any 
degree of his holiness, for he was always pure and holy, and that most 
exactly and perfectly ; therefore he was deserted only as to his felicity, 
and that but for a short time. 

2. The felicity of Christ may be considered, either as to his out 
ward and bodily estate, or else to his inward man, or the estate of his 

[1.] Some say his desertion was nothing else but his being left to 
the will and power of his enemies to crucify him, and that he was then 
deserted when his divine nature suspended the exercise of its omnipo- 
tency so far as to deliver up his body to a reproachful death, so to 
make way for this oblation and sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. 
God could many ways have protected Christ, and hindered his passion : 
Mat. xxvi. 52, 53, ' Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, 
and he shall give me more than twelve legions of angels ? But how 
then could the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be ?' If the 
Lord had seen it fit to glorify himself by the deliverance, rather than 
the sufferings of Christ, he could have found ways and means enough 
to save him ; but how then could our redemption be accomplished ? 
Christ himself by his divine power could have protected his bodily life, 
for he telleth us : John x. 18, ' No man taketh my life from me, but I 
lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have 
power to take it up again.' But it pleased God to appoint, and Christ 
to submit to another course, and therefore was he so far deserted, 
and left in the hand of his enemies. He telleth them, Luke xxii. 53, 
' This is your hour, and the power of darkness.' This, some say, was 
all Christ's desertion ; and that he cried out with a loud voice, in the 
hearing of all, ' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' to give 
notice of the price that was to be paid for our ransom. He complained 
not of the Jews that had accused him, nor of Pilate that con 
demned him, nor of Judas that had betrayed him ; but of God that 
had forsaken him, and left him in the hands of his enemies, as if this 
were the most grievous thing to the Son of God. But certainly this 
was not all ; the desertion was not only in his outward estate, and with 
respect to bodily death, for these reasons : 

(1.) Why should Christ complain of that so bitterly, which he did 
so readily and willingly undergo, and might so easily have prevented, 


and which was most obvious, and so clearly foreseen in his sufferings ? 
He foretold it again and again to his disciples, and spake it to his 
enemies ; and should he now represent it as a strange thing ? Surely 
these strong cries were not extorted from him by the mere fear and 
horror of bodily death. I confess he died not insensibly, but showed 
the reality of all human passions ; yet there was no reason why he should 
so bitterly and lamentably complain, if nothing else but bodily death 
had been in the case, and that brought upon him by his enemies. 

(2.) If we look merely to bodily pains and sufferings, certainly others 
have endured as much if not more, as the thieves that were crucified 
with him lived longer in their torments, and the good thief did not 
complain that he was forsaken of God. Peter was crucified, and that 
with his head downwards, as ecclesiastical history tells us, which, as 
it was greater cruelty in the adversaries, so also greater pain to him ; 
and yet he trusted that God would sustain him and support him under 
it. Therefore, certainly, there was something greater and more 
grievous to the soul of Christ than these bodily pains, which drew this 
lamentable and loud cry from him. 

(3.) It would follow that every holy man that is persecuted and left 
to the will of his enemies, might be said to be forsaken of God, which 
is contrary to Paul's holy boasting : 2 Cor. iv. 9, ' Persecuted, but not 
forsaken.' Therefore there was something more than to be left to the 
will of his enemies. 

(4.) This desertion was a punishment, one part or degree of the 
abasement of the Son of God, and so belongeth to the whole nature that 
was to be abased, not only to his body but his soul. We read often of 
his soul-sufferings : Isa. liii. 10, He was to ' make his soul an offering 
for sin,' and to ' see the travail of his soul,' ver. 11. His soul was de 
prived of consolation, and some effects of the Spirit as to joy and comfort. 

[2.] As to the felicity of his inward estate, the state of his soul. 
Christ carried about his heaven with him, and never wanted sensible 
consolation, spiritual suavity, the comfortable effects of the divine 
presence, till now they were withdrawn, that he might be capable of 
suffering the whole punishment of sins, and feel not only pains and 
torments of body, but troubles of soul, such as we have when God 
hideth his face from us, but without sin. The divinity kept back those 
irradiations of heavenly light and comfort, or, for a while, suspended 
that joy and comfort which otherwise he felt in himself, though it 
gave out that virtue and strength which was necessary to support and 
sustain him under so great sufferings. As when the sun is eclipsed, 
the light of it ceaseth not, but is only hidden from the earth by the 
interposition of a dark body. So here, Christ had not the participation 
of that heavenly joy which before his soul felt by dwelling with God in 
a personal union, though there were no separation of the human nature 
from the divine ; the ground of it was not taken away, but only the 
sense suspended ; no dissolution of the union, but a ceasing of the 
comfort of it. 

In short, I will show how this sort of desertion is 

1. Possible. 

2. Grievous. 

1. Possible, the union between the two natures remaining ; for as 


the divine nature gave up the body to death,, so the soul to desertion. 
Christ, as God, is ' the fountain of life,' Ps. xxxvi. 9, and 3 r et Christ 
could die. So the Godhead is the fountain of all joy and comfort, for 
he is called ' the God of all comfort,' 2 Cor. i. 3 ; and yet Christ's soul 
was troubled and heavy unto death, the Godhead suspending its virtue 
and operation. Both might well consist, for though the presence of 
the divinity be necessary with the humanity of Christ, yet the effects 
are voluntary. God worketh not out of necessity, no r not in the human 
nature of Christ ; all kind of communications are given out according 
to his own pleasure. The divinity remained united to the flesh, and 
yet the flesh might die ; so it remained united to the soul, and yet the 
soul might want comfort. The bond by which the two natures were 
united in one person remained firm and indissoluble, but the influx of 
sweetness and comfort was suspended. Some effect there is of the union, 
but not that which affords comfort and felicity, and this was suspended 
but for a time. There is a desertion, indeed, which agreeth not with 
the dignity of Christ. There is a total and eternal desertion, by which 
God so deserteth a man, both as to grace and glory, that he is wholly cast 
out of God's presence and adjudged to eternal torments, which is the 
case of the reprobate in the last judgment ; this is not compatible to 
Christ, nor agreeing with the dignity of his person. There is a partial, 
temporal desertion, when God for a moment hideth his face from his 
people, Isa. liv. 7. This is so far from being contrary to the dignity of 
Christ's nature, that it is necessary to his office for many reasons. 

2. That it is very grievous. This was an incomparable loss to 

[1.] Partly because it was more natural to him to enjoy that comfort 
and solace than it can be to any creature. To put out a candle is no 
great matter, but to have the sun eclipsed, which is the fountain of 
light, that sets the world a-wonderlng. For poor creatures to lose 
their comforts is no great wonder, who-, though they live in God, are 
so many degrees distant from him ; but for Christ, who was God-man 
in one person, that is a difficulty to our thoughts, and a wonder in 
deed, for by this means he was so far deprived of some part of himself. 

[2.] Partly because he had more to lose than we have. The greater 
the enjoyment, the greater is the loss or want. It was more for David 
to be driven from his palace, than a poor Israelite to be driven from 
his cottage. We lose drops, he an ocean. A poor Christian that hath 
some heaven upon earth in the fore-enjoyment of God, and the first- 
fruits and earnest of the Spirit, hath more to lose than another that 
hath had only some vanishing taste in the offer of eternal life, and re 
ceiving the word with joy. Proportionably judge of Christ, who was 
comprehensor, while he was viator, had the beatifical vision whiles on 

[3.] Partly because he knew how to value the comfort of the union, 
having a pure understanding and heavenly affections. God's children 
count one day in his presence better than a thousand, Ps. Ixxxiv. 10 ; 
one glimpse of his love more than all the world, Ps. iv. 7. If they 
have anything of the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, they 
would not part with it for all the sensual enjoyments which others 
prize and value so much, and if they lose it they are touched to the 


quick ; they lose that which is the life of their lives, which they account 
their chief happiness. Now Christ was best able to apprehend the 
worth and value of communion with God, having such a clear under 
standing and tender affections, and therefore it must needs be grievous 
to him to have his wonted consolations suspended. 

[4.] Partly because he had so near an interest and relation to God : 
Prov. viii. 30, ' One bred up with him, and daily his delight ; ' Col. i. 
13 Tio? ajaTT^. Look, among the children of God if they have any 
interest in him, how mournfully do they brook his absence. Mary 
Magdalen, ' Woman, why weepest thou ? They have taken away my 
Lord, and I know not where they have laid him/ John xx. 13. She 
sought a Christ, and found a grave. Christ's words, my God, do not 
only express his confidence but affection, when his God and Father 
hideth his face from him. 

[5.] Partly from the nature of Christ's desertion. It was penal. 
All desertions may be reduced to these three sorts for trial, for cor 
rection, or punishment. For trial ; so God left Hezekiah, ' to prove 
what was in his heart/ 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. For fatherly correction ; 
so God leaveth his people for a while, to teach them repentance, 
humility, hatred of sin, more entire dependence on himself, Isa. liv. 7, 
' I have left thee for a small moment, but with everlasting mercies will 
I love thee.' For punishment ; so he left Saul : 1 Sam. xxviii. 6, 
when he answered him ' neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by pro 
phets.' So he leaveth the wicked to a reprobate mind. Now Christ's 
desertion was not for a trial. Fallible creatures may be put upon trial, 
but the Son of God needs it not. It would not agree with the goodness 
and wisdom of God to put his beloved Son on such a trial. He was 
neither unknown to his Father, nor did he vainly presume of his own 
strength as to need to be confuted by trial. Nor can it properly be 
called fatherly correction, for there was no sin in Christ that needed to 
be corrected. Indeed, ' the chastisement of our peace was upon his 
shoulders/ Isa. liii. 5. Therefore it remains that this desertion was 
penal and satisfactory, such as came from the vindictive and revenging 
hand of God. Our sins met in him, and he was forsaken in our stead. 
There was no cause in Christ himself, wherefore he deserved to be 
forsaken of God, but we had done the wrong, and he maketh the 
amends. There was nothing in Christ's person to occasion a desertion, 
but much in his office ; so he was to give body for body and soul for 
soul ; and this was a part of the satisfaction. He was beloved as a 
Son, forsaken as our mediator and surety. 

II. Why was Christ forsaken ? 

Ans. With respect to the office which he had taken upon him, to 
expiate our sins, and to recover us from the deserved wrath and 
punishment into the love and favour of God. This desertion of 
Christ carrieth a suitableness and respect to our sin, our punishment, 
and our blessedness. 

1. Our sin. Christ is forsaken to satisfy and make amends for our 
wilful desertion of God. When Adam sinned, we all turned the back 
upon God who made us. Yea, all actual sins are nothing but a for 
saking of God for very trifles, an aversion from God, and a conversion 
to the creature: Jer. ii. 13, ' They have forsaken me, the fountain of 


living waters, and have hewn out unto themselves broken cisterns that 
will hold no water.' Now we that forsook God deserved to be forsaken 
by God ; therefore what we had merited by our sin, Christ endured as 
our mediator. He himself submitted to desertion. It is strange to 
consider what small things draw us off from God : ' For handfuls of 
barley and pieces of bread will that man transgress,' Ezek. xiii. 19 ; 
' for a pair of shoes,' Amos ii. 6 ; ' for one morsel of meat/ Heb. xii. 
16 ; Isa. Hi. 3. This is the great degeneracy and disease of mankind, 
that a trifle will prompt us to forsake God, as a little thing will make 
a stone run down hill ; it is its natural motion. There is nothing that 
is so easily exposed and put to hazard as the favour of God. Now this 
being the great sin of man, and the cause of other sins, it was needful 
that the odiousness of this sin should be set forth by the bitterness of 
Christ's sorrow under the want of the love of God. Christ's complaints 
show how God's favour is to be valued, and that it is a dangerous thing 
to part with it for carnal satisfactions. The consolations of God are 
cheap, and small things in the eyes of most men in the world. What 
is more slighted than God and Christ and our own salvation, and 
neglected for very trifles ? And then what more perfect cure, and 
better way to instruct the world, than that these sins could not be 
expiated but by the desertion of the Son of God, and his bitter com 
plaints for the suspension of the effects of the love of God to him ? 

2. It carries a full respect to the punishment appointed for sin. 
Certain we are that he ' bore the curse of the law,' Gal. iii. 13. Now 
the curse of the law, actively taken, is nothing but the sentence of the 
law, or rather of God the judge, condemning the transgressors of it to 
such punishment as the law appointed ; passively taken, it is the punish 
ment itself. And the final and great curse is that described, Mat. xxv. 
41. To be banished from the presence of the Lord, and cast into extreme 
torment. There is a double punishment pcena damni et sensus, the 
loss and the pain. The loss consisteth in our separation from God, 
from the comfortable happy fruition of him in glory : ' depart, ye 
cursed.' The pain in eternal torments is set forth by the worm and 
by the fire, Mark ix. 44. Now Christ being our surety, Heb. vii. 22, 
and giving himself ' a ransom for all,' 1 Tim. ii. 6 avrikurpov, the 
word implies a substitution or surrogation of one person in the room 
of another ; he was to suffer what we were to suffer ; if not the idem, 
every way the same, yet the tantundem, that which was sufficient to 
Christ's ends, that which was to carry a full resemblance with our 
punishment. It is one part of the punishment of sin to be forsaken of 
God, and many say the punishment of loss is greatest ; he was there 
fore to suffer so much of it as his holy person was capable of ; some 
thing that answereth to the pcena damni in his desertion, x aud to the 
pcena sensus in his agonies and pains : Isa. liii. 4, ' Surely he hath 
borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' 

It is true the accidentals of punishment Christ suffered not. As 
[1.] To the place, he was not in hell. It was not necessary that 
Christ should descend into the hell of the damned. One that is bound 
as a surety for another needs not go into prison provided that he pay 
the debt. All that justice requireth is, that he satisfy the debt. In 
deed, if he doth not, nor cannot satisfy the debt, he must to prison. 


So here the justice of God must be satisfied, the holiness of God and 
hatred to sin sufficiently demonstrated, but Christ need not to go into 
the place of torments. 

[2.] For the time of continuance. The damned must bear the 
wrath of God to all eternity, because they can never satisfy the justice 
of God, therefore they must lie by it world without end. As one that 
pays a thousand pounds by a penny a week, is a long time in paying ; a 
rich man lays it down in cumulo, in a heap of gold all at once. Christ 
hath made an infinite satisfaction in a finite time ; he bore the wrath 
of God in a few hours, which would overwhelm the creature. Christ 
did not suffer the eternity of wrath, but only the extremity of it, in 
tensive, not extensive. The eternity of the punishment ariseth from 
the weakness of the creature, who cannot overcome this evil, and get 
out of it. 

[3.] There is another thing unavoidably attending the pains of the 
second death in reprobates, and that is desperation, an utter hopeless 
ness of any good, yea, a certain expectation of continual torment, Heb. 
x. 27. The gates of hell are made fast on them by an irresistible 
decree ; and the gulf is fixed between the place of the damned, and the 
place of the blessed, so that there is no coming from the one to the 
other, Luke xvi. 26. Now this despair is not an essential part of the 
law's curse, but only a consequent, occasioned by the sinner's view of 
his remediless and woful condition. But this neither did nor could 
possibly befall the Lord Jesus, who was able by his divine power both 
to suffer and satisfy, to undergo and overcome, and therefore expected 
a good issue in his conflict : Ps. xvi. 9, 10, ' My flesh shall rest in 
hope ; for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thine holy 
one to see corruption,' was spoken as from Christ, Acts ii. 27. A 
shallow stream would drown a little child, whereas a grown man may 
hope to escape out of a far deeper place, yea, a skilful swimmer out of 
the ocean. Christ passed through that sea of wrath which would have 
drowned all the world, and came safe to shore. 

3. With respect to our blessedness, which is to live with God for 
ever in heaven. Christ was forsaken, that there might be no longer 
any separation between us and God. He was forsaken for a while, 
that we might be received for ever. Our separation from God by sin 
was the meritorious cause, but the final cause was our eternal con 
junction with God ; so that this desertion, which was so bitter to Christ, 
is the cause of sweet consolation to us, as it hath procured for all them 
that obey the gospel that they should be happy for ever in the eternal 
vision and fruition of God. I observe this, because of the constant 
use of the scripture, which expresseth our benefits in a direct opposi 
tion to Christ's sufferings ; as ' He was made sin for us, that we might 
be made the righteousness of God in him,' 2 Cor. v. 21. He was 
* made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon 
us.' He was ' made of a woman, that we might receive the adoption 
of sons,' Gal. iv. 4, 5. He was 'made poor, that we through his 
poverty might be made rich,' 2 Cor. viii. 9. And ' by his wounds 
and stripes we are healed,' 1 Peter ii. 24. By his death we have life, 
by his shame we have glory, and so, by consequence, by his desertion 
we obtain communion with God, and the everlasting fruition of him. 



By a wonderful exchange he taketh our evil things upon himself, that 
he might bestow his good things upon us, and took from us misery 
that he might convey to us felicity. 


First, by way of information. 

1. How different are they from the spirit of Christ that can brook 
God's absence without any remorse or complaint ? Christ cried with 
a loud voice, ' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? ' These 
go on securely, never observe God's accesses and recesses ; when the 
comforts of his Spirit, and the communications of his grace are wholly 
suspended and withholden from them, they never lay it to heart. 
Stupid and insensible creatures ! It is all one to them whether God 
go or come, whether he manifest himself propitious to them or his 
face be hidden from them. They take up with the vain delights of 
the present world. Micah showed more respect to his idols than they 
do to God : Judges xviii. 24, ' Ye have taken away my gods, and what 
have I more ? and do you ask, What aileth thee ? ' When God is gone 
they are not troubled. The Christians wept when Paul said, ' Ye shall 
see my face no more,' Acts xx. 25 ; and will ye not mourn and lament 
your loss when God hideth his face and shutteth up himself in a veil 
and cloud of displeasure ? Much of serious Christianity lies in an 
observation of God's coming and going, and a suitable carriage, Mat. 
ix. 15. A serious Christian will be affected with the loss of comfort 
and quickening, and lament after a withdrawn God. 

2. It informeth us of the grievousness of sin. It is no easy matter 
to reconcile sinners to God ; it cost Christ a life of sorrows, and after 
wards a painful and an accursed death, and in that death, loss of actual 
comfort, and an amazing sense of the wrath of God. We make a mock 
of sin jest and sport away our souls, but Christ found it hard work 
to save them and recover them to God. When you make sin a light 
matter, you slight the sufferings of Christ ; oh, therefore, take heed you 
do not break with God for every trifle ! 

3. The greatness of our obligation to Christ, who omitted no kind 
of sufferings which might conduce to the expiation of sin. He ex 
changed his heaven for a kind of hell to do you good ; the fulness of 
the godhead dwelt in him bodily, and therefore he had a heaven upon 
earth. If one could say, Anima justi ccelum est, because heaven is 
begun there in peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost. How 
was it with Christ ? This heaven he wanted for a while, felt no com 
fort, yea, he was amazed at the sense of God's wrath due to sinners ; 
therefore it was said in the type of him, ' The pains of hell got hold 
upon me,' Ps. cxvi. 3. Oh ! let this excite us to love Christ, that you 
may count nothing too dear for him. 

4. The infiniteness of God's mercy, who appointed such a degree of 
Christ's sufferings, as in it he gives us the greatest ground of hopes to 
invite us the more to submit to his terms. There is nothing standeth 
in the way but our own impenitence and unbelief. Now God is so 
amply satisfied, shall we deprive ourselves of eternal blessedness? 
This is the worst cruelty and hatred to our own souls. 

BOM. I. 29, 30.] THE TENTH SERMON. 275 


Whisperers, backbiters. ROM. I., part of the 29th and 30th verses. 

THE context showeth how corrupt and miserable man's nature is with 
out Christ. His heart was first withdrawn from God, and then became 
a sink of loathsome sins and vices ; therefore the apostle telleth us how 
after men were false to God, how little they were true to themselves, 
whether considered singly and apart, or as to commerce and society : 
singly and apart, defiling themselves with uncleanness of all sorts ; as 
to commerce and human society, full of malice and contention, which 
sometimes goeth as far as blood ; at other times showeth itself in false 
ness and baseness of disposition, generally in self-love and detraction 
from others. 

Of all judgments, spiritual judgments are the sorest. When God 
leaveth mankind to its own degeneracy and corruption, and one great 
branch of this corruption is detraction, which venteth itself either by 
whispering or backbiting. So it is in the text, ' Whisperers, back 
biters.' These two words agree that they both wound the fame of our 
neighbour, and they both do it behind his back or in his absence. But 
they differ (1.) In that whispering doth it secretly and closely, but 
backbiting openly the one being privy, the other open defamation, 
and are like theft and rapine ; what theft and robbing are to our 
goods, the same are whispering and backbiting to our good names. (2.) 
Whispering tendeth to breed strife among our friends, or to disgrace 
us to some who are well conceited of us ; but backbiting to our general 
disgrace before all the world, or amongst whomsoever. The one 
seeketh to 'deprive us of the good- will of our friends, the other to 
destroy our service. But however they agree and differ, they are often 
conjoined in scripture : 2 Cor. xii. 20, ' 1 fear lest when I come among 
you I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto 
you such as ye would not ; lest there be debates, envy ings, wraths, strifes, 
backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults/ The apostle foresaw it 
as too probable that neither of them would be much pleased with their 
meeting together : nor he with the Corinthians, when he should find 
them corrupted with partialities and divisions; nor the Corinthians 
with him, when he should be forced to inflict censures upon them for 
their factions and emulations, too much bewrayed by their backbitings 
and whisperings against each other. So here in the text they are con 
joined, ' whisperers, backbiters,' when the apostle speaketh of the reign 
ing sins among the Gentiles. 

Doct. One great sin wherein the corruption of human nature be- 
wrayeth itself is detraction, or depriving others of a good repute. 

Here I shall show : 
I. What is detraction. 

II. The heinousness of the sin. 

I. What it is. (1.) The nature of it. (2.) The kinds of it. 

First, The nature of it in general. It is an unjust violation of 
another's fame, reputation, or that good report which is due to him. 
God, that hath bidden me to love my neighbour as myself, doth therein 

276 THE TENTH SERMON. [ROM. I. 29, 30. 

bid me to be tender not only of his person and goods, but of his good 
name. And indeed one precept is a guard and fence to another. I 
cannot be tender of his person and goods unless I be tender of his 
fame. For every man liveth by his credit : and therefore certainly 
this is (1.) A sin against God; (2.) A wrong to men; (3.) It pro- 
ceedeth from evil causes. 

1. It is a sin against God, who hath forbidden us to bear false wit 
ness against our neighbour, and to speak evil of others without a 
cause: Eph. iv. 31, ' Let all evil-speaking be far from you ;' by evil- 
speaking is meant there disgraceful and contumelious speeches, whereby 
we seek to stain the reputation of others. 

2. It is a wrong to man, because it robbeth him of his good name, 
which is so deservedly esteemed by all that would do anything for 
God in the world : Prov. xxii. 1, ' A good name is rather to be chosen 
than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.' The 
meaning is in order to service, and as it more nearly respects both life 
and livelihood. So Eccles. vii. 1, ' A good name is better than precious 
ointment.' Their ointments were reckoned by those Oriental people 
amongst their most precious riches and treasures, yet a good name is 
preferred before them ; which inferreth this conclusion, that the man 
himself should prize it so : for he that is lavish of his fame is not 
usually over-tender of his conscience. Therefore, as he himself should 
not prostitute his good name, so others should not blast it and blemish 
it ; for it is a greater sin than to steal the best goods which he hath, 
and it is such an evil as scarce admits any sound restitution ; for the 
imputation even of unjust crimes leaveth a scar though the wound be 

3. The causes it proceedeth from. They are these : 

[1.] Malice and ill- will, which prompteth us to speak falsely of others, 
so to make them odious, or do them wrong or hurt. Now, to hate 
our brother in our heart is no way consistent with that goodness and 
charity which the impression of the love of Christ should beget in us. 
The apostle saith, 1 Peter iv. 8, ' Above all things have fervent charity 
among yourselves, for charity shall cover a multitude of sins.' If 
nothing but love and fervent love will restrain us, surely where hatred 
is allowed, men care not w r hat they think, or speak, or do against 
others. Now, as there is a brotherly love due to our fellow- saints, so 
there is a love due to all men. 2 Peter i. 7, I am to hate no man, 
but to seek their good. There is a twofold hatred the hatred of 
offence and abomination, and the hatred of enmity. The hatred of 
offence, which is opposite to the love of complacency, may be justified 
as to the wicked: Prov. xxix. 27, ' An unjust man is an abomination 
to the just, and he that is upright in the way is an abomination to the 
wicked.' But then we should first and most abominate ourselves for 
sin ; this very hatred and abhorrence should begin at home, and we 
should be most odious to ourselves for sin, for we know more sin by 
ourselves than we can do by another. But for the other hatred, the 
hatred of enmity, which is opposite to the love of benevolence, that 
should be quite banished out of the heart of a Christian. And it is 
not enough for God's people to keep themselves free from hatred and 
malice against one another, but against all men : Titus iii. 2, 'Put them 

ROM. I. 29, 30.] THE TENTH SERMON. 277 

in mind to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing 
all meekness to all men : for we ourselves were sometimes disobedient/ 
&c. If this old hatred were gone, a multitude of offences would be 

[2.] It comes from uncharitable credulity, whereby men easily believe 
a false report, and so propagate and convey it to others : Jer. xx. 10, 
' I have heard the defaming of many ; Report, say they, and we will 
report it. All my familiars watched for my halting/ &c. The prophet 
complaineth Many, and those no mean ones, have I heard reproaching 
and taunting me, so that he was a terror to himself and to all his 
friends. Many had combined by false suggestions and malicious 
informations against him to work his ruin. If any will raise a report 
tending to the discredit of another, some will foster it, and it loseth 
nothing in the carriage, till by additions and misconstructions it grow- 
eth to a downright and dangerous infamy. 

[3.] It comes through rashness and unruliness of tongue : some men 
never learned to bridle their tongues, and the apostle James telleth us 
that 'therefore their religion is vain/ James i. 26. Till we make 
conscience of these evils, as well as others, we content ourselves with 
a partial obedience, and therefore cannot be sincere. But many never 
set themselves to learn this part of their duty, and therefore divulge a 
report before they try it, or receive any just proof of it. Possibly it 
may not come from downright malice, but their tongues hang too 
loose, without the coercion and just restraint of grace, and so they 
either report false things, or speak truth to an evil end: Prov. xi. 13, 
' A tale-bearer revealeth secrets ; but he that is of a faithful spirit 
concealeth the matter.' Whisperers must be talking, and be it true 
or false, out it comes. Certainly it is a sin as long as you knew it not 
to be true, or, if you do, when you have no warrantable call to mention 
it. To reveal secrets which you may conceal without wrong to God, 
or your own consciences, or the common good, or the good of your 
neighbour, is loquacity, or the sin of idle and impertinent talkative 
ness, the disease of a whisperer and tale-bearer. 

[4.] It comes from carnal zeal, which is nothing else but passion for 
our different interests and opinions. The bitter envying which the 
apostle speaketh of, James iii. 14, hath made mad work in the world 
as to strifes, and confusions, and quarrels, and bloodsheds, and perse 
cutions. But usually it venteth itself in evil-speaking ; for the apostle 
maketh ' backbitings and whisperings ' the fruits of ' swellings and 
tumults/ 2 Cor. xii. 20. Oh, what false and lying tales are there car 
ried to and fro, that a man knoweth not what or whom to believe ! So 
many lies walk under the disguise of religion, that not to credit them, 
or countenance the report, seemeth a decay of affection, but surely not 
to religion, but only the interest of a faction. 

But a question ariseth, Is all speaking evil of another unlawful ? 

Ans. I cannot say so, but yet it is hard to keep it from sin. 

1. He that doth it without just cause is plainly a detractor, and 
so a grievous sinner before God. You may impose and impute false 
crimes upon others, which is properly called slander, and God thereby 
convinceth the professor of the true religion to be a hypocrite : Ps. 1. 
20, ' Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother, and slanderest thy 

278 THE TENTH SERMON. [ROM. I. 29, 30- 

own mother's son.' God doth not only reject the liars for hypocrites, 
but also the backbiters and slanderers. Those that allow themselves in 
the frequent practice of this sin, what hopes can they have of acceptance 
with God, since he hath entered his plea against them ? For the act 
to be sure is sinful ; there can be no other end in it but the wronging 
of our brother's fame and reputation, to his loss and hurt. The nature 
of the thing showeth it. 

2. He that doth but speak what he hath heard from others, with 
out any assertion or asseveration of his own, as not knowing the truth 
of the report, can hardly be excused from sin. For if without just 
cause he speaketh those things that may wound the reputation of 
others, he is in part accessory : for he reporteth those things which 
may induce the hearers to think ill of another, or at least beget a 
suspicion in their minds concerning him, and so is a concurring cause 
to wrong another's name and good report. Now we should be so 
jealous of sin, that we should not countenance it in others without a 
just and weighty cause. 

3. He that doth speak that which is true, but tendeth to the 
infamy of another, may be guilty of sin, if he have not a sufficient call 
and warrant. As for instance (1.) If it be a matter we have nothing 
to do with, but only speak of their faults for talk sake ; this is to be 
' busy-bodies and tattlers,' 1 Tim. v. 13 : as we all love to speak of 
other men's faults, when we look little at home. This is a sin, when 
it is not matter of our cognisance. Or (2.) If we aggravate things 
beyond their just size and proportion ; for then we do not exercise 
Christian lenity and meekness towards those that are fallen, Gal. 
VL 1. Or (3.) If we urge their crimes, and deny their graces ; this is 
like flies to pitch on the sore place. Is there no good amongst all this 
evil ? But it may be done, when crimes are public, and men them 
selves have forfeited all good repute, and God doth as it were hang 
them up in chains for a warning to the rest of the world ; or when 
their reputation may injure the truth, and seduce the souls of others, 
or be an injury to the just who are slandered by them. In short, 
when the glory of God, or love to the public good, or the avoiding 
some great danger that may befall others by their esteem, then a lesser 
good is to be neglected to procure a greater, and a growing evil pre 
vented, when men, by dissembling their wickedness, seek a fame to the 
manifest hurt of others' souls. 

Secondly, The kinds of it are two in the text whispering and 

1. Whispering, which is privy defamation of our brother, to bring 
him into disfavour and disrespect with those that formerly had a better 
opinion of him. Herein whispering differeth from backbiting, because 
the whisperer stingeth secretly, but the other doth more openly attack 
our credit. Now this whispering is a great sin : 

[1.] Because it is here reckoned among the sins which reigned 
among the heathen, and God hath expressly forbidden to his people : 
Lev. xix. 16, 'Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer 
among thy people.' You see tale-bearing and crimination is expressly 
against God's word ; and if your hearts stand in awe of the word of 
God, how dare you indulge it and allow it in yourselves ? It is 


observed that the Hebrew word rokel properly signifieth a merchant or 
a trafficker up and down with spices and other things ; whereupon 
rakil, the word there used, is a tale-bearer, that accuser that makes 
merchandise of words, and like a pedlar goeth from place to place to 
open his pack, and utter his wares, to hear and spread abroad crimina 
tions of other men. This is made the property of very wicked men : 
Jer. xi. 4, ' Every neighbour will walk with slanders/ 

2. It is against natural equity, because they do that to others 
which they would not have done to themselves, Mat. vii. 2 ; and 
therefore storm and take great offence when God, by a righteous pro 
vidence, permitteth others to retaliate with them, and pay them home 
in their own coin, as usually he doth ; for they who are not tender of 
the credit and reputation of others, their names are cast out of God's 
protection, and permitted to the strife of tongues. 

3. They are a cause of much mischief in the world, as 

[1.] Grief to the party wronged : Prov. xviii. 8, ' The words of a 
tale-bearer' we read in the margin 'of a whisperer' 'are as wounds, 
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly ; ' that is, they 
equally hurt as a sharp sword that is thurst into us, and causes pain 
and anguish. By ' the chambers of the belly,' is understood the heart. 
Now whether the heart of the hearer, or the heart of the party injured? 
Why not both ? The hearer ; the words pierce into his heart, and 
breed hatred, or at least suspicion of his friend. The party injured ; 
when he comes to the knowledge of it, they breed his grief and vexa 

[2.] They are a cause of much debate and strife : Prov. xxvi. 20, 
' Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out : so where there is no 
tale-bearer (or whisperer) strife ceaseth/ Where strife is compared 
to fire, and the whisperer's informations or criminations, to the wood or 
matter that feedeth the fire ; the extinction, or putting out of the fire, 
to the ceasing of strife and contention, which is caused by the absence 
of the whisperer ; that is, when he is not admitted by either party : 
Prov. xvi. 28, ' A froward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth 
choice friends.' Husband and wife, parents and children, masters and 
servants, princes and subjects, intimate friends. Now ' He that soweth 
discord between friends or brethren is an abomination to the Lord,' 
Prov. vi. 19. Therefore, how can one that feareth God, allow himself 
in speaking evil privily against his neighbour ? 

[3.] There is a greater mischief than this, and that is, it many times 
tendeth to the destruction of another's life : Ezek. xxii. 9, ' In thee 
are men that carry tales to shed blood.' Usually the vapours of 
slander descend in the showers of persecution ; and the devil was first 
a liar, and then a murderer. By whispers men are stirred up to hate 
others, and then pursue them with all manner of hostility and dis 
pleasures. As Doeg the Edomite first accused, and then, by the com 
mand of Saul, slew Abimelech the high priest, and all his family, 
destroying the whole city of the priests called Nob, as you may see 
1 Sam. xxii. 9. David, when he professeth the uprightness of his 
government, would allow no such in his court, but would severely 
punish them : Ps. ci. 5, ' Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him 
will I cut off.' These ways of whispering and detraction, by which 

280 THE TENTH SERMON. [ROM. I. 29, 30. 

men are wont to gain confidence, favour, and employment from princes, 
should not only miss of their aims with him, but be severely punished 
when he met with them. 

But here ariseth a question, whether all private complaints and in 
formations against others come under the name of whispering ? 

I answer No, with these cautions : 

1. If the party be duly admonished ; for before we go any further, 
the rule is, Mat. xviii. 15, ' First tell him his fault between him and 
thee alone.' Private admonition must always precede crimination to 
others ; therefore if you forbear privately to admonish the offender in 
love, and seek not to reclaim him from his sinful course, you cannot 
be excused from sin. 

2. If it be made to such as have power to redress the fault, by the 
most discreet and gentle means, before it break out any further. So it 
is said, Gen. xxxvii. 2, Joseph ' brought unto his father their evil 
report;' that is, their infamous carriage, which caused evil report of 
them ; which is set down, not to note his ill-will, but his good affection 
and godliness. 

3. If the complainer seeketh nothing but the amendment of the 
party ; otherwise, to vent and divulge the fault, to make the party less 
respected, or to his hurt, is not love, but closer malice ; for true zeal 
is not for destruction, but for edification. 

4. If he grieve that he hath cause to complain, and pray for his 
conversion ; for then it is more likely that all is done in love. Many 
times the grief is personated, and when whisperers have a mind to 
wound to the quick, they will say, I am sorry to hear such a thing, 
loth to speak of it. But this is like the archer that draweth back 
his hand that the arrow may fly with the more force. But when we 
pray to God, there is the greater presumption of sincerity, because we 
explicitly make him a party, and do what we do as in his sight and 

Secondly, Backbiting is a more public speaking evil of our absent 
brother, to the impairing of his credit. Now, this may be done two 
ways : 

1. With respect to the good things found in him. 

2. With respect to the evil supposed to be committed by him. 

1. With respect to the good things found in him. There are four 
degrees in this : 

[1.] The first and highest is, when we deny those good things which 
we know to be in another. This is not only to wrong our neighbour, 
but to rob God of his own praise ; for he expecteth to be glorified for 
all those gifts and graces which he hath scattered among the sons of 
men, not only actively by persons themselves, but objectively by the 
beholders. As for instance, if God hath made any a new creature, he 
is to be ' to the praise of his glorious grace,' not only actively, but ob 
jectively, Eph. i. 12 ; though the man in whom this work was wrought 
be silent, yet the work should speak for itself, that is, give occasion to 
beholders to praise God. Now to deny this work, is not only to wrong 
the party, but wrong God. Thus Job's friends counted him a hypo 
crite, when upright; and the people of God are often traduced as 
c dissemblers, when yet true,' 2 Cor. vi. 8. Jesus Christ himself was 

ROM. I. 29, 30.] THE TENTH SERMON T . 281 

counted a wine-bibber, because of his free and social course of life ; for 
he affected not a monkish austerity. This is the highest degree, when 
men plainly deny those gifts and graces which are conspicuous in 

[2.] When they do not deny, but lessen, the gifts and graces of 
others. To extenuate and clip another's due praise is envy, but in 
honour to prefer them above ourselves is charity and humility : Phil, 
ii. 3, ' In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.' 
Humility is content to sit in the lowest place : Rom. xii. 10, ' In 
honour preferring one another.' Some say this is not to be understood 
of that opinion we have of others, but the respect we put upon them. 
We are to honour others, non sententia mentis, sed actionibus et 
officiis ; that is meant of offices of love and outward respect, but not of 
the sentiments of the mind. Certainly it is just that we should contemn 
no man, but give every one all agreeable honour and respect. But 
that a rich man should judge a poor man to be in place and estate 
before him ; a learned man, an ignorant man more knowing ; a godly 
man, a wicked more holy, is impossible and sometimes inconvenient. 
Therefore they understand it of condescending to mutual offices of 
love and respect, or, rather detracting from ourselves than others. 
But though this exposition might fit the latter place, yet not the 
former. ' Esteeming others better than ourselves/ must relate to the 
opinions and sentiments of our minds : therefore the meaning is, We 
should carry all things with that quietness and humility as if every 
one had a better opinion of others' wisdom and godliness than his own. 
And this is reasonable enough for every one that is acquainted with 
himself. Humility will teach him to think meanly of himself or any 
thing that is his ; and his charity will prompt him to give others all 
that possibly can belong to them, without any retrenchment or 

[3.] When we own the good done by them, but deprave it by 
supposing a sinister intention. Thus Satan could not deny but that 
Job served God, but (Job i. 9) ' Doth Job serve God for nought ? ' 
It is usual to count the servants of God hypocrites and self-seekers, 
and accordingly to persecute them. If one be poor, it is discontent, 
melancholy, or some fleshly ends set him on work. If mean and 
simple, it is their folly and ignorance makes them so scrupulous and 
precise. If ministers be zealous for God, they must do something for 
their calling ; if great men, they only mind their own interest and 
advantage. Where the action is fair, we are not competent judges of 
the intention of the heart. 

[4.] When neither denying, nor lessening, nor depraving, but when 
we have just occasion to speak of a man's due commendation, we 
enviously suppress it. Envy is a natural sin : James iv. 5, * The 
spirit that dweileth in us lusteth to envy.' And it bewrayeth itself by 
a dislike of other men's just praise. This is a sin of omission at least ; 
therefore it is said, 1 Cor. xiii. 4, ' Charity envieth not.' Nothing is 
more contrary to the goodness commended to us in the gospel than 
such a spirit, which cannot bear the good of another whether seen or 
spoken of. Thus Joseph's virtue was an eyesore to his brethren, 
therefore they endeavoured his destruction. Charity rejoiceth in the 

282 THE TENTH SERMON. [ROM. I. 29, 30. 

gifts and graces of others as in our own ; but where this hath no 
place, their praises are our disgrace. And few there be that can say 
with John the Baptist, ' He must increase, but I must decrease/ John 
iii. 30 ; that is, in splendour and fame, and so confirmed the testimony 
given to Christ. 

2. As to evil supposed to be committed by them. 

[1.] When we publish their secret slips, which in charity we ought 
to conceal : Prov. xi. 13, ' A tale-bearer revealeth secrets.' Certain 
things should have a veil drawn over them, and not be manifested 
without sufficient cause. But when a man intrudeth himself into the 
mention of things faulty, which he might with better manners and 
more honesty conceal, it is the effect of a base heart. 

[2.] When, in relating any evil action of another, we use harder terms 
than the quality of the fact requireth, and make evils worse than they 
are, beams of motes, and mountains of mole-hills. We should lessen 
sins all that we can ; I mean, the sins and faults of others : Acts iii. 17, 
' And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did 
also your rulers/ Certainly we should not aggravate things to the 
height, nor from a simple act determine the state of the person, nor 
from the failings of a single person conclude the whole party. 

[3.] By imposing false crimes : Prov. x. 18, ' He that uttereth a 
slander is a fool ;' that is, a wicked person. As Mephibosheth said of 
Ziba, 2 Sam. xix. 27, ' He hath slandered thy servant unto my lord 
the king.' The most godly and innocent persons cannot escape the 
scourge of the tongue, and unjust calumnies. 

II. The heinousness of the sin. 

1. In general, that is evident from what is said already. I shall 
urge two arguments more. 

[1.] That men shall be called to an account for these sins as well as 
others ; they are not passed by in the judgment: Jude 15, 'God will 
execute judgment upon all ungodly sinners/ not only for their ungodly 
deeds, but ' for all their hard speeches.' Now, if injurious and con 
tumelious language come into the judgment, how should all beware of 
the least accession to this guilt ? So 1 Peter iv. 4, 5, ' They speak 
evil of you, who shall give an account to him that is ready to judge 
the quick and the dead.' The mockers as well as persecutors were to 
give a strict and sad account. It is no slight and light sin to divulge 
and spread false calumnies to hurt the credit of our brethren. God 
takes notice of a thought in our heart against them, a word in our 
mouths, and will exact a strict account thereof. 

[2.] It is the property of a citizen of Zion, one that shall be not 
only accepted with God now, but dwell with God for ever, not to be 
given to backbiting: Ps. xv. 3, 'He that backbiteth not with his 
tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour ; ' that is, that makes strict 
conscience of backbiting or calumniating, and abstaineth from doing 
any kind of wrong or reproach to his neighbour. 

2. More particularly, it is the more heinous : 

[1.] Partly from the person against whom it is committed. As 
suppose the godly and irreprovable for the main, who by their life and 
conversation have the best right to honour and esteem ; to do it 
against them is most unjust : Ps. Ixiv. 3, ' They whet their tongues as a 

HOM. I. 29, 30.] THE TENTH SERMON. 283 

sword ; they shoot their arrows, even bitter words, that they may shoot 
in secret at the perfect ; suddenly do they shoot at him and fear not ; ' 
that is, their slanders and calumnies are shot like poisoned darts and 
arrows secretly or clancularly, without any desert or notice of the 
party against whom they are intended ; or else against persons 
publicly employed, and in the special service of God, as magistrates : 
Num. xii. 8, ' Were ye not afraid to speak against my servant, against 
Moses ? ' So in the ministry : 1 Tim. iii. 7, ' He must have a good 
report from them without, lest he fall into reproach, and the snare of 
the devil.' Against these it is not only unjust, but noxious and hurt 
ful to God's service. 

[2.] From the persons before whom the slander is bi ought, as sup 
pose kings and princes ; so that they are deprived not only of private 
friendships, but the favour and countenance of these under whose 
protection they have their life and service. Thus Hainan whispered 
against the Jews, Esth. iii. 8, ' It is not for the king's profit to suffer 
them to live;' Doeg against the priests, Ps. Iii. 1, 'Why boastest 
thou in mischief, mighty man ? The goodness of God continueth 
for ever.' It is a strange matter of pleasure and joy to some persons 
in power to be able to mischief those that deserve it least. God is 
eminently great and good. This sort of pride is diametrically oppo 
site to his nature. Alas ! to trouble a few persons, how irrational is 
it ! But such are our depraved natures. Some are never pleased 
with those things that alone yield durable pleasure ; but to be able 
with their counsel, as with one poisonous vapour, to blast a multitude 
of innocent persons. 

[3.] From the end of it. If it be done with a direct intention of 
hurting another's fame, it is worse than if out of a rash levity and 
loquacity. Some men have no direct intention of mischief, but are 
given to tattling. It is a great sin in them, and an unprofitable mis- 
pense of time ; but it is a greater in those that make it their business 
to disgrace others or sow discord. These are the bane of human 

[4.] From the effect or great hurt that followeth, be it loss of 
estate, as in the case of Mephibosheth, or a general trouble and perse 
cution on the people of God. When their good names are buried 
their persons cannot long subsist afterward with any degree of service. 
And all this may be the fruit of a deceitful tongue. 

The use is, to show how good-natured Christianity is, and be- 
friendeth human societies ; it condemneth not only sins against God, 
but sins against our neighbour. It bindcth its professors to the prac 
tice of the apostle : Acts xxiv. 16, ' Herein do I exercise myself, to 
have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards 
men ;' Phil. iv. 8, ' Whatsoever things are honest, just, good, and true ; 
if there be any virtue, or any praise, think of these things.' The 
world hath taken up this prejudice, that religion makes us ill-natured. 
Of itself there is nothing more benign ; it only condemneth those that 
are good-natured to others but not to God. 

Use 2. Let us not speak evil of others behind their backs, but 
tell them their faults plainly in love and wisdom, nor encourage others 
in this sin : Prov. xxv. 23, ' As the north wind drives away the rain, 


so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.' They that re 
ceive tales and delight to hear other men's faults, encourage others in 
their sin, and are accessory to or partakers of the guilt. It brings 
an evil habit and custom in our own souls. In short, let us keep up 
a humble sense of our own faults, and looking at home, it will not 
only divert us from slandering of others, but make us compassionate 
towards them, and breed comfort in our own souls. 


This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust 
of the flesh. GAL. Y. 16. 

IN these words observe (1.) A duty enforced ; (2.) The consequent 
and fruit of it. 

1. The duty is to walk in the Spirit, which is the sum of all Chris 
tian piety. 

2. The motive is taken from the consequent and fruit of it : and ye 
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Let us fix the sense. 

1. For the duty, ' to walk in the Spirit/ Walking implieth the 
tenor and course of our actions, in all which we should follow the 
direction and inclination of the Spirit. But what is meant by the 
Spirit ? That it may be known, both the contrary principles must be 
explained together. 

[1.] Flesh is sometimes taken for the body : as Eph. v. 29, ' For no 
man yet ever hated his own flesh ;' it is brought as a reason why hus 
bands ought to love their wives as their own bodies, ver. 28, and spirit 
is taken for the soul, Eccles. xii. 7. But this is not the sense here, for 
every man hath soul and body, not the regenerate only ; and a man is 
not only to look after the welfare of the soul, but his body also, it 
being the instrument which it useth in its operations. 

[2.] The spirit is sometimes put for reason, and the flesh for sensual 
appetite : as Eph. iv. 23, ' And be renewed in the spirit of your mind ;' 
and 1 John ii. 16, 'The lusts of the flesh/ But this will not take in 
the whole sense of this place, for other faculties are corrupted besides 
the sensual appetite, and other faculties must be renewed as well as 
the understanding. 

[3.] There is another acceptation of flesh and spirit; that is, that 
spirit signifieth the uncreated Spirit, who is the author of grace ; as 
John iii. 5, ' Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit/ 
Where spirit is put for the Holy Ghost, who immediately worketh 
grace in us, called therefore ' the Spirit of sanctification/ as that saving 
grace which is the effect of his work is called ' the sanctification of the 
Spirit/ And the opposite principle, flesh, signifieth the corrupt nature 
of man, as John iii. 6, ; That which is born of the flesh is flesh ;' cor- 
rupt,sinful, inclined to earthly things. Now though this would bear a good 
sense to interpret flesh and spirit of the Holy Ghost, and concupiscence 


or natural corruption (for no question he concurreth to the mortifying 
of the old man, till sin be wholly expelled, Bom. viii. 23, and still doth 
quicken and excite the new man to action, Gal. iv. 25), yet here the 
apostle speaks of two inherent principles. 

[4.] Therefore by flesh and spirit is meant the old man and the 
new, and so by spirit is meant the renewed part, or the new man of 
grace in the heart : John iii. 6, ' That which is born of the Spirit is 
spirit ;' that is, there is a work of saving grace wrought in our hearts 
by the Spirit of God, which new nature hath its motions and inclina 
tions which must be obeyed and followed by us. And by flesh, is 
meant inbred corruption, or the old man, which is ' corrupt, with his 
deceivable lusts,' Eph. iv. 22. Now, then, you see what it is to walk 
after the Spirit, to direct and order our actions according to the inclina 
tions of the new nature. 

2. For the consequent fruit of it : ' and ye shall not fulfil the lust 
of the flesh/ 

Here two things must be explained: 

The lust of the flesh. 


For 'the lust of the flesh.' By it is meant the inordinate 

motions of corrupt nature. The flesh doth not consider what is right 
and good, but what is pleasing to the senses, and craveth their satis 
faction with much importunity and earnestness, to the wrong of God 
and our own souls ; especially in youth, when the senses are in vigour, 
and lust and appetite in their strength and fury. And generally, all 
carnal men are governed by the lusts of the flesh, called by the apostle, 
4 The wills of the flesh and the mind,' Eph. ii. 3. By which the heart 
is drawn from God to things earthly and carnal. Well, then, by the 
lusts of the flesh are meant the motions of inbred corruptions. 

2. Ye shall not fulfil ; that is, accomplish and bring into complete 
act, especially with deliberation and consent. Mark, he doth not say 
that the lusting of corrupt nature shall be totally suppressed, but it 
shall not be fulfilled. The best of God's children feel the motions of 
the flesh, but they do not cherish and obey them. The lusts of the 
flesh may be said to be fulfilled two ways (1.) When the outward act 
is accomplished, or ' when lust hath conceived and brought forth actual 
sin/ James i. 15. Which may sometimes come to pass in the children 
of God, when they walk not in the Spirit, or obey not the motions and 
directions of the renewed part. This again may be done two ways, 
either upon surprise or deliberation. By way of surprise, Gal. vi. 1, 
eav Kal Trpokyfflr} ; upon deliberation, when men plot, and make provi 
sion to fulfil their lusts, contrary to the apostle's advice : Rom. xiii. 14, 
' Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof/ Thus it 
was with David in his great sin; and this doth mightily aggravate the 
offence, and provoke the Lord against us. (2.) When for a continuance 
we obey the flesh, usually accomplish its motions without let and 
restraint, and with love, pleasure, and full consent of will; this is proper 
to the unregenerate. The flesh doth reign over them as its slaves ; 
this is spoken of, Rom. vi. 12, ' Let not sin reign in your mortal body, 
that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.' Let it not have a power 
over you as slaves. Well, then, the meaning is, you will not abuse 


your Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh, or give up yourselves 

to do that, or seek that which the flesh lusteth after. 

Doct. The more Christians set themselves to obey the new nature, 

the more is the power of inbred corruption mortified and kept under. 
To understand this point, let me lay down these propositions : 
I. That there is a diversity of principles in a Christian flesh and 


1. There is a good principle, called spirit, because the Spirit is the 
author of it : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, ' A new heart and a new spirit will I 
put into you.' It is called also 'the divine nature,' 2 Peter i. 4, 
because it is made up of those gracious qualities wherein we resemble 
God ; ' The seed remaining,' 1 John iii. 9, because it is not a transient 
operation, but a permanent habit, disposing and inclining the soul to 
God and heaven ; ' The new man,' Eph. iv. 24, because we have it 
not by nature, but by grace, we are new formed to the image of God. 
Now the use of this principle may be known partly by the manner 
how it is wrought in us, and partly by the uses and ends for which it 

[1.] For the manner how it is wrought in us by the Spirit, that is 
set forth Heb. viii. 10, ' I will put my laws in their mind, and write 
them in their hearts.' The directive and imperial power of the soul 
is sanctified and seasoned by grace, the mind enlightened, the heart 
inclined. The mind is enlightened by the knowledge of God's will, 
and the heart inclined that we may delight to do his will ; it is suited 
thereunto. Therefore, the new creature doth both serve to direct us, 
and so performeth the office of a guide and leader to the godly in all 
their actions, so far in religion as God's glory is concerned, and also to 
move and excite us to that which is good. For ' the spirit is willing, 
though the flesh is weak,' Mat. xxvi. 41. 

[2.] By its uses and ends. None of God's gifts are given in vain. 
The new nature is the choicest talent that the sons of men are in 
trusted withal. Therefore, it hath its use and end, which is to fit us 
for God and heaven. 

(1.) It disposeth the soul to a sincere obedience to God, as an in 
herent principle : Eph. vi. 24, ' It is created after God in righteous 
ness and true holiness,' as suiting us to these things. So the Spirit is 
promised to enable us to walk in God's ways : Ezek. xxxvi. 27, ' 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.' It helps us to avoid 
sin : 1 John iii. 9, ' Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, 
for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born 
of God.' They that give back 1 cannot yield to those sins with which 
others are surprised and captivated. 

(2.) It prepares us for heaven ; thither is the tendency of the 
new nature, 2 Peter i. 4 ; 1 John v. 4, ' Whatsoever is born of God 
overcometh the world : ' it moveth us to mind, love, and seek after 
heavenly things. This grace came from heaven, and there it is per 

2. There is another principle of corrupted nature remaining in us, 
which is sometimes called ' flesh/ as before; sometimes ' the old man,' 
Eph. iv. 22 ; ' Sin that dwelleth in us,' Rom. vii. 17 ; ' The body of 

1 Apparently a misprint. ED. 


sin,' Rom. vi. 6 ; ' The law of the members warring against the law 
of the mind,' Rom. vii. 23. 

By this principle they are inclined to that which is evil. This 
principle also may be known : 


By the manner how it was derived to us. 

By its tendency and operations. 

The manner how it was derived to us, from Adam in his 

apostasy, and as fallen from his chief good and last end, John iii. 6. 
When man fell from God, he fell to himself. The temptation was, 
' Ye shall be as gods,' Gen. iii. 5. He would set up self as a god. 
And what was that self which man sought to idolise, but himself 
rather considered as a body than as a soul ? And, therefore, when 
God sought to reduce man, where lay the difficulty ? That text will 
inform you, Gen. vi. 3, ' My Spirit shall not always strive with man, 
for that he is also flesh ; ' that is, sunk or lost in flesh, altogether 
wedded to the interests of the bodily life. 

[2.] By its tendency and influence it prompts us to do those things 
which are most acceptable to sense, or agreeable to our worldly and 
carnal ends. The flesh operateth several ways, according to men's 
callings, occasions, or constitutions, Isa. liii. 6 ; 1 John ii. 16. As 
every soil beareth such weeds as are most suitable to the nature and 
quality of the ground, so some are enslaved by this, some by that par 
ticular sin, yet all of them alike opposite to God. Differences there 
are as to the choice of their way wherein they please the flesh, some 
in a more gross, some in a more cleanly manner, yet they all walk in 
the lust of the flesh, following inbred corruption as their guide, or 
obey it either in a way of worldliness, ambition, or sensuality. Some 
ways are more blameless before the world, because they less deserve 1 a 
worldly interest ; some are so prodigiously wicked that they cause a 
horror even in mankind though degenerated. Now, after conversion 
some of our former sins cripple us, and we halt of the old maim still ; 
and it is not enough to stop one gap while corruption runneth out at 
many more, but we must make conscience of not ' fulfilling the lusts of 
the flesh' in any kind. Well, now, I have showed you the two prin 
ciples which are in a Christian, that we may have a sense of our 
imbecility, and that we are but regenerated in part. 

II. I will prove to you that there is a liberty in a Christian of 
walking according to each principle, either the Spirit or the flesh. 

1. That the Christian hath liberty of walking according to the 
Spirit is out of question, ' for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty/ 2 Cor. iii. 17. Surely the Spirit of Christ can free us, and 
doth free us, from the bondage of corruption : Rom. viii. 2, ' The 
law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath freed me from the law of sin 
and death,' otherwise there would be no distinction between nature 
and grace. If we should be still shackled and manacled by our lusts, 
and be as unable to pursue our last end as we were before, if there 
were no inclination to God and heavenly things, what have they gotten 
by grace ? and therefore, though we are still weak, yet we have the 
gift of the Spirit to free us from sin. The force and efficacy of the 
new nature appeareth in three things scire, velle, posse ; in know 
ing our duty, and willing, and purposing, and doing our duty, suitable 

*Qu. 'dis-serve'? ED. 


to the three faculties of man his understanding, will, and vital power. 
So the spirit received from Christ, 2 Tim. i. 7, is ' a spirit of power, 
love, and a sound mind.' 

[1.] For scire. The new nature partly consists in the internal 
light of the mind, by which we understand the things of God revealed 
in the scriptures concerning our duties and privileges, and so ' the 
unction' is said to ' teach us all things,' 1 John ii. 20 ; that is, all 
things which belong to our necessary duty and happiness. God's 
children in necessary things have a good understanding, or, as it is 
said, Isa. xi. 3, they are ' quick of understanding in the fear of the 
Lord.' By this it doth warn us of our danger, mind us of our duty 
upon all occasions. 

[2.] For velle., to be willing. The force of the new creature lieth 
in the love of God, for we are never converted to God till he hath our 
hearts, till we love him with all our soul, with all our might and 
strength, and hate what is contrary to him : Ps. xcvii. 10, ' Ye 
that love the Lord, hate evil.' Now, surely they that love God and 
hate evil are at liberty more than others to serve and please God and 
avoid sin. Hate sin once, and it hath little power over you. 

[3.] For posse, or the active power. The wonder is rather how 
he can sin deliberately, voluntarily, than how he cannot sin, 1 John iii. 
9 ; and for doing good, irdma iayyv>> Phu\ iv. 13, ' I can do all 
things.' Eph. ii. 10, A spiritual man is 'prepared for every good work.' 

The assistant power which accompanieth the new creature in all his 
actions doth certainly give him a great advantage of liberty to know, 
will, and do things pleasing unto God. As he doth first- convert us 
unto God, and quicken us when we are dead in trespasses and sins, so 
after conversion, when the principles of a new life are put into us, he 
still helpeth us : and as all creatures depend upon God in esse conser- 
vari et operari, Acts xvii. 2, so doth the new creature depend on 
the Spirit ; he leadeth and guideth all the children of God to their 
everlasting estate, Kom. viii. 14. He assists the will and the vital 
power, Phil. ii. 13; otherwise, we may complain with Paul, Rom. vii. 
18, ' For to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is 
good, I find not.' There may be a will or an inclination, but it can 
be brought into no effect. He cleareth the mind, which otherwise 
would be blinded by temptations, excites the will, which otherwise 
would be blunted with oppositions, assists the vital power, which else 
would be obstructed and impeded from producing its effects. 

2. That a Christian hath a liberty or power of walking according 
to the flesh. The opposite principle, though it be broken so far that 
it is not in habitual predominancy, yet doth too often prevail over us ; 
otherwise it were impossible to sin, or to be unjust, unmerciful, 
unmindful of God and heavenly things, unchaste, intemperate, or 
licentious in our actions; and all the admonitions and exhorta 
tions of the word, to keep the regenerate from yielding to the 
enticements of the flesh, would be in vain, if they could not possibly 
yield to them. In heaven, indeed, there need no dissuasions from sin, 
because the glorified saints are above all possibility of sinning ; there 
is no devil to tempt, nor world to entice, nor flesh to incline them to 
be seduced by those temptations : but earth is not heaven. Here 


mortified lusts may awaken, and recover strength by a temptation. 
But more distinctly these arguments show it : 

[1.] That though the inclination be to God and heaven, which is the 
fruit of saving grace, yet the acts of it are voluntary. Grace is a real, 
active, working thing, but it doth network necessarily, as fire burneth; 
it must be excited and stirred up, both by the Spirit of God, who 
' worketh in us, both to will and to do/ Phil. ii. 13, and by ourselves. 
We must dva&TTvpelv, 2 Tim. i. 6. We must still be blowing up this 
holy fire, as the priest did the fire of the altar to keep it burning ; and 
its motions must be hearkened to, cherished, and complied withal, if 
we would keep the carnal part under, and prevent it from breaking out 
into shameful acts. But as we grow remiss or careless in our duty, 
sin acquireth and prevaileth over us. 

[2.] The flesh which remaineth in us is importunate to be pleased ; 
and though it be not superior in the soul, yet it hath a great deal of 
strength, that still we need, even to the very last, to keep watching 
and striving, and must resolve to be deaf to its entreaties and solicita 
tions : 1 Peter i. 14, ' Not fashioning yourselves to the former lusts of 
your ignorance/ or accommodating yourselves to please the flesh ; that 
is, they must not cast their conversations into a carnal mould, nor 
suffer their choice and actions to be directed and governed by the 
influence of the flesh, or give up themselves to the satisfaction of their 
sinful desires. In short, former lusts are but in part subdued, our old 
love to them may be soon kindled, and the bias of corruption gather 
strength again, and the gates of the senses are always open to let in 
such objects as take part with the flesh and stir it up. Therefore we 
must not imagine that there is no need of diligence, or striving and 
watching. Holy Paul saw a need of ' beating down his body ; lest, 
after he bad preached to others, he himself should be a castaway/ 
1 Cor. ix. 27. After so many years' service in the cause of Christ, 
this great champion was not secure of the adversary he carried about 
with him. There is need of caution to the last, that we do not revert 
into our old slavery. The contrary principle in us still retaineth some 
life and vigour, though much abated ; there is not such a con-naturality 
and agreement between the heart and sin as there was before ; but yet 
sin still dwelleth and worketh in us, and we are often foiled by it. 

3. That since there is a liberty, we must be careful to live accord 
ing to the operation and influence of the better principle ; for it lieth 
upon us as our duty, though we have the power from above. There 
is a double argument implied in the text : the one is, a beneftcio ; the 
other, a periculo the profit, the danger. 

[1.] A beneficio, from the benefit accruing to us : we shall not ' fulfil 
the lusts of the flesh/ If they yield to the motions and inclinations 
of the regenerate part, they cannot do the evil which the carnal part 
would have them ; the grace they have will hold them in as a bridle, 
and turn their minds another way. Surely sin is no such lovely thing 
that we should be enamoured of it ; yea, it is such an hateful thing, 
that we should shun and avoid it by all means possible. Now, when 
you have an help at hand, not only near you, but within you, such as 
the new nature, which riseth up in rebukes and dislikes against sin, 
you should take this advantage, otherwise you offer violence not only 



to the law of God, but that new nature which he hath put into you. 
There are three reasons which may be urged here : 

(1.) The better principle, the more it is obeyed, the more it is 
strengthened ; for ' the way of the Lord is strength to the upright,' 
Prov. x. 29. The habits of grace increase by exercise : and the more 
godly and heavenly we are, the more we shall be so ; and the more 
constantly we act grace, the more easily and readily we act it, and 
with greater pleasure and delight. This is a sure rule, that God 
rewardeth grace with grace : one duty is an help to another, and the 
sweetness and pleasure groweth upon us every day. It is at first 
yoking that the bullock is most unruly ; and beginners are burthened 
with the toil of obedience more than grown Christians. Christ's 
yoke groweth more easy every day by the bearing ; for the opposition 
is more broken, and the experience of the sweetness and goodness of 
this way is more increased, Prov. iv. 18, 19. 

(2.) The power of inbred corruption is subdued, and the lusts of 
the flesh weakened ; for, as the better principle groweth, the other 
loseth strength. Mortification and vivification mutually help one 
another : the more we are dead unto sin, the more we are alive unto 
righteousness : so, on the other side, the more we live unto righteous 
ness, the more we are dead to sin ; for the carnal life is swallowed up 
of the spiritual. And therefore to grown Christians temptations 
either make none or no considerable impression ; they are alive to 
God, and therefore dead unto the flesh and dead unto the world. It 
cannot be imagined that the flesh should bear sway where there is a 
strong opposite principle to check it ; and when we suffer it not to be 
idle and unfruitful, it will obtain its effect. Sin cannot be our trade, 
custom, and delight. No ; it is complained of as our heaviest burden, 
Horn. vii. 24, resisted as the greatest evil, and most opposite, not only 
to our duty, but to our very nature and temper. 

(3.) This walking in the Spirit giveth us an evidence of our interest 
in the grace of justification : Gal. v. 18, ' And if ye be led by the Spirit, 
ye are not under the law.' Not to be under the teaching of the law 
as a rule of obedience, is impossible for a creature. 'To challenge such 
an exemption in point of right, is to make ourselves gods. To usurp 
it in point of fact, is to make ourselves devils. It must be meant, 
therefore, either of the irritating or condemning power of the law. If 
of the former, as the law by the rigid exacting of obedience doth 
increase sin rather than subdue it, and maketh corrupt nature spurn 
and rebel against it, so it is the same with the former motives ; but 
that is a more limited sense. ' Not under the law,' may be expounded 
to be not under the condemning power of it ; and so to be under the 
law is opposed to be under grace : Rom. viii. 1, ' There is no condem 
nation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' There is a great privilege ; 
but what is the qualification ? ' Who walk not after the flesh, but 
after the Spirit ;' that is, obey the new nature. 

[2.] A p&riculo, the danger of not obeying the new nature, or walking 
after the Spirit. 

(1.) They lose their advantage, and receive one of God's gifts in 
vain. To receive objective grace in vain aggravateth our guilt, John 
iii. 19 ; but to receive subjective grace in vain doth more provoke God. 


Objective grace is that which is discovered in the gospel ; subjective 
grace is that which is found in the heart of a believer, the internal 
grace of the Holy Spirit renewing the heart. Now, to sin away this 
advantage after we are made partakers of it doth increase our guilt ; 
surely, therefore, ' if we live in the Spirit, we should walk in the Spirit,' 
Gal. v. 25. We should improve God's best gifts, or else the work of 
his Spirit is lost. He loseth nothing but corn, wine, and oil bestowed 
upon others, but he hath bestowed the sanctification of the Spirit upon 
you ; shall he lose the glory of that also ? 

(2.) The new nature is exceedingly weakened and suffers loss, if it 
be not cherished and obeyed. The church of Sardis is warned to 
prevent the dying of gracious habits. David speaketh as if the work 
were to begin anew, and his restoring were a second conversion : Ps. 
li. 10, ' Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit 
within me.' The principle of grace being not adhered to, loseth much 
of vigour and power. 

(3.) When these motions are not obeyed, and this power is not 
exercised, God is provoked to withdraw the quickening grace. Though 
the spirit here spoken of is the new nature, yet the Holy Ghost is the 
superintendent of it, and doth move, guide, direct, and quicken by it. 
The new nature inclineth, but he giveth strength to its motions. Now 
the Spirit withdraweth when this work is slighted,, and we wilfully run 
into sin : Ps. li. 11, ' Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.' 

(4.) There is another mischief; his sanctifying work is not only 
obstructed, but his certifying and sealing work i obscured, and so our 
day is turned into night : Eph. iv. 30, ' Grieve not the Holy Spirit of 
God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption.' 

Use 1. It showeth what necessity there is that we should look after 
conversion to God, or a work of grace wrought in us by the Holy 
Spirit, for the apostle supposeth they had the Spirit. There is no 
walking without living, for otherwise our motions are but the motions 
of puppets, not proceeding from internal life, but acted from springs 
and engines ; no subduing the flesh without setting up an opposite 
principle. Therefore, we must give up ourselves to the Holy Spirit, 
first to be sanctified, then governed by him ; first renewed, then guided, 
ordered, and directed by him in all our actions, and the flesh dieth 
away insensibly. 

2. Being renewed by the Holy Ghost, that is r having our minds 
enlightened and hearts inclined, we must obey this inclination ; for 
life is not given us that we may have it, but that we may act by it, 
and do things suitable to that life which we have. Grace is not a 
sluggish, idle quality, but is always working and warring on the 
opposite principle. 

3. Though at first we are pestered and encountered with the lusts 
of the flesh, which divert us from God and heavenly things, yet we 
should not be discouraged by every difficulty ; for difficulties do but 
inflame a resolved spirit, as stirring doth the fire. And, besides, 
though we do not wholly subdue the lusts of the flesh, yet we shall not 
accomplish them and live in subjection to them, but by degrees get 
power against them. 

4. The carnal life is not of one sort. Some wallow in sensual 


pleasures, others have head and heart altogether taken up with the 
world and worldly things. Now if God hath put a new bias upon 
our wills and affections, we must show it forth by a heavenly conver 
sation ; for they that mind earthly things are carnal, and the great 
inclination of the new nature is to carry us unto God and the things of 
another world, 2 Cor. v. 5. .; , 

5. They are much to blame that complain of sin, and will not 
take the course to get rid of it by obeying the instincts of the Holy 
Ghost, or the motions of the new nature. The Lord's spirit is a ' free 
spirit,' Ps. li. 12, and his ' truth maketh us free,' John viii. 32. 
And we are interested in this liberty when born of the Spirit. Let us 
be true to our duty and we shall bless God for our liberty, rather than 
complain of our bondage. It is laziness and cowardice not to improve 
grace, which was given us for this use. 

6. How much we are concerned in all conflicts, especially in 
those which allow deliberation, to take part with the Spirit, and obey 
his motions rather than to fulfil the lusts of the flesh : otherwise, by 
consent and upon deliberation, you are unfaithful to Christ and your 
own souls. Your business is not to gratify the flesh, but to crucify 
it, to overrule sense and appetite, and cherish the life of grace, Gal. 
v. 24. And surely when conscience hath help to deliberate, it is a 
greater evil to resist it, than when hurried by our own passions. 

7. It is of great use and profit to us to observe which principle 
decayeth, the flesh or the Spirit ; for thereby we judge of our condition, 
both in order to mortification and comfort. 

The increase of the flesh may be known : 

(1.) By your backwardness to God. Grace is clogged when you 
cannot serve him with sweetness and delight, Kom. vii. 18. 

(2.) When the heart groweth careless of heaven, and your life and 
love is more taken up about things present than to come, Phil. iii. 18, 
19. The contrary is found when grace is in vigour, 2 Cor. iv. 18 ; Col. 
iii. 1, 2. 

Secondly, The prevalency and increase of the Spirit is known : 

(1.) By a humble contentedness and indifferency to plenty, plea 
sures, and honours : Phil. iv. 12, ' I know both how to be abased, 
and I know how to abound ; everywhere and in all things I am in 
structed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer 
need ; ' Heb. xiii. 5, ' Let your conversation be without covetousness, 
and be ye content with such things as ye have : for he hath said, I 
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' 

(2.) When your delight in God, heaven, and holiness is still kept 
up: 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.' 

(3.) When the heart is kept in a preparation for the duties of your 
heavenly calling. 


'For I know that my Redeemer liveth! JOB XIX. 25. 

THESE words were spoken by Job, a man for the present miserable, 
and suspected by his friends as one that neither feared God nor trusted 
in him. Therefore, to comfort himself in his misery, and to vindicate 
his innocency, he makes confession of his faith. 

In this confession you have the grand and most important articles 
reckoned up. 

1. He doth solemnly declare and believe the promised Messiah to 
be his Saviour : / know that my Redeemer liveth. 

2. His coming to judgment : and that he slwdl stand at the latter 
day upon the earth. 

3. The resurrection of the dead, with application to himself, for he 
saith, ver. 26, And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, 
yet in my flesh shall I see God. 

4. And lastly, the beatifical vision, ver. 27, Whom I shall see for 
myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins 
be consumed within me. 

We have to do with the first article, his belief of salvation by the 
promised Messiah : ' For I know that my Redeemer liveth.' 

I am not ignorant that this whole context is carried to another 
sense, not only by the Jewish doctors, but by some Christian inter 
preters of good account, whose reasons, consisting wholly in gramma- 
tications, I list not now to examine. The common and received sense 
seemeth better. 

1. Because these words are ushered in with a solemn preface, con 
taining in them some notable truth : ' Oh that my words were now 
written ! Oh that they were printed in a book ! Oh that they were 
graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever ! For I know,' 
&c. Surely such a passionate preface will become no other matter so 
well as the great mystical truths of the Christian faith. 

2. The word (Goel, or kinsman) redeemer, will suit with no person 
so well as Christ. 

3. The rest of the passages do not run smoothly unless they be 
accommodated to this sense, and that I take to be the most obvious 
sense which the words will best bear. 

4. Job, as it is clear by many passages in this book, had often 
disdained all hopes of being restored to any temporal happiness in this 
life, affirming that all his hope was gone, that he was worse than a 
tree cut down. This is the drift and current of all his former dis 

5. When he saith that he should see God in his flesh, and with the 
same eyes he now had, I cannot imagine why these passages should 
be so emphatically spoken if he only intended in this paragraph a hope 
of being restored to his temporal happiness. 

Having premised this, in the words observe : 
1. The causal particle, for, giving thereby a reason why he would 
have his words so marked, because of the excellency of the matter. 


2. The article of faith : my Redeemer liveth. 

3. The manner how this article is asserted and professed by Job. 
(1.) With certainty of persuasion : / know. (2.) With application 

and appropriation : my Redeemer ; for I know my Redeemer liveth. 
All put together will yield this point : 

Doct. That it is a great comfort to the saints in all their afflictions 
to know that they have a Redeemer living in heaven. 
This is the first thing whereby Job comforteth himself. 
I. I shall consider the matter of the comfort. 
II. Show you how it is applicable to all afflictions. 
I. The matter of the comfort consists in four things : 

1. That there is a Redeemer. 

2. That he is their Redeemer. 

3. ThatheZtye^. 

4. That they knoio this upon certain and infallible grounds. 

1. That there is a Redeemer ; for he doth not say, I know that my 
Creator liveth, but my Redeemer. 

The word is God. The Septuagint render it o e/cXuew pe fie\\wv, 
he that will deliver me. Theodotion, better, on 6 ay^La-ro^ fiov 77, 
my near kinsman liveth. The word properly signifies such a one as, 
in regard of propinquity or nearness of kindred, had a right to redeem 
a mortgage, or the like engagement of land or livelihood : Lev. xxv. 
25, 26, ' If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of 
his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, than shall he 
redeem that which his brother sold.' Or else to prosecute the law 
against the murderer of his friend or kinsman, Num. xxxv. 19, 24. 

It is taken sometimes more largely for any deliverer out of thral 
dom, or avenger of wrong in general. And so is in the Old Testa 
ment applied to God or Christ, to whom the term chiefly belougeth. 
To God, because of his powerful providence and rescuing his people 
out of their calamities : Ps. xxv. 22, ' Redeem Israel, God, out of 
all his troubles.' To Christ, to whom it is most proper : Isa. lix. 20, 
' And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that shall turn 
away ungodliness from 1 Jacob ; ' which the apostle applieth to Christ, 
Rom. xi. 26. He then is the Redeemer, and it implieth (1.) That he 
is our kinsman after the flesh, or by incarnation ; (2.) That he paid a 
price to God for us in his passion ; (3.) That he pursueth the law 
against Satan, and rescues us by his power; all which are notable 
grounds of comfort. For under the law the redemption of the in 
heritance, or the person of the poor brother sold, was to be made by 
the next of blood, and that by the male side, not by the mother's, but 
by the father's side, and he also was to be the avenger of blood. 

[1.] There is much comfort in this, that Christ is our kinsman, bone 
of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and therefore certainly will not be 
strange to his own flesh. He did redeem us, not only jure proprietatis, 
by virtue of his interest in us as our Creator, but jure propinquitatis, 
by virtue of his kindred, one of us, of our stock and lineage ; the Son 
of Adam, as well as the Son of God. The apostle tells us, Heb. ii 11, 
' For he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one ; 
for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.' As the 

1 Qu. ' from ungodliness in ' ? ED. 


first-fruits offered to God were taken out of the same heap, so he was 
of the same mass with us. Christ is not only man, but ' the Son 
of man.' He might have been man if God had created him out of 
nothing, or he had brought his substance from heaven. But he is the 
Son of man, one descended of the loins of Adam, as we are ; even 
thus 'he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one.' 
He is of the same stock with all mankind, but the kindred is reckoned 
to the sanctified, because there it holdeth of both sides. Christ is 
born of a woman, and they are born of God, and so he is a kinsman 
doubly ratione incarnationis suce, and regeneration-is nostrce ; in 
regard of his own incarnation and our regeneration. He partaketh of 
the human nature, and we partake of the divine nature. And it fol- 
loweth, ' therefore he is not ashamed to call us brethren.' We are said 
to be ashamed when we do anything that is filthy, dishonest, or base, 
or misbecoming our dignity and rank which we sustain in the world. 
The former consideration is of no place here. For the latter, those 
that bear any port and rank in the world are ashamed to show too 
much familiarity towards their inferiors ; but such is the love of Jesus 
Christ towards his people, that though he be infinitely greater and 
more worthy than these, he is not ashamed to call us brethren. Well, 
then, here is the first step of our comfort and hope, to see God in our 
natures. The eternal Son of God became our kinsman that he might 
have the right of redemption, and recover the inheritance which we 
had forfeited. We could not have such familiar and confident recourse 
to an angel, and one who was of another stock and different nature 
from ours, nor put ourselves into his hands with such trust and assur 
ance. Now he and we are of one nature, we may be the more con 
fident. It is a motive to man : Isa. Iviii. 7, ' Thou shalt not hide thy 
self from thine own flesh.' In Christ all the perfections of man were 
at the highest. This made Laban, though otherwise a churlish man, 
kind to Jacob : Gen. xxix. 14, ' Surely thou art my bone and my 
flesh/ One of our stock and lineage will pity us more than a 

[2. J This kinsman was to pay the price and ransom of his captivated 
brother ; that also is implied in the notion of a Kedeemer : Lev. xxv. 
48, 49, ' After that he is sold, his uncle, or his uncle's son may re 
deem him, or any that is nigh of kin to him of his family may redeem 
him.' So when we had sold ourselves, Jesus Christ, who only of the 
kindred was free and able to do it, paid a price for us : 1 Cor. vi. 20, 
' We are bought with a price.' And this price was no less than his 
own precious blood, 1 Peter i. 18, 19. A price was necessary ; for 
God was not an enemy that could be overcome, but must be satisfied, 
and amends made for the wrong done to his majesty, that the notions 
which are ingrafted in man's heart concerning God might be kept 
inviolate. The Lord knows how apt we are to please ourselves with 
the thoughts of impunity, as if it were nothing to sin against God, and 
a small matter to break his laws. Now, to prevent this thought in us, 
before his justice would let go the sinner, he demanded satisfaction, 
and equivalent satisfaction to the wrong done, to expiate the offence 
done to an infinite majesty. Therefore no less could be a sufficient 
ransom for lost sinners than the blood of Christ. This is the price 


which our kinsman hath paid down for us. In short, the wrong was 
done to an infinite majesty, the favour to be purchased was the eternal 
enjoyment of the ever-blessed life, the sentence to be reversed was 
the sentence of everlasting death ; and therefore Christ alone could 
serve the turn. Here is another ground of comfort. Cyril calls it, 
Kav^rjfJ,a T^? Ka0ai\iKf)<; KK\,rjaia<j. 

[3.] This kinsman was to revenge the quarrel of his slain kinsman 
upon the murderer. So he is a Redeemer, and that not only by merit, 
but by power ; not only as a lamb, but as a lion. There needed no 
price to be paid to Satan : we are redeemed from him, not by satis 
faction, but by rescue. The apostle tells us, Col. ii. 15, ' He spoiled 
principalities and powers.' Luke xi. 21, ' He bindeth the strong man, 
and taketh away his goods.' 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 had partly a usurped power over man, 
as the god of this world, or at least as the enemy of mankind ; so 
Christ rescues us by force : partly a ministerial and permitted power, 
as the executioner of God's curse and vengeance ; so he outlaweth 
him, and puts him out of office by the merit of his passion. Satan 
had no power over death as dominus mortis, as the supreme lord, 
that hath power to save and to destroy ; but as minister mortis, as a 
hangman and executioner hath power from the law to put the male 
factor to death. So Christ destroyed him not in regard of essence, as 
if there were no more a devil to tempt and hurry us to destruction ; 
nor in regard of malice, as if he did no longer seek to devour ; but in 
regard of office and ministry ; he is put out of office, and hath no 
more law-power to destroy those that have fled to Christ for refuge ; 
and so hath freed us from all the fears of death and hell, which our 
guilt and Satan's temptations subjected us to. 

2. That he is their Redeemer is the next ground of comfort. Job 
doth not profess faith only in a Redeemer, but in his Redeemer : ' I 
know that my Redeemer liveth ;' not by an uncharitable exclusion 
shutting out others, and engrossing the Redeemer to himself, but 

[1.] By a fiducial application making out his own title and interest. 
Some things in nature are common benefits, not lessened to any 
because others enjoy them, as a speech heard, and the sun shining, 
<fec. The saints do not exclude others : 1 John ii. 2, ' And he is the 
propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the 
whole world ;' 2 Tim. iv. 8, ' Henceforth there is laid up for me a 
crown of righteousness ; not for me only, but for all them also that 
lot e his appearing.' This doth not lessen the benefit to us, and our 
obligations to him. Plato thought himself obliged in kindness to one 
that paid his fare for his passage over a river, and reckoned it positum 
apud Platonem officium, a courtesy that obliged Plato ; but when he 
saw others partakers of the same benefit, he disclaimed the debt, and 
only took part of it on himself. Upon which Seneca groundeth this 
aphorism, that it is not enough for him that will oblige me to him to 
do me a good turn, unless he do it to myself directly non tantum 
mihi, sed tanquam mihi; otherwise, quod debeo cum midtis, solvam 
cum multis. I will only pay my portion and share of thanks and 


respect. But this cannot be applied to this extraordinary kindness 
of Christ, for every man is indebted for the whole, not every man for 
a part of redemption. God's love to every one is infinite, and he hath 
paid an infinite price for thee, purchased an infinite happiness to 
thee. His love to thee was without measure and bounds, so must 
thy thankfulness be to him without stint and limit. Though he died 
for others as well as thee, yet thou art bound to love him no less than 
if it had been for thee alone ; he shed his whole blood for thee, and 
every drop was poured out for thy sake. 

[2.] By a fiducial owning and appropriation, challenging his right 
in him. So doth Thomas : John xx. 28, ' My Lord and my God.' 
Faith appropriates God to our own use and comfort. The devils 
know that there is a God and a Christ, for they confessed, ' Thou art 
Jesus, the Son of the living God ;' but they can never say with com 
fort, ' My God and my Christ.' This application is the ground of our 
love to Christ, and our comfort in Christ. 

Our love to Christ. Things that concern us affect us. This is the 
quickening motive to the spiritual life, ' Who loved me, and gave 
himself for me,' Gal. ii. 20 ; and 1 John iv. 19, ' We love him, be 
cause he loved us first.' A particular sense and experience of God's 
love to our own souls doth most quicken and awaken our love to him 
again, when we see that he hath thought of us, and taken care of 
our salvation, that our names are written in the Lamb's book of life. 

So for our comfort in Christ. It is the propriety a man hath to 
any good thing that doth increase the comfort of it. It is a misery 
to a man to see others enjoy a benefit which he hath as much need of 
as others, and he can enjoy no part of it. I may allude to that, 
Prov. v. 15, ' Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running 
waters out of thine own well.' The greater we know the benefit, the 
greater will be our trouble to want it. A poor man that sees a large 
dole given, and multitudes relieved, and he can get nothing, is the 
more troubled. So here, to see Christ ready to save sinners, and we 
have no comfort by him, is very afflicting : Eph. i. 13, ' After ye 
heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.' It is not suf 
ficient to knofr that the gospel is a doctrine of salvation to others ; 
but every one should labour, by a due application of the promises to 
their own hearts, to find it to be a doctrine of salvation to themselves 
in particular. The seeing of meat, though never so wholesome, doth 
not nourish, but the eating of it. The beholding of Christ revealed 
in the word as a Saviour in general is not sufficient to give full com 
fort, without applying him to be my Christ, my Saviour, my Redeemer. 
We must make sure of our share in this universal good. We read of 
blood shed and blood sprinkled, atonement made, and atonement 
received, but no man hath satisfying comfort by the blood of Christ 
till it be sprinkled upon his heart, and applied to him by the Spirit 
of God, and thereby assured that it was shed for him. 

3. The next ground of comfort is, that our Redeemer livetli. This 
is true of Christ, whether you consider him as God or as man. (1.) 
As God ; so he is co-eternal with the Father, ' the first and the last,' 
the beginning of all things, and the end of them. So he saith not, 
he hath, or shall live, but he ' liveth.' ' In my flesh shall I see God.' 


He speaks of the Kedeemer's life without any distinction of time 
past, present, or to come ; so that he is altogether, with the Father 
and the Spirit, from everlasting to everlasting, one living God. (2.) 
As man after his resurrection: Kev. i. 18, 'I am he that liveth, and 
was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen. And have the 
keys of hell and of death.' Now in this sense I take it for his life in 
heaven after his resurrection from the dead ; and that is of great 
comfort to us ; for the apostle telleth us, that ' if we were reconciled 
by the death of Christ, much more shall we be saved by his life.' The 
comfort is great that arises from the life of the Kedeemer. 

[1.] It is a visible demonstration of the truth of the gospel in 
general, and in particular of the article of eternal life. The truth of 
the gospel in general: Acts xvii. 31, ' Hath given assurance,' that is, 
a sufficient evidence to induce a belief of the gospel, ' in that he hath 
raised him from the dead.' Christ came from heaven as a faithful 
witness to beget faith as well as to give us knowledge, sealing his 
testimony with unquestionable proofs, to make it the more sure and 
credible to us, for he hath confirmed it by a life of miracles, and 
chiefly by rising from the dead himself, and ascending visibly to 
heaven. His resurrection from the dead is proof enough to justify 
his doctrine, and to evidence the certainty of his testimony ; for God 
by his divine power would not countenance a deceiver, and raise him 
from the dead, and receive him into glory with himself. Particularly 
it proves the state of unseen glory; life and immortality are more 
fully brought to light in the gospel than by any other means, 2 Tim. 
i. 10. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is not only a clear 
revelation of it, but a full confirmation, because Christ is entered into 
the glory that he spake of, and promised to his disciples. He is gone 
before us into the other world, that he may receive us unto himself, 
and that we might, with a more steady confidence, wait for it in the 
midst of fears and uncertainties of the present life. 

[2.] His living after death. It was the solemn acquittance of our 
surety from the sins imputed to him, and a token of the acceptation of 
his purchase ; when Christ rose again from the dead, our surety was 
let out of prison, Isa. liii. 8. And it is a ground of confidence to us, 
for when the debtor sees the surety walk abroad, he may be sure the 
debt is satisfied. Therefore it is said, Rom. iv. 25, ' Who was delivered 
for our offences, and raised again for our justification.' Christ is some 
times said to rise from the dead, and sometimes to be raised from the 
dead. His taking up his life again argued his divine power ; but as 
man, he was raised. So it is said, Heb. xiii. 20, ' The God of peace, 
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ.' God the 
Father brought him again from the dead, as an evidence of full satis 
faction. Our surety did not break prison, but was solemnly brought 
forth. The disciples said, Acts xvi. 37-39, ' Let them come them 
selves and fetch us.' An angel was sent from heaven to roll away the 
stone, to show that Christ had a solemn release and discharge. 

[3.] His living implies his capacity to intercede for us, and to relieve 
us in all our necessities : Heb. vii. 24, 25, ' But this man, because he 
continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood ; therefore he is able 
to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, seeing he ever 


liveth to make intercession for them.' Christ is there compared with 
the Levitical priesthood. They were many that succeeded one after 
another, and being hindered by death, could never bring their work to 
perfection ; but this priest ever liveth to plead the church's cause with 
God, presenting his human nature in his sight, and appearing con 
tinually before his Father's throne, and this for all that come to God by 
him. They are his clients, and he is their advocate. It is against the 
rules of that court to plead for others that continue in their unbelief 
and impenitency. After the beast was slain without the camp, the 
Levitical high priest did enter into the sanctuary with blood ; so Christ 
after his sacrifice did enter into the heavenly sanctuary with the names 
of the twelve tribes of all the saints on his breast and shoulders, there 
to appear before God for us, Heb. ix. 14. He ever liveth to accom 
plish the fruits of his purchase for those that are reconciled to God by 
him as a high priest, to answer the accusations of Satan as our advo 
cate, to stop the breaking out of wrath. As Jonathan in Saul's court 
did mitigate his father's anger against David, so Christ doth interpose 
night and day to prevent breaches, and to preserve a mutual correspon 
dence between God and us, as our lieger-agent ; to sue out grace suit 
able to our conflicts, difficulties, and temptations, as our friend in 
court ; to procure the acceptance of our prayers, as our mediator and 
intercessor, Heb. viii. 2. 

[4.] His living is the root and cause of our life, for he having pur 
chased eternal lite, not only for himself, but for all his members, ever 
liveth to convey it to them, and maintain it in them : John xiv. 19, 
'Because I live, ye shall live also ;' John vi. 57, ' As I live by the Father, 
so he that believeth in me shall live by me.' By reason of the mysti 
cal union that is between Christ and believers, they may rest upon it, 
that as long as the head hath life, the members shall not be utterly 
without life, for Christ is a pledge and a pattern of that power that 
shall work in us in order to life spiritual and eternal. 

4. The next ground of comfort is the certainty of persuasion : ' I 
Icnow that my Kedeemer liveth.' As if he had said, I do not doubt of 
it, nor suspect it in the least. I know implies : 

[1.] A clear understanding of this mystery. The more fully we un 
derstand the grounds of faith, the more efficacy they have upon us 
to beget confidence and joy of faith in us. The fears that haunt us 
are the fruits of darkness and ignorance, accompanied with a sense of 
guilt ; but as gospel-knowledge increases, they vanish as mists do be 
fore the sun : Ps. ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will put their 
trust in thee ; ' if God were better known, he would be better trusted. 

[2.] I know, implies certainty of persuasion. This is either cer 
tainty of faith, or of spiritual sense. 

First, Of faith, which depends on the certainty of God's revelation. 
That was either the general promise in paradise : Gen. iii. 15, God had 
said, ' The seed of the woman shall break the serpent's head.' Now 
upon this promise Job is as confident of a redeemer, as if he had seen 
him with his bodily eyes. Thus Abraham is said to have seen Christ's 
day : John viii. 56, and Heb. xi. 13, ' These all died in faith, not hav 
ing received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were 
persuaded of them, and embraced them.' Or his faith was built upon 


some particular revelation : Heb. i. 1, 'God, who at sundry times, and 
by divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets.' They had 
a sufficient discovery of the Redeemer to be a ground of faith. Certain 
it is, the eyes of believers were then upon him. We are told that 
Christ was ' the lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' Rev. 
xiii. 8. He is set forth in prophecies and types. ' Now faith is the 
evidence of things not seen ;' not seen by sense, but clearly seen in 
the promise. He was the joy of all ages, even of those that lived before 
he came in the flesh. The same is true after the coming of Christ, as 
well as before, for we ' believe in him whom we have not seen,' 1 Peter i. 
8. We should as heartily love him and rejoice in him as if we had 
conversed with him bodily. Only we have an advantage : history is not 
so dark as prophecy, and it is more easy to believe what is past, where 
we have the suffrage and experience of so many ages to confirm us, 
than to expect what is to come, where we have only God's bare word 
to support us. The mystery is now more clearly revealed to us than 
before the exhibition of our Saviour ; therefore, according to our ad 
vantage, so should the increase of our faith be. We should be able 
to say, 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 to him.' 
We should rest upon Christ with more confidence. 

Secondly, The certainty of spiritual sense. We know that he is a 
Redeemer by the discovery of the word ; that he is our Redeemer by the 
application of the Spirit, as he manifests himself to us and in us. This 
knowledge of spiritual sense is often spoken of r Job xiii. 18, ' I know 
that I shall be justified ;' Heb. x. 34, ' Knowing in yourselves that ye 
have in heaven a better and an enduring substance ;' Rom. vi. 6, ' Know 
ing this, that your old man is crucified,' that is, feeling. Now both these 
are of great comfort, the certainty of faith and the sweetness of sense ; 
for without the certainty of faith, the soul is only left to blind guesses and 
loose conjectures, and so can never have solid comfort. Without the 
knowledge of sense, that is, of our interest in salvation, the soul loses 
much of its joy and peace. As novices and men that have never be 
fore been at sea are troubled at the swelling of every wave and billow 
though they are safe, yet, because they do not know they are safe, 
their voyage is a torment to them. So those that take the assurance 
of the word of God for the truth of redemption by Christ, and trem 
blingly build upon it, yet because they know not their own interest, 
have not the comfort of the Spirit, their journey to heaven is the more 
troublesome. Therefore it concerneth us to build upon a sure founda 
tion, so to get a clear interest. 

II. How this is applicable in all afflictions. That easily appears 
from these premises : 

1. In public troubles and difficulties. We are amazed and per 
plexed many times at the events that fall out in the world, and know 
not whereunto these things will grow. Yet this is some comfort and 
support to all that are concerned in Zion's affairs, that Christ is alive 
at his Father's right hand, and will pursue all things that make for the 
glory of God, and; the advancement of his own kingdom. I say, the 
glory of God : Rom. vi. 10, ' In that he liveth, he liveth unto God.' 
His own kingdom : Ps. ex. 1, 'Sit thou at my right hand till I make 


thine enemies thy footstool.' He is at the right hand of God, and 
there shall abide till he return to judge the world. In the meantime, 
he hath the inspection of all affairs: all judgment is put into his 
hands, John v. 22. Things are not left to the will of man, nor to their 
own contingency, but are guided and ordered by him with good advice. 
However matters go, Christ is governor, who is not, cannot be deposed 
from his regal office, nor jostled out of the throne. As Luther said 
upon some loss that befell the friends of the gospel, Etiamnum vivit et 
regnat Christus. When the floods lifted up their voice, and all things 
seemed to threaten ruin and to overwhelm, then follows, ' The Lord 
reigrieth ; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,' 
Ps. xciii. 1,4. It is spoken of the kingdom of Christ, for the advanc 
ing and preserving of which he gives forth signal testimonies of his 
regal power. 

2. In spiritual distresses ; when we want life and quickening, are 
opposed with troubled thoughts about our sinful infirmities. Your 
Kedeemer hath life in himself, but not for himself alone ; he came into 
the world that we might have a fuller communication of his grace, 
John x. 10. Now he is gone back again to God, and filled with the 
Spirit, to communicate it to the members of his mystical body : Eph. 
iv. 10, ' He is ascended up to fill all things.' When we are dead, our 
Kedeemer liveth as a fountain of life to God's people. 

3. In outward calamities. He liveth when other comforts fail or 
are taken away from us ; he will prove the nearest and best friend 
when all others forsake us ; he will not only sympathise with us, but 
help us, and knoweth how to give a comfortable issue out of the sorest 
troubles : 2 Cor. iv. 14, 16, ' Knowing that he which raised up the 
Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with 
you. For which cause we faint not.' 

4. It is a great comfort in calumnies and slanders, when our names 
are taken up in the lips of the taunters and cast forth as evil. Job 
here, when his friends suspected him as fallen from the grace of God, 
puts his cause into the hands of the great Mediator who was now with 
God in heaven, making intercession for him, and will one day stand 
on the earth judging the world. We need not fear any partial judge 
here below, nor be troubled at their prejudices and misconstructions. 
Christ is the true judge, ' who will bring to light the hidden things 
of the heart ; and then shall every man have praise of God,' 1 Cor. iv. 5, 
that is, every one that hath done well. Though we have failings, 
yet those that flee to a Kedeemer for pardon and reconciliation with 
God, and grace to walk uprightly, shall then be acquitted. 

5. Chiefly it is a comfort against the fears of death, that you may 
yield up yourselves into Christ's hands. Thoughts of dwelling with 
God in eternal life are less comfortable, because death and the grave 
interpose ; we must pass through them before we can enjoy him. But 
though we die, Christ liveth, who is the resurrection, and those that 
believe in him shall live though they die, John xi. 25. For our souls, 
he standeth ready to receive them : Acts vii. 59, ' Lord Jesus, receive 
my spirit.' And our bodies at the last day shall be raised again to 
immortal life : ' When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall 
appear with him in glory,' Col. iii. 4.. We need not fear death, for 


by his dying and rising again the powers of the grave are shaken, 
and death itself is become mortal. The grave is not a prison, but a 
place of repose, Isa. Ivii. 2 ; and death not a final extinction, but a 
passage into glory. It is ours : 1 Cor. iii. 22, ' All things are yours, 
life, death, things present, things to come ; all are yours.' And it is 
gain : Phil. i. 21, ' For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' 
Therefore we may go to the grave with comfort and hope. Christ 
died and yet is alive ; so shall we. ' He is risen as the first-fruits of 
them that sleep/ 1 Cor. xv. 20. The whole harvest was blessed and 
sanctified by a handful of the first-fruits dedicated to God. When 
Christ arose, he virtually drew all the elect out of the grave with him ; 
being renewed and reconciled by his grace, they may be confident of a 
joyful resurrection, for Christ is their fore-fruits. The first-fruits did 
not bless the tares, darnel, and cockle that grew amongst the corn ; 
no man that ever offered the first-fruits desired a blessing upon the 
weeds. No ; ' Bind the tares in bundles, and gather the wheat into 
my barn.' But if he indeed be your Redeemer, and hath redeemed 
you from all iniquity, that is, from the guilt and power of sin, it is a 
comfort to you to know that he lives gloriously with God, and will 
draw all his own after him, that they may live gloriously with him. 
He is our fore-runner, Heb. vi. 20, who is gone to heaven and hath 
taken possession for himself, and in our behalf, to make the way more 
passable for us. When we die, we do but go thither whither he is 
gone before us ; he standeth upon the shore ready to receive us into 

Use of Exhortation. 

I. Believe it and be persuaded of this truth, that you have a Re- 
deemer living with God in the heavens. 

1 . This is a matter of mere faith, and therefore it must be soundly 
believed before it can have any efficacy upon us. Some points of faith 
are mixed, partly evident by natural reason, partly by divine revela 
tion : as that there is a God ; it is matter of sensible experience, Rom. 
i. 20, and a matter of faith also ; ' whosoever comes to God must be 
lieve that God is.' Nature helpeth forward the entertainment of these 
things, but redemption by Christ is a matter of pure and mere faith, 
and is received by believing God's testimony, 2 Thes. i. 10. There is no 
improving these points till we soundly believe them. 

2. Because we often think we believe these general truths when in 
deed we do not believe them at all, or not with such a degree of 
assent as we imagine. Our Lord, when he speaks of these truths : 
John xi. 26, ' He that believeth in me shall live though he die ; be- 
lievest thou this?' John xvi. 31, 'Do ye now believe?' We con 
ceit our faith to be much stronger than indeed it is about the main 
articles of faith. 

3. Because among them that profess themselves Christians, there 
are monstrous defects in their faith. Naturally we look upon the 
gospel as a well-devised fable, 2 Peter i. 16 ; and many that dare not 
speak it out, yet do but speak of Christ in jest and for fashion sake. 
I am sure most live as if there were no such matter, and the many 
impostures and cheats of Christendom, and the divisions and scandals 


amongst us, have weakened the faith of many, that were it not for 
shame they would turn professed infidels. There could not be such 
boldness in sinning, such coldness in spiritual and heavenly things, 
such neglect of Christ and heaven, if men were true and sound be 
lievers. Others content themselves with a negative sense ; they do not 
question or contradict these articles of faith, because they do not con 
sider them, but take up the common opinion, hand over head, and 
were never assaulted with temptations to the contrary ; they do not 
doubt of it, say they ; but are they rooted and grounded in the faith ? 
Col. i. 23. Their not doubting comes from their non-attention. 
Others have a speculative assent ; there is a certainty of evidence and 
a certainty of adherence. The former consisteth in the conviction of 
the mind, the latter in the bent of the will and affections. An object 
rightly propounded extorteth the former from the understanding, not 
expecting the consent of the will ; the latter followeth imperium et 
consensum voluntatis. The former arises from the evidence of the 
thing ; the latter from the consideration of the worth, weight, and 
greatness of it: 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is a faithful saying and worthy of 
all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners/ 
They must not only be apprehended by us as true, but seriously con 
sidered as the highest and most important things, so as that we may 
adhere to them with all our hearts. It is such a belief of the gospel 
as produces a firm and cordial adherence, otherwise it will not serve 
the end and purpose of the gospel, which requireth us to crucify our 
lusts, sacrifice our interests, and perform those things which are un- 
pleasing to nature upon the hopes it offereth to us, and with confi 
dence and joyfulness to wait upon God for his salvation, in the midst 
of all pressures and afflictions. If your adherence were more firm, you 
would find your comfort more lively, fresh, and constant, your obe 
dience more uniform, you would not be so shaken with temptations 
and assaults, and the incursion of worldly cares and sorrows. In great 
temptations the children of God see the need of a firm and cordial 
assent to the main gospel truths, Heb. vi. 1, 2. Nay, in ordinary 
practices, in every prayer you make to God, Heb. x. 22, 'Let us 
draw nigh to God with a true heart, in full assurance of faith ;' 1 Tim. 
ii. 8, ' I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands 
without wrath and doubting.' 

4. Endeavour to arrive at the highest degree of assent. Faith is or 
should be strongly persuaded of what it believeth. It is an evidence, 
not a conjecture ; not a surmise, but a firm assurance. We should cer 
tainly know what we believe : ' We know thou art a teacher sent from 
God,' John iii. 2 ; ' We know, and are sure, that thou art Christ, the Son 
of the living God,' John vi. 69 ; 2 Cor. v 1, ' We know that we have 
a building of God ; ' 1 John iii. 2, ' We know that we shall see him as 
he is ; ' 1 Cor. xv. 58, ' Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding 
in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain 
in the Lord/ Invisible things revealed by God should be certainly 
known, because God hath told us such clear, firm apprehensions 
become us. Faith is not a bare conjecture, but a certain knowledge ; 
not we think, we hope well, but we know, is the language of faith. 
It is not a bare possibility we go upon, nor a probable opinion, but a 


certain, infallible truth. I put you upon this, partly because we have 
a great argument in the text. If Job could see it so long before it came 
to pass, should we not now see it ? Believers of old make us ashamed 
who live in the clear sunshine of the gospel. Job lived long before 
the gospel was revealed ; the redemption of souls was at that time a 
great mystery, being sparingly revealed to a few. But one of a thou 
sand could bring this message to a condemned sinner, that God had 
found a ransom, Job xxxiii. 23. Partly to put you upon earnest prayer 
to God, and other holy means. The Spirit opens our eyes and inclines 
our hearts : Eph. i. 17, 18, ' I cease not to give thanks for you, making 
mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and re 
velation 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.' 

II. I exhort you to apply and improve it to your particular comfort. 
I shall speak : 

1, To the careless. 

2. To the sensible. 

1. To the careless, who do not give diligence to make their interest 
clear, that they may be able to say, ' I know that my Kedeemer liveth.' 
Some are contented so they may be well in the world, and live in peace, 
credit, and mirth here, but never look after an interest in the Redeemer, 
or to get a sure hope of a sentence of absolution from him at the last 
day. They content themselves with a general belief that Christ died 
for sinners, and only make use of it for the increase of their carnal 
security and boldness in sinning. We must not only consider what 
Christ hath done, but what we are to do that we may be partakers of 
the benefits. The general work of redemption Christ hath performed 
for us, without any consent on our part. He took our nature, fulfilled 
the law, satisfied the justice of God, merited grace ; but we must thank 
fully receive him, live in him and to him, before this is applied to us, 
or we can have the comfort of it, 2 Cor. v. 17 ; xiii. 5. They content 
themselves to think and hope well, but do not make it sure upon good 
grounds. And when questions and scruples are raised in their hearts, 
there is not a full hearing of the matter, the court is broken up ere 
things are well determined ; and so they run the hazard of uncertainty, 
and live and die venturing their souls upon the bare possibility of being 
saved, never put it out of doubt, nor ' assure their hearts before God,' 
1 John iii. 19. 

2. To the sensible ; to live upon this truth in the midst of their cala 
mities, especially that they may enjoy the comfort of it in a dying hour. 
Object. You will say, We could take comfort in this, if we knew we had 
a Redeemer at God's right hand ; but alas ! after all our profession of 
the name of Christ, and long waiting upon God, I cannot make this 
close application, to say, ' My Redeemer liveth,' or ' My spirit rejoices 
in God my Saviour,' Luke i. 47. 

Ans. But cannot you bless God for the gospel, and the offers of par 
don and life by him ? The main foundation of comfort lies in the 
general truths ; your hopes are not built chiefly upon the sense of your 
own interest, but the ransom which Christ hath paid for you. Is it 


nothing to you that God should become man, and your judge your 
kinsman ? John i. 14. Surely goodness and mercy is nearer to us in 
our own nature than it was in the divine nature. We have an appar 
ent demonstration of it to us, that Christ would come among us to bring 
home souls to God, Heb. vi. 17, 18. Again, is it nothing that, in this 
nature of ours, he would pay our ransom, that none should perish for 
want of a sufficient satisfaction to God's justice, but for want of a will 
ing heart to accept and own his Kedeemer ? John iii. 16, 17; Rev. iii. 
24-26. We are so far onward in our way. Again, is it nothing to 
us that our Redeemer will rescue us out of the hand of the destroyer ? 
1 John iii. 8. It is his office. This should prevail with us, not to tie 
the cord the faster, but to wait upon him with the more hope if you 
desire his aid to this end and purpose, for it is his office. Again, is it 
nothing to you that this Redeemer liveth ; that Christ, in your nature, 
rose again, and is now at God's right hand, to manage the causes 
of poor sinners ? Rom. viii. 34. St Paul's triumph hence ariseth. 
Lastly, is it nothing to you to know this, that God hath sent the gospel 
to you, and given you faith of these things ? 1 John v. 20, ' We know 
the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we 
may know him that is true.' Is this favour nothing ? These are the 
truths you must live upon. 

Secondly, To those that question whether Christ be our Redeemer, 
whether they may look upon themselves as having an actual interest 
in the benefits of his death and intercession. 

I answer This is evident : (1.) By their own act ; (2.) By God's act. 

1. Their own act. General grace must some way be made par 
ticular, else it cannot profit us. All are not justified, nor adopted, nor 
saved. There is the same merciful God, the same all-sufficient Saviour, 
the same gracious covenant. Some apply this grace, others do not. 
Christ doth not save us at a distance, but as received into our hearts ; 
as a plaster doth not heal at a distance, but applied to the sore : John 
i. 13, ' To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become 
the sons of God.' If you heartily consent and accept of the Redeemer's 
grace to heal your wounded souls, you shall partake of salvation. 

2. There is an act on God's part. What have you to show that 
God is reconciled to you ? This is not evident till we have the pledge 
of our reconciliation with God, the gift of the Holy Spirit. This 
affords infallible assurance of God's favour. Other things may be 
given in wrath, but the Spirit is the earnest of his eternal love. God 
loved Christ, and gave him the Spirit without measure, John iii. 34. 
By the Spirit his love is applied to us, Rom. v. 5. This is the evidence 
from whence we may conclude our actual communion with God. ' It 
holdeth good exclusively, Rom. viii. 9 ; inclusively, 1 John iv. 13. 
The Spirit first works, and then witnesses ; he is first a guide and 
sanctifier, then a comforter. As a guide, he leadeth us to all truth : 
John xvi. 13, ' When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you 
into all truth ; ' Rom. viii. 14, ' As many as are led by the Spirit ot 
God, they are the sons of God.' As a sanctifier, he breaketh the 
power of fleshly lusts, Rom. viii. 13 ; conformeth us to the image of 
Christ, Rom. viii. 29. Then as a comforter, he witnesseth our present 
interest and our future hopes : Rom. viii. 16, ' The Spirit beareth 



witness to our spirits, that we are the children of God ; ' 2 Cor. i. 22, 
' Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in 
our hearts;' Eph. i. 13, 'In whom also, after ye believed, ye were 
sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.' 


And having food and raiment, let us be theretvith content. 
1 TIM. VI. 8. 

THE apostle hath mentioned some in the 5th verse that counted 
' gain was godliness ; ' that is, suited their godliness with their 
worldly ends, or made a trade of it to live by. Their religion must 
bear all their charges, they would be at no cost about it at all. The 
apostle takes occasion to show that their notion may be right if well 
interpreted, though extreme wrong in the sense they mean it. It was 
impious in them to make Christianity a means to secular advantages ; 
but interpret it aright, ' Godliness with contentment is great gain,' 
much better than all the wealth in the world. By godliness he 
means the Christian religion, because it prescribeth and delivereth 
the true way of worshipping and serving God, and they gain fairly that 
gain Christ. A man that is acquainted with God in Christ is the true 
rich man ; this with contentment is great gain. Our worldly desires 
make us poor. You have enough if you be contented with the condi 
tion wherein God places you. Paul retorts their own notions upon 
them. He is a rich man that doth not possess much and hath need 
of little. Anything above a competency is needless to us, who must 
shortly pass out of this life into another. Nature is contented with a 
little, and grace with less ; because it is manifest that ' as we brought 
nothing into this world, so we can carry nothing out,' and all that we 
have above what we spend or use is lost to us. In the text he infer- 
reth his inference : ' Having food and raiment, let us be therewith 
content.' The words are plain, and afford this observation : 

Doct. That one great point of godliness is to be content with what 
we have, though it be but food and raiment. 

In handling this point, I shall inquire : 
I. What contentment is. 
II. What considerations are most apt to breed it. 

III. That it is a high point of Christianity. 

I. What contentment is. It is a quiet temper of mind about out 
ward things ; and so it is opposite to three things murmurings, dis~ 
tracting cares, and covetous desires. 

1. Murmurings : Jude 16, * Murmurers, complainers/ The word 
signifies blamers of their portion ; they are always picking quarrels at 
God's dispensation, and entertain crosses with anger and blessings 
with disdain. But now, when our minds are satisfied with the fitness 
arid sufficiency of our present condition, there is no repining against 


God, no fretting and tearing ourselves ; the mind is framed to the 
estate, be it never so mean. 

2. Distrustful and distracting cares. Men are full of troubles, espe 
cially when they are in a hazardous strait and low condition; 
therefore God forbids this : Mat. vi. 25, ' Take no thought for your 
life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink ; or yet for the body, 
what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body 
than raiment ? ' Men are fearful and anxious for the future, and 
doubt whether God will allow them the necessaries of life, food, and 
raiment ; therefore it is said, Luke xii. 29, ' Be not ye of a doubtful 
mind.' They distract themselves with these anxious thoughts. The 
word properly signifies to be carried in the air, as clouds, by an un 
certain motion ; and so it is applied to them who are tossed about with 
out consistency or fixedness of mind, by an impatient suspense or 
anxious solicitude about God's providence. 

3. Covetous desires : Heb. xiii. 5, ' Let your conversation be without 
covetousness, and be content with such things as you have.' The apostle 
speaks there of times of persecution ; and no temper of mind is so fit 
for us in such times as contentation with whatever God at present 
allows us. They that are greedy of more forget or dislike what they 
have already. There is no reason for it ; for what use is there of 
more than what may nourish us within and cover us without ? But 
we punish ourselves with our own wild desires. Well, then, contenta 
tion is opposite to all these ; it is such a quiet of mind as suiteth our 
hearts to our condition, and relieth upon God's merciful providence 
and gracious promises for support and necessaries during our service 
in the world, without being troubled about other things. 

II. What considerations are offered and implied in the text as most 
apt to breed it. 

1. That God is a sovereign Lord, and dispenses these outward things 
at his pleasure. We are not proprietaries ; we must only content our 
selves with the use, or a transitory fruition : Luke xvi. 12, 'If you 
have not been faithful in another's, who will give you that which is 
your own ? ' That others is God, who is the dispenser and disposer 
of these things. The whole drift of the parable is to show that we are 
but stewards : God reserves the sovereign right to himself gives us 
only the use or trust for our own and others' good. No manesteemeth 
himself to be an owner of that which another besides himself hath 
power to dispose of, as God hath, of us and of all that belongeth to 
us. Our possession of anything is but limited and respective. We 
are but tenants at the will of the Lord ; he can take us from our ser 
vice, or our service from us at his own pleasure : Job ix. 12, ' Behold, 
he takes away, who can hinder him ? Who will say to him, What 
doest thou ? ' God hath an absolute power, his right is uncontrollable ; 
so is not ours. Now, this hath a great influence upon contentedness 
with our condition ; for if we and all that we have be God's own, he 
may do with his own as it pleases him, Mat. xx. 15. If he takes any 
thing from us, he doth but require his own ; and nothing more reason 
able but that every one should have liberty to dispose of what is his 
own according to his will. Every one of you must say, I am God's 
creature ; he may use me for his glory, in what manner and in what 
rank and degree he pleaseth. 


2. It is the wisdom and will of God not to give to all alike, that 
some should have more and some should have less. He puts ten 
talents into the hands of some of his servants, and but one into an 
other's, Mat. xxv. Therefore if your portion be straiter than others, it 
is what God hath allotted : 1 Sam. ii. 7, 8, ' The Lord makes poor 
and the Lord makes rich ; he bringeth low and he lifteth up : he 
setteth some among the princes, and to inherit the throne of glory,' 
whilst others sit on the dunghill or roll in the dust. The world is not 
governed by chance, nor is it the blind idol fortune that dispenses 
honours and estates, but every man's portion and the bounds of his 
habitation are set forth by God. It comes not from second causes, or 
an uncertain rolling about the sphere of human mutability, but God's 
ordinance and appointment, who, as he hath cast the world into hills 
and valleys, hath made the estate of one man differ from another. No 
estate in this world is universally good for all, as no gale of wind can 
serve for all passengers on the deep waters. Nor doth the same 
weather fit every soil ; that drought which burneth up the hotter 
grounds comforteth those which are more chill and cold. If one man 
had another's blessings he would soon run wild, as another would grow 
desperate if he had their crosses. Therefore the infinite wisdom of 
the great Governor of the world allots every one his portion. God 
knows the reasons of this unequal distribution, though they be hidden 
from us. Now, this also hath an influence upon contentment, for we 
ought to submit to the good pleasure of God, and can no more quarrel 
with his providence for keeping us low and bare than his creation, that 
he made us men and not angels, or that he will furnish the world with 
all kind of creatures, worms and beasts as well as men : Isa. xlv. 9, 
' Shall the clay say to the potter, Why hast thou made me thus ? ' 

3. These earthly things, which are thus variously dispensed, are 
only useful to us during the present life in the mortal body. In 
heaven we have no need of these things, and we must leave them all 
on this side the grave: 1 Cor. vi. 13, ' Meats for the belly, and the 
belly for meats ; but God shall destroy both it and them.' Meats are 
appointed by God and nature for the use of men, and the body of man 
in this life hath absolute necessity of them ; but in the next life, which 
is a spiritual life, this eating and desiring of meat shall be taken away. 
It is a mercy to have meat when we are hungry, and garments to cover 
our nakedness when cold, but it is a greater mercy to be above these 
necessities. Well, now, this life is but short and uncertain ; it is but 
a coming into the world and a going out again : Job i. 21 ; 1 Tim. 
vi. 7, ' We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we 
can carry nothing out.' Now, we that are ready to step into another 
world, and are certain within a short time to be stripped for ever o