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

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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 r 

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

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











SERMONS UPON 1 JOHN iii. — continued — 

Sermon VIII. " And ye know that he was manifested to take 

away sin, and in him was no sin," 

IX. " And ye know that he was manifested," &c., 12 

X. " Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not : 
whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, 
neither known him," 

XI. " Little children, let no man deceive you : he 
that doeth righteousness is righteous, even 
as he is righteous," 

XII. " He that committeth sin is of the devil j for 
the devil sinneth from the beginning. For 
this purpose the Son of God was mani 
fested, that he might destroy the works 
of the devil," ... 42 

XIII. " For this purpose the Son of God was mani 

fested, that he might destroy the works 

of the devil," . , 49 

XIV. " Whosoever is born of God cloth not commit 

sin, for this seed remaineth in him ; and 
he cannot sin, because he is born of God," 59 
XV. " Whosoever is born of God," &c., . 66 

XVI. " In this the children of God are manifest, 
and the children of the devil : whosoever 
doeth not righteousness is not of God, 
neither he that loveth not his brother," . 75 

XVII. " For this is the message that ye heard from 
the beginning, that ye should love one 
another," . . 8& 

XVIII. " 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," . • 97 


SERMONS UPON 1 JOHN iii. — continued. PAOE 

Sermon XIX. " Marvel not, my brethren, if the world 

hate you," . . . .102 

XX. " We know that we have passed from death 
unto life, because we love the brethren : 
he that loveth not his brother abideth 
in death," . . . .113 

XXL " Whosoever hateth his brother is a mur 
derer ; and ye know that no murderer 
hath eternal life abiding in him," . 123 
XXII. " Hereby perceive we the love of God, 
because he laid down his life for us : 
and we ought to lay down our lives 
for the brethren," . . . 133 

XXIII. " But whoso hath this world's goods, and 

seeth his brother have need, and 
shutteth up his bowels of compassion 
from him, how dwelleth the love of 
God in him? My little children, let 
us not love in word, neither in tongue ; 
but in deed and in truth," . . 144 

XXIV. " And hereby we know that we are of the 

truth, and shall assure our hearts 
before him," . . . .154 

XXV. " For if our heart condemn us, God is 
greater than our heart, and knoweth 
all things," . . . .165 

XXVI. " And knoweth all things," . . 174 

XXVII. " Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, 

then have we confidence towards God," 184 
XXVIII. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of 
him, because we keep his command 
ments, and do those things that are 
pleasing in his sight," . . . 192 

XXIX. " Because we keep his commandments, and 
do those things that are pleasing in his 
sight," . . . .201 

XXX. " And this is his commandment, that we 
should believe in the name of his Son, 
and love one another as he gave us 
commandment," . . . 210 

XXXI. " And he that keepeth his commandments 
(hvelleth in him, and he in him : and 
hereby know we that he abideth in us, 
by his Spirit which he hath given to us/' 219 


SERMONS UPON 1 JOHN iii. — continued. PA()E 

Sermon XXXII. " And we know that he abideth in us, by 

his Spirit which he hath given us," . 227 
SERMONS UPON ACTS ii. 37, 38— 

Sermon I. " Now when they heard this, were pricked 
in their hearts, and said unto Peter and 
the rest of the apostles, Men and bre 
thren, what shall we do 1 " . . 237 
II. " Now when they heard this," &c., . . 247 

III. " And they said unto Peter and the rest of 

the apostles, Men and brethren, what 

shall we do 1 " . . . . 254 

IV. " Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and 

be baptized every one of you in the 
name of Jesus Christ for the remission 
of sins, and ye shall receive the gifts 
of the Holy Ghost," . . .262 

V. " Repent, and be baptized in the name of 

Jesus Christ," . . . .271 

VI. " Be baptized every one of you in the name 
of Jesus Christ for the remission of 
sins," . . . 279 

VII. " And ye shall receive the gifts of the Holy 

Ghost," . . . .288 


Sermon I. " Being born again, not of corruptible seed, 
but of incorruptible, by the word of 
God, which liveth and abideth for 
ever," ..... 299 

II. " Being born again, not of corruptible seed, 

but of incorruptible," . . . 308 

III. " Being b'orn again, not of corruptible seed, 

but of incorruptible," . . . 315 

IV. " By the word of God, which liveth and 

abideth for ever," . . . 326 


Sermon I. " Keep back thy servant also from pre 
sumptuous sins ; let them not have 
dominion over me : then shall I be 
upright, and I shall be innocent from, 
the great transgressions," . . 337 

II. " Keep back thy servant from presumptuous 

sins," . . . . .346 

III. " Keep back thy servant from presumptuous 

sins," 356 


.SERMONS UPON PSALM xix. 13 — continued. 

Sermon IV. " Let them not have dominion over me," . 367 

V. " Then shall I be upright," . . .378 

VI. " And innocent from the great transgressions," . 390 

Sermon I. " Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes 
lofty ; neither do I exercise myself in great 
matters, nor in things too high for me," . 406 
II. " Lord, my heart is not haughty," . . 414 

III. " Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, 

nor in things too high for me," . . 425 

IV. " Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as 

a child that is weaned of his mother; my 
soul is even as a weaned child," . . 437 

V. " Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth 

and for ever," .... 449 


Sermon I. " Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked 

should die ? saith the Lord God ; and not 

that he should return from his ways, and 

live?" ..... 463 

II. " Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked 

should die ? " . . . .471 

SERMON UPON JEREMIAH xlv. 5, . , . . , 480 







And ye know that he was manifested to take away sin, and in him 
ivas no sin. — 1 JOHN iii. 5. 

TaE apostle still pursueth his scope and purpose, which is to persuade 
Christians to take heed of sin, and living in sin. He argtieth — 

1. From our adoption, and how much that inferreth a likeness to 
God whose children we are. 

2. With respect to the law, or the orders of God's family, not to 
forfeit the offered privilege. 

3. With respect to Christ, he urgeth two things— (1.) The holiness 
of his design ; (2.) The innocency of his person. Both which dissuade 
us from living in sin. That which Christ came to destroy, and that 
which maketh us so unlike Christ, should not be allowed by Christians : 
' And ye know that he was manifested to take away sin.' 

1. In the first argument redemption by Christ is propounded — 
[1.] As an evident truth. The sin and misery of the whole world 

was such, that it groaned for a saviour. Sin was the mortal disease 
that we were all sick of ; then came the spiritual physician to take it 
away. The common necessity of mankind showed the misery, and 
the common light of Christianity showed the remedy. 

[2.] It is propounded as his great end and scope why he was mani 
fested. Christ is manifested two ways — in the gospel and in the flesh. 
In the gospel : Titus ii. 11, ' The grace of God that bringeth salvation 
hath appeared to all men ; ' 1 Peter i. 20, ' But was manifest in these 
last times for you.' Now the gospel showeth he came to take away 
sin : 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is a true and faithful saying, that Jesus Christ 
came to take away sin.' But here manifested in the flesh : 1 Tim. iii. 
16, ' Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifested in the flesh ; ' 
and 1 John i. 2, ' The life was manifested, and we have seen it.' Christ, 
who heretofore lay hid in the bosom of God, now appeared, and was 
discovered to the world as his only-begotten Son. 

2. In the second argument the innocency of Christ is propounded : 
' In him was no sin.' This clause may be added — 

[1.] To show the value of his sacrifice, having no sin of his own to 


expiate : ' For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, 
undefiled, and separate from sinners ; ' who needeth not daily, as those 
high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for their own sins, and then for 
the people's. 

[2.] To show the greatness of his love : ' He made him who knew 
no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of 
God in him.' 

[3.] To show that while we live in sin we can have no commerce 
and communion with him, his nature being so opposite to sin; for 
what communion is there between light and darkness, Christ and 
Belial ? 

[4.] To set him forth for an example and pattern to us, which is 
chiefly to be regarded. To imitate Christ we must abstain from sin, 
be holy as he is holy, and pure as he is pure. 

Doct. That those who are partakers of Christ should by no means 
allow themselves in a life or course of sin. 

I shall prove it by the two arguments of the text : that we must 
not continue in sin, because Christ came to take away sin, and had no 
sin in himself. Christ is here propounded, first, as our ransom ; secondly, 
as our pattern. In each I shall open the expressions used, and then 
consider the force of the argument. 

I. As a ransom, ' Ye know that he was manifested to take away sin.' 
There are three things must be opened — (1.) In what sense Christ is 
said to take away sin ; (2.) By what means he doth accomplish it ; (3.) 
How is this a binding argument. 

First, In what sense Christ is said to take away sin. Sin is consi 
derable either as to the guilt of it, or the power, life, and reign of it. 

1. The guilt is taken away when the obligation to punishment is 
dissolved, and we are freed from wrath to come ; which is one great 
benefit we have by our Lord Jesus : 1 Thes. i. 10, ' Which delivered 
us from the wrath to come.' This is done by a pardon, which relateth 
to sin : Eph. i. 7, ' In whom we have redemption through his blood, 
the forgiveness of sin.' And by justification, which relateth to the 
person : Horn. v. 1, 2, ' Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace 
with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access 
by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the 
glory of God/ By sanctification, when the power and reign of it is 
broken : 1 Cor. vi. 11, ' But ye are justified, but ye are sanctified, in 
the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.' So that as 
Christ came to take away the guilt of sin, so also the stain of it. He 
was manifested to subdue our love and delight in sin, and to turn our 
hearts towards God. We need a saviour to help us to repentance as 
well as to pardon. The loss of God's image was a part of our punish 
ment ; and the renovation of our natures is a sure, yea, a principal part 
of our deliverance by Christ. Now if you ask me, Which of these 
benefits goeth first ? I answer — He regenerateth us that he may 
pardon us ; for justified we are not till we believe, and pardoned we 
are not till we repent, which are acts of the new nature. And the 
scripture in many places setteth forth this order ; I shall only allege 
one now : Titus iii. 5-7, ' Not by works of righteousness, which we 
have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of 


regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath shed 
on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; that being justi 
fied by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of 
eternal life.' 

Secondly, By what means he doth accomplish it. This must be 
considered both as to impetration and application. As to purchase and 
impetration, so it relateth to his own merit. As to application to us, 
and our reception of this double benefit, so it is done by convenient 

1. As to the impetration, and meritorious purchase, that is done : 
Christ takes away sin by bearing it in his own person. The word in 
the text, and those which are commonly used in this matter, signify 
both to take away and carry away sin : John i. 29, ' Behold the Lamb 
of God, which taketh away/ or beareth away, ' the sins of the world ; ' 
and Isa. liii. 6, ' The Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all.' I know 
there is some difficulty in explaining how sin was laid upon Christ, or 
what of sin it was that he took upon himself, that he might take it off 
from us. There are in sin four things — culpa, macula, realus, and poena. 
Not the fault, or criminal action, for that is committed by us, and can 
not be transferred upon another. Not the stain ; for Christ was holy 
and undefiled, and that implieth sin inherent. Not the guilt ; for that 
is such an obligation to punishment as doth arise from the merit of 
some criminal action done by the party himself. It is true there was 
an obligation on Christ to suffer, and make satisfaction to his Father's 
justice ; but this was by a voluntary susception, or an act of gracious 
condescension, not imposed upon him by constraint, without his consent, 
or against his will ; none of this was due to him upon his own account. 
Punishment is a debt which lieth upon us, and is imposed upon us 
against our will ; but Christ voluntarily submitted to bear the sins of 
many, Isa. liii. 12 ; and therefore he is said ' to be made sin for us,' 2 
Cor. v. 21. Sin there signifieth a punishment of sin, and also a sacri 
fice for sin, a sin-offering. Sometimes it signifieth a punishment : ' My 
sin is greater than can be borne ; ' that is, the punishment of my sin, 
Gen. iv. 13 ; and ver. 7, 'Sin lieth at the door ; ' that is, punishment 
is at hand, or a sin-offering, or a sacrifice for sin. So the priests are 
said to eat the sins of the people, Hosea iv. 8 ; they took care of nothing 
but to glut themselves with the portion of the sacrifices. So Rom. 
viii. 3, ' By sin he condemned sin in the flesh ; ' and he is said to have 
' borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ; ' that is, to bear the punish 
ment. And he is said 'to bear our sins in his own body upon the 
tree,' 1 Peter ii. 24, that is, to die and suffer for them. This is the 
way and means by which Christ taketh away sin ; and this is done so 
effectually once for all, that there needeth no repeating of it : Heb. x. 
14, ' By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sancti 
fied.' As to the merit, there is nothing wanting ; no other merit and 
sacrifice needeth to be offered to God. 

2. As to the application, it is usually said that lie taketh awny the 
guilt of sin by his blood, and the filth of sin by his Spirit. But this is 
not so truly and accurately said ; for his blood cleanseth us both from 
the guilt and stain of sin : 1 John i. 7, ' And the blood of Christ 
cleanseth us from all sin ; and Rev. i. 5, ' Who hath loved us, and 


washed us in his blood ; ' which relateth to the double washing 
mentioned, 1 Cor. vi. 11. Both are the fruit of his death, by which 
lie merited both remission and sanctification for us ; and in the 
phrase of the text, ' he beareth it away.' This double benefit is made 
the fruit of both. Justification is a fruit of his bearing sin: Isa. liii. 11, 
' By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he 
shall bear their iniquities.' To bear the sin is to bear the punishment, 
the curse or wrath due to it. Now Christ beareth it so that it is 
taken from us. So sanctification is a fruit also of his bearing our 
iniquities : 1 Peter i. 24, ' He bore our sins in his own body on the 
tree, that we being dead unto sin, may be alive unto righteousness.' 
Christ came to heal our souls, to kill this love unto sin and delight in 
it. Therefore sanctification is the fruit of his cross as well as justifica 
tion, and we must not so sever these benefits as that one should be 
given us by Christ, and the other by the Spirit. No ; both are given 
us by Christ, but differently applied ; first the pardon of sins by his 
word and new covenant, which is an act of oblivion, charter, or grant, 
whereby, upon certain terms, he rnaketh over this benefit to those who 
accept of it, ' even to as many as repent and believe in his name.' 
They are constituted just by the new covenant, which Christ will 
ratify and confirm by his own sentence at the day of judgment: Acts 
iii. 19, ' Kepent and be baptized, that your sins may be blotted out, 
when the days of refreshment shall come from the presence of the 
Lord.' When our pardon shall be pronounced by the judge's own 
mouth, then is the solemn condemning and justifying time. But for 
the present, by the gospel charter, sin is taken away as to the guilt as 
soon as we repent and believe : Acts x. 43, ' Through his name, who 
soever belie vet h in him shall receive remission of sins;' and Acts xix. 
39, ' By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which 
they could not be justified by the law of Moses.' Secondly, sanctification 
is wrought in us by the Spirit of Christ more and more, taking away 
sin, and weakening the love of it in our hearts ; for the inner man is 
renewed day by day, and the cleansing and sanctifying work is 
perfected by degrees: 2 Cor. vii. 1, ' Having therefore these precious 
promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and 
spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ; ' even until sin be wholly 
gone ; and this the Spirit effecteth by the duties and ordinances 
appointed to this very end. But the deadly blow is already given : 
Rom. vi. 6, ' Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, 
that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not 
serve sin.' 

Thirdly, Now I must come to the force of the argument. If Christ 
came to take away sin, then we should take care we do not live in sin. 

1. This is expressly to contradict and frustrate the designed end of 
our Redeemer, and so to put him to shame, and to make his coming 
into the world in vain ; for you seek to cherish that which he came 
to destroy. He would dissolve, untie, and loose those cords, and you 
knit them the faster, and so make void his undertaking. That this 
was the great end and scope of Christ's coming into the world, or 
being manifested in the flesh, is evident everywhere in scripture : 
John i. 29, ' Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins 


of the world.' All the lambs which were offered to God in sacrifice 
were to take away sin ; and this is the Lamb of God, that is, the true 
and real substance of all these figures. Now whether the allusion is 
to the lamb of the daily sacrifice, or the passover lamb, it is all one ; 
the use for which he serveth is to expiate sin and abolish sin, and to 
bind men to God in a firmer tie of obedience. So Mat. i. 21, ' His 
name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their 
sins.' Not to ease them of their troubles only, but chiefly to destroy 
sin, with the mischievous effects of it. Not to save them in their sins, 
but to save them from their sins : Titus ii. 14, ' He hath redeemed us 
from all iniquity.' Not only from the curse of the law, but from 
iniquity : Acts iii. 26, 'God hath raised up his Son Jesus, and sent 
him to bless you, in turning every one of you from your iniquities/ 
Not from the Koman yoke, but from sin, which was a worse thraldom 
and captivity : Rom. xi. 26, ' There shall come out of Zion the Deli 
verer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.' Well, then, this 
being Christ's end, to sanctify us and free us from sin, we should not go 
about to disappoint him, for this is to set ourselves directly against 

2. This is to slight the price of our redemption ; for since with so 
much cost this work of taking away sin is carried on, for you to be 
indifferent whether sin be taken away or no is to disvalue and put a 
slight on the wisdom of God, and the wonderful condescension of his 
love in Christ, as if so much ado were made about a matter of nothing. 
This argument is urged by the apostle : 1 Peter i. 18, 19, ' Foras 
much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, 
as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition 
from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb 
without spot and blemish.' To enhance the benefit, the greatness of 
the price is mentioned. Spiritual privileges, such as freedom from 
sin, should be more regarded by us, because they are so dearly bought. 
We many times neglect them for trifles, forfeit them for trifles, lose 
that for gold and silver which cannot be bought for gold and silver. 
They that slight anything bought by Christ's blood are accounted in 
scripture to slight the blood of Christ itself; as the apostate who 
revolteth from Christ for the honours, pleasures, and profits of the 
world is said to 'trample his blood under foot, and to account it a 
common thing ; ' as suppose of a malefactor, or any common sufferer. 
Our respect to Christ's blood is judged according to the respect we 
have to the benefits purchased thereby. As, to instance in these two 
great benefits, the favour of God and the image of God. He that 
despiseth the favour of God, and doth not make it his business to get 
it and keep it, but preferreth corruptible things before it, hath no 
esteem of Christ's merit, and the great cost God hath been at in 
sending his own Son to take away sin, and recover a lost world into 
his grace and favour. So whosoever doth not esteem the image of 
God, which standeth in righteousness and true holiness, doth not 
esteem the blood of Christ, but hath lessening thoughts of the mystery 
of his incarnation and passion, as if his blood were shed for trifles. 

3. It is in effect to renounce all benefit by Christ ; for this way he 
saveth us, by taking away sin. The scripture everywhere insist^ upon 


redemption from sin as the only way to redemption from the curse. 
Sin brought in the curse, therefore Christ would go to the bottom and 
fountain-head, and cure us of sin, that he might take off the curse, and 
cure us : he doth it not only by the remission of sin, but by sanctifying 
and healing our natures. You seek but a half cure if you seek pardon 
'only. You neglect and despise the chiefest part of his work ; yea, you 
( cannot have pardon unless you be sanctified; and so in effect you have 
no benefit by Christ at all. For this let me give you these reasons — 

[1.] Sin is the great makebate between God and his creatures. The 
first breach was by sin, and still it continueth the distance : Isa. lix. 2, 
' Your iniquities have separated between me and you.' Therefore, till 
that be taken out of the way, there can be no perfect reconciliation, 
no communion between God and the creatures ; though the sinner may 
be pardoned on God's terms, yet the purity of God is irreconcilable to 
sins ; and therefore, if you live in sin and continue in sin, there can be 
no commerce between God and you. 

[2.] Sin is the great disease of mankind, which disableth us for the 
service of our Creator. Therefore the Kedeemer came to take away sin, 
for he considered God's interest as well as ours : Heb. ix. 14, ' 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 ? ' Christ's end was to fit us for God's 
use, and therefore to sanctify and free us from sin, that we might be 
in a capacity to love and please God again. This is the great work of 
the physician of souls. 

[3.] The taking away of sin is a greater benefit than impunity, or 
the taking away of punishment, as sin in some sense is worse than 
damnation. Those means which have a more immediate connection 
with the last end are more noble than those which are more remote. 
The last end in respect to us is the vision and fruition of God, or to see 
him and be like him. Now the taking away of sin hath a nearer con 
nection than pardon and impunity ; they both concur. The sentence 
of death must be taken off, which maketh us incapable ; but holiness 
is a part and an introduction into the blessed estate ; it doth disposi- 
tively prepare us for it. On God's part the pleasing and glorifying of 
God is the last end. Now he is more pleased with us as holy than as 
pardoned, for his complacency and delight is in the reflection of his 
image on us ; and he is more glorified in our passive reception of his 
grace, but objectively more glorified in us in our being sanctified and 
purified, and made like him. Now this is to be minded, partly 
because men seek to get rid of trouble and temporal affliction, but not 
of sin. Pharaoh could say, ' Take away this plague ; ' but the church 
saith, ' Take away all iniquity,' Hosea xiv. 2. Those who are sensible 
of the true evil do mainly desire the taking away of sin ; that is their 
chief care and solicitude how to get rid of it ; that is it they complain of 
in the first place as their chief burden. This is necessary to be showed, 
partly because some, if they mind spiritual things, they mind only pardon 
of sin and ease of conscience, not to be freed from the power of sin ; as 
if a man that had broken his leg should only desire to be eased of his 
smart, but not to have it set again. No ; the true penitent is troubled 
the stain as well as the guilt. Therefore the promise is suited : 


1 John i. 9, 'If we confess onr sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us 
our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' This is a 
thorough cure. 

[4.] There is no taking away guilt and punishment till we be sancti 
fied, till sin itself be taken away. The one part of the cure maketh 
way for the other. First he doth regenerate that he may pardon. As 
we were first sinners and then obnoxious to punishment, so first holy 
and then pardoned, first brought into the kingdom of Christ and made 
subjects, then enjoy the privileges as subjects: Col. i. 13, 14, 'Who 
hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us 
into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through 
his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' We are first turned to God : 
Acts xxvi. 20, 'That they should repent, and turn to God.' We 
cannot have the one without the other. So you stick at the order, 
though you know no cause ; so that you despise all benefit by Christ 
if you do not look after the taking away of sin. 

[5.] It is a manifest contradiction to our faith to live in sin and to 
believe that Christ came to take away sin. I gather that from the 
words ' ye know.' Christians are supposed to know and believe the 
end of their redemption. If we know it, why do not we deal with him 
about it ? Speculative knowledge and practical are frequently con 
tradictory in the same man. We speak from our convictions, but we 
live from the innate dispositions and inclinations of our own hearts. 
Religion doth far more easily tip men's tongues, and run into their 
heads, than change their hearts. But though their knowledge and 
practice be contrary, yet thus far we have gained an argument, that 
their faith condemns their practice ; and however we make a shift to 
match them, the faith of Christians and the life of sin are in themselves 
incompatible. And they that know Christ came to take away sin, and 
yet live in sin, though they do not show the falsehood of their religion, 
yet they show their own insincerity in it ; though they speak honour 
ably of their Redeemer in words, yet in deeds they dislike him, and 
deny him, which is not to be charged upon the religion, but them 
selves, as an art is not disparaged because one that professeth it is a 

[6.] The manner of Christ's taking away sin doth represent the 
heinousness of it, and is a sufficient warning to the world not to con 
tinue in it : ' For if these things were done to the green tree, what 
shall be done to the dry ? ' When we look upon sin through Satan's 
spectacles, and the cloud of our own passions and carnal affections, 
we make nothing of it ; but in the agonies of Christ, and the sorrows 
and sufferings of his cross, we see the odiousness of it, that it may 
become more hateful to us. No less remedy would serve the turn 
than the agonies, bloodshed, and accursed death of the Son of God, to 
procure the pardon and destruction of sin. By this sin-offering and 
ransom for souls we may see what sin is. I showed you before the 
odiousness of sin, as it is a transgression of the law ; that should render 
it odious to you ; but now I bring you to another argument. In 
Golgotha is the truest spectacle of sin, and how much God hateth it 
and loveth purity, that it may be seen in its proper colours. We 
make light of sin, but Christ found it not so light a matter to expiate 


it. Do but consider his fears and tears and strong cries when he 
stood in the place of sinners before God's tribunal, when God ' laid 
upon him the iniquities of us all.' 

[7.] The acceptableness of his sacrifice still further helpeth us 
against sin : ' He came to take away sin/ and was accepted in what he 
did. Why ? Christ's suffering death for the sin of man was the 
noblest piece of service, and the highest degree of obedience that ever 
could be performed to God by man or angels, there being in it so 
much love to God, pity to man, so much self-denial, so much humility 
and patience, and such a resignation of himself to God, who appointed 
him to be the Kedeemer of the world. That which was eminent and 
upmost in it was obedience : Eom. v. 19, ' For as by one man's dis 
obedience many were made sinners ; so by the obedience of one, shall 
many be made righteous ; ' Phil. ii. 7, 8, ' He made himself of no re 
putation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in 
the likeness of men ; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled 
himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' 
God doth not delight in the shedding of blood ; you must not draw 
an ill picture of God in your minds. That which God looked after, 
and accepted was the eminent obedience of Christ in our nature ; so his 
holy and righteous life, his painful and cursed death, make but one 
entire piece of obedience. The value of his merit was from the God 
head, but the formal reason of his merit was that Christ came to fulfil 
the will of God, ' by which will we are sanctified,' Heb. x. 9, 10. Now 
what a notable check is this to sin, and living impenitently in a course 
of disobedience unto God ! 

II. As Christ is propounded by way of pattern and example, ' In 
him was no sin.' I shall first speak a little of the innocency of Christ ; 
secondly, show how he is set forth as a pattern and example of holiness 
unto us. 

1. The scripture sets forth the Lord Jesus as an eminently holy 
and innocent person, that he had no sin, and did no sin. He had 
no sin, being by his miraculous conception exempted from the contagion 
of original sin : Luke i. 35, ' The Holy Ghost shall overshadow thee, 
and that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son 
of God.' Thus was our Redeemer fitted to be completely lovely in the 
eyes of God, and to be a pattern of holiness to all his followers. Not 
only free from actual sin, but as having a perfect holy nature in him ; 
to show that we should not only prevent the outward act, but be free 
from the lust ; and not only lop the branches of sin, but destroy the 
root by a thorough change of heart. Evil practices in us do not flow 
from a present temptation, but an evil nature ; therefore we should get 
the divine nature. It is true it cannot be said of us that we have no sin, 
but yet the carnal nature should not be predominant in us ; we should 
have another spirit. Secondly, He did no sin : 2 Peter ii. 22, ' He did no 
sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.' Christ did not in the least 
offend either God or man ; as guilty of no transgression, so of no defect 
in his obedience or conformity to the law of God. It is true he was 
accused of sin, but who could convince him of sin ? John viii. 46, 
'Which of you convinceth me of sin ? ' Though his name was 
buried under many calumnies and reproaches, yet none of his malicious 


adversaries could ever make it good that he was guilty of one sin. 
It is true he was tempted to sin, and the most venomous of Satan's 
fiery darts were shot at him, as you may see, Mat. iv. ; but though he 
was tempted in all other points like us, yet sin is excepted, Heb. iv. 
15. He was spotless and free from sin, there was nothing in him to 
befriend a temptation, John xiv. 30. This, Christians, is our glorious 
Lord and chief ; he had no sin, nor did no sin. When shall it be said 
so of us ? We wait the time, but it will be so at length ; ere Christ 
hath done with us it must be so. 

2. That he is set forth as a pattern and example of holiness in our 
nature. Christ, that did open heaven by his merit, would also teach 
us the way thither, and teach us as a good teacher should, not only by 
his doctrine, but by his example. In moral things his example is to 
be imitated by us ; these reasons enforce it — 

[1.] The scriptures do everywhere call for this imitation and suitable 
walking : Phil. ii. 5, ' Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus ; ' 
Mat. xi. 29, ' Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly.' So 1 Peter ii. 
21, ' He hath left us an example, that we should follow his steps ; ' 1 
John ii. 6, ' He that saith he abideth in him, ought also himself to 
walk even as he walked.' I have brought these places to show how 
binding the example of Christ is. 

[2.] That the Spirit is sent and given us to change us into his like 
ness : 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 by the same Spirit of the Lord/ We can no more follow 
his example than obey his doctrine without the same spirit. Here one 
part helpeth another ; in living as he did, we come to be like him. 

[3.] What advantage we have by this example. First, all example 
hath an alluring power and great force in moving; but this is an example 
of examples, not of equals or ordinary superiors, but of our glorious head 
and chief. Now this example should be more cogent. First, Because 
it is a perfect and unerring pattern. Christ's life is religion exempli 
fied, a visible commentary on God's will and word : 2 Cor. xi. 1, ' Be 
ye followers of me, as I am also of Christ.' Here you cannot err if 
you follow Christ's submission in his imitable examples and actions. 
Secondly, It is an engaging pattern. Submission to any duty should 
make it lovely unto us : ' The disciple is not above his lord, nor the ser 
vant above his master ; ' John xiii. 14, ' If I then, your Lord and master, 
have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet.' Shall 
we decline to follow such a leader ? Thirdly, It is an effectual pattern. 
Christ's steps drop sweetness ; he hath left a blessing behind in all the 
way that he hath trodden before us, and sanctified it to us that we may 
follow it with comfort. Fourthly, It is a very encouraging pattern, for 
he sympathised with us in all our difficulties, having entendered his 
own heart by experience : Heb. ii. 18, ' For in that he himself hath 
suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted ; ' 
Heb. iv. 15, ' For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like 
as we are, yet without sin.' He knoweth the weaknesses and reluct 
ances of nature in our hardest duties, and will surely pity and pardon 
our infirmities, and cover them with his own perfect righteousness. 


[4.] Christ's example, and unsinning obedience to God, is a notable 
check to sin, and all the temptations, occasions, and inducements which 
lead to it. Nothing should be of such value with a Christian as to hire 
him to commit wilful sin. Christ obeyed at the dearest rates and terms, 
and repented not of his engagement: John xiii. 1, ' Having loved his own 
which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.' A Christian should 
have the same mind, and then it will be armour of proof against all 
temptations : 1 Peter iv. 1, ' Arm yourselves with the same mind, for 
he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.' In one place 
it is said, ' Let the same mind be in you ; ' in another, ' Arm yourselves 
with the same mind.' Temptations will have little force upon you 
when you resolve to obey God whatever it cost you. The frowns of 
the world, yea, life itself, will be as nothing. Secondly, Is it the 
pomp and pleasure and honour of the world wherewith the flesh is 
gratified ? Christ hath put a disgrace upon these things by his own 
choice. He was mean, poor, a man of sorrows ; and shall we look to 
be maintained in pomp and pleasure ? We cannot be poorer than 
Christ, and taste less of the world than he did. Thirdly, A love to 
our private interests hinders us from seeking the glory of God : Rom. 
xv. 3, Tor even Christ pleased not himself;' John xii. 27, 28, 'For 
this cause came I to this hour : Father, glorify thy name.' Every 
Christian should be thus affected ; let Christ dispose of him and his 
interests as it seemeth good to him. 


And ye know that he was manifested to take away sin, and in him 
ivas no sin. — 1 JOHN iii. 5. 

FROM these words I have observed this doctrine, that those who are 
partakers of Christ should^by no means allow themselves in a life or 
course of sin. 

The uses now follow. 

First, It bindeth our duty upon us. 

Secondly, It assureth and sealeth our comfort when we are afflicted 
either with the guilt of sin or the power of sin. 

First, It bindeth our duty upon us. They that do not break off a 
life of sin make Christ's coming in vain. But because men's interest 
will quicken them, therefore consider, Christ must take away sin, or 
else you must at last bear your own sin. But alas ! that is a burden 
too heavy for us to bear ; and miserable are they that have it lying 
upon their backs. It will not be light when we reckon with God. 
Sin to a waking conscience is one of the heaviest burdens that ever was 
felt: Ps. xxxviii. 4, 'Mine iniquities are gone over my head, they are 
a burden too heavy for me.' You will find the little finger of sin 
heavier than the loins of any other sorrow. What a weight and pres 
sure will it be to the soul ! If you do but taste of this cup, it filleth 

VKR. 5.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 13 

you with trembling. If a spark of God's wrath light on the conscience, 
how terribly doth it scorch ? You may know it in part by what Christ 
suffered. His soul was heavy unto death. If his soul were heavy to 
death, if he felt such strange agonies, sweat drops of blood, lost the 
actual sensible comforts of his Godhead, when he bore the burden of 
sin, oh, what shall every one of us do if we were to bear our own. 
burden ? You may also know it by the complaints of the saints, when 
the finger of God hath but touched them : Ps. xl. 12, ' Mine iniquities 
take hold on me, therefore mine heart fainteth.' So Job complaineth, chap, 
vi. 4, ' For the arrows of the Almighty are within me ; the poison thereof 
drinketh up my spirit ; ' the arrows of the Almighty, though shot out of 
Satan's bow ; he permitted those venomous arrows to be shot at him. 
Yea, if ye will know what it is to bear sin, ask not only a tender con 
science, but a troubled conscience. What disquiets of soul do wicked 
men feel when God sets sin home upon the conscience, and they 
are awakened ! How uneasy have their hearts sat within them ! 
Cain crieth out, ' My sin is greater than can be borne,' Gen. iv. 13 ; 
' And a wounded spirit who can bear ? ' Prov. xxviii. 13. What 
large offers do men make to get rid of their burden ! ' Thousands of 
rams, rivers of oil, their first-born for the sin of their souls,' Micah vi. 
7, 8. Lastly, what it is to live and die in sin, the other world will 
show us. Christ useth no other expression to set forth the misery of 
the unbelieving Jews but this, that ' ye shall die in your sins/ John 
viii. 21, 24. The threatenings of the word show their case is miserable 
enough. They fall into the hands of the living God, Heb. x. 31 ; 
and the worm that feedeth on them shall never die, and the fire 
wherein they are scorched is never quenched, Mark ix. 44. Miserable, 
questionless, is the state of them who bear their own burden and 
transgression. Now is it not better we should yield up ourselves to 
Christ, that -he should take it away, and do the work of a Kedeemer ; 
and that we should not by our carelessness, negligence, and other sins, 
provoke the Lord to withhold his healing grace? Oh, let us be 
sensible of our burden. Will Christ ease a man of his burden which 
he feeleth not ? A senseless sleepy soul hath no work for him to do. 
He inviteth the weary and heavy-laden, Mat. xi. 28. Being sensible 
of our burden, let us implore his favour ; he is more willing to give 
the Holy Spirit to them that ask him than a father is to give a hungry 
child bread, Luke xi. 13. Let us wait for his approaches in the 
diligent use of the means. Our duty is to lie at the pool for cure till 
the waters be stirred, John v. His Spirit bloweth when and where he 
listeth, John iii. 8 ; let us attend and obey his sanctifying motions, 
for we make ourselves incapable of this help by grieving the Spirit, 
Eph. iv. 30. When we become so easy to the requests of sin and so 
deaf to his motions, he ceaseth to give us warning. 

Again, let us consider his example. Will you be so unlike Christ ? 
' In him was no sin,' and you are all overspread with sin. He learned 
obedience by the things he suffered, Heb. v. 8, 9. He came to be the 
leader to everlasting happiness of an obeying people ; his stamp and 
character should be upon all his followers. He is Christ, you are 
Christians ; and you should not be polluted members of his body. 
How will you look him in the face at the last day if you are so unlike 


him ? 1 John iv. 17, ' Herein is our love made perfect, that we may 
have boldness in the day of judgment ; because as he is so are we in 
the world ; ' if we be holy as he, spotless as he. Of polluted sinners 
he will say, Are these my people ? How will you then be ashamed ? 
But it will give us a bold confidence when we have written after his 
copy. We shall never be like him in glory unless we be first like 
him in holiness. Christ will own his image. Boldness is opposite to 
fear and shame ; we shall neither be afraid nor ashamed at the day of 
judgment, if we bear his image upon us. 

Secondly, It assureth and sealeth our comfort when we are afflicted 
either with the guilt or power of sin. To this end I shall discuss this 
argument more at large, and show you — 

1. How sin is taken away — (1.) By justification ; (2.) By sanctifi- 

2. What grounds we have to expect that Christ will do this for us. 

3. What we must do that this effect may be accomplished in us. 
First, How sin is taken away ; but first we must determine what sin 

is. It is usually said there are in sin four things — culpa, reatus, poena, 
macula, the blot or stain. The three first belong to sin as it respects 
the law ; the last, as it respects the rectitude of human nature in 
innocency. The three first do more concern justification, the last 

[1.] Sin may be considered with respect to the law ; for so the 
nature of it will best be found out ; for we are told in the verse before 
the text, that ' sin is a transgression of the law/ In the law there is 
the precept and the sanction. The precept showeth what obedience 
is due from us to God ; the sanction or threatening what punishment is 
due to us in a state of disobedience. Accordingly, in sin, with respect 
to the precept, there is culpa, the fault, or criminal action ; with 
respect to the sanction or threatening, there are two things considerable 
— sentence and execution. As the commination importeth a sentence 
and respecteth a sentence, so there is guilt : ' Because sentence is not 
speedily executed,' Eccles. viii. 11. The sentence is passed in the 
threatenings of the law, but execution is deferred. But with respect to 
execution it is called posna, punishment. 

[2.] Sin may be considered with respect to that rectitude of our 
heart and mind which God gave us at first to enable and incline us to 
keep his law ; and so cometh in macula, the stain or blot, as it defaced 
God's image in our hearts : Bom iii. 23, ' We have all sinned, and 
are come short of the glory of God ; ' meaning thereby his glorious 
image, which was lost and forfeited by the fall of Adam ; and actually, 
because in the day of God's patience, as he continueth other forfeited 
mercies to us, so. some relics of his image in that knowledge and con 
science that is left. Therefore when we rebel against the light, and 
live in a course of heinous sin, we lose more and more of that goodness 
of human nature that is yet left, and bear the character of such as are 
given up to vile affections, Eom. i. 26 ; and Eph. iv. 19, 'And being 
past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work 
uncleanness with greediness.' God leaveth them to their own lusts 
without restraint, withholdeth the good Spirit that was wont to counsel 
and warn them. Macula, then, the blot or stain, is the inclination to 

VER. 5.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 15 

sin again ; as a brand that hath been once in the fire, is more apt to 
take fire again. This is the fruit of sin, and we pray God to free us 
from it yet more and more, by giving us more of his Spirit. It is the 
heaviest judgment that can befall us, to be given over to our own 
heart's counsels, Ps. li. 11 ; and David prayeth, after heinous sin, that 
God would not take his Holy Spirit from him. 

But let us now consider how sin is taken away : therein what is to 
be done by Christ, and what is to be done by us, that this effect may 
be accomplished in us. 

And first, as to what is to be done by Christ, and there how sin is 
taken away, both as to justification and sanctification. 

1. With respect to justification ; so that culpa, reatus, poena, the 
fault or criminal action, cannot be said to be taken away, but only it 
is passed by as it is the foundation of our guilt, as it is a natural 
action ; such a fact we did, or such a duty we omitted to do. As it is 
a faulty action, contrary to the law of God, Christ taketh it not away, 
for that were to disannul the law, or the obliging force and authority 
of it, as it is a rule of perpetual equity. The sins we have committed 
are sins still ; therefore Christ came not to make the law less holy, or 
a fault to be no fault. 

Let us come to the second thing, reatus, the guilt of sin. There is 
reatus culpce, the guilt of sin ; and reatus pcence, the guilt of punish 
ment. Reatus culpce, is the applying the law to the fact, and both to 
the person that hath committed it. Suppose that such a fact is a sin, 
because such a law forbiddeth it, and that I am guilty of such a 
transgression against the law of God ; sure it is that this is not taken 
away ; my faulty act is an offence, and I am an offender. We cannot 
be reputed never culpable, to have omitted any duty, or committed 
any sin ; for the new covenant is not set up to make us innocent, but 
pardonable upon certain terms ; and we come to God as to our offended 
governor, pleading not as innocent, but as sinners, desiring that, in the 
behalf of Christ, our sins may be forgiven to us. Then there is reatus 
pcence, which resulteth from the sanction of the law, binding us over to 
suffer such penalties as the law hath determined. Now this may be 
understood, quoad meritum, vel quoad euentum ; according to the merit 
of the action, what the action in itself deserveth, which is condemnation 
to punishment. This Christ hath not taken away, and never intended 
to take away ; for every sinful action is in se et merito operis damnabilis 
in itself, and by the desert of the work damnable ; it doth deserve dam 
nation ; but quoad eventum, as to the event and effect : ' There is no 
condemnation to them that are in Christ,' Rom. viii. 1. By the law of 
grace there is a discharge from the sentence of the law, and so 
from an obligation to punishment. This will be made clear and 
plain to you by considering what is required of us in suing out our 
pardon. We must confess the sin: 1 John i. 9, ' If we confess and 
forsake our sins, he is just and righteous to forgive us our sins.' We 
must confess the guilt and desert of sin by God's righteous law : 1 Cor. 
xi. 31, 'For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.' 
There must be a self-accusing and self-judging. In self -accusing we 
confess reatum culpce; in self L judging we confess reatum pcence; 
without either of which there would not be that humiliation and 


brokenness of heart which the scripture calleth for, and is necessary 
for us in our entrance into the gospel covenant, and in our whole deal 
ing with God about pardon. Or else these acts must be performed 
very perfunctorily, and not in reality and truth, if there be not a 
ground in the nature of the thing ; for if the guilt of the fault were 
utterly dissolved, how can I heartily accuse myself of such and such 
sins before the Lord? or if the guilt of punishment were so far 
dissolved that my actions did not in their own nature, and by the 
righteous law of the Lord, deserve such condemnation and punishment, 
how could I broken-heartedly confess myself as deserving the greatest 
evil which his law hath threatened ? Well, then, pardon is not a 
vacating the action, or making a thing not done which is done, or a 
denial of the fault as if it were no fault, nor an annulling of the desert 
of punishment, but a remission of the punishment itself due to us by 
the law of nature. This is that, then, which the law of grace or new 
covenant doth ; every penitent believer is actually and really pardoned 
and discharged from the penalty, which the law of nature maketh his 
due debt: Mat. vi. 12, 'Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our 
debtors.' Our debt is the obligation actually to suffer the full punish 
ment of the law. 

Now we will consider the third thing in sin, that is pcena, the 
punishment, and that is either temporal or eternal. 

[1.] To begin with the last, eternal punishment. We are discharged 
from that as soon as we have an interest in Christ ; for then our 
state is altered, and God doth pardon all our past sins, and make us heirs 
of eternal life : Gal. iii. 13, ' Christ hath delivered us from the curse of 
the law, being made a curse for us.' The curse of the law may be 
taken actively or passively. Actively, it is nothing else but the sentence 
of the law, or of God the judge, condemning the transgressors of the 
law, and pronouncing them accursed : ' For cursed is every one that 
continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to 
do them,' Gal. iii. 10 ; which curse must not fall to the ground, but 
be taken off by some valuable compensation, that the honour of God's 
government may be secured, and that is done by Christ in being made 
a curse for us. Passively, it signifieth all those punishments which 
are, or have been, or shall be, or may be inflicted on the transgressors 
of the law ; but chiefly the final curse, which is called ' Wrath to 
come,' from which Christ hath delivered us, 2 Thes. i. 10 ; which 
consists in two things, pcena damni andposna sensus ; the loss of God's 
eternal and blessed presence, and of the vision and fruition of him in 
glory : Mat. xxv. 41, ' Depart from me, ye cursed.' They are banished 
from the presence of the Lord, and cast into utter torment. The pain, 
when we fall immediately into the hands of an angry offended God : 
Heb. x. 31, ' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living 
God.' Now sin is remitted to all them that take sanctuary at the 
Lord's grace. We deserve it, but he hath actually discharged us from 
it by his new covenant ; such is his mercy and grace to us in Christ. 

[2.] For the temporal punishment : while we have sin in us, and 
are making out our claim, and our sanctification is imperfect, God 
hath reserved a liberty for his corrective discipline, and to punish and 
chastise his children as it shall seem meet to his wisdom and justice : 

VER. 5.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 17 

Ps. Ixxxix. 32, 33, ' Then will I visit their transgression with a rod, 
and their iniquities with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will 
I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.' Now 
the temporal punishments are of two sorts — 

(1.) Such afflictive evils as belong to his external government. It is 
hard to reckon up all of them to you, but the consummate evil is 
death, and the intermediate evils are of different kinds. It is said in 
one place, Deut. xxv. 20, 'All the curses which are written in 
this book shall light upon him ;' but in another, Deut. xxviii. 61, 'Every 
curse which is not written in this book will the Lord bring upon thee,' 
whether written or not written, committed to record in the word, ov 
dispensed in his providence. God hath reserved this liberty to him 
self, to correct his sinning children in what way he pleaseth. To 
reduce it in short ; all good is from God, and all evil is from sin ; and 
in pursuance of his eternal love, and to keep them from damnation, he 
will sometimes chastise them sorely : 1 Cor. xi. 32, ' For when we are 
judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned 
with the world ; ' and Jer. v. 25, ' Your iniquities have turned away 
these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you ; ' 
Micah i. 5, ' For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins 
of the house of Israel.' So Amos iii. 2, ' You only have I known of all 
the families of the earth : therefore I will punish you for all your 
iniquities.' A rod dipped in guilt may smart sorely upon the backs of 
God's people. God's displeasure is felt in their chastisements and 
judgments. Surely their author is God, their cause is sin, their end is 
repentance. We are in danger to despise the calamities which befall 
us and our families if we do not own this truth. It is true it turneth 
to good, but still it is a natural eviL If we were without sin, he would 
give us the good without the evil ; you greatly mistake if you think 
there is no displeasure of God in all this. 

(2.) There are certain afflictions which belong to his internal govern 
ment, as when God manifesteth his displeasure to the party sinning 
by withdrawing his Spirit, the evil which David was so much afraid 
of: Ps. li. 10-12, 'Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew 
a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and 
take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Kestore unto me the joy of thy 
salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit.' He desireth that God 
would not withdraw his grace, and the influence and comfort of his 
Holy Spirit, which he had so justly forfeited by his heinous sin. This 
is the sorest judgment on this side hell, to be deprived of inward com 
munion with God. It is not a total separation from his favour and 
presence, but yet it is a degree of it ; when God is strange to us, and 
suspendeth all the acts of his complacential love, leaving us dull 
and senseless, having no heart or life to anything that is spiritually 
good. And if we repent not, God may go further, and deliver us up 
to brutish lusts. The evils are greater or less, according to the rate of 
our sins or neglects of grace. These penal withdrawings of the Spirit 
should therefore be observed ; for God showeth much of his pleasure 
or displeasure by giving or withholding the Spirit His blessing and 
favour is showed this way : Prov. i. 23, ' Turn at my reproof, and I 
will pour out my Spirit to you.' But when God is refused, or neglected, 



or highly provoked, he then departs : Ps. Ixxxi. 11, 12, ' Israel would 
none of me ; so I gave them up to their own hearts' lusts.' This is more 
than all the calamities in the world. 

2. In a way of sanctification. So Christ taketh away sin by giving 
us his Spirit, whereby the stains of our nature are cleansed. We are 
renewed in righteousness and holiness, according to his image : Eph. 
iv. 24, ' And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created 
in righteousness and true holiness ; ' 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' We beholding the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into his image and likeness.' 

Now concerning this way of taking away sin, let me observe four 
things — 

[1.] That the Spirit is given us as the fruit of Christ's merit and 
sacrifice : Titus iii. 5,6, 'Not by works of righteousness which we have 
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regen 
eration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us 
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; ' Gal. iii. 14, ' That the 
blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles, through Jesus Christ, 
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.' He 
was the rock that was smitten by the rod of Moses : 1 Cor. x. 4, ' And 
they did all drink of the same spiritual drink ; for they drank of that 
spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.' If 
Christ were the rock, the water that flowed from the rock was the 
Spirit : John iv. 14, ' Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall 
give, shall never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him shall be 
in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life ; ' John vii. 
38, 39, ' He that believe th on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of 
living water. But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe 
on him should receive/ Well, then, upon tire account of Christ's merit 
and sacrifice, God doth by the Spirit create a clean heart within us, 
and a right spirit, that we may live in obedience to his holy will. 

[2.] That the gift of the Spirit is a kind of executive pardon, or a 
receiving the atonement ; for this grace was forfeited by sin, as man 
brought death spiritual upon himself, as well as temporal and eternal, 
and we made the stain of sin to consist in the loss of the Spirit, or 
an inclination to sin again ; therefore by sanctification, or the gift of 
the Spirit, is our pardon executed upon us or applied to us. As the 
withdrawing or withholding the Spirit is a great part of our punish 
ment, so the gift of the Spirit is the great and first act of God's 
pardoning mercy, and a means to qualify us for the other parts of 
God's pardon ; for before men are converted, they are unpardoned : 
' Turn you from all your transgressions, and iniquity shall riot be your 
ruin,' Ezek. xviii. 30 ; and Isa. Iv. 7, 'Let the wicked forsake his way, 
and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him return to the 
Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will 
abundantly pardon.' Therefore till there be a turning from the life 
of sin to God by faith in Christ, there is no actual justification nor 

[3.] That when repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus 
Christ is begun in us by the Spirit, there is promised a further degree 
of the Spirit to be given to us to dwell in us : Acts ii. 38, ' Repent, and 
be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the re- 

VER. 5.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 19 

mission of sins ; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost ; ' 
Prov. i. 23, ' Turn ye at my reproof : behold, I will pour out my Spirit 
unto you : ' Eph. i. 13, 'After that ye believed, ye were sealed with the 
Holy Spirit of promise ; ' and that for a durable use, to be in us a 
Spirit of sanctification and adoption. First, To be a Spirit of sanctifi- 
cation : 2 Thes. ii. 13, 'God hath chosen you to salvation through 
sanctification and belief of the truth.' As he converted us to God, so 
he is a ' Spirit of regeneration ; ' but as he doth further sanctify and 
cleanse us, and fit us for God, and make us amiable in his sight, so he 
is called a ' Spirit of sanctification/ properly so taken. It is by the Spirit 
dwelling in us that we mortify and subdue sin,Kom. viii. 13. It is by 
the Spirit we exert and put forth all acts of holiness : Gal. v. 25, ' If 
we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit ; ' and perform all 
duties to God in the Spirit. In short, the grace of the Spirit is given 
us to subdue the power of sin, and strengthen us against temptations, 
and that we may perfect holiness in the fear of God. Secondly, A Spirit 
of adoption : Gal. iv. 6, c Because ye are sons, he hath sent the Spirit 
of his Son into our hearts.' The same Spirit that maketh us holy 
possesseth us with a filial love of God, and a dependence on him ; so 
that childlike love, with a pleasing obedience and dependence, are the 
great effects and tokens of his dwelling in us as a Spirit of adoption. 

[4.] This Spirit doth by degrees fit us for our everlasting estate : 2 
Cor. v. 5, ' He that formeth us for the self-same thing is God, who 
also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit ; ' and therefore he must 
not be obstructed in his work, while he is preparing the heirs of promise 
aforehand unto glory, lest we lose not only the comfort of our future 
hopes, but be set back in the spiritual life, and so grieve the Holy Spirit 
of promise, who is both our sanctifier and comforter. Thus we have 
seen what Christ doth to take away sin ; he freeth us from the ever 
lasting miseries of the damned in hell, and will surely free us from 
the miseries of this life, if we be obedient, and hearken to his counsel. 
But in the midst of weaknesses our title to impunity and life eternal 
remaineth unreversed, though it be often obscured by our sin and 

Secondly, What must we do that sin may be thus taken away ? For 
I observe, first, that those things which God worketh in us, and bestoweth 
upon us by his grace, he also requireth of us by his command : Ezek. 
xxxvi. 26, ' A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit I will put into 
you.' Yet Ezek. xviii. 31, 'Cast away from you all your transgressions 
whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new 
spirit ; ' and in many other places. Sometimes he promiseth to turn 
us, sometimes he commandeth us to turn to him ; sometimes he biddeth 
us to put away sin, sometimes he promiseth to take it away from us ; 
in the one showing what is our duty, in the other where is our help ; 
the one inferreth regeneration, which is the work of the Spirit, the 
other, repentance, which is our duty. Again, the death of Christ must 
be considered either as it respecteth God or us. As it respecteth God, 
it is a price paid to provoked justice to purchase grace for us : Isa. liii. 
5, ' He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our 
iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his 
stripes we are healed.' As it respects us, it layeth an obligation upon 


us to do what is proper to us : 1 Peter i. 22, ' Seeing you have purified 
your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.' 

What then are we to do ? — (1.) As to our entrance into Christianity ; 
(2.) As to our recovery out of our falls. 

1. As to our entrance into the grace of the gospel, there is required 
repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 
xx. 21. 

[1.] Repentance towards God, which consists in a serious purpose 
and willingness to let sin go, and a fixed resolution to love, serve, 
and please God, bewailing and bemoaning ourselves to God with 
grief and shame : Jer. xxxi. 18, ' I have heard Ephraim bemoaning 

[2.] Faith, or an acceptance of Christ as the only physician of our 
souls, who alone can cure and change our hearts ; therefore, depending 
upon the universal offer of his grace, we are resolved to use the means 
which he hath appointed, that this cure may be wrought in us, Rom. 
vii. 24, 25. 

2. For our recovery out of particular falls, something is to be done 
with respect to those four things which are in sin. 

[1.] As to the fault ; be sure the fault be not continued, which is 
when the criminal acts are repeated. Relapses are very dangerous. A 
bone often broken in the same place is with the more difficulty set 
again. God's children are in danger of this before the breach be well 
made up, or the orifice of the wound well closed ; as Lot doubleth his 
incest, and Sampson goeth again and again to Delilah, Judges xvi. 2, 
4. But wicked men sin frequently, as that king who would venture 
fifty after fifty ; nothing will stop them in the way of their sins. 

[2.] The guilt continueth till serious and solemn repentance, and 
suing out our pardon in the name of Christ : 1 John i. 9, ' If we con 
fess and forsake our sins, he is just and faithful to forgive us our sins, 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' Though a man should 
forbear the act, and never commit it more, yet unless retracted by seri 
ous remorse, and humbling ourselves before God, it avails not. This 
self-accusing is necessary, that we may know how much we are indebted 
to grace. Look into thy bill, what owest thou ? Luke vii. 47, ' She wept 
much, because she loved much; and she loved much, because much 
was forgiven her.' She had a greater measure of love to God and 
Christ. This self-judging is that which makes us the more earnest 
for pardon, Luke xviii. 13, and grief and shame in both, to strengthen 
us against relapses, that we may forsake the sins we confess : Prov. 
xxviii. 13, ' He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall have mercy.' 
Slight acknowledgments do not mortify sin. 

[3.] The blot or evil inclination to sin again. The evil influence of 
sin continueth till we mortify the root of it ; it is not enough to mortify 
the sin, but we must pull out the core of the distemper before all will 
be well. Jonah repented of forsaking his call ; yet, not mortifying the 
root, it brake forth again. He stood upon his credit, Jonah iv. 1, 2. 
Christ trieth Peter : John xxi. 15, ' Lovest thou me more than these ? ' 
He had boasted before, ' Though all men forsake thee, I will never 
forsake thee,' Mat. xxvi. 33. Though Peter had wept bitterly for the 
iiict, yet Christ would try if the cause were removed. Peter is grown 

VER. 5.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 21 

more modest now than to make any comparisons. We must use means 
to get the sinning disposition checked. 

[4.] As to pcena, we must deprecate the eternal punishment as de 
served by us, through the merit of our actions, still ' looking to Jesus, 
who hath delivered us from wrath to come.' But as to temporal 
evils which God may inflict upon us partly for the increase of our repent 
ance, when we smart under the fruits of sin ; for the evil of punish 
ment doth much help us to judge of the evil of sin: Jer. ii. 19, 
'Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall 
reprove thee : know, therefore, and see that it is an evil thing 
and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, that his fear is 
not in thee.' Partly to make us a warning to others, that they do not 
displease God as we have done : 2 Sam. xii. 14, ' Howbeit, because by 
this deed thou hast given occasion to the enemies of God to blas 
pheme ; the child also that is born unto thee, shall surely die.' For 
these reasons, I say, God may punish us in our persons, or in our 
families and relations ; wherefore we should humbly deprecate the judg 
ment : Ps. vi. 12, ' Lord, correct me not in thine anger, nor chasten 
me in thy hot displeasure.' That we may stop the judgment, and get 
it mitigated ; or, if it come, we may patiently bear it with humble 
submission to the will of God : Micah vii. 9, ' I will bear the indigna 
tion of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.' Not mourning 
as without hope, yet humbling ourselves, and putting our mouths in 
the dust. 

Secondly, Now what grounds have we that Christ will do this for 

1. Christ's office and undertaking, which he cannot possibly neg 
lect ; for this end was he manifested, and sent by the Father, to take 
away sin: Acts v. 31, 'God hath exalted him to be a prince and a 
saviour, to give repentance and remission of sin.' Will he come in 
vain, and miss of his ends, or fail a serious soul that expecteth and 
waiteth for the benefit of his office ? The generality of the Christian 
world prize his memory but neglect his offices ; but now, those that 
depend on his name, and seek the fruits of his office, will he frustrate 
their expectations ? 

2. Consider how able he is to make good his offices, the merit of 
his humiliation, and the power of his exaltation. First, The merit 
of his humiliation : 1 Peter i. 18, 19, 'Forasmuch as ye know that ye 
were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from 
your vain conversations received by tradition from your fathers, but 
with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and with 
out spot.' What a price hath he given for sanctifying and healing grace ! 
which should not only heighten our esteem of the privilege, but increase 
our confidence. So Isa. liii. 5, ' But he was wounded for our transgres 
sions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was 
upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.' Such is the perfection 
and merit of his sacrifice, that we may depend upon it; he will not lose 
the fruit of his obedience and suffering. Secondly, The power of his 
exaltation : Acts iii. 26, ' God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent 
him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniqui 
ties.' Christ having paid our ransom, is gone to heaven, and hath full 


power to free us from sin, even all those that heartily consent to his 

3. He is willing to do this for you. Why else did he purchase it at 
BO dear a rate? Why doth he offer it so freely in the promises of the 
gospel, and in that covenant which was made, stated, and sworn unto ? 
Heb. vi. 17, 18. Why else has he been so kind to all that are now in 
glory ? There is none in heaven by the first covenant ; all that are 
there come thither as justified and sanctified by Jesus Christ, and in 
the way of his pardoning grace. Surely he will not be strange to them 
that bemoan themselves. Consider his merciful nature, his appearing 
in our flesh, that we might have this confidence : Heb. ii. 17, ' Where 
fore in all things it behoved him to be made like his brethren, that he 
might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to 
God, to make reconciliation for the sinsof the people.' Well, then, Christ 
is willing if we are willing ; there you will find it sticketh. He came 
to take away sin, but we will not give way to his Spirit ; we are neither 
sensible of our burden, nor earnest for a cure, at least a sound cure. We 
seek ease and comfort more than the removing of the distemper. 


Whosoever abideth in him sinneih not : whosoever sinneth hath 
not seen him, neither known him. — 1 JOHN iii. 6. 

HERE is a double argument against an evil and sinful life, which is 
drawn from our union and communion with Christ by faith, or our 
knowledge of him. It is delivered in a copulate axiom, where there is 
a comparison of contraries. These two contrary parties are set forth 
in two propositions, the one asserting the property and disposition of 
the true believer, the other refuting the claim of the pretender. In 
the one an argument from union with Christ, the other from the know 
ledge of him. 

1st Proposition, ' Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not ; ' where we 
have the subject and the predicate. 

1. The subject, 'Abideth in him;' that is, he who is united to 
Christ by a true and lively faith, and perseveres in this union, abideth 
in him. In effect, whosoever is a true Christian, for they are often 
expressed by this character : 1 John ii. 6, ' He that abideth in him 
ought himself also to walk even as he walked.' This is the great 
duty pressed upon us : 1 John ii. 27, 28, ' But the anointing which ye 
have received of him, abideth in you ; and ye need not that any man 
teach you : but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and 
is truth, and is no lie ; and even as he hath taught you, ye shall abide 
in him. And now, little children, abide in him, that when he shall 
appear, we may have confidence, and may not be ashamed before 
him at his coming ;' and John xv. 4-7, 'Abide in me, arid I in you : 
as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself) except it abide in the vine, 

VER. 6.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 23 

no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, and ye are 
the branches : he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth 
forth much fruit ; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide 
not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ; and men 
gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye 
abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, 
and it shall be done unto you.' The phrase implieth intimacy and 

[1.] Intimacy, or the near and close conjunction between Christ 
and a believer by faith. 

[2.] Constancy, or an adherence to him, and dependence upon him 
on our part ; for the union is not like to break on Christ's side ; it is 
we that are pressed to abide in him, and that first because some are in 
Christ only by visible profession, and Christ will not cast them off if 
they do not fall off. Secondly, Because the elect must consider the 
danger of apostasy : ' Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.' 

2. The predicate, ' Sinneth not ; ' that is, according to the sense of 
our apostle, liveth not in a course of known sin, for otherwise there is 
no man that sinneth not, 1 Kings viii. 46 ; and again, Eccles. vii. 20, 
' There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.' 
Therefore the meaning of the apostle is, that for the main he 
endeavoureth after purity and holiness, and alloweth himself in no sin. 

2d Proposition. There the order is inverted ; for the predicate 
in the former proposition is the subject here : ' Whosoever sinneth,' 
that is, in the sense aforesaid, whosoever doth so give himself over to 
sin as not to endeavour purity and holiness, either deliberately and 
designedly doeth evil, or doth negligently oppose evil, leaveth the boat 
to the stream. 

Then the predicate, ' Hath not seen him, nor known him ; ' that is, 
was never acquainted with Christ. 

But yet, because the expressions are emphatical, I shall sift them a 
little more narrowly. 

1. These expressions are used because all that are Christ's are 
bound to know him, and to be acquainted with him: John x. 11, 'I 
know my sheep, and am known of mine.' The knowledge is mutual ; 
as he knoweth us, and taketh care of us, so we know him, and take 
care of his precepts. 

2. That where sight and knowledge are effectual, it is a mighty 
check to sin : 3 John 11, ' He that doeth good is of God ; but he 
that doeth evil hath not seen God.' Seeing and knowing are put for 
a lively faith : John xvii. 3, 'And this is life eternal, to know thee the 
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent ; ' John vi. 40, 
' He that seeth the Son and believeth on him hath eternal life.' So 
that the meaning is, he hath not a true and lively faith. 

3. The expressions are fitly used to disprove the Gnostics, a sort of 
knowing people, who falsely did pretend a higher knowledge of Christ 
without newness of life ; yea, though they wallowed in all manner of 
filthiness ; therefore called Borborites ; and one of their dogmas 
or opinions was, that a jewel in the dirt is a jewel still. Therefore 
their knowledge or science, falsely so called, is often disproved in the 
writings of this apostle : 1 John ii. 4, ' He that saith, I know him, and 


keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in 

4. The case in hand or under debate was about seeing Christ and 
being like him ; but none shall see him hereafter but those that now in 
some sort see him and know him ; for faith is the introduction to the 
beatifical vision. If we do not see him now, and know him now, we 
shall neither see him nor know him hereafter ; but he that liveth an 
evil and sinful life hath not seen him, neither known him ; and there 
fore such cannot expect to see him as he is, and be like him. 

5. There is plainly in the words a negative gradation, where the 
greatest is denied first, as is frequent in scripture ; as Ps. cxxi. 4, 
' Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep ; ' and 
Heb. xiii. 5, ' I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' A man may 
leave the'company of another whom he doth not forsake. So here, he 
hath neither seen Christ nor known him. Sight implieth clearness and 
certainty ; and so the meaning is, that he is so far from seeing Christ, 
that he hath not known him. The points observable are two — 

First, That whosoever is ingrafted into Christ by a true and lively 
faith, and hath union and communion with him, ought not nor cannot 
allow himself in any known sin. 

Secondly, That no sight and knowledge of Christ is saving and 
effectual but what checketh sin and prevents living in a course of sin. 

For the first point, that whosoever is ingrafted into Christ by a true 
and lively faith, and hath union and communion with him, ought not 
nor cannot allow himself in any known sin. 

Here I shall examine — (1.) What is union and communion with 
Christ; (2.) This is to be considered as begun and as continued ; (3.) 
Why this union with Christ is inconsistent with a sinful life. 

I. For the first, certainly there is a near and close union between 
Christ and Christians. To be in a thing is more than to be with it, by 
it, or about it, or to belong to it. Now we do not only belong to Christ, 
but are in him, John xvii. 26, and 2 Cor. v. 17, ' Whosoever is in 
Christ is a new creature.' What this union is, is a mystery, and hard 
to explain. When the apostle had told us that ' we are members of 
his body,' he addeth, Eph. v. 32, ' But this is a great mystery : but I 
speak concerning Christ and his church.' The near conjunction between 
Christ and his people is one of the secrets in religion not slightly to 
be passed over, nor yet very curiously to be pryed into. The conjunc 
tion is real, but the way of it is spiritual and heavenly. Many things 
in religion are known by their effects rather than their nature. The 
thing is plain, but the manner hidden ; and it is our business to seek 
after the blessed effects of it rather than accurately to study the nature 
of it. Yet it is profitable to see how it is brought about. Take it thus, 
confederation maketh way for union, union for fruition, and fruition for 
communion, and communion for familiarity between Christ and us or 
God and us by Christ. 

1. Confederation is the foundation of all on our part ; for entering into 
covenant with God is the ground of our union with him, or by Christ 
with him ; for then God is our God, and we are his people, Jer. xxiv. 
7. Abraham is called the friend of God with respect to the covenant, 
James ii. 23 ; and we have the right of sons by receiving Christ : John 

VER. 6.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 25 

i. 12, ' To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become 
the sons of God ; ' or accepting him as their Lord and Saviour. When 
the self-condemning sinner doth consent to the terms of the gospel, 
and heartily accept Christ to be to him what God hath appointed him 
to be and do for poor sinners, he hath full allowance to call God Father, 
and is possessed of all the privileges which belong to his children. 

2. Upon this followeth union with Christ, which, what it is, cometh 
now to be discussed. This certainly is not a mere relation to Christ. 
Union indeed giveth us a title to Christ and Christ a title to us : Cant. ii. 
16, ' I am my beloved's, and he is mine.' But yet there is somewhat 
more than a relation ; for Christ is not only ours and we his, but he is 
in us and we in him. God is ours, and we are his, and God is in us, 
and we in God. It is represented not only by relative unions, but 
such as are real. Kelative, as marriage ; where man and wife by the 
marriage covenant are one flesh, Eph. v. 31, 32. But by the head 
and members, who make one body, not with respect to a political, but 
natural body : 1 Cor. xii. 12, ' For as the body is one, and hath many 
members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one 
body ; so also is Christ.' By vine and branches, who make but one 
tree : John xv. 5, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches.' Again, it is 
compared to the food and substance that is nourished by it : John vi. 
56, ' He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, 
and I in him.' As the meat is turned into the eater's substance, so 
they and Christ become one ; and on feeding on Christ by faith, there 
followeth a mutual inhabitation. We dwell in him by constant de 
pendence, and he abideth in us by constant influence and the quick 
ening virtue of his Spirit. Nay, once more, it is compared with the 
mystery of the Trinity, and the union that is between the divine persons: 
John xvii. 21-23, ' That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in 
me, and I in thee ; that they also may be one in us, that the world 
may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest 
me, I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one : I in them, 
and thou in me ; that they may be perfect in one, and that the world 
may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast 
loved me.' Which, though it cannot be understood to the full, yet at 
least it is more than a bare relation. The mystical union implieth 
somewhat more than a bare title. Yea, it is not only a notion of scrip 
ture, but a thing effected and wrought in us by the Spirit : ' By one 
Spirit we are baptized into one body/ 1 Cor. xii. 13. Now the Spirit's 
works are real. What he doth, doth not infer a bare title and relation 
only ; there is a presence of Christ in our hearts, and a vivifical influ 
ence caused by it. 

3. Union maketh way for fruition and communion ; for we being 
in Christ, receive all manner of blessings through him and from him : 
1 Cor. i. 30, ' But of him ye are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made 
unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;' 
that is, we receive all manner of benefits by virtue of our union with 
him. Certainly this union is not a dry notion ; the comfort flowing 
thence is very real. More especially these benefits may be reduced to 
two — the favour of God, and the life of God. First, The favour of 
God ; being reconciled to him by Christ, all our sins are pardoned : 


Eph. i. 14, ' In whom we have redemption through his blood, the 
remission of sins.' So far that we are exempted from condemnation : 
Rom. viii. 1, ' There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ 
Jesus.' And our persons are accepted : Eph. i. 6, ' He hath accepted 
us in the Beloved.' And we are put under the hopes of eternal life : 
Col. i. 27, ' Christ in you the hope of glory.' Oh, what a mercy is this, 
that we that could not think of God without horror, nor hear him 
named without trembling, nor pray to him with any comfort and con 
fidence, have now by Christ pardon and absolution, and free access 
with assurance of welcome and audience, whenever we stand in need 
of him ; and not only so, but may hopefully expect a child's portion 
in heaven, ' To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.' 
Secondly, The life of God, which is begun in regeneration, and continued 
by the influence of his Spirit dwelling and working in our hearts, till 
it be perfected in the life of glory : 1 John v. 12, ' He that hath the 
Son hath life.' Another kind of life than he had before ; a living in 
God and to God, which is the noblest kind of living and being under 
the sun : Gal. ii. 20, ' I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ; and 
the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God ; ' 
and Christ is called our life, Col. iii. 4. Christ is the root and foun 
tain of it, the living head in whom all the members live, and from 
whom they receive strength and influence : John xiv. 19, ' Because I 
live, ye shall live also.' We live by virtue of his life. 

4. Communion and fruition maketh way for familiarity, for real inter 
courses of love between Christ and the soul. He dwelleth and walketh 
with us, and we with him ; he directeth, counselleth, and quickeneth 
us, and we live in a holy subjection and obedience to the motions and 
inspirations of his grace : Ps. xxvii. 8, ' Thou saidst, Seek ye my face : 
my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.' He speaketh to believers 
by the excitations of his grace, and the infusion of spiritual comforts ; 
and they to him in holy thoughts, prayers, and addresses unto his 
majesty. There is a constant interchange of donatives and duties, 
graces and services, prayers and blessings. More especially this 
familiarity and converse is either in solemn ordinances and duties of 
religion, or in a constant course of holiness. First, In solemn duties 
of religion. Prayer is called an access to God, Eph. iii. 12 ; a spiritual 
acquaintance with him, Job xxii. 21. By constant commerce men 
settle into an acquaintance with one another. Secondly, In a constant 
course of holiness : 1 John i. 7, ' If we walk in the light as he is in 
the light, then have we fellowship one with another.' Conformity is 
the ground of communion. When we love what God loveth, and 
hate what he hateth, then he is with us, maintaining, directing, sup 
porting us in all our ways ; and we are with him, fearing, loving, 
pleasing, and serving him, and glorifying his name. 

II. This union and communion is not only as it is begun, but con 
tinued. All union must have some bonds and ties by which it is 
effected ; so this mystical spiritual union. The primary bands are 
those which begin the union, the secondary bands are those which 
continue it. The primary bands are the Spirit and faith, the secondary 
are the constant inhabitation and influence of the same Spirit with 
faith and other graces. 

VER. 6.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 27 

1. Primary. God maketh his first entry into us by his Spirit, for 
it is the Spirit which planteth us into the mystical body of Christ : 1 
Cor. xii. 13, ' For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.' For 
by the quickening virtue of this Spirit is faith wrought in us, and then 
the soul ernbraceth and receiveth Christ, and the nuptial knot is tied. 
Christ, as the most worthy, and as having the quickening and life- 
making power, beginneth with and taketh hold of us, that we may 
take hold of him : Phil. iii. 12, ' That I may apprehend that for which 
I am apprehended of Christ.' The Spirit is the bond on Christ's part, 
and faith the principal bond on ours. And if you ask me what act it 
is ? I answer — A broken-hearted and thankful acceptance of Christ, 
as God offereth him to us ; that is the closing act on our part ; then 
Christ and we join hands, when we resolve to cleave to him, and receive 
him as our Lord and Saviour, John i. 12. 

2. For the continuance of this union, or our abiding in him, the 
Spirit is still necessary: 1 John iv. 13, 'Hereby we know that God 
dwelleth in us, and we dwell in God, by the Spirit that he hath given 
us.' So is faith : Eph. iii. 17, ' That he may dwell in your hearts by 
faith.' Faith is the means whereby Christ dwelleth in us by the Spirit, 
and it is also the means of our dwelling in him, and our adherence to 
him, and dependence upon him. We do not use Christ at a pinch, or 
as a pen to write with, and lay it down when we have done, but as the 
branches use the vine, and the members the head which they live lay, 
and from which when they are separated, they dry and wither. The 
heart must be habituated to a constant dependence on Christ. Well, 
then, the communion between Christ and his members is mutual, they 
being in him by faith and a steady dependence, and he in them by his 
Spirit as the root of their spiritual being ; but then all other graces 
concur, and have their use and influence, as chiefly love, which causeth 
a delightful adhesion to him : Deut. x. 20, ' Thou shalt serve the 
Lord thy God, and to him shalt thou cleave.' We cleave to him 
by love, as we live in him by faith. As Jonathan's soul clave to David, 
or was knit to the soul of David, 1 Sam. xviii. 3, or Jacob's life was 
said to be bound up with the lad's life, because of his tender love to 
him, Gen. xliv. 30, so a believer's soul cleaveth to Christ ; love cannot 
endure a separation : Rom. viii. 35, ' What shall separate us from the 
love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, 
or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? ' When we will not suffer ourselves, 
either by the allurements or terrors of the world, or solicitations of the 
flesh, or temptations of the devil, to be withdrawn from the profession 
of his name, or zeal for his truth, or the observance of his precepts, 
then are we said to abide in him. Well, then, love is necessary, only 
there is a difference between faith and love. Faith is the primary 
bond, and love the secondary ; for the union is begun by faith, but 
continued by love. The first thing that tieth the nuptial knot is faith, 
or choosing and receiving Christ, and that which continueth it is con 
jugal loyalty and fidelity, or cleaving to Christ by love. Once more, 
the moral union of hearts is by love, the mystical by faith. Christ 
must dwell in us as the head and fountain of our life, but by love we 
embrace him as our friend whom we most dearly love and esteem. 
Lastly, by faith he dwelleth in us effectively, by his influence maintaining 


our life, and supplying us with all things necessary to godliness. By 
love he dwelleth in us objectively, by such a union as is between the 
object and the faculty. A star is in the eye that seeth it though it be 
ten thousands of miles distant ; and what you think of is in your minds, 
and what you desire is in your hearts. A scholar's mind is in his books 
when he is absent from them, and a wicked man's mind is in his sin 
when he is not practising it, Col. i. 21 ; and we usually say, the mind 
is not where it liveth, but where it loveth. When you fear God, your 
mind is with him ; when you love God, your heart is with him. This 
is an objective union, but by faith there is a union of concretion and 
coalition. Christ is the stock, we the graft ; we are said to be planted 
into him, Horn. vi. 5, he being to us the fountain and principle of a 
spiritual life, or the root of vivifical influence. 

III. Why they ought not nor cannot allow themselves in known 

1. They ought not, because a great obligation lieth upon them 
above others. The apostle telleth us: 1 John ii. 6, 'He that saith 
he abideth in him, ought to walk as he walked.' Zanchy observeth 
it is not only utile, profitable to walk as he walked, but debitum, a 
necessary and express duty ; they ought to walk. Why is it their 
duty more than others ? First, Lest they displease Christ, and forfeit 
the sense of his love, who hath done so much for them as to reconcile 
them unto God, and hath taken them into his mystical body that he 
may give them his Holy Spirit. And after all this, shall we break his 
laws and grieve his Spirit ? This is to abide in Christ against Christ, 
with Judas to kiss him and betray him. He is best pleased when we 
obey his laws rather than fondly esteem his name and memory: 1 John 
v. 3, ' For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments ; ' 
John xiv. 21, 'He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he 
it is that loveth me ; ' John xv. 10, ' If you keep my commandments 
j r e shall abide in my love.' His is a love of bounty, ours a love of 
duty. This is the course that is best pleasing to him, and the ready 
way to continue the sense of his love to you. Secondly, Lest they dis 
honour Christ. What! when you are taken into the cabinet of Christ's 
mystical body, will you yet sin when you are one with God and Christ? 
'Let them be one with us,' John xvii. 21. You sin in God; and though 
you are planted into the good vine, yet bring forth the clusters of 
Sodom and grapes of Gomorrah. What ! sin in Christ ? He was 
holy and you profane, he was humble and you proud, he was meek 
and you contentious, charitable and you malicious ; he did ever please 
God, and you do nothing but displease him. Christ came to make you 
saints, and you live like beasts for sensuality, yea, like devils for envy 
and hatred. Is this the fruit of your being in Christ and living in 
Christ ? You entitle him to your disorders, and pollute his name 

2. They cannot; union with Christ is inconsistent with a life of 
sin. The apostle saith, ' he sinneth not,' making it not only the duty, 
but the property of those that abide in Christ. It must needs be so, 
because otherwise the communion is but pretended. And it is on our 
parts interrupted and broken off. 

[1.] It is but pretended: 'He that saith he abideth in him, ought to 

VKR. 6.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 20 

walk as he walked.' Otherwise you do but say it, it is not a reality. 
I prove it thus: Because where there is union and communion with 
Christ, there his Spirit is given to us, and they that have the Spirit of 
Christ will he like him ; the Spirit worketh uniformly in head and 
memhers. Therefore if the same Spirit and life be in us that was in 
Christ, there must needs be a suitableness. If the spirit of the living 
creature be in the wheels, the wheels must move as the living creature 
moveth. Surely if we have not the Spirit of Christ, we are not united 
to him, Horn. viii. 9. If we have, we shall be such in the world as he 
was, have the same mind that he had, and walk as he walked. It was 
an old cheat of the heathens to pretend to secrecy with their gods when 
they would promote any design they had in hand. Many talk much 
of communion with God and Christ, but where are the fruits? So 
that unless we will delude ourselves with a bare notion and empty 
pretence, we must endeavour to find that it is in sincerity. 

[2.] It is on our part interrupted and broken off ; we do what in us 
lieth to provoke Christ to withdraw, for the condition of this com 
munion is holiness : 1 John i. 6, 7, ' If we say we have fellowship with 
him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we 
walk in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship one 
with another ; ' John xiv. 23, ' If any man love me, he will keep my 
words, and my Father will love him ; and we will come unto him, and 
make our abode with him.' Conformity maketh way for communion, 
and likeness is the ground of love. Therefore, if we sin, if we walk 
contrary to God, we do not abide in him ; for there is a contradiction, 
that we should abide in him, and yet break off from him as we do by 
wilful sin. 

Use 1. Information; to teach us how to check sin by the remembrance 
of union and communion with Christ : 1 Cor. vi. 15, ' Shall I take the 
members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid.' 
The apostle is reasoning against fornication, and one main argument is 
taken from our union with Christ. The bodies of the faithful are a 
part of his mystical body, and therefore must be used with reverence, 
and possessed in sanctification and hgnour ; not given to a harlot, but 
reserved for Christ. He proveth the argument on both parts, that he 
that is joined to a harlot maketh himself one with a harlot, and he 
that is joined to Christ becometh one with Christ. ' He that is joined 
to a harlot is one body ; ' i.e.. that conjunction is carnal and bodily : 
' But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit ;' i.e., this conjunction 
is holy and spiritual. And does not the argument hold good in other 
cases ? Thus in gluttony and intemperance, they join us to something 
that is different from Christ, and debase the body which Christ hath 
made the temple of his Spirit. Nay, though the sin be not so gross, 
the argument is good still. Do we dwell in Christ, and make Christ's 
mystical body a shelter and sanctuary for sinners, and this great 
mystery of union with Christ only/ a cover for a carnal heart and life ? 
Surely every one that is in Christ hath greater obligations than others, 
being taken into such a nearness to God ; and has greater helps, having 
received of his fulness, John i. 16. They have grace from him, as the 
branches have sap from the root. 

Use 2. Are we true members of Christ's mystical body ? ' Whoso- 


ever abideth in him sinneth not.' Let us pause on this a little. Do 
not we sin daily ? But unavoidable failings do not forfeit or break off 
our union and communion with him. What then? 

1. There are many sins which are utterly inconsistent with true 
godliness ; and if a child of God should fall into them in some rare, 
unusual case, he cannot know himself a child of God. Surely to live 
in them doth clearly decide the matter. As, for instance, consider 
these scriptures : 1 Cor. vi. 9, ' Know ye not that the unrighteous 
shall not inherit the kingdom of God ? be not deceived : neither 
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of 
themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, 
nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God ; ' Gal. 
v. 19-21, ' Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these ; 
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, 
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, 
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and suchlike: of these things I tell 
you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do 
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God ; ' Eph. v. 6, 
' Because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children 
of disobedience.' These acts are so contrary to grace, that no debate 
needeth be about them ; either they are not consistent with sincerity, 
or the knowledge of it. 

2. They live not in any sin against knowledge and conscience ; for 
indulgently and deliberately to run into any sin cloudeth the knowledge 
of our sincerity, for that argueth the reign of sin, and that is dangerous, 
Rom. vi. 14 ; and therefore we need watchfulness, Eph. v. 15, and much 
prayer, Ps. cxix. 133. 

3. When a child of God falleth through infirmity, he presently 
rallieth, and recovereth himself again : Jer. viii. 4, ' Shall they fall, and 
not arise ? ' Surely to lie in the dirt argueth obstinacy. 

4. They do not make a trade or course of sinning and repenting ; 
for relapses against conscience are so grievous to a sincere heart, and 
repentance, if it be serious, doth so wound sin, that it cannot easily 
recover life and strength : Ps. li. 6, ' In the hidden part shalt thou 
make me to know wisdom.' 

5. It neither concerneth the duty nor peace of the children of God 
to omit the due care of their hearts and lives when they come near a 
state of death, and thereby render their condition questionable, lest 
they seem to come short, Heb. iv. 1 ; and Heb. xii. 13, 'Make straight 
steps to your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.' 
Anything that would turn us out of the course of our obedience to God 
should be striven against and watched against till we prevail. It will 
be a doubt, if not a wound and maim, to our sincerity : therefore, if we 
be not known by avoiding sin, let us be known by striving against it, 
and prevailing in some measure. 

Use 3. Is direction. If he that abideth in Christ sinneth not, then 
let us abide in Christ, seek after union and communion with him, be 
cause there is our security. First, If we abide with Christ, he will 
abide with us. There is no danger of breaking on his part, therefore 
we are so often called upon to abide in him, John xvii. Secondly, 
Apart from him we can do nothing, John xv. 5. Thirdly, In him 

VER. 6.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 31 

you may bring forth fruit, John xv. 8. Fourthly, In abiding in 
him we have much joy and comfort: John xv. 10, 11, 'If ye keep 
my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as I have kept my 
Father's commandments, and abode in his love. These things have I 
spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and your joy might 
be full/ The Lord's supper was appointed to represent and seal this 
union : 1 Cor. x. 16, it is called, ' The cup of blessing,' &c. There we 
come to eat his flesh and drink his blood, and to be joined to the Lord 
so as to become one spirit. Since Christ calleth the bread his body and 
the wine his blood, these outward things are signs to put you in remem 
brance, and seals to put you in possession of Christ, whose flesh you eat 
and blood you drink, that you may live by him ; not with your mouth, 
that were to think carnally of heavenly mysteries ; as Nicodemus, when 
told of being born again, thought that a man must enter the second 
time into his mother's womb ; or as the Capernaites said, John vi. 59, 
' How can this man give us his flesh to eat ? ' No ; the eating and 
drinking must be answerable to the hungering and thirsting ; now that 
is not carnal, but spiritual. We must solemnly receive Christ into our 
heart, that he may dwell there. Oh, then, own Christ as your Lord, 
devote yourselves to him : 2 Chron. xxx. 8, ' Yield yourselves to the 
Lord.' Heartily, sincerely resolve to be Christ's, and he will be yours. 

2c£ Point. That no sight and knowledge of Christ is saving and 
effectual but what checketh sin and hindereth the life of it. 

There is a twofold knowledge — speculative and practical. 

1. Knowledge speculative, which is nothing else but a naked map 
and model of divine truths. The Jew had his form of knowledge in 
the law, Rom. ii. 20. So the speculative Christian has a form of god 
liness, 2 Tim. iii. 5, a scheme and delineation of gospel truths. There 
are different degrees of this. 

[1.] A memorative knowledge, such as children have when the field 
of memory is planted with the seed of Christian doctrine. Children 
are taught to speak of divine mysteries by rote, such as God, Christ, 
heaven, hell, sin, righteousness ; as the philosopher observed of young 
men, that they learned the mathematics with all their hearts and minds, 
but moral things they only said them over, rather rehearsed and said 
after another, than believed them. Children answer you the words of 
the catechism, but they heed not what they say, nor understand 
not whereof they affirm ; but it is good that children should learn 
divine things, and after be further instructed in the nature and cer 
tainty of them, Luke i. 5. 

[2.] Another degree above this is opinionative knowledge, when they 
do not only charge their memories, but exercise a kind of conscience 
and judgment about these things, so as to be orthodox and right in 
opinion, and to bustle and contend about that way of religion wherein 
they have been educated, or that which suiteth best with their fancies 
and interests ; yet wisdom entereth not upon the heart, Prov. ii. 10. 
.This maketh men hot disputers, but cold practisers of godliness; they 
have a religion to talk of, but not to live by ; they may know much 
of religion in the notion, and it may be more accurately than the 
serious Christian. As a vintner's cellar may be better stored with wines 
than a nobleman's, but he hath them for sale and not for use, so these 


may form their notions into better order than the serious godly man. 
These are useful in the church, as a dead post may support a living 
tree, or as negroes and slaves dig in the mines to bring up gold to 
others. But alas ! with all their learning they may be thrust into 
hell : ' They received not the love of the truth, whereby they might be 

[3.] There is a higher degree of speculative knowledge beyond this, 
and that is, when men have some kind of touch upon their hearts, but 
it is too slender and insufficient to break their lusts or to stand out 
against temptations. 

Use. Well, then, let us seek after this saving knowledge, to see and 
know Christ as we ought to know and see him, with a renewing, trans 
forming knowledge : Eph. iii. 10, ' And that ye put on the new man, 
which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created 
him.' It is but hearsay knowledge. Think every notion lost that 
doth not invite your minds to the saving knowledge of Christ, and 
secure your practice against error and temptations ; therefore beg the 
Spirit ; he teacheth us to know things so as to have them impressed 
upon our hearts : Eph. iv. 21, 22, ' If so be ye have heard him, and 
have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus : that ye put off, 
concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt 
according to the deceitful lusts.' 


Little children, let no man deceive you : he that doelh righteousness is 
righteous, even as he -is righteous. — 1 JOHN iii. 7. 

THE apostle had hitherto reasoned against the committing of sin ; he 
now persuadeth them to the contrary, the practice of holiness. As 
there is a positive part in religion as well as a privative, so a bare 
abstinence from sin is not enough, but we must also exercise ourselves 
unto godliness, or walk in newness of life : ' Little children, let no 
man deceive you,' &c. 

In the whole verse observe these things — 

1. A caution against error. 

2. A description of a righteous man. First, He is described by his 
own practice ; secondly, By his conformity to Christ : ' Even as he is 

Let me open these branches. 

1. The caution against error, ' Little children, let no man deceive 
you ; ' this is premised, because such mistakes are suited to the corrupt 
heart of man : we may be deceived ourselves, or suffer ourselves to be 
deceived by others. 

[1.] That we may not deceive ourselves ; frequent warnings are 
given against this deceit: 1 Cor. vi. 9, 'Be not deceived; neither 
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor 

VER. 7.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 33 

drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God;' 1 Cor. xv. 33, 'Be 
not deceived ; evil communication corrupts good manners : awake to 
righteousness and sin not.' So Gal. vi. 7, ' Be not deceived, God is 
not mocked ; for what a man soweth, that shall he reap.' Once more, 
Eph. v. 6, ' Let no man deceive you with vain words ; for because 
of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of dis 

[2.J Not deceived by others. There were false teachers in the 
apostle's days, that said a man might be righteous and yet live in sin. 
Simon Magus taught that bare profession of faith, without a strict 
life, was enough to salvation, which poison was also sucked up by 
others, the Basilides and the Gnostics. 

2. The description of a righteous man; he is described — (1.) By 
his ordinary practice ; (2.) By his conformity to Christ. 

First, By his ordinary practice : ' He that doeth righteousness is 
righteous.' In which proposition there is — 

1. The subject, ' He that doeth righteousness.' This needeth to be 
explained, because many boasted that they were righteous who yet did 
not live righteously. 

Here I shall inquire — (1.) What is righteousness; (2.) What it is 
to do righteousness. 

[1.] What is righteousness ? Righteousness is sometimes taken 
strictly for that grace which inclineth us to perform our duty to- man, 
with all the acts and duties thereunto belonging. So Eph. iv. 24, 
' The new man is created after God in righteousness and true holi 
ness ; ' where righteousness referreth to- man, holiness to God : Luke 
i. 75, ' In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our 
life ;' where there is the same reference. So 1 Tim. vi. 11, 'Follow 
after righteousness, godliness.' Which words comprise the duties of 
the first and second table. Sometimes more largely for all newness of 
life, or all those holy actions which are required of a Christian. So 
Mat. iii. 15, ' It behoveth me to fulfil all righteousness ; ' that is,, 
whatsoever is required by the law or commanded by God. In this 
large sense it is taken here. 

[2.] What it is to do righteousness. It is to love righteousness, or 
to carry on a constant tenor of all holy and righteous actions ; for to 
do righteousness is opposed to committing sin ; therefore it supposeth 
us to lead a godly and righteous life, or that we exercise ourselves 
unto and be fruitful in all good works. 

2. For the predicate, l ls righteous.' Here we must inquire in 
what notion the term ' righteousness ' is used ; for a man may be said 
to be righteous in a twofold respect — either with respect to sanctifica- 
tion or justification. In the first sense it is taken morally for an 
upright disposition of heart and mind ; in the second sense, legally 
and judicially, for a state of acceptation, or the ground of a plea 
before the tribunal of God. 

[1.] The righteousness of sanctification, ' He is righteous ; ' that is, 
a holy and upright man : 1 Peter iii. 12, ' The eyes of the Lord are 
towards the righteous ; ' 1 Peter iv. 18, ' If the righteous be scarcely 
saved ; ' 2 Peter ii. 7, 8, ' He delivered righteous Lot ; ' and again, 
' that righteous man vexed his righteous soul/ 

VOL. xxr. c 


[2.] Righteousness is taken for a forensical or court righteousness, 
as it belongeth to justification : Rom. v. 19, ' As by one man's dis 
obedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many 
shall be made righteous;' that is, deemed as such, counted as such, 
rewarded as such. Now the question is, which of these senses is to be 
chosen here. For the first, the case is clear, that a holy and upright 
man is known by his holy and righteous ways and actions, or he 
showeth the truth of his regeneration by his godly life, 1 John ii. 29. 
In the close of the former chapter, which is the beginning of this 
whole discourse, the apostle said, ' If ye know that he is righteous ; 
every man that doeth righteousness is born of him.' But for the 
second sense, as the term 'righteous' respecteth justification, I cannot 
see why it should be excluded; for the sanctified are also justified; 
and what a respect and subordination there is of the moral righteous 
ness to the judicial, we shall see by and by. Certainly these are 
deemed by God, accepted by God, rewarded by God as righteous. 
Mark but these two scriptures, Luke i. 6, where it is said of Zachary 
and Elizabeth, that ' they were both righteous before God, walking in 
all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless/ Mark, 
that they having their conversations without blame, they were right 
eous, and righteous before God. So Acts x. 35, ' He that feareth God 
and worketh righteousness is accepted with him/ There the right 
eousness is one ground of acceptation with God. 

Secondly, By his conformity to Christ, ' As he was righteous/ He 
was righteous in his nature and practice, for he obeyed God perfectly, 
and ever did the things that pleased God : Heb. i. 9, ' Thou hast loved 
righteousness, and hated iniquity ; and therefore God, -even thy God, 
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows/ Christ's 
doing righteousness is said to be righteous. Now when Christians do 
so, they resemble Christ, and are like him, though not equal with 
him ; so are the children of God, who are adopted into his family, 
which is the thing the context laboureth to prove. 

Doct. That he, and he only, who doeth righteousness, is the Chris 
tian righteous man, and as such is accepted by God. 

I shall prove it by the two former acceptations of righteousness. 

I. In the way of sanctification, he, and he only, is the upright 
gospel Christian that doeth righteousness. 

1. Because this is the great end wherefore God changeth his heart, 
and infuseth grace into him ; not barely that he may have it, but use 
it, and live by it ; it is a talent, the choicest talent wherewith the 
sons of men are intrusted : Gal. v. 25, ' If ye live in the Spirit, walk 
in the Spirit/ Surely where there is life there must be actions suit 
able ; and if there be a spiritual life, there must be a spiritual walking: 
this gift is not given in vain. When Christ speaketh of giving the 
Spirit, John iv. 14, he saith, that ' the water that I shall give him 
shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life ; ' and 
John vii. 38, ' Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water/ The 
Spirit is given in order to action. A Christian is not to keep his 
graces to himself, to fold up his talent in a napkin ; this water is a 
living spring, always springing up ; this conduit is so filled that it 
must burst or flow forth ; and the grace that is in his heart is always 

VEU. 7.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 35 

to be in act and exercise. The apostle telleth us, Rom. vi. 4, that 
we are raised up with Christ by the mighty power of God, that we 
should walk in newness of life ; not to lie idle and still, but to walk, 
and to walk as becometh those who have a new and holy nature. 

2. Grace is of such an operative and vigorous nature, that where it 
is really planted and rooted, it cannot be idle in the soul, but will be 
breaking out into action ; as sin is not a sluggish idle quality, but 
always working and warring : ' Sin wrought in me all manner of con 
cupiscence,' saith the apostle ; ' And I see a law in my members, 
warring against a law in my mind,' Eom. vii. 23. The habit of sin, 
though it be not peccatum actuale, yet it is actuosum. So grace puts 
forth suitable operations : 2 Peter i. 8, ' If these things be in you, and 
abound, they make you that ye shall not be barren nor unfruitful in 
the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Where graces are in any 
good degree of life and strength, there a Christian cannot be lazy, but 
his conversation will be fruitful. Grace will not let a man alone ; he 
shall have no rest and quiet within himself unless he both busy and 
employ himself for God. Faith will show itself in an open and free 
profession of Christ, both in word and deed : 2 Cor. iv. 12, ' We having 
the same spirit of faith, believe, and therefore speak.' A spirit of faith 
cannot be suppressed, neither can the work of faith, 1 Thes. i. 3. 
Hope is a lively hope, 1 Peter i. 3 ; and love hath a constraining force 
and efficacy, 2 Cor. v. 14. Men cannot hide their love, no more than 
fire can be hidden. Graces suffer a kind of imperfection till they pro 
duce their consummate act : 1 John ii. 5, ' But whoso keepeth his word, 
in him verily is the love of God perfected.' Well, then, a Christian is 
not to be valued by dead and useless habits, but operative graces. Ih 
vain do men persuade themselves that they have righteousness buried 
and sown in their hearts, when unrighteousness wholly possesseth their 
hands, minds, eyes, and floweth forth into their actions. 

3. We have no way to distinguish ourselves from hypocrites but by 
performing actions which become real converts. When John sus 
pected the scribes and pharisees, on their submitting to his baptism, he 
presseth them to evidence their sincerity by a suitable conversation : 
Mat. iii. 8, ' Bring forth fruits meet for repentance ; ' and the apostle 
persuadeth the gentiles to repent and turn to God, and do works meet 
for repentance, Acts xxvi. 20. Call them works, or call them fruits, 
they must be such acts as become the change wrought in us. The new 
heart is known by newness of conversation, and a change of heart by a 
change of life. Repentance is an inward thing, but the fruits appear 
outwardly in our actions ; the sap is not seen, but the apples appear. 
Our dedication is known by our use, our choice by our course, and our 
resolution by our practice. Acts discover the habits, and what we do 
constantly, frequently, easily, showeth the temper of the heart. It is 
true God chiefly requireth truth in the inward parts, without which 
all external holiness is but a mere show, and loathsome to him ; yet 
none should flatter themselves with that holiness which they imagine 
to have within, unless the fruits of it appear without, and they labour 
to manifest it in their daily carriage and course of life. If a candle in 
a lanthorn be lighted, it will not be confined there, but shine forth ; 
so if there be grace in the heart, it must show itself by all holy con- 


versation and godliness. We judge of others by their external works, 
for the tree is known by its fruits, and we judge of ourselves by internal 
and external works together. If there be a principle of grace within, 
there will be a love of God, and a hatred of evil, and a delight in holi 
ness, and a deep sense of the world to come ; and all this be discovered 
in a holy and heavenly conversation without. Then this completeth 
the evidence, and breedeth in us the testimony of a good conscience : 
2 Cor. i. 12, ' For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, 
that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversation 
in the world; ' Heb. xiii. 18, ' For we trust we have a good conscience, 
in all things willing to live honestly.' If a man would make a judg 
ment of his own estate, he must take a view of his obedience and daily 
carriage towards God. If there be a course of close walking, and the 
main endeavour be to please him, we may take comfort in it, and it 
will make up an evidence in the court of conscience. 

4. It is for the honour of God that those which live by him should 
live to him, and, when he hath formed a holy and righteous people for 
himself, they should glorify him by doing righteousness. We are as 
new creatures, to bring forth fruit unto God : John xv. 8, ' Herein is 
my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit ; ' Ps. xi. 7, ' For the 
righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the 
upright ; ' 2 Thes. i. 11, 12, ' Wherefore also we pray always for you, 
that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the 
good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power ; that 
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.' By 
internal grace we approve ourselves unto God, by external holiness we 
glorify him in the world. With respect to God's approbation we must 
be righteous ; with respect to God's honour we must do righteousness, 
that so we may bring him into request in the world. He is concerned 
much in our answerable or unanswerable walking. 

II. He that doeth righteousness is righteous with the righteousness 
of justification. This seemeth the harder and more difficult task, but 
to a considering and unbiassed mind all is easy, and to him that will 
be determined in his opinions by the word of God or the gospel of our 
Lord. Therefore, for more distinctness' sake, I shall show you — (1.) 
What is the righteousness of justification ; (2.) What respect the holy 
life hath to it. 

First, What is the righteousness of justification ? It may be inter 
preted either with respect to the precept or sanction of the law. 

1. With respect to the precept of the law, and so the legal righteous 
ness is opposite to reatus culpce, to the fault ; and so, if it were possible, 
we may say that he that fulfilleth the law is righteous ; that is, he is 
not faulty ; but alas 1 we are all sinners. But, however, suppose it for 
method's sake, as the apostle doth ; so it is said, Rom. ii. 13, ' Not the 
hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall 
be justified.' That is a truth if it is rightly understood ; but then the 
law may be fulfilled either in the sense of the covenant of works or in 
the sense of the covenant of grace. 

[1.] In the sense of the covenant of works. A man that exactly 
fulfilleth the law in every point and tittle, without the least alteration 
and swerving, is righteous ; but this is impossible to the fallen crea- 

VER. 7.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in, 37 

ture: ' Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in 
his sight,' Rom. iii. 20; and Gal. iii. 21, 22, 'If there had been a law 
given which could have given life, verily righteousness had been by the 
law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise 
by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.' But — 

[2.] With respect to the law of grace. May not the precept be said 
to be obeyed, not perfectly, but sincerely ? And if so, what hindereth 
but he that doeth righteousness is righteous? that is, evangelically 
justified and accepted by God, as one that hath kept the law of grace. 
I know no incongruity in this ; yea, I see an absolute scriptural cer 
tainty in this doctrine, if the world would receive it, and determine 
their opinions by the simplicity of the gospel, rather than by the dic 
tates of any faction which the late janglings of too many in Christendom 
have produced. Indeed, I know no other way how to reconcile the 
two apostles Paul and James. Paul saith, ' We are justified by faith, 
without the works of the law;' and James, that ' we are justified by 
works, and not by faith only.' Justification hath respect to some 
accusation. Now, as there is a twofold law, there is a twofold accusa 
tion, and so by consequence a twofold justification — by the law of works 
and the law of grace. As we are accused as breakers of the law of 
works, that is, as sinners, obnoxious to the wrath of God, they plead 
Christ's satisfaction as our righteousness apprehended and applied by 
faith, not by works of our own ; but as we are accused as breakers of 
the law of grace, that is, as rejecters or neglecters at least of Christ 
and his renewing and reconciling grace, we are approved, accepted as 
righteous, by producing our faith and new obedience, for thereby we 
prove it to be a false charge ; and though we cannot plead as innocent, 
yet we may plead as sincere ; and so it is said, Mat. xii. 37, ' By thy 
words shalt thou be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be con 
demned ; ' and James ii. 12, ' So speak ye, and so do., as they that 
shall be judged by the law of liberty.' But I have interposed my 
judgment too soon, before I have further cleared up matters: all that 
i desire now is this, that this notion may be marked. Righteousness 
consists in keeping the law, for the law of grace maybe kept, and some 
plea must be made thence, or we are undone for ever. 

2. Righteousness may be interpreted with respect to the sanction, 
which is twofold — the threatening and the promise. 

[1,] With respect to the threatening, and so righteousness is opposite 
to the reatus pcence, the guilt or obligation to punishment; and so a 
man is said to be righteous when he is freed from the external punish 
ment threatened by God, and. due to him as a breaker of the law. 
To this end observe that place, Rom. i. 16-18, ' I am not ashamed of 
the gospel of Christ ; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed 
from faith to faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven 
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.' Mark, there are 
two revelations which are opposed to each other; there is the law 
covenant, in which the wrath of God is revealed, and the gospel cove 
nant, in which the righteousness of God is revealed, or the way to 
escape that wrath. In the law, the wrath of God is revealed and 
denounced against those that have broken it ; and broken it we have 
in every table by our ungodliness and unrighteousness, yea, in every 


point and tittle ; yet the law of grace or of faith hath appointed us a 
remedy in Christ how we may be righteous, and freed from this wrath 
and vengeance by him, by the righteousness of God, or of Christ 
revealed by faith. And more particularly in the commination and 
threatening two things are considerable — the sentence and execution. 

(1.) As the commination importeth a sentence or respects a sentence, 
so we are justified or made righteous when we are not liable to con 
demnation : Horn. v. 18, ' As by the offence of one judgment came 
upon all to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one the free gift 
came upon all to the justification of life.' Now who are made partakers 
of this privilege ? Surely the penitent believer ; that is his first quali 
fication : John v. 24, ' He that believeth in Christ shall not come into 
condemnation.' And new obedience is also considered : Rom. viii. 1, 
'There is no condemnation to them' who live a holy and godly life/ who 
walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit/ So that it may be said, 
he that doeth righteousness is righteous, hath an interest in Christ, is 
not subject to condemnation. 

(2.) As the commination respects execution, so to be justified or 
made righteous is not to be liable to punishment, or not to be punished ; 
so the apostle saith, Rom. v. 9, ' Being justified by his blood, we shall 
be saved from wrath through him.' The penalty is remitted and taken 
off. Thus is the godly upright man justified also, for in the last 
judgment it is said, Mat. xxv. 46, ' These shall go away into everlasting 
punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.' And the righteous 
there are such as do righteousness, or are fruitful in good works ; these 
are not punished, but rewarded. 

[2.] We come now to the other part of the sanction or the promise ; 
and so our judicial and legal righteousness, with respect to it, is nothing 
but our right to the reward, gift, or benefit, founded not in any merit 
• of our own, but only in the free gift of Christ ; partly in the merit of 
another, the free gift of God, and the merit of Jesus Christ. So they 
are said to be justified and made righteous who have a title to eternal 
life : Rom. v. 18, ' By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon 
all to the justification of life;' Titus iii. 7, ' Being justified by his grace, 
we are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.' Now who 
have a right but they that do righteousness, and therefore are righteous 
in the justifying sense ? Rev. xxii. 14, ' Blessed are they that do his 
•commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.' The 
same right that believers have to their adoption, John i. 12. Well, 
then, the privilege of them that do righteousness is not inconsiderable, 
or a matter of small moment; our whole welfare and happiness 
dependeth on it, our freedom from the curse and title to glory. It is 
such a righteousness as exempts them from the present condemnation ; 
and at length, when others are doomed to everlasting destruction, they 
shall be accepted to eternal life. 

Secondly, What respect hath holiness to this being righteous ? 

1. All will grant it to be a predication of the adjunct concerning the 
subject, or a sign concerning the signation of the thing signed. It is 
if any man work righteousness, it is a sign and evidence that he is 
righteous, that he is one of those who are justified and accepted of 
God ; and so they think the justified man is described by his insepar- 

VER. 7.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 39 

able property, the practice of holiness, or doing righteousness. I refuse 
not this, for this includeth all the justified, and excludeth all the 
workers of iniquity ; and this well followed will engage us more to the 
fear of God and working of righteousness than we usually mind and 
regard ; for would you know that you are exempted from condemnation, 
and appointed unto life by Christ ? You can never be clear in it till 
your faith be warranted by your holiness. It is said in one place, 
that ' God hath no pleasure in the workers of iniquity,' Ps. Iv. 5, and 
in another, Ps. xi. 7, ' The righteous Lord loveth the righteous.' These 
are those he appro veth, accepteth, delighteth in, and, finally, whom he 
Avill take home to himself. 

2. But there is more than a sign ; it is a condition of our right and 
interest in Christ's righteousness, and the consequent benefits thereof. 
Our qualification is a part of our plea that we are sound believers. To 
understand this, let me tell you that the righteousness of the new 
covenant is either supreme and chief, and that is the righteousness of 
Christ, or secondary and subordinate, the righteousness of faith and 
obedience. As to the first, a right faith ; as to the second, a continued 
obedience is required. 

[1.] The supreme principal righteousness, by virtue of which we are 
reconciled to God, is Christ's obedience unto death : Horn. v. 19, ' By 
the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.' This is our great 
righteousness, by which the wrath of God is appeased, his justice 
satisfied, by the merit of which all the blessings of the new covenant 
are secured to us. 

[2.] The subordinate righteousness, or the condition by which we 
get an interest in and right to this supreme righteousness, is faith and 
new obedience ; but for a distinct use, as to our first entrance into the 
covenant of God, faith is required : Horn. iv. 3, ' Abraham believed 
God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.' As to our continu 
ance in this blessed privilege, new obedience is required ; for it is said, 
' He that doeth righteousness is righteous.' Thereby his interest in 
Christ is confirmed and continued. Our first and supreme righteousness 
consisteth in the pardon of all our sins for Christ's sake : Kom. iii. 23, 
'Justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ;' 
and we are ' accepted in the Beloved,' Eph. i. 6, and by him have a 
right to impunity and glory, 1 Thes. 5. 9, 10. Our second and subor 
dinate righteousness is in having the true conditions of pardon and life. 
In the first sense, Christ's righteousness is the only ground of our 
acceptance with God. Faith, repentance, and new obedience is not 
the least part of it. But in the second, believing, repenting, obeying, 
is our righteousness in their several respective ways, namely, that the 
righteousness of Christ may be ours, and continue ours. 

Use 1. Is the caution of the text, ' Let no man deceive you ; ' nor 
do you deceive yourselves in point of sin or righteousness. 

First, Sin. As we are pronely bent to commit sin, so we are apt to 
seduce our hearts by many pretences to continue in sin. The usual 
deceits are these three : that sin is no sin ; that they shall escape well 
enough though they sin ; or that their sins are but petty slips or human 

1. Though they live vainly and loosely, yet they think they do not 


sin. To convince these, we must bring them to consider their rule, 
their end, their pattern. Their rule is the law or word of God, What ! 
live in a state of vanity under this strict rule ? and have you no sins to 
repent of and reform ? Surely men are strangers to the law of God, 
otherwise they would have more knowledge of sin. David having 
admired first the beauty of the sun, the light of the visible world, then 
the purity and perfection of the law, which is the light of the intellectual 
world, concludeth all with this prayer or meditation, Ps. xix. 12, ' Who 
can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret sins.' But 
slight and careless people, that the ell may be no longer than the cloth, 
make a short exposition of the law, that they may have a large opinion 
of their own righteousness, and so live a carnal life, without check or 
restraint. So to consider their great end, as a Christian should do 
nothing inconsistent with it, so not impertinent to it ; for so far we are 
out of the way. Consider your words and actions, what do they? 
Alas ! we fill up our lives with actions that are a mere diversion from 
our great end ; this will make them serious, for a man's end should be 
known all the way. Then for his pattern, ' He that doeth righteousness 
is righteous, as he is righteous.' Is this life you lead like the life of 
Christ? If we do not consider our pattern, no wonder we are vain 
and light. The efficacy cometh from beholding, 2 Cor. iii. 18, or 
' looking unto Jesus,' Heb. xii. 2. 

2. That they shall escape the judgment though they live in sin. 
Though it be as plain as the sunshine at noon-day, that they that live 
in gross sins are in a state of damnation, yet men are apt to delude 
their own souls, thinking they may be saved, notwithstanding their 
profane life, with a little general profession of Christ, and a formal in 
vocation of his name, though their lives tend to hell. Oh, no ! ' Let 
every one that narneth the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' 2 Tim. 
ii. 19. The causes of this presumption are non-attendance to or non- 
application of scripture threatenings : ' No man saith, What have I 
done?' Jer. viii. 6. Their abuse of God's patience, and transforming 
him into an idol of their own fancy : Ps. 1. 21, ' Thou thoughtest that 
I was altogether such a one as thyself.' No ; he is a holy and jealous 
God. Do not say he will not be so strict and severe. It is an abuse 
of God's mercy to say his patience suffereth all things, and his 
mercy will be no let to his judgment: Ps. Ixviii. 19-21, 'But our 
God is a God of salvation, yea, our God is a God of salva 
tion. But he will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp 
of all them that go on in their iniquities.' Christ came to save sinners 
from their sins, but not in their sins, Mat. i. 21. So they abuse the 
doctrine of justification. Oh, Christ is their justification. Ay ! but 
you must mind the subordinate righteousness by which the supreme 
righteousness is imputed to you ; and where Christ is made unto us 
righteousness, he is also made to you sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30. They 
believe in him, but true faith is not consistent with an evil and sinful 
life, for it purifieth the heart, Acts xv. 9. These are some of the 
spiders' webs whereby they trust, those sorry fig-leaves wherewith they 
hope to cover themselves, that their nakedness do not appear, those 
sandy foundations which they build upon, the untempered mortar 
which they daub with. 

VER. 7.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 41 

3. That their sins are but petty slips, and small sins, mere human in 
firmities ; that no man can be perfect ; that the purest saints have fallen 
into as great faults. But those are not infirmities which you indulge 
and allow, and study not to prevent and mortify, or retract not with 
grief and shame ; besides, infirmities continued in prove iniquities, 
which by their frequent lapses are rather strengthened than weakened 
in you. 

Secondly, Let no man deceive you in point of righteousness, 'He 
that doeth righteousness is righteous.' 

1. Not he that heareth and talketh of it only doth show himself 
righteous ; not strict opinions with licentious practices , not a bare 
approbation, not approving without doing : Luke xi. 27, 28, ' Yea, 
rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and do it.' 

2. It is not only an intention of mind and purpose. No ; we must 
actually perform the will of God : ' He that doeth righteousness is 
righteous ; ' Acts xxvi. 20, ' That they should repent and turn to God, 
and bring forth fruits meet for repentance/ Repentance is a change 
of mind, but there must be works meet. 

3. Not barely good desires. Many please themselves with this, that 
a desire of living holily sufficeth. No ; the soul of the sluggard desir- 
eth, and hath nothing. It is not he that desireth to be righteous, but 
doeth righteousness ; sluggish desires are easily controlled. Where is 
the effect, the pressing towards the mark ? Phil. iii. 14. If it were 
strongly, seriously desired, we would address ourselves to this work, 
and in some good measure prevail. The building went on when the 
people had a mind to the work, Neh. iv. 6. 

4. It is not doing a good action now and then, but throughout our whole 
course ; we must fear God, and work righteousness : Ps. cvi. 3, ' Blessed 
are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all 
times ; ' and if he falleth, he returneth by a speedy repentance. 

Use 2. Is to persuade us to look after this righteousness, which is 
the drift of the text. To this end consider — 

1. We shall shortly appear before the tribunal of God, where every 
man's qualification shall be judged, whether he be righteous or un 
righteous. How soon it may come about we cannot tell ; this day sur- 
priseth the most part of the world, and taketh them unprovided. The 
word found is often used with respect to this day : 2 Cor. v. 3, ' If so 
be we shall not be found naked.' 2 Peter iii. 14, ' And found of him 
in peace ; ' Phil. iii. 9, ' And be found in him, not having mine own 

2. For God's judgment; nothing but God's righteousness will serve 
the turn. The law which condemneth us is the law of God ; the wrath 
and punishment which we fear is the wrath of God ; the glory which 
we expect is the glory of God ; the presence into which we come is 
the presence of God ; and therefore the righteousness upon which 
our confidence standeth must be the righteousness of God . Rom. iii. 
22, ' Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, 
unto all and upon all that believe/ That which God hath appointed, 
and God will accept. 

3. The righteousness of God is principally the death, merit, and satis 
faction of our Lord Jesus Christ ; for it is said, 2 Cor. v. 21, ' He was 


made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the right 
eousness of God in him.' 

4. None have the benefit of this righteousness of Christ but those 
that believe in him ; for the righteousness of God is revealed from 
faith to faith, Bom. i. 17. Now this faith is nothing else but a broken 
hearted and thankful acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord 
and Saviour. 

5. None have this faith but those that depend upon him as a Saviour, 
and give up themselves with a hearty consent of subjection to be guided, 
ruled, and ordered by him as their Lord. For dependence: Eph. i. 13, 
' In whom ye trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of 
your salvation.' Subjection : Col. ii. 6, ' As ye have received Christ 
Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.' 

6. None give up themselves to him as their Lord but those who 
make it their scope and work to please, glorify and enjoy him : 2 Cor. 
v. 9, ' Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be 
accepted of him.' None but those that purify themselves as he is pure, 
and are righteous as he is righteous. 


He that committeth sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinnetli from the 
beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, 
that he might destroy the works of the devil. — 1 JOHN iii. 8. 

HERE is a new argument against living in sin, backed and confirmed 
with two reasons. The argument is, that they who live in sin are of 
the devil ; it is confirmed with two reasons, the one taken from the 
disposition of Satan, the other from the design of Christ. The one 
proveth the thing asserted, the other showeth the detestableness of it. 
The thing is proved, that he that liveth in sin belongeth to the devil, 
' For the devil sinneth from the beginning.' The other showeth how 
unbecoming it is for them that profess themselves Christians to have 
the gospel in their mouths and the devil in their hearts. In short, the 
one reason showeth our danger, the other our remedy and help ; our 
danger, ' The devil sinneth from the beginning.' It is his work to 
promote sin ; he doth not only sin himself, but instigateth others to sin. 
Our remedy for this purpose, ' The Son of God was manifested,' &c. 

There is a double argument couched in it. You make yourselves 
an opposite party to Christ, and so build again what he came to destroy ; 
or at least you do not improve the help and remedy offered. Let me 
open these things more particularly. 

1. The argument itself, ' He that committeth sin is of the devil.' 
The argument is, that they who live in sin are so far from being the 
children of God, that they are the children of the devil ; for so must 
that ' of the devil ' be interpreted ; for it is presently added in the 10th 
verse, ' In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 43 

the devil ; ' and John viii. 44, ' Ye are of your father the devil.' Like 
ness inferreth relation ; as he that first inventeth, teacheth, or per- 
fecteth any art, is called the father of it or them that use it. So 
Gen. iv. 20, 21, ' Jabal was the father of them that dwell in tents, and 
Jubal the father of such as handle the harp and the organ.' So Satan was 
the inventor of sin, and the beginner of sin and rebellion against God, 
and therefore the father of sinners. 

2. It is confirmed with reasons. 

[1.] That sin entitleth us to Satan, and showeth our cognation and 
kindred to him, and confederacy with him : ' For the devil sinneth 
from the beginning.' The devil is the eldest and greatest sinner, who 
presently sinned upon the creation, and ever since is the grand architect of 
wickedness, the author and promoter of sin among men. ' He sinneth' 
noteth a continued act; he never ceaseth to sin. He was created good, 
but kept not his first estate, fell betimes ; and having given himself 
over to sinning, abideth and proceedeth therein: John viii. 44, 'He 
was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth ; ' 
Jude 6, ' The angels kept not their first estate, but left their own 

[2.] That to belong to the devil misbecometh Christians, and should 
be a detestable thing among Christians : ' For this purpose the Son of 
God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.' 
Where observe — 

(1.) The way the Son of God took to obviate this mischief, ' For 
this cause the Son of God was manifested.' 

(2.) His end and design therein, ' That he might destroy the works 
of the devil.' 

(1.) The way the Son of God took ; he was manifested in our flesh : 
1 Tim. iii. 16, ' And without controversy, great is the mystery of god 
liness : God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of 
angels, preached to the gentiles, believed on in the world, received up 
into glory ; ' which compriseth all the acts of his mediation performed 
in our nature. God had foretold in the first gospel that ever was 
preached that 'the seed of the woman should break the serpent's 
head,' Gen. iii. 15 ; that in our nature, which was so soon foiled by 
Satan, one should come who would conquer and vanquish him, and 
introduce a love and care of holiness. The manifestation of the Son of 
God in the work of redemption doth apparently cross and counterwork 
Satan's design, which was first to dishonour God by a false representa 
tion, as if he were envious of man's happiness. Now in the mystery 
of our redemption God is wonderfully magnified, and represented as 
amiable to man : ' For herein God commendeth his love to us,' Rom. 
v. 8 ; that the Son of man appeared for our relief, and died for our 
sins ; partly to advance the nature of man, which in innocency stood 
so near God. Now that the human nature, so depressed and abased 
by the malicious suggestions of the devil, should be elevated and 
advanced, and set so far above the angelical nature, and admitted to 
dwell with God in a personal union above all principalities and powers, 
Eph. i. 20, 21, surely this should be such an everlasting obligation upon 
us to adhere to God and renounce Satan, that his counsels and sugges 
tions should no more have place with us. This is the way he took. 


(2.) The end and design, for this purpose, ' That he might destroy 
the works of the devil/ Where we have an act and an object. 

(1st.) The act, to destroy. The word signifieth also to dissolve and 
loosen. To dissolve ; many things are destroyed when they are not 
dissolved ; as suppose a building, when the parts are taken asunder or 
severed one from another. So he came to dissolve that frame of wicked 
ness and rebellion against God which Satan had introduced into the 
world. So it is said, ' Christ came to finish transgression, and to make 
an end of sin,' Dan. ix. 24 ; and in time will do it. Or else to loosen 
or untie ; to loosen a chain or untie a knot ; and so it implieth that 
sins are so many chains, and cords, and snares, wherein we are bound 
and entangled : Lam. i. 14, ' The yoke of my transgression is bound 
by his hand ; they are wreathed and come up upon my neck ; ' and 
the wicked are said to be held with the cords of their own sins, Prov. 
v. 22. Christ came to loosen this yoke, to untie these cords. 

(2d.) The object, ' The works of the devil ; ' whereby is meant sins 
which are called his lusts. The devil is the author of sin, the pro 
moter of sin, and hath a great power over us by reason of sin. Sin is 
his work ; he doth not only sin himself, but instigates others to sin ; 
and this Christ came to destroy by the merit of his purchase and the 
virtue of his Spirit. The points which I shall handle are two — 

Doct. 1. That while men live in a sinful course, they are children of 
Satan, and not of God. 

Doct. 2. The design of Christ's coming into the world was to destroy 
sin, which Satan had brought into the world. 

The first point, that while men live in sin, or in a sinful course, they 
are children of Satan, and not of God. For this first point t!ake these 
considerations — 

1. That God and the devil are so opposite, that a man cannot be the 
child of God and of the devil too. Since the first breach made with 
God, by Adam's defection and apostasy, there are two parties and two 
seeds — the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, Gen. iii. 15. 
God and Satan divide the world. There is no neutral and middle 
estate ; a man must be one of these, but he cannot be both at the same 
time. Those that continue in the apostasy from God are of Satan's 
party ; and till their estate be altered and changed, they ought so to be 
reckoned. The great work of Christ, by the powerful means of grace 
he hath instituted and blessed, is ' to turn men from Satan to God,' Acts 
xxvi. 18 ; to take them out of one kingdom to another, ' from the 
kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God;' Col. i. 13, 'Who hath 
rescued us out of the power of darkness, and put us into the kingdom 
of his dear Son.' We must quit the one before we can be received 
into the other; we cannot be of both at the same time. Now by 
nature the whole world of mankind lieth in wickedness, and the devils 
are said to be rulers of the darkness of this world, Eph. vi. 12 ; that is, 
those that live in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and superstition, the 
devil exerciseth a tyranny over them, and so they continue till their 
estate and hearts be changed. 

2. Our being children to either is not to be determined by profes 
sion only, but practice ; for many who are by profession among God's 
people may yet be limbs of Satan and children of the devil ; as Christ 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 45 

telleth the Jews, who were the only visible people God had for that 
time in the world, John viii. 44, ' Ye are of your father the devil, and 
his lusts will ye do ; ' and again, speaking of the tares that grew among 
the wheat, Mat. xv. 38, ' The field is the world ; the good seed are the 
children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked 
one.' Mark, the field is the world, that is, the state of the church in 
this world ; the good seed signifies the good Christians, but the tares 
the wicked that are remaining intermingled among them, and are 
only left to be distinguished by the reapers, who are the angels, at the 
last day ; so that all that live in a state of sin, and are unrenewed by the 
Holy Ghost, and not converted to God, are the children of the devil, 
though they grow among the corn. Now what a detestable thing is. 
it that any of us should be Christ's in profession and the devil's in 
practice and conversation ? For us to have any commerce with the 
devil, and belong to the devil, after we are visibly brought into the 
kingdom of God, should be abhorred by all good Christians. We 
detest witches that come into an express and explicit covenant with 
Satan ; but we are in an implicit covenant with him, of his league and 
confederacy, if we cherish his lusts, follow his counsels and sugges 
tions. Others renounce their baptism, but you forget your baptism, 
which implieth a solemn vow against the devil, the world, and the flesh. 
And therefore carnal Christians are said to ' forget that they were 
purged from their old sins,' 2 Peter i. 9 ; that is, washed in God's 
laver, wherein they were dedicated to God, and renounced the devil 
and his works and lusts. 

3. They that do evil, or live in a course of evil doing, are Satan's 
children for two reasons — 

[1.] Because they resemble and imitate him ; for he is our father 
whom we imitate. Now they imitate Satan in his rebellion against 
God. A man is said to be of the devil, non natura sed imitatione. 
His substance is not by traduction from Satan, but he is said to be of 
the devil by his corruption. By nature he is of God, but by sin he is 
of Satan ; not as a man, but as a wicked man, he imitateth the devil, 
and beareth his image, and is like Satan in malignity. So Elymas the 
sorcerer : Acts xiii. 10, ' thou child of the devil, thou full of all craft 
and subtilty, thou enemy of all righteousness ! wilt thou not cease to 
pervert the ways of the Lord ? ' Some are apparently so as he was, while 
they resemble him in a cruel destructive nature, and a special enmity 
to Christ, and his interest, and truth, and kingdom in the world, and 
seek to maintain the interest of sin and wickedness. This is one 
special sort of sin which is proper to Satan ; but all that cherish sin in 
themselves and others are Satan's children, though they do not go to 
the height of enmity against Christ ; because they take after the 
devil as children do after their parents. Look, as we are denominated 
children of God by imitation and resemblance of him, Eph. v. 1, ' Be 
ye followers of God as dear children,' so pari ratione, by like reason, 
the devil's children, if we follow him in our obstinate rebellion against 

[2.] Because all unregenerate men are governed by him, so that 
there is subjection as well as imitation ; they are acted and guided by 
his suggestions ; he hath a great hand and power over them ; and 


therefore carnal men are said to walk after the prince of the power of 
the air, who worketh in the children of disobedience. He governeth 
and influenceth them, not every one in the same way, yet somewhat in 
a like manner. As the Holy Spirit governeth the faithful, their hearts 
are his shop and workhouse, so the hearts of the wicked are the devil's 
workhouse, where he frameth instruments of rebellion against God. 
The devil, who hath lost his seat, hath built himself a throne in the 
hearts of wicked men, and lords it over them as his slaves. He 
blindeth them, and they suffer themselves to be blinded : 2 Cor. iv. 4, 
' Whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded.' He enticeth them, 
and they consent, and therefore they are said to be taken captive by 
him at his will and pleasure, 2 Tim. ii. 26. Surely then Satan hath 
great power over the unconverted, for, making use of the corruption 
which is in them by nature, he leadeth them up and down by his 
motions and suggestions, and they obey him without resistance ; and 
if the Lord be not merciful to them, they live, and lie, and die in their 
sins, arid are cast forth with the devil and his angels into everlasting 
torments, Mat. xxv. 41, that they may abide with him for ever. 

Use 1. Exhortation to those that yet wallow in their sins. Oh, come 
out of this woful estate, if you would be accounted children of God, 
and not of the devil ! But this exhortation is like to be lost, because 
none will own their misery, and acknowledge that they do as yet 
remain in Satan's snares. Therefore let us convince men a little, and 
persuade them at the same time. I shall convince them by these 
questions, intermingled with the exhortation. 

Quest. 1. Do not you please yourselves too much in an unholy course 
of life, and a sinful state ? The sinful state is the state opposite to 
Christ; the devil's work is to cherish sin, and Christ's work is to 
destroy sin. Now judge under whose influence and government do you 
live ? Under Satan's or Christ's ? Are you cherishing or destroying 
sin ? If you live under Christ's blessed government, you will use all 
his healing methods for the cure of your distempered souls, till you 
find a manifest abatement of corruption, or inclination to present things ; 
for Satan is the god of this world, and you are never satisfied till the 
heavenly mind prevail in you. But if you be under Satan's govern 
ment, you are wholly bent to the world and the things of the world, 
and are entangled in one of those usual snares of sensuality, worldli- 
ness, or pride : 1 John ii. 16, ' For all that is in the world is the lust 
of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which is not of 
the Father, but is of the world.' 

1. Sensuality. The carnal mind and life is flat enmity to God, and 
showeth that we are influenced by the evil spirit, as the heavenly mind 
and life is the property of those that are guided by the Spirit of God ; 
therefore all those that live in ' gluttony, and excess of wine, revellings, 
banquetings,' 1 Peter iv. 3, and spend their time in vanity, wantonness, 
and filthiness, and needless sports, are guided by the unclean spirit, 
not the Holy Spirit ; they are ' sensual, not having the Spirit.' By 
these vanities the mind is debased and polluted, and made unfit for 
God and the work of holiness : 2 Tim. ii. 22, ' Flee youthful lusts ; 
follow after righteousness.' The devil is busy with young men, 
pressing them to inordinate sense-pleasing; then he knoweth that 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 47 

holiness will 'be of little account with them : a gross carnal spirit 
gratifieth the devil's turn. Tertullian telleth us a story, how that the 
devil had possessed a Christian, and being asked why, he pleads that 
he found him at a play, took him upon his own ground, and so pos 
sessed him. 

2. Worldliness, or love of riches : 1 Tim. vi. 9, ' They that will be 
rich fall into temptation and the snare of the devil.' The devil would 
draw us downward, as God upward. God propoundeth the rich 
hopes of the other world to deaden us to the riches and glory of this 
world ; but Satan is the god of this world ; here is his empire, and 
here are his baits and allurements. Now a drossy, unsanctified, 
miserable soul, that loveth the world, savoureth the world, wholly 
iriclineth itself to the world, is held fast by Satan in the snare. 

3. Pride. This is Satan's proper image : 1 Tim. vi. 3, ' Lest, being 
lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.' This 
pride lifts up the mind against God and above men ; when men 
delight and place their happiness in greatness and worldly glory, have 
an envy to those above them, disdain those below them, contend with 
equals out of a lofty conceit of themselves, affect honour and reputa 
tion, rather than carry themselves humbly. 

Quest. 2. How do you carry yourselves as to the change of masters ? 
That we were all once under the power of Satan is evident by what 
is said before. But how did we get out of it, or how do we stand 
affected towards our recovery ? 

1. As to the offers of grace ; if the god of this world do so blind 
our minds or harden our hearts that we despise the offered remedy : 
2 Cor. iv. 4, ' Lest the light should shine unto them.' Impenitency 
and contempt of the grace of the gospel is Satan's great chain ; he is 
loath to let a soul go ; and therefore, Mat. xiii. 19, ' The wicked one 
cometh and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.' When 
they begin to be serious, he possesseth them with prejudices and false 
conceits against religion, and inveigleth and enticeth them by the 
pleasing baits of worldly glory and the delights of the flesh, and puts 
all anxious thoughts out of their minds about their everlasting con 
dition, and discourageth them by the proposal of troubles, dislikes, and 
disgraces ; and when he is foiled by one weapon, he betaketh himself 
to another, that he may hold the poor captive soul in fetters and 
bonds, and they may never think of leaving their sins, but these 
thoughts may die away in their hearts ; and thus every soul that is 
recovered to Christ is fetched out of the very paw and mouth of the 
lion. The heart of a sinner is his garrison and castle, which is so 
blinded with prejudice and passion, and carnal interests and worldly 
allurements, that till Christ come and besiege it, partly with terrors 
and fears, and partly with the offers of mercy and ready help, yea, the 
powerful efficacy of his grace, the poor sinner will not yield. Now 
how is the strong man outed? Luke xi. 21. Have you been sensible 
of your captivity, and have you yielded to the means of your recovery ? 
Are you willing the cords of sin and vanity shall be loosened ? and do 
you give up yourselves to be ruled by your Kedeemer, and take upon 
you his blessed yoke ? Mat. xi. 29. 

2. As to more close and pressing convictions, which is a nearer 


approach than the former. When Christ presseth hard upon men's 
hearts, and would have entrance, many find a plain conflict within 
themselves. Christ haleth the soul one way, and the devil another, 
so that a man is as it were torn to pieces. They would repent and 
reform, but then they are off again ; the enemy of souls will not let 
them go ; pleasures, profits, pleasant company, and carnal acquaint 
ance, are all brought out to persuade him that he should sit down and 
be quiet in his sins. But Christ calleth again, Why wilt thou die, 
sinner ? Now it is good to observe our carriage in these convictions. 
While you keep thus, you are ' double-minded, and unstable in all 
your ways,' James i. 8. Oh, let not Christ be kept out of his right 
any longer ; shall Satan be more powerful in drawing your hearts to 
vain delights than Christ is in working them to God and heaven? 
Can he maintain you, and make good your quarrel against the 
Almighty, and bear you out in rebellion against God ? He is already 
fallen under his displeasure : will you believe a murderer and a liar 
from the beginning, rather than all the threatenings and promises of 
Christ ? What is Satan's end but to destroy and devour, 1 Peter v. 8, 
and Christ's but to save ? Luke xix. 10, ' For the Son of man is come 
to seek and to save that which was lost.' Are eternal life and death 
such trifles that they should move you no more ? You are now but 
as the lamb caught by the wolf and lion ; you are not yet killed by 
him. How much are you beholden to God for restraining the mali 
cious so far ; especially for the offer of help by Christ, and will you 
refuse it ? I will add but this one motive, and that is the deference x 
which Satan hath over the unconverted in common and the obdurate. 
All natural men that are under the reign of sin are under the power 
of the devil. But those that are judicially hardened, he hath a 
peculiar power over them ; for these God hath forsaken, and delivered 
them up into Satan's hands; these are given over to believe a lie, 
2 Thes. ii. 9-12. Who are they but the contemners of the gospel, 
and wilful refusers of his grace ? 

Quest. 3. Do we behave ourselves as those that had a sense of their 
covenant vow and engagement when they entered into the service of 
Christ and have put on the armour of light ? Are we in a continual 
war and fight with Satan ? Certainly where there is a conscience of 
our baptismal vow, there sin cannot quietly reign. Now they that 
make conscience of their baptismal vow are such as do watch, and 
pray, and strive that they enter not into temptation : Mat. xxvi. 41, 
' Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit is 
willing, but the flesh is weak/ The godly are in a great part flesh, 
although renewed, and so easily ensnared. When the devil came to 
tempt Christ, he had nothing to work upon : John xiv. 30, ' The 
prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.' But the best 
of God's children have too much of corruption in them, therefore they 
must watch, and pray, and strive, and use all Christ's means for their 
safety. You must not basely yield to temptations, nor lazily sit down, 
or foolishly imagine the field is won, or the fight is ended, as long as 
you are in the body. How far soever you have gone, how much 
soever you have done and suffered, yet there remaineth more danger ; 
the devil is yet alive, and hath a spite at you, and would sift you as 

1 Qu. ' difference of the power ' ? — ED. 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 49 

wheat, Luke xxii. 33. He knoweth that creatures are mutable, and 
those that miscarry not in one condition yet may in another : 'Ephraim 
is a cake not turned,' Hosea vii. 8, and he himself is subtle and full 
of wiles and methods. Now shall we carelessly wink, or put our foot 
in the snare ? Christ warneth us frequently to take heed. There is 
no sleeping in the midst of so great danger. There is a remnant of 
his seed within you, which will betray you to him if you be not wary. 
Many that have begun in the spirit have ended in the flesh. Per 
severance only must put on the crown. Therefore beware of the 
wounds of wilful sins ; these give Satan a great advantage against us : 
Ps. xix. 13, 'Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' By 
committing any deliberate act of known sin, you are in that so far an. 
imitator of Satan. Well, then, since the renewed are yet but in the 
way, and not at the end of the journey, they are not wholly exempted 
from the power and malice of the tempter : ' Therefore be sober and 
watchful, for your adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, goeth about, 
seeking whom he may devour,' 1 Peter v. 8. He speaketh to the 
converted. Though Satan prevaileth not over a renewed man so far 
as to rule in him, yet he leaveth not to assault him, if it were but to 
vex him. The capital enemy of man's salvation watcheth all advan 
tages against them ; though the door of a believer's heart be shut, yet 
lie is searching and trying if he can spy but the narrowest passage, or 
the least opportunity whereby he may again re-enter his old posses 
sion, or exercise his former tyranny, or recover his interest in the 
heart ; therefore we are warned, Eph. iv. 27, ' not to give place to the 
devil.' We do so by our pride, passion, vanity, or worldliness ; but by 
hearkening to him we do but give up our throat to the murderer, who 
would fain draw us to some acts of gross sin, whereby to dishonour 
God : 2 Sam. xii. 14, ' Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given 
occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme.' And destroy our 
peace : Ps. xxxii. 3, 4, ' When I kept silence, my bones waxed old, 
through my roaring all the day long ; for day and night thy hand 
was heavy upon me : my moisture is turned into the drought of 
summer.' And fearful havoc is made in the soul : Ps. li. 10-12, 
' Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a right spirit within 
me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy 
Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold 
me with thy free Spirit.' 


For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy 
the works of the devil. — 1 JOHN iii. 8. 

I HAVE often spoken of what Christ doth for the appeasing of God ; 
I shall now speak of what he doth for the vanquishing of Satan. 

In the words consider — (1.) The way the Son of God took to do us 
good ; (2.) His end and design therein. 



1. The way the Son of God took to do us good, ' He was mani 
fested;' thereby is meant his coming in the flesh, 1 Tim. iii. 16, 
together with all the acts of his mediation performed in our nature. 
God had foretold that the seed of the woman should bruise the 
serpent's head, Gen. iii. 15 ; in our nature would Christ foil and con 
quer Satan. 

2. The end and the design ; for this cause, ' That he might destroy 
the works of the devil.' Wherein observe — 

[1.] An act; to destroy. The word signifieth also to dissolve or 
untie, to loosen a chain or untie a knot, and so implieth that sins are 
so many chains, cords, and snares, wherein we are bound. We are en 
snared and entangled in a course of sin till Christ untied the knot : 
Hosea iv. 17, ' Ephraim is joined to idols/ So joined that he cannot 
be divided from them ; concorporate with his idols. And we are 
bound over to punishment : Lain. i. 14, ' The yoke of transgressions 
is bound by his hands, they are wreathed and come upon my neck ; ' 
and the wicked are said to be holden with the cords of his sins, 
Prov. v. 22. 

[2.] The object, ' The works of the devil,' whereby is meant sin. The 
former part of the verse cleareth that, ' He that committeth sin is 
of the devil ; ' and sins are called his lusts, John viii. 44. The devil 
is the author of sin, and suggests sin, and hath a power over us by 
reason of sin. Sin is his work; he doth not only sin himself, but in 
stigate others to sin. 

Doct. The design of Christ's coming into the world was to unravel 
the devil's work, or to destroy the kingdom of sin and Satan. 

I observe here — 

1. Two opposite powers and agents — the devil and the Son of 
God. The devil sought the misery and destruction of mankind, but 
Christ sought our salvation. Satan is the great disturber of the 
creation, and Christ is the repairer of it. This malicious cruel spirit 
ruined mankind at first, and therefore he is called a liar and a 
murderer from the beginning, John viii. 44 ; and Christ, as early 
promised and prefigured, is said to be ' the Lamb slain from the founda 
tion of the world,' Rev. xiii. 8. We were at first ruined by hearkening 
to his counsels and suggestions, as we are now saved by faith in Christ. 
By his lies he deceived our first parents, and induced them to sin, and 
so we are made liable to death ; and so by Christ's truth we are led 
into the way of salvation. All persons were corrupted and out of 
frame by the fall of man, through the suggestion of Satan, and are set 
in joint again by Jesus Christ. The devil is still ' a roaring lion, going 
about seeking whom he may devour,' 1 Peter v. 8 ; and Christ is the 
lion of the tribe of Judah, in whom is our safety and preservation, 
Rev. v. 5. The devil is wholly employed to oppose the work of man's 
salvation and to bring us into sin and misery, and Christ is employed 
to preserve the elect, and keep them in his own hand. The devil is an 
accuser of the brethren, Rev. xii. 10, and Christ is an advocate: 
1 John ii. 1, ' We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the 
righteous.' In short, we must set the one against the other, the 
captain of our salvation against the author of our destruction. 

2. Let us consider the advantage that we have by the one above the 

YER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 51 

other, and you will find that Christ is much more able to save than 
Satan to destroy. 

[1.] The devil is a creature, but Christ the sovereign Lord, who 
hath power over him and all creatures. The devil's tempting is by 
leave. He was fain to beg leave to tempt Job, chap. i. 12 ; to winnow 
Peter, Luke xxii. 31, 'Satan hath desired to winnow and sift you as 
wheat.' Nay, he could not enter into the herd of swine without a new 
patent or pass from Christ, Mat. viii. 31. This cruel spirit is held in 
the chains of an irresistible providence. When we are in Satan's hands, 
it is a great satisfaction to remember that Satan is in God's hands. 

[2.] The devil is a rebel and a usurper for the most part, but Christ 
is our appointed remedy : John iii. 16, ' He gave his only-begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have ever- 
las.ting life ; ' Bom. iii. 25, ' Whom God hath set forth to be a pro 
pitiation, through faith in his blood.' 

[3.] The devil hath no power upon the heart, cannot work any 
change upon the will, or create new principles and habits which before 
were not, as God doth, Jer. xxxi. 33. God can put his law into our 
inward parts, and write it on our hearts. He can only propound 
alluring baits and objects to the outward senses or inward fancy, but 
God worketh immediately upon the heart ; therefore by the power of 
Christ the godly may overcome the wicked one. The Lord puts an 
enmity in our hearts against Satan and his ways and counsels : Gen. 
iii. 15, ' And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and be 
tween thy seed and her seed.' It is put by way of efficacy on the one 
side, and allowed on the other by Way of permissive intention. God 
maketh use of our will and affections in this opposition. Enmity is 
the voluntary and strong motion of the mind of man against that which 
he hateth. 

[4.] The devil only maketh use of the root of sin which is in us by 
nature, and prevaileth by his assiduous diligence, multiplying tempta 
tions without intermission. But yet we have more for us than against 
us, if we consider that Christ hath power enough to deal with Satan ; 
he is overmatched and overmastered by Christ, the stronger than he, 
Luke xi. 22. Merit enough to counterbalance the evil of nature. 
There is much more in the grace of the Eedeemer : Kom. v. 17, ' For 
if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which 
receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign 
in life by one, Christ Jesus.' Then for his assiduity, Christ hath love 
enough to attend and mind the affairs of his people. It is true Satan 
is always blowing the bellows, inflaming our corruptions, suggesting 
wicked temptations ; but doth not Christ still make intercession for us ? 
Is not his Spirit as watchful in our hearts to maintain his interest 
there? So that if we believe that Christ hath power enough, merit 
enough, love enough, surely the case is clear ; the Son of God will have 
the better in all in whom he is pleased to work. 

3. That all mankind by nature lieth in wickedness, and sin and 
Satan worketh in them at his pleasure, and therefore Satan is called 
the prince and god of this world : Eph. vi. 12, ' Kulers of the darkness 
of this world.' He is the prince and ruler of those that live in sin, 
darkness, ignorance of God, and superstition, and exerciseth a tyranny 


over them. So lie is called the god of this world, 2 Cor. iv. 4, because 
of his great prevalency here : ' The prince of the power of the air, that 
worketh in the children of disobedience,' Eph. ii. 2. All men in their 
nnrenewed estate are very slaves to Satan, to his motions and sugges 
tions, whom they resemble in their sin and wickedness, he taking them 
captive at his will and pleasure, 2 Tim. ii. 26. They are at war with 
God, from the covenant of whose friendship they are fallen, but at 
peace with Satan. 

4. Satan hath a twofold power over the fallen creature — legal and 

[I.] He hath a power over them by a kind of legal right, a power 
flowing from the sentence of condemnation pronounced by the law 
against sinners ; therefore it is said he had the power of death : Heb. 
ii. 14, ' That he might destroy him who had the power of death, that 
is, the devil.' The devil by his temptations having drawn men to sin, 
and so made them liable to death, they fall into his hands and come 
into his power, so that he hath a dominion over them, reigneth in them, 
blindeth them, perverteth them, stingeth them to death, and so by sin 
more and more they are made obnoxious to the curse and vengeance of 
God's broken law. As the jailor and executioner hath the power of the 
gallows, so hath the devil the power of death. The devil hath no 
right, as a lord, to judge and condemn us, but as an executioner of 
God's curse ; so God may put the poor captive sinner into his hand, 
which is one reason why we should the more earnestly beg the pardon 
of sins, and be thankful for the mercy of a Kedeemer. Now this 
power being by the appointment of God, it must some way or other be 
evacuated and disannulled : Isa. xlix. 24, 'Shall the prey be taken from 
the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered ? ' Sinners are Satan's 
lawful prize, but Christ came and turned the devil out of office : 
' By death he hath destroyed him that had the power of death.' He 
made Satan's office idle and useless ; when God was reconciled, his 
power was at an end. Therefore upon his blotting out the handwriting 
of ordinances, which was against us, we presently hear of the disan 
nulling of Satan's power, Col. i. 14, 15. When the judge and the law 
are satisfied, the jailor and executioner hath no more to do. 

[2.] He hath a power by tyrannical usurpation, in regard of which 
he is called the prince of this world : John xii. 31, 'Now is the prince 
of this world condemned.' God made him an executioner, and we made 
him a prince and a god, obeying his sinful motions and counsels, and 
being led by him up and down, and driven on furiously in a way of sin. 
So Christ, as true king and head, both of men and angels, putteth 
down Satan as a usurper, and breaketh the yoke of his oppression, 
rescueth the elect by strong hand : Col. i. 13, ' Who hath delivered us 
from the power of Satan, and translated us into the kingdom of his 
dear Son.' Satan had housed and possessed souls as his lawful goods : 
Luke xi. 21, ' When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods 
are in peace ; ' Mat. xii. 29, ' How can one enter into a strong man's 
house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man, and 
then he will spoil his house ? ' Not part with the possession of one 
•soul till he be mastered ; therefore the usurper and disturber of man 
kind is destroyed. 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 53 

5. Tliere is a twofold work of the devil — one without us, and the 
other within us. 

[1.] The work of the devil without us is a false religion, or those 
idolatrous and superstitious rites by which the world hath been deceived, 
and by which Satan's kingdom hath been upheld. Now Satan's king 
dom is cast down by the doctrine of the gospel, accompanied by Christ's 
powerful Spirit : Luke x. 18, ' I beheld Satan fall from heaven like 
lightning.' When the gospel was first preached, the devil was de 
throned, and fell from his great unlimited power in the world ; as 
lightning flasheth and vanisheth, and cometh to nothing, and never re 
collects itself again : John xii. 31, ' Now shall the prince of this world 
be cast out.' The apostles went abroad to bait the devil, and hunt 
him out of his territories, and they did it with great effect. And there 
fore it is made one argument by which the Spirit doth convince us of the 
truth of the gospel: John xvi. 11, 'He shall convince the world of 
judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.' The casting 
out of Satan from the bodies of those who were possessed by him, the 
silencing his oracles, the suppressing his superstitions, and destroy 
ing the kingdom of wickedness and darkness, was an apparent evidence 
of the truth of the gospel, as was striking blind Ely mas, a famous sor 
cerer, Acts xiii. So the punishment of his servants and votaries, dis 
solving the force of his enchantments : ' They that used curious arts 
burnt their books/ Acts xix. 15. The devil's kingdom went to wreck 
in all the parts of it ; the old religion everywhere was overturned, no 
more the same rites, the same temples, the same gods that they and 
their predecessors had so long worshipped ; and God, as worship 
ped in Christ, cometh up in the room. Though the world were 
captivated, under Satan, rooted in former superstitions, yet Christ pre 
vailed, and got ground by the rod of his strength, even the word of his 
kingdom. Before that, Satan everywhere had his temples wherein he 
was worshipped, his oracles resorted to with great reverence, till the 
Hebrew child silenced him. He ate of the fat of their sacrifices, and 
drank the wine of their drink-offerings, yea, often the blood of their sons 
and daughters, whom they sacrificed to him. Yet all his strongholds 
were now demolished, the idols broken whom they and their fathers 
had worshipped and prayed unto in their distresses and adversities, 
and blessed in their prosperities. Now all of a sudden are these tem 
ples thrown down, these images broken, these altars polluted and set 
at nought, and the people turned from these vanities unto the living 
God ; and still he is undeceiving the world ; he came to dissolve the 
works of the devil, and in every age something is done in that kind. 
The unwary and corrupt world doth put Christ upon acting mainly 
the demolishing and destructive part hitherto. When gentile worship 
was put down, then antichristianity got up in a mystery, and fortifieth. 
itself by the numerous combined interests of the carnal : ' But the wea 
pons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to pull 
down strongholds/ 2 Cor. x. 4. But in time, by the power of the word 
and the course of God's providence, and the patience of his servants 
and the efficacy of his Spirit, this whole mystery of iniquity will be 
finished and come to nothing. 

[2.] There is the work of the devil within us ; this is destroyed also., 


But here again we must distinguish between the purchase and the ap 

(1.) The purchase was made when Christ died ; for, Heb. ii. 14, ' By 
death he destroyed him that had the power of death ; ' and Col. ii. 15, 
' He spoiled principalities and powers, and triumphed over them on his 
cross.' Christ's death is Satan's overthrow ; then was the deadly blow 
given to his power and kingdom. When the Jews and Roman soldiers 
were spoiling him and parting his garments, then was he spoiling princi 
palities and powers ; in that very hour, which was the power of dark 
ness, was Christ making a show of Satan openly, and leading captivity 
captive. When they were insulting over the Son of God, then was he 
triumphing over all the devils in hell, and overcame them by suffering 
himself visibly to be overcome by them. Well, then, here is the ground 
of our faith, the death of Christ, which we remember in the sacrament ; 
this was the price given for our ransom, and the means of disannulling 
all the power which Satan had in us before. 

(2.) The application is begun in our conversion, and afterwards 
carried on by degrees. All those who are converted and receive the 
gospel are said to be turned from Satan to God, Acts xxvi. 18. Then 
are they, from the children of the devil, made the children of God, 
and adopted into his family, and delivered from the dominion of sin 
into the glorious liberties that belong to God's children. And therefore 
those to whom God giveth repentance are said, 2 Tim. ii. 26, to be 
recovered out of the snare of the devil, by whom they were taken captive 
formerly at his will and pleasure. Before they were his slaves and 
drudges, drove on furiously, were at the beck of every lust ; but then 
they recover themselves, as made free by Christ. 

6. There is in sin, which is the work of the devil, three things — (1.) 
The guilt of it ; (2.) The power of it ; (3.) The being of it. All 
these Christ came to dissolve, but by several means and at several 

[1.] The guilt of it ; that is done away by justification. Guilt is 
an obligation to punishment. Now this is one effect of Satan's malice, to 
involve us in the same ruin and condemnation into which he hath 
plunged himself ; he is held in chains of darkness, 2 Peter ii. 4 ; by 
which is meant, not only the powerful restraints of providence, but the 
horror of his own despairing fears. If the restraints of providence had 
only been intended, it had been enough to have said they are held in 
chains ; but these are chains of darkness, and therefore it implieth not 
only God's irresistible power restraining them, but bis terrible justice 
tormenting them ; so that, go where they will, they cany their own hell 
about with them, in the constant feeling of the wrath of the Almighty, 
and the dreadful expectation of more wrath. This is the case of the 
devils ; and do not they seek to bring us into the same condition ? Yes, 
certainly they do; what mean else Satan's 'fiery darts?' Eph. vi. 16, by 
which is meant, not only raging lusts, but tormenting fears. And 
certainly, as the devil hath the power of death, so he keepeth men under 
the fear of it and the consequents of it all their days, Heb. ii. 14, 15. 
He bringeth his slaves and poor deluded souls into sin, that he may 
bring them into terror, and oppress them by their own guilty fear^. 
He maketh use of conscience to stir them up, but he joineth with them 


horrors of conscience, and increaseth their violence. The devil is first 
a tempter, that he may be afterwards an accuser and a tormentor. 
He is called our ' adversary/ 1 Peter v. 8. The word signifieth an 
adversary or enemy at law. He pleadeth law and equity of his side, 
and by law would carry the cause against all that come of Adam, for 
they are all law-breakers ; and if Christ had not freed us from the 
curse of the law, what would you answer ? Again, when he is termed 
an accuser, Rev. xii., it doth not signify a whisperer or slanderer out of 
malice, but a pleader as an attorney or accuser by law. There is none 
upon earth but yieldeth matter enough to fill up his accusations ; he 
needeth not come with slanders. Now wicked men, who are his slaves, 
are either stupified or terrified by him, or both. If they be stupified, 
they are more terrified afterwards ; at best they are always at the beck 
and mercy of a cruel master, who can soon revive their hidden fears ; 
and if they be not under actual horrors, they dare not be serious, nor 
call themselves to an account, nor entertain any sober thoughts of death, 
and judgment, and wrath to come. Yea, Satan hath a great hand in 
the troubles of conscience which befall God's children ; they have many 
a sad hour of darkness when God lets loose the tempter upon them, and 
many heavy damps of spirit doth the accuser bring upon them now. 
Well, then, this is a part of the works of the devil, those fears of death 
and damnation which dog sin at the heels. These Christ came to 
dissolve, and by death to deliver us from the fear of death : ' He was 
made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in 
him/ 2 Cor. v. 21. A believer may triumph over his accuser, and draw 
water out of the wells of salvation with joy : Rom. viii. 33, 34, ' Who 
shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect ? it is God that justifieth ; 
who is he that condemneth ? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is 
risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, and maketh interces 
sion for us/ By his death he hath satisfied God's justice, and at hia 
resurrection he had his discharge. By his intercession he pleadeth it 
in court. Who shall condemn ? Our advocate is more powerful in 
court than our accuser ; he doth not only sue out our pardon by entreaty, 
but by merit : Dan. ix. 24, ' He shall make an end of sins, and make 
reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in an everlasting righteousness/ 
This is to destroy the works of the devil indeed. He shall stay the im 
putation of sin, working the reconciliation of sinful man to God, estab 
lishing an unchangeable rule of our justification by the Lord our right 
eousness. Surely all accusation is fruitless when we have such an 
advocate as he is. We are sinners ; but if he will spread the skirt of 
his righteousness over us, ' and appear before God for us ' Heb. ix. 24, 
why should we fear ? 

[2.] The dominion and power of sin. The devil keepeth peaceable 
possession in the soul as long as sin reigneth : Eph. ii. 2, ' He worketh 
in the children of disobedience/ Their hearts are his shop and work 
house, where he formeth weapons and instruments of rebellion against 
God, The devil, who hath lost his seat in heaven, hath built himself 
a throne in the heart of every wicked man, and lords it over them as 
over his slaves ; and if they had eyes to see, this is a heavier bondage 
than if they were laden with irons, and cast into the deepest dungeon 
that ever was digged. Convinced men are sensible of it, but they know 


not how to help themselves. Converted men are in part freed ; the 
dominion of sin is broken in them, though its life be prolonged for a 
season. But because it is a nice case how to distinguish between the 
remaining of sin and the reigning of it, and the life from the dominion, 
and every degree of this hated enemy is a burden, therefore they pray 
earnestly, Ps. cxix. 133, ' Order my steps in thy word, and let no ini 
quity have dominion over me.' Watch and strive : Rom. vi. 12, ' Let 
not sin reign therefore in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey the 
lusts thereof.' Comfort themselves with their justification, in the im 
perfection of their sanctification : Rom. vi. 14, ' For sin shall not have 
dominion over us ; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' But 
the great encouragement of all is Christ's undertaking ; ' He came to 
destroy the works of the devil.' And surely his end will not be frus 
trated : Rom. vi. 11, ' Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed 
unto sin, but alive unto God.' Therefore you may see it a-dying, and 
Christ destroyeth the power of sin by degrees, putting an enmity in 
your hearts against it : Gen. iii. 15, ' I will put enmity between thee 
and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.' Sin dieth as our 
love dieth to it ; they grow every day more free from it, as heretofore 
from righteousness. The devil seeks to increase sin, but Christ to 
destroy it. Wjien he hath once rescued the prey out of Satan's hands, 
he will maintain his interest against all the powers of darkness : Eph. 
vi. 10, 11, ' Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might ; for 
we fight not against flesh and blood.' The war is not only against 
visible enemies, nor against internal passions and lusts, but against 
spiritual wickednesses. Yet the divine grace is sufficient; we have God's 
Spirit against the evil spirit : 1 John iv. 4, ' Greater is he that is in 
you than he that is in the world.' 

[3.] The being of sin shall at length be destroyed; for the final 
victory is sure and near, for Christ will perfect the conquest which he 
hath begun : Rom. xvi. 20, ' The God of peace shall tread Satan under 
our feet shortly.' At death sin is totally disannulled, and then sin 
shall gasp its last, and the physician of souls will then perfect the cure. 
The Papists say, as Bellarmine, that either we must be perfect before 
death, or in purgatory after death. I answer — As we are sinners in 
the first moment of our birth, so after death no more sinners ; no, not 
in the last moment of expiration. Christ taketh time to finish his 
work. No sinner doth enter into the state of bliss. Death doth remove 
us from this sinful flesh, and admits the soul into the sight of God, 
which is in that instant perfected ; as remove the veil, and light break- 
eth in all of a sudden. 

Object. 1. How doth Christ destroy the works of the devil, since 
the kingdom of sin and Satan yet remaineth in so great a part of the 
world ? 

Object. 2. How doth Christ destroy the works of the devil, since many 
of Christ's own people are sorely assaulted, shaken, and many times 
foiled by the devil ? 

(1.) For the general case. In time Christ doth destroy them, all 
the opposite reigns or kingdoms, the kingdom of sin, Satan, and death. 
Christians have no enemy to their happiness but such as shall be con 
quered by Christ ; sooner or later he will overcome them all. Yet, for 


the present, this destruction is not so universal but that sin and Satan, 
do still continue. There is not a total destruction of these things, but 
an absolute subjection to the mediatorial kingdom; they are so far 
destroyed as they cannot hinder the salvation of the elect ; they are 
destroyed so far that they shall not hinder the demonstration of his 
mercy to them ; but as they are subservient to the demonstration of 
his justice, error is so far continued. In reprobate and damned souls, 
the spot of sin remaineth in its perfect dye, the dominion of sin con- 
tinueth in its absolute power. Guilt is an obligation to eternal pain ; 
but all this in a subjection to his throne. Some continue slaves to 
Satan, and evermore remain so, and we are not altogether gotten free 
from Satan's power. God hath a ministry for the devil in the world. 
Absolute subjection to Christ is at the day of judgment ; the infernal 
spirits shall then bow the knee to Christ, as things in heaven and on 
earth, and things under the earth : Phil. ii. 10, compared with Rom. 
xiv. 10, 11, and Isa. xlv. 23, ' Unto me every knee shall bow, and every 
tongue shall swear.' The saints shall then judge angels, 2 Cor. vi. 2. 
God hath a ministry for Satan to punish careless souls, to hinder the 
word, inject ill thoughts, lay snares, raise persecution, sow tares, accuse 
and trouble the faithful, vex their bodies as he did Job ; so Paul had 
a messenger of Satan, some racking pain in his body, the stone or gout, 
or the like. 

(2.) As to the second case, I answer — To try and exercise the godty, 
Job i. 12. The godly are sometimes foiled, and yield to his tempta 
tions, yet not taken captive by him at his will and pleasure. He may 
prevail in some cases on them, as he did on David : 1 Chron. xxi. 1, 
' And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number 
the people.' All watchfulness should be used : 1 Cor. vii. 5, ' That 
Satan tempt you not for your incontinency ; ' 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3, ' For I 
am jealous over you with a godly jealousy ; for I have espoused you 
to one husband, that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ. But 

1 fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his sub- 
tilty.' They may be drawn, in some rare case, to some particular sin : 

2 Sam. xi. 4, ' And David sent messengers, and took her, and came in 
unto her, and lay with her;' whereby God may be dishonoured : 2 Sam. 
xii. 14, ' By this deed thou hast given occasion to the enemies of God 
to blaspheme;' or to mar their own peace: Ps. xxxii. 3, 4, ' When I 
kept silence, my bones waxed old, through my roaring all the day long ; 
for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me : my moisture is turned 
into the drought of summer.' He may assault them for their exercise, 
yet riot touch them with a deadly wound : 1 John v. 18, ' He that is 
begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him 
not;' so as to overcome and destroy their salvation: 1 Cor. x. 13, 
'Who will not sufFeji* you to be tempted above that you are able, but 
will with the temptation make a way to escape, that ye may be able 
to bear it.' This opposition is an evidence when we feel it, or groan 
under it, otherwise they would be at peace : Luke xi. 21, ' When the 
strong man keeps the house, his goods are in peace ; ' as when wind 
and tide go together, there is calm. When they feel it : Rom. vii. 9, 
'When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died ; ' and groan 
under it : ver. 24, '0 wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me 


from the body of this death ? ' Rev. xii. 12, ' For the devil is come down 
unto you, having great wrath, because he knows he hath but a short 
time.' Dying beasts bite shrewdly. 

Use 1. Let us not cherish sin. It doth not become Christians to 
cherish what Christ came to disannul, to build again what he came 
to destroy, to tie those cords and knots the faster which he came to 
unloose. As much as in you lieth, you seek to dissolve the work of 
Christ, and put your Redeemer to shame. 

2. Our condemnation is just and clear if we do not cast out sin, having 
so much help. Will you by your voluntary consent give Satan an 
advantage ? 

3. It is our comfort to feel the effects of Christ's dominion, in sub 
duing the work of Satan within us, when the Lord Jesus taketh the 
throne in our hearts, and doth deliver us from the slavery of corrup 
tion : John viii. 32, ' And the truth shall make you free.' 

Use 2. If you find anything of the works of the devil in you, run to 
Christ, though your souls are entangled. 

1. Make your moan to him : Rom. vii. 24, ' wretched man that I 
am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? ' Wherefore 
is Christ a Saviour but for sinners ; wherefore a Redeemer but for 
captives ? Will Christ be a Saviour, and save none ; a Redeemer, and 
redeem none ? 

2. Let us depend upon the fulness of his merit. The reason why 
the converted find so little effect of Christ's purchase is because they 
make so little use of their interest in him. Let us conquer during the 
conflict by faith. We have burdensome corruptions that exercise us, 
grieve the Spirit, wrong Christ, but they shall be overcome at last. 
We have heard, and read, and prayed, yet still they remain ; but Christ's 
undertaking cannot be frustrated: our pride and passion shall not 
always last. 

3. Let us give up ourselves to be ruled by him, willing to be the 
Lord's servants : Mat. xi. 29, ' Take my yoke upon you, and learn of 
me, for I am meek and lowly in heart ; and you shall find rest to your 

.4. Let the beginning of the work assure you of the perfection of it ; 
he that hath begun to pardon our sins will at length pronounce our 
full absolution. 

5. Let us apply all this to the sacrament ; here we renew our vow, 
not to cherish sin, lest we cross our Redeemer's undertaking ; here we 
express our confidence of the fruits of his death, according to the word. 
We thankfully commemorate his grace., by which Satan is and will be 
more and more vanquished : we see him falling. We admire Christ's 
condescension, that he will give us to eat of his own meat, and drink 
of his own cup, 2 Sam. xii. 3. We look upon this table as spread for 
us in the sight of our enemies : Ps. xxiii. 5, ' Thou preparest a table 
for me in the presence of mine enemies ; ' maugre their malice. We 
are well provided for in Christ, though they grieve to see the riches of 
his bounty to us and care for us. A royal feast and banquet it is, 
which our enemies may snarl at, but cannot impeach and hinder ; and 
we take it as a pledge of our everlasting triumph, which we are shortly 
entering upon. 

VER. 9.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 59 


Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remainelh 
in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. — 1 JOHN 
iii. 9. 

THIS verse is a perfect antithesis, or standeth in direct opposition to 
the former. There he reasoneth against a sinful life, because the com 
mitting of sin argueth conformity to the devil, who is the great architect 
of all wickedness, and sinners are of his confederacy and party. Now 
he reasoneth, on the contrary part, that non-committing of sin argueth 
conformity with God : ' He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the 
devil sinneth from the beginning ; ' that was his argument there ; but 
here he argueth from the principle of all grace and goodness, ' Whoso 
ever is born of God doth not commit sin,' &c. 

In the words there is an assertion, with its reasons annexed — 

1. The assertion attributeth two things to the regenerate person — 
(1.) That he doth not sin ; (2.) That he cannot sin. 

2. The reasons are annexed to both — (1.) Because, his seed remaineth 
in him ; (2.) Because he is born of God. 

The words need a clear discussion, that they may not be abused by 
erroneous persons on the one side, to establish the impeccability and 
perfection of the saints ; on the other side, by persons of a weak and 
tender conscience, who are apt to conclude against their own regenera 
tion because of their daily failings ; nor by a third party, who, because 
of these infirmities, and on the presumption of grace received, are apt 
to intermit their care and diligence, as if the new nature would preserve 
them, and bear them out against all possibility of declining from God 
and the ways of holiness. 

Therefore I shall — (1.) Acquaint you with, or lay down, some pre 
liminary considerations ; (2.) Acquaint you with the different thoughts 
of sundry interpreters ; (3.) Assert the true sense of the words ; (4.) 
Vindicate them from abuses. 

First, The preliminary propositions. 

1. That there is not a man upon earth that sinneth not, believers 
and persons regenerate as well as others : Eccles. vii. 20, ' There is not 
a just man upon earth, that doetli good, and sinneth not ; ' and James 
iii. 2, ' In many things we offend all/ Of us, even the holiest and 
most regenerate commit many acts of sin. 

2. That notwithstanding this, there is a difference between the carnal 
and the regenerate : ver. 10, ' In this the children of God are manifest, 
and the children of the devil.' Otherwise the godly and ungodly 
would be confounded, and there would be no difference between the 
wicked and the sincere. Certain there is a people that do not sin as 
others, and, in a good and commodious sense, cannot sin : Deut. xxxii. 
9, ' Their spot is not the spot of his children.' 

Secondly, I shall show the different thoughts of men about this place. 
Ambrose interpreteth it of the state of glory, where there is no more 
sin ; but it agreeth not witli this place ; for the apostle speaketh of the 
state of the regenerate in this life, and would lay down a sign by which 
the children of God may be distinguished from the children of the 


devil, ver. 10. It is true our perfect state in heaven is spoken of, ver. 
2 ; but the apostle is off from that argument, and inferreth thence our 
holiness : ver. 3, ' He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself as 
Christ is pure.' Others, as Austin in his book of nature and grace, 
chap, xiv., supposeth the apostle speaketh dejure, what should be of 
right, and not de facto; notwhat % is, but what should be, viz., that he 
that is born of God should not sin. But this will not suit with the 
apostle's scope, which is to lay down a mark of difference, and the 
unregenerate are under an obligation not to sin. Neither will it consist 
with the reason here alleged, ' His seed remaiueth in him.' If the jus 
were considered, this argument would do better, because sin is forbidden 
by the law, from whence right and wrong is determined ; but the 
apostle argueth from the remaining principle of grace, which is proper 
to the regenerate. Some understand it, as Bernard, of God's non-impu 
tation of sin ; he sinneth, but it is not reckoned for sin. But though 
this would agree with the former part, ' committeth not sin,' yet it 
would not with the latter, ' cannot sin ; ' for God may impute sin, 
though he will not. And it establisheth evil doctrine ; for the evil 
acts of the regenerate are sins in God's account, and damnable in them 
selves, merito operis, and so should be reckoned by us. Others say 
that it is very absurd, very unbecoming ; so ' cannot ' is taken for a moral 
cannot, not a natural cannot, which noteth a monstrous incongruity, 
not an utter impossibility : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How can I do this great 
wickedness, and sin against God ? ' So Acts i. 20, ' We cannot but 
speak the things which we have heard and seen.' The heart, as thus 
constituted, cannot be brought to it : 1 Cor. x. 21, 'We cannot drink 
of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils ; we cannot be partakers 
of the Lord's table and the table of devils.' That it is very absurd 
and unbecoming : Gen. xxix. 8, ' We cannot roll away the stone till all 
the flocks be gathered together.' It is not the law and custom and 
fashion among us. 

Thirdly, To state the true sense of these words — (1.) I must open 
the assertion ; (2.) Give the reasons; (3.) Show the cogency of them. 

1. The assertion. 

[1.] ' He doth not commit sin.' It is not to be understood, com 
mitteth no act of sin at all, but he walketh not ordinarily and custom 
arily in any course of known sin ; he doth not sin as wicked men or as 
the unregenerate are wont to sin. So Job appealeth to God, chap. x. 
7, ' Thou knowest that I am not wicked.' He durst not avouch it to 
God that he was not a sinner, but that he was not a wicked sinner : 
Ps. xviii. 21, ' I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly 
departed from my God,' saith David ; and we read of ungodly deeds un- 
godlily committed, Jude 15. Where lieth the difference ? The habitual 
inclination is to please God, yea, that is the drift, scope, and business 
of their lives ; and therefore they do not cherish any evil habit and 
disposition of soul, nor easily fall into acts of wilful sin. 

(1.) Certainly he doth not fall into any course of inordinate living 
in the world. There is a way of sinning which the scripture speaketh 
of, when men walk after the flesh, or after their own lusts : Rom. viii. 
1, ' Who walk not after the flesh ; ' 2 Peter iii. 3, ' Walking after their 
own lusts ; ' and ' living after the flesh/ Rom. viii. 13. 


(2). As to particular sinful acts there is a difference ; there are three 
sorts of sins — 

(l-s£) Some that are bare simple infirmities, which a man cannot 
avoid, though he would; as the first motions and risings of corruption, 
imperfections of duty, want of some degrees of love, reverence, and 
delight in God when we are employed in his immediate service, vain 
thoughts. These are sins ; though not to be avoided by the ordinary 
aids of grace vouchsafed to God's people, yet they are forbidden in the 
law of God. God's law is not imperfect, though our natures be so. 
These came in by the fall. Adam in innocency knew no such things ; 
therefore they are to be bewailed by us ; but these are pardoned on a 
general repentance, as we address ourselves to God every day, and re 
new the exercise of faith and repentance : John xiii. 10, ' He that is 
washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit ; and 
ye are clean, but not all.' They do not change our state, nor vacate 
our right to the promises. 

(2dly.) There are comparative sins of infirmity, which are infirmities 
of a middle sort ; not bare weaknesses and frailties incident to our 
imperfect state, but such as we might forbear if we kept a strict watch 
over our own hearts, and improved the grace and strength offered and 
received ; as vain, idle, passionate speeches, censurings, whisperings, 
discontent, rash anger, and the like. Now a child of God, through 
suddenness and unadvisedness, may break out into some lesser escapes 
in this kind, but to allow ourselves in them would not stand with 
sincerity. It is treason to coin a penny as well as a pound-piece ; there 
fore these comparative infirmities should be prevented by our utmost 
diligence, though they do not amount to gross enormities (such as 
drunkenness, gluttony, adultery, hatred of the brethren, false-witness- 
ings). Though a Christian cannot wholly subdue them, yet we must 
not suffer these to be unresisted and unrepented of, and in some measure 
we must overcome them. Anger will stir when we are provoked, but 
by the ordinary assistance of God's grace we should keep it from run 
ning out into furious words and actions, or cursing and swearing or 
reviling. An envious thought may arise against our brother because 
he is preferred before us ; but we should hate it, and labour to keep it 
under, chide ourselves for it; do not let our envy break out into malig 
nant detraction from their worth, blemishing their gifts and graces. 
A child of God will feel the ticklings of pride, but he will not suffer 
it to break out into boasting language. So for distrust and discontent ; 
it is some conquest to dash Babylon's brats against the stones. We read 
of Achan, Joshua vii. 21, ' That he saw among the spoils a goodly Baby 
lonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold 
of fifty shekels; then he coveted them, and then he took them.' A child of 
God doth ordinarily stop at the first and second pass. There may be an 
inordinate desire of what we see ; our senses may betray our souls ; 
but though they covet, they do not steal ; they are not drawn to lying, 
or deceit, or unjust dealing to get it. Some motions of revenge they may 
have, but they do not break out into mischievous and vindictive acts. 
So for sensuality ; there may be inordinate motions, and fleshly desires, 
or urging inclinations ; but they are checked, and stopped from break 
ing out into drunkenness, gluttony, uncleannesf, lasciviousness, in 


speeches or actions, or making provision for the flesh to fulfil the 
lusts thereof. In short, there may be sluggishness; we maybe affected 
with the ease of the flesh, but we will not suffer it to withdraw us from 
God, or grossly to neglect the duties of our general and particular 

(3<$y.) There are great enormities, or gross and scandalous sins ; now 
in this a Christian doth not ordinarily sin. In some rare case, by the 
suddenness or violence of some great temptation, they may be over 
taken or overborne, but they therein act quite contrary to their habitual 
resolutions and ordinary practice; and when they commit them, they 
do not lie dead in sin, though shrewdly bruised, diseased, and dis 
tempered: these do not commit them with an habitual hatred and 
contempt of God, though they proceed from a less love. They have 
an habitual love and fear of God ; as Peter, that denied Christ out of 
fear, yet telleth him, ' Lord, thou knowest I love thee,' John xxi. 18. 
But this love is obstructed for the time, and by this violent shock 
grace is so hindered that it cannot obtain its effect ; they do not con 
sider what unkindness it is to commit such sins. So their faith, though 
it faileth not, as it did in Peter, is obstructed, so that they cannot for the 
present counterbalance the pleasures of sin with the danger of it ; or 
if they do consider these things, it is but coldly and carelessly. In 
short, they may fail in the degree of affection to God, but they do not 
change God for sin ; there are dislikes and checks which arise from 
the new nature, yet they are not strong enough for the present to defeat 
the temptation, and though they be for a time foiled, yet they cannot 
rest or persist in sin : Jer. viii. 4, ' Shall they fall, and not arise ? ' A 
fountain muddied soon worketh itself clean again ; the needle in the 
compass may be jogged and discomposed, but it turneth to the pole 
again. There is a sudden recovery ; as a candle sucketh light as soon 
as it is blown out more easily than a dead wick. Their hearts may 
smite them, as David's did for numbering the people, 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. 
They bewail their sins: Mat. xxvi. 75, 'Peter went out. and wept 
bitterly.' They run to their advocate : 1 John ii. 1, ' If any man sin, 
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous/ Sue 
out their pardon : 2 Sam. xxiv. 10, ' I have sinned greatly in that I have 
done ; now I beseech thee take away the iniquity of thy servant.' They 
relapse not, unless it be before the wound be well closed and healed. 
Thus they do not sin. 

[2.] They cannot sin. In a regenerate man there is an aversion of 
heart and mind from it. He doth not simply abstain from sinning, but 
he cannot commit sin ; he hath a strong, potent inclination and disposi 
tion, which carrieth him another way ; his soul is averse from it. A child 
of God is never in a right posture till he doth look upon sin not only 
as contrary to his duty, but his nature ; it is an unnatural production, 
as if a sheep, instead of a lamb, should bring forth a serpent : 'A thorn 
cannot bring forth grapes, nor will a thistle produce figs.' And on the 
contrary, hips and haws do not grow upon vines, but every tree bring- 
eth forth fruit suitable to its own nature ; so one that hath a new 
nature showeth itself by eschewing of sin and by pursuing the death 
of sin. It is as natural to the new nature to hate sin, as to love God : 
Ps. xcvii. 10, ' Ye that love the Lord hate evil.' There is in it an 

VER. 9.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 63 

irreconcilable hatred and enmity n gainst sin. There is a twofold hatred — 
odium abcminationis et odium inimicitice, the hatred of offence, whereby 
we turn away from what Ave apprehend to be repugnant and prejudi 
cial to us ; so is sin repugnant and contrary to the renewed will. It 
is agreeable and suitable to the unregenerate as draff to the appetite 
of a swine, and grass and hay to a bullock and horse ; but to a renewed 
man, as meat that we loathe and have 'an antipathy against. Now there 
is in all these that are born of God this kind of hatred and antipathy 
against sin ; it is an offence to them. Then there is odium inimicitice, 
a hatred of enmity and hostility, which is a seeking the destruction of 
what we hate ; we pursue it to the death. Thus the regenerate hate 
sin ; they mortify and subdue it, and have no satisfaction in themselves 
till it be destroyed : non cessat in Icesione peccati, sed in exterminio : 
Rom. vii. 24, ' wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from 
the body of this death ? ' Now the heart of a renewed man being thus 
constituted, they cannot sin as others do ; they are settled in such a love 
to God and hatred of sin, they cannot be at the beck and command of 
every lust, as they were before. Velleius Paterculus saith of Cato 
Minor, that he had gotten such a just frame and constitution of soul, 
that he could not but do justly. So the renewed are so set and framed, 
there is such a new life and a holy nature planted in them by God, 
that they cannot sin, that is, live and lie in sin, whatever out of infir 
mity they may fall into. 

2. For the reasons, they are two, ' Because they are born of God ; ' 
and ' The seed of God remaineth in them.' 

[1.] The general reason, from their change of state. 

(1.) What is it to be born of God ? It is to have a new life and 
nature wrought in us. To be made by God is one thing, to be born 
of God is another. All things are made by God, but all things are 
not said to be born of him ; that is a term proper to the new creature. 
In every perfect generation, that which is born receiveth from him 
that begets it life and likeness. Likeness is not enough to constitute 
a birth. An exquisite limner may draw an exact picture of himself, 
yet the picture is not said to be begotten or born of him, for there is 
no life. And life alone is not enough ; for putrid creatures, as frogs, 
toads, worms, animated and quickened by the heat of the sun, are not 
said td be born of it, because there is no likeness. When a man 
begets a man in his own image and likeness, then he is said to be 
born. To apply it to the case in hand : When we who were dead 
in trespasses and sins are framed anew to the life and likeness of God, 
we are said to be born of him. Life there is : Eph. ii. 1, ' And you 
who were dead in trespasses and sins hath he quickened.' Likeness, 
or a nature in some sort resembling God : 2 Peter i. 4, ' Whereby are 
given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these 
you might be partakers of the divine nature ; ' Eph. iv. 24, ' And that 
ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness, 
and true holiness.' Now surely such a nature inclirieth us to obey 
God and love him. 

(2.) How this hindereth that we do not and cannot sin. 

(1st.) Because this change wrought in us by the wonderful opern- 
tion of God's Spirit puts a new bent and bias upon us : John iii. G, 


' That which is born of flesh is flesh ; and that which is born of Spirit 
is spirit.' We are changed from evil to good, from obeying the flesh 
to obeying the Spirit, and inclined to live and walk after the Spirit. 
Therefore, this being the scope of the new nature, to live in a strict 
obedience to God, the reign of sin is broken, and the acts of it will be 
much prevented. Surely the dominion is taken away by the grace of 
regeneration, and the acts of it cannot be as frequent as before. 

(2d.) He is interested in the care and protection of God. Who 
soever is born of God is in covenant with him : Bom. vi. 14, ' For sin 
shall not have dominion over you ; for you are not under the law, but 
under grace ; ' and adopted into his family, under his fatherly care, 
and God is concerned in his preservation : 1 Peter i. 5, ' Who are kept 
by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation ; ' and John x. 28, 
' And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither 
shall any pluck them out of my hand.' Christ therefore will not 
desert them so far as that they should be brought back again into the 
power and bondage of the wicked one, or that they should so fall into 
sin as to persist in it. Therefore consider a regenerate person in him 
self, and he may sin himself out of the favour of God, and all the 
hopes he hath by Christ ; but as he is in the hands of God, and under 
his care, his heart is so governed and inclined by him, that he cannot 
totally and finally fall from the grace and life of the Spirit, nor easily 
fall into heinous acts of sin, though some infirmities remain still. 

[2.] The second reason, ' Because the seed of God remaineth in 

(1.) What is meant by this seed of God? Some say the word: 
1 Peter i. 23, ' Born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible ; ' 
Mat. xiii. 19, 'The good seed is the word of God.' Not improper^, 
because the word sown in our hearts and rooted by faith is the great 
let and check to sin: Ps. cxix. 9, 'Wherewith shall a young man 
cleanse his way ? by taking heed thereto according to thy word ; ' and 
ver. 11, ' Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin 
against thee ; ' ver. 104, ' Through thy precepts I get understanding : 
therefore I hate every false way ; ' 1 John ii. 24, ' Let that therefore 
abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning : if that which 
ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you shall con 
tinue in the Son and in the Father.' Others say this seed is the 
Spirit : John iii. 5, 6, ' Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, 
Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh, is flesh, and that 
which is born of Spirit, is spirit.' Certainly the word of God, if it be 
this seed, is to be considered not in the letter, but in the Spirit ; for 
the word separated from the Spirit can do nothing to the regene 
rating of a sinner. The Spirit is the principal efficient, the word is 
the instrument. But I think by this seed of God is understood the 
effect of both, the principle of grace infused, or that vital grace 
which is communicated to us in regeneration, called living in the 
Spirit, Gal. v. 25. 

(2.) How doth it keep us from sinning, so that he who is born of 
God doth not sin, and cannot sin ? 

I answer — This seed of God may be considered either as to its 


tendency and efficacy, or permanency and predominancy ; all which 
infer the thing in hand. 

(1st.) Its tendency. This impression left upon the heart doth 
cause it to bend and tend towards God, that we may serve, please, 
glorify, and enjoy him. As it came from God, so it doth incline us 
to God ; for the tendency is according to the principle, therefore called 
a living to God, Gal. ii. 19. It doth continually draw back from sin, 
and urgeth and inclineth to holiness ; and therefore, when a man is 
about to sin, he cannot carry it on so freely, because of the rebukes 
and dislikes of the new nature, there being a fixed, settled frame and 
bent of heart towards God ; therefore the heart by consequence must 
needs be set against sin, which is irreconcilable with the motions and 
tendency of the new nature. 

(2c%.) Its efficacy. The seed of God is an actuous, vigorous thing. 
The word seed imports it; for the spirit of the plant is in it. If it be 
not a dead seed, we see how it will work through the hard and dry 
clods to produce its plant and flower ; so is this vital principle opera 
tive ; it will not easily suffer us to do an act contrary to it ; and it 
being a divine seed called Spirit, it is a principle of great strength 
and power. The apostle calleth it the lusting of the Spirit against 
the flesh, Gal. v. 17. Now if grace have any energy and life in it, it 
is directly contrary and incompatible with the committing of any sin. 
There is a seed and principle in him, which enlighten and enliven, 
and quicken him to serve and please God, and therefore he is held 
back from sin. 

(3c??y.) As to its permanency, a seed that remaineth ; which may be 
understood both of its own defixion and radication in the heart of 
man. It is not a light touch, but a thorough change, such an impres 
sion of God as becometh a habit and holy nature in us, and is the 
constant principle of holy, spiritual operations ; and also in regard of 
God's continuance of it, for it is one of the gifts of which the Lord 
repenteth not, Horn. xi. 29. It is so planted in the heart by God that 
it is not lightly inclined, but thoroughly set to holiness ; the good 
and honest heart, which, having received the word, keepeth it, Luke 
viii. 15 ; a heart sound in God's statutes, Ps. cxix. 80. Now where 
the heart is thoroughly changed, soundly set, they do generally live 
according to the operation of this seed and principle of grace, and is 
so governed and inclined by it, that he doth constantly do the will of 
God, and war, and watch, and strive against sin. 

(4thly.) This seed is considered according to its prevalency and pre 
dominancy. To its prevalency, it hath the mastery in the soul ; for 
though there be a double principle in a Christian, you must not forget 
the back bias of corruption, which still remaineth with us, and is 
importunate to be pleased ; but yet you must carry it so that you may 
plainly show it is not superior in the soul, and keep watching and 
striving, that as little of it may be discerned as may be, that your con 
versations be not cast into a carnal mould, and fashioned according to 
the former lusts of } r our ignorance, 1 Peter i. 14, that sin may be 
mortified and beaten down more and more. The apostle supposeth 
the best is most powerful, so that a Christian showeth himself spirit 
rather than flesh. The apostle describeth him here according to the 



operation of the better part. The old man in them is crucified, not 
wholly dead indeed, but dying, and greatly weakened. 

Fourthly, I shall vindicate the words from abuse. 

Men think, if they be regenerate, the seed of grace will preserve 
them without any care of their own. Herein they are mistaken, and 
that for two reasons — 

1. Because there is an active warring principle still left in us ; our 
lusts are but in part subdued, and our love to them is so soon kindled, 
that if we intermit our watching and striving, the gates of the senses 
are always open to let in such objects as take part with the flesh ; 
therefore we must be beating down sin : 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27, ' I therefore 
so run, not as uncertainly ; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air : 
but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.' What is 
said of the new nature is not to make us idle. 

2. Because grace doth not work necessarily, as fire burneth, but 
voluntarily ; it must be excited and stirred up, both by the Spirit of 
God, who giveth us to will and to do, Phil. ii. 13, and by ourselves : 
2 Tim. i. 6, ' Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up 
the gift of God which is in thee.' We must be still blowing up this 
holy fire, and keep it burning, as the priests did the fire of the altar. 
The bent of the new nature must be kept up with much watching, 
striving, praying, and the use of all holy means, and the vigour of it 


Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; for his seed re- 
maineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is bom of God. — 
1 JOHN iii. 9. 

USE 1. Is exhortation, to press you that you are bora of God, or pro 
fess yourselves to be so, to avoid sin. 

1. You should look upon sin not only as contrary to 3 r our duty, but 
your nature ; for the argument here is not taken from the law of God, 
but from the temper and disposition of a renewed man. The argu 
ment from the law is strong and binding, for no child of God should 
wittingly and willingly break his law. It is urged: 1 John iii. 4, 
' Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law ; for sin is a 
transgression of the law.' Every deliberate wilful sin is an act of dis 
loyalty and rebellion against God, like Absalom's treason against his 
father. You should not sin because of the law ; but here the argument 
is more pressing and close. ' You cannot sin,' if you be what you pro 
fess to be, because God hath given you another nature. Now for you 
not only to offer violence to the law, but to offer violence to your 
nature, to go against the very constitution and frame of your own hearts, 
as it is renewed by God, will aggravate the guilt of the action. 

2. The argument is not taken from objective, but subjective grace. 

VEE. 9.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 67 

The law forbiddeth sin, and grace offereth help and remedy against it. 
What the law condemneth, grace teacheth us to avoid. Now grace is 
twofold — objective in the gospel, subjective in the heart of a believer. 
As, for instance, when some are said to turn the grace of God into 
lasciviousness, Jude 4, is God's grace capable to be turned into lust or 
sin ? It is objective, not subjective grace, which is there meant, the 
doctrine of grace, not the internal grace of the Holy Spirit, which 
resideth in the heart of a believer. Now objective grace yieldeth a 
notable argument against sin : Titus ii. 11, 12, ' For the grace of God, 
that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, 
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, 
righteously, and godly in this present world.' How teacheth ? Not as 
a man that would teach one that is ignorant ; but as a man would per 
suade and quicken one that is backward. It is more by way of per 
suasion than instruction, as the doctrine of grace containeth many power 
ful arguments against sin ; and it is a shame that we do not improve 
them to better purpose. But here the apostle reasoneth not from objec 
tive, but subjective grace ; not from the doctrine propounded to us, but 
the seed which remaineth in us. Now this doth not only persuade but 
incline us to avoid sin, and yieldeth us help and strength against it. 

3. This subjective grace is a vital principle, not a lighter disposition, 
but a settled and fixed frame of heart towards God and heavenly things, 
and therefore called life, and a new nature, and a divine nature. Now 
if there be such a principle, such a genius, such a new nature put into 
us, certainly upon the account thereof we cannot sin, as those do who 
have not such a principle ; for principiata respondent suis principiis ; 
the constant effects declare what is the principle, or principles are 
known by their proper actions, as fire by burning, and the rational 
soul by discourse and speech. So ' if we live in the Spirit, we must 
walk in the Spirit,' Gal. v. 25, and if we have a new heart, we must 
show it by newness of life, Rom. vi. 4. You cannot force men from 
their principles ; you may put them out of the way a little, but they 
return to it again. You see it plainly verified as to the principle of 
corruption. Reason with men, persuade them, show them their 
danger, you may rouse them up a little, yet, till God change their 
hearts, they still return to their former courses : Jer. xiii. 23, ' Can 
the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye 
also do good that are accustomed to do evil.' When men are habi 
tuated to evil, no means will work it out of them, or work them to any 
good. Nature will return, though you seem never so much to check it, 
and beat it back. Proportionably, if grace be as a new nature, you will 
find it work after this sort. Therefore it is utterly inconsistent with 
making sin our trade, custom, and delight. We have felt the tyranny 
of sin, but when we are renewed and changed, we should also feel the 
sacred power and influence of grace. 

4. This vital principle containeth in it an everlasting enmity and 
repugnancy to sin, as sin also doth to it : Gal. v. 17, ' The Spirit 
lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, for 
these two are contrary ; ' so contrary as never to be reconciled, no more 
than fire and water, light and darkness. Now a man that hath such 
a contrary principle to sin in his own bosom cannot give way to it 


without great reluctancies and dislikes, and checks from the new 
nature. I observe this for two reasons — 

[1.] Partly to show that that doth somewhat abate the operations 
of the opposite principle ; the flesh cannot carry it so freely, you cannot 
do what you would in the satisfaction of your lusts, because of this 
repugnancy and dislike, Gal. v. 17. Therefore, if you sin freely, you 
have not the new nature in you, for where it is it will make resistance. 
It is not wholly dead nor asleep ; if not strong enough wholly to defeat 
the temptation, yet certainly to break the force of it, that it doth not 
fall upon us with all its weight : Horn. vii. 15-17, ' For that which I 
do I allow not ; for what I would, that do I not ; but what I hate, 
that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law 
that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that 
dwelleth in me.' There is a contrary principle indeed, which re- 
taineth some life and vigour ; yet surely in the regenerate it is mucli 
abated ; there is not such a reconcilableness to sin as there was before. 
Grace serveth us for some use, giveth some strength, or else why is this 
gracious gift bestowed upon us? 

[2.] And partly to show that these checks and dislikes do aggravate 
the sins which we commit. We make it an excuse ; I strive against 
them, but do not overcome them, and so the striving is an aggravation 
of the sin. Carnal men have their reluctancies, which aggravate their 
sins ; as Pilate against the crucifying of Christ, but yielded to it at 
length against his own conscience, for his interest's sake, to preserve 
the good-will of the people and his credit in his government; he would 
fain have washed his hands of it after he yielded to it. Balaam resisted 
a while, but yielded at length to the ways of unrighteousness. The 
conscience of most men will bear back and hold off for a time, because 
it apprehendeth sin to be offensive to God and destructive to the soul, 
but the pleasure and profit of sin prevaileth at length. Now if these 
reluctancies of bare natural conscience may aggravate the rebellion, and 
make it the greater crime for a man to venture upon that which is evil, 
against the checks of his own conscience, so much more doth this reason 
concern the people of God. He that will break through, not only when 
there is a role or law in the way, but his natural disposition or the bent 
of a gracious heart in the way, in the general, he doth not only the 
sinful act, but overcometh that which hindereth the doing of it ; he 
hath somewhat in his bosom to the contrary. Look, as it argued Christ's 
love to lay down his life notwithstanding the innocent reluctancies of 
his human nature, Mat. xxvi. 39, these words, ' Father, let this cup 
pass,' did not argue his unwillingness, but willingness ; ' Nevertheless, 
Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt ; ' we should not have understood 
the greatness of his love nor the dreadfulness of his sufferings if the 
human nature had not showed its just abhorrency against them; so it 
argueth the great heinousness of sin to break through notwithstanding 
these reluctancies, not only of enlightened conscience, but the renewed 
heart. If unrenewed men's sins are aggravated by the dislikes of 
conscience, which pleads God's right and our duty, so much more will 
renewed men's sins be aggravated by the rebukes of the new nature, 
which not only show our duty, or excite us to our duty, but give 
us help and strength to perform it, and are so notable a check to sin. 


5. There is not only an express contrariety to sin, but a predomi 
nancy above it. He that is born of God hath indeed two principles of 
operations in him, but the one hath the mastery over the other, and is 
superior in the soul, else he could not be said to be born of God : John 
iii. 6, ' That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.' The best principle 
is the most powerful ; so that a Christian showeth himself to be spirit 
rather than flesh, and that Jesus hath a greater interest in him than 
Adam. The apostle here describeth him according to the operations 
of the better part; he doth not sin, he cannot sin; the old man in him 
is crucified, not dead indeed, but dying and greatly weakened ; the 
new man is superior, and governeth our hearts and actions. The heart 
of a regenerate man is like a kingdom divided, but grace is in the throne, 
and the flesh is the rebel, which much disturbeth and weakeneth its 
sovereignty and empire, and by striving seeketh to draw the will to 
itself, that it may be sovereign and chief; but in those who are born of 
God, they cannot be, else there would be no distinction between nature 
and grace ; for a man is denominated from what is predominant in him, 
and hath chief power over his heart. If it be the flesh, he is carnal ; 
if it be the Spirit, he is a new creature, or born of God. Many con 
victions, and good meanings and wishes, may proceed from common 
grace, and be found in those that shall never be saved, because they do 
not prevail over the contrary motions and inclinations. But God's 
children have not only a spirit contrary to the flesh and the world, but 
prevailing over the flesh and the world : 1 Cor. ii. 12, ' Now we have 
not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God.' Men are 
denominated from that which beareth rule in them. If sin reigneth, 
or grace reigneth, that is his master to which a man yieldeth himself, 
Rom. vi. 10, by which he is ordinarily led and governed, and which 
disposeth of his time, and strength, and mind, and heart, and life, and 
love ; so that though corruption remaineth in the faithful, yet it is a 
rebel, and the government is in the hands of grace. All the acts of. sin 
are disowned acts, and we may say with Paul, 'It is not I, but sin that 
dwelleth in me.' They proceed from us against the bent and habit of 
our wills, and settled course of life ; and therefore you see how it con- 
cerneth us to carry it so that as little of the flesh may be discovered as 
may be, that our conversations be not cast into a carnal mould, or 
fashioned ' according to the former lusts of your ignorance,' 1 Peter 
i. 14. That sin be more mortified, and not gratified. The flesh is 
importunate to be pleased, but our pretences to God and regeneration 
cannot be justified if we should please it, and turn head against the 
better part. 

6. This vital, contrary, predominant principle against sin is the fruit 
of a new birth ; and if it be so, there appeareth a shoal of arguments 
to draw us off from sin, and to press us to avoid sin. I will content 
myself with two — 

[1.] The way by which regeneration is brought about, which is- by a 
deep sight and sense of sin, and the dreadful consequences of it. And 
surely those that have been acquainted with the pangs of the new birtU 
will not easily venture upon sin again, as the burnt child dreadeth the 
fire, or those that have been bitten by playing with a snappish cur will 
not easily expose their fingers to such danger. You remember what 


sin cost you formerly when you were first reconciled to God, what terror 
of heart, what tremblings of soul, and how long it was ere you could 
settle in a" holy peace and serenity of mind. Surely we should sin no 
more, lest a worse thing come unto us. Will you drink again of those 
bitter waters, and renew the cause of your anguish and sorrow, or taste 
again of the cold cup of trembling, which filled you with such astonish 
ment and fear ? A convinced sinner is filled with his own ways, Prov. 
i. 31. He hath enough of sin when God sets it home upon his heart. 
Then he seeth what an evil and bitter thing it is to make bold with 
God, Jer. ii. 19, at what a dear rate he bought the pleasures and con 
tentments of the flesh : and wilt thou again run this hazard ? The 
Israelites were jealous of setting up a new altar : Josh. xxii. 17, 18, 
'Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not 
cleansed until this day (although there were a plague in the congrega 
tion of the Lord), but we must turn away again from following the 
Lord ? ' Alas ! we cannot forget the old scorchings of conscience, and 
shall we venture once more ? 

[2.] The effect of it, which is a settled constitution of heart, acted 
and discovered either in a way of faith, or hope, and love, and so the 
seed of God goeth under divers names : 1 Cor. xiii. 13, ' And now 
abideth faith, hope, charity ; ' 1 Thes. i. 3, ' Remembering without 
ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope ; ' 
Jude 20, 21, ' But ye beloved, building up yourselves in } r our most holy 
faith, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our 
Lord Jesus Christ.' Now all those graces which constitute and make 
up the new creature give us powerful arguments and inducements 
against sin. Therefore, if we are born of God, we are highly concerned 
not to sin against him. 

(1.) Faith maketh use of the whole Christian doctrine to purify the 
heart, Acts xv. 9, or cleanse it from sin ; especially that of redemption 
by Christ : 1 John iii. 5, 8, ' And he was manifested to take away sin. 
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy 
the works of the devil.' And the eternal recompenses : when sin sets 
the bait before you, faith sets heaven and hell before you; heaven to 
sweeten the ways of God, and make them more easy to us, that we may 
be constant in them : Rom. 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.' Hell to deter and frighten you from sin. When the flesh 
showeth you the bait, faith showeth you the hook ; and so take all 
together, the beginning and the end, you will have little stomach to sin. 
When you consider how many are suffering for those sins which you 
are now tempted to commit, dare you venture ? What ! upon the ever 
lasting burnings, into which every one is cast, whosoever maketh a 
lie, or giveth way to his lusts, and filthy excess ? 

(2.) Love, which is the weight that inclineth and poiseth us to 
God, and so by consequence to hate sin : Ps. xcvii. 10, ' Ye that love 
the Lord hate evil.' Which is the great overruling principle which 
levelleth our actions to his glory, and directeth them according to his 
will : 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, ' For the love of Christ constraineth us, because 
we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And that 

VER. 9.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 71 

he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto 
themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.' Sin is 
not only impertinent, but inconsistent with our great end. 

(3.) Hope, which looketh and waiteth that we may see God, and 
be like him : 1 John iii. 3, ' He that hath this hope in him purifieth 
himself, as Christ is pure.' What! look for these things, and live 
so contrary to them ? If this be the effect of the new birth, surely it 
concerneth us to mortify and avoid sin. 

7. This birth draweth to it God's assistance ; for whosoever is born 
of God is taken into God's family and under God's protection : ' For 
all things are of him, and through him, and to him ; ' as in a way of 
nature, so in a way of grace, Horn. xi. 35. They have their preserva 
tion from him from whom they received their being ; the new creature 
is through him as well as from him ; and no dam can be so tender 
of the young brood in the nest as God is of the new creature, which is 
of his own production. He cherisheth that grace which he hath in 
fused ; Phil. i. 6, ' Being confident of this, that he which hath begun a 
good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.' The same 
power doth carry on the work of grace which did begin it in us. Paul 
was confident of this very thing, of their perseverance in grace on this 
account. Now herein lieth the stability of the saints, not in the 
strength of their own resolutions ; for our steps are apt to slip after the 
firmest engagements to God : Ps. Ixxiii. 2, ' But as for me, my feet were 
almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped ; ' for fixedness of gracious 
habits is not from themselves, for we are to ' strengthen the things that 
remain, and are ready to die,' Kev. iii. 2 ; but from the power of God, 
which by promise is engaged for their preservation against all opposition. 
Now this doth secure God's children so far, that those who are born of 
God cannot degenerate so as to fall into total impenitency ; and it does 
also condemn our laziness if we do not make use of the grace offered 
to keep ourselves from, sin, and do not make use of the means pro 
vided, that we may be fortified against it. There is a waxing and 
waning grace, and ebbings and Sowings in corruption ; but God's 
covenant and paternal love admits of no abatement ; our antipathy to 
sin may abate, but not Christ's compassion to the saints. He hath in 
stituted, not only outward means to confirm us, but still supplieth 
internal grace to nourish our faith, hope, and love, that they may be 
lively and strong against sin. 

8. If we sin wilfully, the seed of God that remaineth in us, though 
it be not utterly extinct, yet it is sore battered and bruised, and there is 
such havoc made in the soul, that it is hard to know whether we have 
any grace in us, yea or no. We are as if we had none ; if there be 
any, it is best seen first in our sudden recovery ; for the time we are 
as if we had none. Therefore David speaketh as if the work were to 
begin anew, and his recovery were a kind of second conversion : Ps. li. 
10, 'Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a right spirit within 
me.' The grace of the Holy Spirit is so obstructed, and the flood-gate 
of natural pollution so opened, that it is a kind of creation, or second 
conversion, to restore the principle of grace to its vigour and power, 
as if all were to begin again. Indeed it was not so, for he presently 
added, ' Cast me not away from thy holy presence, and take not thy 


Spirit from me.' He had some interest in God still, somewhat of the 
Spirit left which he did not lose ; though he had sadly fallen from his 
wonted purity and sincerity, yet he owneth some presence of the Spirit 
still, and desireth that God would not take it from him, as having never 
more need of it than at this time. Secondly, If we cannot lie in sin, 
but by our falls we do much more resolve and strengthen ourselves 
against sin for the time to come, running to our advocate, and seriously 
making our peace with God, 1 John ii. 1, and resolve to be more 
watchful and cautious for the time to come : Ps. li. 6, 'In the inward 
parts thou shalt make me to know wisdom ; ' and Ps. Ixxxv. 8, ' Let 
them not return to folly ; ' that is, commit such foolish and incon 
siderate acts again ; if it be thus with us, it argueth that the root re- 
maineth, and hath life in it, though the branches be shrewdly rifled and 
withered ; if they work themselves clean again, as a living spring that 
purifies itself ; but where sin is made light of, and not truly repented 
of when committed, there it is not so. 

9. That this avoiding of sin is here brought as the most sensible, 
visible note and character, to distinguish the children of God from the 
children of the devil : ' He that sinneth is of the devil, for the devil 
sinneth from the beginning : and he that is born of God sinneth not. 
In this the children of God, and the children of the devil are manifest.' 
To walk in a sinful course is plainly to entitle ourselves to the devil, 
who is the eldest sinner, as being the first of the kind ; the most 
constant sinner, for he sinneth from the beginning, never ceaseth, is 
never weary of sin ; and the most industrious and painful sinner, for he 
compasses the earth to and fro to draw men into a rebellion against 
God ; and therefore he is the father of all those that live in a trade and 
course of sin. But, on the contrary, he that sinneth not is born of God. 
God is holy, and the great work of his Spirit is to renew us in holiness 
and cleanse us from sin ; therefore by committing or avoiding sin we 
may soon see, yea, the world may see, to whom we belong. And surely 
it doth not become the children of God to border too near upon the 
wicked. There should be a broad difference between them and the 
children of the devil, or else they dishonour their Father, because they 
come too near the carnal life ; therefore when the two seeds are thus 
intermingled or blended together, it is a nice and difficult case to dis 
tinguish them ; so that either it must be determined against you, that 
you are not a child of God, or at least you perplex the case, and make 
it doubtful ; you are too like the ungodly, and Satan hath too much 
interest in you. Holiness is God's image ; doth it not grieve you that 
you are so little like him ? By his graces he keepeth possession of you ; 
if these have not their effect upon you, you dishonour him by professing 
such a nearness to him, and can so little distinguish yourselves from 
his enemies. Surely the more nearly you are related to Christ, the 
more tender you should be of offending and dishonouring him. If 
Christ hath done his part to difference you from all the rest of the 
world, and you will not declare the difference, and make it manifest, 
you harden the world, and they will think that to distinguish between 
the seeds is factious singularity, not regular zeal ; they hold up their 
ways with greater pretence, as justified by you, when you are covetous, 
envious, wrathful, giving to tippling or vain company. 


10. The evidence of this character, and as it concerneth the satis 
faction of our consciences, is made to consist in two things — (1.) That 
he that is born of God doth not sin ; (2.) Cannot sin ; and both expres 
sions contain great arguments in them. 

[1.] That he doth not sin. It is not to be understood that he doth 
not sin at all, for the contrary is verified by sad and lamentable expe 
rience ; nor yet it doth not limit and set out the bounds so exactly and 
plainly as that it may be stated in the word. If the scripture had set 
down how much sin is consistentwith grace, we should then have gone as 
far as we could, and would not so strictly stand upon our guard as now 
we are obliged to do after such a warning and intimation. That the 
new creature doth not, cannot sin ; the very intent of these expressions 
is to make us afraid universally of all sin ; for the infirmities of the 
saints may be distinguished from the presumptions of the wicked, 
otherwise we could have no certainty of our sincerity, and the scripture 
would not distinguish between the spots of God's children and the 
spots of the perverse, Deut. xxxii. 5. Surely as the priests of the law 
had direction to distinguish between the leprosy that had malignity in 
it, and made the people utterly unclean, and the leprosy that did not 
fret the flesh, and made them only unclean for the present, so the 
ministers of the gospel have direction to distinguish between weaknesses 
and wilful failings. Yet there is great difficulty in the case ; partly 
because some sins, which in their nature are infirmities, may prove 
iniquities in the committer ; as suppose vain thoughts, idle words, 
distractions in payer, if a man abandoneth himself to them, the case 
is altered ; and partly because the same sin may be an infirmity in one 
man which is not in another, who hath more knowledge and helps of 
grace ; and partly because that may be an infirmity at one time which 
is not at another, as it cometh backed with temptations, which make 
such a sudden and forcible impression upon the will that there is no 
time of deliberation, but its consent is precipitated, whereas at other 
times the sin may be withstood and resisted ; and partly because that 
which was an infirmity at first may afterwards commence into ini 
quity, as when a man hath sinned away his spiritual strength, broken 
the power of his will, lulled his conscience asleep by some foregoing sin ; 
partly because it is hard to determine how long sensual passions may 
keep the soul from sober consideration. Therefore our best way is to 
keep up a constant care and solicitous desire to please God in all things, 
at least to keep the soul from settling in a trade and course of vanity 
and sin. 

[2.] The other part of the note, c That he cannot sin ; ' that is, the 
constitution of his soul, or the settled purpose and habitual bent of his 
heart, is more against sin than for it ; and then it will follow that his 
constant course or the scope and tenor of his life is accordingly; for where 
sin is more hated than loved, and men are sincerely willing to avoid it, 
they will be watchful against it, groan under the burden of it, seek to 
prevent and weaken it by all holy means, as I shall show in the next 
verse. But here a notable argument ariseth. If we should plead, 
You can avoid sin, at least more sin than you do, if you were sincerely 
willing, we should plead strongly, and leave you wholly under blame 
for your transgressions. It is a certain truth that a man hath power 


to do more good than he doth, and avoid more evil than he doth avoid. 
But the Spirit of God puts the argument into other words, of a higher 
import and signification, 'You cannot sin ; ' as if the business were 
not whether you could avoid sin, but whether you can commit it, being 
thus constituted, and having these advantages of grace which you have. 
You complain, I cannot renounce this bewitching lust, whereas the 
debate lieth here, how you can live in it, and lie under the power of it ; 
which should rouse up Christians out of their laziness and cowardly 

Use 2. Directions in this case. 

1. The general mortification must go before the particular. The 
general mortification is when the first thorough change is wrought in 
us, and 'We put off the body of the sins of the flesh/ Col. ii. 11 ; for 
then the heart is fixed against sin. But the particular mortification 
is when some particular lust or sin is more struck at. Now the one 
must go before the other, because else all that we do is but like stop 
ping a hole in a ruinous fabric, that is ready to drop upon our heads, 
or to make much ado about a cut finger when we have a mortal disease 
upon us. Besides, particular mortification dependeth on the general, 
as our avoiding sin doth on our being born of God : Col. iii. 9, ' Put 
off all these, anger, wrath, blasphemy, filthy communication out of 
your mouths, seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds.' See 
ing you have put off all corruption, allow yourselves in no one sin. 
Alas ! to set against a particular sin before you set against the whole 
body of sin, it is but to put a new patch upon a torn garment, and 
so to make the rent the worse ; or to lop off a branch or two while the 
root and trunk remaineth in full life and vigour, and so it sprouteth 
the more for cutting. Therefore look first after the general work, that 
you are born again ; when sin is stabbed at the heart, the particular 
branches and limbs die by degrees. 

2. Consider where the new nature is in most danger, there is vitium 
sceculi, vitium gentis, and vitium personce. 

[l k ] The fault of the age and nation, where sin being the more 
common, it is the less odious. Sins are in reputation where usually 
practised, and the inundation and torrent of examples carry men away 
strangely: Gal. ii. 13, 'Barnabas was carried away with their dissimula 
tion.' Though a good man could easily condemn the practice of the 
rude multitude, and be as Noah, upright in a corrupt age and time, 
Gen. vi. 9. But when those that we honour and esteem for godliness, 
have adopted such an error or such a sin into their practice, the 
error and sin is authorised, and we run into it one after another, as sheep 
do out of the pasture by the gap or breach in the hedge made by others 
that have gone before them. Oh, take heed of this ; be followers of 
none no further than they are of Christ. 

[2.] The fault of the person. We must labour most to mortify our 
particular sin : Ps. xviii. 23, ' I was upright before thee, and kept my 
self from mine iniquity.' Some that we may call ours, by temper, evil 
custom, course of employment. Now these should be the more morti 
fied for their own sake, and for the sake of others , for the master-lusts, 
like great diseases, seldom go alone. Sometimes it is worldliness, or 
an inordinate love of riches, which gaineth such interest in the hearts 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 75 

of many, that they set light by Christ and his precious benefits, and 
thoughts of God and heaven grow unwelcome and unpleasing to them, 
rather desire wealth than God's favour, do not lay up treasures in 
heaven, but value an estate by the possession rather than the use. 
Some men's distemper is a sensual disposition ; their hearts are carried 
after all the alluring vanities of the world, and are basely surprised by 
the baits of the flesh, cannot deny themselves, or govern their fancies 
and appetites. Others' distemper is pride, when they mind high things, 
know little of that poverty of spirit recommended in the gospel, and 
is reconcilable with a mean condition ; they can hardly live with any 
but those that will honour and please them. Now the darling sin may 
be known by the frequency of its assaults, its power over other sins, 
thoughts that haunt us in duty ; and every wise man knoweth where 
his temptations lie most. 

3. Remember the lesser acts of sin make way for greater, as the 
lesser sticks set the great ones on fire. As in anger ; give way to the 
distempers of it, and from folly it groweth to downright madness, 
Eccles. x. 13. So for envy, if it break out into detraction, it will make us 
malignant, and undermine those whom we envy, and mischievous 
malice is the final product. So for pride and self-esteem, let it break 
out into boasting, and it will breed contention, Prov. xiii. 10. Let the love 
of the world make us immoderate in the pursuit of it, then God is neg 
lected, charity omitted, and it will in time draw us to unjust gain. ' So 
for sensuality ; pamper the flesh with all the delights it craveth, and 
in time men will be scandalous in their apparel, meat, or drink. Let 
lust break out into wantonness, and wantonness will produce downright 
uncleanness ; lusts will beget acts, and these acts multiply into deeds 
of a more foul and heinous nature. Therefore stop betimes ; when 
you run down-hill there is little hope of staying yourselves. 

4. Eenew the inclination of the new nature by the means appointed 
thereunto, especially the Lord's supper, which is the food of the new 
nature, wherein we remember Christ crucified, and we remember him, 
that the end of his death may be accomplished, which is, that, ' we 
may die unto sin, and live unto righteousness,' 1 Peter ii. 24. He 
purchased the grace whereby this might be accomplished, and 
wherein we renew our covenant with God, for the strengthening our 
baptismal vow. Baptism is an avowed death to sin, and here we renew 
it again. 


In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil : 
whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that 
loveth not his brother. — 1 JOHN iii. 10. 

IN these words you have the conclusion of the whole discourse, together 
with a transition to another. The former discourse was about abstain- 


ing from sin, the subsequent and following discourse about love of the 
brethren. Both exceedingly become the children of God ; the one show- 
eth their respect to their Father, the other to those in the same relation 
with themselves. 

In this verse observe — 

1. The preface, which asserts that this is the true note and character 
by which the two seeds are distinguished, ' In this the children of God 
are manifest,' &c. 

2. This note of difference is referred to two heads — purity and charity. 

3. They are propounded negatively, ' Doeth not righteousness, neither 
he that loveth not his brother/ But the affirmative is understood, that 
whosoever doeth righteousness and loveth his brother is of God, namely, 
he that liveth to God, and doth what God requireth and approveth. 

Doct. 1. That there is, and should be, a broad and manifest difference 
between the children of God and the children of the devil. 

Doct. 2. That charity and purity are true notes of God's children. 

The first doctrine may bear two senses — that this difference is mani 
fest to others, or to themselves. 

1. To others. I exclude not what the apostle mentioneth, Gal. v. 
19, ' Now the works of the flesh are manifest.' Look, as the lewd lives 
of some do plainly speak out their corrupt estate to the conscience of 
any discerning man; as Ps. xxxvi. 1, 'The transgression of the wicked 
saith within my heart, There is no fear of God before his eyes.' Either 
they do not believe there is a God, or they do not really and in good 
earnest care for him. Now if the wickedness of the wicked doth dis 
cover itself to an attentive beholder, so, on the contrary, grace should 
not be concealed, but break out into the conversation: 2 Thes. i. 11, 
12, ' Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count 
you worthy of his calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his good 
ness, and the work of faith with power : that the name of our Lord 
Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him.' God is more 
glorified, the world more edified, and we ourselves more comforted, the 
more explicitly we show ourselves to be Christians. The wicked man 
is known by his fruits: Mat. vii. 20, 'Wherefore by their fruits ye 
shall know them.' And the good man by his fruits: Ps. i. 3, ' He shall 
be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his 
fruit in his season ; his leaf doth not wither, and whatsoever he doth 
shall prosper*.' But on the one side, all graceless and unconverted men 
do so plainly manifest themselves ; and on the other, too many good 
Christians do not so easily interpret themselves in their actions, or 
' declare plainly ' (in the apostle's phrase) ' that they seek a country,' 
Heb. xi. 14, that is, heaven. 

2. This being manifest is meant of being manifest to ourselves, in 
the sense of our consciences ; for conscience is a nearer discerner of our 
actions than the observation of other men can be. It is hard to think 
that the soul should be a stranger to its own operations : 1 Cor. ii. 11, 
' There is a spirit in man which knoweth the things of a man.' There 
is a privy spy in our own bosoms, which is conscious to all that we do, 
and can reflect upon it, and judge of it whether it be good or evil ; it 
knoweth when we understand, or will, or purpose, and resolve, or do 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 77 

anything ; much more is it conscious, if not to single acts, yet to our 
conversation and constant course, and that for a fourfold reason — 

[1.] Because acts of grace are the most serious and important actions 
of our lives. Many ordinary acts may escape us, they being not of such 
moment, for want of advertency ; but surely he that acteth for eternity 
will mind what he doeth. This is the great business that we attend 
upon, and with the greatest solicitude and diligence : Phil. ii. 12, ' Work 
out your salvation with fear and trembling.' 

[2.] All acts of grace are put forth with difficulty, and with some 
strife and wrestling ; for there is a continual opposition of the flesh : 
Gal. v. 17, ' The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.' Now things difficult, 
and carried on with much opposition, must needs leave a notice and 
impression of themselves upon the soul. 

[3.] There is a special delight that accompanieth acts of grace, be 
cause of the excellency of the objects they are conversant about, and 
the excellency of the power they are assisted withal, and the excellency 
and nobleness of the faculties they are acted by, and the excellent ends 
and uses they are designed unto. There is a pleasantness in the paths 
of wisdom : Prov. iii. 17, ' Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all 
her paths are peace/ Now the experience of this pleasure, and grief, 
and trouble for the contrary doth make the acts of grace more notorious 
to the soul. 

[4.] A serious, constant, uniform course of obedience will evidence 
itself ; for though conscience be unobservant of particular actions, yet 
the course and drift and tenor of our lives cannot be hidden from it. 
A man in a journey doth not count his steps, but he doth observe his 
way ; so here methinks a Christian should not be ignorant of his mark, 
drift and scope, course, and constant business. Am I going to heaven 
or to hell ? Phil. ii. 12. Am I pleasing God or men ? 2 Cor. i. 12 ; 
2 Cor. v. 9, 'Whether present or absent, I desire to be accepted of the 
Lord.' What is my labour, my ambition, my daily work and business ? 

Two reasons. 

(1.) Because they are governed and influenced by different powers, 
God and the devil. The children of God are guided by his Holy 
Spirit : Rom. viii. 14, 'As many as are the children of God are led by 
the Spirit of God.' The children of the devil by the evil spirit : Eph. 
ii. 2, ' They walk after the prince of the power of the air, that worketh 
in the children of disobedience/ Now are God and the devil so agreed 
as that the votaries and followers of each cannot be distinguished ? 
The children of God are led by the Spirit of God ; that is, they obey 
his sanctifying motions, either by way of restraint, or invitation and 
excitement. Byway of restraint: Rom. iii. 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/ Or invitation and excitement : Gal. v. 25, 
' If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit/ On the con 
trary, the unregenerate follow the motions and suggestions of the devil, 
whom they resemble in their sin and wickedness. He doth by their 
outward senses tempt them to sin, and the tempted sinner soon yield- 
eth ; and he by pleasure, profit, and credit withdraweth them from 
God, and hardeneth them ; and they are so addicted to sin and vanity, 
that they cannot refrain it. Satan hath too great a power on the godly, 


but he doth not so efficaciously work in them as on the carnal. There- 
lore between these two sorts of people there should be a manifest and 
broad difference. 

(2.) They have a different principle, the seed of God and corrupt 
nature : John iii. 6, ' That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that 
which is born of Spirit is spirit.' Now both correspond with their 
principles. It is true the principles are mixed in the regenerate, but 
the better part is predominant ; and therefore the acts, for the most 
part, suit with it, and so there is a broad difference between them and 
those who are only influenced by the flesh. 

3. They have a different rule ; the one walk according to the law of 
God, wherein he hath declared his will, the other according to the course 
of this world. According to the law of God : Gal. vi. 16, ' As many 
as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and 
upon the whole Israel of God.' The other according to the course of 
this world : Eph. ii. 2, ' Walking after the prince of the power of the 
air, which worketh in the children of disobedience.' According to the 
fashion and example of unrenewed men, or the general and corrupt 
custom and example of those with whom we live ; and they conform 
themselves to it more than to the will of God. Now the fashions of 
the vain world and the strict law of the holy God are so different, that 
he that walketh according to the one must needs distinguish himself 
from the other ; there being a distinct rule, there must needs be a 
different course; the one doeth righteousness, the other committeth 

4. There is a different end and scope ; the one studieth to please 
God, the other to please themselves. The one studieth to please God : 
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 ; ' 1 Thes. iv. 1, ' I exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have 
received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so you would 
abound more and more ; ' 2 Cor. v. 9, ' For we labour, that, whether 
present or absent, we may be accepted of him.' The other to gratify 
their carnal desires : Horn. xiii. 14, ' And make no provision for the 
flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.' The one seek their own things, Phil, 
ii. 21. They spend their time in the flesh, ' to the lusts of men, not the 
will of God/ 1 Peter iv. 2. Now there being such a different scope, 
the practice must be different also. 

5. There is a different event and issue ; all the world emptieth itself 
into heaven or hell. Now heaven and hell are much unlike, and vastly 
distant, and so are those that are travelling to either place : Phil. iii. 
19, 20, ' For many walk, of whom I have told you, and now tell you 
weeping, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ : whose end is 
destruction, whose god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, 
who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven, from 
whence we look for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.' If the end be 
different, the way must be so also. 

Use 1. Is to reprove them that profess themselves to be the people 
of God, but do not distinguish themselves from the children of the 
devil ; they are so like one another that there is no manifest difference 
to be seen. A Christian never liveth up to the majesty of his profession 


tilt he be the world's wonder and the world's reproof : 1 Peter iv. 4, 
' They think it strange that you run not with them into the same excess of 
riot.' It is no strange matter to please the flesh, but it is strange to row 
against the stream of flesh and blood. It is no wonder to see men 
carnal, proud, covetous, sensual ; the wonder is to see men dead to all 
these things, to be humble, meek, sober, modest. It is no wonder to 
see men walk as men, but it is a wonder to see men walk as born of 
God. It is no wonder to see men court the world, but to live in a 
contempt of the world, and to see men ready to part with what they 
see and love for a God and glory which they never saw, this is the 
wonder. Yet such a mystery and wonder should a Christian be that 
liveth up to his principles. Secondly, The world's reproof ; as Noah : 
Heb. xi. 7, ' By preparing an ark to save himself and his household, 
condemned the world ; ' that is, judged them for their laziness and 
disrespect of God's warning and impenitency, for that they repented 
not when God gave them time to repent. God hath told the world of 
the danger of sin, and showed them the way of salvation. By our 
diligence and seriousness in his ways, and in the use of the means 
prescribed to save our souls, we must condemn the world for their sloth 
and negligence ; otherwise, if we do not condemn the world, we justify 
the world, as Israel justified Sodom, Ezek. xvi. 51 ; namely, that they 
are not so culpable in slighting God and the offers of salvation by 

Use 2. Is information. It informeth us of two important truths ; 
the one concerneth the ministry, the other all Christians. 

1. If there be such a manifest difference between the children of God 
and the children of the devil, then ministers must carefully make the 
distinction, and convince the one sort and comfort the other : Jer. xv. 
19, ' If thou shalt take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be 
as my mouth ; ' that is, thou by thy teaching put a difference between 
the godly and the wicked, by confirming and comforting the one, and 
soundly convincing and reproving the other ; as if I myself had spoken 
it. The contrary is charged on a corrupt ministry: Ezek. xiii. 22, 
' With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have 
not made sad ; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he 
should not return from his wicked ways, by promising him life.' This 
is to turn the ordinances of Christ to the service of the devil, and to 
gratify his children ; as usually those that are indulgent to the wicked 
are severe against the godly, and traduce them with wrong imputations ; 
as the naughty steward 'did eat and drink with the drunken, and smite his 
fellow-servants,' Mat. xxiv. 49 ; uphold the wicked in their carnal life ; 
but the serious are sure to meet with a buffet from them, and smart 
for it. 

2. The other concerneth all Christians, and that is, to show us the 
lawfulness, yea, the necessity, of trying our estate, and taking comfort 
in our estate, from marks and signs of grace, taken from our works or 
conversations. Many think this is to lead them off from Christ to 
themselves, but vainly ; for this is the method the Holy Ghost directeth 
us unto. 

[1.] What comfort can we take in the promises if we must not look 
at those evidences in ourselves which may prove our interest in them ? 


All privileges have their conditions annexed, and oar right is suspended 
till the condition be performed, and our comfort till we know that it 
belongs to us. For instance, God hath said, John i. 12, ' To whom 
soever have received him, even to as many as believed in his name, 
God hath given this power, that they should become the sons of God.' 
Now how will you know that you have this power but by knowing that 
you are a true believer ? and how will you know that but by marks 
and signs of faith ? If you say, No man can know that he is a true 
believer, you make the promise vain ; for what good will it do any man 
that adoption is promised to believers, if we cannot know whether we 
be believers, yea or no ? If it may be known, we must look after the 
qualification, which must evidence it to be our privilege. Will you 
apply the promise to all, or some, or none ? If to none, then it is in 
vain ; if to all, then you deceive the most ; for though some be of God, 
the whole world lieth in wickedness, and the most are the children of 
the devil. If to some, what is the reason of the restraint ? How will 
you know who they are, but by being believers, or doing righteousness, 
and loving our brother ? 

[2.] It informeth us that if conscience be a judge and witness within 
us, in order to our joy and comfort, then we must judge by what we 
are, or what we have done, or how we have lived ; for conscience can 
take notice of no other things. Now it is certain that conscience hath 
a great hand and stroke in our comfort, assurance, and peace- : Acts 
xxiv. 16, ' And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience 
void of offence towards God and towards men ; ' 2 Cor. i. 12, ' For our 
rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that, in simplicity and 
godly sincerity, we have had our conversation in the world ; ' 1 John 
iii. 20, 21, ' If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, 
and knoweth all things. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we 
confidence towards God.' Much dependeth on its verdict and testimony. 

[3.] We shall be judged according to these things by God, and there 
fore we should judge ourselves by them; for we cannot judge by a 
righter way than God will judge, whether our estate be good or bad. 
Now this is the way of God's procedure : Kev. xx. 12, ' All of us shall 
be judged according to our works/ 

[4.] If the Lord hath propounded this way as a likely course to 
produce solid consolation, surely man should not murmur against it, 
and gratify the cavils of the loose professor. But even so it is : Gal. 
vi. 4, 'Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have 
rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.' Many rejoice in this, 
that others are worse than they ; but they should try their own work 
and carriage by the rule, for otherwise they do but rejoice in the sins 
of others. No ; prove so as you may approve your own work, that is, 
your own state and actions. 

Use 3. It is an awakening to God's people, who after long profession 
are no more clear in their own qualification. You should so unques 
tionably carry it for God, that others should know you ; at least you 
should know your own selves : ' Examine yourselves, prove yourselves ; 
know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye 
be reprobates ? ' It is a shame to live so long, and not to know what 
is in us. But you will say, If the case be so evident, why then do so 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 81 

many good people want assurance, and live in doubtfulness of their 
sincerity ? I answer — 

1. There need two witnesses: Horn. viii. 16, 'The Spirit itself bear- 
eth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God ; ' Horn, ix. 
1, 'I say the truth in Christ, and lie not, my conscience bearing me 
witness in the Holy Ghost.' Why ? Because the heart of man is so 
deceitful, Jer. xvii. 9, and the operations of it so various, dark, and 
confused, that we dare not trust our private judgment : 1 Cor. iv. 4, 
' For I know nothing by myself, yet am I not thereby justified.' 

2. That so few know their spiritual condition is through their own 
default, for otherwise the Spirit is ready to witness, if we are ready to 
receive his testimony. There is a fourfold fault — 

[1.] They do not exercise grace to the life in the mortifying of sin 
or perfecting of holiness, and therefore the remainders of sin are active 
and troublesome, and grace is weak and small, and doth little discover 
itself in any costly and self-denying acts, and so are not accompanied 
with that delight and sweetness by which they should be noted and 
observed. Surely great things are more liable to sense and feeling than 
little ; a staff is sooner found than a needle, and they that cross the in 
clinations of corrupt nature can sooner discern a divine spirit and power 
working in them than others that only cull out the safe, cheap, and 
easy part of religion ; as valour is more seen in an open field than by 
lurking in a garrison. 

[2.] It may be they do not examine their state or heed soul-affairs, 
that they may get their uprightness interpreted : 1 Cor. xi. 28, ' But 
let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of 
the cup ; ' 2 Cor. xiii. 4, ' Examine yourselves, prove yourselves ; know 
ye not your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye are repro 
bates ? ' Now if men do not reflect upon themselves, no wonder they 
be ignorant of their own estate. 

[3.] Sometimes, out of a faulty modesty and humility, they deny 
what is wrought in them and by them. A child of God should own 
his graces as well as corruptions. Hezekiah said, 2 Kings xx. 3, ' O 
Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with 
a perfect heart, and done that which is good in thy sight.' We should not 
so far look to what we should be as not to observe what we are and 
have already been ; for the day of small things must not be despised, 
Zech. iv. 10. The spouse owneth grace in the midst of infirmities : 
Cant. v. 2, ' I sleep, but my heart waketh ; ' and he in the Gospel, Mark 
ix. 24, ' Lord, I believe ; help thou my unbelief.' We are sensible of 
a disease more than health. We come short of what we should have, 
but is there nothing of God in our souls ? We should not only observe 
our sins and infirmities, but also take notice of the good things that 
are found in us. Christ taxeth this over-humility in Peter : John xiii. 
8, ' Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus an 
swered, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' 

[4.] The general cause is laziness : 2 Peter i. 10, ' Give all diligence 
to make your calling and election sure ; ' Heb. vi. 11, ' And we desire 
that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance 
of hope unto the end ; ' 2 Peter iii. 14, ' Seeing that ye look for such 
things, be diligent, that you may be found of him in peace.' So far as 



we neglect our duty, the sense of our interest may abate. Foolish pre 
sumption costs a man nothing, but solid assurance cometh with dili 
gence ; and the more grace is exercised in acts of communion with 
God, the more it is known by us : Job xxii. 21, ' Acquaint thyself with 
God, and be at peace.' In difficulties and afflictions : Heb. xii. 11, 
' No chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous ; but after 
wards it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness.' In all the 
duties of holiness : John xiv. 21, 23, ' He that hath my commandments, 
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; and he that loveth me shall 
be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him. 
If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him ; 
and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.' In duties 
towards God : Heb. xi. 4, ' By faith Abel offered unto God a more ex 
cellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was 
righteous.' In duties towards men : 1 John iii. 19, ' And hereby we 
know we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.' 

Doct. 2. That purity and charity are true notes of God's children. 

These are characters laid down here, as manifest evidences whereby 
our estate may be determined. 

First, Purity. See how it is described in the text, ' He that doeth 
not righteousness is not of God.' Where observe — 

1. That not only sins of commission, but omission, may render our 
estate questionable. He had said before, ' He that committeth sin is 
of the devil ; ' now he altereth his manner of speaking, ' He that doeth 
not righteousness is not of God/ and so by consequence of the devil, 
though he should not offend by doing harm or doing unrighteousness. 
To do righteousness is to do that which righteousness calleth for and 
requireth at our hands, when time and occasion is offered ; and he that 
doth not so is not of God ; and therefore not only commission of sin, 
but neglect of a Christian life, involveth us in this blemish of being 
children of the devil : Mat. iii. 10, ' Every tree that bringeth not forth 
good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.' Not only the poisonous, 
but the barren tree. And it is made the character of the wicked : Ps. 
xxxvi. 3, ' He hath left off to be wise, and to do good.' To cast off or 
neglect the ways of wisdom and holiness is an argument of wickedness, 
though no other apparent evil should be charged upon us. The unprofit 
able servant is cast into everlasting fire, Mat. xxv. 30; not he that embez 
zled his talent, but folded it in a napkin. Many think, if they do nobody 
any harm, God will accept them ; but what good do you do ? That child 
is counted undutiful not only that doth not wrong and beat his father, 
but he that doth not give him due reverence. Therefore it should 
humble us that we do no more good, that we so much neglect God, 
that we do no more edify our neighbour, or take care for the saving 
of our souls. We think omissions no sins, or light sins, but God doth 
not think so. Surely omissions are sins ; .there is in them the nature 
of the first sin, as considered in Adam or us ; there was an aversion 
from God, and a conversion to the creature. In us there is carentia 
originalis justitice, first a want of that grace that should incline us to 
God, and then followeth all the corruption and pollution of nature ; 
the daughter is like the mother. In actual sin there is a cessation 
of acts of love to God, then inordinate acts of self-love : Titus ii. 12, 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 83 

' Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts.' Secondly, 
From the nature of the law. A sin of omission is contrary to the pre 
cept, as well as a sin of commission. To the prohibition : ' Cease to 
do evil, learn to do well,' Isa. i. 16. There we must use the bridle, 
here the spur. Thirdly, Our mercies are not only privative, but posi 
tive ; deliverance from hell, and eternal life, John iii. 16. God is both 
a sun and a shield, Ps. Ixxxiv. 11 ; Gen. xv. 1, ' I am thy shield, and 
thy exceeding great reward.' As our mercies, so our obedience. Sin 
ning is a direct way to hell, as doing righteousness is to heaven. 
Fourthly, Christ came that we might live unto righteousness, as well 
as die unto sin, 1 Peter ii. 24 ; to promote vivification as well as morti 
fication ; that we might know the power of his resurrection as well as 
be planted into the likeness of his death ; that the good principle might 
be cherished and induced into act, as well as the bad principle curbed and 
restrained. Fifthly, Because we cannot else improve our talents, but 
God's best gifts would lie idle upon our hands if we did not exercise our 
selves unto godliness. Every relation puts new duties upon us ; so doth 
every new gift and talent. To be sure our relation to God calleth for 
more duty at our hands than we are wont to perform ; and the general 
wickedness that is charged upon mankind is, that they do not seek 
after God, Ps. xiv. 2 ; and Ps. x. 3, 4, ' The wicked through the pride of 
his heart will not seek after God ; God is not in all his thoughts.' But be 
sides this, consider our relations to one another, as magistrates, subjects, 
ministers, Christians, parents and children, masters and servants ; con 
sider this, and you will find that the greatest part of the sins of the world 
lieth in sins of omission. When we look into our bill, to see what we 
owe to God, according to the advice of the unjust steward, instead of a 
hundred, to put down fifty, we leave out all our omissions. We do not 
worship an idol, but we forget the true God days without number, Jer. 
ii. 32. We do not take away that which is another's, but do not give 
our own ; they do not swear, but do they honour and glorify the name of 
God in their conversations ? 

2. But let us explain the nature of this doing righteousness. It is 
to fear God, and walk in all his ways : Acts x. 35, ' He that feareth 
God and worketh righteousness.' Or he is said to do righteousness 
who, being justified and sanctified by the Spirit, doth give up himself 
to God to do his will, and maketh it the business of his life to grow 
more complete therein. Kenewing is in it : Eph. ii. 10, ' Ye are his 
workmanship, created in Jesus Christ unto good works.' Dedication 
is in it: Kom. vi. 13, 'But yield yourselves unto God, as those that 
are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of 
righteousness unto God.' The will of God is your rule : Kom. xii. 2, 
' That ye may prove what is that good and acceptable will of God.' 
After dedication, our work and business should be to ' live soberly, 
righteously, and godly in this present world,' Titus ii. 12. This is 
the righteousness which should so be carried on from an everlasting 
principle by a divine rule to eternal ends. Well, then, they do but 
arrogate a place and a name among God's people that do not live 

Secondly, The next mark is charity ; this is not mentioned at ran 
dom, nor merely to bring on another discourse, but with good advice. 


1. The general note of God's children is holiness, and the particular 
note is love of the brethren. It is a great branch of righteousness, 
take it largely for holiness, or more strictly for our duty to our neighbour. 
So alms is often called righteousness in scripture ; for doing good is 
one special act of our duty, and so a branch of righteousness : Ps. cxii. 
9, ' He hath given to the poor, and his righteousness endureth for 
ever ; ' Isa. Iviii. 7, 8, ' If thou give thy bread to the hungry, then 
shall thy righteousness go before thee.' 

2. It explaineth the former note ; for righteousness and love to the 
brethren are joined together, and so it showeth that he doth righteous 
ness whose works are good, and come from a good spirit, from love to 
God, which is the soul of all duties ; for he that loveth his brother for 
God's sake loveth God: Gal. v. 14, 'All the law is fulfilled in this one 
word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' How all the law ? 
Namely, as second-table duties arise out of the first, and are done for 
God's sake. 

3. He is speaking of being born of God, and the seed of God. We 
resemble God in nothing so much as love: 1 John iv. 8, 16, ' He that 
loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. God is love, and he 
that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.' And we 
resemble the devil mostly by malice. It is the devil's work to do all 
the hurt he can to the bodies and souls of men, ' for the devil is a 
murderer from the beginning,' John viii. 44. Devouring malice is the 
true image of Satan, the devilish nature in us. When Jesus Christ 
came to discover the amiableness of the divine nature to us, it is said, 
Acts x. 38, ' He went about doing good, and healing all that were 
oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.' Christ did nothing by 
way of malice and revenge ; he used not the power that he had to 
make men blind or lame, or to kill any ; no, not his worst enemies, 
when lie could easily have done it, and justly might have done it. No ; 
he went up and down giving sight to the blind, and limbs to the lame, 
health to the sick, and life to the dead. Therefore those that are God's 
children, and are born of God, and have the seed of God abiding in 
them, should be as zealous in doing good to all as Satan's servants are 
in hurting. 

4. Much of Christianity consists in love and doing good. Love is 
made to be the fulfilling of the law, Eom. xiii. 8, the end of the gos 
pel institution : 1 Tim. i. 15, ' Now the end of the commandment is 
charity.' The great lesson which God teacheth us : ' Ye yourselves are 
taught of God to love one another,' 1 Thes. iv. 9. The grand character 
istic of Christ's disciples, by which they are notified to themselves and 
others : John xiii. 35, ' By this shall all men know that ye are my 
disciples, if ye have love one to another.' With what eyes do men read 
the gospel that can overlook all these things, and live in malice, envy, 
and hatred ? 

5. The parties to be loved are called brethren, and elsewhere neigh 
bours, Mat. xxii. 39. By common nature every neighbour is a brother ; 
but saints have the pre-eminence in this love, but not the confinement : 
1 Do good to all, especially to the household of faith,' Gal. vi. 8 ; 2 Peter 
i. 7, ' And add to brotherly-kindness, love.' Enemies are not excepted : 
Hat. v. 44, 45, ' Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 85 

to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and 
persecute you.' God must be loved in all his creatures ; his natural 
image in all men, his spiritual image in his saints. Well, then, if you 
would be accounted children of your Father which is in heaven, love to 
all in their several capacities must be your very nature, and the doing 
them all the good that you can must be the very business of your 

Use. Look after these evidences, and see they be more and more found 
in you. 

1. Nothing quiets the mind but a persuasion that God loveth us as 
his children, and that he will give us eternal life. Get this persuasion 
once, that God is your Father and you are his children, and then all the 
controversy between God and us is at an end. The reason is clear : 
He that taketh God for a judge only can never be fully satisfied in his 
condition, nor live in peace ; there is no safety but in God's family, 
and no holy security but in being his children. The great business of 
the Spirit of God is to clear this to us : Rom. viii. 15, 'But you have 
received the Spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father.' So Gal. iv. 6, 
' Because ye are sons, he hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your 
hearts, crying, Abba, Father ; ' Eph i. 13, 14, ' Whom also after ye 
believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the 
earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased posses 
sion, unto the praise of his glory.' The great business of our Redeemer 
was to purchase this blessing for us : Gal. iv. 5, ' To redeem them that 
were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons ; ' John 
viii. 36, ' If the Son make you free, then are you free indeed.' The 
great privilege which we have by baptism as a sign : Gal. iii. 26, 27, 
' For ye are all children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ. For as many 
of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.' By faith 
as to the reality : John i. 12, ' To as many as received him, to them gave 
he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his 
name.' The church of the new testament, as to her outward estate, is 
an estate of sonship and adoption ; and the truly godly have the real 
effect of it ; they have the dignity, the privileges or the rights which 
belong to the children of God. 

2. Purity of life and charity, which are here asserted to be the two 
sure signs of a child of God, are to be understood evangelically. If so, 
then they that lead impious and uncharitable lives are no children of 
God, however they flatter themselves in the goodness of their estate. 
The exclusive mark is more easy than the inclusive, because of the many 
failings of God's children, who have a deep reverence for God's holiness 
and the exactness of his law, therefore they are not so clear. What 
shall be said to them ? They must labour to make their qualification 
more explicit, and remember it is to be interpreted evangelically, that 
is, if they be sincere. The first covenant required unsinning obedience, 
the second alloweth of uprightness and sincerity ; the old covenant 
bringeth all things to the balance, the new to the touchstone. If the best 
of us were put into the balance of the sanctuary, we should be found 
wanting, and then who can be saved? Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, 'He is a sun 
and a shield, and will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he 
withhold from them that walk uprightly.' The upright are the Lord's 


delight, Prov. xi. 20. These may take comfort in God, as God 
delighteth in them, both in affliction and prosperity : Ps. cxii 9, ' To 
the upright there ariseth light in darkness/ not only after, but in life : 
2 Cor. i. 12, ' This is my rejoicing, the testimony of my consci 
ence, that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversa 
tion in the world.' In death : 2 Kings xx. 3, ' Remember, Lord, 
that I have walked before thee with a perfect heart, and done that which 
is good in thy sight.' 

3. No sincerity is to be discerned but by our constant walk and course : 
' He is a sun and a shield to them that walk uprightly ; ' and ' I have 
walked before thee with a perfect heart.' Here the upright are 
described by their conversations ; newness of life is the perpetual testi 
mony of our adoption. A man may force himself for an act or two ; 
Saul in a raptural fit may be among the prophets ; therefore we are 
to judge by our scope and walk. A child of God may be under a 
strange appearance in some simple acts ; so the wicked have their good 
moods ; an aguish man hath his well days : Ps. cvi. 3, ' But blessed 
are they that keep judgment, and do righteousness at all times.' 


For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we 
should love one another. — 1 JOHN iii. 11. 

IN these words we have a reason of the last clause in the former verse, 
why he that loveth not his brother is not of God. This is his argu 
ment : He that keepeth not God's commandments is not of God ; he 
that loveth not his brother keepeth not God's commandments. The 
major is evident in itself, the minor is proved in the text, ' For this is 
the message that ye have heard from the beginning/ &c. 
In the words we have — 

1. A duty, ' That we should love one another.' 

2. The authority by which it is recommended to us, ' This is the 
message that ye have heard from the beginning.' Where — 

[1.] It is a message or command, ' This is the message.' 
[2.] An ancient doctrine or command, * Which ye have heard from 
the beginning.' 

1. The duty recommended to us, which is mutual love, ' That we 
should love one another ; ' that is, that we should love all men, but 
chiefly that Christians should love Christians. 

2. The authority by which this command is enforced. 

[1.] It is the declaration and message, or the commandment. Every 
thing we read in the word of God, or hear from the word of God, is 
a special message sent from God : Acts xiii. 20, ' To you is the word 
of this salvation sent ; ' not brought, but sent. I allude to that of 
Judges iii. 20, ' I have a message from God to thee, and he arose off his 
seat.' Every message from God bespeaketh its own respect and re 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 87 

[2.] ' From the beginning : ' The same phrase is used 1 John ii. 7, ' I 
write no new commandment unto you, but the old commandment 
which ye have heard from the beginning.' This is to be understood 
either — 

(1.) From the beginning of their conversion, since ye were called to 
the knowledge of God. Love is one of the first lessons of Christianity ; 
for, Gal. v. 6, ' Faith worketh by love ; ' and Eph. i. 15, ' After I heard 
of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints ; ' expressing 
thereby their Christianity. Ever since they became Christians they 
were possessed with the necessity of this duty. 

(2.) From the beginning of the gospel state, or ever since the faith of 
Christ was published and preached in the world. This is the doctrine 
so often and so earnestly inculcated by Christ when he was here upon 
earth : John xiii. 34, 35, ' A new commandment I give unto you, that 
ye love one another ; that as I have loved you, so ye love one another. 
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one 
to another ; ' and John xv. 12, ' This is my commandment, that ye love 
one another, as I have loved you.' And this is often inculcated by 
our apostle, as one that lay in Christ's bosom, and had a true sense of 
his Master's doctrine, and did partake largely of his spirit. 

(3.) From the beginning of the Mosaical administration, even under 
the law, this was a duty pressed : Lev. xix. 18, 'Thou shalt love thy 
neighbour as thyself ; I am the Lord.' And the neighbour was not 
only the Jewish neighbour, or one that lived within the pale and line 
of the Jewish communion, as appeareth by the language of the com 
mandment : Mat. xx. 16, 17, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against 
thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house ; ' which 
prohibitions imply the gentile as well as the Jewish neighbour. All 
men, considered as men in respect of nature and creation, are our 
brethren ; so an Edomite is reckoned a brother, Deut. xxiii. 7. So in 
respect of commerce and occasion of intercourse they are our neigh 
bours ; to them must we perform all acts of love and mercy, as their 
necessities do require. 

(4.) From the beginning of the world, ever since Adam ; for it was 
not only enforced by Christ's and Moses' law, but implanted and en 
grafted on man's heart or the law of nature. It is a matter of 
natural equity to love our neighbour, to do or not to do to others as we 
would have done or not done to ourselves, Mat. vii. 12. The gentiles 
were bound to this by the law of nature. Well, then, you see love to one 
another was always in great esteem with God ; therefore every one that 
is born of God should make great conscience of it. If the gentiles, by 
the law of nature, were bound to love others as themselves, and the 
Jews by the law of Moses, much more are Christians under an obli 
gation by the express command of Christ to love one another. 

Doct. One great duty which God hath recommended to our obedi 
ence is to love one another. 

Here I shall show you — 

1. What is this love to one another. 

2. How God hath recommended it to our obedience. 

I. What is this love to one another ? There are two branches of it : 
2 Peter i. 7, ' And to brotherly kindness, charity.' 


First, There is contained in it brotherly kindness, a grace wrought 
in us by the Holy Spirit, inclining us to love all those without excep 
tion as brethren who are made partakers of like precious faith with us. 
In which description note — 

1. The author of this grace, and that is the Holy Spirit renewing 
the heart : 1 Peter i. 22, ' Seeing ye have purified your hearts through 
the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren ; see that ye love one 
another with a pure heart fervently.' Naturally there is in us pride, 
self-love, wrath, strife, which dispose us only to please ourselves and love 
ourselves, without any regard to others ; and besides, till our souls be 
purified and sanctified, we shall never love purity and holiness in 
others, but the upright will be an abomination to us : Prov. xxix. 27, 
' He that is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.' They 
are unsuitable to them, and they are objects reviving guilt. Whatever 
good nature men have yet in their natural condition, they are enemies 
to the godly. Naturally we hate God because he is a holy God, and 
we hate his law because it is a holy law, and we hate his children 
because they are a holy people ; but when the soul is purified, its love 
and inclinations and aversions are altered, both as to persons and things. 
We love God for his holiness, Ps. ciii. 1 ; we love his law because it is 
pure, Ps cxix. 140 ; and we love his people because they are holy : 
Ps. xv. 4, ' In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoureth 
them that fear the Lord.' The new creature loveth what God loveth, 
and hateth what God hateth. 

2. There is a propension or inclination in the new nature to this 
love, with all the acts and fruits of it, though no outward respects 
invite us thereunto : 1 Thes. iv. 9, ' Concerning brotherly love, ye need 
not that any should write unto you, for ye are taught of God to love 
one another.' Instruction and persuasion doth not put us upon it so 
much as inclination, and the tendency of the new nature : 1 John iv. 7, 
' Every one that loveth is born of God ; ' and 1 John v. 1, ' He that 
loveth him that begat, loveth also those that are begotten by him.' 
Those that have the new nature in any degree of strength and preval- 
ency are inclined and disposed by it to love others, who are partakers 
of the same nature ; so that it is a duty kindly and natural to the 
regenerate, flowing from an inward propension and inclination, and 
needeth not much outward excitement. All the saints have a new 
heart of one and the same making and nature, and propound unto 
themselves one and the same end and scope, and so their hearts are 
suited to one another, and take pleasure in one another. 

3. The acts and fruits of this love are these — 

[1.] An esteem of them, and complacency in them, as having more 
of God in them than other men. They are said to be partakers of the 
divine nature, 2 Peter i. 4. We love God's natural image in all men ; 
we love his spiritual image in the saints ; and therefore the bond is 
stronger than the bond of common love : Ps. xvi. 3, ' My goodness 
extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth, and to 
the excellent, in whom is all my delight ; ' Prov. xii. 26, ' The righteous 
is more excellent than his neighbour,' therefore a greater object of love ; 
as Austin said of himself and his friend Alypius, that their friendship 
grew more entire when they both became acquainted with Christ, and 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 89 

were cemented together with the blood of Christ. Eodem sanguine 
Christi glutinati. 

[2.] By an affectionate desire of their good and spiritual happiness. 
The philosopher telleth us to love any is to wish well to them, to desire 
them all the good we can ; and we cannot desire a greater good to 
others than spiritual good, than the best good ; not to wish them health 
and strength of body, and greatness and worldly accommodations, but 
grace, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and light, life, and eternal 
happiness : Col. i. 9, ' We cease not to pray for you, and to desire that 
you may be filled with all wisdom and spiritual understanding ; ' Phil, 
i. 8, ' God is my record, how greatly I long after you all, in the bowels 
of Jesus Christ.' God knoweth the secret motions and inclinations of 
our inward affections. Now, when we can appeal to God for the fervency, 
sincerity, and spirituality of our love, and have in some measure as 
hearty a good-will to them as Christ had to souls when he died for 
them, then we have this Christ-like love which is called brotherly 

[3.] As occasion serveth, we must really promote their good to the 
uttermost of our power ; for it is a cold love that will not be at any 
pains and charges, or hazard any interests, for the sake of those whom 
we love ; that conteuteth itself with wishes, yea, though they be formed 
into prayers. No ; we must not say only, Be warmed, be clothed, but 
really do them good, and seek their welfare as we would our own. In 
short, we must sympathise with them in every condition : Bom. xii. 
15, ' Kejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep ; ' 
1 Cor. xii. 20, we should have the same care one for another. Want 
of feeling is a self-excommunication, a casting ourselves out of the 
body. Nay, there must be not only sympathy and compassion, but 
real succour : Gal. vi. 10, ' Do good to all, but especially to the house 
hold of faith ; ' Rom. xii. 13, ' Distributing to the necessity of the saints, 
given to hospitality ; ' Heb. vi. 10, ' God is not unrighteous, to forget 
your work and labour of love, in that ye have ministered to the saints, 
and do minister.' We must do them all possible service, as the 
exigencies of their circumstances and occasions do require, assisting 
them with our favour, countenance, labour, estates ; yea, and, as we 
shall see afterwards, by hazarding and laying down life itself. 

[4.] By conversing with them, and delighting in their fellowship, for 
our mutual comfort and edification. Love is a uniting thing ; it 
draweth to communion ; as the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul 
of David, 1 Sam. xviii. 15 ; and the apostle biddeth Christians to be 
knit together in love, Col. ii. 2. Brotherly love is such an affection as 
knits the hearts of the professors of the same faith to one another, as if 
they had but one heart and one soul in common amongst them : Acts 
iv. 32, ' And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and 
one soul.' And therefore it is called the bond of perfection, Col. iii. 
14. The saints are bound together in a holy society, and preserved by 
it ; and without it, as a besom unbound, they fall all to pieces. 

[5.] In passing by failings and infirmities : 1 Peter iv. 8, ' And 
above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity 
shall cover a multitude of sins.' Love will prevent and pass by many 
mutual wrongs, which otherwise would disturb the comfortable society 


of the Lord's people ; therefore brotherly love is not come to its due 
height, growth, and fervency when it is easily interrupted by every 
offence. We cannot expect to converse with any in this life but some 
failings and wrongs it is like will be often reiterated, both against God 
and one another ; therefore, unless we have learned to pardon failings, 
we have not learned the true art of loving one another ; we must 
pardon the person for the wrong done to us, and we must intercede 
with God for the pardon of the wrong done to him. Love must cover 
these, not upbraiding the party with them, and concealing it from the 
wicked as much as may be, lest religion be disgraced. 

[6.] The impartiality of this love ; we must love those without 
exception who are godly, whether rich or poor, prosperous or 

(1.) Whether rich or poor; for we must not have the faith of our 
Lord Jesus Christ in respect of persons, James ii. 1. No ; if it be 
sincere, it must be love to all the saints, Eph. i. 15, to the meanest as 
well as the greatest, otherwise we despise the church of God, 1 Cor. 
xi. 20. Meanness doth not take away Christian relations. There are 
many differences in worldly respects between one of God's children 
and another, and in spiritual gifts some are weak and some are strong ; 
yet we must love all, for all are brethren ; all are children of one Father, 
all owned by Christ ; co-heirs not only with the richest and strongest 
Christians, but with Christ himself; therefore we should love them 
without respect of persons, yea, love them when no respect of our own 
doth invite us thereunto ; for love is not to be measured by our profit, 
but by a desire to profit others. 

(2.) We should love them in adversity as well as in prosperity. 
Some seem to love good people when the times favour them, and they 
suffer no loss by owning them. No ; you must own them in their 
troubles also and persecutions : Heb. x. 33, ' Partly whilst ye were made 
a gazing-stock, both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly whilst ye 
became companions of them who were so used.' Some suffered as the 
parties persecuted, others as their companions, who were not at first in 
the original process. So Moses left all the pleasures of the court, and 
his friendships there, to join with God's despised people : Heb. xi. 25, 
' Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to 
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.' Alas ! there are many painted 
butterflies and summer-friends to the gospel, who are gone when the 
sunshine of prosperity is gone. Brethren then do almost forget that 
they are brethren, if not altogether, and stand aloof, and are loath to 
own the afflicted. 

(3.) We should love them all, whether we be obliged or disobliged ; 
for in brotherly kindness we are not to mind our own things, but the 
image of God and the glory of God, and the good and benefit of others : 
Phil. ii. 4, ' Look not every one upon his own things, but every man 
also upon the things of others.' Whether we are invited to this love 
by benefits or courtesies done to us, or discouraged by neglects, we are 
to consider our duty to people as they stand related to God, otherwise 
we know one another after the flesh, when we value men by personal 
respects to us rather than by what of God we find in them : ' If you 
love them that love you, do not even the publicans the same ? ' Mat. 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 91 

v. 46. What singular thing do we ? We are monsters of ingratitude 
if we should do otherwise. 

(4.) The objects of this love are those that are partakers of like 
precious faith with us. or, in one word, the brethren, or our fellow- 
christians. Our brethren in a natural sense are all mankind, as it is 
said, Acts xvii. 16, ' He hath made all nations of one blood.' There is 
a communion of the same nature. But in a Christian sense, all the 
faithful are brethren in Christ, because of the communion of the same 
faith. Of these, some are only professors of the faith, who, in opposition 
to infidels, are called brethren : 1 Cor. v. 11, 12, ' If any called a brother 
be a fornicator, or a drunkard, or a railer, or covetous, or an idolater, 
with such an one eat not.' Others are really regenerate, or give hopeful 
evidences thereof ; these are born of the same seed, adopted by the 
same Father, brought up in the same family, partakers of the same 
Spirit, estated in the same inheritance, of the same brotherhood the 
apostle maketh mention, 1 Peter ii. 17. Now though they should not 
be such as we take them to be by their profession, yet our love is accept 
able to God, because we love them upon this supposition, that they are 

(5.) The reduplication or qualification of this object. These brethren 
must be loved as brethren with such a love, and upon that account, as 
Christ distinguished between giving to a disciple and giving to him in 
the name of a disciple, Mat. x. 42 ; as one that belongeth to Christ, 
stamped with the image of God, and sealed with his Spirit. If it be 
for some external respect, though the love be real in its kind, yet we 
have our own ends in it ; as many may show respect to the people of 
God to get advantage by them. Self-love is great in every one of us, 
and therefore in sincerity to love the brethren is a very difficult thing ; 
most have their ends in it, and make a market of their religion. Then 
it is brotherly kindness when we love them out of a respect to their 
holiness, or because of the image of God in them. A saint is to be 
loved as a saint, and a disciple as a disciple, eo nomine, not because 
learned, potent, opulent, but as a child of God ; if so, a quatenus ad 
omne, then we will love all in whom we see anything of Christ. Love 
will cover something that is unlovely in them, because partakers of the 
same grace, and look for salvation by the same Christ. Surely we will 
love them whether they be of our party or no ; but (sicut se habet sim- 
pliciter ad simpliciter, ita magis ad magis) the more godly, the more 
we will love them. Many love godliness in a low degree, while mingled 
with imperfections, — the impurity is a part of the reason of the love, — 
whilst a very strict man is hated. Well, then, this is brotherly love. 
By this brief view of it we see it is very rare to be found amongst chris- 
tians. Self-love and the love of the world have almost destroyed it ; 
and where it is, it is not so fervent and effectual as it should be. In 
most persons, though professed Christians, we either find no love, or if 
any be, a very cold one, such as will run no hazards for and with those 
whom we love. 

I come now to speak of the other branch, charity, or love to all men, 
for it must not confine itself to fellow-christians only, but be diffused 
to all men, though they be not heirs of the same grace of life. In 
short — 


1. This love is either amor justitice, which consists in justice and 
righteousness. We are not to wrong them or defraud them of 
their due, but so deal with them as we would be dealt with ourselves ; 
for this is one sort and kind of love : to love my neighbour as myself, 
and do as I would be done by, are equivalent expressions : Rom. xiii. 
7, 8, ' Bender to every one their due ; owe no man anything, but to love 
one another.' Again, there is amor compassionis, we must not hide 
ourselves from our own flesh, Isa. Iviii. 7 ; we must be affected with 
their misery, both by reason of sin and affliction, relieve their wants, 
seek their conversion, and promote it by ourselves and others by all 
ways and means possible. This we owe to barbarians and wicked ones, 
of what nation soever ; though we hate their ways, we must pity their 

2. From this love enemies and persecutors are not excepted : Mat. 
v. 44, ' Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them 
that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and perse 
cute you.' For this is to be like God, who is kind to the unthankful 
and the evil : Luke vL 35, ' But love your enemies, and do good, and 
lend, hoping for nothing again ; and your reward shall be great, and 
ye shall be the children of the highest ; for he is kind unto the un 
thankful, and to the evil/ 

3. The fruits of this love are not only seen in bestowing temporal 
benefits, but to the uttermost of our power (because they are capable of 
eternal blessedness) making it our unfeigned desire and prayer to God, 
that they may be saved : Rom. x. 1, ' Brethren, my heart's desire and 
prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved.' And our earnest 
endeavours should be to procure their spiritual good : James v. 19, 20, 
' Brethren, if any one of you do err from the truth, and one convert 
him, let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error 
of his way shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins.' 

Secondly, The reasons. 

1. Why we should love all men. The reasons that may induce us 
are — 

[1.] Equality, the actual equality of all men by nature, who were all 
made by the same God, and all made of one blood. Diversity of rank 
doth not take away identity of nature : Mai. ii. 10, ' Have we not all 
one Father ? hath not one God created us ? why do we deal treacher 
ously every man against his brother? ' So Job xxxi. 13-15, 'If I did 
despise the cause of my man-servant, or of my maid-servant, when they 
contended with me : what then shall I do when God riseth up ? and 
when he visiteth, what shall I answer him ? Did not he that made 
me in the womb, make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb ? ' 
So Neh. v. 5, ' Our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, and their chil 
dren as our children.' Why is more due to you than them ? And the 
possible equality of all men, as to their condition and state of life : Heb. 
xiii. 3, ' Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, and 
them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves in the body.' Before 
we go out of the body there may be strange changes in the world, and 
God may make us as low as others. 

[2.] We are to imitate God, as children do their father, Mat. v. 45. 
Now God loveth all his creatures, and hateth none ; the more we imi- 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 93 

tate God, the more we know we are children of our Father which is in 

[3.] God hath so cast the world, that sometimes we need the help ot 
others, as they need ours, that, by mutual necessities and a combination 
of interests, the world may be upheld. As in the body natural, no 
member can say to any, I have no need of thee ; so also hath God dis 
posed it in the great frame of mankind, that we may have a mutual 
care of one another, 1 Cor. xii. 25. As he requireth from every man a 
respect to the world of mankind, so he hath turned all the respects of 
the world of mankind upon one man. We would be glad to be loved 
of all the men in the world, if we could bring it to pass ; and surely 
we may the better expect it if we have this love to all the world. 

2. Why we are to love strangers : Heb. xiii. 2, ' Be not forgetful to 
entertain strangers, for hereby some have entertained angels unawares.' 
By ' strangers ' he meaneth those that are far from home, in another 
place and country, where they have few friends, and are not well known, 
especially when exiled for the gospel. We find this in Abraham's and 
Lot's instances, who were kind to the angels, and had their recompense. 
Abraham's barren wife had a promise of bearing a son to him. Lot 
had benefit also, being saved from the flames that destroyed Sodom. 
Surely such a work of mercy shall not go unrewarded. 

3. Why enemies ? Partly because there is more reason to love them 
than hate them, because there are some relics of God's image in them ; 
and God hath forgiven us greater wrongs : Eph. iv. 32, ' And be ye 
kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God for 
Christ's sake hath forgiven you.' We commit a sin against God, or 
else, upon the apprehension of the injury done us by man, we are 
deeper in danger than our enemy ; we daily trespass against God more 
than they can trespass against us. God fbrgiveth talents, we cannot 
forgive pence ; God forgiveth a hundred thousand, we cannot one hun 
dred, Mat. xviii. We look that God should forgive us, and we will 
not forgive others. In short, though it be more comfortable to love a 
friend, it is more honourable to love an enemy : Prov. xix. 11, ' It is the 
glory of a man to pass by a transgression.' 

II. How God hath recommended it to our obedience. 

1. It is a precept and a commanded duty, and not bare counsel and 
advice only. There is a great deal of difference between allowing and 
commanding; where a thing is allowed, licet, it may be done; but 
where a thing is commanded, oportet, it must be done, a necessity is 
laid upon us ; and therefore none must look upon love as an indifferent 
thing, which we may practise or forbear at our own pleasure. No ; it 
is a debt or duty by virtue of Christ's express command, a duty to 
Christ, a debt that we owe to God more than to our neighbour ; we 
owe love to them as our fellow-creatures, but chiefly upon the injunction 
of our Creator, 

2. It is a special command which Christ hath adopted into his new 
law. Christ calleth it his new commandment: John xiii. 34, 'A new 
commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.' How new, 
since it was as old as the moral law or the law of nature ? Because it 
was so solemnly renewed by him, and commended to their care. Laws, 
when new, are more regarded and obeyed. Christ would ratify it afresh, 


that the law of love might never be out of date, but be looked upon as 
a statute in force and newly enacted, and fresh in the remembrance of 
his people. Or a new commandment, because pressed upon a new 
ground and pattern : before it was ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as 
thyself ; ' now it is, ' As I have loved you.' The great love of Christ 
discovered in the gospel must leave a suitable impression on us. He 
came from heaven not only to represent the holy and amiable nature 
of God, but to propound us a pattern of love and chanty. Once more, 
the scripture is impatient of being denied when it calleth for love to 
the brethren ; therefore it applieth itself to our dispositions either way. 
Some prize old things, others new ; therefore it telleth us, 1 John ii. 7, 
8, ' I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment, 
which ye had from the beginning.' Again, ' A new commandment write 
I unto you ; ' 2 John 5, ' Not as though I wrote a new commandment 
unto thee, but that which ye had from the beginning, that ye love one 
another.' It is old and not old, new and not new ; thus it plieth us on 
all hands, that we may look upon ourselves as deeply concerned. 
Some novelty is suspected, therefore he telleth them of an old command 
ment ; it is the same which was commanded in the law, yet solemnly 
reinforced in the gospel. There are some commands which are new 
and not old, such are the sacraments of the new testament ; some are 
old and not new, as the ceremonies of the law now antiquated; some both 
old and new, as the precepts of the moral law, and in particular this 
command of love, which, though it were enjoined before, yet it is revived 
by Christ, and renewed and recommended by him to his disciples as a 
chief and singular duty. 

3. It is his dying charge : John xv. 12, ' This is my commandment, 
that ye love one another.' He appropriateth it, and challengeth it as 
his commandment, which, though given by God before, yet he would 
make his own by an express charge : If my authority be of any force 
with you, do not entertain it with a careless indifferency, as a thing 
which you may neglect without any great inconvenience. The season 
is to be observed when those things were spoken by Christ, when he 
was departing from his disciples, and preparing them for his departure. 
Speeches of dying men are received with much reverence, especially the 
charge of dying friends. The brethren of Joseph, fearing he should 
remember old injuries, came to him with this plea, Gen. 1. 16, 'Thy 
father did command us before he died, saying/ Let us fulfil the will 
of the dead. Our Lord commanded us when he died, saying, ' Love 
one another.' Christ foresaw how his disciples would quarrel in their 
Master's absence, how his work would thereby be interrupted, and 
their own peace ; how his religion would be exposed to reproach and 
obloquy by the contention of his followers ; therefore he left this 
charge, ' See that ye love one another.' 

4. It is a comprehensive command ; for to love one another implieth 
all those things which concern our duty to our neighbour • John xv. 
17, ' These things I command you, that ye love one another.' These 
things, and yet but one thing pressed, and that is to love each other. 
But love containeth many duties in the bosom of it : Gal. v. 14, ' All 
the law is fulfilled in one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as 
thyself.' How is that to be understood ? There are other precepts 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 95 

besides this ; there are respects of love due to God, and there is justice 
due to our neighbour, as well as love. But love God, and we love our 
neighbour for God's sake; and the acts of justice which we perform to 
them are the fruits and products of love, and must flow from love ; 
yea, the acts of charity, how pompous and plausible soever they be, 
yet if love be not at the bottom, they are not right : 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3, 
' Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not 
charity, I am become as a sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal. 
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understood all mysteries 
and all knowledge ; and though I have all faith, so that I could 
remove mountains, and have no charity, I am nothing. And though 
I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to 
be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.' So that all 
the law is fulfilled in this one word. Therefore love is called the ful 
filling of the law, Horn. xiii. 8. 

5. It is a duty that fitteth us to partake of the blessing which God 
hath commanded for his people when united : Ps. cxxxiii. 1-3, 'Behold 
how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. 
It is like the precious ointment upon Aaron's head, that ran down upon 
the beard, that went down to the skirt of his garment ; as the dew of 
Hermon, and the dew that descendeth upon the mountains of Zion ; 
for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.' 
This holy concord is a blessing both pleasant and profitable. God 
delighteth to pour out his graces on such a society : Mat xviii. 19, ' I 
say unto you, If two of you shall agree on earth touching anything they 
shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.' 
God will not hear one sort of his children against another ; it is like 
'the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, 
even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirt of his garment.' 
There the pleasantness is described by the fragrancy of the holy oint 
ment wherewith Aaron and his sons were anointed ; it is often called 
the oil of gladness, because it cheered the spirits of the chief priests, 
and all that were present in the temple. The profit of it, ver. 3, 'As 
the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the moun 
tains of Zion ; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life 
for evermore.' It is as the dew which moistens the earth, which was 
a great blessing in those hot countries, and caused the fields to laugh 
with fatness ; he mentioned Mount Hermon and Mount Zion. 
Hermon was a fat and fruitful place ; it is usually put among the fair 
and pleasant pastures. There is the blessing ; they have most com 
munion with God who have most communion with one another, and 
all this is in order to eternal life. 

6. This is a duty that doth most discover the temper of our religion, 
which is wholly made up of love. It is a God of love that we serve, and 
they have no acquaintance with him that love not their brethren : 
1 John iv. 7, 8, ' Let us love one another, for love is of God ; and 
every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that 
loveth not, knoweth not God ; for God is love.' Again, 1 John iv. 16, 
' God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, arid God 
in him.' Redemption by Christ, which is the great mystery of the 
Christian religion, the most conspicuous end was the demonstration of 


God's love: John iii. 16, 'God so loved the world, that he gave his 
only-begotten Son.' So 1 John iii. 16, ' Hereby perceive we the love 
of God, that he laid down his life for us.' What is this mystery of re 
demption but a wonder of love ? It was love stepped in, and recovered 
us out of that destruction and ruin wherein we had involved ourselves. 
What was the Son of God but love incarnate, love coming down from 
heaven to earth, to die for a sinful world ? Now why was all this 
made known unto us ? Only to talk of, or comfort ourselves withal ? 
No ; that we might imitate it, that the true stamp and impression of 
our religion may be upon our hearts : Eph. v. 2, ' Walk in love, as 
Christ also hath loved us ; ' 1 John iv. 11, ' If God so loved us, we 
ought also to love one another.' He that seeth the true face of redemp 
tion, and understandeth the gospel and the grace of Christ, will easily 
be induced to see the reasonableness of such a duty. And what is the 
work of the Holy Ghost but to shed abroad this love in our hearts ? 
Rom. v. 5 ; the intent of the ordinances, but to represent this love and 
seal up this love ? So that we do express the true genius of our 
religion by love. 

Use. The use is to show us the excellency, and amiableness, and 
beautifulness of the Christian religion in both these regards, as it 
requireth brotherly kindness and charity. Brotherly kindness or com 
munion of saints : some things are pleasant and not profitable, as vain 
delights ; some things are profitable and not pleasant, as afflictions and 
the sorrows of repentance ; some things neither profitable nor pleasant, 
as hatred, variance, strife ; some things pleasant and profitable, as the 
concord of God's people. Man is a sociable creature, and religion doth 
mightily befriend human societies ; for besides that brotherly kindness, 
that it requireth to be exercised among Christians themselves, it re 
quireth also love to all men, not only forbidding injustice to the names 
and persons of others, but uncharitableness, and those oppressions and 
injuries wherewith the world aboundeth. These things would be 
banished if men would be but true to this religion, and love their 
neighbour as themselves. It commands universal love and kindness 
among men, a readiness to forgive our greatest enemies. How easily 
would men be induced to pardon wrongs ! how patiently would they 
bear a modest dissent, where in this state of frailty all men cannot 
force their judgments to be of another mould and size ! How far would 
men be from doing hurt to one another, hurt no man, speak evil of no 
man ! Yea, how beneficial and helpful would men be to o^e another, 
seeking others' good as their own, affected with one another's welfare as 
their own, and rejoicing in it ! Oh, that the world would consider how 
much of Christianity consists in love and doing good ! Without that 
there is nothing so fierce, so bad, so cruel, which you may not be 
drawn to think, say, or do against your brother. The world is pre 
judiced against religion as an ill-natured thing, but there is no ground 
for such a prejudice, when we consider the Christian religion requireth 
nothing but what is most fit for God to command, and most reasonable 
for man to obey. 

VER. 12.] SEKMONS UPON i JOHN in. 97 


Not as Cain, ivJw loas of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And 
wherefore slew he him f Because his oion ivories were evil, and 
his brother's righteous. — 1 JOHN iii. 12. 

THE apostle having urged the precept of brotherly love, now speaketh 
of the contrary, which is hatred to the power of godliness, and of this 
by way of instance and example. This instance is fitly chosen — 

1. As being a most eminent example, or an early discovery of the 
malignity of corrupt nature. Therefore Tertullian calleth Cain the 
patriarch of unbelievers. Enmity to religion began betimes, and the 
world keepeth its old wont, then, and now, and ever. Those that will 
live godly in Christ Jesus must expect troubles, 2 Tim. iii. 12. 

2. As best to represent the tragical effects of envy and hatred. 
When once brotherly love faileth, there is nothing so bad and cruel 
which you may not be drawn to do against your brethren ; for corrupt 
nature is cruelly bent against all that stand in the way of our esteem 
and desires. When once a brother is represented as an enemy, if it 
be in the power of our hands, what will we think unlawful to be acted 
against him ? If malice be curbed and restrained, we seek to draw 
those in with us who have power to serve our private quarrels and 
revenges ; and hatred given way to will not be slaked without blood 
and ruin. 

3. It showeth that devouring malice is the true devilish nature: 
'Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one.' It was one of CEcolampa- 
dius' observations in a sermon to the children of Basil, that the 
ordinary pictures of God and Satan were in good books for the instruc 
tion of children either in the nature of God or Satan. The truest re 
presentation that can be made of God to children should be to teach 
them what truth is, what mercy is, what love is, what goodness is, for 
this is God ; and the best picture that can be taken of Satan would 
be the true characters of malice, falsehood, envy, and hatred. God is 
love, God is mercy, God is goodness ; but falsehood, envy, and hatred, 
and cruelty are natural to the old serpent : ' Not as Cain, who was of 
that wicked one, and slew his brother.' 

In the words observe — (1.) Cain's fact ; (2.) The reason of it. 

1. His fact, ' He slew his brother.' 

2. The reason. In this latter, one reason is expressed, viz., contra 
riety of practice ; acerbissima sunt odia ex diversitate morum. The 
other implied envy at God's favour to him, for envy soon runneth into 

First reason. Abel is seldom spoken of in scripture, but he is hon 
oured with the title of righteous : Mat. xxiii. 33, ' From the blood of 
righteous Abel.' So Heb. xi. 4, ' By which he obtained witness that 
he was righteous.' 

Second reason. Envy at God's favour : Gen. iv. 4, ' God had re 
spect to Abel and his offering.' It must be known by some visible 
token, for thereupon Cain's countenance fell, and in his wrath and envy 
he slew his brother. Some say, as Claudius Marius, that the smoke of 



Cain's sacrifice went downward to the earth, and Abel's upward to 
heaven ; others say other things, but without any clear warrant. Pro 
bably the sign was fire coming down from heaven, and consuming Abel's 
sacrifice to ashes. The apostle tellethus, ' God testified of his gifts/ Heb. 
xi. 4. Theodosius saith, Surely this was the sign of God's favourable 
acceptation afterwards : Ps. xx. 3, ' The Lord accept thy burnt-offer 
ings ; ' in the margin it is, ' turn to ashes.' So Lev. ix. 24, ' At Aaron's 
sacrifice there came a fire out from the Lord, and consumed the burnt- 
offering, and the fat' So in Elijah's contest with Baal's priests : 1 
Kings xviii. 38, ' Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the 
burnt-sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked 
up the water that was in the trench.' So in Gideon's sacrifice : Judges 
vi. 21, ' And there rose up a fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh.' 
So Manoah's sacrifice : Judges xiii. 20, ' The flame went up towards 
heaven, and the angel ascended in the flame.' So 1 Chron. xxi. 26, 
' The Lord answered David by fire from heaven on the burnt-offering.' 
Doct, That there is snch a sin as antipathy against the power of 
godliness, or a hatred of others because of their strictness in the service 
of God, and diligence in heavenly things. 

1. I shall give you instances of this in the word of God. 

2. Some discoveries of this malignity. 

3. The reasons of it. 

I. Instances of it from scripture. The world's hatred is disguised 
under other pretences. Now what doth the word of God say ? The 
word of God doth tell us doctrinally that it is so, and giveth instances 
and examples of it. 

1. Doctrinally that it is so : let us take notice of that place which 
describeth the first rise of it : Gen. iii. 15, ' I will put enmity between 
thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.' There is a 
natural enmity between the two seeds, as there is between a wolf and 
a lamb. 

2. By way of instance and example, to see how this spirit of enmity 
hath been working, and how the men of God have had bitter experi 
ence of it. Thus Abel was slain by Cain ; Isaac was scoffed at by 
Ishmael ; and Jacob was driven out of his father's house by his brother 

II. Discoveries that this hatred that is commenced against the people 
of God ariseth from an antipathy to godliness, though wicked men will 
not own it to be such. But to remove cavils, let us see how it ap- 
peareth that this hatred is the effect of their abhorrence of that which 
is good and holy. 

1. This is some discovery of it, because the servants of God have 
been hated most, and troubled by the worst of men. 

2. Because the best men, who have the least allay of corruption, and 
are most eminent for strict and exemplary conversations, are most hated 
and maligned. 

3. Because when religion is accompanied with other things, that a 
man would think should assuage malice and allay the heat and rage of 
men against them, yet it escapeth not. Thus godly meek men, that 
are guilty of nothing but worshipping God in sincerity, and desiring to 
go to heaven with all their hearts, are most persecuted in this world. 

VER. 12.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 99 

4. It appeareth by their inventing of lies and ridiculous crimes to 
palliate their hatred ; as against the primitive Christians, their wor 
shipping an ass's head, their drinking the blood of a child in their 

5. Because if a man be strict, mortified, sober of life and behaviour, 
the world is apt to judge him one of such a hated party ; as if any 
named the name of God with reverence, they suspected them for here 
tics if they said, ' If the Lord will.' 

6. The consciences of wicked men are a thousand witnesses. 

7. It appeareth by the joy that wicked men take when they have 
anything offered to justify their opposition, as the scandal of any that 
profess the ways of God. 

III. Having given the instances of the world's hatred, I come to the 

1. The difference and estrangement in course of life is a provoking 
thing ; therefore men that live in any sinful course are loath that any 
should part company with them. . 

2. This is not all ; it is not only a difference, but a difference about 
religion ; and usually hatreds that arise from difference in religion are 
very deadly. 

3. It is not only difference about religion, but between the true 
religion and the false. 

But why is there such a spite and enmity at the sincere and serious 
profession of the true religion ? I answer — 

[1.] The devil's instigation is one cause ; he hath great rage against 
the saints 

[2.] On man's part there seemeth to be a double reason — pride and 

(1.) Pride, which is impatient of reproof. 

(2.) Envy at God's favour bestowed on them. 1 

Use 1. Is to press us to avoid this sin and snare of death, especially 
in these times of dissension. Whatever party and sort of Christians 
you stick unto, be not drawn to hatred against the power of godliness. 
We are told that in the latter times men shall be despisers of those 
who are good, 2 Tim. iii. 3, not-lovers, or haters, as the word signifieth. 
It is a more common sin than we are aware of. Indeed this spirit of 
enmity and malignity walketh under a disguise, seeketh other pretences 
wherewith to mask itself. But the children of God should beware of 
it, lest the sheep act the wolves' part, and cry up a confederacy with 
the wicked world in their spite against others of God's children. Now 
that we may avoid this snare, I will represent — (1.) The commonness 
of the sin ; (2.) The heinousness of it ; (3.) Some remedies against it. 

First, The commonness of the sin. 

It appeareth by this, that the scripture everywhere divides all the 
world into two ranks — the godly and the ungodly, the converted and 
unconverted, the unsanctified and sanctified, the carnal and spiritual, 
the earthly-minded and the heavenly-minded, the children of God and 
the children of the devil ; and Christ will at last divide all the world 
into sheep and goats. Thus standeth the case, not only between the 

1 See this subject largely handled in the author's sermons on the 17th of John, in 
Volume X. of this edition. — ED. 


church and the world, but within the church, between the serious and 
profane, the real and nominal Christians ; though they have the same 
bible, creed, and baptism, yet they hate one another, malign one another. 
It must needs be so, for otherwise these things are said in vain, for the 
scriptures are not written to infidels. Therefore it concerneth us to 
look to ourselves, our own soundness and sincerity with Christ. If we 
engage in the differences and espouse quarrels before we are gained to 
Christ, take heed the quarrel be not rather against the life and practice 
of religion than a pure zeal for the truth ; and that we do not reproach 
those for heretics and schismatics that are more diligent and serious 
in God's service than ourselves ; for the zeal of the carnal is always to 
be suspected. First plant the fear of God, and then men will best own 
the cause of God. Certainly it is usual for the formal to hate the 
serious, and the Christian in the letter to despise him who is so in the 
spirit. An outward, superficial, apocryphal, bastard holiness filleth us 
with this hatred. Cain had his sacrifice as well as Abel, but Abel 
goeth thoroughly to work, and was accepted, which Cain doth not, and 
therefore hateth and killeth him : Isa. Ixvi. 5, ' Your brethren that 
hate you, and cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let God be glori 
fied.' Men that are brethren, that profess the same religion, yet being 
loose and false in it, may hate others that are strict and true ; as it is 
•said in the Revelations, they pushed with the horns of the lamb. 
Therefore it concerneth us to consider — 

1. What is our state, what is the ground of our quarrel, what are 
the ends and motives in all contests that we have with others. 

2. If the cause of the quarrel be never so good and just, yet it may 
be carried on with too great heat and animosity against godly brethren ; 
bitter zeal argueth some breach made upon brotherly love : James iii. 
14, ' If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and 
lie not against the truth.' Those that have this bitter contention, or 
feverish kind of zeal, have seldom a true zeal for God, but a partiality 
to their own interests, if not a hatred against their brethren. It is a 
spirit of carnal envy against the credit and reputation of others, a 
kitchen, not a celestial fire ; and though it be not downright mis 
chievous hatred, yet it is a great unkindness, as Job was too deeply 
censured by his godly friends. 

3. There may be a secret rising of heart and envy against the purity 
and strictness of others, even by some of those who are right for the 
main themselves. It should promote holy emulation and imitation ; 
so the apostle saith, ' Your zeal hath provoked many,' 1 Cor. ix. 2, and 
Heb. x. 24, ' Let us provoke one another to love and good works.' 
But many times it draweth envy, and then natural malignity beginneth 
to work. You had need to suppress it betimes, for lusts stirred will 
grow more tumultuous. One eminently godly man may reprove the 
conscience of another by his life ; they cannot look upon it without 
some shame and check : it should stir in us only a holy emulation, not 
a carnal envy. 

4. In opposing those that are godly, you had need be tender, that 
you go upon sure grounds, and that your opposition proceedeth not to 
mischievous violence : Mat. xviii. 6, ' He that offendelh one of these 
little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone 

VEE. 12.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 101 

were hanged about his neck, and that lie were drowned in the depth of 
the sea.' As was said concerning Paul, ' Take heed what you do, for 
this man is a Roman.' Men that know the danger will not easily kick 
against the pricks, at least do not join with the opposite: 'Eat and 
drink with the drunken, and beat your fellow-servants,' Mat. xxiv. 49 ; 
and cry up a confederacy with wicked men to promote your private 
differences with more advantage ; there may be much of the hatred of 
godliness in it. The devil will be a defender of the truth and church 
with a bloody and killing zeal, so the soundest and holiest members 
be destroyed ; those go in the way of Cain, Jude 11, if slaughters and 
massacres will do, and so think they serve God by murdering his 
servants, John xvi. 2. 

5. If you be glad when you find any blemish to eclipse the lustre 
and glory of their innocency, this argueth a secret hatred to them as 
godly : ' Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,' 
1 Cor. xiii. 6 ; and Phil. iii. 18, ' For many walk, of whom I have told 
you often, and now tell you even weeping, they are enemies to the cross 
of Christ.' They were not real Christians, but enemies to the cross of 
• Christ. You are glad at the miscarriages of some, and those few are 
cast upon all. 

Secondly, The heinousness and greatness of the sin. 

1. A malicious opposing of those that are good, and do belong to 
God, under that consideration, bordereth near to the great transgression, 
which is a malicious desertion or opposition of the truth after sufficient 
conviction ; it is not it, but it cometh near to it in the height of it. 

2. Religion is a commendation of kindness on the one side, so it is 
an aggravation of malice on the other : Mat. x. 40, ' Whosoever shall 
give to drink to one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in 
the name of a disciple, he shall not lose his reward.' Therefore to 
hate men for their godliness is a provoking sin. 

3. It is a mark of a child of the devil, the express image of Satan. 
Thereby our Saviour convinced the Jews to be of their father the devil, 
because they hated him that came from God, John viii. 40. You 
express Satan's image to the life when this is the ground of hatred. 

4. When you have no other quarrel against them but their goodness, 
that which should be the cause of the greatest love is the cause of the 
greatest hatred ; and so God himself is despised when his image is 
despised and the devil's had in reverence and honour. 

5. This sin is the greater because of the many blessings we enjoy by 
them ; they are the honour and blessing of a country. Elijah, that 
was counted the troubler of Israel, yet is by the prophet called the 
chariots and horsemen of Israel, 2 Kings ii. 12, that is, the defence of 
the country. When such are gone, it is the worse for any people : 
Gen. xix. 22, ' I cannot do anything till thou art gone thither ; ' Acts 
xxvii. 24, ' And I have given thee the lives of all that sail with thee in 
the ship.' 

Thirdly, The means to avoid it. 

1. Keep up the love of all men. He is not godlv that loveth not all 
men with the love common to Christianity, and Yuose that fear God 
with a special love ; the one is the preservative from dashing against 
the other. Free the mind from malice, and you will free it from 



hatred to the power of godliness, for malice blindeth men that they 
cannot see the good in those they hate. You are at the greatest dis 
tance from this sin when you take heed of the hatred of any man. 
We should love all with the love of good-will, though our delight 
should be in the excellent ones of the earth. Live in enmity and 
malice with none, though you take just offence at their sins. Lot's 
righteous soul was vexed from day to day, 2 Peter ii. 8, yet he lived 
peaceably in Sodom. They are an abomination for caution to ourselves, 
but not with a mischievous hatred. 

2. Take heed of an uncharitable impropriating of Christ ; this is the 
readiest way to confine your love, and hate all the world besides ; but 
love the gifts and graces of God in any party and sort of men, for 
God's interest lieth not in one party; do not therefore impale the 
common salvation, 'theirs and ours,' 1 Cor. i. 2. If God hath received 
him, though weak, we should own him. The devil hath a great hand 
over those that enclose all religion within the lines of their communion, 
either because their party is the best, or greatest, or uppermost, or 
chief in the house, city, or kingdom ; they are all the church. Alas ! 
often it is so, but God will not reckon his children by the opinion of 
an angry brother. 

3. Do not think evil of any without constraining evidence, for ' charity 
thinketh no evil/ 1 Cor. xiii. 5, 6. Charity doth not force and wrest 
things by a strained interpretation. For our caution, if they be as bad 
as malice can imagine, and you certainly know any fault by them, 
take warning to avoid it ; and consider what need there is of watch 
fulness, when they that set their faces heavenward do so fall and 
stumble in their way thither ; and see what need you and others have 
to be better. This is to improve the failings of others, not to censure 

4. Cherish those that invite you to love, as messengers from the God 
of love: ' For this is the message we have from the beginning.' But 
those censurers, backbiters, and slanderers, that make the worst of other 
men's actions, look upon as Satan's messengers inviting you to hate 
your brother, as if they said, I pray hate such a one; for he that 
speaketh evil of another without a just cause and call doth but entice 
you to hatred and mischief, at least to abate your love ; for to per 
suade you another is bad is to persuade you to hate him. 

Marvel not, my brethren, if the icorld hate you. — 1 JOHN iii. 13. 

IN these words you have an application of the instance of Cain — (1.) 
For the support of, present believers ; (2.) As a new motive to brotherly 

1. For the support of present believers. The world is of the same 
spirit that Cain was ; he envied his brother and slew him, to presignify 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 103 

to the world what the corrupt nature of man would prove, and how 
opposite the carnal and wicked would be to the sanctified ; what the 
holy seed, who are accepted of God, must look for in the world, and 
patiently endure for the hope of an everlasting blessedness with God. 
The world was of the same spirit that Cain was ; and if we be up 
right, the same causes of hatred do continue still. 

2. As a new motive to brotherly love. The children of God should 
love one another the more fervently, because they are all exposed to 
the hatred of the world. The same connection you may observe, John 
xv. 17, 18> ' These things I command you, that you love one another. 
If the world hate you, you know it hated me before it hated you.' The 
world's hatred to believers is a strong argument to persuade them to 
love one another. You are sure to meet with hatred from them, and 
therefore you must be more careful to maintain mutual love between 
one another. Usually when love decayeth, God doth enkindle and 
blow it up by the storms of persecution. Eusebius said that before the 
tenth persecution the church was rent and torn by intestine broils, 
pastors against pastors, and people against people. Ease and pride 
beget wantonness, and that maketh way for contention. We warp 
like green timber in the sunshine, and rend from one another ; the dog 
is let loose that the sheep may run together. Nazianzen was wont to 
call the enemies of the church the common reconcilers : it is well when 
it proveth so. To this end is this spoken. 

Doct. That there is no cause of perplexing wonder at the world's 

For distinctness we will put it in two propositions. 

1. That the world hateth God's children, 

2. That when we feel the effects of it, we should not marvel at this 

For the first point, we 'shall handle four things, and show you — 
(1.) What the world is ; (2.) What God's children are ; (3.) The 
hatred of the one to the other ; (4.) The reasons of it. 

First, What the world is. By the world is meant all carnal and 
unregenerate men, they may be delivered to us under a fourfold 
character : It is a foolish world, a sensual world, a lazy world, and a 
furious world. 

1. A foolish world : Titus iii. 3, 'We were sometimes foolish, dis 
obedient, deceived.' They are all blinded with the delusions of the 
flesh, and very hard to be convinced of their mistakes and errors : 
2 Peter i. 9, ' He that lacketh grace is blind, and cannot see afar off.' 
They are ignorant, and wander in darkness, and yet will not be 
convinced of their ignorance. Herein spiritual blindness differeth 
from bodily. If a man be blind as to the eyes of his body, he would 
be glad of a meet guide : Acts xv. 4, Elymas, when struck blind, 
would have somebody to lead him by the hand. But it is not so with 
them that are spiritually blind ; they count it a torment if any would 
direct them and guide them into the right way ; they are angry with 
those that would stop them in the way to hell : Prov. xiv. 1, ' A 
fool rageth, and is confident.' They are never more ragingly confident 
than when most deceived and most blind. Therefore in the world 
felly carrieth it, and wise men are discouraged, and tempted often to 


leave the foolish world to itself, as likely to do no good upon them, but 
only to bring hatred upon themselves. 

2. It is a sensual world, where the beast rideth the man, and reason 
and conscience are enslaved to sense and appetite : Titus iii. 3, ' Serving 
divers lusts and pleasures.' Wantonness and pride, and sports and 
vanity, and living in excess in meat, drink, and apparel, is the business 
of their lives, and their whole time is spent in making ' provision for 
the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof,' Rom. xiii. 14. If you tell them 
of a soul to save and lose, you are an enemy to their designed course 
of life, and they think you infringe their liberty, and have a plot upon 
them, to make them mopish and melancholy. To invite this sensual 
world by counsel or example to a holy, self-denying life, is as if you 
were about to snatch away the prey from a ravening wolf, or the 
carrion from a hungry dog, and they are ready to turn again and rend 
you ; and therefore a godly man maketh himself to such either a scorn 
or a prey ; you cross their lusts, and check their very natures and 
inclinations ; they think strange you are not affected as they are, and 
whilst you invite them to godliness, you do but tempt their reproach : 
1 Peter iv. 4, 5, ' They think it strange that you run not with them 
into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you : who shall give an 
account to him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead.' 

3. It is a lazy world, that will not be put out of their pace in 
religion, which is so slow and easy that it will not displease the flesh. 
Man in his degeneracy yet retaineth a conscience, and therefore though 
he serveth his lusts, yet must have some religion to please his conscience 
and palliate his lusts, but as little as may be serveth the turn. Con 
science is like the stomach, which must be filled ; therefore if it be not 
able to digest solid nourishment, it sucketh nothing but wind, and 
filleth itself with wind. The conscience must have a religion, but a 
dull, cold, and dead-hearted form serveth the turn ; the life and power 
which the faithful subjects of God seek after, and recommend to the 
world, is too searching, and not for their turn. Mat. ix. 17, Christ 
compareth these duties to new wine, full of spirit and life ; and 
Pharisaical fastings and hypocritical devotions to taplash, alluding 
to their skin-bottles. There is a spirit in holy serious duties, which 
old bottles cannot bear without breaking ; and therefore if you cross 
and put them out of their dead way, they cannot bear it. 

4. It is a malignant or a furious world : Titus iii. 3, ' Living in 
malice and envy, Tiateful and hating one another;' who have an 
implacable hatred to godliness ; because of their malice they will hate, 
and because of their multitude and power they often can trouble us : 
' The whole world lieth in wickedness,' 1 John v. 19. Some are more 
venomous, and have an inbred radicated envy to all that goodness 
which themselves want ; but all dislike goodness and serious thoughts. 
Some are more gross in the outbreaking of their malice and sensuality, 
but all have a spice of this malignity, because of the perfect difference 
and contrary course of life between them and the people of God. In 
short, they mind earthly things, while the other mind heavenly, Phil. 
iii. 19, and so are enemies to Christ, and his interest and people : 
' They are of the world, and speak of the world, and the world heareth 
them/ 1 John iv. 5. They serve the god of this world, 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 105 

and surely he hath rage enough against the sanctified ; and they have 
their portion in this world, Ps. xvii. 14, all that which they prize and 
value. These are one of the parties which are here described, the 

Secondly, What God's children are and should be ? A wise, holy, 
and self-denying company, whose work and scope it is to please, and 
glorify, and enjoy God. 

1. They are such as place all their hopes and happiness in a life to 
come ; there is their treasure, Mat. vi. 20, and there are their hearts 
and affections, Col. iii. 1, 2. They dare not choose perishing things 
for their portion, but look mainly to things unseen and eternal, 2 Cor. 
iv. 18. 

2. They make it their business to get thither : Phil. ii. 12, ' Work 
out your salvation with fear and trembling ;' and Phil. iii. 20, ' But our 
conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour.' Their 
life and love, time and strength, minds and hearts, are wholly taken 
up about these things. 

3. They use this world only in order to the next : Heb. xi. 13, ' And 
were persuaded of them,' viz., the promises, 'and embraced them, 
confessing they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' And con 
temn all the wealth and glory of the world in comparison of God and 
their own salvation, and meddle sparingly with the delights of the 
flesh, lest their hearts be perverted or diverted from better things : 1 
Peter ii. 11, 'As strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, 
which war against the soul.' 

4. They are willing to take others along with them to heaven, partly 
out of pity, as having been once of the world themselves, as opposite to 
God and godliness and godly people, and unmindful of heavenly things, 
as others are, till the Lord Jesus delivered them out of that cursed 
estate: Gal. i. 4, 'Who gave himself for our sins, that he might 
deliver us from this present evil world.' Therefore moved with the 
more pity and compassion towards others, who are left in these chains of 
darkness and sensuality : Titus iii. 2, 3, ' Showing meekness to all men ; 
for we ourselves were sometimes disobedient, deceived, serving divers 
lusts.' And partly because grace is diffusive, and will seek to propa 
gate itself, as fire turneth all about it into fire : 1 John i. 3, ' That 
which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may 
have fellowship with us ; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, 
and with his Son Jesus.' Mules and creatures of a bastard production 
do not propagate after their kind. A good man would be saving all 
he can ; he that believeth heaven and hell cannot think with patience 
of the perishing of souls for which Christ died, but endeavours to save 
them. Now these are the children of God, or such as these they should 
be ; and it will be hard for a holy man to pass through his whole life 
without his portion of the world's hatred. Certainly few that are 
truly wise, good, and heavenly can escape it. Two things in this kind 
of conversation are distasted — 

[1.] It is convincing, and has the force of a reproof on those that 
will not submit to this way of living: Heb. xi. 7, 'Noah condemned 
the world.' When you convince and condemn the foolish, furious 
world, it will show itself an opposite world. 


' [2.] It is provoking : 2 Cor. ix. 2, ' Your zeal had provoked very 
many.' The holy, heavenly, charitable life hath an excellency in it ; 
it provoketh to imitation, or it provoketh to envy, or heart-rising 
indignation and opposition ; and therefore because the good have no 
mind to imitate the bad, the bad will emulate or hate the good. 
They convince the carnal, provoke the lazy ; therefore they hate them, 
and do not imitate and follow them ; but where God blesseth the 
example of heavenly, mortified, and self-denying Christians, to the 
conversion of others, it hath a provoking efficacy in it. Holy conversa 
tion worketh as the word worketh ; some are pricked at the heart, 
some are cut at heart : Acts ii. 37, with Acts vii. 54, they that were 
pricked at heart were converted and healed ; they that were cut at 
heart gnashed upon Stephen with their teeth. 

Thirdly, The implacable hatred of the carnal to the sanctified 
showeth itself many ways, but they may be referred to these two— 
violence and calumny or reproach. So our Saviour hath sorted them : 
Mat. v. 10, 11, ' Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteous 
ness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when 
men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil 
against you falsely, for my name's sake.' There is a twofold effect of 
hatred — persecution and slander ; the greater or lesser sort of persecu 
tion, when they pursue their persons with violence, casting them out 
of the church, yea, out of the world : John xvi. 2, ' They shall put you 
out of the synagogues ; yea, the time cometh, that he that killeth you 
thinketh that he doeth God good service.' But sometimes men's 
hands are restrained from blood, but their hearts boil with malice ; 
therefore they seek to make religion odious, and cast out the names of 
the people of God as evil, by scorning and reviling them, and taking 
all occasions to slander them and misrepresent them, and that either 
with princes, by insinuating to them that they who are seriously godly 
are enemies to their interests, and such an odious sort of men as are 
unfit to live in their dominions. As Haman said of the Jews, ' There 
is a certain people whose laws are divers from all people, neither 
keep they the king's laws, and therefore it is not for the king's profit 
to suffer them to live.' Alas ! were we conscious to all the insinuations 
which are whispered and buzzed into the ears of the kings and princes of 
the earth, we should wonder more at God's providence and our protection. 
Sometimes they take all occasions to slander them to the populacy ; 
as those envious Jews, Acts xvii. 6, ' These have turned the world up 
side down, and are come hither also.' It may be they may be trouble 
some to a corrupt world, as a physician is with his medicines to a 
body filled with ill humours. If they trouble the world, it is for their 
health, for their peace, for the saving of their souls. Again, they 
revile and scorn them upon ordinary private occasions ; as David was 
the song of the abjects and hypocritical mockers in feasts, Ps. xxxv. 
15, 16. They expose them to the contempt of base people, and their 
names are torn and rent in pieces in every jovial and festival meeting ; 
and when they are warming themselves with wine and good cheer, one 
dish brought to the table is John Baptist's head in a charger, some 
godly, Christian, and grave minister ; and usually scoffs and jests at godli 
ness are the most relishing sauces of all their banquets. The dinner 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 107 

never goeth well off unless they scoff and rail at some that fear 

Fourthly, The reasons ; and they are — 

1. Ignorance ; which is twofold — simple and plain ignorance, or the 
ignorance of prejudicate malice. 

[1.] Simple and plain ignorance : 1 John iii. 1, 2, ' The world krioweth 
us not, because it knew him not.' They know not our birth and 
breeding, our hopes and expectations, and are not acquainted with the 
nature and worth of spiritual things, and so it is but the scorn of a fool 
that valtieth a carnal life above a spiritual. 

[2.] Prejudicate malice. When men will not search into the prin 
ciples, practices, and reasons of the godly life, they are willingly ignor 
ant ; they will not hear any arguments and reasons, because they have 
a mind to condemn and hate ; and so will not understand the thing 
they judge of: Jude 10, 'Speak evil of the things they know not.' 
Justin Martyr's complaint was, that the Christians were condemned un 
heard, without any just inquiry into their principles and practices. A 
nearer view would undeceive them, as Peter Martyr's similitude, re 
lated by Celius Secundus Curio in the life of Galiacius, expresseth it, 
that if they were not blinded by malice, they might see a beauty in the 
ways of God, and the reasons and motives by which his children are 
governed. One John Francis Caserta, a nobleman, was earnest with 
his cousin to hear Peter Martyr preach. One day with much entreaty 
he was drawn to hear him, not so much with a desire to learn and pro 
fit, as out of curiosity. Peter Martyr was then opening the first epistle 
to the Corinthians, and showing how much the judgment of the natu 
ral understanding is mistaken in things spiritual. Among other' things, 
he used this similitude : If a man riding in an open country should 
afar off see men and women dancing together, and should not hear 
their music according to which they dance and tread out their mea 
sures, he would think them to be a company of fairies and madmen, ap 
pearing in such various motions and antic postures ; but if he came 
nearer, and heard the musical notes, according to which they exactly 
dance, he would find that to be art which before he thought madness. 
The same happeneth to them who at first see a change of life, com 
pany, fashions in their former conversations ; he thinketh they are 
brain-sick and foolish ; but when he cometh more intimately to weigh the 
thing, and what an exact harmony there is between such a life and con 
versation and the motions of God's Holy Spirit and the directions of 
his word, he findeth that to be the highest reason which before he 
judged madness and folly. This similitude struck this gallant to the 

2. Envy, because of the different course of life, and the privileges at 
tending it, comfort, blessing, success. So Pilate knew that the priests 
delivered Jesus for envy, Mat. xxvii. 18. Avarice sold him, but envy 
delivered him. What envy it was is expressed in another evangelist : 
' You see how we prevail nothing ; if we let him alone, all the world 
will go after him,' John xi. 47, 48. They saw God's presence and 
power was with him, and that stirred up their envy. Their worldly 
interest was their great idol, and they looked upon the success 
of Christ's kingdom as contrary to it. So Acts xvii. 5, 'The 


malignant Jews, moved with envy/ stirred up all that trouble against 

3. Christ is the head of one party, and Satan of the other. Christ 
hath introduced truth and holiness, and the devil is the principle and 
architect of all wickedness and cruelty and hatred ; therefore since he 
worketh in the children of disobedience, and they are taken captive by 
him at his will and pleasure, is not the hand of Satan in all this ? 

Object. But how can it stand with the goodness and righteousness 
of God's providence that such a numerous and potent party as the 
multitude of ungodly should live in enmity with his people, and that 
his faithful servants should be continually exercised with their hatred 
and molestation, and sometimes to the utter loss and ruin of all their 
worldly interests ? I answer — 

[1.] It is for the glory of his providence that he ruleth in the midst 
of his enemies, Ps. ex. 2, and upholdeth his church not only against 
opposition, but by opposition. His church is really the bush that is 
burned but not consumed ; he can keep them from the evil of the 
world, though he doth not take them out of the world, John xvii. 15. 

[2.] That self-denying obedience is most acceptable to God. A 
religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. Though we be deep suf 
ferers in this world, and our demand in arrear unpaid till another world, 
yet it is fit we should be tried : James i. 12, ' Blessed is the man that 
endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive a crown 
of life/ It suiteth with God's conduct now, when he is trying, not 
rewarding the children of men. 

[3.] He that soundly believeth the promises of God will not stick 
much at suffering by the hatred of the world ; he doth but lose a 
feather to win a crown : Mat. v. 11, 'Eejoice and be exceeding glad, 
for great is your reward in heaven.' 

[4.] This kind of government is necessary to prevent that scurf and 
dross which is apt to overgrow the church arid particular believers, the 
scurf of hypocrites creeping into the visible societies of the faithful. 
When profession is cheap, many will take it up though their hearts be 
not with God, Mat. xiii. 21 ; and the scurf and dross of vanity and cor 
ruption growing into the lives of the saints, as filth on standing waters. 
Tribulation is God's fan and physic : Mat. iii. 11, ' Whose fan is in his 
hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor ; ' Isa. xxix. 9, ' By this 
shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged out.' 

Doct. 2. We have no reason to wonder at it, if it prove our lot to 
meet with the world's hatred. 

This is dissuaded in two places, and there is a different word used 
in both, as here in the text, and 1 Peter iv. 12, ' Think it not strange 
concerning the fiery trial.' We wonder at what is great and grievous, 
terrible and strange, at what is rare, new, and unusual, not thought of 

First, I will inquire how we are apt to wonder, or to count it grie 
vous and strange — (1.) Out of security ; (2.) Impatience of the cross. 

1. Out of our security. The children of God are loath to forecast 
trials, and therefore, if we have any rest from troubles, we think it will 
be perpetual : Ps. xxx. 6, ' I said in my prosperity, I shall never be 
moved.' As if this breathing-time and short truce were a sure peace, 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 100 

that will never be interrupted. If we can put a carnal pillow under 
our heads, we lie down and sleep, and dream of much worldly ease, as 
if all bitterness were past, and so are very apt and subject to security, 
usually when trials are nearest. Christ finds his disciples asleep just as 
the high priest's officers were coming to attack him, Mat. xxvi. 40, 
and Jonah was asleep in the ship when about to be thrown into the 
sea, Jonah i. 5. 

2. Impatiency of the cross. We consult with present sense ; ease is 
pleasing to flesh and blood. We say rest is good, and are loath to have 
our ears grated with the remembrance of the cross, though Christ 
biddeth us take it up daily, Luke ix. 36, in the preparation of our 
minds, and reconciling and making it familiar to our thoughts before it 
cometh ; therefore we remove those things out of our thoughts, and so 
marvel and are amazed when they come upon us. 

Secondly, Why is marvelling forbidden ? what great harm is there in 
that ? (1.) That we may not be surprised ; (2.) Perplexed or offended 
when the trial befalleth us. 

1. We must not marvel or be amazed, as men are when they meet 
with some new and strange thing, but be affected as with a matter we 
looked for before, and accordingly have prepared for it. Sorrows fore 
seen leave not so sad and forcible an impression upon the spirit : Job 
iii. 15, ' The evil which I feared is come upon me.' When we expect 
evils, they hurt the less ; but when it cometh unlocked for, it is the 
more burdensome. That child saith his lesson best that hath often 
conned it over. 

2. Perplexed or offended ; for this marvelling is forbidden in order 
to offence ; when we see nothing befalleth us but what we have heard 
of beforehand, and were warned of long beforehand, we are not so apt 
to stagger at the cross, and shrink under it : John xvi. 1, ' These 
things I have spoken to you, that you should not be offended.' We 
pretend to believe the scriptures when we read them, yet complain 
when they are fulfilled. Never any one afflicted as I am, scorned and 
hated as I am ; and all because we promised to ourselves a more quiet 
estate than the world's hatred or the tenor of God's dispensations will 

Thirdly, What reasons there are to take off our marvel. 

1. Our troubles, by which the world's hatred is manifested, are 
decreed by God ; the fulfilling of God's eternal counsel and decrees 
should be no marvel to us : Horn. viii. 29, ' He hath predestinated us 
to be conformed to the image of his Son ; ' first in affliction, then in 
glory : 1 Thes. iii. 3, ' That no man should be moved by these afflictions, 
for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto/ There is nothing 
strange in it, but what God hath determined to come upon us. 

2. We should not marvel at that which we are frequently forewarned 
of: these things are foretold in scripture: 'You shall be hated of all 
men for my name's sake,' Mark xiii. 13 ; John xv. 19, ' Because I have 
chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you ; ' John 
xvi. 33, ' In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, 
I have overcome the world ; ' Acts xiv. 22, ' That we through much 
tribulation should enter into the kingdom of heaven ; ' 2 Tim. iii. 12, 
' All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution/ 


3. Because it was fulfilled in our head : John xv. 18, ' The world 
hated me before it hated you.' If the world hated Christ, no wonder 
if it hate us ; if Jesus Christ, who never committed sin, who came into 
the world with a design of love, to do mankind the greatest good, was 
hated so far as to be put to a shameful death. Jesus Christ was the 
greatest enemy to sin that ever was born ; he hath endured the contra 
diction of sinners before us. Therefore if we are heirs to his sufferings, 
and that enmity which began with him, and it light upon us for his 
sake, should we marvel and strain at it? Nothing should seem grie 
vous to a believer which he hath once tasted. If Christ drank of the 
bitter cup himself, he will have the more sympathy towards us when 
we pledge him in it. In short, it is a valuable preferment, the fellow 
ship of his sufferings, and conformity to his death. 

4. That which ever from the beginning of the world hath been the 
lot of good and holy men should not be marvelled at : Mat. v. 12, ' So 
persecuted they the prophets which were before you.' The best have 
undergone these troubles, and surely we are not better than our fathers, 
1 Kings xix. 4. 

5. That which is necessary to mortify the old man, and break the 
force of our pride and carnal affections, to try our patience, to reclaim 
us from our wanderings, to awaken in us a more earnest pursuit of 
things to come, to keep us from surfeiting of ease and prosperity, and 
to cut off the fuel and provisions of our lusts, should not be marvelled 
at ; but this discipline is necessary for all those things : 1 Peter i. 6, 
' If need be ye are in heaviness for a season, through manifold tempta 
tions.' The scriptures abundantly show this everywhere. Therefore 
let us not marvel if we meet with trouble and opposition from men for 
Christ's sake ; it hath ever been so, and will be so, and shall we be 
surprised and perplexed at it ? If men use to be startled or surprised, 
it is at something that is strange. The wonder is rather of the other 
side, if there be any remission of this enmity, considering the disposition 
of the world. 

Use 1. Is to persuade us to venture upon the profession of Chris 
tianity with this resolution, to bear patiently the frowns and hatred of 
the world. Christ telleth us the worst at first, Mat. xvi. 24, and is 
therein contrary to Satan, who showeth us the bait but hideth the hook ; 
but Christ telleth us that, when God seeth fit, we must be willing to 
encounter temptations and the displeasures of the world ; whether 
they come or no, we must arm ourselves with a mind to endure them. 
God never intended Isaac should be sacrificed, yet he will have 
Abraham lay the knife to his throat. To think of going to heaven, 
and yet dream of a life of ease and peace, free from all manner of 
troubles and afflictions for conscience' sake, it is all one as if a soldier 
going to the war should promise himself continual peace with the 
enemy, or a mariner going a long voyage should imagine a perpetual 
calm. Therefore you must reckon upon the scorns of the world, the 
distaste of carnal friends, the oppositions of the froward part of man 
kind, and be ' shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace/ Eph. vi. 
15. Have a resolved mind to go through thick and thin, and to follow 
Christ in all conditions. 

Use 2. Fortify your minds against the world's hatred by such con- 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. Ill 

siderations as may best support you. Though you be hated of the 
world, it is enough that you are beloved of God and accepted by God ; 
that is a Christian's greatest ambition, 2 Cor. v. 9, greatest joy, Ps. iv. 
6, 7. When God smileth, it is no matter who frowneth. 

2. God will take your case in hand, and then whatever you lose by 
the hatred and wrath of man shall be compensated to you and made 
up to you by the love of God : 2 Thes. i. 6, 7, ' Seeing it is a righteous 
thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you ; 
and to you that are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall 
be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels.' 

3. That faith and love to God tried is better, and will yield more 
comfort, than bare faith and love without trial : 1 Peter i. 7, ' Knowing 
that the trial of your faith is much more precious than gold that 
perisheth, that your faith may be found to praise, glory, and honour, 
at Christ's appearing.' It is the self-denying obedience that yieldeth 
most comfort ; when graces are proved so as to be approved, then they 
have the clearest evidence in our conscience. 

4. The way to live happily is to obey the will of God rather than to 
obey the lusts of men ; for by pleasing of God, though you seem to 
endanger your interests, you do best establish them : Prov. xvi. 7, 
' When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to 
be at peace with him.' 

Use 3. If this hatred be restrained, be the more thankful to God 
and men. 

1. To God. Certainly a good day should be well improved ; Acts 
ix. 31, when the church had rest, they walked in the fear of God and 
comforts of the Holy Ghost. When we are not called to passive 
obedience and sufferings, our active obedience should be the more 
cheerfully performed. The primitive Christians suffered more willingly 
for Christ than we speak for him ; they dreaded the fire less than we 
do a frown or scorn. Surely when we are exempted from outward 
troubles and sufferings, our peace and comfort will cost us more in 
getting; and therefore we should be more in service, and zeal, and 
diligence. If we cannot deny the ease of the flesh for the labours of 
the gospel, how shall we deny the interests of the flesh for the sufferings 
of the gospel, and lay all at Christ's feet ? 

2. To men. Let us make all thankful returns to the magistrates 
we live under, by prayers for them, and exemplary obedience. The 
apostle telleth us that the magistrate is ' the minister of God to thee 
for good,' Rom. xiii. 4. God by them reacheth out this good to thee, 
of peace and quiet in the profession and practice of godliness ; there 
fore all manner of prayer is due for them : 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, ' I exhort, 
therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and 
giving of thanks be made for all men ; for kings, and for all that are 
in authority ; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all 
godliness and honesty.' Were it not for the ordinance of magis 
tracy, what a shambles and slaughter-house would the world be ! 
Now when God inclineth their hearts to give peace and rest to his 
people, the favour is to be acknowledged by such ways as become 
Christianity, by hearty prayers to God for them, and eminent obed 
ience to them. 


Use 4. Is information. Some practical corollaries I will thence 

1. What little need we have to be troubled, if we meet with the 
hatred of the world in doing our duty. Surely it is better to suffer 
injuries than to do them, better be an Abel than a Cain ; there is glory 
and comfort in sufferings, but shame in sin. It is a discouragement 
to us ministers that a man cannot promote any public good, but he is 
like to be a sacrifice to public hatred, but he must displease men ; nay, 
not only the carnal part of the world, but even the weaker sort of the 
people of God, who, because of remaining darkness, many times put 
good for evil, and evil for good: 'If I yet pleased men, were I the 
servant of Christ ? ' Gal. i. 10. Displease them you must to their 
profit, though it be to your own hurt. 

2. What need the children of God have to walk circumspectly. We 
live in the midst of those that hate us, and malice and hatred is quick- 
sighted, and will soon spy out our failings: Ps. xxvii. 11, ' Lead me in 
a plain path, because of mine enemies;' in the margin it is, ' those 
which observe me.' Enemies are observers : Jer. xx. 10, ' They watch 
for my halting ; ' if they could find him tripping in anything, to defame 
him. Among friends we are more careless, but before enemies we look 
to every step. If you falter in your duty a little, their mouths will be 
opened against you : Neh. v. 9, ' Ought we not to walk in the fear of 
our God, because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies ? ' Col. 
iv. 5, ' Walk in wisdom towards them that are without/ 

3. If it be no wonder that the world hateth the brethren, and you 
were sometimes of this world, you must show forth the reality of the 
change which God hath wrought in you by love. The characteristic 
of the world is hatred, but the people of God, love ; this is the very 
constitution of their souls, and this love is first to the saints, and then 
to all men : John xiii. 35, ' By this shall all men know that ye are my 
disciples, if ye love one another.' In regeneration there is not only an 
impression of the purity and holiness of the divine nature, but the 
goodness and amiableness of it in real inclinations of doing good, and 
seeking the welfare of others to our power. 

4. If the world hate God's children, see that this hatred be not 
deserved by any fault of yours, as pride, indiscreet zeal, unnecessary 
intermeddling, or any injurious dealing : 1 Peter iv. 15, 16, ' Let none 
of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or a busybody 
in other men's matters. But if any suffer as a Christian, let him not 
be ashamed ; but glorify God in this behalf.' See that it be for truth 
and holiness. It is a sad thing to be a martyr to passion, pride, vain 
glory, self-interest, private conceits and opinions ; this hardeneth the 
world, and will be cause of shame to yourselves. The world will justify 
themselves, and say it is not for their religion, but their pride and 
peevish singularity ; and besides, you will lose that true comfort which 
otherwise you might have in your sufferings for Christ. 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 113 


We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love 
the brethren : he that loveth not his brother abideth in death. — 
1 JOHN iii. 14. 

FOR the connection of this verse with the former, this may be given as 
a reason why we should not be troubled with the world's hatred, because, 
as that opposite world to Christ and his kingdom are known by their 
hatred, and, however divided in interests, yet are united by their enmity 
to God's people, so are we known and distinguished by our love. Our 
love to those whom they hate may expose us to great sufferings, and 
therefore they judge us miserable; but if by our love, though it be to 
the loss of life itself for owning them, and the cause for which they 
suffer, we may come to clear up our right to eternal happiness, we have 
no reason to be discouraged. In short, if the world will be known by 
their hatred to the brethren, let us resolve to be known by our love to 
them, whatever indignities and scorns we suffer for their sakes : ' We 
know we have passed from death to life/ &c. 

In the text there is a comparison of opposites — (1.) The happiness 
of those that love the brethren ; (2.) The misery of those that love 
them not. 

1. In the former clause there is — (1.) The privilege ; (2.) The quali 
fication ; (3.) The conclusion thence inferred. 

[1.] The privilege is a translation ' from death to life ; ' that is, from 
a state of spiritual and eternal death into a state of grace, peace, and 
happiness ; for it is explained, ver. 15, so as to have eternal life abiding 
in us. By our unfeigned love to the brethren we know that we are re 
generate Christians, and have all the privileges which belong to such ; 
for we have passed from the death of sin to a life of grace, from wrath 
and condemnation to a life of glory. The terminus a quo, from which 
we turn, is death ; the terminus ad quern, to which we turn, is life. 
The motion between both, ' we have passed,' or we are already in a 
state of life. 

[2.] The qualification, sign, and token of it, ' love to the brethren ; ' 
it is not mentioned as the cause of the thing, but as the mark whereby 
we know it. 

[3.] The certainty of the connection or conclusion drawn from 
thence, ' we know.' He doth not say we think, or hope well, but we 
know ; it is not a conjectural, but a certain knowledge. 

2. The misery of those that have not this qualification. Where — 
[1.] The expression of their defect is to be noted, ' He that loveth 

not ; ' not he that hateth, though he be not apparently one of the 
opposite world : ' Marvel not if the world hateth you ; ' but ' He that 
loveth not.' It is not enough if a man be not found among the per 
secuting world, and keeps himself from hatred and malice, if he doth 
not own the people of God when persecuted by others, when scorned 
and persecuted by others. 

[2.] His danger, ' He abideth in death ; ' that is, remaineth in a car 
nal state, and so obnoxious to eternal death and damnation ; he is not 



regenerate, and shall die in his sins. As it is said in the case of 
believing, so it is true in the case of loving : John viii. 24, ' He that 
believeth not that I am he, shall die in his sins.' To go to the grave 
before we get rid of sin, to die impenitent and unreconciled to God, is 
the greatest misery that can befall us. 

Doct. That a sure note of our passing from death to life is our love 
to the brethren. 

I shall — (1.) Open what it is to pass from death to life ; (2.) What 
love of the brethren is here understood ; (3.) Consider it as a sure note 
and evidence. 

First, What it is to pass from death to life. This I shall show in 
several propositions. 

1. Man before the fall did enjoy a spiritual life and communion with 
God, being his creature, and fitted for commerce with him ; but upon 
his defection lost it. The common notion that we have of death is a 
privation of life : we once had life by virtue of our conjunction with 
God, but we lost it by our defection from him. The natural life con 
sists in a conjunction of the soul with the body, and the natural death 
is a separation of the soul from the body ; the spiritual life consists in 
the union of the soul with God, and the spiritual death is a separation 
and estrangement from him : Eph. iv. 18, ' Alienated from the life of 
God.' So that man by nature is wholly destitute of the life of God. 
We did once partake of the life of God, but have now lost it. It was 
threatened, Gen. ii. 17, ' In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt 
surely die ; ' and executed, Kom. v. 12, ' Whereas by one man sin en 
tered into the world, and death by sin, so that death passed upon all 
men, for that all have sinned.' Spiritual death is one thing there 

2. In this state of separation from God, man is impotent to every 
good work, and liable to eternal death and condemnation. 

[1.] Impotent to every good and saving work : Eph. ii. 1, ' We were 
sometimes dead in trepasses and sins.' We are all deprived of original 
righteousness, or any principle of grace which might incline us to God. 
The life of God consisted in his image impressed on man or bestowed 
on man, that by Adam's fall was lost to us all from our very concep 
tion and birth : Eccles. vii. 29, ' God made man upright, but they have 
sought out many inventions.' It must needs be so, for redemption, 
reconciliation, and salvation do all imply it. Kedemption implieth a 
man in thraldom ; and reconciliation an enemy, a man fallen and lapsed 
into the displeasure of God ; and salvation the saving of that which is 
lost: so that we were all sinners by nature, or else we needed no 
redeemer, nor reconciler, nor saviour. If our salvation be now by a 
redeemer, it implieth a recovery and restoration ; and sinful, miserable 
mankind is the object of it. Infants from their very conception and 
birth cannot be excused nor exempted, for all that are saved by a 
redeemer were once lost, and need a recovery ; we all need to be 
reconciled and sanctified. The necessity of a redeemer proveth the 
guilt, and of a sanctifier the corruption of mankind. Actual sin will 
easily be granted, but the earliness and commonness of evil inclinations 
do as sensibly prove original sin, even before actual sin had time to 
breed evil habits in us. It is true, that the longer men live in their 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 115 

unregenerate state, the more they are estranged from God, and contract 
a further impotency by their ignorance and hardness of heart ; but at 
first, ' That which is born of flesh is flesh,' John iii. 6 ; and their 
operations can rise no higher than a fleshly inclination moveth them, 
and therefore carnal men are dead while they live : Luke xv. 24, ' This 
my son was dead, but is alive ; was lost, but is found.' 

[2.] Man is obnoxious to eternal death and condemnation by reason 
of sin, and if he continue so, will certainly for ever perish : Eph. ii. 3, 
' And were by nature children of wrath, even as others ; ' and John iii. 
36, 'Whosoever believeth not, the wrath of God abideth on him;' 
and therefore he can expect nothing but everlasting death and destruc 
tion. This is the condition of man by nature. Now every man would 
desire to be freed from death, and to be made a partaker of eternal life. 

3. The Lord Jesus, out of his wonderful mercy, came to restore life 
to mankind thus dead and lost ; he died that we might live, therefore 
called the prince or giver of life, Acts iii. 15, because this was the great 
benefit which he procured for us. And this life which we have by 
Christ answereth to the death which we incurred by Adam. Instead 
of death spiritual, he hath procured for us the life of grace, and also the 
life of glory, to take off death eternal merited by sin, that the sentence 
of death might be reversed by justification, and the penitent and believ 
ing sinner put into a living condition by sanctification, and finally 
admitted to glory. All this is purchased by Christ : 1 John iv. 9, ' God 
sent his Son into the world, that we might live through him ; ' live spiri 
tually, live eternally. All this is inferred in the covenant of Christ, to 
those that will submit to his healing dispensations : 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 condemna 
tion, but hath passed from death to life.' All this is applied by Christ 
to those that really submit to his covenant ; but in a different manner 
they all pass from death to life. First, Partly as their hearts are 
changed, which is sometimes called a quickening of the dead, a new 
begetting, a new creating. Sometimes it is called a quickening, a 
making men that were dead alive : Eph. ii. 5, 'Yet now hath he quickened 
us together with Christ.' Therefore when they are converted or regen 
erated, they are said to be alive from the dead, Kom. vi. 13. It is also 
called a new begetting, or a new birth, without which none can enter 
into heaven : John iii. 5, ' Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man 
be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of 
God.' Making us new creatures : Eph. iv. 24, ' And that ye put on the 
new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;' 
2 Cor. v. 17, ' He that is in Christ is a new creature : old things are 
passed away, and all things are become new.' From all which itfolloweth, 
that conversion is a bringing us into a new state of life. Life is a 
power to move itself in its own place. This new power and new life 
is therefore a 'great privilege. Secondly, Partly as their states are 
changed, and so sometimes the privative part is expressed, ' shall not 
come into condemnation,' John v. 24, and Eom. viii. 1. The sentence 
of eternal death is taken off. But that is not all, but they have a cove 
nant right unto eternal life : Rom. v. 18, ' The free gift came upon all 
men, to the justification of life.' But this is done in a different manner, 


the one by his Spirit, the other by his new covenant gift. The one by 
his Spirit : 2 Peter i. 3, ' By his divine power hath given us all things 
necessary to life and godliness.' Therefore Christ is said to be our life, 
Gal. ii. 20. The other by his free donation, or grant, or deed of gift. 
In the covenant he granteth us to be heirs of eternal life, pardoning 
our sins, and removing out of the way what may hinder the enjoyment 
of it. Sanctification is wrought in us ; justification is God's act 
towards the sanctified : 1 Cor. vi. 11, ' But ye are justified in the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God.' 
Justified in the name of Christ according to his terms, and what way 
Christ is made known in the new covenant. 

4. From the whole, it may be well said of those who are interested, 
that they are passed from death to life ; for the life of grace is begun 
in them, as they have new principles and powers infused, or gracious 
qualities planted in the soul : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, ' A new heart also 
•will I give you, and a new spirit I will put within you ; and I will 
take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and 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.' And 
these continually acted and excited by the influence of the Holy Spirit, 
who watcheth over the new creature. And as they have a right to glory : 
Titus iii. 5-7, ' Not by works of righteousness which we have done, 
but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regenera 
tion, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he hath shed on us 
abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that, being justified by 
his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.' 
And as they are accompanied with peace of conscience, and joy unspeak 
able and glorious, surely these are in a happy condition ; and we should 
give all diligence to see that it be our condition, that they who were dead 
in trespasses and sins, born heirs of God's curse, should have a new life 
communicated to them, and heavenly qualities planted in them, where 
by the soul in some measure is made like God and Christ ; and whereas 
before they were without any true and well-grounded hope of a better 
life, whatever foolish and groundless presumptions they might enter 
tain, they should now have this threefold happiness. First, They should 
be dispositively fitted for eternal life : 2 Cor. v. 5, ' For lie that hath 
wrought us to this self-same thing is God;' and Horn. ix. 23, 'Pre 
pared unto glory ; ' Col. i. 12, ' Hath made us meet to be partakers of 
the inheritance of the saints in light.' Secondly, Have an unquestion 
able and indefeasible right, by the grant and promise of God : John v. 
24, ' He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath 
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed 
from death unto life.' Thirdly, Have the earnest, first-fruits, or begun 
possession of eternal glory : 2 Cor. i. 22, ' Who hath sealed us, and 
given us the earnest of the Spirit.' Partly in the graces and partly in 
the comforts of the Holy Spirit. The graces in the new birth : Titus 
iii. 5, ' According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regen 
eration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.' The immortal seed, 1 
Peter i. 23. Saving knowledge, John xvii. 3. There is an eternal 
principle in them, which carrieth them to eternal ends. The life is begun 
which shall be perfected in heaven, and is still working towards its final 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 117 

perfection. As to comforts, in peace of conscience, and joy in the Holv 
Ghost, by which we have a foretaste : Kom. xv. 13, ' The God of hope fill 
you with all joy and peace in believing ; ' 1 Peter i. 8, ' In whom be 
lieving, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious.' Surely of all 
privileges this is the principal and the choicest, which can be given us on 
this side heaven, and should be most rejoiced in and endeavoured after. 

Secondly, What love of the brethren is here to be understood ; fotr 
I have observed that many will retreat to this evidence, as if this 
single and alone would witness their gracious estate, when they are 
grossly defective in other things. In my dealings with the consciences 
of men, I have observed several of the fallacies and cheats which men 
have put upon themselves; sometimes in the object of this love, 
' brethren.' If they have a love to their own sect and party, though 
they hate all the world besides, and are unconscionable in their deal 
ings, and loose and uncircumspect in their walkings, yet still they have 
satisfied their consciences with this, that they love the brethren ; and 
this must bolster them up, and support their confidence, notwithstand 
ing all their other enormities. Sometimes I have observed it to be in 
the affection itself ; they call that love to the brethren which is not. We 
may do many things which materially are acts of love to the brethren, 
but flow from false principles, as good nature, vainglory, gallantry. 
Some are of a soft and quiet temper, not difficult to any, but of a fair, 
loving carriage and behaviour ; and shall their natural easiness be 
taken for this high and special grace of love to the brethren ? Some will 
seem to do great and worthy things, but it is out of greatness of spirit 
and vainglory, without true charity and love to the brethren, without 
that love which the apostle mentions, 1 Cor. xiii. 3, ' If I give all my 
goods to the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not 
charity, it profits me nothing.' This love is something more than 
giving, something more than venturing our interests ; for charity, or 
Christian love, containeth in it a sincere respect to God's glory, and a 
hearty desire of promoting the kingdom of Christ, and a holy com 
placency in those who are our companions in the kingdom and 
patience of Jesus Christ, and shall be our everlasting companions in 
heavenly glory, together with a public good-will and compassion to the 
souls of men. Some I have found will go lower, and maintain their 
comfort at a meaner rate ; they are not those that hate the brethren, 
and procure their molestation and trouble, but it may be frequent their 
meetings, applaud their persons, can now and then plead for them, and 
censure and speak against those that hate them : and here is their 
evidence ; how defective soever they are in other parts of Christianity, 
they think they love the brethren. But not to insist further, I am 
verily persuaded that if this one evidence were well thought of and 
understood, it were of as hard interpretation as any of the rest. There 
fore let us see what this love of the brethren is, that will be such a sure 
note unto us. 

1. It must be a real love, not pretended only, or showed in bare 
words; for so it is explained, ver. 18, 'My little children, let us not love 
in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.' Verbal compliments 
may make up a love and friendship in the world, but Christian love is 
a knitting of souls, or a communication of interests, as our mutual 


necessities do require : Rom. xii. 10, ' Be kindly affectioned one to 
another, in brotherly love.' If there be not a hearty real Christian 
affection, what will words do? Alas! will you build your eternal 
state on such a weak foundation, or all your comfort and hope on so 
slight an evidence ? A cold complimental love is soon worn off. 

2. It must be a self-denying love, for it is hated brethren who are 
here spoken of as the objects : ' Marvel not if the world hate you ; ' 
and then, ' We know we have passed from death unto life, because we 
love the brethren.' If we can love them then when the world hateth 
them ; yea, if we can love them so as to lay down our lives for them 
when the glory of God and the public good calleth for it : ver. 16, 
' Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he hath laid down his 
life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.' In 
what cases I shall show you afterwards. Now such a regular and 
fervent love will make an evidence. It is self-denying graces that have 
a voice in the conscience ; when we so love the brethren that we are at 
some cost about them, taking pains to instruct the ignorant, comforting 
the afflicted, exhorting the obstinate, confirming the weak, relieving 
the necessitous, owning the persecuted, this showeth God's love hath 
made some impression upon us. The acts about which we shall be 
questioned at the day of judgment are self-denying acts. Have you 
visited, have you clothed, do you own the servants of God when the 
times frown upon them ? Lip-labour and tongue-service is a cheap 
thing, and a religion that costs nothing is worth nothing. When we 
apparently deny ourselves, and value God's interest and his people's 
interest above our own, then our sincerity is most manifest. A cheap 
course of serving God or loving the brethren will bring you none or little 
comfort ; and therefore, when you tell me you love the brethren, and 
do nothing for them, you may as well tell me that you have satisfied 
your creditors by shaking your purse, as if the noise of money would 
pay your debts. 

3. A sincere love flowing from communion of nature, and because of 
the new nature, and because of the image of God in them whom ye 
love. Love is a fruit of the new nature, and none can sincerely love 
his brother with a supernatural sincerity but he that is renewed by the 
Spirit : 1 Peter i. 22, ' Seeing ye have purified your hearts in obeying 
the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren ; 
see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.' To love one 
because he is holy, and because he is sanctified, because he hath the 
same spirit, that is to love one another with a pure heart. We may 
love godly men for other respects than godliness, but we must love 
them as having a nature suited to this love. 

4. It must not be understood as separated from other qualifications 
which prepare us for everlasting life ; we cannot make out our sincerity 
by one evidence alone, no, not faith itself : James ii. 14, ' Can faith 
save him?' that being alone, ver. 17. Still it will stick in our 
consciences : James ii. 10, ' He that keepeth the whole law, and yet 
offends in one point, is guilty of all.' It is a law maxim if interpreted 
of absolute perfection or unsinning obedience, but it is a gospel maxim 
if understood of allowed failings. Therefore, when you read such 
scriptures as ' Hereby we know that we are passed from death to life, 
because we love the brethren/ and ' He that calleth upon the name 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON UOHN in. 119 

of the Lord shall be saved/ they must be understood positis omnibus 
ad hoc requisitis, if other things hold good. Certainly for this place you 
shall see 1 John v. 2, ' By this we know that we love the children of 
God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.' He proveth 
the love of God by the love of the brethren, and the love of the brethren 
by the love of God. There is a mighty conjunction between these 
two things, loving the brethren and loving God ; and therefore, 
if we would know if we love our brother sincerely, yea or no, we can 
not better judge of it than by examining and knowing whether we love 
God; and truly our love to God is not a fellow-like familiarity, but 
a dutiful subjection : ' If we love God we will keep his commandments.' 
So that, in the trial of our estate, we must take in all that is necessary 
for the decision of the case. I observe this, because, next to the grace 
of the gospel, men are apt to abuse this evidence. Some look to none 
at all, others pitch all upon this one. But you see plainly it must be 
interpreted so as that you love God first, and then the brethren for 
God's sake ; and the intent of these evidences is to show we must not 
in any point be lacking. 

Thirdly, Let me consider it as laid down as a sure note and evidence 
of our passing from death to life; and there we shall consider — (1.) 
Why so much is ascribed to love of the brethren; (2.) What sort of 
evidence this is. 

1. Why is so much ascribed to the love of the brethren, that the 
decision of our spiritual estate is often put upon this issue, whether we 
love the brethren, yea or no ? 

Ans. For several reasons. 

[1.] Because it is the immediate effect of the new nature : 1 John 
iv. 7, ' Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God ; and every 
one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God ; ' and 1 John v. 1, 
' Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God ; and 
every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten 
of him.' Love to God and his people is the proper effect of the 
spiritual life ; that same new nature which indineth us to love God 
inclineth us to love the brethren. 

[2.] This suiteth most with the great love which God discovereth 
in the gospel. The gospel is wholly employed in setting forth the 
love of God ; we see his power more eminently in the creation of the 
world : Rom. i. 20, ' For the invisible things of him from the creation 
of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are 
made.' His wisdom in the law : Deut. iv. 6, 'Keep them, for this is 
your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations.' And 
his love in the gospel : Eom. v. 8, ' Herein God commended his love.' 
He doth indeed discover all in all, but eminently one in each. Now 
the new creature, being of a gospel production, hath the print and 
stamp thereof left upon it, for the thing sealed must be according to 
the seal : love is his very nature. 

[3.] Because God would not leave the trial of our condition upon 
an imaginary case, and remote from daily experience. We pretend 
to love God, and to have a zeal for God, and would venture all our 
interests for God, because in the bountiful part God hath no need of 
us, and we are not likely to be put upon the expressing of love to him 


in that kind. In the dutiful part of obedience we are daily put upon 
a trial. Now in the bountiful part God hath made our brethren his 
proxies, and devolveth that love and gratitude due to himself upon 
his servants. Hence is that reasoning, 1 John iv. 20, ' He that loveth 
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he 
hath not seen ? ' Men's pretences of love to God are more in imagina 
tion than in real proof and performance ; here we have occasion often 
given us to express and testify our love by real effects ; we see our 
brethren daily, we know their necessities, have opportunities of sensible 
demonstrations of our love. Now these kind acts of love to our 
brethren, as they do most verify and justify our love, so they are most 
apparent and visible to our own feeling and experience. 

[4.] Because naturally a man delights in that company which is 
most like himself, otherwise he is more straitened and restrained, 
cannot so freely let out his soul ; therefore if the constitution of a 
man's heart be altered, he will show it in his complacency and dis- 
placency. As in things so in persons ; there is a kind of grief and 
trouble at the non-conversion of the wicked : Ps. xv. 4, ' In whose 
eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoureth those that fear the 
Lord.' He hath a dislike of wickedness, let it be in whomsoever it 
will, but payeth a hearty honour, affection, and respect to every good 
and godly man ; his joy and delight is to the saints, and to the 
excellent of the earth, Ps. xvi. 3. ' Lot's righteous soul was vexed by 
seeing and hearing the unlawful deeds of the Sodomites/ 2 Peter ii. 8. 
A good man is never so well as in the company of those that fear God ; 
and so ill at ease as when conversing with the wicked ; therefore it is 
a sensible evidence. 

[5.] In obedience to God, as this is his great and new command 
ment : 1 John iii. 23, ' Love one another, as he gave us commandment.' 
God's love is a love of bounty, ours a love of duty. 

[6.] Christ delights to draw his people into a society, therefore he 
requireth love, and maketh love the great evidence : Col. iii. 14, ' And 
above all things put on charity, which is the bond of perfection ; ' an 
affection whereby we desire communion one with another, and com 
munication of good one to another : Acts ii. 42, ' And they continued 
steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship ; ' and ver. 45, ' They 
parted with their possessions to every man as he had need.' There 
fore this is the evidence of Christ's disciples. 

[7.] Christ's heart is much set upon the good of this society, which 
is preserved by love, but destroyed by hatred and division. Our Lord 
Christ foresaw what grievous wolves would enter into the flock, to 
scatter them, and to destroy them, and how much they would be 
weakened by their own divisions ; therefore he would not only make 
it his command, but his mark ; it is his charge, it is the means ap 
pointed to receive the blessing, Ps. cxxxiii. 3, and it is the sign, as if 
Christ would not take them for friends, but enemies, that divide his 
people, that do not by all means and ways seek to unite them, and 
cause them to love one another. 

[8.] It is a great part of our recovery to be delivered from the 
private, envious, selfish spirit by which we mind our own things and 
seek our own things : James iv. 5, ' The spirit that dw.elleth in us 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 121 

lusteth to envy ; ' Titus iii. 3, ' We were hateful and hating one 
another.' Now since it is so, surely we have passed from death to life, 
because we love the brethren. 

2. What sort of evidence this is. It is both inclusive and exclusive. 
There are some marks which are exclusive but not inclusive ; that is, 
if we have them not, we are not the children of God ; but if we have 
them, we cannot say we are. As, for instance, 'He that is of God heareth 
God's words ; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.' 
It excludeth the profane; yet all that barely hear the word cannot thence 
conclude that they are of God, for many hear and practise not. 
Therefore James saith, chap. i. 22, ' Be doers of the word, and 
not hearers only, deceiving your own souls.' Again some are 
inclusive, but not exclusive ; as that, Rom. ix. 1, 3, ' I say the truth 
in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy 
Ghost, that I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ 
for my brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh.' Or any degree 
of heroical grace ; you are included within the number of God's children 
if you find these things in you, but not excluded if you find them not. 
These are marks to be aimed at, but not to try by ; otherwise that 
would be matter of doubting which is only matter of humiliation. 
But some are both inclusive and exclusive ; witness the text. The 
first proposition showeth it is inclusive, ' We know we have passed from 
death unto life.' A Christian's estate may be known, not by a conjec 
tural, but a certain knowledge, not we guess, but know ; and the way 
of knowing it is by the evidences of grace, or finding something in us 
which accompanieth salvation. Our sanctification is more evident to 
us than justification, as being felt ; and among the fruits and effects 
of sanctification, love to the brethren is one sensible evidence from 
whence we may conclude safely and certainly, ' That we have passed 
from death unto life.' But, on the other side, it is exclusive also : 
' If any man love not his brother, he abideth in death ; ' is yet in a 
state of sin and misery ; for this is such a property of the new nature 
that it cannot be severed from it. 

Use. Keep this evidence clear, then, that you may take comfort in 
your condition. It is for our greater comfort, not only to be safe, but 
to know that we are safe. Some have salvation belonging to them, but 
they know it not ; as Jacob said of Bethel, ' God was in this place, and 
I knew it not,' Gen. xxviii. 16 ; so God is in them, life is in them, 
and they know it not Would it not be comfortable to you if you 
could certainly know that indeed you have passed from death to life ? 
I know not what your minds are busied about ; but this should be 
your great care, to get out of the cursed condition you were in by 
nature, and to know you are gotten out, and shall not come into con 
demnation. Here is one evidence will most help to clear it to you : If 
you love the brethren, you have passed from death to life ; if you love 
not, you abide in death. Therefore let not this mark be obscure to 
you, lest your spiritual condition be dark and obscure to you ; and 
therefore you must excel in brotherly love, and exercise it in a self- 
denying way. (1.) Love the brethren notwithstanding their infirmities ; 
(2.) Love the brethren notwithstanding personal injuries ; (3.) Love 
the brethren notwithstanding particular differences of judgment between 


us and them ; (4.) Love them notwithstanding the disgraces and troubles 
that befall them. 

1. Love the brethren notwithstanding their infirmities ; the best 
of God's servants have their blots and failings, but love must cover 
them : 1 Peter iv. 8, ' Above all, have fervent charity among yourselves ; 
for charity covereth a multitude of sins/ You must not expect such 
a society of God's people to converse with, in whom you shall not dis 
cern any failings, either against God or one another ; therefore unless 
you pass by a multitude of those, it is in vain to think of loving the 
brethren. Our love to the brethren must answer to God's love to us : 
' We must forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath 
forgiven us,' Eph. iv. 32 ; ' Now the free gift is of many offences unto 
justification,' Bom. v. 16. Therefore if we cast off a brother for some 
few infirmities, it is a sign that the love of God, manifested in the 
gospel, hath not made a due impression upon us. Shall God pardon 
so many sins to us and all his people, and shall we be so severe upon, 
every espied failing as to question their spiritual estate, and cast them 
out of our hearts ? 

2. Love them notwithstanding some personal injuries done to our 
selves. When God forgiveth us talents, shall not we forgive pence to 
our brother ? Mat. xviii. 24, ' And when he had begun to reckon, one 
was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents ; ' ver. 
28, ' But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants 
which owed him an hundred pence, and he laid hands on him, and 
took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what thou owest.' A talent 
was a hundred and eighty-seven pounds, and sevenpence halfpenny the 
Roman penny ; ten thousand pounds for a hundred. They cannot 
deal so disingenuously with us as we do with God. If God will forgive 
us a thousand injuries, shall not we forgive one ? We are poor dust and 
ashes ; shall we stand upon our anger, as if it might be justified against 
our brother, rather than God's anger against us ? 

3. Love them notwithstanding particular differences of judgment 
between us and them ; though they are not of our society, if they will 
not carry themselves brotherly, we should love them as brethren as long 
as they have anything of Christ in them. The perverse and harsh deal 
ings of others do not dissolve our obligation to them, as to superiors, 
parents, and masters ; we are to be obedient, not only to the gentle, 
but to the froward. So to equals, though they disclaim all fellowship 
with us, yet we should carry it towards them as Christians ; a difference 
of opinion should not breed an alienation of mind. The apostle's rule 
is, Phil. iii. 16, 17, ' Nevertheless, whereto we have attained, let us 
walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing ; ' Rom. xiv. 5-7, 
' One man esteemeth oneday above another ; another man esteemeth every 
day alike : let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that re- 
gardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord ; and he that regardeth not the 
day, to the Lord he doth not regard it : he that eateth, eateth unto the 
Lord, for he giveth God thanks ; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he 
eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and 
no man dieth to himself.' We should never differ from any without con 
straining evidence. 

4. Love them notwithstanding: the disgraces and troubles that befall 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 123 

them ; the primitive Christians owned one another going to the fires, 
though thereby they incurred present danger to themselves, and were 
made companions of them that were so used, Heb. x. 33. 


Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer ; and ye know that no 
murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. — ] JOHN iii. 15. 

THE apostle had said, ' He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.' 
Now he goeth on to another degree, ' He that hateth his. brother is a 
murderer.' It is less not to love than to hate ; he that loveth not 
wishetli neither good nor evil to his brother ; he that hateth intendeth 
mischief. Selfishness and want of love will in time produce great 
mischiefs, as it tendeth to ambition and covetousness, and thence to 
cruelty against all that stand in the way of their desires ; but hatred 
doth soon commence mischief. Therefore surely if he that loveth not 
his brother ' abideth in death-' then he that hateth his brother ' hath 
not eternal life abiding in him ; ' the subject more, the predicate less. 
Again, this clause is added lest any should say, I do not slay my brother, 
as Cain did, yet he may be a murderer before God ; he hath killed his 
brother in his heart, though not with his hand ; he desireth his death, 
or doth not take it very grievously if he die : ' Whosoever hateth his 
brother,' &c. 

In the words there are three things — (1.) A sin, ' Hating our 
brother ;' (2.) The heinousness of that sin, ' Is a murderer ; ' (3.) The 
perniciousness and danger of it, ' Hath not eternal life abiding in 

Doct. 1. That hatred of our brother is in God s account murder. 

I shall show you — 

1. What is hatred of our brother. 

2. How it is murder, and so how he that hateth his brother is a 

I. What is the hatred of our brother ? This needeth to be stated. 
That we may find out the sin so branded, let us except what is to be 

1. There is an absolute hatred and a comparative. The absolute 
hatred is when I wish evil to another ; the comparative hatred is when 
I neglect or show less love to another for some greater good. So 
Jacob is said to hate Leah, Gen. xxix. 30, 31. Hatred there imports 
a lesser degree of iove. So in the law of the hated wife : Dent. xxi. 
15, 16, ' If a man hath two wives, one beloved, and another hated.' It 
is not meant of one that was not loved at all, but of one that was not 
loved so much as the other. So in the case in hand : Luke xiv. 26, 
' If any man hate not father and mother, brothers and sisters, he can 
not be my disciple ;' that is, doth not prefer Christ before them. Surely 
this hatred of our brother is not here meant, for this is piety, and not 


cruelty. The best objects are worthy of our best love, and our respect 
to the inferior relations must not be a snare to us. 

2. There is a hatred of the sins and evil courses wherein our brother 
walketh,and notof his person; aswe must not love the sin forthe person's 
sake, so we must not hate the person for the sin's sake. We may cross his 
sin, but we must wish well to the person. It is hatred to the person 
to let him alone in his sin : Lev. xix. 17, ' Thou shalt not hate thy 
brother in thy heart ; thou shalt in any wise rebuke him, and not suffer 
sin upon him/ We cannot but hate what we see evil in him ; this is 
not a mischievous, but a holy and perfect hatred. When we reprove 
the person, seek to oppose and disappoint him in his way of living in 
sin, this may be the greatest love we can express to him ; and when 
ever his conscience is awakened, he will thank us for it. 

3. There is odium abominationis and odium inimicitice, the hatred 
of abomination and the hatred of enmity ; the one is opposite to the 
love of good-will, the other to the love of complacency : Prov. xxix. 27, 
' The righteous is an abomination to the wicked, and the wicked is an 
abomination to the righteous.' The righteous man hateth not the 
wicked with the hatred of enmity, so as to seek his destruction, but 
with the hatred of abomination or offence, so as not to delight in him 
while wicked. In opposition to the love of complacency, we may hate 
our sinful neighbour, as we must hate and abhor ourselves much more ; 
but, in opposition to the love of benevolence, we must neither hate our 
enemy, nor our neighbour, nor ourselves ; so we are to love ourselves 
without desiring mischief to them. So David : Ps. xxi. 5, ' I hate the 
congregation of evil-doers, and will not sit with the wicked/ Surely 
we cannot delight in them as suitable to us, nor frequent their company, 
unless it be in order to their cure. God, that distinguished the seeds, 
Gen. iii. 15, never intended to make men of contrary dispositions to 
holiness to be our bosom friends and the objects of our delight. 
Therefore this hatred is not intended neither. Only we must take 
heed lest our abomination of them for their evil practices do not 
degenerate into a destructive enmity to them. We have a nature con 
trary to theirs, but we must not have a heart set to do them evil. 

Object. But what will you say of Paul's wish, Gal. v. 12, ' I would 
they were even cut off that trouble you ? ' I answer — 

[1.] He speaketh of prime seducers, and wisheth they were cut off from 
the church by the sentence of excommunication; and incorrigible and 
obstinate offenders are cut off from the body and society of the faithful 
' for the destruction of the flesh, that their spirit may be saved in the 
day of the Lord,' 1 Cor. v. 5, 6, and the church be not infected by the 
contagion of their sin. So the words signify in the ancient use of it. 

[2.] That malicious and obstinate perverters of the faithful come 
under another consideration, of which I shall now speak. We must 
distinguish of those who are enemies, not only to us, but to God him 
self, and that not out of ignorance, but malice, implacable enemies ; 
we may desire their destruction, but with great caution, and using 
much lenity and forbearance ere we make use of this liberty : so David : 
Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22, ' Do not I hate them that hate thee ? and am I not 
grieved with them that rise up against thee ? I hate them with a per 
fect hatred, and count them mine enemies/ This is but zeal in God's 

YER. 15.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 125 

cause, to pray for their destruction in any undertaking against God. 
But then we must be sure we are not inspired with a false zeal, and 
that this fire be enkindled from a coal taken from the altar, not from 
any private hearth and kitchen ; and that it be against the irrecon 
cilable enemies of Christ's interest in the world, and that it be not 
animated with private revenge. Surely all this must be excepted out 
of this heavy charge. 

II. Let us state the sin here mentioned. (1.) Consider the object, 
' Our brother ; ' (2.) The affection or passion forbidden, ' Hatred.' 

First, For the object, 'Our brother,' which may be taken — 

1. In a general sense, for any of mankind, for by right of nature 
they are our brethren. They are called our own flesh, Isa. Iviii. 7, and 
we all come of one blood and stock : Acts xvii. 26, ' He hath made of 
one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth.' And 
we are all made by one God : Mai. ii. 10, ' Hath not one God created us ? 
and have we not all one Father ? ' Now we are not to hate any in our 
hearts, but by all ways and means to seek their good and welfare. We 
must love in them that which is of God, though we hate in them that 
which is of the devil. 

2. In a special and limited sense, our brother is our fellow-citizen, 
whether in reality or profession only. With respect to them, love is 
called brotherly kindness, in opposition to that common love which is 
due to all men, 2 Peter i. 7 ; and the nearer the bonds are, the greater 
is the sin if we hate them ; as when united with us in the same common 
profession of purer Christianity, or give greater hopes of their sincerity 
therein, or of the same profession, society, and local communion, as to 
the worship of God, or related to us in bonds of nature as well as 
religion, as Esau hated Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 41. The rule is, 1 Peter ii. 
17, ' Honour all men, love the brotherhood.' There is some respect 
due to all men, much more should Christian society recommend them 
to our affection. All men partake of some excellency from God, and 
carry some resemblance of his image, and the best know more to loathe 
in themselves than they can do in the worst ; yet there is a respect due 
to the persons 'of other Christians above that which we give to men 
as men. 

Once more, the persons hated come under a fourfold considera 
tion — 

[1.] If you consider them as those that have done us an ill turn ; 
thus we read, 2 Sam. xiii. 22, that ' Absalom hated Amnon, because 
he had forced his sister Tamar;' and therefore plotted to kill him. 
Now this doth not excuse us, because we are not to avenge ourselves, 
and become evil to others because they have been so to us ; this were 
to imitate them in their wickedness, and it is contrary to that lenity 
and meekness which should be in Christians, who are to love those that 
hate them, Mat. v. 44 ; and if love did prevail, much mischief would 
be prevented : Prov. x. 12, 'Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love cover- 
eth all sins.' Where hatred is allowed, every offence will be grievous ; 
there is nothing but an interchange of mutual injuries, till one or the 
other be ruined or destroyed. But if men would mind the duties of 
Christian love, lenity, and forbearance ; many and great offences would 
be either excused or pardoned. This is not pusillanimity, but true 


greatness of spirit, the real glory of a man ; and indeed it can be no 
disgrace to obey God. 

[2.] When we hate one that loveth us, and hath been kind to us. 
To hate an enemy is unchristian, but to hate a friend is inhuman ; and 
yet such monsters doth corrupt nature afford, who reward evil for good, 
and hate others without a cause, yea, when much cause to the contrary : 
Ps. xxxv. 12, ' They rewarded me evil for good, to the spoiling of my 
soul.' Usually those who are over-obliged make this unkind return, 
inj uries for benefits, and seek the life of those who, under God, have 
been the means of supporting and preserving theirs. Now this is a 
grievous unnatural evil, and their malice admitteth no terms of truce, 
much less of hearty reconcilement : Ps. cxx. 6, 7, ' My soul hath too 
long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace ; but when I 
speak, they are for war.' Still prosecute their revengeful courses, and 
will not be appeased by any tenders of reconciliation. 

[3.] When men are haters of those that are good, and love the evil, 
hate the holy and the harmless, and esteem only the profane and disso 
lute : 2 Tim. iii. 3, ' Despisers of those that are good ; ' and Ps. xxxviii. 
20, ' They are mine adversaries, because I follow the thing that good 
is ; ' Mat. xxiv. 9, ' Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.' 
They have no quarrel against them but their doing that which is good. 
Alas ! what have the righteous done ? for which good work do they lay 
such a load on them ? But the better any man is, the less they can 
abide him ; and this is a heinous evil, to hate a Christian the more, the 
more of Christianity there is in him. It is enmity to the image of God 
shining forth in his people, and they cannot endure this serious good 
conversation of theirs, because it is an upbraiding of their own slight- 
ness and licentiousness. 

[4.] When we hate them not only that are good, but with all pity 
and compassion seek to do us good : Gal. iv. 16, 'Am I become your 
enemy because I tell you the truth ? ' John vii. 7, ' The world hateth 
me, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil ; ' 1 Kings 
xxii. 8, ' I hate him, because he doth not prophesy good concerning 
me, but evil.' Yet he told him still the mind of God, and that for his 
profit. Now this is the hatred that usually befalls not private Christians 
only, but those that are employed in a more eminent ministry and 
service ; often instruments of public good are made objects of public 
hatred, and have no other recompense from an unthankful world but 
scorn and violence. 

Secondly, The passion forbidden is hatred, ' Whosoever hateth his 

1. Not to love him is a great crime ; that is the notion in the former 
verse ; and indeed it is hard to keep without hatred, if we do not love. 
The softest sort of carnal men do not love God's children ; but the 
venomous part of the world hate them, and seek their destruction. Not 
to will good to them is damnable in itself, much more when we will 
evil to them : 2 Tim. iii. 3, ' Despisers of those that are good,' not 
lovers ; these are in a fair way to hate when their lusts are crossed. 

2. There is another degree, and that is, rash and unadvised anger : 
' Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause,' Mat. v. 22 ; 
and that is within the prohibition, ' Thou shalt not kill,' as more anon. 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 127 

Now if anger be murder, hatred is worse than anger, for this is anger 
inordinate or inveterate. They were wont to distinguish of a threefold 
anger : sharp anger, soon raised and soon calmed ; a more bitter anger, 
hardly, and not without some respite, appeased ; and anger not allayed 
without some requital and retaliation of wrongs ; this is a great step 
towards hatred. 

3. There is another affection and disposition of heart which is very 
natural to us, and yet is beneath malice and hatred, and that is envy, 
often joined with murder: Horn. i. 29, 'Full of envy, murders;' Gal. 
v. 29, ' Envyings, murders/ This is discontented ness at another man's 
good and prosperous estate, or the gifts wherein they equal or excel us, 
and showeth itself in rejoicing at their evils. There is a selfish desire 
in man to have all good things enclosed unto ourselves : James iv. 5, 
' The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy.' We would shine alone, 
seek to jostle others out of the way ; this is bad, and hath a near 
affinity with murder, and therefore should be mortified by every good 

4. The passion here spoken of is hatred, which is a desire of hurt or 
evil to others, such a desire as wisheth evil to them, especially their 
destruction and ruin, that the object should not be : Ps. xxxv. 12, 
' They rewarded me evil for good, to the spoiling of my soul.' Nothing 
less will content them that hate us; as 'Esau, that ' hated Jacob, and 
said, I will slay him when the days of mourning for my father are 
come,' Gen. xxvii. 41, so that hatred or auger kept too long will be 
concocted and soured into revenge. 

Thirdly, How is it murder ? 

1. From the strictness of God's law. Man's law can only take notice 
of the overt act, but God's law of the thoughts, imaginations, pur 
poses, and intents of the heart. It is said, Horn. vii. 14, ' The law is 
spiritual ; ' and Ps. xix. 7, ' The law of God is perfect, converting the soul.' 
It reacheth to the acts of the inward man, and forbids every evil motion 
of the heart. God is able to judge of their hearts ; and every degree 
of this sin is forbidden and condemned by his law : 1 Sam. xvi. 7, 
' Man looketh upon the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on 
the heart.' And therefore it is not the hurting of our neighbour, but 
the hating of our neighbour, which his law condemneth. It doth not 
only concern the hands, and the outward actions, but the will and the 

2. From the intention of the party. The purpose or desire of doing 
a thing is counted in the law as done, either good or bad. As to good, 
Abraham's offering Isaac: Heb. xi. 11, 'By faith Abraham offered up 
Isaac.' He did it only in purpose and vow. Bad : Mat. v. 28, ' He 
that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery 
with her in his heart.' So here, the intention of the heart to harm 
others, though the hands be tied and kept from execution, yet as much 
as in him lieth he hath murdered his neighbour. If he abstain from 
killing, he will rejoice that the death of that man happeneth some other 
way. Well, then, the hating is, by interpretation, the killing of them, 
because such is the intention of the heart, did not some outward re 
straint curb it, if their destruction be a pleasing thought to us. 

3. God judgeth not only by the intention of the party, but the intent 


of the sin. There is finis operis, and finis operantis, the intendmenfc 
of the sinner, and the intent of the sin, what it may bring us unto if it 
be allowed. It may be a man that hateth his brother doth not intend 
for the present his utter destruction ; but if he shall cherish this evil 
disposition of soul, where shall he stop ? Now, that God judgeth by 
the intent of the sin, as well as the actual intention of the sinner, I shall 
make evident unto you by these instances. By Baruch's reproof : Jer. 
xlv. 5, ' Seekest thou great things for thyself ? Seek them not/ Baruch's 
sin was tergiversation, he had appeared confidently at first in delivering 
the roll to the king, which was written by God's command ; but when 
the king burnt it, and gave order to apprehend Jeremiah and Baruch,but 
God hid them, afterwards God bids them write another roll, and Baruch 
begins to be discouraged, it was too hot service for him to meddle with ; 
upon which God telleth him, ' Seekest thou great things for thyself ? ' 
When God was about to pluck up all things, alas ! what did the good 
man seek for himself, but only that he might have his life for a prey ? 
Baruch only sought his safety and the preservation of his life, which 
was in danger by reason of his zeal and activity for God; and God calleth 
this a seeking great things for himself. The meaning is, that disposition 
of heart which prompted him to seek ease and security for himself in 
troublesome times would prompt him also to seek great things in the 
world ; for it argued a spirit wedded to its own worldly felicity, and 
that preferred the favour of kings before the favour of God. Every man 
thus affected seeketh his own things ; at first he aimeth only at things 
which are within his grasp and reach, but then still he enlargeth him 
self, and would have more, and when that is obtained, he would have 
more, and fain be built a storey higher in the honour and greatness of 
the world. Thus doth God interpret the disposition of his heart, in 
seeking to save his life, by not displeasing the king. Another instance 
is Elisha's reproof to Gehazi : 2 Kings v. 26, ' Is it a time to receive 
money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards and vineyards, and 
sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and maid-servants ? ' Why this 
rebuke ? what is the sense of it ? He asked no such matter of Naaman, 
he asked but a talent of silver and two changes of raiment, 2 Kings v. 
23. But the same covetousness and self-seeking would carry him 
further. The prophet dealeth upon the full end of the sin. He was 
weary of being the prophet's man, and must set up for himself; he 
must then enlarge himself into a family, and purchase heritages, and 
be a great man in Israel. The beginnings of sin are modest, and the 
issues not known or thought of by the sinner himself. Now apply this 
to the matter in hand ; a man that beginneth to have an aversion of 
heart to another, he doth not love him ; in time he cometh to hate him, 
and there thinketh to rest ; but offences grow, and then he seeketh his 
destruction. Now God considereth the tendency of the sin, whatever 
be the actual intention of the sinner. 

4. I need but one consideration more to make the demonstration full, 
and what is that ? It is that the usual effects of hatred are blood and 
mischief ; thence come the factions, and quarrels, and persecutions, and 
contentions in the world. Once entertain hatred, and there is nothing 
so bad, and mischievous, and cruel, which you may not be drawn to 
think, and say, and do against your brethren. To think : jealousy is 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 129 

the fruit of hatred, everything is suspected where the party is not loved, 
yea, odious crimes are supposed and imagined of them, and they think 
they do God good service if they kill them, John xvi. 2. They do 
only destroy you as so many vermin, which are the trouble of the 
country. So for saying : Luke vi. 22, ' Blessed are ye when men shall 
hate you, and shall reproach yon, and cast out your name as evil, for 
my name's sake.' Do, by persecution : John v. 19, 20, ' Because I have 
chosen you out of the world, the world shall hate you, and persecute you, 
as they persecuted me.' And treachery : Mat. xxiv. 10, ' And many 
shall be offended in me, and betray one another, and hate one 
another.' These are the mischievous effects of hatred. Well, then, 
may it be accounted murder, and he that hateth is a manslayer or 

Use 1. Is information — 

1. It showeth us the reason why divines refer all sins and virtues 
to the commandments, wherein the grossest sin of the kind is forbidden 
in the name of all the rest. You think we strain when we make 
anger to be murder or the like ; but we have countenance from scrip 
ture, and we have the example of our Lord Jesus. I will only instance 
in a pertinent case : Mat. v. 20, 21, ' Ye have heard it hath been said 
of them of old, Thou shalt not kill ; and whosoever shall kill shall be 
in danger of the judgment ; but I say unto you, That whosoever is 
angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judg 
ment ; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger 
of the council ; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger 
of hell fire.' A place somewhat difficult, but I shall make no long busi 
ness to explain it. Christ doth not enlarge the commandment of God 
given by Moses, but interpret it, and vindicate from the glosses of the 
pharisees ; for they were their masters in the schools who lived before 
Christ. They thought the law was not broken but by actual man 
slaughter or murder ; for Christ doth not reason against the letter 
of the law, ' Thou shalt not kill/ but against their gloss, ' Whosoever 
shall kill/ And the following words express three degrees of sin and 
three degrees of punishment, alluding to their ways of punishing. The 
three degrees of sin are rash anger, anger vented by contumelious 
speeches : ' Raca/ a vain man ; ' Thou fool/ a wicked man. Their 
punishments were either of the three-and-twenty men who judged of 
manslaughters, or of the Sanhedrim, who judged of more heinous 
crimes; or of burning alive, which was their highest punishment ; and 
in the expression he alludeth to the valley of Hinnom, where children 
were scorched to death. Now the wrathful man is subject to punish 
ment in another world, as the manslayer is here by the judgment, which 
is beheading with the sword. Anger breaking out into opprobrious 
speeches by the Sanhedrim, where ordinary punishment was by stoning ; 
4 Thou fool/ more violent railings and revilings, with burning as of 
the children in the valley Hinnom. So that all these things, which 
tend to murder, are murder in the sight of God, and must expect his 
punishment. A great caution to us, in these contentious times, to take 
heed how we involve ourselves in the wrath of God. 

2. That it is good to refer sin to the most odious of its kind, and 
to interpret the law of God in its most comprehensive sense. Carnal 



men are but slight interpreters of God's law; that the ell may 
be no longer than the cloth, they make a short exposition of the 
law, that they may cherish a large opinion of their own righteousness ; 
but in the word of God we are directed otherwise. Covetousness is 
idolatry, as it diverts our trust in God, Col. iii. 5. Sensuality is set 
ting up another god, as it diverteth our love from him : Phil. iii. 19, 
' Whose god is their belly.' Neglect of communion with God is 
atheism, Ps. x. 3 ; and worldliness is adultery, James iv. 4 ; and here 
hatred of the brethren is murder. And there is a double profit by it 
— it servetli for an evangelical use and a moral use. 

[1.] It servetli for an evangelical use, to quicken us to seek after 
justification by way of faith and repentance ; for though we have not 
been guilty of gross immoralities, we are not murderers, adulterers, yet 
we cannot trust in our own righteousness. We are in danger of the 
judgment or the council for rash anger, hatred, malice, revenge, seek 
ing or wishing mischief to others. There is no relief to be looked for 
in God's strict justice from the smallness of our sins ; our hope standeth 
only in the fulness of Christ's ransom, and the largeness of his grace 
in the new covenant, which alloweth room for repentance. Thus the 
severe exaction of the law doth drive us to Christ. 

[2.] The second use is moral, to make us hate sin. Oh, how care 
fully should we abstain from all indulgence to the beginnings of it ! 
In mortifying sin, let us not weigh things in man's balance, but in 
God's, and not consider what is hateful to the world, but how things 
will appear before God's tribunal. There are sins majoris in/amice 
and majoris reatus. Some sins procure their own shame in the world, 
but others argue a greater aversion of heart, and enmity to God and 
his people. Many of sin's martyrs, that are publicly executed for the 
warning of others, are less hateful to God than others whom he 
hangeth up in chains of darkness as the instances of the slavery of sin, 
being wholly addicted to pleasures, profits, and honours. 

3. It teacheth us that sin originally cometh from the heart and inner 
man ; for hatred is murder, that is, the seed of it ; and what would it 
produce were it not for the restraints of providence ? Mat. xviii. 19. 
How watchful should we be over our hearts ! Prov. iv. 23, ' Keep thy 
heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life ; ' and over 
the first risings of sin there, that we may not give place to the devil, 
Eph. iv. 27. Judas had never betrayed his Lord if he had crushed 
covetousness in the egg ; many had never dipped their hands in blood, 
if they had smothered their envy and hatred as soon as it began to arise 
in them. It is wiser to keep from the first degrees, for by yielding to 
them we run into further degrees of sin. How humble should we be ! 
Oh, what monsters lurk in the heart of man ! Jer. xvii. 4, ' Wash thy 
heart from wickedness.' We would not think so if the word or 
experience did not discover it. What a foul stomach have they that 
vomit up nothing but knives, and daggers, and instruments of destruc 
tion ! 

Use 2. Is to press us to beware of this sin, the hatred of our 

1. It is such a sin as is brought for one instance of the corruption and 
degeneration of human nature, Titus iii. 3. We are all hateful to God, 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 131 

and yet we hate one another, that one man is as a wolf to another, 
seeking to devour or undermine one another. 

2. It is not such a sin as shall have its pardon of course, with our 
ordinary failings and frailties. No ; it is represented as one of the 
heinous transgressions of the law, 'murder ; ' such sins as are quite con 
trary to the evangelical state: they have 'not eternal life abiding in. 
them ; ' that is, life spiritual, which is eternal life begun : Gal. v. 21, 
' They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God ; ' 
and Eph. v. 6, ' Let no man deceive you with vain words ; for because 
of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedi 
ence/ Those that impenitently live in them shall be eternally damned ; 
where they are harboured, they leave an incapacity upon us of entering 
into the kingdom of God till solemnly and expressly repented of. 

3. It is a sin that is contrary to the evangelical temper, as well as 
to the evangelical state ; it is contrary to that meekness, patience, and 
forgiving one another, peaceableness, love, which is so frequently and 
expressly required of Christians ; for Christianity is an art of loving God 
and his people : 1 Cor. xvi. 14, ' Let all your things be done with 
charity;' 1 Peter iv. 8, 'Above all things, have fervent charity among 
yourselves.' Love is the chief duty we owe both to God and our 
neighbour. Next to our love to our Lord Jesus Christ, love to his 
people ought to be studied above other things ; therefore certainly 
they should keep free of malice and hatred one of another. 

4. When you live in hatred one to another, you cannot offer any 
acceptable sacrifice to God. When Christ had discoursed concerning 
rash anger and opprobrious speeches to our brother, he saith, Mat. v. 
23, 24, 'If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that 
thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the 
altar, and go thy way, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then 
come and offer thy gift ; ' and in his prayer, Mat. vi. 12, ' Forgive us 
our debts, as we forgive our debtors.' Otherwise we cannot pray to 
the God of love with any confidence : 1 Tim. ii. 8, ' I will that men 
pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.' 
It spoileth our access to God, 1 Peter iii. 7. 

5. Till you get rid of this distemper a man is strangely blinded and 
perverted in the course of his walking, all Christian practice obstructed : 
1 John ii. 11, ' But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and 
walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that 
darkness hath blinded his eyes ; ' that is, he is more easily involved 
in sin and error, and mistaketh his way, or hath not a heart to walk in 
it. He wanted his true measures, love to God and his people, both 
which make him wise in spiritual things. 

Second point. Now I come to the perniciousness and danger of 
this sin, ' No murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.' I shall clear 
it by these considerations — 

1. That it is a blessed thing to have eternal life abiding in us before 
we enter into the possession of it. This will appear sufficiently by 
explaining the terms, what it is to have eternal life, and then what it 
is to have it abiding in us. 

[1.] What is it to have eternal life ? It is to have a right to it by 
a new covenant grant : 1 John v. 12, ' He that hath the Son hath life, 


and he that hath not the Son hath not life.' He hath a stated right, 
and well secured, as firm as God's covenant can make it ; a right 
pleadable before the tribunal of God : 1 John v. 24, ' He that believeth 
on the Son hath eternal life, and shall not come into condemnation.' 

[2.] To have it, is firmly to believe it, and hope and look for it : 
Heb, xi. 1, ' Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the 
evidence of things not seen.' Faith giveth to its object presence and 
evidence. As it is substance, so it is equal to present subsistence ; 
as it is an evidence, so it is equal to visibility ; it is present to our view 
and sight in point of truth, to our affections in point of worth. 

[3.] To have it abiding in us is to have it begun in the spiritual life. 
The spiritual life is an introduction to this life of glory. There is an 
eternal principle in our hearts ; therefore grace is called an immortal 
or incorruptible seed, 1 Peter i. 23. There is an eternal principle put 
into them, to carry them to eternal ends. The life is begun, and is 
still working towards its final perfection. Nothing is perfected in 
heaven but what is begun here upon earth. It is an earnest to show 
how sure, 2 Cor. i. 22, the first-fruits, to show how good, Rom. viii. 23. 
The comforts of the Spirit are some foretastes of the sweetness which 
is in heaven. It is also a disposition ; it doth qualify and prepare us 
for glory: Col. i. 12, ' Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the 
inheritance of the saints in light ; ' and Rom. ix. 23, ' Prepared unto 
glory.' As their natures are more and more renewed and purified, and 
more dispositively fitted. 

2. This is the privilege of the true believer, and none else ; for it is 
expressly said, John iii. 36, ' He that believeth on the Son hath ever 
lasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but 
the wrath of God abideth on him.' 

3. None is a true believer but he that loveth God above all, and his 
people for God's sake ; for true faith worketh by love, Gal. v. 6, and 
the great commands of the gospel are faith in Christ, and love to one 
another: 1 John iii. 23, 'And this is his commandment, that we 
should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one 
another, as he gave commandment.' 

4. Therefore those that live in the allowed hatred of their brethren 
are cut off from all those privileges ; they have not a right to God's 
covenant, for they are not sound believers ; they have no true faith and 
hope concerning the world to come, for then they would prepare more for 
it; for our certain and desirous expectation of the promised glory is seen 
in our seriousness, diligence, and watchfulness against sin. They have 
not the beginnings of heaven in their souls, because they have not the 
divine nature, which is love ; yea, they cherish that which destroy eth 
1he power and forfeits the comforts of the spiritual life, hatred, which 
is the satanical nature, and utterly contrary and inconsistent with the 
divine and heavenly life. 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in, 133 


Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life 
for us : and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. — 
1 JOHN iii. 16. 

THE apostle having instanced in the lowest act of love, not hating our 
brother, and destroying the life of another, as Cain did; now he 
cometh to instance in the highest act of love, laying down our own 
lives for the brethren. Lest by the former discourse he should seem 
to beat down the price of love too low in the world, he seeketh here to 
advance it again. A Christian should be so far from destroying the 
life of another, that he should venture his own, ' Hereby perceive we 
the love of God,' &c. 

In the words observe two things — (1.) An instance of God's love ; 
(2.) The inference of duty drawn from thence. 

First, The instance of God's love, ' Hereby perceive we the love of 
God, because he laid down his life for us.' 

1. The phrase of laying down of life imports his death was not 
forced, but he yielded to it by a voluntary submission ; so it is explained, 
John x. 17, 18, ' I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No 
man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself : I have power to 
lay it down, and have power to take it again.' 

2. For us ; not only for our good, but in our place and room : 
John x. 15, ' I lay down my life for my sheep.' 

3. Hereby perceive we the love of God. Here is love testified by 
some notable effect and fruit. Love lieth hidden in the breast of those 
that love, but it is visibly known and seen by the effects. We perceive 
it was a true, real, effectual love ; not a well-wishing only, or a kind 
affection arising in the heart, and there resting, but a love breaking 
out into action, and evidencing itself by some act becoming such a, 

Doct. That Christ laying down his life for us was a pregnant proof 
and great demonstration of his love to us. 

To evidence this I shall prove these things — 

First, That love was the bosom-cause, spring, and rise of all that 
Christ did for us, and that which did set on work the whole business of 
our recovery to God. This is often noted in the scripture, whether 
you consider the act of God or Christ: John iii. 16, ' God so loved the 
world that he gave his only-begotten Son.' So Christ: Gal. ii. 20, 'Who 
loved me/and gave himself for me;' Eph. v. 25, 'He loved the church, 
and gave himself for it ; ' Rev. i. 5, ' He hath loved us, and washed us 
in his blood from our sins.' Love is the inward moving cause, and 
our misery is the outward occasion which moved him to do so. The 
nature of love is velle amati bonum, to desire the good of the party 
loved. That this was the first rise is evident, because we can give 
reasons of other things, but we can give no reason of his love. Why 
did he employ so much wisdom and goodness and power, and make such 
a deal of do to save a company of poor forlorn creatures ? He loved us. 
But why did he love us ? Because he loved us. It was not necessity 


of nature, as fire burneth because it can do no otherwise. It was the 
error of a great philosopher to say, that the first cause did work out of 
mere necessity, and that what he doth he must needs do. No ; God 
is a free agent ; he might have left us remediless, and in everlasting 
misery ; but out of his self-inclination, and according to his own heart, 
he hath done us good, though he might have chosen whether he would 
or no. It was opus liberi consilii, but God would restore us, and that 
in the best way. 

Secondly, It was God's end to carry on the way of our salvation in 
such a manner as might commend his love to sinners : Bom. v. 8, 
' But God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet 
sinners, Christ died for us.' There was power discovered in the 
creation, when God made us like himself out of the dust of the 
ground ; but love in our redemption, when he made himself like us. 
He revealeth his glorious majesty in the highest heavens ; in hell his 
fearful justice ; his wise and powerful providence throughout the whole 
world ; his gracious love and mercy to his church and people. All 
things in God are infinite, but the effects of his love are more wonder 
ful than any of his attributes ; there he hath gone to the uttermost. 
He hath no better thing to give us than himself, his Christ and his 
Spirit. He never showed so much of his wisdom but he can show 
more ; but how can he show more of his love to us than he hath 
shown ? He hath not another Christ to die for us, nor a better- 
saviour to bestow upon us, nor a better salvation to offer to us. 

Thirdly, That the course which God took doth fully suit with his 
end, which was a full and clear demonstration of his love, as will 
appear by these circumstances — 

1. The person who was to work out our deliverance was the eternal 
Son of God. We need no other proof than this very text we have in 
hand, 'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his 
life for us.' He that is God did this for us; Jesus Christ, ' who is 
God over all,' Rom. ix. 5. Now that God, who is the absolute Lord 
of all things, and can do with us what he pleaseth ; God, that oweth 
nothing to any man, that was so much offended with man ; God, that 
stood in no need of us, as having infinite happiness and contentment 
within himself, that he should show so much love as to come and die 
for us, ' Hereby perceive we the love of God.' When we consider 
what Christ is, we shall most admire what he hath done for us. For 
creatures to be kind to one another is not so great a matter, for every 
one hath need of another. The world is upheld by a combination of 
interests, as the stones in an arch ; the head cannot say to the foot, I 
have no need of thee ; the prince standeth in need of the peasant, as 
well as the peasant of the prince. But God standeth in no need of us : 
' He is not worshipped with men's hands, as if he needed anything,' 
Acts xvii. 25. We need his blessing, but he doth not need our service 
to support his being and dignity or increase his happiness. When 
Christ was in the state of humiliation, he was subject to wants as we 
are ; as when they loosed the foal whereon he was to ride up to Jeru 
salem, they were to answer, Mat. xxi. 3, ' The Lord hath need of him.' 
But it was otherwise with Christ as God, which we now speak of. As 
God, he needed not the being of man or angel ; or else why did he not 

VER 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 135 

make the world and things therein sooner, that he might be sooner 
happy ? Again, as man, he was to be in subjection : ' For being 
made of a woman, he was made under the law/ Gal. iv. 4 ; and 
as mediator he had a commandment : John x. 18, ' This cornmand- 
mant I received of my Father/ But as the second person in the 
trinity, he is one God with the Father, as undivided in nature and 
essence ; so of the same liberty, authority, and power : Phil. ii. 6, ' He 
thought it no robbery to be equal with God.' The angels were cast 
out of heaven for robbery, for usurping divine honour ; but Christ was 
not thrust down for robbery and usurpation, but came down out of 
love and voluntary condescension to die for us. Sometimes Christ's 
death is made an act of obedience, sometimes an act of love : Rom. v. 
] 9, 'By the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.' So Phil, 
ii. 8, ' He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross/ 
With respect to his Father's command, it was an high act of obedience, 
the like of which cannot be done by man or angel, carried on with such 
humility, patience, self-denial, resignation of himself to God, charity 
and pity toward us. But considering the dignity of his person, all was 
purely an act of love ; and the more love because,coming in our nature, 
he put himself under a necessity of obedience, and doing what con 
duced to our salvation ; so he loved me and gave himself for me. 

2. Our necessity and condition, when he came to show this love to 
us. We were the cursed offspring of sinful Adam, in a lost and 
lapsed estate, and so altogether hopeless, unless some means were used 
for our recovery. Kindness to them that are ready to perish doth 
most affect us. Surely we should love Christ as men fetched up from 
the gates of hell, for we had lost the image of God, Rom. iii. 23 ; 
sold ourselves to Satan, Isa. Iii. 3 ; sentenced to death and eternal 
condemnation by God's righteous law, John iii. 18 ; ready for execu 
tion, Eph. ii. 3, John iii. 36 ; nothing but the slender thread of a frail 
life between us and it. Then did Christ step in by a wonderful act of 
love to rescue and recover us, not staying till we relented and cried 
for mercy. We were neither sensible of our misery nor mindful of 
our remedy, but lay dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. 1. Thus 
when we had cast away the mercies of our creation, and were wallow 
ing in our blood and filthiness, Ezek. xvi., then the Son of God came 
to die for us, Rom. v. 7, 8. Surely it was love, mere love, when we 
stood guilty before the tribunal of God's justice, that he should take the 
chastisement of our peace upon him : Isa. liii. 5, ' And with his stripes 
we are healed/ 

3. The astonishing way in which our deliverance was brought 
about ; by the incarnation, shame, agonies, blood, and death of the 
Son of God ; this was the highest act of self-denial on Christ's part, 
considering him only as to the nature he had assumed : John xv. 13, 
' Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for 
his friend/ If his people need his death, he will give proof to them 
by his death of his love to them, and will act to the highest laws of 
friendship ; we learn more of God's love by this instance than any 
thing else. 

4. The notions by which the death of Christ is set forth to us. 
There are two solemn ones — a ransom and a sacrifice. 


[1.] A ransom : Mat. xx. 28, ' And to give his life as a ransom for 
many ; ' 1 Tim. ii. 6, ' Who gave himself a ransom for all/ This was 
an ancient notion : Job xxxiii. 24, ' Deliver him from going down into 
the pit, for I have found a ransom ; ' that is, a price and recompense 
given in our stead. A ransom is a price given to one that hath power 
of life and death, to save the life of one capitally guilty, or by law 
bound to suffer death, or some other evil and punishment, This was 
our case. God was the supreme judge, before whose tribunal man 
standeth guilty, and liable to death ; but Christ interposed that we 
might be spared, and the Father is content with his death as a suffi 
cient ransom. 

[2.] The other notion is that of a mediatorial sacrifice : Isa. liii. 10, 
' When he shall make his soul an offering for sin ; ' Eph. v. 2, ' As 
Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering 
and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour/ He undertook 
the expiation of our sins and the propitiating of God. God's provoked 
justice would not end the controversy it had against us till it was 
appeased by a proper sacrifice of propitiation. Now herein was love : 
1 John iv. 10, ' Not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent 
his Son to be a propitiation for our sins/ The sins and guilty fears of 
mankind show the need of such a remedy. We are naturally sensible 
that the punishment of death is deserved and due to us by the law of 
God : Rom. i. 32, ' Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which 
commit such things are worthy of death/ And also the necessity of 
a sin-offering. This Christ hath made, ' that our consciences, being 
purged from dead works, might serve the living God,' Heb. ix. 14. 

Fourthly, The consequent benefits. 

1, Relative privileges, pardon, justification and adoption. Pardon : 
Eph. i. 7, ' In whom we have redemption through his blood, the for 
giveness of sins/ To have sin pardoned, which is the great make- 
bate, which is the worm that eateth out the heart of all our comforts, 
the venom that embittereth all our crosses ; surely this is the great 
effect of God's love to us. Justification : Rom. v. 1, ' There is no 
condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus/ To be at present upon 
good terms with God, freed from fears of hell and the wrath of God, 
which is so deservedly terrible to all serious persons : Rom. v. 9, 
' Being justified by his blood, we shall, be saved from wrath through 
him/ Oh, how should we love the Lord Jesus, who hath procured 
such privileges for us. So for adoption, to be taken into God's 
family : Gal. iv. 5, ' When the fulness of time was come, God sent 
forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them 
that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons/ 
Assured of welcome and audience in all our needs, as children are 
when they come to their father, to wait for present provision, and 
hereafter for a child's portion. 

2. Positive inherent graces, to have our natures sanctified, healed, 
and freed from the stains of sin ; all which is done by virtue of the 
death of Christ : Eph. v. 26, ' He gave himself for it, that he might 
sanctify and cleanse it;' Titus ii. 14, 'Who gave himself for us, that 
he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar 

• people, zealous of good works ; ' and so fitted for the service of God : 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 137 

Kev. i. 5, 6, 'Who hath loved us, and washed us in his blood, and 
made us kings and priests unto God.' Surely to have a nature divine 
and heavenly, to be made like God, serviceable to God, is a mercy not 
easily valued according to its worth. Nay, further, to be fortified 
against the enemies of our salvation. The devil: Col. ii. 15, 'And 
having spoiled principalities arid powers, he hath made a show of 
them openly, triumphing over them.' The world : Gal. i. 4, ' He 
gave himself that he might redeem us from this present evil world.' 
The flesh : Gal. v. 24, ' They that are Christ's have crucified the 
flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof;' Rom. vi. 6, 'Knowing 
that our old man is crucified Avith him, that the body of sin may be 
destroyed ; ' 1 Peter ii. 24, ' Who his own self bare our sins in his 
own body upon the tree, that we, being dead unto sin, might live unto 
righteousness.' They are distempered and diseased souls that are not 
affected with these kind of mercies, and value worldly greatness before 
them ; as swine take pleasure in the mire, and ravenous beasts feed 
on dung and carrion. Surely these greater mercies, which tend to the 
perfecting and ennobling our natures, should endear Christ to us. 

3. Eternal blessedness and glory ; this is also the fruit of his laying 
down his life for us; for it is said, 1 Thes. v. 10, ' He died for us,that 
whether we sleep or wake, we should live together with him ; ' and 
again, Heb. ix. 15, ' He is the mediator of the new testament, that 
by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressors that were 
under the first testament, they which are called might receive the 
promise of eternal inheritance.' That is the consummate benefit, when 
we shall be brought nigh to the throne of God, and shall be companions 
of the holy angels, and for ever behold our glorified Eedeemer, and 
our nature united to the Godhead ; and for our persons, we shall have 
the nearest intuition and fruition of God that we are capable of, and 
live in the fullest love to him and delight in him, and the soul shall 
for ever dwell in a glorified body, which shall not be a prison, but a 
temple to it ; and be no more troubled with infirmities, necessities, 
and diseases, but for ever be at rest with the Lord, and glorify his 
name to all eternity. Thus we see what love God hath showed us in 
Christ, or Christ hath showed to us in dying for us. 

Fifthly, That love doth shine forth more in our redemption by 
Christ than in any other way whereby God hath discovered himself to 
the creature. That we have a good God is otherwise manifested, and 
there is nothing comes from him but shows forth something of his 
goodness : Ps. cxix. 68, ' Thou art good, and doest good ; teach me 
thy statutes.' He discovered love in our creation, when he gave us a 
reasonable nature, and made us a little lower than the angels ; but he 
showeth more love in our restoration, when he giveth us a divine nature, 
and advanceth our nature in the person of Christ far above principali 
ties and powers. He might have made us toads and serpents ; he 
might have left us devils. He showeth love to us in his preservation 
and daily providence, that he maintaineth us at his own expense, though 
we do him so little service, yea, do so often offend him ; but he shows 
more in pardoning our sins, and adopting us into his family, and giving 
us eternal life. A word made us, and his providential word keepeth 
us : ' For he upholdeth all things by the word of his power,' and ' Man 


liveth not by bread alone ;' but we could not be redeemed without the 
death of the Son of God : 1 John iv. 10, ' Herein is love, not that wo 
loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation 
for our sins.' Therefore here is the true glass wherein to see God. 
Surely we had never known so much of the love of God had it not 
been for this great instance: 1 John iv. 9, 'In this was the love of 
God manifested towards us, because he sent his onty-begotten Son into 
the world, that we might live through him/ What was Jesus Christ 
but love incarnate, love born of a virgin, love hanging on a cross, love 
laid in the grave, love made sin, love made a curse for us ? It was 
love that accomplished all the wonders of our redemption. 

Use 1. This glorious demonstration of God's love should fill us with 
admiring thoughts and praise. We owe all to love. Christ : John 
iii. 16, 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.' 
The covenant: Jer. xxxii. 40, 41, 'And I will make an everlasting 
covenant with them, and will not turn away from them, to do them 
good : yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant 
them in this land assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole 
soul/ The blessings of the covenant ; conversion : Eph. ii. 4, 5, ' But 
God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he hath loved 
us, even when we were dead in sins and trespasses, he quickened us/ 
Pardon: Hosea xiv. 4, 'I will heal their backslidings, and will love 
them freely/ Hopes of glory : 2 Thes. ii. 16, ' He hath loved us, and 
given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace/ Our 
final glorification: 1 John iii. 1, 'Behold what manner of love is this!' 
Pardon, grace, glory, all cometh of love. Nothing should be more 
frequent in our hearts and mouths than the love of God. It is the 
study of the saints to admire this : Eph. iii. 18, ' That we may com 
prehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, 
und height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge/ 
To get more large and lively thoughts of it. This will most be when 
we have some interest in these things : 1 John iii. 1, ' Behold what 
manner of love is this, that we should be called the sons of God! ' And 
you find the fruits of it in your own souls: Bom. v. 5, 'But hope 
maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our 
hearts/ Feel the virtue of his death in heart and conscience, then 
glory in.it: Gal. vi. 14, 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the 
cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ; ' 1 John v. 10, ' He that believeth on 
the Son hath the witness in himself/ When it appeaseth your guilty 
fears, and freeth you from the tyranny of worldly lusts, the saving 
effects of this love, a deep and intimate feeling giveth us the true sense 
of those things, more than a pertinent and exact discourse. 

2. This glorious demonstration of God's love to us should beget love 
in us to God again : 1 John iv. 19, ' We love him because he hath 
loved us first/ Shall Jesus Christ love me, and make a plaster of his 
blood for my poor wounded soul, and shall I not love him again? 
The cold wall will reverberate and beat back again the heat of the 
sun : 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, ' For the love of Christ constraineth us, because 
we thus judge, if one died for all, then are all dead ; and that he died 
for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, 
but unto him which died for them, and rose again/ Our hearts should 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 139 

be drawn in to him, and love and thankfulness should be the life of all 
obedience ; for all Christian religion in effect is but love. Love is the 
spring and rise of all that Christ did for us ; so it should be the rise 
and spring of all that we do for Christ, that we may act and suffer for 
him as willingly and readily as he did for us. We can hardly take 
comfort in any dispensation of God unless there be love in it ; neither 
will God accept any duty of ours unless there be love in it. Oh, let 
love beget love ! 

3. Let us be content with this manifestation of the love of God ; we 
have the fruits of his death, though God straiten us in outward things. 
We cannot say God doth or doth not love us, though he giveth or 
withholdeth a worldly portion : Eccles. ix. 1, ' None can know love or 
hatred by these things.' Sometimes God's enemies have a large supply, 
when his people are kept short and bare : Ps. xvii. 14, ' From men 
which are thy hand, Lord, from men of the world, which have their 
portion in this life, and whose bellies thoti fillest with thy hid treasure: 
they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their 
babes.' But if he giveth us the saving effects of Christ's death, it is 
a certain demonstration of his love, though he doth not gratify us 
with worldly increase. Let us look after the distinguishing effects of 
his love, and the favour he beareth to his people. 

Secondly, I come to the duty hence inferred, ' We ought to lay down 
our lives for the brethren.' 

Doct. Christians ought to be ready to lay down their lives for the 

This is the use we are directed to make of God's laying down his life 
for us, not only that we may love him again, and be reconciled to him, 
but to teach us how to love one another. 

Note three things from hence — 

First, That our love of the brethren is inferred out of Christ's love 
to us. Christ's love to us hath a double respect to it — (1.) It hath 
the force of a cause ; (2.) The use of a pattern and example. 

1. The force of a cause. Out of gratitude to Christ we should love 
those that are Christ's, those that are his people, and bear his name and 
image ; because he hath loved us, we should love one another : 1 John 
iv. 11, ' If God so loved us, we should love one another,' for this 

2. It hath the use of a pattern and example ; we must not only love 
others because he hath loved us, but we must love others as he hath 
loved us : John xv. 12, ' This is my commandment, that ye love one 
another, as I have loved you ; ' and John xiii. 34, ' This is my new 
commandment which I give unto you, that ye love one another ; as I 
have loved you, that ye also love one another.' This is the pattern 
propounded to our imitation. 

Secondly, That in our love to the brethren, as we must imitate Christ 
in other things, so in laying down our lives for their good. Our love 
should be free as his was, sincere as his was, fruitful as his, constant 
as his love, superlative as his: Eph. v. 2, 'Walk in love as Christ 
also hath loved us.' But chiefly in his dying, to reduce men to God. 
Christ was willing to endure all extremity to expiate our sins and 
bring about our salvation. Christ's love fainted not: John xiii. 1, 


' Christ having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them 
to the end.' Therefore we should venture our lives in such a noble 
design to bring men to the Christian faith. Christ's precious blood was 
more valuable than all the world, therefore we should not stick at any 

Thirdly, It is not left arbitrary and free to us to do or not to do, but 
we must or ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. So it is in 
the text, ' We ought also.' Christ must be obeyed whatever our inclin 
ations be. It is such a necessary duty, that we are nothing without it : 
1 Cor. xiii. 1-3, ' Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, 
and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling 
cymbal. And though I have the gifts of prophecy, and understand all 
mysteries, and all knowledge ; and though I had all faith, and I could 
remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though 
I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to 
be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.' We have 
not the true spirit of Christianity till this be accomplished in us. 

But in what cases is a man to die for another ? 

I answer — This case of conscience must be decided by distinguishing 
— (1.) The persons ; (2.) The cause ; (3.) The manner ; (4.) The 

First, As to the persons for whom we must lay down our lives. 

1. They may be considered as aliens or infidels, or as fellow-christians. 
Principally the latter are intended, for they are more properly our 
brethren, and this duty belongeth to brotherly love, as it is distinguished 
from charity. But yet the others are not wholly to be excluded, because we 
die or venture our lives for infidels that they may become brethren ; as 
Christ died for us when we were enemies that we might be made friends. 
And therefore, though base and brutish, and opposite to us for the 
present, yet there should be an earnest desire of their spiritual good ; 
and it is most like the example of Christ to run all hazards for the 
conversion of the world, as well as the confirmation of the faithful : 
Phil. ii. 17, ' Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of 
your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.' His blood poured out as a 
drink-offering, with allusion to the sacrifices of the law. 

2. They may be considered as a single person or as a multitude. 
Now for a community, there is no question but I should venture my 
single life to save them. It is a constant rule that all private things 
must give way to public, for God's glory is more promoted and con 
cerned in a public good than in a private ; therefore a public good is 
better and more considerable in itself than any man's particular 
temporal happiness. God's glory must be preferred before the creature's 
profit. Heathens have chosen to die for the public good, or for their 
country's, though it may be suspected fame had a great influence on 
it. Thus Curtius went into a gulf to save his country. Yea, the 
creatures act against their particular nature to preserve the universe. 
Lawrence ran the hazard of a gridiron rather than betray the faithful. 
But now the question is, whether is one single person bound to die for 
another ? Yes, if more eminently useful, as you shall see by and by ; 
and that is not hard, because he is as much bound to die for me as I 
for him ; the strong to confirm the faith of the weak, and the weak to 

YER. 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 141 

preserve the strong, that they may do more good. So where a great 
obligation is ; as to our natural parents : we have received our lives 
from them. A private Christian suffering for Christ should be owned, 
since a man cannot without it perform necessary duties in owning 
Christ's members : Mat. xxv. 43, ' I was in prison, and ye visited me 
not ; ' 2 Tim. iv. 16, ' All men forsook me ; I pray God it be not laid 
to their charge.' Though it may involve them in great trouble to own 
God's servants and supply their necessities, as in Queen Mary's days. 

3. Others may be considered as to their capacities of promoting the 
glory of God, as the magistrate, or the father of the country : 2 Sam. 
xviii. 3, ' Thou art better than ten thousand of us ; ' 2 Sam. xxi. 16, 
17, ' quench not the light of Israel,' when David was in danger ; or 
eminent ministers, such as may save many souls. P<ml telleth us, 
Rom. xvi. 4, ' Who have for my life laid down their own necks, unto 
whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the gentiles;' 
Phil. ii. 30, 'For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not 
regarding life, to supply your lack of service towards me/ Persons 
public must be preferred before private ; and among private those that 
excel and may be more useful, whose lives may more conduce to the 
glory of God. We must love a better and a more serviceable man, 
who hath more of God's Spirit in him, above ourselves, and an equal 
person equal with ourselves. Well, then, a subject is bound to preserve 
the life of the magistrate, as the hand will lift up itself to save the 
head. Nay, in some cases, though it be a private friend ; for though 
my life and his be of an equal value, yet my duty to him and his life 
overswayeth, especially if the case be but hazardous, as to rescue him 
from an assassin. 

Secondly, The cause for which we exercise this great charity to 
others ; it is for their good. Now good is either temporal or eternal ; 
for their eternal good chiefly we are to do this. Paul, if he might pro 
mote the glory of God, 'could wish himself accursed from Christ for 
his brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh,' Rom. ix. 3 ; if to 
free others from eternal death ; so did Christ die for us. Suppose 
temporal good, to free them from temporal evil, to clear the community ; 
or for useful persons, or persons for whom I stand bound. 

1. Certainly we ought to help one another's spiritual good by the 
loss of our temporal, and venture life, liberty, and estate for the propa 
gation of the gospel. An instance we have in Paul's glorious excess of 
charity. Moses : Exod. xxxii. ' Blot me out of thy book, if thou wilt 
forgive their sins.' But the Lord Jesus Christ above all : 2 Cor. viii. 
!), ' For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was 
rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty 
might be rich.' A public spiritual good is more valuable than 
any temporal good, a necessary act of our love to God. 

2. Temporal good, to save the life of public, useful, eminent persons, 
if their lives be more serviceable than ours. 

Thirdly, The manner of exposing life to apparent hazard or to cer 
tain death ; partly because in some cases we may venture our lives, 
though not actually lay them down, as we may expose ourselves to 
uncertain danger to hinder others' certain danger, as when a man is 
assaulted by thieves and ruffians, to prevent murder. I must contribute 


my help to the wronged party, though I endanger my own life : Esther 
iv. 16, ' If I perish, I perish.' There are two grounds of that resolu 
tion — a public good preferred before a private. The case was only 
hazardous, though likely ; for she would go with a courageous mind. 
And partly because he that ventureth puts his life in his hand, is 
accepted with God, though he doth not actually lay down his life ; for 
it is so interpreted, because he runneth a course of danger. 

Fourthly, The call. We must not precipitate and cast ourselves 
needlessly on such trials. God willeth no man to be foolishly and rashly 
prodigal of his own life and health, yet when clearly called, none of 
this must be stood upon. In two cases we seem to be called. First, 
When we cannot without sin escape such a trial. It overtaketh us in 
our station wherein God hath set us, otherwise we must preserve our 
lives for the glory of God and the good of others. Secondly, When 
God findeth us out in our sin, and others are like to suffer for our sake. 
2 Sam. xxiv. 12, when David had displeased God in numbering the 
people, God, by the prophet Gad, offereth him three things : ' Choose 
one of them, that I may do it unto thee ; ' and Jonah i. 12, ' And he 
said, Take me up and cast me into the sea, for I know that for my sake 
this great tempest is upon you.' 

Object. It is true, I must love my neighbour as myself ; but by this 
it seemeth I must love him above myself. 

Ans. 1. I love myself when I only hazard temporal life to obtain 
eternal. It is not a hard law for them to keep that have an eternal 
life assured to them for the loss of a temporal one : John xi. 25, ' He 
that believeth on me shall live though he die.' 

Ans. 2. Natural love is to be subservient to our spiritual love. 
Natural love, which is put into a man for self-preservation, no question 
will be stronger to itself than another ; and indeed we are to prefer, 
and first preserve and provide for, ourselves ; our neighbour is only re 
garded as a second self. But this is to be directed and mastered by our 
spiritual love. As reason taught the heathens to prefer their countries 
before their life, so grace teacheth Christians to prefer God's honour, 
Christ's kingdom, gospel church, neighbour's spiritual good, before our 
own life and liberty ; and we ought to lay down our lives for others, 
when the glory of God, edification of the church, and spiritual necessity 
of others requireth it. Our lives must not be dearer to us than Christ's 
was to him. 

Use 1. If we are to lay down our lives for the brethren, then we 
should sincerely perform all lesser offices of love to them. See the next 
verse, ' But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother hath 
need.' If you cannot part with superfluities, can you part with life for 
their sake ? 2 Sam. xxiv. 17. If you will not hazard a frown or a 
check for them, how can you suffer death for them ? If not put your 
selves to the trouble of a visit, how will you travel all the world, and 
put yourselves to all manner of hazards to convert souls ? 

2. How much self-lovers and self-seekers are to be condemned. If 
I must not only love my neighbour as myself, but love him as Christ 
loved me, surely they have a temper most unsuitable to Christianity 
that only mind their own things, and please their own wills and 
desires, without seeking the welfare of others. Whether they be in a 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 143 

public or private capacity, they care not how it goes with the church 
and people of God, so their particular interests may flourish. This is 
against nature and grace. By nature man is a sociable creature, that 
cannot live by himself, therefore should not live to himself; and grace 
hath cast us into the mystical body, there is a great aggregated self, 
and that is the society to which we do belong ; and that is the reason 
why we are so often said to be members of one another, Rom. xii. 5. 
It is but self still, the same mystical body ; and we should care one 
for another as for ourselves, especially the public state of Christ's church. 
If it be ill with them and the church too, church-sorrow swalloweth up 
their private grief: 1 Sam. iv. 22, ' The glory is departed, for the ark 
of God is taken.' She doth not bewail the death of her husband, the 
death of a father and brother, so much as the ark's being taken, and 
the glory departed from Israel. If it go well with them and the church 
too, it doubleth the contentment : Ps. cxxviii. 5, ' Thou shalt see thy 
children's children, and peace upon Israel.' But if things go cross and ill 
with the church when it goeth well with them, the state of the church is 
a wound to their hearts : Ps. cxxxvii. 5, 6, ' They prefer Zion above 
their chief joy.' If it go well with the church when ill with them, it 
is a comfort ; as Paul in prison rejoiced in the progress of the gospel, 
Phil. i. 15-18. 

3. That Christian love is a more necessary and excellent grace than 
usually we take it to be. First, More necessary, for Christ died to set 
a pattern to our love ; as to teach us to love God, so with what fervour 
and affection to love one another. Of all duties and graces that re 
spect our neighbour, this is most necessary ; it is indeed all the sum of 
the law : Eom. xiii. 8, ' He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.' 
The fountain of all : 1 Cor. xvi. 24, ' My love be with you all in Christ 
Jesus.' Without it, though we have the greatest gifts, do the mostpomp- 
ous acts, it is nothing, 1 Cor. xiii. 1—3. Yea, it is the great means of 
making believers useful to one another. Secondly, The excellency ; here 
is the highest pattern, viz., Christ. We cannot come up to his heightand 
measure, yet some resemblance there must be between his love to souls 
and our love to the brethren. Thirdly, The highest act of his self-denial 
is instanced in his laying down his life, which Christ telleth us is the 
greatest act of friendship among men, scarce ever found, John xv. 13. 
Now we take love for a slight thing as practised among us ; but as it 
is taught in scripture, the law of charity is very strict, that we should 
forget our own highest interests for the profit of others ; and few chris- 
tians there are that have the due impressions of Christ's death upon 

4. How much all that profess Christianity should be above the fears 
of death, and in readiness to lay down their lives when God in his pro 
vidence calleth them to it. Love to God calleth for it, Luke xiv. 26. 
Yea, love to man calleth for it : Acts xxi. 13, ' I am ready not to be 
bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem.' This is no hard law, if we 
consider our obligation from the death of Christ, and our encourage 
ment from the hope of eternal reward. Heathens died for their country 
out of natural gallantry and greatness of mind ; they knew they could 
not have lived long, therefore chose this way. But Christianity only 
teaches the true grounds of contemning life and all temporal interests. 



But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and 
shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how divelleth the 
love of God in him?. My little children, let us not love in word, 
neither in tongue ; but in deed and in truth. — 1 JOHN iii. 17, 18. 

IN the former verse he hath urged the example of Christ, which is 
both a reason and a pattern of our love to our brethren, ' We must 
love others because he loved us, and we must love others as he loved 
us.' The pattern is urged not only for the duty itself, but the degree 
of it. We must imitate Christ in that eminent act of self-denial, his 
laying down his life for us. Surely that love is best which is most 
like Christ's. Now Christ spared not his life, nor anything to do us 
good ; so should our love express itself in the highest instances of love. 
Well, then, if we are bound to the greater, we are much more bound 
to the lesser ; if to lay down our lives for those that are in danger, 
much more to give our goods to them. Surely those are not to be 
accounted lovers of the brethren that will not part with a little of their 
substance on these occasions, and are guilty of gross hypocrisy if they 
should pretend either to the love of God or our neighbour, ' But whoso 
hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need,' &c. 
In the words there is — 

1. An argument implied, a majori ad minus ; and there is expressly 
contained in it — (1.) A supposition of a duty neglected; (2.) A censure 
or charge of a heinous crime imputed to such ; the ' love of God doth 
not dwell ' in them. 

2. An exhortation to sincerity. 

First, In the argument we have three things — 

[1.] The ability of the party to exercise charity, ' Whoso hath this 
world's good.' 

[2.] The necessity of the party upon whom it is exercised, 'And 
seeth his brother have need.' 

[3.] The neglect itself, ' Shutteth up his bowels of compassion from 

(1.) The ability of the party, 'Whoso hath this world's good ;' the 
meaning is, wherewith to support this worldly life ; as the woman is 
said to cast in all her living, Mark xii. 44; and in other places bios is put 
for the support of life. Those that have but from hand to mouth are 
bound to distribute to them that need, Eph. iv. 28 ; but much more 
the rich, that have not only to sustain and support this life, but to 
spare for others. What we have we are to give ; out of a little, a little ; 
out of more, more : Luke xii. 33, ' Sell what you have.' So Luke xi. 
41, Give alms of such things as you have, and all things shall be clean 
to you.' So Luke viii. 3, ' They ministered to him of their substance.' 
So much of this world's goods as every man hath, so far his bounty 
must extend. 

(2.) The next thing supposed is others' necessity. By our own estate 
God giveth us matter to exercise charity; by others' necessity he 
giveth us occasion : his providence f urnisheth us, and straiteueth them ; 

VER. 17, 18.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 145 

if they need bread to sustain life, or raiment to clothe the body ; and 
those that need be brethren, the Lord calleth upon us for some 

(3.) The act omitted, ' Shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him.' 
Here the next inward cause is mentioned, and that is, 'bowels of compas 
sion from him ; ' but the effect also is intended. If he doth not assist him 
in his needs, his heart must be first opened ; there must be a willing and 
ready mind, and then his hand opened ; there must be a liberal and 
bountiful relief. ' Bowels,' no duty in this kind is accepted with God but 
what is joined with bowels of compassion and sympathy. What we 
translate, Luke i. 78, ' Through the tender mercy of our God,' is in the 
margin, 'Bowels of mercy.' So 2 Cor. vii. 15, 'His inward affection 
is more abundant towards you.' It is bowels. So Col. iii. 12, ' Put 
on bowels of mercy.' It noteth an inward sense and sympathy with 
the misery of others; such an intense motion of the heart, that 
the very bowels are moved by it ; so that it is, if he shut up his 
bowels, if he show himself hard-hearted and merciless, is not moved 
with any pity of another's wants. The meaning is fully expressed by 
Moses, Deut. xv. 7, ' Thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy 
hand from thy poor brother.' 

2dly. The censure and charge pronounced on us, ' Whosoever they 
be ; ' where mark — 

(1.) The form of proposal ; it is by way of question or appeal to 
common reason. Can any man be so absurd as to imagine that this man 
can have the love of God in him? 

(2.) The heinousness of the crime or matter charged, ' The love of 
God dwelleth not in him ; ' that is, is not rooted in his heart, and so he 
must go for a hypocrite ; though not grossly dissembling Christianity, 
yet guilty of partial obedience. Mark, it is not said, How dwelleth the 
love of the brethren in him ? but 'How dwelleth the love of God in him ? ' 
Though they pretend to love God, yet indeed they neither love the 
brethren nor God. 

Secondly, The exhortation to sincerity, ' My little children, let us not 
love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth/ In this 
exhortation there is — 

1. The compellation, ' My little children,' pressing love ; he showeth 
love and tenderness towards them. 

2. The matter of the exhortation, to sincerity of love, expressed — 
First, Negatively, ' Not in word and in tongue.' To show love in 

word and tongue is not simply forbidden, but respectively \ not simply, 
for good words are useful in two cases — 

[1.] To comfort the miserable, they have their use. 

[2.] To maintain their innocency. Some cannot afford their brother 
a good word, either of him or to him. Others, their hands are withered, 
have not a heart to help him. But comparatively or respectively the 
meaning is, when it is in word and tongue only ; and real and actual 
doing good is neglected or excluded when we rest in good words. 

Secondly, Positively, ' But in deed and in truth ; ' that is, so as the 
uprightness of our hearts may be manifested by real deeds, or doing 
good, when the needs of others require it. To love in ' deed and in 
truth,' is to love sincerely : 1 Peter i. 22. ' Seeing ye have purified 

VOL. xxi. K 


your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love 
of the brethren.' Which must be understood of ends and effects. 

1. Ends, spoken of Mat. vi. 1,2,' Take heed that you do not your 
alms before men, to be seen of them ; otherwise ye have no reward of 
your Father which is in heaven. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, 
do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the 
synagogues and in the streets, to be seen of men.' All they did was 
hypocrisy, ' to be seen of men.' 

2. Effects, when words are dissembled : Prov. xxiii. 7, ' Eat and 
drink, saith he, but his heart is not with thee.' When not seconded 
and verified with suitable acts, ' Be warmed and clothed ; ' as here many 
foolishly and causelessly boasted they loved the brethren, but they would 
do nothing for them. They boasted of love with their mouths, but 
would not show it by the effects. 

Doct. That want of bowels of compassion, or denying relief to the 
needy and indigent, is the note of a man that loveth not God. 

I shall make good the point by these considerations — 

1. That it is the will of God that there should be a difference among 
men, that some should be rich, others poor, some high, some low : Deut. 
xv. 11, ' For the poor shall never cease out of the land : Therefore I 
command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, 
to the poor and needy in the land.' Though God is able abundantly 
to supply all men's wants, yet he hath by his providence so appointed 
and ordered men's outward condition in the world, that all should not 
be rich and wealthy, but some poor and of mean estate ; as here in the 
text, one brother is supposed to have this world's goods, and the other 
to have want and need. So also Mark xiv. 7, ' Ye have the poor with 
you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do good to them.' God's 
wisdom doth appear most in the different degrees and estates of men. 
As it is with respect to the world, for the beauty and service of the 
universe, that there should be in the world hills and valleys, so in the 
world of mankind there are superiors and inferiors, masters and servants, 
rich and poor, nobles and craftsmen. First, It is for the good of human 
society, the more firmly to tie men together. The poor need support, 
succour, and relief from the rich, and the rich need the labours and 
industry of the poor. Different degrees fit men for different callings, 
for service and command ; some things would be wanting to the good 
of mankind, if all were poor or all rich. Therefore God's way is not 
parity and levelling, but diversity of ranks and degrees. Secondly, 
Besides the necessities of man, God doth it with respect to his own 
government, in order to the world to come ; for the trial of men's obedi 
ence is better made thereby. 

[1.] The trial of the rick 

(1.) Their thankfulness to God. God might have laid them low as 
well as others. If they abuse their high estate to pride and oppression, 
they tax the wisdom of the great governor of the world, and are un 
thankful to him : Prov. xxii. 2, ' The rich and the poor meet together, 
the Lord is the maker of them both ; ' that is, God is the moderator 
and disposer of each man's estate. One by God is largely furnished 
with temporal good things, whether they come to him by right of in 
heritance, or free gift, or honest labour, it is all from God ; the other 

VER. 17, 18.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 147 

is kept bare, and under pressing necessities, either by the calamities of 
the times, or defect of means, or miscarriage of instruments, or by some 
sudden blast and disappointment of God's providence. Now these meet 
together in the same world, in the same kingdom, and the same town 
or city, and they have often business to do one with another, and have 
need one of another. If the rich carry it imperiously to the poor, or 
the poor enviously to the rich, they pervert God's government, do not 
observe the duties which God expecteth from them in their several 
conditions of life. Well, then, it is but in poor perishing riches that 
we differ one from another, and we must all stand before our judge to 
give an account how we have behaved ourselves in either state : Prov. 
xvii. 5, ' Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his maker.' He that 
despiseth the poor carrieth himself haughtily, contemptuously, he 
forgetteth who maketh him to differ, and who it is that casteth the 
world into this order, lifting you up and keeping down others; he 
might have laid you low as well as others, you might have been born 
of mean parents as well as rich. 

(2.) To try their sympathy and humanity. Poverty and other 
miseries will not be wanting among the children of men, that the rich 
may have occasion to exercise their charity, and love, and compassion 
to their poor brethren ; as the great veins are filled with blood to 
supply the lesser. And indeed human nature hath nothing better nor 
greater than a heart and power to help the miserable : Acts xx. 35, 
as our Lord said, ' It is a more blessed thing to give than to receive.' 
Where did our Lord say so ? Christ in all his sayings hath often com 
mended giving, but never receiving. But it is blessed because it 
comes nearer to the nature of God, who giveth to all, but receiveth 
of none ; it cometh nearer to the goodness of God to have a heart to 
give, and the happiness of God to have a power to give. Now thus 
will God try the duty of the rich and opulent. 

[2.] For the poor, they are upon their trial too, for the trial of their 
patience, humility, self-denial, dependence upon God. In the meanest 
station we may do service to Christ. In a concert of voices it is no 
matter what part a man sings, provided he sings well, treble, mean, 
or bass. God appointeth to every man his condition ; if he carry it 
Avell, he is accepted with God. Grace puts both upon the same level : 
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.' The poor man is not to be sad and 
dejected if God hath put him into a low condition ; but to be well 
pleased with it, as it giveth him advantages of submission to and trust 
in God more explicit ; and living by faith, which in a more plentiful 
condition is obscure and hard to be found. Thus God hath called him 
to a glorious estate of grace, though mean and low in the world ; and 
he who hath riches and honour, and all commodities in this life, is to 
rejoice that he hath a humble heart, doth not lift up himself above others, 
being mindful of the changeableness of the tilings of this world; so that 
grace cureth the inordinacies of either condition : ' Poor in spirit,' Mat. 
v. 3 ; reconcilable to a low estate. 

2. That when others' necessities are presented to us, it is a call from 
God to exercise our love and charity towards them. If he seeth h.is 
brother hath need. Affirmativa non licjant ad semper; positive duties 


have their proper season, and in their season they bind : ' As we have 
opportunity, let us do good to all men,' Gal. vi. 10. Now one season is 
when God layeth the object before us, and their case is brought to us 
by sight or hearing : Isa. Iviii. 7, ' When thou seest the naked that thou 
cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.' We 
are to search out the hungry and needy ; but more especially when 
God presenteth them to us, we must not turn away the face, as refusing 
to see or own or to take notice of him : Job xxxi. 19, ' If I have seen 
any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering ; ' ready 
to starve for want of meat, or perish for want of clothing. When God 
layeth them in our view, or bringeth the notice of them to our hearing, 
surely then their necessity calleth for our charity, and it is hardness of 
heart and mercilessness not to be affected with it. The contrary is 
represented in the rich man, when the poor man lay at his gate, Luke 
xvi. 20 ; though he fared deliciously every day, yet the crumbs of the 
table were not given him. Therefore consider we live in a time of 
wants, and distresses are multiplied, war, fire, decay of trade ; many 
feel the sad effects of it. If you be not ready to relieve and help them 
to your power, how will you answer it to God in the day of your ac 
counts ? It is made a heavy charge, Job xxii. 7, ' Thou hast not given 
water to the weary to drink, thou hast withholden bread from the 
hungry.' Eliphaz falsely accused Job of unmercifulness and sinful 
parsimony ; but when God doth justly accuse of these things, what shall 
we answer ? God doth try us by daily objects of charity and compas 
sion. If we do not help them, we omit a duty in its season ; when we 
meet with convenient objects, this grace must be exercised. 

3. This ought the more to move us, if the necessitous be our Chris 
tian brethren, for it is in the text, ' seeth his brother hath need.' We 
ought to do good to all sorts who are real objects of our charity. The 
necessitous in general should be more welcome to us than the rich who 
may requite us ; for then we make a market of our kindness and 
courtesy, if kind only to the opulent and the wealthy. No ; our 
sweetest influences should fall on the lower grounds. The fashion of 
the world is to be obsequious to a degree of servitude, to the mighty, 
the noble, the rich ; as all waters run into the sea, where there is enough 
already. We must do good to all that need, but chiefly to the brethren 
our fellow-christians : Kom. xii. 13, ' Distributing to the necessities of 
the saints/ There are pauperes diaboli, the devil's poor, those that 
have wasted their estates by luxury and prodigality ; and pauperes 
mundi, the world's poor, those that are reduced to poverty by the acci 
dents of the present life ; and pauperes Christi, such as fear God, who 
are in a straitened condition. The rule is, Gal. vi. 10, ' Do good to all, 
especially to the household of faith.' To all the wicked, our enemies 
not excepted, in their necessities. But then the members of God's 
family and household are in an especial manner obliged to love one 
another, and to be beneficial to one another under their necessities and 
straits, into which God doth often suffer those of his family to fall for 
their good, if they profess the same faith with us, and do evidence the 
reality of the same faith by a holy life and conversation ; for this is a 
closer relation than to be fellow-citizens of the world, fellow-servants, 
or brethren in the family. 

VER. 17, 18.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 149 

4. That we should show bowels of compassion and tenderness to 
wards others in their distress, for in the text it is, ' If he shut up his 
bowels of compassion from him.' There must be an inward affection 
and disposition accompanying and going along with the outward act 
of beneficence, and whatsoever is done must be done cordially and com 
passionately, that the heart may ever accompany the gift : Ps. xxxvii. 
21, ' The righteous showeth mercy and giveth.' To be spectators of 
the miseries of others, and not to be affected with them, argueth a 
marble heart and iron sinews : Isa. Iviii. 10, ' If thou draw out thy 
heart to the hungry.' It must be done freely, liberally, and compas 
sionately: Eph. iv. 32, 'Be kind to one another, tender-hearted.' 
Tender-heartedness, that is, commiseration, must go along with our 
kindness, as really pitying their misery as if it were our own. 

5. Though charity begin in the heart, it must not cease there. God 
requireth the heart, but not for the heart, that it may terminate there. 
But with respect to these acts of mercy wherewith God is delighted, 
three things are required — (1.) Love and pity on their wants ; that 
must be in the hear.t ; (2.) Kind expressions on the tongue ; (3.) Then 
bountiful acts for their relief. So that there are these three things, 
the motion of the heart, the expression by the words, and effectual 
performance. Without the last all else is but counterfeit. The root 
of charity is a proneness or good-will to help others, but that lietli 
underground and out of sight. Unless it appear in visible fruits, we 
cannot tell whether we have it, yea or no. Suppose it appear in good 
words, they are but as leaves, and we count that a barren tree that 
bringeth forth nothing but leaves. Not in word and tongue only, 
but the fruit abounding to our account is the work itself. Therefore 
though God expecteth bowels, yet bowels must put us upon some 
further act, but that act is not words. God will not be paid with words 
instead of things ; but God expecteth that we should freely impart 
what we have and can do for our neighbours' good, as well as wish 
well and speak well to them. Love must show itself forth, and that 
not in speech only but in deed ; otherwise we only seek to cover a false 

6. To withhold and deny this relief argueth a defect and want, not 
only of love to our neighbour, but to God, ' How dwelleth the love of 
God in him ? ' 

[1.] Because the love of God and his children are inseparable, they 
are necessary branches of the same law : Mat. xxii. 38, 39, ' This is 
the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ; ' 1 John v. 1, ' Whosoever 
believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God ; and every one that 
loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.' 
Therefore we cannot love God if we do not love our brother. The 
same law that requireth the one requireth the other ; the same grace 
that inclineth to the one inclineth to the other ; the same reason that 
enforceth the one enforces the other. God for his own sake, and his 
children for God's sake, because somewhat of the divine nature and 
excellency of God is in them ; they are 'the excellent of the earth,' 
Ps. xvi. 3. A deep sense of God's love to us begets love in us to God 
again ; therefore we love God, and everything that belongeth to God. 


[2.] It must needs be so, for love to God doth formally contain or 
naturally produce this love to our brethren. 

(1.) It doth formally contain it ; for our love to God is not a fond 
affection or fellow-like familiarity, but is seen in our profession of real 
respect ; which is manifested in imitation, obedience and esteem. 

(ls£) Imitation ; for love doth imply such a value and esteem of 
God, that we count it our happiness to be like him, and the truest 
respect and affection which we can have to him is to write after his 
copy, and to study to resemble our Father. Surely they cannot be 
said to love God who do not imitate him, are not merciful as their 
heavenly Father is merciful, Luke vi. 36. Now God openeth his hand, 
and satisfieth the wants and desires of the needy and indigent. Do 
we love God, and count this a perfection in God ? Surely then the 
impression of it should be on our hearts. I would not have you pass 
over this lightly, that the truest love of God lieth in imitation of him. 
If the great demonstration of God's love to us be to make us like him 
self, surely then the more like him the more we love him, 1 John iii. 
2 ; for our love answereth his love to us, as the impression doth the 
stamp or seal. Or if the greatest aim of the creature and the highest 
expression of our love to God be conformity to him now, so it is when 
love is most perfect ; it doth most delight itself in likeness to God : 
Ps. xvii. 15, ' As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness : I 
shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.' 

(2d.) Obedience to him, for his love is a love of bounty, ours is a 
love of duty : 1 John v. 3, ' This is love, that we keep his command 
ments ; ' John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my commandments and keepeth 
them, he it is that loveth me.' Surely he doth not. lovs God that 
doth not obey him, and acteth so contrary to his commands, which 
call everywhere for charity and mercy to the bodies and souls of 
men, which is so pleasing to God: Heb. xiii. 16, 'But to do good, 
and to communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well 

(3d.) Love is seen in an esteem or transcendental respect of God, a 
respect to God above all other things. Now he that shutteth up his 
bowels from his brother in necessity doth not love God above all, for 
there is something he valueth above him, and is loath to part with for 
his sake, and that is this world's goods : 1 John ii. 19, 'Love not the 
world, neither the things that are in the world ; if any man love the 
world, the love of the Father is not in him.' Now it is gross love of 
.the world not to part with this world's goods when God calleth for 
them. Whosoever loves God valueth God's favour above all other 
things, and counts himself happy enough in the enjoyment of God, 
whatever he loseth for it or parts with for it : Ps. iv. 6, 7, ' Who will 
show us any good ? Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance. Thou 
hast put gladness into my heart, more than in the time when their corn 
and wine increased ; ' Ps. Ixxiii. 25, ' Whom have I in heaven but 
thee ? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.' He 
that will not, at God's instance and command, part with these things, 
the poor inconsiderable trifles of this world, he preferreth the world 
before the enjoyment of God and the favour of God. 

(2.) It doth naturally produce it, partly by looking to what is past, 

VER. 17, 18.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 151 

and partly to what is to come. The one is gratitude, the other is 

(ls£) Thankfulness for what is past ; he hath done so much for us, 
that we should be willing to part with anything for his sake. There 
fore when the apostle would have them prove the sincerity of their love, 
2 Cor. viii. 9, he argueth, ' Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, that when he was rich, for your sakes he became poor, that 
through his poverty you may be rich.' If we have a grateful sense of 
his wonderful mercy, we will be ready to make some return of affection 
to God. But you will say, How is charity to the poor any return of 
love to God ? Am. What you do at his instance and command, you 
do to God and for God's sake. Now God commandeth this, and he 
hath devolved our respects to him on the poor and indigent. God 
taketh it as done to himself if done to them : Mat. xxv. 40, 45, ' Verily 
I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of 
these my brethren, you have done it unto me/ And the apostle teach- 
etli us that we show love to his name when we minister to the saints, 
Heb. vi. 10. He taketh it as an expression of kindness and thankfulness 
to himself, which is given to his servants. 

(2d) Trust. Love looketh to what is to come. Surely he that 
loveth God trusts him, for the graces are connected. Now none trust 
God that count their estates safer in their own hands than God's, that 
will venture nothing on his promises : Prov. xix. 17, ' He that hath 
pity on the poor lendeth to the Lord, and that which he hath given 
will he pay him back again.' God will be our paymaster : Eccles. xi. 
1, ' Cast thy bread upon the waters, and after many days thou shalt 
receive it ; ' Ps. xxxvii. 26, ' He is merciful and lendeth, and his seed 
is blessed.' God will return it to us or ours, in this life or the next. 
We have a friendly confidence and good opinion of God ; we dare 
take his word, being persuaded that he is able and willing to requite 
us ; but they that shut up their bowels show they have little value for 
God's word, and do suspect his goodness and truth, which is not con 
sistent with love. You will adventure nothing in his hands, and then 
can you say you love him ? 

Use 1. Information. 

1. That if we would get readiness of mind to help and relieve others 
in their necessities, we should increase our love to God ; for the shutting 
up of our bowels is made not so much a defect or want of love to our 
neighbour, as want of love to God. If you did love God more, you 
would love the poorest of God's children, and the meanest of your 
brethren for his sake ; and love will easily persuade you to do them 
good. If there were less of the love of the world, and more of the 
love of God, then it were no great matter to part with this world's 
goods for another's benefit and relief. We have lessening thoughts of 
God, and too high thoughts of the world, when we shut up our bowels 
from the necessities of our poor brethren. 

2. That we should not reckon our love to God by deceitful evidences, 
not by bare outward profession of the true religion : James i. 27, ' Pure 
religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is to visit the father 
less and widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from 
the world/ All other religion hath an evil that is in it, a spot of the 


world on it ; but Christ's religion is purity and charity, not by gifts 
and utterance : 2 Cor. viii. 7, ' Therefore as ye abound in everything, in 
faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love 
to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.' Again, you must not only 
mind acts of piety, but charity : Mat. ix. 13, ' Go learn what that mean- 
eth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice.' To sacrifice is to serve God, 
but to show mercy is to be like God. Now conformity to God is more 
than any particular act of external obedience to him ; as mercy is pre 
ferred before sacrifice, so before the external observation of the sab 
bath. Yea, mercy not only to the souls, but bodies of men ; yea, not 
to men only, but to beasts, as to help a beast out of the pit : Mat. xii. 11, 
12, ' What man shall there be among you that shall have one sheep, 
and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it, and 
lift it out ? How much then is a man better than a sheep ? wherefore 
it is lawful to do well on the sabbath-day.' It is more than gospel ex 
ternals of worship, as hearing the word and prayer, comparing external 
acts with external acts : Luke xiii. 26, ' We have eaten and drank in 
thy presence, and have been taught in our streets ; but he shall say 
unto you, I know you not.' More excellent than gifts of the gospel ; 
the gifts of tongues and healing were glorious things : 1 Cor. xii. 
28-31, ' After that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, 
diversities of tongues. Are all prophets ? are all workers? have all the 
gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues ? do all interpret? But 
covet earnestly the best gifts ; but I show you a more excellent way.' 
I cannot say it is above the graces of the gospel, faith, and hope, 
and love to God, yet these are but pretended without it : 1 John iv. 20, 
4 If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar ; for 
he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God 
whom he hath not seen ? ' 1 Tim. v. 8, ' If any man provide not for 
his own, especially those of his own house, he hath denied the faith.' 

3. It showeth us the compassionate nature of God, since he so strictly 
enforceth compassion in others. We know God's nature by his laws 
as well as his works. Now when he that placed so much weight on 
this, that he will not own any love in them to himself without it, surely 
our God will not shut up his bowels in our destitute and low condition. 
It is one of his names, 2 Cor. vii. 6, ' God that comforteth those that are 
cast down.' 

Use 2. Is to exhort us — 

1. To show compassion to those in necessity. 

2. To show it not in word or tongue only, but in real kindness. 

1. To persuade you to mercifulness and charity. A cheap profession 
of the name of Christ will do you no good ; that which costs nothing is 
worth nothing. To quicken you — 

[1.] Without it you cannot show your thankfulness to God. Alms 
is your thank-offering : Heb. xiii. 16, ' But to do good and to communi 
cate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.' God 
showeth his love to us in the great sin-offering, we to God in this thank- 

[2.] Consider the many promises made to it : Mat. v. 7, ' Blessed 
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.' Compassion to others 
giveth us hope and confidence of the Lord's mercy to us, which is a 

VER. 17, 18.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 153 

great encouragement; for we stand in need of the daily mercy of 
God : Prov. xxi. 18, ' Whoso stoppeth his ear at the cry of the poor, he 
also shall cry himself, and shall not be heard ; ' if not by men, not by 

[3.] Consider what mercy Christ hath showed to you. Christ's 
kindness should enkindle the bowels of compassion in us ; he showed 
compassion to you at the dearest rates, and loved us unto death ; and 
will you not be at some expense in your love to the brethren ? 

[4.] How comfortable it is for the present: Prov. xi. 17, ' The mer 
ciful man doeth good to his own soul ; he also refresheth the souls of 
others.' See the verse next the text, ' And hereby we know that we 
are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.' This will 
yield you a great deal of comfort, as any other fruit of faith or act of 

[5.] This will make your reckoning more comfortable hereafter : 
Luke xi. 41, ' Give alms of such things as you have, and behold all 
things shall be clean ; ' Mat. xxv. 35-40, ' For I was an hungry, 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 hungry, 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 did it to one 
of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' These 
will be the inquiries at the day of judgment ; acts of self-denying 
obedience must justify and evidence our qualification when it cometh 
to be judged. 

2. To press you to real kindness. To quicken you consider — 

[1.] God's love towards Christians is a hearty real love ; he not only 
loved us, but gave us the proof in the fruits and effects of it : Rom. v. 
8, ' Herein God commended his love, in that, when we were sinners, 
Christ died for us.' 

[2.] At the last day we shall be judged, not for our words only, but 
by our works : Rev. xx. 12, ' And I saw the dead, small and great, stand 
before God ; and the books were opened, and another book was opened, 
which is the book of life ; and the dead were judged out of those things 
which were written in the books, according to their works.' These 
will be the questions at the last day, Have you visited ? have you fed ? 
have you clothed? 

[3.] Lip-love will neither do thee good, nor thy brother good. Not 
thee good ; in no other grace and duty are words taken for performance, 
so not in this. Not in the general : many say they have a love to the 
brethren, but when it cometh to the trial wherein it is evidenced, there 
is no such thing. There is a great deal of tongue-kindness abroad ; 
men seem to be all made up of love ; they boast they love the brethren, 
but never demonstrate it by any real effect ; like the carbuncle, 
which at a distance seemeth to be all afire, but come to touch it, and 
it is key-cold. In this particular expression of love, mouth-mercy, or 
giving good words to him that needeth, The Lord help you, without 


actual relief, is nothing worth ; so doth not thy brother any good : James 
ii. 15, 16, ' If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 
and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and be 
you filled ; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are 
needful to the body, what doth it profit ? ' 

[4.] To dissemble in anything maketh our sincerity in the main ques 
tionable ; the man that contents himself with words in charity will con 
tent himself with a cold dead assent in point of faith, and a cold pro 
fession instead of thorough obedience ; with the talk of virtue and 
godliness when he hath it not. A fruitless love and a cold assent that 
produce no obedience are near akin, and both are little worth. Many 
would not dissemble with God, but do they love men, not in word or 
tongue only, but in deed and in truth ? 


And hereby we knoiv that we are of the truth, and shall assure our 
hearts before him. — 1 JOHN iii. 19. 

THE words contain a motive to quicken us to love the brethren, not in 
word or tongue only, but in deed and in truth. The motive is taken 
from the fruit and benefit, which is — (1.) Propounded ; (2.) Amplified. 
First, Propounded, ' Hereby we know that we are of the truth.' To 
be of the truth hath a double notion in scripture. 

1. To profess the true religion : John xviii. 37, 'Every one that is 
of the truth heareth my voice ; ' that is, owneth the true religion ; he 
rightly understands and believes the truth of the gospel. 

2. To be sincere and true in that religion, and to live accordingly. 
There are some Christians that are only so in show and semblance, or 
count themselves Christians, but are not ; but these are truly born of 
God, and such as they profess themselves to be, ' disciples indeed/ 
John viii. 31 ; sincere, and not hypocrites. 

Secondly, Amplified, 'And shall assure our hearts before him.' 
Where — 

1. The effect and fruit of knowing that we are of the truth ; we 
'shall assure our hearts.' 

2. The strength of this confidence, ' Before him.' 

1. For the effect itself, ' persuade our hearts ; ' so the margin and 
other translations. By confidence in God we shall quiet and still our 
consciences ; so that the notion here is, we shall have our hearts secure 
and confident. A soul conscious of sin raiseth doubts and fears, that 
when our qualification is evident, we are perfect as to the conscience, 
Heb. ix. 9. The word is so taken elsewhere : Mat. xxviii. 14, ' We 
will persuade him, and secure you ; ' that is, pacify the governor, and 
keep you from punishment. So here it signifieth to render our hearts 
peaceable and quiet. 

2. The strength of this confidence, ' Before him.' We are said to 
be before him three ways — 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 155 

[1.] In our ordinary conversation: Gen. xvii. 1, 'Walk before me, 
and be thou upright.' In this sense it signifieth our walking before 
him in a holy peace and security, by being good and doing good ; for 
this is the evidence whereby we assure ourselves that we are the true 
children of God : Mat. v. 45, ' That ye may be children of your Father 
which is in heaven." 

[2.] When we come before him in prayer and other holy duties : 
ver. 21, 22, 'We have confidence towards God, and whatsoever we ask 
in his name shall be given us/ Which signifieth a confidence in our 
prayer to him. 

[3.] We come before him at the day of judgment ; when we stand 
before his tribunal, our hope will not leave us ashamed. We are not 
afraid of being convinced of any h} r pocrisy, or not observing or break 
ing the conditions of the new covenant : 1 John ii. 28, ' That we may 
have confidence, and not be ashamed before him ; ' 1 John iv. 17, 
' That we may have boldness in the day of judgment.' So that hereby 
appeareth the strength of that confidence which we have by the 
exercise of a holy charity, or love to God and his people ; and though 
the thoughts of the just and holy God stirreth up all our fears, yet we 
may walk comfortably with him, and draw nigh to him in holy duties 
with more cheerfulness, and finally appear before him with boldness 
in the day of our accounts. 

Doct. That graces really and soundly exercised breed in us assurance 
of our good condition before God. 

The point will be made good by these considerations. 

1. That none are in a good condition but those who are adopted 
and taken into God's family, and made heirs of eternal life and happi 
ness. Our minds cannot be quieted by anything but a persuasion 
that God loveth us as his children ; this is the whole business of the 
context : ver. 1, 2, and 9, 10, ' Behold what manner of love the Father 
hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God ! 
Beloved, now are we the sons of God ; and it doth not yet appear what 
we shall be : but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like 
him, for we shall see him as he is. Whosoever is born of God sinneth 
not, for his seed remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is 
born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the 
children of the devil : whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, 
neither he that hateth his brother.' Get that persuasion, and all the 
controversy between God and us is at an end. And the reason is clear ; 
he that taketh God for a judge can never be soundly satisfied and live 
in peace ; but he that taketh God for a Father needeth not fear to 
come into his presence. There is no safety but in God's family, and 
no security there but by being God's children. The great business of 
the Spirit with our consciences is to clear up this to us : Rom. viii. 15, 
26, ' For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but 
we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities ; for we know not 
what we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit itself rnaketh 
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered ; ' Gal. iv. 
6, ' And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son 
into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father ; ' Eph. i. 13, 14, ' In whom ye 


also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your sal 
vation : in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the 
Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until 
the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his 
glory.' The great business of our Redeemer was to purchase this 
privilege for us : Gal. iv. 5, ' To redeem them that were under the 
law, that we might receive the adoption of sons ; ' John viii. 36, ' If 
the Son therefore shall make you free, then are you free indeed.' The 
great privilege we have by baptism as a sign, by faith as giving us 
the reality : Gal. iii. 26, 27, ' For ye are the children of God by faith, 
in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized into 
Christ have put on Christ.' The church of the new testament, as to 
her outward estate, is an estate of sonship or adoption, and the truly 
godly have the real effect of it ; they have the dignity, privilege and 
right which does belong to the children of God : John i. 12, ' To as 
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of 

2. We must cherish no confidence of our adoption but what will 
hold good before God ; for it is said, we must assure our hearts before 
him. The law which we have broken, and which condemneth us, is 
the law of God ; the wrath and punishment which we fear and have 
deserved is the wrath of God ; that which is the true proper matter 
of our joy, peace, and comfort is the favour of God ; and the family into 
which we are admitted is the family of God, and the presence into 
which we come is the presence of God, and the glory which we expect 
is the glory of God ; the punishment which we must undergo, and 
must determine our final estate, is the judgment of God. He is the 
supreme judge, at whose sentence we must stand or fall; therefore to 
him we must approve ourselves, and before him must be able to defend 
our claim, and maintain our confidence. It is easy to make good our 
plea before men, but not so before God. Take all the senses before 
explicated. We are before him in our ordinary conversation. Sincere 
though imperfect sanctification is a righteousness that will hold out 
before God, and will be graciously accepted by him : Luke i. 74, 75, 
' That we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness 
before him all the days of our life.' A Christian should cheerfully 
serve God in a faithful discharge of all duties towards God and towards 
men, as remembering that he is always in his sight, as the witness, 
judge, and observer of all his actions ; therefore we must still ' labour 
that, whether present or absent, we approve ourselves to him, and be 
accepted of him,' 2 Cor. v. 9. This will be matter of comfort to us : 
2 Cor. i. 12, ' But our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, 
that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our conversations 
in the world.' And partly in your prayers. Our legal fears are re 
vived by the presence of God. Cain had his guilty fears ; so shall we 
unless we be sincere ; so the righteous are as bold as a lion : 1 John 
iii. 21, ' If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards 
God.' When our hearts do not condemn us of any insincere walking, 
then we have confidence ; otherwise we are shy of the presence of God, 
as David when he had sinned hung off from the throne of grace : 
Ps. xxxii. 3, 'When I kept silence, my bones waxed old.' And Adam 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 157 

when he had sinned ran to the bushes. They that walk crookedly 
crack and break their own confidence, and cannot look God in the face 
with any comfort ; whereas others can come to him as children to 
their father. And partly as it importeth our appearance before him 
in the day of our accounts. The sincere have a confidence that will 
hold out then, as appeareth by their constant and steady cheerfulness, 
when they most mind his judgment : ' The sinners in Zion are afraid, 
Tearfulness hath surprised the hypocrite/ Isa. xxxiii. 14. Pinching 
weather maketh the unsound feel their aches and bruises, so a time of 
eminent judgments is grievous to them ; but. it is otherwise with the 
upright, who are emboldened by a good conscience, and a sense of 
their own integrity : Ps. cxii. 4, ' Unto the upright there ariseth light 
in darkness.' Not only after, but in darkness ; they have great comfort 
in their greatest perplexities ; yea, when God summoneth them into 
his immediate presence : 2 Kings xx. 3, ' Lord, thou knowest that I 
have walked before thee with a true and perfect heart.' Hezekiah was 
then arrested with the sentence of death. A Christian can look death 
in the face with cheerfulness, and comfortably review his past life, 
when hypocrites vomit up their own shame. Yet the sincere, though 
conscious to themselves of many infirmities, have made it their busi 
ness to honour and please God. 

3. Before God no confidence will hold good but what is founded in 
the double righteousness of justification and sanctification ; they are 
inseparable, and go together in the dispensation of the new covenant : 
1 Cor. vi. 11, ' And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye 
are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and 
by the Spirit of our God ; ' 1 Cor. i. 30, ' But of him are ye in Christ 
Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanc 
tification and redemption.' Both are necessary, and have an influence 
upon our comfort and peace, and confidence towards God. The necessity 
of them appeareth with respect to both covenants. The first covenant, 
the confidence which we would cherish is checked and choked by this 
objection, Thou art a sinner, and God will not respect sinners. We 
answer it from the righteousness of justification ; Christ died to reconcile 
sinners to God. Or thus, Thou art not a sincere disciple of Christ ; 
to this we oppose the testimony of our conscience, ' The Holy Ghost 
bearing witness therewith concerning our sincerity.' The first is the 
primary righteousness, and necessary for the appeasing of God's wrath ; 
the other is secondary and subordinate, for the clearing up of our right 
and claim. The righteousness of Christ or of justification procureth 
the blessings of the new covenant for us ; the other assureth 
them to us. The first is the ground of our favourable acceptance 
with God, the second is the secondary condition and evidence of 
it. The ground and foundation of our favourable acceptance with 
God is Christ's merit, mediation, and righteousness, apprehended 
by faith ; but the evidence is our sincere walking, otherwise no 
certainty. In short, there having been a breach between us and God, 
our atonement must be made. So 'God was in Christ reconciling 
the world to himself/ 2 Cor. v. 19. There was the foundation laid 
for our acceptance with God; as in ver. 21, 'He was made sin for 
us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of 


God in him.' Now it is not enough that the atonement be made, 
but the atonement must be received ; that breedeth solid peace, Rom. 
v. 11 ; and it is conveyed and applied by the Spirit on God's part, by 
faith on ours, Rom. v. 1 ; then the atonement is received. There need 
also sure signs to persuade the conscience of the reality of the applica 
tion, and to make our right more full and certain, and that we are in 
favour with God, which cannot be otherwise than by the sincerity of 
our love to God and men, Gal. v. 6. Clear that once, and you may 
persuade and assure your hearts before him. To conclude, both the 
righteousness of justification and sane tification is a righteousness before 
him. Of justification there is no doubt but it is a righteousness before 
him, there is no appearing before God without it: Phil. iii. 9, 'And be 
found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, 
but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which 
is of God by faith ; ' Ps. cxliii. 2, ' Enter not into judgment with thy 
servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.' It is true 
also in its use and office, of the righteousness of sanctification. If it 
be sincere, though imperfect, it is a righteousness that will hold out 
before God, and will be graciously accepted by him : Luke i. 6, ' They 
were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments 
blameless/ Though our guilty fears are mainly allayed by the applica 
tion of the blood of Jesus Christ, as the ground and meritorious cause 
of our acceptance with God, and the only plea that we have against 
the charge produced from the first covenant, yet the righteousness of 
sanctification is at least an evidence, and confirmeth our justification 
by faith, and strengtheneth our plea according to the second covenant. 
4. The righteousness of sanctification, which will stand before God, 
consisteth in our sincerity : ' If we be of the truth, we may assure our 
hearts before him ; ' so it is in the text, ' We are of the truth, and 
assure our hearts before him.' What is it to be of the truth ? The 
truth is the gospel, called ' the word of truth,' Eph. i. 13, John xvii. 
17. He is of the truth that understandeth and believeth this doctrine, 
called knowing the truth and acknowledging the truth, often spoken 
of in the scripture, 2 John 1,2, 2 Tim. ii. 25 ; and feeleth the force 
and efficacy of it in his own heart : James i. 18, ' Of his own will begat 
he us, of the word of truth;' John viii. 32, 'And ye shall know the 
truth, and the truth shall make you free.' And then expresseth the 
fruits of it in the course of his life, called ' walking in the truth,' 2 John 
4, and 3 John 3, 4, ' I rejoiced greatly when the brethren came and 
testified of the truth which is in thee, even as thou walkest in the 
truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in 
the truth;' namely, as they follow the right way, and are true disciples 
of Christ. Well, then, sincerity of obedience is our grand evidence 
and qualification. The first covenant required innocency or unsinning 
obedience, the second uprightness or sincere obedience : Gen. xvii. 1, 
' Walk before me, and be thou perfect ; ' Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, ' Blessed is 
he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is 
the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose 
spirit there is no guile.' The covenant which granteth and alloweth 
pardon of sins alloweth also sincerity as our qualification. The old 
covenant bringeth all things to the balance, the new to the touchstone; 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 159 

there our graces were weighed, here tried. Now if the best of us were 
put into the balance of the sanctuary, we should be found wanting as 
to matter or manner and principle or aim, and then who could be saved? 
But now all the blessings of God's family are entitled to the upright : 
Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' God is a sun and a shield, and grace and glory will 
he give ; and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk 
uprightly.' This scripture containeth an epitome or abridgment of the 
covenant of grace ; the good things there are expressed metaphorically 
and literally. Metaphorically he is a sun and a shield ; blessings 
privative and positive ; a sun, the fountain of all good ; a shield to keep 
off all evil or danger ; provision and protection. The one term is more 
verified in this life, the other in the world to come. Literally all spiri 
tual good things come under the name of grace, eternal good things 
under the name of glory ; no temporal good thing will he withhold : 
Ps. xxxiv. 9, ' There is no want to them that fear him.' But here who 
are the qualified parties ? The sincere, who are the Lord's delight ; 
the sincere in faith, the sincere in love, the sincere in obedience ; those 
who are what they seem to be, and profess to be ; these are the capable 
subjects of grace and glory, to whom God will be a sun and a shield, 
and to whom God will deny no good thing. 

5. It is no easy matter to make out our sincerity, or to establish a 
solid peace and comfort in the soul. This I gather from the word 
' assure,' or 'shall persuade.' There needeth much arguing and debat 
ing the matter in the court of conscience, and we need sure signs to 
persuade us ; the conscience of sin is not easily laid aside. Shyness and 
stupidness may quiet us for a while, but a solid and durable joy needeth 
a good evidence and warrant. When we have no sense of sin and 
danger on our hearts, it is easy to leap into a false peace, but an awak 
ened and sensible sinner is not so easily nor so soon established ; for 
the upright are prone to self-accusings, for their rule is exact, and 
grace and love would fain do more for God ; and grace in the best is 
but weak and small, and the remainders of sin so great, active, and 
troublesome, and the operations of man's soul so various, confused, and 
dark, and they see so many mistakes, and the children of the devil so 
often entitle themselves to God, John viii. 44. And frequent afflictions 
do also very often awaken in them a sense of sin, and all the reasonings 
of their minds will not still and quiet their consciences, so that the Lord 
is forced to come in by powerful and authoritative acts of grace, and in an 
imperial and Godlike manner to silence those doubts, and secure and 
settle a sense of his love upon our hearts : Ps. xlii. 7, 8, ' Deep calleth 
unto deep at the noise of thy water-spouts ; all thy waves and thy 
billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his loving- 
kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me, 
and my prayer unto the God of my life.' Ordinarily we have a good 
measure of grace before we can discern the truth of it. A working 
faith, a laborious and fervent love, and a lively hope cannot lie idle. 

6. Though it be difficult to make out our sincerity, yet graces really, 
constantly, and self-clenyingly exercised, will or may evidence it to us, 
or that the heart is sound in God's statutes, Ps. cxix. 80. Surely 
where grace is deeply rooted, and hath a predominant influence over 
our actions, so as it can countermand contrary desires and inclinations, 


there the heart is sound and upright with God. Now where this is found, 
which the context speaketh of, it makes us to assure our hearts before 

[1.] A real exercise of grace. Compare this with the verse before 
the text, ' Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and 
in truth.' A man may talk well from his convictions, nay, from a 
mere disciplinary knowledge ; but to do well needs a living principle 
of grace. The scripture still setteth forth graces by their lively opera 
tion, for a dead and sleepy habit is worth nothing ; it speaketh of the 
working faith as carrying away the prize of justification, Gal. v. 6. As 
honouring Christ : 2 Thes. i. 11, 12, ' Wherefore we pray also for you, 
that God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good 
pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power; that 
the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified.' The laborious love is 
that which God will regard and reward : Heb. vi. 10, ' God is not un 
righteous, to forget your work of faith and labour of love.' So the lively 
hope is the fruit of regeneration : 1 Peter i. 3, ' Blessed be the God and 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant 
mercy, hath begotten us to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ from the dead.' That which sets us a-doing : Acts. xxiv. 16, 
' And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of 
offence towards God and towards men;' and Acts xxvi. 7, 8, ' Unto 
which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, 
hope to come.' Grace otherwise cannot appear in the view of con 
science : causes are known by their effects ; apples appear when the sap 
is not seen. It is the operative and active graces that will discover 
themselves. A man may think well or speak well, but that grace which 
governeth the conversation showeth itself to have a deep rooting in 
the heart. 

[2.] It must be constantly exercised. A man may force himself 
into an act or two ; Saul in a fit may be among the prophets. A man 
is judged of by his course and walk. A child of God may be under 
a strange appearance for one act or two ; you can no more judge of 
them by those acts than you can of a bunch of grapes by two or three 
rotten ones, or of the glory of a street by the sink or kennels. So, on 
the other side, men may take on religion at set times, as men in an 
ague have their well days ; the fit of lust and sin is not always upon them. 
A man is judged perpetuafactorum serie, but God's works are best seen 
together, Gen. i. 31. Surely that breedeth peace of conscience and assur 
ance of salvation : Ps. cvi. 3, ' Blessed are they that keep judgment, 
and he that doeth righteousness at all times.' When a man's conver 
sation is all of a piece, his course is to please God at all times, not by 
fits and starts, and in good moods only. This is the mark of the con 
text, ' Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; but his seed 
remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.' An 
act of sin is as monstrous in him as for a hen to produce the egg of a 
crow. In an unsound heart there are very uneven and transient 
motions ; their lives speak contradictions. Saul at one time puts all 
the witches to death, at another time he himself hath recourse to one, 
namely, the witch of Endor. Jehu was zealous against Ahab's idolatry, 
against Baal, but not against Jereboam's idolatry, the calves in Dan 
and Bethel. 

VEK. 19.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 161 

[3.] Self-denyingly acted. Good words are not dear, 'Be warmed, 
be clothed.' The apostle speaketh of laying down our life for the 
brethren, of opening our hands and bowels for refreshing the hungry 
and clothing the naked. So proportionably when we take pains to 
instruct the ignorant, exhort the obstinate, confirm the weak, comfort 
the afflicted. Love of the brethren is the mark in hand, and produced 
here as the fruit of a sincere faith ; for this showeth a hearty receiving 
of God's love, when it hath made some impression upon us, when we 
love the brethren sincerely and heartily, and can deny ourselves for 
God. Do you think that religion lieth only in hearing a few sermons, 
in a few drowsy prayers, in singing psalms, or reading a chapter, or 
some cursory devotions ? These are the means, but where is the fruit ? 
No; it lieth in self-denying obedience. These are the acts about 
which we shall be questioned at the day of judgment, Mat. xxv. Have 
you visited ? have you clothed ? do you own the servants of God when 
the times frown upon them ? do you relieve them and comfort them 
in their distresses? 'Hereby we know we are of the truth.' Lip- 
labour and tongue-service is a cheap thing ; and that religion is worth 
nothing which costs nothing : 2 Sam. xxiv. 24, ' And the king said 
unto Araunah, Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at a price ; neither 
will I offer burnt-offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth 
cost me nothing.' When we deny ourselves, and apparently value 
God's interest above our own, then our sincerity is most evidenced. 
And every one of us is to consider what interest God calleth him to 
deny upon the hopes of glory, and whatever it costeth us to be faithful 
to God. A cheap course of serving God bringeth you none or little 
comfort. And certainly a man cannot be thorough in religion, but 
he will be put upon many occasions of denying his ease, profit, honour, 
and acting contrary to his natural inclination or worldly interests. 
Those that only regard the safe, cheap, and easy part, do not set up 
Christ's religion, but their own: Mat. xvi. 24, 'Then said Jesus unto his 
disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and 
take up his cross and follow me.' Without this it is but a Christianity 
of our own making. 

1. That graces thus really, constantly, and self-denyingly exercised 
leave their notice and impression upon the conscience. The context 
speaketh of the value of the testimony of conscience. Certainly a man 
should or may know the acts of grace which he putteth forth. It is 
hard to think that a soul should be a stranger to its own operations: 1 
Cor. ii. 11, 'There is a spirit in man that knoweth the things of a man;' 
a privy spy in our bosoms, which is conscious to all that we do, and 
can reflect upon it, and judge whether it be good or evil ; it knoweth 
what we understand, or will, or purpose, or resolve, or do, much more 
when we do thus uniformly and self-denyingly act for God ; and that 
upon a fourfold reason — 

[1.] Because the acts of grace are the more serious and important 
actions of our lives. Many acts may escape us for want of advertency, 
they not being of such moment ; but when a man is to settle his eter 
nal interest upon a sure bottom and foundation, and to establish his soul 
in the comfort and hope of the gospel, he would go advisedly to work, 
and considerupon what grounds and in what manner this work is carried 



on. He is serious in his faith : 2 Tim. i. 12, 'For I know whom I 
have believed, and am persuaded that he is ahle to keep that which I 
have committed to him against that day.' Diligence in his attendance 
upon this business : Phil. ii. 12, ' Work out your salvation with fear 
and trembling.' A man that acteth for eternity should mind what he 

[2.] All acts of grace are put forth with difficulty, and with some 
strife and wrestling. In the work of faith a humble sinner hath much 
ado to bring his soul to a resolution, and to venture all in Christ's hand, 
and to settle itself in the belief of God's power, and mercy, and word, 
and promises made to us in Christ ; to live upon the hopes of an un 
known and unseen world. For if it were an easy thing, such a power 
were not needful, as is spoken of, Eph. i. 19, ' And what is the exceeding 
greatness of his power.' We should not find such a necessity of com 
plaining of unbelief, Mark ix. 24, of calling upon God to increase our 
faith. It would not so often fail as it doth upon every temptation, Luke 
xxii. 32. And what is said of faith is true proportionably of all other 
graces. Self-love and carnal prepossessions hinder the love of God. 
Like a choice flower among weeds, so is love to the brethren, 'Master, 
spare thyself.' Now things difficult, and planted with much opposition, 
must needs leave a notice and an impression of themselves upon the 

[3.] There is a special delight that accompanieth acts of grace, 
because of the excellency of the objects they are conversant about ; 
and the excellency of the power they are assisted withal ; and the 
excellency and nobleness of the faculties they are acted by. Can a 
man be seriously dealing with God about pardon of sin, and eternal 
life, and not find sweetness in his work ? Heb. vi. 4, 5, ' Who were 
once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were par 
takers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, 
and the powers of the world to come.' Take a view of the promised 
hope, and not be affected with it ? Heb. iii. 6 ' Whose house we are, 
if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our hope firm to 
the end/ There is a peace and joy in believing, Kom. xv. 13, excited 
in us by some impression of the comforting Spirit. Three words are 
used to express that delightful sense which the soul hath in the exer 
cise or review of good actions — comfort, peace, joy. Comfort, the 
nature of which is, that it doth not altogether remove the evil, but so 
alleviates it and assuages it that we are able to bear it. The trouble 
that ariseth from the sense of sin and the fear of God's justice is not 
altogether removed and taken away; yet so mitigated and allayed, that 
we are enabled to wait upon God: 2 Cor. i. 4, 'Who comforteth us in 
all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are 
in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted 
of God ; ' and to go about our duties with some alacrity. Peace 
implieth comfort, but withal a more full degree of it ; for peace doth 
so calm and settle the consciences of God's children, that they are 
assaulted either with none, or very little fears. We call that peace in 
a nation when they are not troubled with foreign war, or intestine 
tumults, or confusions, for some long space of time : Phil. iv. 7, ' The 
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 163 

and minds, through Jesus Christ.' The next notion is joy : as peace 
exceeds consolation, so doth joy exceed peace, and begets a more not 
able sense of itself in the soul. In peace all things are quiet, but joy 
addeth a notable pleasure and delight of mind. In peace the soul is 
in such a condition as the body when nothing paineth it ; but in joy 
the senses are recreated by something pleasing to them : so the soul is 
feasted with spiritual suavities : 1 Peter i. 8, ' Whom having not seen 
ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice 
with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' Now all these make the work 
of grace more notorious to the soul. 

[4.] This serious, constant, uniform, self-denying course of obedience 
will evidence itself; for though conscience be unobservant of particular 
actions, yet the course, drift, and tenor of our lives cannot be hidden 
from it : he that in a journey doth not count his steps, yet observeth 
his way ; when a man mindeth the business of going to heaven, Phil, 
iii. 20; of approving himself to God: 2 Cor. i. 12, 'This is our 
rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience ; ' 2 Cor. v. 9 ' Wherefore we 
labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.' 

Object. Why then do so many good people want assurance ? 

Ans 1. There need two witnesses, because the heart of man is so 
deceitful, and the operations thereof are so various, dark, and confused : 
Jer. xvii. 9, ' The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and des 
perately wicked, and who can know it ? ' There needeth a double testi 
mony, as in the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is estab 
lished. NOW K these two witnesses are our consciences and God's Holy 
Spirit : Horn. viii. 16, ' The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits 
that we are the children of God ; ' Kom. ix. 1, ' I say the truth in 
Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy 
Ghost.' The testimony of the Spirit with our own heart, soul, and con 
science, they both concur to establish the same conclusion in the same 
act of witnessing ; for it is jointly ascribed to the Spirit of God and 
the spirit of man. The Spirit of God doth not bear any such witness 
apart from the spirit of man ; or when this doth not witness also, it 
doth fortify and strengthen the witness of a man's own spirit. The 
heart, soul, and conscience of a man doth testify to him that he desireth 
and endeavoureth every day to serve, please, honour, and glorify God. 
Hereby the Spirit assureth him that he is a child of God. Conscience 
will not give this witness, unless we do indeed labour to be complete 
in all the will of God. And the Spirit witnesseth with conscience, to 
give vigour and certainty to this testimony, ' My conscience also bearing 
me witness in the Holy Ghost.' As when the waters of a land-flood 
mingle themselves with a river, they make one and the same stream, 
but then it is more rapid and violent ; so this conjunction of testi 
monies maketh in effect one testimony, but such as more powerfully 
beareth down our fears, and doubts, and jealousies. A Christian is 
thoroughly settled as to his gracious estate, and his confidence is made 
more firm and strong. 

2. So few know their spiritual condition through their own default ; 
for otherwise the Spirit is ready to witness, if we be ready to receive 
his testimony. What is the fault of Christians ? A fourfold fault — 

[1.] Either they do not exercise grace to the life, in the mortifying 


of sin, or the perfecting of holiness ; and therefore the remainders of 
sin are active and troublesome, and grace is weak and small, and doth 
little discover itself in any costly and self-denying acts, that they want 
the sweetness whereby they should be noted and observed. Surely 
great things are more liable to sense and feeling than little : a staff is 
sooner found than a needle. And they that row against the stream of 
flesh and blood, and cross the inclinations of nature, can sooner discern 
a divine spirit and a power working in them than others, who have 
not so perfect a conquest over the carnal nature ; as the valour of a 
soldier that boldly encountereth his enemy in the face of dangers and 
oppositions, than one that fighteth not indeed, but lieth hid in the 

[2.] Or they do not examine their state, and heed their soul affairs 
as they ought. ' Know thyself ' is a lesson worthy to be often practised. 
The scripture biddeth us examine ourselves, 1 Cor. xi. 28, and 2 Cor. 
xiii. 5, ' Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.' But few 
return upon their hearts, and look inward. The soul hath its experi 
ence, or a thing that may be called sense, as well as the body, but most 
regard it not. There is light, peace, joy, or trouble and doubtfulness, 
which we might easily find out if men would reflect upon themselves. 

[3.] Or if they examine their state, they do it in a wrong way ; as 
sometimes they make those to be marks to try by, which are only marks 
to aim at; and so by consequence that is often made matter of doubt 
ing, which should only be matter of humiliation ; or else they look so 
much to what they should be, as not to observe what they have already, 
or may forget what is behind to quicken their diligence, Phil. iii. 13. 
But we must not forget, in judging our condition, to own the grace we 
have, for we must not ' despise the day of small things,' Zech. iv. 10. 
The spouse owneth grace in the midst of infirmities : Cant. v. 2, ' I 
sleep, but my heart waketh.' We come short of what we should have, 
but have we anything of God in our souls ? We observe our diseases 
more than our healths; so doth a gracious heart his sins and infirmities, 
but not the good things found in him. 

[4.] In the general, laziness is the cause : 2 Peter i. 10, ' Give all 
diligence to make } T our calling and election sure ; ' Heb. vi. 11, ' And 
we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full 
assurance of hope to the end ; ' 2 Peter iii. 14, ' Be diligent, that you 
may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.' The com 
forts of the Spirit never drop into the lazy soul. When you have it, 
so far as you neglect your duty, so far the sense may abate. God in 
wisdom withdraweth his comforts to awaken and quicken his children 
to their duty. 

Use 1. To inform us, that the grounds of a well-tempered assurance 
are clear and positive: 'Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and 
shall assure our hearts before him.' Foolish presumption costs nothing : 
like mushrooms, it groweth up in a night, or as Jonah's gourd; we did 
not labour for it ; it cometh upon them they know not how or why. 
The less such men exercise themselves to godliness, the more confident; 
but exercise would discover their unsoundness ; a peace that groweth 
upon us we know not how, and is better kept by negligence than dili 
gence, is not right : ' Hereby we know, and this is my rejoicing, the 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 165 

testimony of my conscience.' Premature persuasions are very rife ; 
how comest thou by it so soon, my sou ? 

2. That to languish after comforts, and neglect duty, is a foolish 
course ; many bestow their time in foolish complaints, better be hard 
at work ; complaining will not bring it to you so soon as active 
diligence. Oh, that we were sure of heaven and happiness ! Oh, that 
we knew what shall become of us to all eternity ! Lazy wishes will do 
no good, up and be doing ; it will not come by a cold velleity, a slight 
prayer, a customary sigh, or a faint and lazy pursuit, but by an inde- 
iatigable diligence, and unwearied watchfulness. 

3. It inforrneth us that not only trying of grace, but exercising of 
grace, is necessary to our comfort and peace. Many are taken up in 
trying and inquiring whether they have saving grace or no, whilst they 
neglect the exercise of grace in a self-denying way. I would not dis 
courage self-reflection. Oh, that we could gain the world more to this ! 
but this I must say, that doing good to the household of faith, and to 
all as we find occasion, is a more evident and explicit way ; and that 
in general it is a more excellent spirit to consider what we must be, to 
lie under the conscience of that, than to consider what we are and 
what we have been. Working will discover it sooner than bare trying, 
duty rather than comfort. 

4. That the popish doctrine is false, that asserts that it is impossible 
to have the certainty of salvation : ' Hereby we know we are of the 
truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.' 

Use 2. To exhort us, if we would live in a holy security and peace, 
let us not only be good, but do good ; let us not only love God, but his 
people, not only ' in word and tongue, but in deed and in truth,' &c. 


For if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and 
knoweth all things. — 1 JOHN iii. 20. 

THE apostle had spoken in the former verse of assuring our hearts 
before him ; now we cannot assure our hearts before God, against all 
fears of his wrath, or persuade ourselves that we are his children, if we 
be conscious to ourselves of any insincerity, or unworthy dealing in 
point of love to God or men ; much dependeth upon the testimony and 
verdict of conscience, either as to our condemnation or absolution and 
acquitmerit. He beginneth with the condemning conscience in the 
text, and then showeth the privilege of an absolving conscience, ver. 
21. The voice of conscience is the voice of God ; if our hearts con 
demn or acquit, so will God for the most part. We are now upon the 
condemning act of conscience ; if our hearts condemn us, God will 
much more. By the heart is meant conscience ; as 1 Sam. xxiv. 5, 
' David's heart smote him,' that is, his conscience ; so Job when he 
would not quit his claim of being an upright man, chap xxvii. 6, saith, 


' My heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.' The heart hath a 
reproaching, a condemning power, and judgeth against a man when he 
is not right with God. In short, heart-smitings and heart-reproach- 
ings are nothing else but checks of conscience. ' If our hearts condemn 
us,' &c. 

In the words take notice of a comparison between the judgment 
of God and the judgment of conscience; they agree and disagree in 
many things. 

1. They agree in that both are privy to all our actions : there is a 
secret spy within us, that observeth all that we speak, or think, or do : 
' The spirit of a man within him knoweth the things of a man,' 1 Cor. 
ii. 11. So doth God know all things : 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.' And where the matter requireth it, they both condemn ; 
conscience condemneth the sinner, or the partial obedience of hypocrites ; 
so doth God, he ratifieth the sentence. 

2. They disagree or differ in two things — (1.) Greatness; (2.) 

[1.] Greatness. ' God is greater than our hearts/ The same expres 
sion is used, Job xxxiii. 12, ' God is greater than man ; ' it is a reason 
of submission to God's providence. God judgeth more exactly of things 
than we do ; his authority is greater. God is the supreme judge, con 
science is but his deputy. God's sentence is decisive, whence there is 
no appeal : 1 Cor. iv. 4, ' For I know nothing by myself, yet I am not 
hereby justified ; but he that judgeth me is the Lord.' The cause 
must be reviewed and judged in a higher court. Greater in point of 
purity and holiness; we have but a drop of indignation against 
sin, God an ocean. His displacency against sin is greater : Hab. i. 13, 
' He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ; ' Isa. iii. 8, ' Their doings 
are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory.' Greater in 
point of power ; conscience leaveth an impression suitable to the evi 
dence it giveth : Prov. xviii. 13, ' The spirit of a man will sustain his 
infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear ? ' But it is a dreadful 
thing to be condemned of God, who hath such power to execute his 
sentence : Heb. x. 31, ' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of 
the living God.' 

[2.] In point of knowledge. Conscience in many things is blind, 
partial, inattentive, insensible, but none of these things can be imagined 
in God, he knoweth all things. Therefore since the business is to be 
transacted before him, and not before man, we had need look to it, that 
we may assure our hearts before him. 

(1.) He seeth more clearly ; he not only knoweth all things that we 
can know of ourselves, but knoweth more things against us than our 
hearts know, and so God cannot be deceived : Ps. xix. 12, ' Who can 
understand his errors ? Lord cleanse thou me from secret sins.' No 
man knoweth a man so well as his conscience, but the conscience doth 
not so well know him as God knoweth him ; his knowledge is infinite, 
and pierceth to our very thoughts and the secret motions of the heart. 

(2.) He heareth more exactly. There is a partiality in our knowledge, 

YER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 167 

we overlook the evil, being blinded by self-love, but the Lord weigheth 
the spirits, Prov. xvi. 2, puts them into the balance of the sanctuary, 
and considereth all the circumstances. 

(3.) He judgeth more impartially ; we mistake sins for graces, and 
so bring in a false verdict: Luke xvi. 15, 'Ye are they which justify 
yourselves before men ; but God knoweth your hearts ; for that which 
is highly esteemed amongst men is an abomination in the sight of God.' 
We are deceived with a false show ; we take a brier for a rose, yea, many 
times a toad for a lark ; but God cannot be thus deceived, but judgeth 
according to the nature of things. 

Doct. That a man's unsound estate is much discovered to himself, 
or determined by the judgment of his own conscience. 

If our heart condemn us ; that is, our conscience ; and every man by 
his own heart and conscience is generally acquitted or condemned. 

Here I shall demonstrate to you — 

1. That there is such a faculty as conscience, whose office it is to 
judge of our estate, 

2. The value of this judgment, that it ought to be well weighed, 
when our hearts condemn us of insincere dealings in point of duty 
towards God or man. 

I. The nature and office of conscience; certainly there is such a 
faculty as conscience. Science is one thing, and conscience is another : 
science is a knowledge of other things, conscience is the knowledge of 
ourselves. Conscience is the knowledge of a man's state and ways ; to 
know what we are to do, and what we have done, that is conscience. 
It is the judgment of a man concerning himself with respect to reward 
and punishment. God, that is our Lord, is also our proper judge ; 
but it pleaseth him to erect a tribunal within a man in his own bosom, 
and to make him his own judge : conscience is a judge, yet but a 
deputy-judge accountable to God. This much conduceth — (1.) To 
the glory of God ; (2.) To the safety of man. 

1. To the glory of God, and that in two regards, as an evidence 
of his being, and a vindication of the righteousness of his judicial 

[1.] As an evidence of his being, for his law is the ground of all 
conscience, and it is before his tribunal that it doth accuse and acquit 
us, and his sentence that we wait for or dread, and stand in fear of. 
Why should we scruple this or that, if there be not a God, by whose 
will good and evil are distinguished ? To whom doth it accuse us 
but to God ? Why is conscience sometimes afraid, sometimes com 
forted, if there were no God to mind things here below ? We find 
conscience appalleth the stoutest sinners, after the commitment of 
some offences, though they be secret, and beyond the cognisance and 
vengeance of man : Ps. liii. 5 ' They feared where no fear was ; ' that 
is, no outward cause of fear, where none sought to hurt them ; accus 
ing themselves where none else could accuse them ; as Joseph's 
brethren, Gen. xlii. 21 ; or where none had power to reach them ; as 
many worldly potentates feel the stings of conscience as well as others. 
Felix trembled who was the judge, when Paul the prisoner preached 
to him, Acts xxiv. 25. What is the reason of this, but that they know 
there is a supreme judge and avenger? 


[2.] To vindicate the righteousness of his judicial proceedings. 
Self-accusers and self-condemners have no reason to quarrel with God, 
and impeach his justice. Man hath principles and sentiments graven 
upon his heart, which justify all God's dealings Avith him : Luke xix. 
22, ' Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked and 
slothful servant;' Ps. li. 4, 'That thou rnayest be justified when 
thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest.' Surely self-condemners, 
Titus iii. 11, are without excuse, Kom. i. 20, and have no reason to 
murmur at God's proceedings with them. Hence there are frequent 
appeals to conscience in scripture : Isa, v. 3, 4, ' Judge between me 
and my vineyard, what could have been done more to my vineyard 
which I have not done?' So that by conscience man is better 
induced to give a testimony to God concerning his judicial proceed 
ings, and the righteousness of all his dealings with men. 

2. The safety and benefit of man, that he may have an oracle in his 
own bosom to direct him to his duty, and to warn him of his danger. 
In scripture we shall find two offices of conscience, to direct and 
censure, to judge by order of law and right; dejure, what we ought 
to do, and de facto, what you have done, or what you are : and if it 
fail in the one part, it is a blind and erring conscience ; and if it fail 
in the other, it is a dead and sleepy conscience. You shall see con 
science is spoken of in scripture both ways. As instructing us in our 
duty : Ps. xvi. 7, ' My reins instruct me in the night season ; ' that is, 
showed him his duty, and how he was concerned in the law of God, or 
the rule which he had given to his creatures. And as it showeth us 
what to do, so it reflecteth upon what we have done : if evil, it smiteth 
us for it, as David's heart smote him for numbering the people, 
2 Sam. xxiv. 10. If good, it cheereth us with it : 2 Cor. i. 12, ' For 
our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience/ It smiteth us as it 
exciteth fear of punishment ; it cheereth us as it stirreth up hope of 
reward : and hereby we do very much understand how [God standeth 
affected towards us. In short, conscience, as to the censuring part, 
judge th either of act or state ; particular acts whether good or evil ; so 
it doth accuse or excuse by turns, Kom. ii. 15. As to our state, if it be 
good : Heb. xiii. 18, ' We trust we have a good conscience, willing in 
all things to live honestly.' The drift and course was for God, and 
the performance of their duty to him. Bad or evil : Kom. i. 32, ' They 
that do such things, count themselves worthy of death ; ' that is, not 
only as deserving it, but as liable to it. Now it is for our benefit, 
that we should have such a faculty to direct, and mind us of our duty, 
which we are too apt to forget. So also to censure our acts, that we 
may be humbled for them if they be evil, or continue them if they be 
good. Our estate, that we may enjoy the comfort of it, before we 
enjoy the full reward of it, if it be good ; or may remedy it, and break 
off our sinful course if it be evil, while we are capable of a remedy. 

II. The value of this judgment, and how much it should be re 
garded by us. 

1. In respect of ourselves, because it is so intimate to us. Conscience 
is God's spy in our bosoms, and man's overseer ; it being so well ac 
quainted with us, it can give a better judgment of us than anything 
else can. The judgment of the world, either by way of applause or 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 169 

censure, is not so much to be regarded by us. The apostle calleth it 
the spirit of a man within him, 1 Cor. ii. 11. Though our life be 
never so fair that no man can condemn us, and our words and deeds 
do not betray us, yet if our hearts condemn us of secret hypocrisy, and 
want of love to God, God will much more, who knoweth more of us 
than we do of ourselves. Besides, this judge cannot be suspected of 
rigour, partiality, and ill-will ; for what is dearer to ourselves than 
ourselves ? and therefore, if our own hearts condemn us, what shall be 
said for us ? 

2. Its relation to God ; it is God's deputy-judge, and in the place of 
God to us ; called 'the candle of the Lord,' Prov. xx. 27. And there 
fore if it convince us, and accuse us, and condemn us, especially when 
we profess and pretend to sincerity ; have we not cause to suspect 
ourselves ? for it is God's vicegerent, and sitteth in the throne of God ; 
and we may know much of his mind by the voice and report of con 
science. Next to the judgment and sentence of God, a man should 
reverence the judgment and sentence of his own heart. Doth conscience 
acquit or condemn ? so usually doth God : conscience doth all with 
respect to God, and in the name of God. The inferior court is not 
to be slighted, the sentence there is given out in God's name, and by 
virtue of God's authority. To slight the officer or subordinate magi 
strate in the duty of his place is to slight the supreme power : Judges 
iii. 20, 'And Ehud said unto him, I have a message from God unto 
thee ; and he arose off his seat.' 

3. The rule it goeth by, which is the revealed will of God, either by 
the light of nature or the light of scripture ; his will revealed in his 
law, or in the gospel : according to the dispensation men are under, so 
have they a conscience, this makes us a light to ourselves : Prov. vi. 
22, ' When thou goest it shall lead thee, when thou sleepest it shall 
keep thee, when thou wakest it shall talk with thee ; ' that is, the law 
of God will direct thee upon all occasions. Conscience worketh by 
virtue of that light which God hath put into us. Now to slight con 
science, is to rebel against the light of nature, Rom, ii. 14, 15, arid the 
light of scripture, Heb. viii. 10. Conscience will tell you what you are 
loath to hear, yet hear it ; it will be heard once, better hear it now, 
while you may correct your errors ; it doth but repeat over the law of 
God to you. 

But now some objections may arise. 

Object. 1. May we not be deceived in our judgment concerning 
ourselves ? 

Ans. 1. Not ordinarily ; in condemnation man is over-prone to love 
himself, and therefore unless compelled by the manifest force and 
evidence of the truth, he would not condemn himself, especially when 
affecting the show and reputation of sincerity. Surely, if there were 
ground for it, he would not let go his integrity (it is true, some 
melancholy mournful souls may write bitter things against themselves, 
and mistake in spiritual things), as Prov. xvi. 2, ' All the ways of a man 
are right in his own eyes ; ' Rev. iii. 17, 18, ' Because thou sayest, I am 
rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing ; and knowest 
not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and 
naked : I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou 


mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and 
that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear ; and anoint thine eyes 
with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.' There is a false presumption of 
our good estate. Now then, when our hearts reproach us, and con 
demn us for want of love to and neglect of God, and unmindfulness of 
heavenly things, it concerneth us to weigh the matter. We can 
better trust it condemning than acquitting : 1 Cor. iv. 4, ' If I know 
nothing by myself, I am not thereby justified, but every one's judg 
ment is of the Lord.' 

2. The apostle speaketh of what is rightly done, and according to 
rule. Look, as in acquitting we must distinguish between a dead 
sleepy conscience, and a tender waking conscience, so in condemning, 
between the judgment when under a heat, and passion, and distemper, 
and the judgment of conscience in our calm and sedate moods. Surely 
if it then condemn us, or give us no good assurance before God, we 
have need to look to ourselves. A stupid conscience, and on the other 
side a stormy conscience, are not capable of passing a right judgment. 

3. It is all one as to our peace, if our hearts judge us wrongfully, 
either as to acts or state. Acts : Horn. xiv. 22, 23,'' Happy is he that 
condemneth not himself in the thing which he alloweth. And he that 
doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith ; and what 
soever is not of faith is sin.' A man may do an action lawful, and yet 
his heart may accuse or condemn him in it, as if it were unlawful. It 
is a damning sin to act against conscience though it err. So as to 
state ; he cannot think God acquitteth him whose heart condemneth 
him, for he cannot believe against his conscience. There is indeed a 
self-condemning as to merit, which entitleth to mercy ; but a self- 
condemning as to our actual state must needs breed trouble and grief 
of heart, though it be upon false grounds. 

Object. 2. But what relief is there for one whose heart condemneth 
him ? Must he sit down, and despair, and die ? I answer — 

1. In some cases there is an appeal from court to court. In 
what court doth conscience condemn you? In the court of the law? 
You ought to subscribe to the condemnation as just, and to own the 
desert of sin ; and if God should bring it upon you, he is righteous : 
Neh. iii. 33, * Thou art just in all that is brought upon us ; for thou 
hast done right, but we have done wickedly.' But there is a liberty 
of appeal from court to court. You may take sanctuary at the Lord's 
grace, and humbly claim the benefit of the new covenant : Ps. cxxx. 3, 
4, ' If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who shall stand ? 
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' De 
precate the first court, and beg the favour of the second. 

2. In other cases there is an appeal from judge to judge. Suppose 
conscience condemn you in the gospel court, that you are not sound 
believers, the case must not be lightly passed over, but you must exa 
mine whether there be a sincere bent of heart in you, yea or no, appeal 
to the higher judge ; as when others question your sincerity : ' My wit 
ness is in heaven,' saith Job, chap. xvi. 19. So when your own hearts 
question it, doth conscience write bitter things against you ? See if the 
judgment of conscience be the judgment of God. It is a judge, but 
not a supreme judge ; it may err in acquitting, as when from a judge it 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 171 

becometh an advocate, excusing the partialities of our obedience ; so 
in condemning, when from a judge it becometh an accuser, and exag- 
gerateth incident failings beyond measure. Go to the higher judge, 
whose act is authoritative and powerful : Job xxxii. 23, ' If there be 
a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show 
unto man his uprightness/ Who can interpret your righteousness to 
you but his Spirit, when you cannot see it yourselves, and may some 
times speak peace in the sentence of the word, when not in the feeling 
of conscience, and the lively impressions of his comforting Spirit ? 

3. Suppose the worst ; there is a passing from state to state : John 
v. 24, 'He shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death 
to life.' You are in a state of condemnation now, but get out of it as 
fast as you can : Mat. iii. 7, ' Flee from wrath to come ; ' and carry 
yourselves accordingly, till your condition be altered ; the door of 
grace is always open: Heb. vi. 18, 'Who have fled for refuge to lay 
hold upon the hope set before us/ 

4. If the heart do neither condemn nor acquit, make your qualifi 
cation more explicit, and take the same course a condemned man 
would do, sue out your pardon more earnestly : Rom. viii. 33, ' Who 
shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect ? It is God that justi- 
fieth.' Many times an old litigious title may cost as much in clearing 
as the purchase of a new; therefore mind the way of fleeing from wrath 
to come, and be more serious in it. 

Use 1. Is information. To show the bad condition of wicked men, 
who have within themselves an accusing conscience, and above them 
selves a condemning judge ; so that a man that doeth evil can never 
have a sound peace and quiet within himself, nor have any quietness. 
Their disease is the benumbing lethargy of a stupid conscience, they 
do not always feel the stings of conscience, but are always subject to it. 
Death reviveth them, it may surprise them in an instant. All their 
pleasures are but ' stolen waters, and bread eaten in secret,' Prov. ix. 
17, poor delights taken by stealth when they get conscience asleep, as 
servants that feast themselves in a corner when they can get out of 
their master's sight. They are not open and avowed delights. Why ? 
Because their hearts condemn them, and God is ready to ratify and 
execute the sentence ; everything puts them in a fright : Job xv. 21, 
' A dreadful sound is in his ears ; in prosperity the destroyer shall come 
upon him.' Surely wicked and impenitent men have no sound peace ; 
they dare not look inward or upward with any comfort. 

2. How far they are from the temper of religion that live even a 
moment without all conscience or against conscience. A good man 
looketh to his heart, whether it condemneth or acquitteth ;- but some 
live without all conscience, do all things rashly and inconsiderately, 
never considering whether they be pleasing or displeasing to God, whether 
they tend to the honour or dishonour of G od ; live at haphazard ; if they 
do good, it is by accident ; perform the duties of Christianity so far as 
the interest of the flesh will give them leave, yea, so far as the flesh 
itself will command them to do well, or forbid sin, that it may not 
disgrace them in the world, or bring some inconveniency upon them. 
These consult not with conscience in their actions, but are guided by 
their lusts and sudden passions : others live against conscience, omitting 


duties when conscience loudly calleth for it : James iv. 17, ' Therefore 
to him that knoweth to do good, and doetli it not, to him it is sin.' 
They will find it with a witness one day ; committing evil against the 
apparent checks of conscience, these kick against the pricks; these do not 
only break the law of God, but offer violence to their own consciences, 
and in effect resist the Holy Ghost, who exciteth them to good, Acts vii. 
51, and so are under a great crime. 

Use 2. Carry it so that conscience may not condemn you ; the 
sentence may be, and usually is, ratified by God. To enforce it, con 
sider these thiogs — 

1. Conscience is the best friend and the worst enemy ; partly for its 
comfort ; it is ' a continual feast/ Prov. xv. 15 ; ' our rejoicing/ 2 Cor. 
i. 12. No bird sings so sweetly as the bird in the bosom. Partly for 
its nearness ; it is always with us in health and sickness, in life and 
death. Husbands and wives, who are most together, yet, because they 
live by a distinct life, they are often apart, and at length death cometh 
and looseth the band and knot ; but a good conscience is a sweet com 
panion, that always remaineth with us. So it is the worst enemy, partly 
for its nearness, for a man to be at odds with himself, to fall out with 
his own heart. It is a domestic tribunal which we cannot suppress or 
get rid of. Let any be your enemy rather than your own conscience. 
Job could bear the reproaches of others, but his own ' heart should not 
reproach him all his days/ Job xxvii. 6. Partly because of the 
grievousness of the wound : Prov. xviii. 14, ' The spirit of a man will 
sustain his infirmity ; but a wounded spirit who can bear ? ' It is no 
less than the fear of the wrath of the eternal God. Judas found no 
relief from his new friends when his conscience wakened upon him, 
Mat. xxvii. 3-5. In short, a man cannot run away from his con 
science, no more than he can run away from himself. Therefore what 
folly is it to please others and offend his own conscience, or to please 
his lusts and wrong his conscience, and for the satisfaction of a vain 
appetite to incur such horror and trouble ! The satisfying of a lust 
is a poor vanishing pleasure, but the keeping a good conscience 
breedeth a solid joy, whtoh will stick by thee to the last. When thou 
comest to die, it will be a support to thee : Isa. xxxviii. 3, ' Lord, 
thou knowest that I have walked before thee with a perfect heart/ 
When thou must leave riches, and honours, and pleasures, which 
are the baits of thy lust, this will stick by thee : 1 John ii. 17, 'The 
world passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for 

2. It is either the beginning of heaven or hell ; a good conscience is 
the beginning of heaven, and peace and joy in believing is a foretaste 
of that fulness of joy and pleasure which you shall have when you 
come into God's immediate presence. The glorified spirits carry a good 
conscience with them to heaven : ' Their works follow them/ Kev. xiv. 
13 ; and an awakened conscience is a hell upon earth. The damned 
carry these stings and convictions into hell along with them : Mark ix. 
44, 'Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched/ Oh, 
think of this, the joys of the Spirit are the antepast of glory, called often 
an ' earnest : ' 2 Cor. i. 22, ' Who hath sealed us, and given us the 
earnest of the Spirit.' Horrors of conscience are the suburbs of hell. 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 173 

Therefore be sure to keep all quiet within, and do not give conscience 
occasion to condemn you. 

3. It is easily offended, but not easily appeased. As the eye is 
offended with the least dust and mote, which soon gets in, but is hardly 
to be gotten out again, so you may violate conscience, but to appease it 
costs a great deal of trouble ; therefore there needs much tenderness 
and watchfulness, that you make it your daily work, Acts xxiv. 16, 'To 
have always aconscience void of offence both towards God and towards 
men.' By the commission of deliberate and wilful sins you may raise 
a tempest that will not be soon laid again. David felt broken bones 
after his foul fall, Ps. li. Joseph's brethren could not put it out of 
their minds but that he would avenge the old quarrel, Gen. 1. When 
the mists of passion are over, guilt maketh your heart sit uneasy 
within you. Therefore do not go like an ox to the slaughter. 

4. If conscience speaketh not, it writeth ; for it is not only a witness, 
but a register, and a book of record : Jer. xvii. 1, ' The sin of Judah is 
written with a pen of iron, and the point of a diamond.' We know 
not what conscience writeth, being occupied and taken up with carnal 
vanities, but we shall know hereafter when the books are open, Kev. 
xx. 12. Conscience keepeth a diary, and sets down everything. This 
book, though it be in the sinner's keeping, cannot be razed and blotted 
out. Well, then, a sleepy conscience will not always sleep ; if we 
suffer it not to awaken here, it will awaken in hell ; for the present it 
sleepeth in many, in regard of motion, check, or smiting, but not in 
regard of notice and observation. 

5. If conscience speak not to you, we must speak to it. Call your 
selves to an account for the expense of your time and employment. 
The course of your life is a sure evidence of your everlasting estate : 
Ps. Ixxvii. 6, ' I communed with my heart, and made a diligent search.' 
How do matters stand between God and you ? take some time to 
parley with yourselves. Quotidie apud me causam dico, could a 
heathen say — I still implead myself before myself ; and if a heathen 
did so, should not Christians much more ? 

6. If the stings of an evil conscience are not always felt, yet they are 
soon revived and forced upon us by serious thoughts of death and judg 
ment to come. This fire that smothereth in our bosoms is soon blown 
up into a flame. By the word sometimes: Acts xxiv. 25, 'Felix 
trembled.' Belshazzar's edge was taken off in the midst of his carous- 
ings, Dan. v. 5, 6. By some great troubles ; in a tempest, that which 
is at bottom cometh at top : Isa. lix. 12, ' For our transgressions are 
multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us ; for our trans 
gressions are with us ; and as for our iniquities, we know them/ Or by 
death : 1 Cor. xv. 56, ' The sting of death is sin.' In the confines of 
eternity men are wiser, and near things do most affect us, and the baits 
of the flesh have lost their allurement. Things overlooked before are 
then seriously considered, and the deluded sinner forced to see what lie 
would not take notice of before. 

7. Sound peace will never be had by smothering checks of conscience, 
but making a holy use of them. To smother them breedeth hardness 
of heart, but to improve them is the way to a holy peace. What is 
the way to improve them ? I shall instance in two ways — 


[1.] When the particular conscience condemneth, we must look to it 
that the general conscience may acquit us. The particular conscience 
referreth to acts, the general to conversation. As to particular acts, he 
whose heart doth not condemn him of sin. But how is it as to the 
drift and course of our lives ? 2 Cor. i. 12, ' But our rejoicing is this, 
the testimony of our conscience, that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, 
not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our con 
versations in the world.' 

[2.] When the legal conscience condemneth us, we must seek our 
peace in the evangelical conscience. Now the evangelical conscience 
reflecteth on what Christ hath done for us, and wrought in us. Christ 
hath shed his blood for sinners : Heb. ix. 14, ' 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 Heb. xii. 24, ' And to Jesus, the mediator of 
the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh 
better things than the blood of Abel.' But that is not all, there is 
something also wrought in us, and is ' the answer of a good conscience 
towards God/ 1 Peter iii. 21. 


And Jcnoiveth all things. — 1 JOHN iii. 20. 

DOCT. That God exactly and perfectly knoweth all things that are in 
the world, and is more especially privy to the hearts and ways of men. 

Of this the context speaketh. God hath a greater and more certain 
knowledge of what we do than our own consciences. 

Let me inquire here into — (1.) The properties of God's knowledge ; 
(2.) The reasons ; (3.) How this doctrine is entertained by men ; (4.) 
What use we should make of it ourselves. 

First, What God's knowledge is. Exactly to state it is above the 
reach of man ; this knowledge is too wonderful for us, Ps. cxxxix. 6, 
far above our capacity to understand the nature of it. But for our 
profit, somewhat of it is revealed to us in the scripture ; therefore I 
shall give you the properties of it. 

1. For the object to which it is extended, it is universal ; the text 
saith ' all things ' are known by him. But especially it relateth to 
man, all things in man. 

Let us a little consider the modifications of this object. 

[1.] Things good and evil : Prov. xv. 3, 'The eyes of the Lord are 
in every place, beholding the evil and the good.' For good things there 
is no doubt, for he is the author of them ; for evil things, God is not 
the author of them, but the jndge and punisher, and therefore knoweth 
them also. Take another distinction of the object ; things great and 
small. It was the corrupt theology of the gentiles, Dii magnet curant, 
parva negligunt. One of the wisest heathens compareth him to the 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 175 

Persian monarchs, who minded the great affairs of the provinces, but 
left other things to the satraps or vicegerents. But we are taught 
better divinity in the scriptures, that small things are put under the 
providence of God as well as great ; that a sparrow (though two of them 
are sold for a farthing) falleth not to the ground without our heavenly 
Father, Mat. x. 30. It was no dishonour to God to make them, nor is it 
so to preserve them and look after them. Again, God knoweth not only 
things necessary, but contingent ; things necessary, or such as depend 
upon the stated courses of nature, as the succession of winter and summer, 
day and night, the revolutions of the heavens ; he hath appointed to them 
a law and a decree beyond which they cannot pass, Ps. cxlviii. 7. But 
also things contingent, as depend upon the will of man, or the casual 
fortuitous motion of the creature. Christ could foretell they should 
meet a man in the city, and bids them to follow him, and keep the 
passover in his house, Luke xxii. 10. And he told Nathanael what 
he said, and where, John i. 48. And often told the Jews and his 
disciples what they thought : Mat. ix. 4, ' Jesus, knowing their thoughts, 
said, Why think ye evil in your hearts?' He knew what Paul did in 
such a city, such a street, such a house, at such a time, Acts ix. 11. 
In short, nothing more casual than a lot : Prov. xvi. 33, ' The lot is cast 
into the lap, but the whole disposing of it is of the Lord ;' he knows 
how the lot will fall. Once more, he knows things past, present, and 
to come. Past ; no oblivion can fall upon God ; a thousand years are to 
him as one day, Ps. xc. 4. We forget many of our actions, but God 
forgets them not. All things present are known to him, for he sus- 
taineth and guideth them in their motions, and they subsist no longer 
than he pleaseth : 2 Chron. xvi. 9, ' The eyes of the Lord run to and 
fro throughout the earth.' The sun is an emblem and representation 
of his knowledge : Ps. xix. 6, ' There is nothing hid from the heat 
thereof.' If the sun were an eye, it would see all things it shineth 
upon ; only the sun cannot pierce through dark and thick bodies. But 
God is over all, and through all, and in all, the great eye of the world. 
Man's knowledge is limited and confined to a few things, that fall 
within the cognisance of the time and place wherein he liveth ; but 
God seeth and knoweth all things. Things to come, which are wholly 
out of the reach of man's discovery : Jer. i. 5, ' Before thou wert 
framed in the womb, I knew thee." God's foresight is more clear than 
our sight, and the substance of things does not give us a better know 
ledge of them than God's prescience doth to him : Isa. xli. 23, ' Show the 
things to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.' He 
challengeth all the world to be able to foretell future contingencies. 
Once more, God knoweth all things that shall be, and might have 
been. All things that shall be : Acts xv. 18, ' All his works are 
known to God from the beginning of the world.' Past, present, 
and to come, make no difference in the understanding of God ; 
for from the mount of eternity he hath a prospect of all things, 
as if they were now in being. That place is brought to prove that 
God did not begin then to take to himself a people from among the 
gentiles, but had from all eternity determined to do so. God, that 
doth all things in time, knew all these things before all time, otherwise 
his knowledge were neither eternal nor infinite. Things are because 


lie willeth them, and lie willeth them from all eternity. God also 
knoweth all things that might have been. He knew that Abimelech 
would have defiled himself and Sarah, if he had not withheld him, 
Gen. xx. 6 ; that the men of Keilah would have betrayed David into 
the hands of Saul, if he had stayed among them, 1 Sam. xxiii. 12. 
There is many a man kept bare and low, God knoweth what he would 
do if he had power in his hands. Many die young ; God knoweth, if 
they had lived forty or fifty years, it would have been worse for them, 
they might have dishonoured God more, grieved their relations more, 
or been exposed to temptations, which he saw not fit to let loose upon 
them. Thus for the universality of God's knowledge, he knoweth all 
all things. 

[2.] The particularity of God's knowledge. His knowledge is not 
only universal, but particular; he knoweth every individual thing and 
person. Our persons are known to him by head and poll : 2 Tim. ii. 
18, 'The Lord knoweth those that are his ;' and ' the good shepherd 
calleth his own sheep by name,' John x. 3. There is not a single 
man liveth in the world, but God taketh notice of him ; he doth cer 
tainly know that there is such a creature as thou art, such a man or 
woman in the world. His decree passed on thee ; he knew thee in the 
mass and lump of mankind, and took notice of thee by name when his 
creating power passed on thee ; for he knoweth all that he hath made ; 
and he is to judge thee, and will set thy life in order before thee, Ps. 1. 
21. And therefore certainly knoweth thee, or else he were not an 
omniscient judge. There could be no process against thee if the Lord 
•were ignorant of thy person ; and his actual providence about thee 
implieth it. Thou canst not uphold thyself one moment without him, 
and therefore he is as verily with thee as thou art with thyself. 
Suppose that God had never a creature to look to in all the world but 
thee, wouldst thou not believe then that he doth know thee and 
regard thee ? Why not now ? Is there any weakness in God ? is his 
mind distracted with variety of objects, that he would not regard thy 
person, heart, word, and ways ? is he not sufficient for thee, and as 
really present with thee as if he had no other creature else ? 

(2.) As our persons, so our ways : Ps. i. 6, ' The Lord knoweth the 
way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.' Doth 
not God distinguish between his obedient and rebellious subjects, and 
know who they are, and how many are of the one sort and the other ? 
To deny this were to strike at the root of all piety and obedience. If 
he hath not a particular inspection of human affairs, and did not know 
the good and evil, what need we take care whether we be good or 
evil ? 

(3.) As of our way and scope in general, so of every step; he knoweth 
all the particularities of our lives: Job xxxi. 4, 'Doth not he see all 
my ways, and count all my steps ? ' By our way is meant our general 
conversation, and by our steps our particular actions. God seeth us in 
all postures, when we laugh, and when we weep, when we are proud, 
and when we are angry, toying and praying, when in company or alone, 
\vlten buying or selling, and when worshipping and hearing: Ps. 
cxxxix. 2, ' Thou knowest my up-rising and down-lying ; ' how ye go 
to bed at night, and rise in the morning. And he knoweth not only 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 177 

thy actions, but thy heart. It is a mighty awe upon us that he know- 
eth our words and actions : Ps. cxxxix. 4, ' Lo, there is not a word in 
my mouth, but thou, Lord, knowest it altogether.' God knoweth 
it, whether it be savoury and gracious or vain and idle. But this is 
not all ; he knoweth our hearts and our very thoughts : Prov. xv. 11, 
' Hell and destruction are before the Lord ; how much more the hearts 
of the children of men ? ' He setteth forth the knowledge of God by 
those things which are most unknown to us, the state of the dead and 
the hearts of men. He knoweth all those that are in the state of the 
dead, though unknown or forgotten by the most of men ; what is 
become of the bodies and souls of men ; the damned spirits in hell, he 
keepeth an exact account of all the prisoners ; the bodies in the grave, 
he knoweth what is become of their dust, and how to restore to every 
one his own flesh and his own body ; and what are the thoughts and 
hearts of men now alive. The thoughts of the heart are most hidden 
from man till they be revealed by word^or action. Who can know 
our thoughts ? what more swift and sudden, what more various and 
more hidden than a thought ? and this he knoweth not by guess and 
interpretation, by running up our actions into their proper thought and 
principle wherein they are founded, but by immediate inspection, and 
knoweth them before they are manifested by the event, or any overt act 
of word or deed ; what consultations and deliberations we are about 
before we conclude anything ; with what hopes, and aims, and con 
sciences we are carried on; in whose name we act, and with what 
principles and ends : which is of double use to us, partly to breed a 
holy fear, and partly a hope in us. An awe, how should we compose 
our minds and passions, and the very thoughts of our hearts ! God 
seeth all, how should we use our words and order our behaviour ! We 
do all in his sight, and speak all in his hearing : he finds out 1 the 
thought, word, and deed that is not done in his presence or conceived 
in his presence, and then allow yourselves to be vain and frivolous if 
you can. And partly to breed a hope in us. God knoweth what is 
hatched in hell, or Home, or elsewhere against us ; and therefore let 
us do our duty, and rest in the wisdom of God for protection. 

3. God's knowledge is most exact and accurate ; it is good to see 
how it is expressed to us in scripture : Heb. iv. 13, ' All things are 
naked and open before him;' cut down by the chine-bone. When 
a beast is dissected and opened, every part is seen, the soundness or 
unsoundness of it presently appears. Heathen soothsayers were wont 
to look to the inwards of the beasts, and to observe the colour, shape, 
and all the defects or perfections of the sacrifice : the prophet alludeth 
to it when he saith, Ezek xxi. 21, 'He looked into the liver.' Thus 
are all things said to be laid open before God. Sometimes by search 
ing: 1 Chron. xxix. 11, 'He searcheth the heart, and trieth the 
imaginations of the sons of men.' Sometimes it is search as with 
candles, Zeph. i. 12, as one for what is hid or lost. Luke xv. 8, when 
the woman had lost her groat, ' She lighteth the candle, sweepeth the 
house, seeketh diligently till she findeth it.' We think our sins will 
never be heard of more, but he findeth them out, and they find us out : 
Num. xxxii. 23, 'Your iniquities shall find you out.' Sometimes by 
keeping reckoning: Job xxxi. 4, 'Doth not he count all my steps?' 

VOL. xxi. l Q«- ' Fiud out >? - ED M 


God hath a hook where all is put to account : Mai. iii. 18, ' A hook of 
remembrance was written before him ; and Ps. xvi. 3, ' Thou tellest 
all my wanderings ; put thou my tears in thy bottle, are they not in thy 
book ? ' Words, thoughts, actions, all upon record. What neglects 
of grace, omission of duties, violating principles of conscience, God 
counteth them all: Jer. xiv. 16, 'Thou numberest my steps, and 
watchest over my sin.' Sometimes by weighing and pondering : Prov. 
xvi. 2, 'But the Lord weigheth the spirits;' Prov. xv. 21, 'All my 
ways are before him, and he pondereth my goings.' Whether full 
weight or too light, he knoweth the number, the proportion, the 
weight of every one of thy sins ; the person who, the place where, the 
time when committed ; what means, warnings, methods of grace, helps 
to the contrary, these are brought into the reckoning. Thus by many 
metaphors does the scripture set out the exact and certain knowledge 
that God hath of persons, and circumstances, and all their actions ; 
nothing can escape God, anjl he cannot be deceived, because he goeth 
on sound evidence. 

4. It is an infinite, perfect, distinct manner of knowing things : Ps. 
cxlvii. 5, ' His understanding is infinite : Of his understanding there is 
no search ;' Isa. xl. 28 ; it is beyond the reach of man's shallow capacity 
to conceive of it. I add this, because it is hard for us to understand how 
God should at once know all things that are done by so many several men, 
in so many several parts of the world, and hearken to all their prayers. 
Lucian scoffed at the heathen gods, as if they were forced to run hither 
and thither, to hear the prayers made in the eastern and western parts 
of the world, and the disorders that fell out in Greece while the gods 
were banqueting in Ethiopia. An infinite understanding can see all 
things at once, for he understandeth all things in a way different from 
man ; not successively, and by discourse one after another. A man 
cannot read a book in a moment, but must go from line to line, and 
page to page ; but God knoweth all things in an instant, and that 
by one act of understanding, as if a man could read a book through by 
once looking on it. His knowledge is not confounded with multiplicity 
of objects ; as God had a prospect of the whole creation at once, Gen. 
i. 31, ' He saw all that he had made.' It is all one to him to know all 
things, and know but one thing. When two or three speak together, 
we are not able to take in their sense and meaning, our senses and 
understandings are finite. Now when many speak to God at the same 
time, it is but as if one spake ; an infinite eye seeth all, and an infinite 
ear heareth all, and that clearly and distinctly, without confusion. 

II. The reasons which the scripture giveth for the belief of this 

1. The immensity and greatness of God ; God is in all, and above 
all, and beyond all, nowhere included, and nowhere excluded. And so 
his omnipresence doth establish the belief of his omniscience : Jer. xxiii. 
23, 24, ' Am I a God at hand, and not afar off ? Do not I fill heaven 
and earth ? can any hide himself in secret places, that I should not see 
him ? ' God is everywhere, not only with respect to his powerful and 
efficacious providence, but with respect to his essential presence. God 
is there wherever you are. Now if he be with us, surely he knoweth 
us. He is present with all the world, and therefore he doth regard and 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 179 

observe all the world : you may take liberty to sin when God is gone 
or absent from you, and you can get behind his back ; but that can 
never be, and therefore we must do all things as in his presence. 

2. From creation. God hath made our hearts, given us the power 
to affect, think, purpose, and do, and therefore knoweth what is in us : 
Ps. xciv. 9, 10, ' He that planted the ear, shall- not he hear? he that 
formed the eye, shall not he see ? ' God knoweth how the creature 
will act, for he gave it power to act. Surely he that made man know 
eth what is in man ; his knowledge is answerable to his power. He 
that made the heart of man observeth what they do, what counsels 
they have in hand. This argument is again used, Ps. cxxxix. 13, 
' Thou hast possessed my reins; for thou hast covered me in my mother's 
womb.' He that made our heart, knoweth our words, works, thoughts, 
and all. Once more : Ps. xxxiii. 13-15, ' The Lord looketh from 
heaven ; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his 
habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He 
fashioneth their hearts alike, he considereth all their works.' He that 
formed their souls as well as their bodies is able to judge particularly 
the operations of their hearts. Every wise agent knoweth what he doeth, 
and to what end he maketh anything, and how it may be used or 
employed. The same argument is urged by the prophet Isaiah, chap, 
xxix. 16, ' Shall the thing formed say of him that formed it, He hath 
no understanding ? ' This is brought to confute them that say, Who 
seeth us, who knoweth us ? or thought they could hide their counsels, 
so as God should not see them. Alas ! all lieth open to God's eye, as 
the fashion of the pot of clay doth to the potter : God cannot be igno 
rant of anything that is in his own work. You cannot imagine he 
knoweth not what you think and do ; when he made you, if he had so 
much wisdom to give you the power, he knoweth the act. 

3. From God's government. There is a twofold government of God, 
and both infer the truth in hand — 

[1.] Powerful, and by his effectual providence, as he governeth all 

[2.] Moral, by his laws, as he governeth the reasonable creature. 

[1.] The government of his effectual providence, which is necessary 
to all our actions : ' For in him we live, and move, and have our being.' 
Acts xvii. 28. All things move as he moveth them in their natural 
agency. The creature can do nothing without him, and actually doth 
nothing but by him : his wisdom guideth, his will intendeth and com- 
inandeth, his power moveth and disposeth all. He is more intimately 
present with us than we are with ourselves, governing and sustaining 
all things : ' His hand leadeth us, and his right hand doth still uphold 
us,' Ps. cxxxix. 10. We cannot do anything, go anywhere, without his 
gracious supportation. Now doth God support a creature whom he 
knoweth not, and in any action which he understandeth not ? Christ 
knew that virtue passed from him when the multitude thronged him, 
Luke viii. 45, 46. In the great throng of creatures God knoweth who 
is sustained by him, and to whom the influence of his providence 
reacheth. Now then, since he is as verily with thee in every place as 
thou art there thyself, is he present with thee, and regardless of thee, 
of thy thoughts and words and ways ? It cannot be. 


[2.] His moral government. All persons and causes of men are to 
be judged by bim, and therefore are most eminently and fully discovered 
to him. Surely he that is to be judged of God must be clearly known 
to him, both as to his actions and thoughts ; how else can he judge 
righteously either now or hereafter ? Job xxxiv. 21, 23, ' His eyes are 
upon the ways of marl, and he seeth all his goings. Therefore he will 
not lay upon man more than is right, that he should enter into judg 
ment with God ; ' that is, will not excessively and unjustly afflict man : 
Ps. xciv. 10, ' He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct ? he 
that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know ? ' 

III. How this truth is entertained by men. 

1. Some atheistically deny it: Job xxii. 13, 14, 'And thou sayest, 
How doth God know ? can he judge through the thick cloud ? Thick 
clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not, and he walketh in the 
circuit of heaven.' Atheists have carnal and gross thoughts of God, 
as if he were confined within the heavens, and had no sense and care 
of what was done below, or had other business to mind than to look 
after the sons of men : Ps. Ixxiii. 11, ' How doth God know ? and is 
there knowledge in the Most High ? ' Many that dare not simply deny 
a deity, yet deny a providence : they measure God by themselves, their 
own shallow conceptions ; whereas God is infinitely exalted above 
what we can comprehend. 

2. Some question it, if they do not deny it : Isa. xxix. 15, ' Woe 
unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and 
their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us ? and who 
knoweth us ? ' Ezek. viii. 12, ' They say, Who seeth us ? the Lord hath 
forsaken the earth.' 

3. Some forget it : he is not far from us, but we are often far from 
him ; they acknowledge this truth in the general, but they forget it in 
particular, in the course of their conversations : Ps. xxxvi. 4, ' The 
transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear 
of God before their eyes.' What could he do worse, if no God to take 
notice of him ? Profaneness is practical atheism ; they do not deny, 
but forget; or they deny not in words, but in works. We should 
often revive this thought, God knoweth, and taketh notice of what we 
do : Ps. cxix. 168, ' I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies ; 
for all my ways are before thee. ' 

4. Some slight it through impudence and obduration in sin : Zeph. 
i. 12, ' The Lord will do neither good nor evil.' They acknowledge 
there is a God, and that he is omniscient, holy, and just, yet dare sin 
against him : Ps. x. 17, ' He hath said in his heart, The Lord will not 
require it.' 

5. Most carry themselves as too unmindful of it, as appeareth by 
these evidences. 

[1.] In the general ; men would be other manner of persons, in all 
holy conversation and godliness, if they did always set God before them. 
The all-seeing eye of a holy God would make them more circumspect and 
watchful. But because men live without God in the world, therefore 
are their conversations so full of vanity and sin : Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am 
God Almighty, walk before me, and be thou perfect.' 

[2.] More particularly ; men would make more conscience of their 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in.. 181 

thoughts, if they did remember that God knoweth their thoughts 
afar off, Ps. cxxxix. 2. Would they indulge themselves in such a 
liberty of lustful, covetous, envious, malicious, and unbelieving thoughts, 
and feed their minds with these things, if they did well consider that 
God knoweth all things ? 

[3.J The disproportion of our respects to God's eye and man's : they 
can fancy a matter in the dark, and not be troubled about it. We are 
usually more awed with the presence of a man than with the presence 
of God. You will do that which God knoweth, which you would not 
do when man knoweth it. He knoweth your fraud, your uncleanness, 
your licentiousness : Jer. ii. 26, ' The thief is ashamed when he is found/ 
Job xxiv. 17, ' If a man know them, they are in the terrors of the sha 
dow of death.' If a man know anything amiss by them, they are full 
of anguish and shame. Why should not conscience be awakened more 
by thoughts of God's knowledge ? It would trouble us to have a win 
dow into our hearts ; is not all open and naked to God's eye ? In short, 
how watchful are we not to incur the penalty of man's law ! but of 
fences against God are lightly passed over. 

[4.] The best have not such a sound and serious belief of this truth, 
nor do not improve it as they ought to do, as appears partly because 
we are more troubled with this or that branch of corruption which 
breaks out to our disgrace, than about the body of death, or indwelling 
sin, which is the cause of all ; the root should be more grievous to us 
than the branches. Partly by this ; in company, what lofty expres 
sions and flowing eloquence will men enlarge themselves in prayer ! 
but how slight and overly in closet duties, if not too commonly neglect 
ful of them ! What is this but in effect to say that our Father doth 
not see in secret ? Partly, also, what will you say if we are troubled 
more with brokenness of expression than unbrokenness of heart ? the 
one layeth us open to sharne and disgrace with men, the other is more 
offensive and displeasing to God. 

IV. What use shall we make of it ? 

1. Terror to the wicked. God seeth them here and hereafter, and 
will call them to an account ; there is no escaping his sight here, nor 
shifting his tribunal hereafter. Adam, by running to the bushes, did 
not hide himself from the Lord, neither did he hide the Lord from 
himself. God seeth, and God seeth as a judge : Jer. xxxii. 19, ' Thine 
eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one 
according to his ways, and according to his doings.' God is not a bare 
spectator of what is done in the world, but a judge, an avenger of 
what is evil: and his solemn judgment at the last day will most dis 
cover his omnisciency, ' When the hidden things of darkness are made 
manifest, and the counsels of the heart are brought to light,' 1 Cor. 
iv. 5. In that, as you cannot evade his knowledge, you cannot escape 
his power. 

2. Comfort to the godly. 

[1.] God knoweth their persons : Exod. xxxiii. 12, ' I know thee by 
name : ' he taketh special notice of them. All things are under a 
providence, but they are under a special providence ; a father cannot 
forget how many children he hath, though in a large and numerous 
family he cannot presently reckon up all his servants. 


[2.] God knoweth their conditions, wants, and necessities: Mat. vi. 
32, ' Your heavenly Father knoweth that you need these things ; ' Exod. 
iii. 7, ' I have seen the afflictions of my people, and known their sorrows.' 
God is so well acquainted with our wants, that he cannot forget us nor 
neglect us. 

[3.] Our prayers are heard, not lost in the darkness of secrecy : Mat. 
vi. 6, 'Thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.' He 
that knoweth thy heart, will give thee the desire of thy heart. 

[4.] Thy duties are rewarded, and rightly understood. First, Certainly 
rewarded : 2 Chron. xvi. 9, ' For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro 
throughout the earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them 
whose hearts are perfect with him ; ' Heb. vi. 10, ' God is not unright 
eous to forget your labour of love.' Secondly, Kightly understood. 
Men may be ignorant of what we do, but God is not ; as Potiphar 
was ignorant of Joseph's faithfulness ; he put him in prison for his 
integrity, Gen. xxxiv. 19, 20; the butler forgot him, Gen. xl. 43. 
Some will not own it, but God knoweth : 1 Cor. iv. 3, ' But with me it 
is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judg 

Use. Is to awaken all to a greater mindfulness of this truth. 

First, Let it be believed, and the faith of it more settled in your 
hearts. Besides creation and providence, and God's immensity or omni 
presence and government, the arguments mentioned before, there are 
evidences of it — 

1. In the human nature of Christ ; he discovered himself God 
while he was in the flesh, and this perfection of his Godhead did shine 
forth through the human nature, that he knew men's hearts, and their 
inward thoughts. He turneth out the very inside of their minds in 
the story of his life often : John ii. 25, ' He knew what was in man.' 

2. By the light of the prophetical spirit : 2 Kings v. 26, ' Went not 
mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to 
meet thee ? ' As if he had said, I saw him light out of his chariot, and 
what he gave thee, and where thou laidst it. God had bestowed 
upon him an extraordinary spirit, whereby he could discern things done 
in his absence. So another prophet, Ahijah, when Jeroboam's wife 
thought to have put a cheat upon him, his eyes being dim by reason 
of age: 1 Kings xiv. 6, ' Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam, why feign- 
est thou thyself to be another ? ' 

3. The gift of discerning spirits bestowed on the apostles, 1 Cor. 
xii. 10, whether church-gifts, or sincerity of men's hearts, in order to 
discipline : Acts v. 9, ' How is it that ye have agreed together to 
tempt the Spirit of the Lord ? ' that is, the prophetical spirit. 

4. Another instance is God's finding us out in our secret sins by his 
word, searching the heart : Heb. iv. 12, ' The word of God is quick 
and powerful, and sharper than a 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 ; ' 1 Cor. 
xiv. 25, ' And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest.' By 
his Spirit enforcing the sense of our secret sins upon us : Job xiii. 26, 
' Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the 
iniquities of my youth.' Old sins, long since forgotten, come into fresh 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 183 

remembrance, and we know not how to get rid of the horrors of them. 
By his providence: Num. xxxii. 23, ' Behold, ye have sinned against 
the Lord ; and be sure your sin will find you out ; ' Gen. xlii. 21, ' We 
are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish 
of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear him : there 
fore is this distress corne upon us.' The man was rough and untract- 
able to them, as they had been to their brother : afflictions open the 
eyes, they are God's rack. 

Secondly, Kemember it often in your whole conversation ; you are 
always before God, therefore serve him 'in holiness and righteousness 
all the days of thy life/ Luke i. 75 ; Prov. xv. 21, ' The ways of a 
man are before the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.' He weigheth 
every circumstance of thy life. If this were better thought of, there 
would be less disorder in the world. Heathens gave this advice, that 
in the presence of a Cato, or severe reprover, there needs no fiction or 
supposition in the case ; and a greater than Cato is here. God is 
really present everywhere, but we do not think of it. He seeth, and 
' is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.' We should inure ourselves 
to these thoughts. 

Thirdly, We must actually revive this thought in solemn duties, 
when we come to act the part of angels, and to behold the face of our 
heavenly Father. In every duty God knoweth the frame of our hearts 
and affections; and wilt thou be cold and careless in the sight of God? 
There God immediately is the party with whom we have to do, in 
hearing and praying : Heb. iv. 13, ' Neither is there any creature that 
is not manifest in his sight ; but all things are open and naked unto 
the eyes of him with whom we have to do;' Acts x. 33, 'Now therefore 
we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are com 
manded thee of God.' He knoweth what thoughts and affections are 
stirring in your hearts ; God is everywhere with us, but we are not 
always and everywhere with God. 

Fourthly, In a time of temptation. When sin assaults with the 
advantage of secrecy, and other inviting circumstances to commit it, 
Gen. xxxix. 9, say, ' How shall I do this wickedness, and sin against 
God?' We must check it by this consideration, God seeth, God 
knoweth : Esther vii. 8, ' Will he force the queen before me in the 
house ? ' Shall we break God's laws before his face ? 

Fifthly, To make you faithful in your stations. God invests us with 
them, that we may improve them for his glory. Magistrates : 2 Chron. 
xix. 1, 'The Lord is with you in the judgment;' Ps. xcii. 1, ' God 
standeth in the congregation of the mighty.' Diodorus Siculus telleth 
us of some heathens who had some empty chairs of state advanced 
above their tribunals as for their gods, to show they were present, and 
had an inspection over all acts of judicature : Ezek. v. 8, ' If thou 
seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment 
and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter ; for he that is 
higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they.' 
Ministers : 2 Cor. ii. 17, ' But as of God, in the sight of God speak 
we in Christ ; ' 1 Thes. ii. 4, ' Even so we speak, not as pleasing men, 
but God,' who trieth our hearts. Masters of families are to walk in 
their houses with a perfect heart : Ps. ci. 2, ' I will behave myself 


wisely in a perfect way ; I will walk within my house with a perfect 
heart.' Though shut up in their families from the observation of others, 
yet God seeth them ; therefore hehave yourselves wisely and prudently 
there. Servants : Col. iii. 22, 23, ' Servants, obey in all things your 
masters according to the flesh ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, 
but in singleness of heart, fearing God ; and whatever ye do, do it 
heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.' 


Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence 
toivards God. — 1 JOHN iii. 21. 

HERE is the effect of a good conscience. In the words we have — (1.) 
A condition supposed, ' If our hearts condemn us not ; ' (2.) A privi 
lege asserted, ' Then have we confidence towards God.' 

First, The condition supposed. There are three functions and offices 
of conscience : there is, first, a knowledge, remembrance, or keeping 
up of principles, according to which our state and actions must be 
interpreted ; secondly, a sense of our actions, or what is done, or left 
undone, in conformity or contrariety to those principles; thirdly, a 
judging or applying to ourselves those rules which concern our fact or 
state. As to the first act and office, conscience hath the force of a 
law and rule, informing us of good or evil. With respect to the second 
act, it is a witness, testifying what we have been or done. With respect 
to the last act, it is a judge, to condemn or acquit as the matter shall 
require. As, for instance, in that copulate axiom which you have, 
Bom. 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.' Take the 
first part ; he that 'liveth after the flesh shall die,' meaning the second 
death ; there conscience interposeth as a law or rule. But I ' live after 
the flesh ; ' there conscience interposeth as a witness : therefore I shall 
die the second death ; there it condemneth as a judge. Take the second 
clause, and you will have an instance of conscience not condemning or 
acquitting : ' They that by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body 
shall live ; ' but I mortify the deeds of the body, therefore I shall live. 
Now if conscience goeth upon a right principle, and beareth true evi 
dence, the sentence and judgment remaineth firm, or in full force, be it 
by way of condemnation or absolution. As in the first reasoning, the 
conclusion must needs breed sorrow, trouble, and dejection of heart, 
which must not be put off till God put it away ; that is, till we break 
off our fleshly course of living, and obtain our pardon and peace by 
Jesus Christ. In the second reasoning the sentence of absolution is u 
ground of comfort, and giveth boldness in our approaches to God. 
Once more, conscience may condemn us two ways — in part or in 
whole ; according to the strictness of the first covenant, requiring 
unsinning obedience ; on the equitable terms of the second, accepting 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 185 

our sincere obedience. Our hearts may accuse us of imperfection, but 
not of insincerity and hypocrisy, or partial dealing with God. lu this 
latter sense is the text taken. 

Secondly, The privilege, ' Then have we confidence towards God.' 

1. What is this confidence ? 

[1.] It is sometimes put for boldness, or not fearing any danger or 
evil from one : 1 John ii. 28, ' That when he shall appear we may have 
boldness, and not be ashamed at his coming.' And so the sense will 
be, You need not fear any danger from him ; for God will not be 
wanting to them that walk sincerely before him. So it is said the 
' righteous are bold as a lion,' Prov. xxviii. 1. So Phil. i. 20, ' Accord 
ing to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be 
ashamed, but that, with all boldness, as always, so now, Christ shall be 
magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death.' That he should 
boldly avow the truth, as fearless of any danger ; living and dying, he 
should glorify Christ. A Christian feareth nothing that is established 
upon sound terms : Ps. xxiii. 4, ' Though I walk through the valley 
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.' They are not discouraged 
and disquieted, as others, with the apprehensions of danger ; as not 
from men, so not from God, to whom they look chiefly. Fear and 
dread of God's displeasure followeth the consciousness of sin, but 
expectation and hope of reward and good countenance from God is the 
natural result of righteousness and holiness. This is the first notion 
of the word ' confidence/ and not to be excluded here. 

[2.] It signifieth liberty in prayer, a telling God all our mind, and 
so it signifieth praying freely to God, and asking of him whatever we 
stand in need of ; a freedom to speak our hearts and open our minds 
to God in all necessities : Eph. iii. 12, ' In whom we have boldness, 
and access with confidence, through the faith of him ; ' and Heb. iv. 
16, 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace.' We may present our 
selves and our requests before him with confidence. Only let me note, 
that this confidence noteth liberty of heart rather than liberty of speech ; 
not a flowing of words so much as a holy confidence of audience and 
acceptance whenever we draw nigh unto him. 

2. In what sense we may be said to have it. It may be understood 
de facto or dejure. It is not meant of the first only, for two reasons — 
(1.) Because otherwise it were not an argument of the value of the 
testimony of conscience if we have confidence towards God, and he doth 
not allow it or approve it ; for though he doth not say, If our hearts 
condemn us not, God will not condemn us, as in the former verse, ' God 
is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things ; ' yet it must be 
understood, or else the apostle's reasoning were impertinent. (2.) 
Because de facto all that are sincere have not this confidence ; they 
have a right to it, though they enjoy it not ; for there needeth another 
witness : Eom. viii. 16, ' The Spirit itself beareth witness with our 
spirit that we are the children of God.' 

Doct. That a good conscience is one means to open an effectual door 
to us for free and full communion with God. 

I shall prove two things to you — 

1. That it is a great privilege to have free and full communion with 
God in his worship. 


2. That a good conscience hath a great influence on this. 

I. For the first, that free and full communion with God in his wor 
ship, expressed here by boldness, or 'confidence towards God/ is a 
great privilege. This will appear if you consider — 

1. Man's forfeiture by sin ; God's image, favour, and fellowship lost 
all at once. All sweet commerce between us and God was cut off, 
as is evident by the story of the fall, where you will find man first a 
fugitive, and then an exile. First he ran away from God, and then 
God banished him out of his presence, Gen. iii. 8. When God came 
walking in the garden in the cool of the day, Adam and his wife hid 
themselves, as being afraid of the presence of the Lord ; they shuffled 
out of the way, and ran among the trees of the garden ; and afterwards 
we read again, ver. 23, 24, that God sent him forth, and drove him out 
of his presence, and set a guard of cherubims, and a flaming sword 
turning every way upon paradise, which was a figure of his wrath. 
As it was thus with Adam, so it was with all his posterity ; sin is the 
wall of partition between us and God: Isa. lix. 2, 'Your iniquities 
have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his 
face from you, that he will not hear/ 

2. The estrangement of the heart that grows upon this forfeiture, 
as appeareth by that legal bondage and those guilty fears which are 
natural to us. Sinners fear God, and fly from him : ' I was afraid, 
and hid myself/ saith Adam, Gen. iii. 10; and all his posterity have 
the same disposition : Isa. xxxiii. 14, ' Who among us can dwell with 
devouring burnings ? ' Yea, it appeareth by the bashfulness and in- 
confidence that befalleth the children of God by reason of sin. The 
fears of a guilty child make him shun his father's presence, as David 
kept silence when he had sinned, Ps. xxxii. 3. Strangeness and dis 
tance groweth between God and us while sin lieth on the conscience. 

3. The majesty of God, and the state which he kept during the old 
testament dispensation. In the whole frame of that worship, God 
would show them how unworthy sinners were to approach and draw 
nigh to him and his holy things. When they were married to him 
in the covenant on Mount Sinai, there was a rail between him and the 
people, and they were not to go up into the holy mount, or touch the 
border of it, under penalty of being put to death, Exod. xix. 12, 13. 
In their passage to Canaan, the common Israelite was not to come 
near the ark lest he died, Num. i. 53, but the Levites were to inter 
pose between God and them. The Levites also were not to be too bold ; 
some of them were chosen out to touch the staves of the altar, and 
perform other ministries, but not to see the holy things when covered, 
lest they died, Num. xix. 20. Sinful man must not come too near the 
great God. The priests were to minister at the altar of burnt-offerings, 
but not without solemn washings, Exod. xxx. 20. The high priest 
(Lev. xvi. 2, ' And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy 
brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the 
veil before the mercy-seat, which is upon the ark, that he die not ') was 
not to be too familiar with God; and if any of these orders were broken, 
judgments were executed, and they were struck dead in the place. 
The people were sensible of these restraints : Num. xvii. 17, 18, ' And 
the children of Israel said unto Moses, Behold, we die, we perish, we 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 187 

all perish. Whosoever cometh anything near unto the tabernacle of 
the Lord shall die : shall we be consumed with dying ? ' Some were 
killed with the sword, the earth swallowed up others, some died with 
pestilence, and all for making too bold with God in his holy things. 

4. The many failings which the best are conscious of. When we 
consider the exact inspection of God, and the many infirmities of the 
best Christians, it is a wonder they can have any confidence towards 
God, when our own conscience condemneth us of many things ; but 
the Lord layeth not them to our charge where the heart is sincere for 
the main ; and he could observe many more things against us than our 
consciences do, yet such is his mercy and fatherly love, that he will 
pardon and reverse all these failings, and will delight in our converse 
with him : Prov.- xv. 8, ' The prayer of the upright is his delight.' 
God looketh more to their good than their ill ; though he knoweth 
more by them than all the world, or they themselves do, yet if our 
hearts do not reprove us of partial dealings, we may plead, 2 Kings 
xx. 3, ' I beseech thee, Lord, remember now how I have walked 
before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which 
is good in thy sight.' 

5. The thing itself is very valuable. This confidence towards God, 
what is there in it ? 

[1.] A readiness to converse with God and come into his presence ; 
whereas otherwise the heart is shy of him, and hangeth off from him ; 
as Israel, when they had sinned in the matter of the calf, they durst not 
come near the sanctuary, but worshipped every man afar off at his 
tent-door, Exod. xxxiii. 8, as looking what success Moses' mediation 
would have with the Lord about reconciling him to his people, when 
he was angry and ready to depart. Now when we can cheerfully come 
into God's presence, and converse with him, we have boldness to enter 
into the holiest, Heb. x. 9 ; we have leave to come, and a heart to 
come : to have both is a very great privilege. Liberty of access, with 
assurance of welcome and audience, surely is a great favour and privi 
lege ; the soul cannot keep away from God. 

[2.] A free familiarity. When we come, we unbosom ourselves to 
him as a man would unto his friend, and tell God all our mind, acquaint 
him with all our griefs, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, temptations, con 
flicts ; tell him plainly how it is with our souls. This is that free 
spirit David begs for, and had lost some degree of it by his sin, Ps. li. 
12, and is set forth by Ps. cxix. 26, ' I declared my ways, and thou 
heardest me.' We keep back nothing from him : Ps. Ixii. 8, ' Trust 
in him at all times, pour out your hearts before him.' We lay down 
our burden at his feet; we deal openly and plainly with him. 

[3.] A childlike trust, that he will pity and help us, that our persons 
and duties are accepted with him ; for much of the disposition of 
children lieth in owning him as a Father. The spirit of adoption was 
given us to this end and purpose : Rom. viii. 15, ' But we have received 
the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father ; ' and Gal. iv. 
16, ' He hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, whereby 
we cry, Abba, Father/ Oh, what a mercy is this, to come to him, not 
as our judge, but as our Father, not with a spirit of fear, but love ! 
It is not a tribunal of justice we stand before, but a throne of grace. 


Surely to have a merciful reconciled Father to go to, and make our 
moan for relief in all our distresses and wants, is a very comfortable 
privilege, that we cannot sufficiently value. Whosoever scorneth and 
slights him, a Christian knoweth where he may be welcome : ' My 
friends scorn me, but mine eye poureth out tears to God,' Job xvi. 20. 
Though slighted elsewhere, he will not be refused there. Surely God 
will deal kindly with his children ; his fatherly love will not suffer him 

neglect them, or any of their concernments. 

[4.] The rich treasure that we have an interest in and free access 
unto. God's all-sufficiency is our storehouse ; he hath grace enough 
to pardon our sins, to pity and relieve our miseries, to heal our natures, 
supply our necessities, to help us in our straits, and finally to save us 
with an everlasting salvation. This confidence implieth a dependence 
on God's all-sufficiency, Gen. xvii. 1. Cast all your care upon him, 
1 Peter v. 7. Earthly parents, their affections and power are limited. 
Now to come to such a God every day, and to know that as often as 
we come we are welcome to him, in and through Christ, our persons 
and prayers are pleasing to him, and that he will give us all the 
things we ask of him according to his will, what a mercy is this ! 

II. What influence hath a good conscience upon it ? 

1. The door of access to God is opened by Christ. It was first 
opened by the merit of his passion, and is still kept open by his inter 
cession ; therefore it is said, Heb. iv. 15, 16, ' For we have not a high 
priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but 
was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us there 
fore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, 
and find grace to help in a time of need ; ' Heb. x. 19, ' Having therefore, 
brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.' 
Our peace and atonement was made with God by Christ's passion, 
represented and pleaded by his intercession. 

2. It supposeth our justification by faith, for otherwise we are not 
entered into the evangelical state: Rom v. 1, 2, 'Being justified by 
faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ ; by 
whom also we have access by faith.' Till we are accepted in the 
Beloved, we have a charge lying against us : Acts xiii. 38, 39, ' Be it 
known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is 
preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that 
believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be 
justified by the law of Moses.' This is a ground of rejoicing : Rom. 
viii. 33, 34, ' Who then shall lay anything to the charge of God's 
elect ? ' 

3. Our justification is evident to us when conscience witnesseth on 
good grounds that we do not allow ourselves in the omission of any 
known duty, nor in the commission of any known sin : Heb. x. 22, ' Let 
us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our 
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with 
pure water.' When we are justified and sanctified, and our con 
sciences, which were unquiet by reason of sin, are purged and purified, 
then we may cheerfully come to God for all things. Particularly — 
(1.) To remove terror ; (2.) To establish boldness and confidence. 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON UOHN in. 189 

[1.] To remove terror. There are two things obstruct our soul's 
access to God — our own guiltiness and God's terror. 

(1.) Our own guiltiness, that straitens the heart, and stoppeth the 
mouth, and breedeth bondage in us. All the world naturally is 
become guilty before God, Rom. iii. 19 ; but they who are renewed 
and pardoned, they come out of this guilty and wretched estate, and 
by little and little are settled and established as to their consciences, 
as their pardon and sanctification is made more evident to them by a 
holy conversation : Rom. vi. 14, ' For sin shall have no dominion over 
you.' Where sin reigneth not, they come to understand their estate by 
grace, and so vanquish their legal fears. Where worldly and fleshly 
lusts bear sway, a man is under the law, not under grace. The law is 
alive or dead according to the state a man is in, either of sin or holi 
ness. He that liveth in a state of sin still carrieth his sting and wound 
about him, and is always under doubts and fears, or hath the matter 
and ground of them. Certainly they have not the true courage and 
boldness of the saints. Not only their flesh and spirit is at war in 
their hearts, but law and grace. As the Spirit prevaileth against the 
flesh, so doth grace prevail against our law-fears : ' For they that are 
led by the Spirit, are not under the law,' Gal. v. 18 ; that is, not under 
its condemning power. So Bom. viii. 14, ' Ye have not received the 
spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we 
cry, Abba, Father.' If we live in obedience to the motions of the 
sanctifying Spirit, he doth as a Spirit of adoption overcome our legal 

(2.) God's terror. God is our friend and Father in Christ ; not a 
terrible judge, but a reconciled Father; and his throne is not a judg 
ment-seat, but a mercy-seat. He is terrible to those that lie in their 
sins; they look upon him as a malefactor doth upon his judge, a rigid 
lawgiver or severe avenger ; as a condemning God, not as a pardoning 
God. But not so to those that are adopted and taken into his family ; 
he maketh the renewed and sanctified his children, and is pleased to 
own them as a Father : ' That we should be holy, and without blame 
before him in love ; having predestinated us to the adoption of children,' 
Eph. i. 4-6. Surely when God is our Father, the chief cause of all our 
fear and trouble is gone. We have no cause to fear the flames of hell, 
or sting of death, and the terror of the judgment, any further than to 
make ready for the day of judgment. Surely then we can not only 
draw nigh to God, and behold his face with comfort and confidence 
now, and rejoice in his presence with us in the ordinances, but also 
look and long for his appearance, when he shall come in his glory : 
2 Tim. iv. 8, ' Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous 
ness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day ; 
and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing ; ' Rev. 
xxii. 20, ' He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, 
Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus.' 

[2.] To establish boldness and confidence; for — 

(1.) There is an everlasting merit to depend upon, and that is the 
blood of Christ, quieting the conscience : Heb. ix. 14, ' How much 
more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered 
himself without spot to God, purge our consciences from dead works 


to serve the living God ? ' Heb. xii. 24, ' And to Jesus, the mediator 
of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh 
better things than the blood of Abel.' We are admitted for Christ's 
sake, and have only his righteousness to plead against the first cove 

(2.) Here is a blessed covenant, wherein God hath showed his will 
ingness to accept us, and hath given us his warrant for the discharge 
of the sincere and upright : Rom. viii. 1, 'There is now no condemnation 
to them that are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the 
Spirit.' Therefore, if our consciences do not charge us with a doubling 
with God, what should disquiet our minds ? 

(3.) There is a sure claim, and that is sincerity, when our hearts 
condemn us not, nor reproach us for any voluntary wilful neglect of or 
disobedience to the laws of Christ, or living in any wilful and allowed 
sin ; yea, rather acquit us, assure us of such sincerity to God and Christ, 
that we can appeal to his all-seeing eye : John xxi. 17, ' And he said 
unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.' 
Now surely all this will breed boldness, and be matter of joy and con 
fidence to us : 2 Cor i. 12, ' For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of 
our conscience, that, in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our 
conversation in the world.' 

Object. Will not this strengthen the security of the wicked, to leave 
all upon the judgment of conscience? Jer. xvii. 9, 'The heart is 
deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; who can know it ? ' 
Many men's consciences do not condemn them ; they absolve themselves 
with great confidence, which is not to be imputed to the strength of 
their faith, but the hardness of their hearts. 

Ans. 1. Wicked men are never perfect as appertaining to the consci 
ence ; they have not a true sound peace ; it is but a truce, as appeareth 
because it is so soon disturbed by the seriousness of their own thoughts, 
their troubles, the agonies of death. A dead stupid conscience they have, 
but not the rejoicing of faith and liberty towards God. It is not the 
lively sense of God's love ; their hearts reproach them, though they 
regard it not. 

Ans. 2. It doth suppose that conscience doth its office rightly, and that 
all things concur which are necessary to a good conscience. As — 

[1.] Some competent knowledge of the gospel, the privileges and 
duties thereof. Carnal men are bold through ignorance. Now, 
' without knowledge the heart is not good,' Prov. xix. 2 ; as in out 
ward courts, through ignorance of law or false evidence, wrong sentence 
may be given. Therefore the apostle supposeth them to be persons 
whose hearts and consciences are in some measure enlightened in the 
things of God, and are still inquiring what is his holy, good, and ac 
ceptable will. 

[2.] One that hath heartily consented to the new covenant so under 
stood : 1 Peter iii. 21, ' Baptism doth also now save us, not the putting 
away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience 
towards God.' When they answer to the Lord's offers and demands 
in the gospel, thankfully accepting the offered benefits, faithfully re 
solving, by the strength of the Lord's grace, to perform the required 
duties, this is the covenant made with God in baptism. 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 191 

[3.] Those that set their hearts to fulfil their covenant-vow : ver. 22, 
' Whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his command 
ments, and do the things which are pleasing in his sight.' Now those, if 
their hearts do not condemn them of doubling, and dealing insincerely 
with God, they have liberty and confidence : Gal. vi. 16, ' As many as 
walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, as upon 
the whole Israel of God.' On the contrary : Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard 
iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.' In short, then, those 
that allow no sin, complain of it, fight against it, and study to please 
God in all things, and abound therein more and more ; those are 
declared to be sincere that seek to be without offence, Phil. i. 10. If 
men walk crookedly, they break their confidence, and cannot look God 
in the face with any comfort. 

[4.] That the case be well studied and weighed before conscience 
pronounceth and passeth the doom, for the heart is very deceitful : 
1 Cor. xi. 29, ' Let a man examine himself ; ' 2 Cor. xiii. 5, ' Examine 
yourselves whether ye be in the faith ; prove yourselves ; ' when a 
man well knowing his duty doth often search and examine himself, 
his conformity and inconformity thereunto, to see if any of these be 
wanting. Blind men cannot judge of colours. If no hearty consent 
to the covenant of grace, founded in the blood of Christ, he hath not 
taken the course to pacify conscience. If it be not his hearty and daily 
endeavour to please God, it is impudence, not confidence ; if there be 
slightness before the matter be debated, and doth undergo a full trial 
and hearing, it is rashness and presumption, hypocrisy and senseless 

Use 1. That liberty in prayer is so great a mercy, that we should 
not easily sin it away, and make our sincerity questionable ; the 
heavenly trade is then interrupted, and comfortable commerce between 
God and us broken off. Before we come into God's glorious presence, 
he first traineth us up by inviting us into his gracious presence, and 
the throne of grace is the porch of heaven. God taketh this course, 
not only to settle our affections, that we may begin that acquaintance 
here which there shall be perfected and consummated, but to try our 
confidence. If we cannot come to God in prayer, how shall we come 
to God in heaven, and in a dying hour cheerfully set sail for eternity, 
and launch into the other world ? Now whilst we are insincere, serious 
prayer is irksome ; we can have no delight in God's company, or com 
fortable thoughts of him ; while we indulge any secret sin, every duty 
is a penance to us. Therefore do not lose your liberty and openness 
of heart to God, but preserve the friendship settled in the covenant of 
grace inviolable and entire. 

2. That God's presence, which is the comfort of the faithful, is the 
burden of the carnal and the guilty. The presence of God is terrible 
to sinners ; they think they are never better than when farthest off 
from God and most forget God. The devil and the wicked sympa 
thise : Mat. viii. 29, ' What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son 
of God ? art thou come hither to torment us before the time ? ' Job 
xxi. 14, ' They say unto God, Depart from us, we desire not the know 
ledge of thy ways.' God's presence and company is a burden to them. 
Now into what a miserable condition hath sin brought men ! It hath 


changed their joy and content into the greatest terror. Wicked men 
can neither fly from God's presence, nor yet well endure it. 

Use 2. To press Christians to keep a good conscience. If you would 
maintain your liberty and confidence towards God, carry yourselves so 
that conscience may not condemn you. There are so many blessed 
fruits accompany it, that we should value it the more. If you have it 
not, you want liberty in prayer, here mentioned ; no hope of glory, no 
sweetness in the word, no readiness in duty, nor strength to resist sin, 
nor comfort in distresses and afflictions. But if you have it, you can 
not conceive the joy that accompanies it : Kev. ii. 17, ' To him that 
overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna ; and will give him 
a white stone, and in the stone a name written, which no man 
knows but he that receives it.' It makes the thoughts of God sweeter, 
for he is your Father ; his mercy, for it is your portion. His justice is 
not your terror, but support. His wrath you have escaped ; as the 
Israelites looked back on the Red Sea, and saw their enemies drowned 
and they escaped. His world of creatures are for your use and service ; 
heaven is your Father's palace ; Christ is your Redeemer and Saviour : 
the word is your charter ; ordinances and prayer the porch of heaven ; 
the Lord's supper the table God keepeth for his children. 


And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep Ms com 
mandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. — 
1 JOHN iii. 22. 

IN the context the apostle is speaking of the benefit of a good con 
science. It is double — 

1. Confidence towards God. 

2. Acceptance with God ; or, if you will, access to God, and success 
in prayer. Of confidence to make the prayer we spake in the former 
verse ; acceptance of it, when it is once made, of this in the text, ' And 
whatsoever we ask, we receive of him/ &c. 

In the words there are two things — 

1. The privilege of a good conscience, 'Whatsoever we ask, we 
receive of him.' 

2. The character and property of a good conscience, ' Because we 
keep his commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in his 

1. For the privilege ; and here note — 

[1.] The universality and extent of it, ' Whatsoever we ask.' 
[2.J The certainty, ' We receive ; ' not, we shall receive ; we are as 
certain to receive it as if we had it already. 

2. The character, evidence, and property of a good conscience, 
' Because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are 
pleasing in his sight.' This is fit to be added, because he had only 

YER. 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 193 

described conscience by its act of absolving or not condemning. Now 
lie slioweth this must be understood of conscience rightly proceeding. 
It is usually and truly observed that there is a fourfold conscience — 

[1.] Quiet and not good: Luke xi. 21, 'When the strong man 
keepeth the house, all that he possesseth is in peace.' There must 
needs be a calm when wind and tide goeth together. 

[2.] Good and not quiet ; as when David thought he was utterly cut 
off, and cast out of God's sight : Ps. xxii. 31, ' I said in my heart, I 
am cut off from before thine eyes ; nevertheless thou heardest the voice 
of my supplications.' 

[3.] Such as is neither good nor quiet ; such was Judas' conscience : 
Mat. xxvii. 3, 4, ' Judas repented, saying, I have sinned in betraying 
innocent blood.' 

[4.] A conscience both good and quiet. It is good, for ' we keep his 
commandments, and do the things which are pleasing in his sight.' 
As it is good, so it is also quiet ; for in the former verse he saith, ' It 
condemneth not.' This good and quiet conscience is set forth by two 
expressions, one relating to the matter, the other to the aim of our 

(1.) The matter, ' Because we keep his commandments;' meaning 
both moral and evangelical ; faith in Christ, and love to God and man, 
as he explaineth himself, ver. 23 ; and this done evangelically, by the 
Spirit of Christ and love of God : 1 John ii. 5, ' Whoso keepeth his 
word, in him is the love of God perfected/ 

(2.) For the aim, ' And do those things which are pleasing in his 
sight.' Those things only please God which he hath commanded ; as 
you please a man when you do what is according to his will. Now 
this is the aim of the sincere heart, to please God in all things ; and if 
we set ourselves to do so, God will not be a stranger to us : John viii. 
29, ' He that sent me is with me ; for I do always the things that 
please him.' 

There is nothing of difficulty remaineth, but only the connection 
between the two clauses, which seemeth to be causal, ' Because we keep 
his commandments, and do the things which are pleasing in his sight.' 

Ans. It is a condition, not of merit, but order. By obeying him 
we are qualified to have our prayers heard by him ; but yet not for our 
merit, but his merciful promise to hear us : Dan. ix. 18, ' Not for our 
righteousness, Lord, but for thy great mercies.' 

Doct. Such as make conscience of obedience may obtain of God 
whatsoever, in reason and righteousness, they ask of him. 

I shall handle the point in this method. 

1. I shall show you in what large terms God hath invited and en 
couraged us to prayer. 

2. I shall state the case, how we may ask so as to be sure to speed. 

3. I shall speak of God's answer, and the success of our prayers. 

I. In what large terms God hath invited and encouraged prayer. 
Here in the text, ' Whatsoever we ask of him we receive.' 

1. In some places there are indefinite promises of audience ; as Ps. 
1. 15, ' Call upon me, and I will hear thee.' So Job xxii. 27, ' Thou 
shalt make thy prayer unto God, and he shall hear thee;' Ps. xxxvii. 
14, ' Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall grant thee the desire of 

VOL. xx r. N 


thy heart ; ' and Isa. xlv. 19, ' I said not unto the house of Israel, Seek 
ye me in vain ;' Mat. vii. 7, 8, ' Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, 
and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you : for every 
one that asketh receiveth ; and he that seeketh findeth ; and to him that 
knocketh it shall be opened.' Now though these places do not tell us how 
much God will grant, or how far he will hear the prayers of his people, 
yet they show us that it is not labour in vain to seek God ; and we have 
all the encouragements in the world to come and acquaint him with all 
our desires, griefs, fears, wants, and requests ; for what cannot God do ? 
and what will not prayer do with a good God, who is able to do what 
he pleaseth, and hath promised to do what we desire ? 

2. There are promises that have universal particles annexed ; as 
John xiv. 13, 14, 'Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, 
that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask 
anything in my name, I will do it.' So John xv. 7, ' If ye abide in me, 
and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be 
done unto you/ So John xv. 16, ' Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father 
in my name, he shall give it you.' The same is repeated, John xvi. 
23, ' Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father 
in my name, he will give it you.' And many more such expressions 
there are in the word of God. Not that men have a lawless liberty 
allowed them, to give vent to all their desires, how unjust and unrea 
sonable soever they be, and that God's power shall lackey upon their 
vain fancies and appetites. No ; these large and universal offers admit of 
limitations propounded in scripture, which must be regarded, that we 
may not make promises to ourselves, and set God a task by our self-con- 
ceitedness and vain fancies, and think him engaged beyond what he is 
pleased to bind himself unto. And the use of these universal particles 
is to encourage us against the straits and diffidence of our own hearts : 
though we ask things so great for their worth, difficult to compass, and 
which we are so unworthy to receive, yet none of these things should 
discourage us, and straiten our expectations, that when we come to God, 
if our requests be just and equal, he will grant them for Christ's sake. 

II. To state the case ; how must we ask, that we may be sure to 
speed ? 

1. The first thing to be observed is the qualification of the person ; for 
unless you put yourselves into a receiving posture, according to the 
terms of the promise, you cannot expect to speed. Now none are in 
a receiving posture but such as are in grace and favour with God, such 
as are justified and sanctified, and live in obedience to him : Prov. xv. 
8, ' The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord ; but the 
prayer of the upright is his delight ; ' John ix. 31, ' God heareth not 
sinners ; but if any be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he 
heareth ; ' James v. 16, ' The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous 
man availeth much ; ' Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard iniquity in my heart, 
God will not hear me.' These and many other places show that if we 
would have our prayers heard and accepted with God, we must be 
righteous, not live in the open practice of any known sin, nor secretly 
foster it in our hearts. And therefore though prayer should be rnaed 
with the greatest earnestness and confidence, yet if the consciences of 
men reprove them of any looseness and lightness of spirit, that they 

VER 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 195 

have served God by halves, and are off and on with him in their prac 
tice, if they be not heard in the evil day, they cannot challenge God for 
breach of promise, but themselves of neglect of duty ; for if they will 
not hear God, why should God hear them ? This reason is given, Prov. 
xx. 9, ' He that turueth away his ear from hearing the law, even his 
prayer is an abomination.' Not only his vile practices, but his prayers. 
Therefore, if you would have God's ear, obey him and hearken to his 
voice ; and then for the asking you may obtain anything which a good 
conscience will permit you to ask of him ; and upon other terms you 
must not deal with God. Keep close to God's will, and he will give 
you your will. Surely it is a profitable thing to obey God. Do you 
do that which God requireth of you, and God will do that which you 
ask of him. 

2. The next thing to be regarded is the matter of our prayers and 
requests, and there we have the limitation : 1 John v. 14, 15, ' And 
this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything 
according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, 
whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired 
of him.' All the business is, what is the meaning of that, ' According 
to his will ? ' 

With conformity to his revealed will. 

With due submission and reservation of his secret will. 

Surely with conformity to his revealed and commanding will, 

that we ask nothing that is sinful or unjust ; as if we would seek to 
entice God to our lure, and to avenge our quarrels ; as Balaam built 
altars and offered sacrifices to draw God to curse his people ; or when 
we would have God to bless us in some unlawful undertaking or pur 
pose, or are biassed by envy, revenge, or any corrupt and carnal affection, 
and to ask things contrary to charity, or that meek spirit that should 
be in Christians. Unlawful desires put into prayer are a double evil, 
as contrary to God's law, and as presented in prayer. The wills of 
God's children are limited by his word and will. The Spirit in them 
maketh intercession according to the will of God, Rom. viii. 27. 
When we mingle our lusts with our prayers, we make this pure 
stream muddy, and would put dross into Christ's golden censer, 
as if he should mediate that our lusts should be fulfilled, and sins 

[2.] With a due reservation of and submission to his secret and 
decreeing will. Many things are lawful, yea, commanded, yet we must 
ask them with submission to the will of God ; that is, we must use the 
means, and refer the success to God. As, for instance, when parents 
ask the conversion of their children, and children the lives of their 
parents ; but God disposeth of the event as it pleaseth him. Again, 
many things may be good in themselves, but are not good for us ; as 
Moses desired to enter into the land of Canaan, which God saw not 
good for him. So thou art sick, and wouldst fain have thy life pro 
longed, and therefore in the bitterness of thy heart makest thy moan 
to God, as Hezekiah did ; it may be the Lord will take thee from the 
evil to come, and translate thee to glory, which is much better for thee ; 
as David fasted and prayed for the life of the child : 2 Sarn. xii. 22, 
' Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child 


may live ? ' In this reservation of God's will we have two exceptions — 
if it be for God's glory and our good. 

(1.) God's glory : John xiv. 13, ' Whatever ye ask the Father in my 
name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.' 
Whatever belongeth to our duty we must do ; but for the event, how 
he will be glorified, we must submit it to God. 

(2.) For our good. Grace layeth this restraint upon the will of a 
renewed man, but of this good, God will be judge, and not we. It may 
be good for us to be afflicted, Ps. cxix. 71. Temporal things being but 
accessary to our happiness, and belonging to our comfortable condition 
in the world, but not of absolute necessity to our salvation, should not 
be peremptorily asked, but in submission and limitation of God's will : 
Mat. xxvi. 39, 'Yet not my will, but thine be done ;' so far as God 
seeth them good for us. The short is, that in things necessary to sal 
vation, we shall not be refused ; in other things, we should not ask of 
God anything that agreeth not with his will, or is against his glory, or 
may be hurtful to ourselves. Till we learn to acquiesce in the will 
of God, and seek the most necessary things of God, we do not pray 

3. The next limitation is as to the manner. 

[1.] Fervently, and with that life and seriousness which such requests 
call for : Mat. vii. 7, ' Ask, seek, knock.' Prayer is not answered if the 
spirit of prayer be wanting, or those lively affections which are necessary 
to constitute a prayer : James v. 16, ' The effectual fervent prayer of 
a righteous man availeth much/ Afterwards he instanceth in Elias, 
ver. 17. If a cold prayer meets with a denial, we have no cause to 
complain. The ardency of holy desires is wanting; we are not in 
earnest, which is the soul of prayer, though the form and fashion of it 
be kept up: Dan. ix. 3, 'I set myself to seek the Lord;' Jer. xxix. 
12, 13, 'And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for 
me with all your hearts.' When God hath a mind to work, he sets 
the spirit of prayer a-work. 

[2.] Christ hath put faith among the conditions required to prayer : 
Mat. xxi. 22, 'All things that ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall 
receive ; ' or, as it is in Mark xi. 24, ' What things soever ye desire, 
when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.' 
There must be a confidence of that power that we would set a-work, 
and of God's will and goodness to pity and relieve us. As things are 
tendered to us in the promise, so are we bound to believe and pray for 
them, and no otherwise ; for the word of promise is the measure, ground, 
and foundation of prayer. And as to the promise of temporal things, 
it is either personal or common. Personal ; so God absolutely promised 
to some of his servants to give them temporal blessings, so absolutely 
to be believed and prayed for. So he promised to Abraham to multiply 
his seed as the sand on the seashore, Gen. xxii. 17; and this promise 
Abraham was to believe with an absolute faith, whatever difficulties 
there were to the contrary, Rom. iv. 18-21. God promised David the 
kingdom, and anointed him by Samuel, but for a long time he was kept 
in a private and perplexed condition, yet bound to be confident. So 
God promised Paul the life of all that were with him in the ship, Acts 
xxvii. 25, therefore in the greatest difficulties he encouraged his com- 

YER. 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 197 

panions: 'Wherefore, sirs, he of good cheer; for I believe God, that 
it shall be even as it was told me.' But the common promise of the 
blessings of this life is not absolute, but shall be dispensed to us as it 
shall be for God's glory and our good, and therefore are not to be 
absolutely asked nor absolutely expected from God. So the saints 
express themselves about these things: Joel ii. 14, 'Who knoweth if 
lie will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a 
meat-offering and a drink-offering unto the Lord ? ' God will hold us 
in suspense about these things, and try our godliness and submission. 
But yet though there be uncertainty about particular blessings, we 
must always pray in faith. It is one thing to believe for certain that 
God will grant our petition with this condition, if the grant be for his 
glory and our good, and another thing to believe absolutely that he 
will not deny the particular thing we ask of him, without such excep 
tion and reservation. Of the former, we must be persuaded in all our 
petitions ; of the latter, we cannot be confident ; there we can only say, 
Who knoweth but that God may do it for us ? for it is not for us to 
determine what is most conducing to the glory of God, or profitable 
for us; all must be left to our heavenly Father, upon whose good 
pleasure all our happiness dependeth. We must be persuaded of his 
all-sufficiency, refer it to his goodness, as not to be troubled about it. 

[3.] To the manner the end also belongeth, that the prayer be 
directed to his glory : James iv. 3, ' Ye ask and receive not, because ye 
ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts/ 

III. I shall speak of God's answer, and the success of our prayers ; 
and there are several distinctions and considerations. 

1. Sometimes God giveth an answer presently, at other times after 
some competent space of time ; as Cornelius at the time of prayer, 
Acts x. 3, and while the duty is a-doing, an angel was sent to him at 
the ninth hour to assure him his prayers were heard. The ninth hour 
was the usual time of prayer: Acts iii. 1, ' Now Peter and John went 
up to pray at the ninth hour.' So Daniel, chap. ix. 20, 21, 'And while 
I was speaking and praying and confessing my sin, yea, whilst I was 
speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision 
at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time 
of the evening oblation/ The Lord is ready to answer the prayers of 
his servants in the very instant of praying. So Acts iv. 31 , ' While 
they prayed they were filled with the Holy Ghost/ The cases were 
singular and extraordinary as to the token and manner of assurance ; 
but as to the substance of the blessing, it is the common practice of 
God's free grace: Isa. Iviii. 10, ' When they call, I will answer ; when 
they pray, I will say, Here am I ; ' Isa. Ixv. 24, ' While they are speak 
ing, 1 will hear/ The company that was met to pray while Peter was 
in prison were heard at the time, Acts xii. 12, 13 ; God sent Peter to 

2. Sometimes a good while after. The prayers are upon record in 
God's book : Mai. iii. 16, 'A book of remembrance was written before 
him/ This God doth to exercise our faith, to believe what we see not. 
Nay, God will hear them, though they know not the way how nor time 
when : Micah vii. 7, ' Therefore I will look unto the Lord, I will wait 
for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me/ And to try our 


patience ; for he saith, ' I will wait for the God of my salvation.' 
Though he doth not grant as soon as the prayer is made, yet we must 
believe what we see not, and wait for what we have not. Paul prayed 
thrice, 2 Cor. xii. 8. God taketh his own time for despatch. Abraham 
prayed for a child, but many years he goeth childless. 

Sdty. Consider the several ways how God giveth answer to his people's 

1. Extraordinarily ; so in ancient time, as an angel was sent to Cor 
nelius, to Daniel, to Abel by fire, Heb. xi. 4, to Abraham by vision, to 
Saul by oracle. 

2. Ordinarily, and so several ways. 

[1.] By granting the mercy prayed for ; as to Hannah : 1 Sam. i. 27, 
' For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me the petition that 

1 asked of him.' So to David : Ps. xxi. 2, ' Thou hast given him his 
heart's desire, and hast not withheld the requests of his lips.' So often 
to his people, when they have humbly sought to him, he giveth them 
the very blessing they ask. 

[2.] By giving in spiritual manifestations of his grace to the soul, 
though he doth not give the particular mercy prayed for ; as when 
upon prayer he reviveth the soul of him that prayeth : Job xxxiii. 26, 
' He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him, and he 
shall see his face with joy ; ' Ps. cxxxviii. 3, ' In the day when I cried 
unto thee, thou answeredst me, and didst strengthen me with strength 
in my soul.' Comfort is an answer; support is an answer: such an 
answer had Paul, when God told him his ' grace was sufficient for him/ 

2 Cor. xii. 9 ; when the heart is quieted, though we do not know what 
God will do with our requests. Hannah, when she had prayed, her 
heart was no more sad, 1 Sam. i. 18. 

[3.] Sometimes by way of commutation and exchange. So God doth 
answer the prayer though he doth not give the mercy prayed for, when 
he giveth another thing that is as good or better for the party that 
prayeth ; though not in kind, yet the same in weight and value. This 
commutation may be three ways — 

(1.) In regard of the persons. David fasteth and prayeth, and 
humbleth his soul for his persecutors, Ps. xxxv. 13, but it returned 
into his own bosom, that is, it was converted to his own benefit. His 
fasting had no effect upon them, but his charity did not lose its reward. 
David prayeth for his first child by Bathsheba, but God giveth him 
Solomon instead thereof, 2 Sam. xii. 15. In that supposition, 'Noah, 
Daniel, and Job shall save their own souls,' Ezek. xiv. 18. They that 
wished peace to a house, ' if the house was not worthy, their peace re 
turned to them,' Luke x. 5, 6. They should have the comfort of dis 
charging their duty. 

(2.) In regard of the matter. Carnal things are begged, spiritual 
given ; not a pompous kingdom to Israel, but the promise of the Spirit, 
Acts i. 6, 7. Moses would fain enter into Canaan, but God saith, 
Deut. iii. 27, ' Let it suffice thee ; speak to me no more of this 
matter ; ' would fain 1 have a Pisgah sight, and be eased of the trouble 
of the wars. We would have a speedy riddance of troubles, but God 
thinketh it not fit; they go off by degrees. Showers that come by 
drops soak into the earth better than those that come by a tempest or 

1 Qu. omit ' would fain ' ? — ED. 


hurricane. We ask for deliverance from troubles, and God will give 
courage in troubles : Lam. iii. 55-57, ' I called upon thy name, 
Lord, out of the low dungeon. Thou hast heard my voice ; hide not 
thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day 
I called upon thee : thou saidst, Fear not.' His gracious and powerful 
presence in trouble was enough. Christ himself ' was heard in that he 
feared,' Heb. v. 7 ; not saved from that hour, but supported and 
strengthened in it. Job prayed, sacrificed for his children when they 
were feasting, Job i. 5. God gave him patience, that he charged not 
God foolishly when they were destroyed, ver. 20. 

(3.) In regard of means. We pray such means may not miscarry ; 
God will use other ; as Abraham would fain have Ishmael the child of 
promise, but the Lord intended Isaac : ' Oh, that Ishmael might live 
before thee ! ' Gen. xvii. 18. God may give us our will in anger, when 
the thing begged turneth to our hurt. Therefore the way or kind of 
God's answer must be referred to his own will in all things, for which 
we are not to pray absolutely. And when we have discharged our 
duty, and endeavoured to approve our hearts to God, take what answer 
he will give. 

Use 1. To show us with what confidence we must pray. You must 
be persuaded that God will hear you according to your will or need, 
when you ask things agreeable to his will, and fit for you to receive in 
your station, and with a due subordination to his glory and the 
interest of his kingdom ; upon other terms you should not ask any 
thing of God. To support you, that you shall have what you ask, 
there are three things — (1.) God's nature ; (2.) Christ's merits ; (3.) 
The promises of the gospel. 

1. God's nature. We conceive of God as wise, and powerful, and 
good : all encourage prayer. God's wisdom and providence : Mat. vi. 
8, ' Your Father knoweth what things you have need of before you ask 
him.' His almighty power : Eph. iii. 20, ' He is able to do beyond 
what we can ask or think ; ' Mark xiv. 36, ' Abba, Father, all things 
are possible unto thee.' With these thoughts should we come into God's 
presence. And lastly, his goodness and love ; that must not be left 
out : John xvi. 27, ' The Father himself loveth you, because ye have 
loved me, and believed that I came out from God.' Christ's intercession 
made way for us, but the Father's love prevented that. We have wrong 
thoughts of God if we do not think of his self-inclination to do good. 
His readiness to hear and forgive doth encourage poor creatures to come 
to him. All these things make him a God hearing prayer. And to 
encourage poor suppliants — 

2. There is the merits and mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ : 
Heb. xii. 2, ' Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despised 
the shame, and is sat down at the right hand of God ; ' Rom. viii. 3, 
' God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, 
condemned sin in the flesh ; ' Heb. ix. 24, ' For Christ is not entered 
into the holy place made with hands, which are the figures of the true, 
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.' 
We have a friend in court, who will join with us in the requests we 
make to God, whose intercession answereth to the motions of his Spirit 
in our hearts. 


3. There are the gracious promises of the gospel, by which all 
necessary things are secured to us. And though the dispensation of 
particular blessings are reserved to God's good pleasure, yet there are 
certain general promises which concern us for the present, of which \vc 
may be confident; as that God will never utterly fail his people : Heb. 
xiii. 5, ' He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee ; ' that 
he will dispose of all things for the best to them that love God, Horn, 
viii. 28 ; that he will not leave us to insupportable difficulties, 1 Cor. 
x. 13. This should satisfy us. 

Use 2. It teacheth us that we should look after the answers of 
prayer. Certainly a man that is serious and sincere in prayer will be 
earnest for an answer : Ps. Ixxxv. 8, ' I will hear what the Lord will 
speak.' A gracious heart dareth not take God's name in vain, nor make 
prayer a vain babbling or empty prattle, but will be listening and 
hearkening after news from heaven : Ps. v. 3, ' I will pray and look up.' 
Watch to see what cometh. Foolish boys, that knock at a door in 
•wantonness, will not stay till somebody cometh to open to them ; but 
a man that hath business will knock, and knock again, till he gets his 
answer. To people that consider not what they do, whose prayers are 
the sacrifices of fools, they throw away their prayers, and never look after 
them, what cometh of it ? but they that are in earnest, and are per 
suaded God heareth them, will wait for an answer. We should the 
rather do this — 

1. Because answers of prayer are notable confirmations of faith 
concerning the truth of God's being and promises: Ps. Ixv. 2, ' Oh, thou 
that nearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come ; ' Ps. xviii. 30, ' The 
word of the Lord is a tried word; he is a buckler to all that trust in 
him;' Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy 
name.' They see this is the God to be prayed unto, these promises to 
be trusted in ; that this God will not fail those that seek him, and 
depend upon him. Now we should seek confirmation from experience, 
as a rebuke and check to that atheism that still remaineth in us. 

2. Excitements to love and obedience. Nothing increaseth our 
love to God as to see he is mindful of us upon all occasions, especially 
in our deep necessities: Ps. cxvi. 1, ' I will love the Lord, for he hath 
heard the voice of my supplications.' Every answer of prayer is a 
special instance of God's love to us, and so it begets love to God again ; 
it is as new fuel to increase the fire. 

3. Encouragements to pray again : Ps. cxvi. 2, ' Because he hath 
inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I 
live.' The throne of grace will not be neglected by them that have 
found good success there ; they see there is mercy and help to be found. 
As one adventure in point of traffic succeeding well encourageth 
another, so is the success of duty : Ps. xxxii. 6, ' For this shall every 
one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.' 
From David's ready audience and despatch. 

4. God will lose much honour, praise, and thanksgiving, if we do 
not regard his answers : Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in the day of trouble, 
and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me ; ' Col. iv. 2, ' Con 
tinue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.' We are to 
gather matter of praise to God ; as the intercourse between heaven and 


earth is maintained by vapours and showers, so is commerce between 
God and us carried on by donatives and duties, by holy prayers arid 
God's gracious answers. 


Because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are 
pleasing in his sight. — 1 JOHN iii. 22. 

I COME now to the second thing, the character and property of a good 
conscience. Here are two expressions, one relating to the matter of 
our obedience, the other to the end. 

1. The matter, ' Because we keep his commandments.' 

2. The end and aim, 'And do those things which are pleasing in his 

Doct. That those have a gospel good conscience who keep God's 
commandments, and do the things which are pleasing in his sight. 
Here I shall inquire — 

1. What it is to keep God's commandments, and do the things that 
are pleasing in his sight. 

2. How this is a gospel conscience; what could the law require 
more ? 

3. How this doth constitute a good and quiet conscience, free us 
from fears of being rejected, and give us hopes of being accepted with 

I. What it is. The first expression is to keep the commandments 
of God. Here we must open two things — 

(1.) Commandments ; (2.) Keep ; the object, and the act. 

First, The commandments that must be kept; and they are of several 

1. Moral and evangelical ; so it is explained in the next verse, ' And 
this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his 
Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.' 
Love is our primitive holiness, faith belongeth to our recovery. Not 
only the moral law is the rule of our duty, but the gospel also ; faith 
is commanded : John vi. 29, ' This is the work of God, that ye believe 
on him whom he hath sent.' Sin is not our work at all ; the affairs of 
the world are our by work. Particular duties are subordinate to the 
great duty of the gospel, not our main work, nor must be gone about. 
So repentance is commanded: Acts xvii. 30, ' He hath commanded all 
men everywhere to repent.' At your peril will it be if you refuse this 
grace. Gospel obedience falleth under a command ; it is not an indif 
ferent thing, whether we will accept the remedy, yea or no. Moral 
duties are evident by natural light. Remedial and gospel duties de 
pend upon a positive institution, though highly reconcilable to natural 

2. First-table and second-table duties; as faith in Jesus Christ, and 


love to one another. We must make conscience of all duties we owe 
to God and men : Acts xxiv. 16, ' Herein do I exercise myself, to have 
a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men.' There is 
a first table and a second ; some are very punctual in dealing with men, 
but neglectful of God. But both tables are owned from heaven, Kom. 
i. 18. Some will not wrong men of a farthing, but stick not to rob 
God of all that fear, love, trust, delight, which is due to him. They 
will not defile their bodies with open uncleanness, but commit it in 
their hearts ; they condemn the rebellion of Absalom, yet disobey their 
heavenly Father. No murderers, but strike at the being of God ; are 
tender of men's good name and reputations, but dishonour and take the 
name of God in vain. Others are much in worship, but unconscionable 
in their dealings with men; will not swear an oath, but are very 
uncharitable, censuring their brethren without pity and remorse. This 
is the fashion of the world, to be in with one duty and out with 
another. The commandments are introduced by this preface, ' God 
spake all these words/ Exod. xx. 1. He that hath enjoined the one 
hath enjoined the other ; but as the echo rendereth but part of the 
speech, so do we in our returns of obedience. God spake all, and we 
return but a part. 

3. Smaller as well as greater duties: Mat. v. 19, 'Whosoever shall 
break the least of these commandments, and teach men so to do, shall 
be least in the kingdom of heaven.' God counteth his authority de 
spised, and the commandments and obligatory power of his law to be 
made void by him that shall either in doctrine or practice count any 
transgression of his law so light and venial as not to be stood upon, or 
ns if it were a trifle to be so nice and exact as not to make conscience 
of petty things, such as vain thoughts, light words, or passionate 
.speeches. Deceit of heart is found on both sides. Some are apt to say, 
' It is but a little one, and my soul shall live/ as Lot of Zoar. No sin is 
little that is committed against the great God ; and it argueth the more 
wickedness to break with God upon every trifling occasion. A little 
force will make a heavy body move downward, because it is its natural 
motion. Others are apt to stand much upon lesser things. John xviii. 
28, the Jews would not enter into the judgment-hall lest they should 
be defiled, yet at that very time they sought the life of the Lord of 
glory. Hypocrites make a great business about small matters, wherein 
the flesh and self have some special interest, when the weighty common 
duties are little valued, relished, or insisted on ; by-matters, and the 
more uncertain points which self hath espoused, are contended for with 
all zeal and earnestness : Mat. xxiii. 23. They reject the weighty things 
of the law, such as faith and love ; judgment and mercy are omitted, 
while they tithe mint, anise, and cummin ; like one that cometh into 
a shop to buy a pennyworth, and stealeth a pound's worth, or pays a 
small debt, that he may run deeper into the creditor's books, and so 
deceive him of a greater sum. 

4. Commandments that require public and private duties; to fail in 
either consists not with sincerity. In times of trouble many content 
themselves if their hearts be right: 2 Cor. vii. 1, 'Cleanse yourselves 
from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit/ The libertines in Corinth 
did so. It is no matter whether they own God publicly, or, if they 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 203 

will, yet, to gratify their neighbours, go to an idol-feast; as if a wife 
should prostitute her body, and pretend that she keepeth her heart 
loyal to her husband. Others make a fair show to the world, but in 
their family converse are loose and careless. David saith, Ps. ci. 2, ' I 
will walk in my house with a perfect heart.' If a man be truly holy, 
he will show it at home as well as abroad, in his family where his con 
stant converse is ; yea, in his closet and secret retirements. A Chris 
tian is alike everywhere, because God is alike everywhere. We strain 
ourselves to make our best appearance in public, God will be served 
with our uttermost in private also. 

5. There are commands concerning the government both of the in 
ward and outward man. We must make conscience of both, or else 
our conscience is not a good conscience : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let the sinner 
forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.' Not only 
make conscience of our way or our outward actions, but also of our 
thoughts, and the secret operations of our hearts : James iv. 8, ' Cleanse 
your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.' As 
we should riot do evil before men, so not think evil before the holy 
God ; for those things fall under a law as well as the overt acts. 

6. There are some commandments we have no great temptation to 
break, others that lie more cross to our humours and interests ; there 
fore not some or many must be kept, but all. A sanctified judgment 
must approve all, a sanctified will choose all, as justly good, necessary, 
and profitable for us ; and in our endeavours we must obey all : Rom. 
vii. 12, ' The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.' 
The law in general, and that commandment which had wrought such 
tragical effects in his heart, it is all good, how contrary soever to our 
natural or perverse inclinations. If we set up a toleration in our 
hearts, we are not sincere : Ps. Ixvi. 18, 'If I regard iniquity in my 
heart, God will not hear me ; ' that is, if he did cherish it, and secretly 
foster it. There is something wherein you would be excused by God, 
and expect favour from him. A man that would keep out the cold in 
winter shutteth all his doors and windows, yet the wind will creep in, 
though he doth not leave any open hole for it. We must reserve no 
sin ; some will remain after the best care and caution. Therefore we 
must not obey God in some things, and break with him in others, ' Nor 
trust to our own righteousness and commit iniquity,' Ezek. xxxiii. 13. 
If the bosom sin be not weakened, your whole righteousness is called 
in question : Ps. xviii. 23, ' I was upright before him, and kept myself 
from mine iniquity.' There are some sins most incident to us by 
temper of body, course of life, or carnal interests. Now we should 
mainly cross that sin which is most pleasing, and dry up that unclean 
issue that runneth upon us. Thus for the object. 

Secondly, The act, ' Keep ; ' that noteth two things — (1.) The in 
ward respect which we have to God's laws ; (2.) The outward action 
or course of life which results from this. 

1. The inward respect which we have to God's laws in our memories, 
consciences, and affections : Prov. iii. 1, ' Let thine heart keep my com 
mandments.' The heart keepeth them when we keep them in mind so 
as to understand them ; in memory, so as not to neglect them, but 
have them ready at every turn ; in heart and affection, so as to stand 


in awe of them : Prov. xiii. 13, 'Whosoever feareth the command 
ment, shall he rewarded ; ' Ps. cxix. 161, ' My heart standeth in awe 
of thy word.' I dare not do anything against it, yea, do delight in it : 
Ps. cxix. 14, 'I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies more than 
in all riches ; ' Ps. xl. 8, ' I delight to do thy will, God ; thy law is 
in my heart.' The great new covenant blessing is to write the law in 
the heart and mind : Heb. viii. 10, ' I will put my laws into their 
mind, and write them upon their hearts/ Not only a simple approba 
tion, but a delight, or a ready inclination to do them. Now if we shall 
rise up in rebellion against our convictions, and offer violence to incli 
nation and conscience, we grossly break God's law, as in all heinous 
sins we do : 2 Sam. xii. 9, ' Wherefore hast thou despised the com 
mandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight ? ' An inward contempt 
or disrespect of the commandment maketh the sin more heinous. 

2. The outward observance of them : Ps. cxix. 5, ' Oh, that my ways 
were directed to keep thy statutes ! ' It is the business of our lives to 
live according to this direction : John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my com 
mandments and keepeth them ; ' where keeping is distinguished from 
having. The commands of God were not given us to talk of or think 
on, but to do them : Deut. xii. 32, ' Whatsoever I command you, ob 
serve to do it.' Do not gaze on it, think it an excellent thing to do so, 
but set about the practice. 

Secondly, The next notion whereby the good conscience is expressed 
is this. ' And do those things which are pleasing in his sight/ This 
implieth many things. 

1. That it be our design and scope to approve ourselves to God : 2 
Cor. v. 9, 'Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we 
may be accepted of him/ This is the end that we propound to our 
selves, what is your mind principally set upon ? The end which you 
design and endeavour, the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the 
everlasting fruition of him, or the pleasing of your fleshly minds in the 
fruition of any inferior things? That is your end which you love 
most, which pleases you best, and would do most for, and can least 
want. The people of God are described to be those that ' choose the 
things which please him, and take hold of his covenant,' Isa. Ivi. 4. 
They do not live at random without an aim, nor do good by chance, but 
by choice. He that is false at first setting out can never hold out 
with God. 

2. This is not only their choice, butthe tenor and course of their lives. 
Enoch, that walked with God, is said to have this testimony, that he 
pleased God, Heb. xi. 5, with Gen. v. 24. The Septuagint read it, they 
are sincere and uniform in their obedience to him. Every day you 
must reckon with yourselves, Have you complied with your great end ? 
What have I done, or what have I been doing ? have 1 pleased or dis 
pleased God ? 

3. It is not in a few things, but in all : Col. i. 10, ' Walk worthy of 
the Lord to all pleasing ; ' not in with one duty and out with another, for 
that is to please ourselves, not to please God ; or to please men, not to 
obey our rule. 

4. We must every day be more exact in our walking and care to 
please God, and that no offence or breach may arise between him 

VEIL 22.] SEUMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 205 

and us : 1 Thes. iv. 1, ' As you have received of us how to walk and 
to please God, so you would abound therein more and more.' You 
never please God so much but you may please him better, and he ex- 
pecteth more from you the more you are acquainted with him. One 
that is newly put to service is raw at first, but afterwards he groweth 
more handy and fit for his work; so you must first outgrow your 
weaknesses if you think to please God, and grow more exact in the 
spiritual life. 

5. If there be anything more pleasing to God than another, your 
main care must be about those things ; as, for instance, it is mighty 
] (leasing to God that you should seek grace rather than greatness, and 
direction in your duty rather than worldly honour : 1 Kings iii. 10, 
the speech ' pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.' 
Surely it is more pleasing to God that we should pray from the spirit 
than from the flesh, not seeking great things for ourselves, but that we 
may have grace to discharge our duties to God. So that in our duty 
we should mind the substantials of religion rather than rituals : Rom. 
xiv. 17, 18, ' For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but right 
eousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; for he that in these 
things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men.' 
That in the substantials of religion we should not leave out the duties 
of the second table, as faithfulness in our relations. The scripture 
instanceth in the duties of parents and children ; of children's duty to 
parents : Col. iii. 20, ' For this is well-pleasing unto God.' Duties of 
liberality and mercy to all men : Heb. xiii. 16, ' For to do good and to 
communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.' 
Not only careful of justice, but also of mercy. Now it is a shame that, 
when Christians hear these things are so pleasing to God, they should 
not set about them. Esau took his bow to seek savoury meat for his 
lather when he desired it. 

II. But how is this a gospel conscience ? What could the law re 
quire more ? 

Ans. 1. We consider this with respect to fallen man, who entereth 
upon this course of new obedience as one delivered and recovered by 
Christ, and put into a capacity again to obey and please God : Luke i. 
74, 75, ' That being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we should 
serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the 
days of our life ; ' and Eph. iv. 24, ' The new man is created after God 
in righteousness and true holiness.' We suppose him as redeemed by 
Christ, and renewed by his Holy Spirit. Take either expression ; the 
first, ' because we keep his commandments.' We receive these com 
mandments out of the hand of a mediator, whose power and right to 
command is not destructive of our former duty, but accumulative ; the 
debt of duty ceased not by man's sin, but will remain while there is a 
relation between the Creator and the creature ; but this is a power 
superadded to the former, and is more comfortable and beneficial to us, 
that Christ would set us in joint again, and put us into a capacity of 
obeying God. It is a blessed thing to take a law of duty out of the 
hand of a mediator ; for he hath not only obliged us by his great love 
in dying for us, but provided both for our assistance and acceptance, 
whilst by the Spirit of Christ we have Christ to help us, and work all 


our works for us and in us, and give ' Grace to serve God acceptably 
with reverence and godly fear,' Heb. xii. 28. And the more we use 
this grace, the more it is increased upon us ; but we have also his right 
eousness, by virtue of which we are accepted with God : Eph. i. (5, 
' Who hath accepted us in the Beloved.' God will help us in our duty, 
and will accept of it as we can perform it. For the second expression, 
' And do the things that please him.' God is first placandus then pla- 
cendus, first appeased towards us and then pleased with us ; appeased 
by the satisfaction of Christ, which is imputed to none but those that 
are converted and justified by faith : Rom. v. 8, ' They that are in the 
flesh cannot please God.' Till we have an interest in the great sin- 
offering which was offered for the whole congregation of the elect, God 
will not accept of a thank-offering at our hands, nor be pleased with 
anything we do in particular duties, while we neglect the general duty of 
returning to God by Christ : Heb. xi. 6, ' Without faith it is impossible 
to please God.' None can please God, then, but those that are regene 
rated by the Spirit, and reconciled to him by Christ. 

2. These duties are done in a gospel-like manner, out of love to God, 
or a sense of that wonderful grace which is showed us in Christ : 2 
Cor. v. 14, 'The love of Christ constraineth us.' They are done as out 
of thankfulness and that great love which we owe to God ; the cord 
which binds our duty upon us is not terror but love. It is said, 1 John 
ii. 5, ' Whoso keepeth his commandments, in him verily is the love of 
God perfected;' that is, hath produced its proper effect. Faith is the 
means, love is the end* and obedience is the proper fruit and effect of 
love. Faith is physic, love is health, and the more perfect it is the 
sounder Christians we are. Now the perfection and strength of love 
is seen in new obedience ; so that here is a gospel spirit, and a gospel 
good conscience, when we study and endeavour to please God. 

3. This keeping the commandments and pleasing of God is accepted 
where there is a cordial and hearty endeavour to do so, though our 
success in every point be not answerable. It is not unsinning obedi 
ence only which the new covenant accepteth, but sincere obedience ; 
by sin we are disabled from an exact keeping of the commandments, 
but by grace we are accepted, if there be an upright heart unfeignedly 
bent and heartily endeavouring to please God in all things. Grace 
doth not perfectly produce its acts, yet it doth produce them, and that 
in such a degree as hypocrites cannot attain to. It is their constant 
care to avoid all known sin, and allow themselves in the neglect of no 
duty ; now such are pardoned and accepted with God : Ps. xxxii. 1, 
2, ' Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and 
in whose spirit there is no guile.' And have all manner of blessings 
bestowed upon them : Prov. xi. 20, ' Such as are upright in their way 
are his delight ; ' Ps. xviii. 25, ' With an upright man thou wilt show 
thyself upright' 

III. The reasons why this doth constitute a good and quiet con 

1. Because then our hearts will not disprove our confidence grounded 
on the new covenant, which accepteth the upright. Certainly the 
upright are within the compass of the blessing of the covenant. That 

VER 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN m. 207 

is so obvious a truth, that it needeth not much confirmation. When 
God came to covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 1, he saith to him, 
' I am God all-sufficient ; walk thou before me and be thou perfect ; ' 
that is, upright and sincere, as the word also signifieth, and is noted 
in the margin. That was the condition required of him. An absolute 
perfection human frailty doth not admit, and an impossible condition 
maketh the covenant void in the making, and so the transaction would 
be to no purpose. So elsewhere all the blessings of the covenant are 
entailed upon the upright : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, 'For the Lord God is a sun 
and a shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will 
he withhold from them that walk uprightly.' Once more, eternal hap 
piness shall be their portion : Ps. cxl. 13, 'The upright shall dwell in 
thy presence.' Besides all the testimonies of God's love granted to the 
believer, he shall have everlasting fellowship with God in the world 
to come. David asketh the question, Ps. xv. 1, 2, 'Who shall abide in 
thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? He that walketh 
uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his 
heart ; ' that is, if I should take the boldness to interrogate thee, who 
art the Lord of heaven and earth, who shall be rewarded with eternal 
bliss hereafter ? the answer certainly will be this, He that walketh 
uprightly, he, and none but he, that goeth on in a course of uniform 
and steady obedience, that doeth all things sincerely and in the sight 
of God ; he it is that shall be accepted and admitted, not out of any 
worthiness in himself, but from God's love and promise to dwell ever 
lastingly with him. 

2. This walking uprightly comprehendeth true faith, and cheerful 
obedience to God's commandments ; that is to be righteous and up 
right: 'To walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord 
blameless,' Luke i. 6 ; for a care to avoid all known sin, and make 
conscience of all known duty, is certainly uprightness. It doth not 
imply a total exemption from sin, but an allowance of none ; they 
mourn for it, strive against it, and prevail so far that the contrary 
principle groweth, and doth mostly and generally command and influ 
ence their conversations. Grace getteth the upper hand, not for a fit, 
but habitually ; therefore such may with comfort come to God, and 
have no reason to question their acceptance with him, for they are 
conscious to themselves of their faithfulness to God, and sincere desire 
to walk in his ways ; their own hearts do not reproach them, and God 
will not refuse them : Ps. cxix. 6, ' Then shall I not be ashamed when 
1 have respect unto all thy commandments.' No cause to be afraid 
or ashamed to come to him ; there is enough to humble, but not to 
discourage them, for their hearts do acquit them of any allowance of 
.sin or breach of God's law. 

3. It is the true trial and proof of our sincere love to Christ, and 
therefore we may have confidence towards God, and this confidence, 
c That what we ask we shall receive of him," under the cautions and 
restrictions forementionecl. I shall prove this argument by these con 

[1.] That true faith in Christ breedeth sincere love to God : Gal. 
iv. 6, ' Faith worketh by love.' The true office of faith is to persuade 
the soul of the astonishing wonders of God's love shown in the redemp- 


tion by Christ: 'We have known and believed the love that God hath 
to us,' 1 John iv. 16. And why ? Not only that we may gaze on it 
with amazement, but ' that we may love him again who loved us first/ 
ver. 19. That this love may make a clue impression upon us, and 
melt us into all love and respect to God, who pitied us in our lost 
estate, and provided so full and costly a remedy for us. The gospel 
is an art or science to teach us to love God. 

[2.] That the true proof of our love to God is our keeping his com 
mandments, and doing the things which are pleasing in his sight. For 
God's love is a love of bounty, ours a love of duty, a studying to please 
God according to his will : 1 John v. 3, ' This is love, to keep his com 
mandments, and his commandments are not grievous ;' John xiv. 21, 
' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that 
loveth me.' That is the love of Christ. It is a lazy love that only 
talketh of the great things he hath done for us, but doeth nothing for 
God again, or languisheth in complaints after sensible consolations. 
No ; do your duty ; love must be laborious, not idle, and one cannot be 
better employed than in doing those things which he hath given us in 

[3.] Obedience, as it is an evidence of our love to Christ, so it is a 
means of keeping up the sense and assurance of his love to us : John 
xv. 10, ' If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, as 
I kept the Father's commandments, and abode in his love.' It is holy 
walking is a means that will not delude us, but give us a large share in 
his heart and love. God delighteth to vouchsafe the testimonies of his 
love and well-pleasedness with us : John xiv. 15, ' Ye are my friends 
if ye do whatsoever I command you.' There is a double-tried friend, 
actively, passively. Actively, you show yourselves friends to Christ 
when to the uttermost of your power you set yourselves to do what he 
hath commanded. Passively, he will show himself a friend to you ; 
ye shall be dealt with as friends ; I will reckon you as friends ; all the 
world shall see I love you ; I will bountifully reward and gratify 
you : John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth 
them, he it is that loveth me ; and he that loveth me shall be beloved 
of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him;' ver. 
23, ' If a mail love me, he will keep my words ; and my Father will 
love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.' 
God delights to manifest himself to such, to own them, to bestow 
peculiar marks of favour upon them. 

[4.] Among other rewards of love and faithful obedience, this is one, 
the audience and acceptance of their prayer. In his providential gov 
ernment, internal or external, God doth many ways own them, by his 
gracious presence, counselling, directing, quickening them : John viii. 
29, * And he that sent me is with me ; the Father hath not left me 
.alone, for I do always those things that please him.' By mollifying 
the hearts of enemies : Prov. viii. 17, ' When a man's ways please the 
Lord, he maketh his enemies to be at peace with him.' By the com 
forts of his Spirit, and shedding abroad his love in their hearts that 
love Christ : Prov. xvi. 7, ' I love them that love me.' By peace of 
conscience ; for the fruit of righteousness is peace. By entertainment 
of them in all their approaches to God : Isa. Ixiv. 5, ' Thou meetest 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 200 


him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember 
thee in thy ways.' God showeth abundance of kindness to them in the 
course of his providential government, but chiefly in assisting and ac 
cepting their prayers ; so that ' whatever we ask we receive,, because 
we keep his commandments, and do the things that are pleasing in. his 
sight.' All the rest tend to this, and this is often promised in the 
word, and the contrary threatened to those who pretend love to God , 
but do not keep his commandments : Ps. xxxvii. 4, ' Delight thyself 
also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart ; ' Prov. 
x. 24, ' The desire of the righteous shall be granted.' 

Use 1. Is information, to show us the necessity of obedience, if we 
would keep a good conscience and be accepted with God. All the 
prayers of men that continue in their sins are but like bribes ; the gifts 
of enemies are giftless : Prov. xxi. 27, ' The sacrifice of the wicked is 
an abomination ; how much more when he bringeth. it with an evil 
mind ? ' However he bringeth it, there is some perverse aim in his 
worship, that God should prosper him in his sins. 

2. That in the Christian religion there is true genuine holiness, 
because it is derived from the highest fountain, the Spirit of Christ ; 
and it is carried on in conformity to the highest rule and pattern, the 
will of God ; and designed to the noblest end, the pleasing, glorifying, 
and enjoying of God ; all this must needs breed peace. So is the 
gospel good conscience described in the text. First, The highest 
fountain ; for we obey as redeemed and renewed : Titus iii. 5, 6, 
' Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to 
his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing 
of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus 
Christ our Saviour.' As changed in our natures, and made like God : 
John iii. 6, ' That which is born of the Spirit is spirit ; ' 2 Peter i. 4, 
' Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, 
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.' Secondly, 
The highest rule, the will of God or his commandments. He doth 
not only do what he commandeth, but because he commandeth, intuitu 
voluntatis : 1 Thes. iv. 3, ' For this is the will of God, even your 
sanctin'cation ;' 1 Peter ii. 15, ' For so is the will of God ;' 1 Thes. 
v. 18, ' For this is the will of God concerning you.' We have the 
best warrant for peace and assurance, the command and will of the 
most high God. And, thirdly, the highest end, the pleasing God, 
glorifying and enjoying God : I Cor. x. 31, ' Whether you eat or drink, 
or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' 

Use 2. To persuade you to holiness in keeping the commandments 
and pleasing of God ; we have many arguments. 

1. From the authority of God : Ps. cxix. 4, 'Thou hast commanded 
ns to keep thy precepts diligently.' It is a course imposed upon us by 
the sovereign Lawgiver, upon whom you depend every moment ; and 
he will not be baffled and affronted. 

2. The equity of the precepts : Horn. vii. 12, ' The commandments 
are holy, just, and good.' They carry a great evidence and suitableness 
to the reasonable nature; so that if man were well in his wits, he would 
choose obedience to these laws rather than liberty. 

3. The possibility of keeping these commandments, and of pleasing 
VOL. xxi. o 


God, by the grace purchased by Christ: Heb. xiii. 21, 'Make you 
perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which 
is pleasing in his sight.' The rule is the will of God. This will is 
observed when we do every good work ; this done is pleasing unto God. 
4. Consider the profitableness of obedience, and how much it con- 
duceth to our good : Deut. xiii. 10, ' To keep the commandments of 
God and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good.' 
Our labour is not lost or misspent. A godly course is refreshed by 
many sweet experiences for the present, and will bring in a full reward 
for the future : Ps. cxix. 56, ' This I had because I kept thy precepts.' 


And this is his commandment, that toe should believe in the name of 
his Son, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. — 
1 JOHN iii. 23. 

THE apostle instanceth what commandments we should observe if we 
would keep a good conscience. Two are mentioned — faith in Christ, 
and an unfeigned love to the brethren ; both are introduced by a 
preface suitable to the occasion. Therefore I shall first explain the 
preface ; secondly, the particular duties mentioned. 
First, In the preface take notice — 

1. Of the unity, agreement, and fair accord between these duties ; 
though two duties are mentioned, yet but one commandment. 

2. The excellency of them, ' His commandment.' 

1. The unity and agreement between gospel duties. He had said 
' commandments ' in the former verse ; and here are two duties speci 
fied, yet these are not ' his commandments,' but ' his commandment,' 
a change of numbers often used by the sacred writers. The whole 
gospel is but one commandment: 1 Tim. i. 5, 'The end of the com 
mandment is charity ; ' that is, of the gospel institution. 

2. The excellency ; this is the commandment which is signalised by 
Christ's authority, and expressly charged on us, and to which other 
duties are reduced. It is such an expression as you have, John vi. 29, 
' This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.' 
The context there standeth thus ; thousands being fed by a miracle, 
many followed him for the loaves, therefore Christ telleth them of 
spiritual bread. He came down from heaven, not to supply hungry 
stomachs, but to comfort hungry consciences : ' Labour not for the 
meat that perisheth, but for the meat that endureth for ever, which 
the Son of man shall give you ; for him hath the Father sent.' That 
direction occasioned a question, What shall we do that we may labour 
or work the works of God ? Christ answereth them, ' This is the work 
of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.' There is a meiosis 
in the expression ; you talk of works, this is the work. As if a man 
should come to a charitable physician, Sir, I am grievously tormented 

VEH. 23.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 211 

with such a disease, what shall I give you for the cure ? and his answer 
should be, This is that you shall give me,, to be confident of my skill 
and fidelity to help you, and use the means which I prescribe for your 
recovery : ' This is the work of God.' So here ; this is the command 

Secondly, The particular duties mentioned are faith in Christ and 
love to the brethren. 

1. Faith in Jesus Christ, that we should believe on the name of his 
Son Jesus Christ. The name of Christ is Christ himself, or Christ 
considered as revealed in the gospel ; then we believe in the name of 
Jesus Christ when we believe all that is revealed in the gospel con 
cerning Jesus Christ, i.e., assent with an affiance to the doctrine con 
cerning his person, offices, benefits, and the way how we come to attain 
them according to the covenant of grace. This is to believe in his 
name, to assent to what is said concerning his person and offices, and 
to consent to deal with him upon these terms, depending upon him to 
obtain these benefits in the appointed way. The same expression is 
used, John iii. 18, 'Because he believeth not in the name of the Son of 
God.' So Acts x. 43, ' Through his name whosoever believeth on him 
shall receive the remission of sins.' So John xx. 31, ' These things are 
written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that, 
believing, ye may have life through his name ; ' that is, obtain salvation 
according to the way appointed in the scriptures or the new covenant. 

2. For love : ' And love one another, as he gave commandment.' 
By ' one another,' he meaneth principally that Christians should love 
one another. Christians are bound to love all men, even their enemies, 
Mat. v. 44. Yet seeing God is to be loved chiefly, and others in subor 
dination to him, as Mat. xxii. 38, 39, it followeth that those ought to 
have most of our love who love God most, and are most beloved of 
him, and are made partakers of the divine nature, and resemble God 
most. But not only the duty, but the manner is here enforced : ' As 
he hath given us commandment ; ' and that is, that when the case 
requireth it, we must lay down our lives for the brethren : John xiii. 
34, ' A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.' 
There is the substance of the duty, and then it followeth, ' As I have 
loved you, that ye also love one another.' There is the manner again : 
John xv. 12. 13, ' This is my commandment, that ye love one another, 
as I have loved you : greater love hath no man than this, that a man 
lay down his life for his friends ; ' meaning thereby, not only to com 
mend his own love to us, to heighten our gratitude, but also to commend 
his example tons, and to heighten our charity and love to the brethren. 

Doct. That faith in Christ and brotherly love are things intimately 
conjoined, and must always go together. 

1. I shall speak of the nature of these two graces or duties apart. 

2. Show how intimately they are and must be conjoined; and there 
speak — (1.) Of the inseparable connection between faith and love ; (2.) 
The order, how the one groweth out of the other, as the effect out of 
the cause ; first faith, then love. 

I. I shall speak distinctly of the graces and duties ; and there — 
First, Of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. A subject necessary to bo 
treated of, because the scripture is so full in assuring pardon and life 


to believers, and because Christians do so often ask us what that saving 
faith is by which they may assure their title and interest ; and because 
a mistake in this point is of a dangerous nature. Therefore to open to 
you the faith by which the just do live cannot be unpleasing to you. 
I shall do it in these considerations or propositions. 

1. That faith in Christ and in his word is reckoned distinct from 
believing in God: John xiv. 1, 'Ye believe in God, believe also in me.' 
We believe in God as an all-sufficient fountain of grace, and in Christ 
as an all-sufficient mediator, whom he hath sent to recover the lost 
world : John xvii. 3, ' And this is life eternal, that they might know 
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' To 
know God as the only supreme being to be worshipped, obeyed and 
enjoyed, and the Lord Jesus as our Kedeemer, and the Holy Spirit as 
our guide, to bring us home to God, and to procure for us the benefits 
of pardon and life, which life is to be begun here and perfected in 

2. That Christ executeth the office of mediator as king, priest, and 
prophet ; for he is not only said to be sent, but anointed : Acts x. 38, 
' God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.' 
As priests, prophets, and kings were used to be anointed, so was Jesus 
Christ anointed, thence called both .Christ and Messiah, which signifieth 
anointed : John xx. 31, ' That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ; ' 
and Acts ii. 36, ' God hath made that Jesus whom ye crucified both 
Lord and Christ.' Now one of these offices concerneth his mediation 
with God, the other his mediation with men. His priesthood implieth 
all that good which he procureth for us by his mediation with the Father. 
His prophetical and kingly office concerns his mediation with us, to 
bring us to be partakers, and interested in these things ; both must be 
considered by faith : Heb. iii. 1, ' Consider the apostle and high priest 
of our profession, Jesus Christ.' Though his prophetical office be there 
only mentioned, yet his regal must not be excluded; for all truths 
are not laid down in one place. Both are mentioned, Isa. Iv. 4, 
' Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and 
commander to the people,' i.e., prophet and king. Now we must not 
so reflect upon his mediation with God as to overlook his mediation 
with men ; for a mediator is not of one, but must deal with both parties ; 
and therefore Jesus is a saviour, not only as our ransomer and surety, 
but also as our teacher and king. Therefore they deceive you, and under 
stand not the nature of faith, that make it conversant about one office 
only, as those do that confine it to the death and righteousness of Christ, 
and pardon of sin, and promise of pardon ; as if faith only served to com 
fort them with the assurance of God's love, and were but a claim and 
application of privileges: this is to mangle Christ and the gospel, to 
reflect upon his mediation with God only, and not with man. Or if 
there be any consideration of his mediation with man, they rend his 
prophetical office from his kingly, while they look only to the privileges 
of the covenant, do not receive Christ Jesus as the Lord, that they 
may be ruled by his authority, and live by his laws. Nay, in his 
prophetical, they abstract privileges from duties, and promises from, 
precepts, and so do not follow the order prescribed in his word and 
teaching, but take up a Christ according to their own fancy, and mis- 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 213 

take a dream for faith. No ; the Christ represented to us as an object 
of faith is a priest who died for us, and representeth his death and 
merit by his constant intercession, and, as the great prophet of the 
church, hath taught us the way of life, and as a king hath required 
obedience at our hands, under the promise of eternal life and the 
punishment of eternal death, binding us to do all that he hath 
required, that we may obtain the effect of his promises. 

3. That the great business of the Mediator in the discharge of these 
offices is to recover us to God, which is done both by redemption and 
salvation. By redemption : 1 Peter iii. 18, ' For Christ also hath once 
suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.' 
Salvation: John xiv. 6, 'Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the 
truth, and the life ; no man cometh to the Father but by me.' Now 
this is either begun or perfected ; begun by regeneration and reconcilia 
tion. By regeneration : Titus iii. 5, ' Not by works of righteousness 
which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the 
washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.' By 
reconciliation : 2 Cor. v. 19, ' To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling 
the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.' And 
perfected in heaven, which is our complete salvation, or salvation to the 
uttermost: 1 Tim. i. 15, 16, 'This is a true and faithful saying, that 
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Howbeit for this 
cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth 
all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe 
on him to everlasting life.' Then a full and mutual complacence : we 
delight in God, and God in us ; we love him, and God loves us ; we 
love him perfectly, and we have the perfect reception of his love to us, 
and the benefits flowing thence. 

4. That this grace of recovery and restoration is revealed and 
declared to us in the word ; for the gospel word is both the means and 
the matter of our faith. It is the means : ' For how shall they believe 
in him of whom they have not heard ? ' Eom. x. 17. And Christ 
prayeth, John xvii. 20, ' Neither pray I for these alone, but for them, 
also which shall believe in me through their word.' And it is the 
matter and object of our faith ; for in the text it is said, we believe in 
the name of the Son of God ; that is, all which is revealed concerning 
him in the scriptures, and the way of salvation and recovery offered by 
him. Christ is the object of faith, and the covenant of grace is the 
object of faith, called therefore, ' The word of faith,' Eom. x. 8. Now 
we make a gospel to ourselves if we pitch upon benefits only or pro 
mises only ; for the word of faith consists of precepts as well as 
promises, and requires duties as well as it offers benefits. Therefore, 
as we expect pardon and life from God, we must perform the duties 
due from us to God and man. 

5. That the acts of faith are three about this word of truth, or 
Christ revealed therein — assent, consent, trust or dependence. 

[1.] Assent to the truth of the Christian doctrine, that Jesus is such 
as the word representeth him to be, the Christ and the Saviour of the 
world, who came to recover us to God : John vi. 69, ' We believe 
and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' 
This is the fundamental principle which supporteth all religion, and 


enliveneth all the lesser truths, that they have the greater influence 
upon our hearts. This begets firm adherence to Christ, whatever 
temptations we have to the contrary : 1 John v. 5, ' Who is he that 
overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of 
God ? ' Many have a human credulity that find no such effects, but 
not a cordial and hearty assent wrought in them by the Holy Ghost. 
They take up this opinion upon custom, education, and common induce 
ments, but not as a divine testimony brought to us in the word, and 
sealed and confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit. 

[2.] Consent to God's offer of Christ, that he may be our Lord and 
Saviour : John i. 12, ' To as many as received him, to them gave he 
power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believe in his 
name ; ' Col. ii. 6, ' And as ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so 
walk in him.' Or to the covenant of grace, called ' A receiving the word,' 
Acts ii. 41. Accepting the benefits offered us, as our only happiness, 
resolving on the duties required as our constant work. 

[3.] Trust or dependence on Christ, or as putting ourselves into his 
hands, that we may be recovered and saved from sin and punishment, 
and brought home to God in perfect happiness and glory : Eph. i 11, 
12, ' In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated 
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel 
of his own will : that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first 
trusted in Christ ; ' 2 Tim. i. 12, ' For I know whom I believed, and I 
am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed 
unto him against that day.' 

6. The modification of these acts is this, that this assent, joined with 
consent, is cordial and hearty : Acts viii. 37, ' If thou believest with 
all thine heart ; ' and both accompanied with a fiducial trust. Now 
this trust is practical, so as, forsaking all other things, we give up our 
selves to the conduct of his word and Spirit. 

[1.] It produceth mortification and self-denial. This is included in 
the nature of faith ; for faith implieth a carrying off the heart from 
things visible and temporal to things spiritual, invisible, and eternal ; 
in a recess from the world and worldly things, and an access to God 
and heaven : 2 Cor. iv. 18, ' For we look not to the things which are 
seen, but to the things which are not seen ; for the things which are 
seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal ; ' 1 
John v. 4, ' Whosoever is born of God overcometh the world ; and this 
is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.' We must 
forsake all other happiness and hopes in confidence of God's promise 
through Jesus Christ ; in vow and resolution, as soon as we believe ; 
actually, when anything in the world is inconsistent with our duty to 
Christ and fidelity to him : 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, he went and sold all that he had, and 
bought it ; ' Luke xiv. 33, ' Whosoever he be of you that f orsaketh not 
all he hath, he cannot be my disciple.' You cannot continue constant 
in the profession of Christ, nor uniformly perform the duties he re- 
quireth of you, unless your hearts be weaned from the world. Christ 
propoundeth the true happiness, to draw us off from the false happi 
ness. Our accepting the one is a kind of quitting the other, or a lessen- 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 215 

ing of it at least in our esteem, as a thing unworthy to come in com 
petition with Christ or the benefits offered by him, or to obstruct the 
duty we owe to him. 

[2.] A devoting and giving up ourselves to the conduct of his word 
and Spirit. Certainly all those that believe in the Son of God put 
themselves into his hands, taking his will for the rule of their lives and 
actions, and look to be kept by his power unto salvation : 2 Cor. viii. 
5, ' And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their, own selves 
to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.' His word is their rule : 
Gal. vi. 16, 'As many as walk according to this rule.' His Spirit 
their guide : Eom. viii. 14, ' For as many as are led by the Spirit of 
God, are the sons of God.' His precepts show their duty, and by the 
strength of his Spirit they perform it ; so that faith in the Son of God 
is such a trusting ourselves in his hands as begets fidelity to him. 
Faith and faithfulness are nearer akin than so, and we must trust 
Christ if we mean to be true to him. We have sincerity enough in 
the promise, and fidelity enough in the thing promised. 

Secondly, Love to the brethren is the next thing to be opened: 'That 
ye love one another, as he gave commandment.' 

1. There must be an internal affection. He doth not only press us 
to do good to one another, but to love one another. A real love there 
must be, otherwise the most glorious actions are insignificant as to our 
acceptance with God : 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. A sincere love there must be 
to them for God's sake, for the goodness he hath endued them with, and 
for the service they may do him, or the relation they have to him as 
creatures or children ; not for our own sakes, to barter courtesies with 
them. A selfish man can faithfully love none but himself, for he 
loveth all others for himself. 

2. The persons ; we must ' love one another.' We are to love all 
things with respect to God, his natural image in all his creatures, and 
his moral and spiritual image in his children. There is a love to every 
one without exception to whom there is an opportunity offered of doing 
them good. When the wounded man was passed by by the priest and 
Levite, the Samaritan performed the office of a neighbour ; and Christ 
biddeth us go and do likewise, Luke x. 36, 37. But because love to 
our neighbour supposeth love to God, and floweth from it as a stream 
from a fountain, therefore chiefly to the children of God : 1 John v. 1, 
' Every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten 
of him. By this we know we love the children of God, when we love 
God and keep his commandments ; ' 1 John iv. 21, ' This command 
ment we have from him, that he that loveth God, loveth his brother 
also.' We ought not to live to ourselves only, but for the benefit of 
one another, especially of our fellow-christians. 

3. For the manner of exercising this love, it must be in a self-deny 
ing way ; it is a Christ-like love, not only as we should love ourselves, 
but as Christ hath loved us ; that is, to seek their benefit with our own 
loss. In two things Christ showed his self-denial — in washing his 
disciples' feet, and dying for sinners. By the first he taught us that, 
if we may be serviceable to one another, we should stoop to the 
meanest offices, John xiii. 3, 4. Surely this is more binding upon us 
who are all mutual servants to one another, as being fellow-members 


of one body, 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26 ; therefore we ought to employ our 
selves in all the duties of love to our neighbour, though never so mean 
and never so laborious. The apostle speaketh of the labour of love, 
Heb. vi. 10. Though it be laborious and irksome to the flesh, yet the 
will and love of God must sweeten it. The apostle saith, Gal. v. 13, 
14, ' By love serve one another, for all the law is fulfilled in one word, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' Love will make us stoop 
to the meanest duties, to the meanest persons. The other example is 
in dying for sinners ; so ought we to love the brethren at the dearest 
rates: 1 John iii. 16, 'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because 
he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the 
brethren.' To prefer their good before our conveniencies and natural 
desires, especially where their spiritual good and the glory of God is 
concerned ; but alas ! few know how to prefer God's glory and their 
neighbour's good before the fulfilling their own fleshly lusts. 

4. The fruits of this love are usually seen in giving and forgiving ; 
giving or parting with our estates for their relief: this I largely pleaded, 
verse the 17th ; and it is elsewhere pleaded from Christ's example : 2 
Cor. viii. 9, ' Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though 
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that through his poverty 
you might be made rich.' And he telleth them that this he said to 
prove the sincerity of their love ; if love be hearty, it will discover 
itself this way. So in forgiving, Eph. iv. 32, ' Forgiving one another, 
as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.' God hath forgiven greater 
miscarriages and disingenuities, Mat. xviii.; therefore we must forgive 
with a readiness to do all duties of love and kindness to those that have 
done the wrong ; yea, none of us are so free from infirmities but that 
we need forgiveness ourselves, not only from God but men. 

II. How these are conjoined, faith in Christ, and love to the brethren. 
And here, first, Of the connection, secondly, Of the order. 

First, The connection. There is another sum and abridgment of 
the commandments given by Christ : Mat. xxii. 36, 37, ' Master, which 
is the great commandment in the law ? Jesus said unto him, Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, 
and with all thy mind.' Other things are mentioned by another 
apostle : Acts xx. 21, ' Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the 
Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.' 
All have their use, for they speak accommodately to their purpose ; 
Christ of the sum of the law given by Moses, Paul of the sum of evan 
gelical doctrine or covenant, John with respect to the purpose of his 
exhortation : he might have reduced the sum of the gospel to one head, 
faith in Christ ; yet for more distinct explication's sake includeth love 
also ; and this not without good reason, for these things are often 
coupled in scripture : Col. i. 4, ' Since we heard of your faith in Jesus 
Christ, and the love which you have to all the saints/ So Eph. i. 15, 
' After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints ; ' 
2 Thes. i. 3, ' Your faith groweth exceedingly, and your love towards 
each other aboundeth.' But above all, 2 Tim. i. 3, ' Hold fast the 
form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love, 
which is in Christ Jesus.' Now this connection must be always 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 217 

1. With respect to our own personal safety and the good of the 
church. Faith relateth more to our personal benefit : justification, 
Rom. v. 1, ' Being justified by faith;' sanctification, Acts xv. 9, 
' Purifying their hearts by faith ;' salvation, 1 Peter i. 9, ' Eeceiving 
the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.' Love to the 
good of others, that we may have a tender care of the duty, honour, 
and prosperity of Christ's church. We are to build up ourselves in 
our most holy faith ; and we are also to love and edify the body, which 
is by love, and that which every joint supplieth, Eph. iv. 16. Surely 
their welfare should be regarded as your own. Love is called by the 
apostle, Col. iii. 14, ' The bond of perfection.' Love is the tie and bond 
which knitteth all the members of the church together, that their 
several gifts and graces may be employed for the public, whereas other 
wise they serve for mutual prejudice. Without love we should, as a 
besom unbound, fall to pieces ; there would be no peace and safety, 
but only malice and reviling, and that too often mingled with our 

2. This connection is necessary, that grace may be found saving 
and sincere ; for faith without love is dead, James ii. 17 ; and love 
without faith is no saving grace, but a natural inclination, but a little 
good nature : so that faith and love are in a manner the rivals 1 of a 
Christian, without which he cannot walk ; and if any one be wanting, 
the other is dead and withered. 

Second, For the order, first faith, then love ; for faith produceth love, 
and the cause is before the effect. Faith apprehending the love of God 
in Christ, inflameth the heart in love to God again ; and then we keep 
his commandments, and love other things for God's sake, Gal. v. 6. 
When faith hath kindled in our souls love to God, then we love God 
above all, we shall love God in all, and that most which hath most of 
God. Surely if you love God as God, it will teach you to love the 
brethren ; the example of God's love in Christ will make some im 
pression upon you, and you will love all that belongeth to God in the 

Use 1. To reprove those that do little regard the planting, growth, or 
exercise of faith and love ; you are not truly subject to God if you 
decline any of his commandments, much more if you neglect the great 
commandments of faith and love. 

1. By many faith is little minded, believing in Christ is a mystical 
truth. Moral obedience is evident by natural light ; for the law was 
written on the hearts of men, Horn. ii. 14, as well as in the book of 
God. Things seen by a double medium are greater. We are not 
sensible of the evil of unbelief, as we are of immoralities ; but now 
the gospel is confirmed by the Spirit, it is a great sin : John xvi. 9, 
' Of sin, because they believe not on me ; ' and a dangerous sin : Mark 
xvi. 16, ' He that believeth not shall be damned ; ' John iii. 18, 19, 
' He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth 
not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name 
of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that 
light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, 
because their deeds are evil.' A double condemnation ; we are under 
condemnation already ; the sentence of the law is not reversed till we 

i Qu. ' limbs ' ?— Ea 


believe in Christ, it is ratified in the gospel court if we refuse the 
remedy. Now Christ is come into the world, sufficiently revealed to 
be Lord and Saviour by the gospel, confirmed by miracles ; there 
fore, this is a business of greater necessity than is usually minded or 
thought of. 

2. And so love to the brethren is very rare : many are quite 
strangers to it, the best are very imperfect in it ; witness the cruelties 
and frauds that are practised in the world, and the unmercifulness 
that Christians use one to another upon all occasions. Alas ! we that 
should be plentiful in doing good to one another, can hardly live quietly 
one by another ; we that should pardon injuries, offer them, and instead 
of turning the other cheek to the smiter, we smite ourselves, as if we 
did bid defiance to all Christ's laws and counsels. We live as if he 
commanded .us to be treacherous, envious, hurtful, designing others' 
ruin and destruction, and forbidding us to be tender-hearted, com 
passionate, ready to help and to do good to one another ; as if love 
were too much recommended to us, and were known better by slan 
dering, reviling, and backbiting, rather than by tenderness of each 
other's welfare and reputation ; as if Christ had said, By this shall all 
men know that ye are my disciples, not because you love, but because 
ye hate one another. 

Use 2. To exhort us to be tender of this double commandment. 

1. Believing in the name of the Son of God ; charge it on yourselves 
as your work when you are sinning, This is none of my business or 
work. The work of God is to believe in him whom he hath sent ; 
that we should recover out of sin by Christ, and abandon it more and 
more, not live in the practice of it. When you are hunting after the 
world, or indulging carnal pleasures, this is not your work. God and 
heaven are the great objects faith is conversant about, and Christ is the 
means to bring me thither ; nay, other duties are not the commandment, 
for without faith all is nothing ; for in vain do men busy themselves about 
particular duties when they neglect the main, Heb. xi. 6. This, if sincere, 
draweth other things along with it ; faith is the first stone in the spiri 
tual building, 2 Peter i. 5, 6 ; faith is at the bottom of all : he that is 
to entertain a king will make reckoning of his train. All the privileges 
depend on this, pardoned, sanctified, Acts xxvi. 18 ; glorified, John iii. 
16 ; communion with Christ, Eph. iii. 17. All blessings, Mat. xv. 28. 
God is at liberty to do for us what we desire ; otherwise tied up by 
his own methods and instituted order : Mark vi. 5, ' And he could do 
no mighty work there because of their unbelief.' 

Let it be your constant work, 1 John v. 13. No men believe so 
much but they may believe more ; and the more you grow in faith 
the more you please God and honour him : Horn. iv. 20, ' Being strong 
in faith, giving glory to God.' And have more comfort in ourselves : 
Horn. xv. 13, ' The God of hope fill you with all peace and joy in 
believing.' The more you believe, the more you know you do believe, 
and the more will God own your faith : John i. 50, ' Believest thou ? 
thou shalt see greater things than these/ Weakness of faith is pun 
ished as well as total unbelief: Num. xx. 12, 'Because ye believed 
not to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 219 

shall not bring the congregation into the land which I have given 

2. For love. We should grow in love as well as faith ; he that 
maketh conscience of the one will make conscience of the other also ; 
both are recommended by the same authority ; the one is a necessary 
effect of the other. Can a man have a due sense of God's love, and 
not love what belonseth to God ? 


And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in 
him : and hereby know ice that he abideth in us, by his Spirit 
which he hath given to us. — 1 JOHN iii. 24. 

HERE is the further happiness of those that make conscience of an 
entire and uniform obedience to God's holy will — (1.) Access to God 
in prayer ; (2.) Success, ver. 22 ; (3.) Constant communion with God. 

In the words, first, we have an excellent privilege, ' And he that 
keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.' 

Secondly, The proof, fruit, and evidence of it, ' And hereby knosv 
we that he abideth in us, by his Spirit which he hath given to us.' 

1. The privilege, ' Dwelleth in him, and he in him.' Dwelling 
noteth the continued presence and influence of Christ. 

2. The proof hereby : God is where his Spirit is. Mark, he dotli 
not prove the former, our dwelling in God, for that is our duty as well 
as our privilege, but his dwelling in us, that needeth most to be con 
firmed : and in proving that he proveth both ; for Christ dwelleth in 
none but those that dwell in him. The first is all we can handle at 

Doct. A near, intimate, and constant conjunction with Christ is the 
privilege of those who make conscience of keeping the commandments. 

First, What is this near, intimate and constant conjunction with 
Christ ? It is expressed here by a mutual inhabitation. 

1. Dwelling noteth nearness and intimacy ; it is not dwelling by one 
another, but dwelling in one another : ' You in me, and I in you,' 
John xiv. 20 ; which noteth presence and influence. So John vi. 56, 
' He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and 
I in him.' As meat is turned into the eater's substance, so they and 
Christ become one. Christ is present with and in the believer, that 
is, graciously present ; not in substance at all, as man ; for ' the 
heaven of heavens must contain him till the days of refreshing come 
from the presence of the Lord,' Acts iii. 21. Nor in substance only 
as God, for so he is everywhere : Jer. xxiii. 24, ' Do not I fill heaven 
and earth? saith the Lord.' But by his gracious operation and 
special influence upon them, whereby he conveyeth life, strength, and 
glory to them. Life: Gal. ii. 20, ' I live, yet not I, but Christ livetli 
in me ; and the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the 


Son of God ; ' 1 John iv. 4, ' Greater is he that is in you than he that 
is in the world.' Glory : Col. i. 27, ' Christ is in you, the hope of 
glor\ r .' The first gift \ve have from God is Christ; we partake of 
him before we partake of his benefits : 1 John v. 12, ' He that hath 
the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.' There 
fore we are most strictly united to him as members to the head, 
whence they receive strength and motion ; so do we receive gracious 
influence as from our head. 

2. It is a constant habitual presence ; for dwelling noteth continu 
ance and perseverance. Christ cometh not for a visit and away, but it 
noteth his abode and constant residence : he doth not sojourn only for 
a season, but take up his abode in us : John xiv. 23, ' We will take 
up our abode with him.' Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, those blessed 
guests will dwell there. The Spirit may come upon the carnal by a 
transient motion, move them at times as they have their good moods 
and fits ; but he doth not act the faithful per modum actus transients, 
but per modum habitus permanentis, by a constant habitual influence 
or principle of life. God hath put our life into Christ's hands : 
' Because he liveth we shall live also/ John xiv. 19. So that we do 
not use him as an instrument for a turn, which is then laid by till we 
need it again ; or as a pen to write, or a knife to cut ; but we con 
stantly live in him, as the principle and root of our life, as branches 
use the root, and members the head, which they live by, and from 
which when they are severed they die and wither, 'When Christ, 
who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with him,' Col. iii. 4. 
He will convey life to us, begun in grace here and perfected in glory. 
This life is maintained on his part by a constant influence, on our 
part by a constant dependence : therefore by dwelling in him and he 
in us is intended not only intimacy — that is implied in the phrase ' in 
him' — but constancy, in the word ' abide or dwell. Being united to 
Christ, we still cleave to him, and Christ withdraweth not the Spirit 
from us. 

3. It is a mutual presence; we dwell in Christ, and he in us. 
This must be heeded and regarded for two reasons — 

[1.] Because our abiding in him is the way to have him abide in 
us, and so the communion is mutual : John xv. 4, ' Abide in me and 
I in you.' One clause is the exhortation, the other the promise. No 
man hath any dwelling in Christ, but Christ hath first his dwelling in 
him ; he first cometh into our hearts, and then giveth us place in his 
heart also : we must take the course, use the means, whereby he may 
abide in us. 

[2.] Because there is no danger the union will break on Christ's 
part : if we abide in him, he will not fail to abide in us. His gracious 
presence is secured by his love and promise ; all the danger is of 
breaking on our part ; and therefore we must be quickened and 
exhorted to abide in him : and as by other motives, so by the danger 
of apostasy, not only that we may evidence the reality of our union 
with him, but that we may keep the bonds entire and unbroken. So 
doth our Lord testify, John xv. 6, ' If any man abide not in me, he is 
cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men cast them into the five 
and they are burned.' Now should we be wiser than Christ, who 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 221 

minded his own disciples of the danger of apostasy, and the dreadful 
wrath following upon it, to make them afraid of defection ? For this 
is one means which God useth to contain and keep the elect within 
the bounds of their duty ; and therefore they must not be smoothed 
up with persuasions of their immutable standing, but be warned of 
the inseparable connection between apostasy from the known truth 
and way of godliness, and the dreadful wrath and displeasure of God 
on supposition they do so. Suppositions nihil ponunt in esse. Such 
suppositions do not shake the foundation of God, but confirm our con 
stant adherence to him. 

4. It is an exiinious and excellent privilege ; for here it is not pro 
pounded by way of exhortation, but motive ; not enforced as a duty, 
but asserted as the reward of a duty, that if we be tender of breaking 
God's laws, he abideth in us and we in him : and so it is in other 
places : John xiv. 23, ' If any one keep my commandments, my Father 
will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with 
him.' It is our great work to love God, and our great happiness to be 
beloved of him ; therefore the greatest expression of his love is to 
dwell in us, and fix his residence in our hearts. This Christ pro- 
miseth to his disciples, as knowing they will prize it, how contemptibly 
soever the world thinketh of it ; and we should also prize and value 
this above other favours. Take either part for our dwelling in God, 
to have a lodging in the heart of God, and then God in us ; he will 
dwell in us in these houses of clay before we come to dwell with him 
in his palace of glory. It is surely the greatest happiness that can 
befall man in this world, and accordingly it should be valued. 

5. This strict union and conjunction is begun by the Spirit, but con 
tinued by faith, love, and obedience. It is begun in us by his Spirit ; 
for Christ maketh his first entry into believers wholly by the Spirit : 
1 Cor. vi. 17, ' He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.' As in the 
matrimonial bond, they who are joined together are one flesh, so in 
this mystical union one spirit ; not only to show its spiritual nature, 
but its author. It is done by the Spirit uniting us to Christ, and by 
Christ to God : 1 Cor. xii. 13, ' We are by one spirit baptized into one 
body, and we are made to drink into one spirit.' Our first insition or 
implantation into Christ is represented by baptism, as our nutrition 
and growth by the Lord's supper ; and there it is said to be done by 
the Spirit; as bees first build their cells, and then dwell in them. 
But then it is continued by faith, love, and obedience : Eph. iii. 17, 
' That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.' It is by his dwelling 
in us by his Spirit that we receive his influence and assistance ; and 
then it is manifest to us by love : 1 John iv. 16, ' We have known and 
believed the love which God hath to us. God is love, and he that 
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.' When the heart 
is moulded and framed to love God, upon the apprehension of his great 
and wonderful love in our redemption, God dwelleth in us and we in 
God. And John xv. 9, 10, ' As the Father hath loved me, so I have 
loved you ; continue ye in my love : if ye keep my commandments, ye 
shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, 
and abide in his love.' If they would maintain the exercise of their 
love to Gocl ; and the sense of his love to them, they should obey him. 


And then, for obedience, it is plainly asserted in the text; and again, 
1 John i. 7, ' If ye walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have 
fellowship one with another.' Surely the more we fulfil his will, the 
more God delighteth in us, and to communicate his grace to us ; our 
state of sin was a state of enmity to God, but the state of holiness and 
obedience to him is our state of conjunction and agreement with him, 
which is perfect when our holiness is perfect. 

6. The effect of this strict union, conjunction, and presence is spiri 
tual influence, or the assistance of his Spirit, on Christ's part ; on our 
part, holiness and fruitful obedience. Hence we have his Spirit to 
guide us : Kom. viii. 14, ' As many as are led by the Spirit.' To 
quicken us, ' For the Spirit that dwelleth in us is life/ Born. viii. 10. 
To strengthen us to perform duties : Eph. iii. 16, ' To be strengthened 
with might by his Spirit in the inner man; ' Heb. xiii. 21, ' Working 
in us what is pleasing in his sight/ and helping us to fulfil his will. 
For bearing of burdens : Phil. iv. 16, ' I can do all things through 
Christ that strengtheneth me/ So that they are continually acted, 
excited, and strengthened by God. On our part the effect is holiness 
and fruitful obedience ; before we made it a means of this conjunction, 
now we make it the fruit and effect of it, for it is both. It is enforced 
by two arguments : John xv. 4, 5, ' Abide in me and I in you : as the 
branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more 
can you except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches : 
he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much 
fruit ; for without me ye can do nothing.' Where there are two things 
asserted — First, That without his dwelling in us, and we in him, we can 
be no more fruitful than a branch which is broken off from the vine ; 
no communion, no fruitfulness : he cannot do anything acceptable to 
God ; not only nihil magnum, no great thing, but nihil prorsum, 
nothing at all. As we cannot do the greatest and most difficult things, 
so not the least thing, if broken off from Christ. Secondly, That if we 
still dwell and abide in him, we shall abound in fruit ; he is able and 
willing to supply all our wants, and make us ready for every good 

7. Though Christ do familiarly communicate himself to all believers, 
so as to dwell in them by his gracious presence, yet not to all alike, 
but to some in a larger measure and proportion than to others, as he 
worketh more or more effectually on them than he doth on others. 
We all receive of his fulness, John i. 16, but all according to our capa 
city and degree of receptivity : Eph. iv. 7, ' To every one of us is given 
grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' All have the 
same saving graces for substance : 2 Peter i. 1, ' To them that have 
obtained like precious faith with us/ But for the degree, every one 
hath his peculiar measures, some are babes, some young men, and some 
fathers, 1 John ii. 13. Visible professors have common gifts, and there 
is variety ; but all real members have saving gifts in such a measure 
as Christ judgeth sufficient and most convenient. In the degrees there 
is much of his sovereignty seen, yea, and also of his justice sometimes, 
when, being provoked by sin and our unkind dealing, he doth withhold 
a great measure of that gracious influence which at other times he 
vouchsafeth more plentifully. There is an influence necessary to the 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN nr. 223 


well-being, and to the being of grace. First, Necessary to the well- 
being, flourishing, and vigorous acting of grace in the heart. So the 
spouse complaineth that her beloved had withdrawn himself,' and was 
gone, after she had been lazy and negligent, Cant. v. 6 ; yet some influ 
ence of his grace still remained, for she opened to him, and he was gone. 
Secondly, There is an influence which is necessary to the being of grace, 
and without which grace would utterly die and perish. David telleth 
as that his feet were almost gone, and his steps had well-nigh slipped, 
Ps. Ixxiii. 2. But what kept him ? He telleth us that,ver. 23, ' Never 
theless I am continually with thee ; thou hast holden me by thy right 
hand.' He was upon the brink of a precipice, ready to cast off or 
question a main article of faith or point of religion ; but God kept him, 
and powerfully sustained and supported him from being overcome with 
that temptation. He doth not forsake us when many times we are 
ready to forsake him, but by his power doth secretly withhold us and 
keep us fast to himself. Nay, necessary vital grace may be greatly 
wounded and weakened, and heinous sins may make such fearful havoc 
in the soul, and God manifest his displeasure by withdrawing the 
Spirit in such a degree, that they cannot tell whether they have any 
thing of it or no: Ps. li. 11, 'Cast me not away from thy presence, 
neither take thy Holy Spirit from me.' They are not utterly cast off 
from God, nor bereft of saving grace, yet they have lost the sensible 
communion of the Spirit, both in a way of comfort and grace ; they see 
this is their desert, and that God is provoked ; and it is terrible to them 
to be excluded from the actual sense of God's favour, and therefore 
deprecate this as their saddest loss. 

8. The general rule is, that the strictly obedient have a greater degree 
of his indwelling presence than others have. In scripture sometimes 
God is said to dwell with the contrite : Isa. Ivii. 15, ' I dwell in the 
high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble 
spirit.' He dwelleth in the highest heaven, and he dwelleth in the 
humblest heart ; they most need him ; and he hath work there to do, 
to comfort them in their serious remorse for sin. Sometimes with the 
trusting soul : Ps. xci. 1, ' He that dwelleth in the secret place of the 
Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.' He that 
dwells in God shall dwell in God ; i.e., he that adhereth to God, and 
expecteth his safety from God's protection, shall not miss of what he 
seeketh : God will be with him, as he is always with God. But these 
are but branches of holiness and obedience ; generally the privilege is 
restrained to the pure and holy : ' With the pure thou wilt show thy 
self pure.' He that keepeth himself pure from sin, God will not leave 
any degree of godliness in him unrewarded ; and this is one of his 
rewards, to vouchsafe them his gracious presence and influence ; they 
have not only his sanctifying, but his comforting presence. His sanc 
tifying presence, for as he doth punish sin with sin, so he doth reward 
grace with grace, with a further increase of what they seek after. His 
comforting presence: John xv. 11, ' These things have I spoken to you, 
that my joy may remain in you, and your joy may be full.' What 
things were those ? concerning abiding in him, in faith and love, 
and fruitfulness in obedience ; he speaketh of his joy and their 
joy ; he causeth it, they felt it, or the comfort they had in his bodily 


presence, and which should afterward be excited in them by the Holy 

Secondly, Why it is a privilege proper to them that keep his com 
mandments, for the clause is exclusive of others. 

1. Because this is God's instituted order. Now all God's institutions 
carry a condecency to his nature. God is holy, and requireth holiness, 
and delights in holiness, and therefore vouchsafeth his intimate presence 
with them that are holy, as the reward of their fidelity and obedience 
to him : Ps. xi. 7, ' The righteous God loveth righteousness, his counte 
nance doth behold the upright.' God's heart is toward the holy and 
the righteous, they are most amiable in his sight, and he puts most of 
the marks of his favour upon them, and such marks as they most value 
and esteem, which is his comfortable and holy presence. The same is 
true of Christ, for the name and nature of God is in him : 1 John ii. 
6, ' He that saith he abideth in him, ought also to walk even as he 
walked.' If we would have Christ dwell in us, we must imitate him 
in obedience to God. 

2. Communion presupposeth union, and union agreement : Amos 
iii. 3, ' How can two walk together except they be agreed ? ' If not 
walk together, not dwell together, not dwell one in another. What 
concord and agreement between Christ and Belial, between a holy 
God and Saviour and the workers of iniquity ? There is none, there 
can be none : 2 Cor. vi. 16, it is enforced out of this, ' I will walk in 
them, and I will dwelt in them ; ' that excludeth all that is unsuitable. 

3. The end and fruit of this union, which is that we may live unto 
God, and bring forth fruit unto God ; that is the end of the spiritual 
marriage, which is one notion by which this near conjunction is set 
forth : Horn. vii. 4, ' That ye should be married to another, even 
to him that is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit 
unto God.' It is the end of the spiritual engrafting ; John xv. 1, 2, 
' I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman : every branch 
in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away ;-and every branch that 
beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.' This 
is another notion used ; the members receive influence from the head 
for motion, a free intercourse of blood and spirits, that every part may 
do its offices. Now if we would keep the commandments, and live 
unto God, and bring forth fruit unto God, this would not be in vain : 
Christ hath works to be done by us, as well as comfort to bestow 
upon us. 

4. One part of this privilege would contradict the other ; it is a 
mutual inhabitation spoken of, ' I in him, and he in me.' Now many 
would have Christ to dwell in them when they are not in him but 
against him. Our being in him imports duty as well as privilege, that 
we should be for him, our hearts set upon him and his glory ; he is in 
us by his Spirit, and we are in him by faith and love, both which 
produce new obedience : Gal. v. 6, ' For in Christ Jesus neither 
circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith, which 
worketh by love.' 

5. Wherever Christ is, he will be as Lord and sovereign ; he will rule 
where he dwelleth, and dwell alone : Col. ii. 6, ' As ye have received 
Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.' He ruleth in us as Lord, therefore 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 225 

lie must be obeyed, his commandments kept. Many times in travel 
ling, when we see a great house we ask who dwelleth here, meaning 
the master of the family, not the ,servants, the scullions, but the owner 
and governor of the house ; so where Christ dwelleth he will be chief. 
We intend it in saying, He dwelleth here. When men cool and 
decline in their affections to him, when they take in another inmate 
and indweller, whose interest shall command the interest of Christ, and 
whom they are more ready to serve and obey, this is to discharge 
Christ, not to suffer Jesus Christ any longer to dwell in them. 

6. This near, intimate, and constant conjunction with Christ doth 
necessarily beget a likeness to him : 2 Cor. v. 17, ' If any man be in 
Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things 
are become new.' And according to our pattern they are created anew ; 
Christ is formed in them, Gal. iv. 19. The stamp of Christ is left 
upon them. So John i. 16 ; some expound that ' grace for grace,' for 
each grace in Christ there is the like and answerable grace in the 
heart of a believer. As in the wax there is word for word, letter for 
letter, syllable for syllable, answerable to what was in the seal ; or in 
the body of a child there is limb for limb, part for part, answerable 
to the parents ; so in us and Christ there is patience for patience, 
humility for humility, obedience for obedience. Now this doth neces 
sarily infer holiness, or keeping the commandments. 

Use 1. Is information. 

1. That they do in vain boast of communion with God who do not 
keep his commandments. It was a cheat usually among the heathens 
to pretend secrecy with their gods, and human nature is the same 
still : many usurp this high honour of communion with God, but no 
fruit of it appeareth. Now Christ abhorreth all pretences of commu 
nion with him, which do not appear in the effects : 1 John ii. 4, ' He 
that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar.' 
' I know him,' is there put for, I enjoy him, or I am in him ; for in the 
next verse it is explained, ' Hereby we know that we are in him.' 
And the Holy Ghost pronounceth there that ' he is a liar ! ' A lie is 
more than a falsehood, it is a falsehood with intention to deceive. The 
gross hypocrite, that liveth in secret wickedness, that contents himself 
only with a plausible appearance, intendeth to deceive others, as if he 
were in Christ when he is not ; but the more refined hypocrite, that 
lives in partial obedience, doth deceive himself. If the communion 
with Christ were real, it would discover itself, and the fruit of the 
Spirit would be ' all goodness, righteousness, and truth,' Eph. v. 9. It 
cannot be otherwise while he abideth in you by his Spirit, and you 
abide in him by faith and love. 

2. That those who have tasted the good of communion with God 
need often to be exhorted and encouraged to continue in it. I observe 
this, because many are possessed with this thought, that union with 
Christ will do its own business ; and they expect the fruits of it, but 
do nothing to keep this union being a real union. Nomine non 
cogitante ; they think though man had no thought or apprehension of 
it, and contributeth nothing in the way of duty to receive the fruits 
of it, yet it will preserve him and keep him : but this is an abuse, for 
we are to be in him as well as he in us ; and the care of preserving it, 



though it lieth mainly on Christ, and the grace cometh from Christ, yet 
it is our duty, and we need often to be quickened to it, for these reasons — 

[1.] Because of dulness, laziness, and backwardness to those duties 
which maintain this communion. Christ abideth in us by constant 
influence and quickening virtue ; but there are duties required on our 
part of faith, love, and new obedience. As there is a constant influence 
on his part, so there must be a constant adherence on ours. We are 
to ' cleave to him with full purpose of heart,' Acts xi. 23. And by 
constant endeavour seek to please him, and frequently draw nigh to 
him in holy services, as the scripture everywhere showeth ; but we 
are idle and apt to neglect our duty. 

[2.] Because of our averseness to self-denial, and dependence by 
reason of that security and selfishness which is very natural to us, 
especially if we have received anything by way of ability and power 
to do that which is good. Man is a proud creature, and would fain 
be sufficient to himself, live of himself, and do all things by himself ; 
though Christ telleth us, ' Without me ye can do nothing.' The sense 
of our impotency and emptiness is troublesome and humbling ; there 
fore we need often to quicken you to he nothing in yourselves, and all in 
Christ, who still giveth and continueth all that we have or can do for 
God. This dependence begetteth observance, Phil. ii. 12, 13 ; 1 Cor. 
xv. 10, ' Not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' We 
being but inferior agents and instruments under him, though voluntary 
arid obedient instruments, by our own strength, and without the grace 
of Christ, we are not sufficient to begin or finish any Christian duties ; 
it is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, and breatheth upon 
us by fresh and continual inspirations. Peter was confident of the 
sincerity of his own resolutions, but he was not sensible of his weak 
ness ; now this must often be revived upon us, that we may entirely 
depend upon God. 

[3.] We are often hotly assaulted with temptations after our hearts 
are set for God and heaven. God may permit us to be exercised with 
sharp trials, and buffeted very sorely ; therefore we need quicken you 
to abide in him. Do not run away from your defence and strength ; 
do not think that Christ will cast you off. Now is the time to show 
he is in you, Rom. viii. 39. 

[4.] We may run into sins which endanger a forfeiture ; therefore 
we need often to be put in remembrance of abiding in Christ, that we 
may not wrest ourselves out of the arms of mercy. 

3. It informeth us how dangerous it is to injure and wrong them 
that fear God and keep his commandments ; they are in Christ, and 
Christ is in them ; he taketh the injuries as done to himself : Acts ix. 
4, ' Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ? ' You do wrong to the 
Lord Jesus when you hate what of Christ is in them : Isa. xxxvii. 28, 
' But I know thy abode, and thy going out and coming in, and thy rage 
against me,' saith God to Sennacherib. Benefits done to us are taken 
as done to him, Mat. xxv. So injuries, Christ taketh them as done to 

Use 2. Is to persuade us to keep his commandments. I shall press 
this — (1.) From the excellency of the privilege ; (2.) The necessity of 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 227 

1. The excellency of the privilege; this deserveth our choicest en 

[1.] Consider what an obliging act of condescension it is on God's 
part to dwell in us. Could we have used these expressions if God 
had not used them before us ? ' But will God in very deed dwell with 
men on earth ? ' was the wonder of one of the wisest men on earth, 2 
Chron. vi. 18. But more to dwell in us and walk in us, 1 Cor. vi. 16 ; 
to dwell in the hearts of such poor vile creatures as we are. What 
base and unclean guests lodge within us naturally ; but what a blessed 
thing is it to have God dwell in us and we in him ! 

[2.] Consider how much the people of God value his external pre 
sence : Exod. xxxiii. 15, ' If thy presence go not with us, carry us not 
up hence.' But now Christ is not only with us, but in us, 2 Cor. v. 3. 
It is that which bringeth us nearer to God, and fits us to receive more 
from him. Temporal blessings, Horn. viii. 32 ; all spiritual blessings, 
1 Cor. i. 30 ; eternal, John xvii. 23, 24. 

2. The necessity of obedience ; it is not only profitable for more 
ample communion, but necessary, the union else is but pretended ; it 
cannot be continued, but is interrupted and broken off. Now when 
God hath made a difference between you and others, will you seek to 
unmake it again ? He cometh to dwell in you to make you holy. 


And we know that he abideth in us, by his Spirit, which he hath 
given us. — 1 JOHN iii. 24. 

DOCT. That God's dwelling and abiding in us is known by the Spirit 
given to us. 

It is not said merely that he abideth in us by his Spirit, but ' Hereby 
we know that he abideth in us, by his Spirit, which he hath given to us.' 
Christ is where his Spirit is. It is a sure sign to us that he hath not 
forsaken us, but still continueth united to us. 

Let us inquire — (1.) What is meant by the Spirit given to us ; (2.) 
Why this is a sure evidence ; (3.) How this Spirit worketh. 

I. What is meant by the Spirit given to us. By the Spirit is meant 
the person of the Holy Ghost, or some created gift, called the divine 
nature, or new creature. The word signifieth both. Sometimes it is 
taken for the Holy Ghost himself : Mat. xxviii. 19, ' Baptizing them 
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' Sometimes for the 
gifts and graces of the Spirit : John iii. 6, ' And that which is born of 
the Spirit is spirit.' That divine nature which is begotten or born in 
us of and by the Spirit is called spirit also, and both given to us : Rom. 
v. 5, ' The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, 
which is given unto us.' The latter is supposed to be spoken of 1 
John iv. 13, 'Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, 


because he hath given us of his spirit ; ' bestowed a gracious charitable 
temper upon us, for that temper which was in Christ is in us also • 
for those words follow this clause ; if we love one another, God dwelleth 
in us, and his love is perfected in us. Now it mattereth not much 
whether we interpret it of the one or the other, for we have both the 
fruit and the tree, the fountain and the stream. The one cannot be 
without the other, nor the graces without the Spirit, for they are of his 
production ; nor can the Spirit be said to dwell in any without respect 
to these graces, for the Spirit dwelleth where he worketh ; and his 
dwelling in the souls of believers is his working there in such a peculiar 
manner as is not common to all men ; a familiar and continued working, 
such as produceth life, and likeness to Christ in righteousness and holi 
ness, which is the same with gracious habits or the new nature, which 
is the more immediate principle of man's actions ;' and the Spirit of 
God produceth and worketh all that good which we do by the media 
tion of the new frame of heart which he hath raised in us. Yet I chiefly 
understand the text of the Spirit of sanctification, by whom being re 
generated we live unto God, for these reasons — 

1. Because it is brought as a proof of that part of the privilege, his 
abiding in us. The privilege is mutual and reciprocal ; we abide in 
him and he in us. Now he doth not prove the former, but the latter ; 
the soul dwelleth where it delighteth, but God dwelleth where he work 
eth by his Spirit, which is the cause of this intimate and immediate 
presence, which is here expressed, not by cohabitation, but by inhabit 
ation ; and so the meaning is, the constant operations of the Holy Spirit 
dwelling and working in you show that Christ hath not forsaken us, 
but taken up his abode in our hearts. 

2. Because this is the great fruit of God's love, and reward of our 
obedience : John xiv. 23, ' If any man love me, and keep my command 
ments, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make 
our abode with him.' ' We/ that is, all the persons of the blessed 
Trinity ; not the Father and the Son only, but the Holy Spirit, who 
doth constantly and by his habitual effects abide in the hearts of the 
faithful, and thereby evidenceth God's love to them : John xiv. 17, 
Christ speaking of the Spirit of truth, saith, ' Ye know him, for he 
dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.' 

3. This Spirit is more discernible by us by his motions and powerful 
influence, and the ways which he hath to manifest himself ; and so 
more proper to discover and make known the dwelling of God in us 
than the bare habits of grace, especially both together than the latter 
singly and alone. Indeed, one way by which he doth discover his 
sanctifying presence is by that habitual bent of heart towards God 
which we call the new nature, and the fruits and works of it. When 
we find the frame of our hearts changed for the better, and if we act 
accordingly, we may conclude it ; but that which maketh all evident 
is his continual presence and powerful influence, by which we are acted 
and quickened ; for as the apostle saith, ' By the Spirit of God we know 
the things which are freely given us of God,' 1 Cor. ii. 12, both in the 
gospel and in our own hearts. 

4. The Holy Ghost is said to dwell in believers as his temple : 
1 Cor. iii. 16, ' Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the 

V r ER. 24.] SERMONS UPON 1 JOHN III. 229 

Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? ' 1 Cor. vi. 19, ' Know ye not that your 
body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you ? ' So that the 
Spirit himself abideth in believers ; and not only grace from the Spirit, 
but he is present in the soul as Christ's agent to convey light, life, and 
love to us ; and not as a distant agent, but as the immediate exciter of 
all that grace that is in us. There is his power and presence, as in his 
temple and proper place of residence ; he first builds up his temple, 
and then dwelleth in it. 

II. Why this is a sure, rich, full, and pregnant evidence of God's 
dwelling in us. 

1. Because the coming down of the Holy Ghost upon Christ was the 
evidence of God's love to him, and the visible demonstration of his 
filiation and sonship to the world : John iii. 34, ' The Father loved the 
Son, and gave him the Spirit without measure.' Now Christ prayed, 
John xvii. 26, ' That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be 
in them, and I in them.' Before he had said, ver. 23, ' That the world 
may know that thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.' None 
will think in degree, therefore in kind, that God manifests his love to 
us the same way which he did to him, and that is by the gift of the 
Holy Spirit, or his filiation. John knew Christ to be the Son of God 
by the Spirit descending and abiding on him : John i. 32, ' I, John, bare 
record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, 
and it abode upon him.' Yea, God himself declared this to be a visible 
demonstration of his sonship, Mat. iii. 17. So do we know ourselves 
to be the children of God, by the Spirit's inhabitation and sanctifying 
work upon our souls. 

2. The pouring out of the Spirit was the visible evidence given to 
the church of the valuableness and acceptation of Christ's satisfaction 
for us, to set afoot the gospel covenant. When God was reconciled and 
pacified, then he shed forth the Spirit : Acts ii. 33, ' Therefore being 
by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father 
the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now 
see and hear.' So John vii. 38, 39, ' He that believeth on me, as the 
scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 
But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should 
receive ; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was 
not yet glorified.' Now this is true of God's reconciliation to us in 
particular : when pacified towards us, he giveth the Spirit ; because 
the part followeth the reason of the whole : Rom. v. 11, ' And not only 
so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom 
we have now received the atonement.' There is the atonement made, 
and the atonement received; they are both evidenced the same way, by 
this fountain of living waters, which is given to all believers : John 
iv. 14, ' But whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him 
shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give him shall be in 
him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.' And all the good 
God worketh in us, he worketh as a God of peace reconciled to us by 

3. Because it was the first witness of the truth of the gospel, and 
therefore the best pledge we can have of the love of God in our hearts; 
for believers are confirmed the same way which the gospel is confirmed ; 


that which confirmeth Christianity confirmeth the Christian, the reality 
of our interest ; as the extract and original charter have value from the 
same attestation or stamp and seal : Acts v. 32, ' And we are witnesses 
of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost.' And the wonders wrought 
by the Spirit : Heb. ii. 4, ' God also bearing them witness, both with 
signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy 
Ghost.' This was extraordinary, therefore the Christian needeth not 
to have his Christianity confirmed by miracles, but by the sanctifying 
Spirit : John xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them through thy truth ; thy word is 
truth.' This the believer must have : 1 John v. 10, ' He that believeth 
on the Son of God hath the witness in himself ; ' the Spirit comforting 
the conscience by the blood of Christ, and sanctifying and cleansing 
the heart as with pure water, ver. 8. This is our evidence that we 
are true Christians : so the testimony of Christ is confirmed in us. 

4. It is proper to the matter in hand, union and communion with 

[1.] Consider the privilege itself, the nature of this union with 
Christ, the object, the author and continual preserver : 2 Cor. xiii. 14, 
' The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the 
communion of the Holy Ghost.' Communion is imputed to the Holy 
Ghost, as love to God, and grace to Christ : 1 Cor. vi. 17, ' He that is 
joined to the Lord is one spirit.' As a man and a harlot are one flesh, 
so we are one spirit, because it is not a communion of bodies, but spirits. 
There is the same spirit in head and members ; therefore the apostle 
concludeth, Kom. viii. 9, ' Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, 
he is none of his ; ' is not grafted as a living member into Christ's 
mystical body. 

[2.] For the bands of this union, faith and love and new obedience, 
they are all wrought in us, and stirred up in us by the Spirit. 

(1.) Faith, it is the Spirit which giveth faith : Gal. v. 5, ' For we 
through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.' It is 
he that doth internally enlighten our minds, and incline our hearts to 
embrace the . gospel covenant, and Christ revealed in it. All that 
faith which we have is the gift of God, Eph. ii. 8 ; and God worketh by 
his Spirit, ' who openeth the eyes of our mind, that we may believe 
and receive the gospel,' Eph. i. 17, 18. 

(2.) For love, it is his production also, for love is of God, 1 John 
iv. 7, that is, wrought in us by the efficacy of his Spirit. The great 
design of the gospel is to reveal the love of God, and thereby to recover 
our love to God, that we may love him again, who hath loved us first, 
1 John iv. 19. Now the bare revelation of this love in the word will 
not do it, unless it be shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit given to 
us, Eom. v. 5. Therefore, as the Spirit of light, he worketh faith ; as a 
Spirit of love, he worketh love in us, and recovereth us from the world 
and the flesh to God. Naturally we love our own selves, that is, our 
own flesh, above God ; for ' that which is born of flesh is flesh,' 
And we love the world above God, 2 Peter i. 4. All this is remedied 
by the new nature given to us by the Spirit, that we may love God, 
and live to him. 

(3.) For new obedience, it is wrought in us by the Spirit also: 
' Seeing ye have purified your hearts in obeying the truth through the 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 231 

Spirit,' 1 Peter i. 23. He qnickeneth all the acts of the new life : 
Ezek. xxxvi. 27, ' I will put my Spirit into you, and cause you to walk 
in my statutes.' So that the Holy Ghost being given to us as our 
sanctifier, he resideth in our hearts as the immediate agent of Christ, 
and the worker of all grace ; as a Spirit of light and love maintaining 
and carrying on our communion with God in Christ. If we have 
such a spirit, we may know that he abideth in us ; but without his 
illuminating, quickening, sanctifying work on the heart, we are not 

[3.] The Spirit given to us is fit only to satisfy us concerning our 
interest in this blessed and glorious privilege, for these reasons — 

(1.) Because the privilege is so high, that we should dwell in God 
and God in us, that we need some great benefit to assure us of it. 
Now the Holy Ghost is a benefit becoming God to give and us to receive. 
For God to give us his Spirit, it is more than if he had given us all the 
world. A believer valueth it above all other evidences, and in its own 
nature it deserveth it, as being the highest demonstration of God's 
bounty and liberality to us; if he giveth all the world, he giveth some 
thing without himself, but when he giveth the Spirit he giveth himself. 
The uncreated Spirit is a person of the Godhead, and the Godhead is 
undivided, and saving grace is the permanent effect thereof. Other 
mercies run in the channel of common providence, but this could only 
be conveyed to us by the mediation of Jesus Christ. The Father sends 
him in Christ's name : John xiv. 26, ' And the Comforter, which is the 
Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name/ And Christ 
sendeth him from the Father : John xv. 26, ' But when the Comforter 
is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father.' He proceedeth 
from the Father and the Son, and is the fruit of both their loves to us. 
Christ hath merited this effectual operation, and conveyed the Spirit to 
us as our head : John xvi. 14, 15, ' He shall glorify me, for he shall 
receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the 
Father hath are mine ; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and 
shall show it unto you.' Other things are given in anger, but not the 
Spirit ; we may have them and perish for ever ; but when we have this 
great benefit, then we know we live in God, and are fitted to live to God, 
and shall live with him for ever. 

(2.) Because it is a privilege into which we are admitted after a 
breach. Persons that have been at variance will not easily believe one 
another, and trust one another, unless their reconciliation be sealed by 
some remarkable good turn and visible testimony of love. A great 
offender was never reconciled to Augustus unless he did put some 
mark of favour upon him ; as David to Amasa, in giving him the 
generalship of his army. And further, the breach hath been so great 
between God and us, that we shall have no peace and joy in believing, 
till we have some gift that may be a perfect demonstration that he is 
at peace with us. This is the work of the sanctifying Spirit : 1 Thes. 
v. 23, ' And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly ; ' Heb. xiii. 
20, 21, ' Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our 
Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood 
of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do 
his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight ; ' Rom. 


xvi. 20, 'And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet 
shortly ; ' 2 Cor. v. 18, ' And all things are of God, who hath recon 
ciled us to himself by Christ Jesus, and hath given to us the ministry 
of reconciliation.' Most men's confidence conieth from their stupid 
security and slightness in soul matters. A Christian that is in good 
earnest must have a sufficient proof of God's love, that he is recon 
ciled, taken into God's family, made ' an heir according to the hope of 
eternal life.' Now this is done by the Spirit. 

(3.) It is an inward and spiritual privilege, and therefore must have 
a spiritual confirmation. Now this is within our own hearts. The 
death of Christ was a demonstration of God's love, but that was done 
without us, and before we were born. Justification is a blessed privilege, 
but that is either God's act in heaven accepting us in Christ, or else the 
sentence of his law and new covenant, constituting us just and righteous. 
But this is done in our hearts by the Spirit : Gal. iv. 6, ' He hath sent 
the Spirit of his Son into our hearts; ' 2 Cor. i. 22, 'Given the earnest of 
the Spirit in our hearts.' This witness we have within ourselves. 

(4.) Because the Spirit may act transiently, and in a passing way 
upon others, and that which is seldom done may be mistaken or sus 
pected, therefore the Holy Ghost abideth in us by his constant opera 
tions: John xiv. 17, 'Ye shall know him, for he abideth in you.' What 
we feel constantly, frequently, we cannot be deceived in it. They feel 
his operations comforting, quickening, instructing them, mortifying 
their lusts, exciting them to holiness, and so may see how they are 
beloved of God, and minded by him upon all occasions. The effects 
of the Spirit show it, such as are life, holiness, faith, strength, comfort, 
joy, peace, support under our crosses and afflictions, groans after heaven. 
This constant experience can be no delusion ; therefore the observing 
of this breedeth true and solid comfort. 

III. The properties or operations of this Spirit, as he is a proof and 
evidence of our communion with God. 

1. It is a Spirit of life : Rom. viii. 2, ' The law of the Spirit of life 
in Christ Jesus ; ' and Gal. v. 25, ' If we live in the Spirit.' The Spirit 
maketh the soul alive that was dead in sin ; therefore when we are dead 
to the world, we are really alive to God, as will appear by our actions 
and earnest desires after heavenly things. Many have a name to live, 
for parts do strangely counterfeit grace ; but if the Spirit becometh a 
principle of life within us, then we live indeed. Surely it is a sign of 
great weakness, at least, to be alive to other things, and dead-hearted 
in all acts of religion. 

2. It is a Spirit of love as well as of life. Some make the Holy 
Ghost the love that passeth between the Father and the Son. Surely 
the operative love of God to us is conveyed by the Spirit. Now accord 
ing to his nature so he worketh, inclining us to love God and our 
brother, yea, our very enemies : ' For the fruits of the Spirit are love, 
joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.' The apostle 
saith, 1 Thes. iv. 9, 'We are taught of God to love one another.' God's 
teaching is by impression and inclination. Envious and bitter zeal, 
malice, and all uncharitableness and revenge, is not of God, but the 
devil ; therefore they that are acted by these things know not what 
spirit they are of. 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 233 

3. It is a Spirit of sanctification, often so called : 2 Thes. ii. 14, 
' God hath chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit.' 
A pure and holy Spirit given to us to renew our natures, and put us 
into the way of salvation : Titus iii. 5, 6, ' He saveth us by the wash 
ing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hatli 
shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord ; ' to purge out 
sin, and suppress the motions of all that pride, worldliness, and sen 
suality which is so natural to us : Kom. viii. 13, ' If ye through the 
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live ; ' and to quicken 
us to grow more complete in the will of God, that we may both do it 
and suffer it, and be prepared and fitted to live with God for ever. 

4. It is a Spirit of power, enabling us to vanquish temptations that 
arise either from the terrors and delights of sense, by propounding the 
blessedness of the other and better world : 2 Tim. i. 7, ' For God hath 
not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound 

5. It is a Spirit of adoption : Kom. viii. 15, 16, ' But ye have received 
the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself 
beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God ; ' 
and Gal. iv. 6, ' And because we are sons, he hath sent forth the Spirit 
of his Son into our hearts.' It is the surest sign of God's fatherly 
love, and the pledge of our adoption, and so inclineth us to God as a 
Father in Christ, that we may love him, delight in him, and depend 
upon him. It breedeth a childlike affection to God, childlike con 
fidence, childlike obedience ; these are the true fruits of the Spirit of 
Christ. All God's children have not a childlike confidence, but a 
childlike inclination ; they cannot keep away from God ; when they 
cannot own him as a Father with delightful confidence, yet they dare 
not offend him ; there is an awe of God, though they are not assured 
of his love. In short, they love him, though they cannot say he loveth 

6. It is a Spirit of supplication : Zech. xii. 10, ' I will pour upon 
the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit 
of grace and supplication/ Wherein we manifest our childlike affec 
tion to God ; and in that duty he doth most help our infirmities, Rom. 
viii. 26, stirring up in us ardent groans and desires, and in giving us 
life in our prayers, and a holy boldness whenever we come to God. 
There the renewed soul doth directly apply itself to God, and the work 
of the sanctifying Spirit is most sensibly acted and discovered. 

Use 1. To inform us how to know whether our communion with God 
be interrupted, yea or no, or whether God be pleased or displeased witli 
us, by observing the motions or withdrawings of his Spirit. We can 
not know it by outward things ; for God may ' rebuke those whom ho 
loveth, and chasten every son whom he receiveth/ Heb. xii. 6, and may 
give outward comforts in anger; these are not evidences of God's love 
and hatred, Eccles. ix. 2. God will not mark out men by their out 
ward estate, discover the wicked by their afflictions, nor reward the 
godly with this world's good things, nor distinguish them by the bless 
ings of his common providence, but hath taken another course to show 
his anger or his love, his pleasure or displeasure, by giving and with 
holding the Spirit. When he is provoked by his people, there is some 


abatement, not only of the comforting, but quickening and sanctifying 
influences of his Spirit. Therefore David prayeth, Ps. li. 10, ' Take 
not thy Holy Spirit from me.' On the contrary, when he is well pleased 
with any, they are filled with the Spirit : Acts xi. 24, ' For he was a 
good man, and full of the Holy Ghost ; ' Acts ix. 31, ' They walked in 
the fear of God, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost;' Actsxiii.52, 'And 
the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.' Therefore 
when there is any stop of this kind of influence, we should inquire what is 
the matter, where it sticketh, how came our delightful commerce with 
God to be interrupted, what unkindness there hath been on our part ? 
Use 2. To put us upon self-reflection, what kind of spirit dwelleth 
in our hearts. Some are acted by the wrathful unclean spirit : Eph. 
ii. 2, ' According to the prince of the power of the air, that worketh in 
the children of disobedience.' Others guided and influenced by the 
mere corrupt natural spirit : James iv. 5, ' The spirit that dwelleth in 
us lusteth to envy.' But all that are adopted into God's family, all 
that are members of Christ's mystical body, they are guided and influ 
enced by the Spirit of God : Horn. viii. 14, ' For as many as are led by 
the Spirit of God are the sons of God/ If we will follow the impure and 
revengeful spirit, he will hurry us to destruction, as he did the herd of 
swine into whom he entered, Mat. viii. If we be guided by the wisdom 
of the flesh and our own carnal affections, we shall easily be led away 
from God and our happiness. It is the Holy Ghost only who bringeth 
us into a state of communion with God, and is as necessary to make 
all right between us and Christ, as Christ is between us and God. Now 
who are those that are guided by the Spirit of God ? Our conversa 
tion will declare that principiata respondent suis principiis. The 
constant effects declare the prevailing principle ; therefore what effects 
and fruits can you produce of the Spirit's dwelling in you ? 

1. The Spirit leadeth us to an holy life and perfect obedience to God. 
His first work is. to renew the soul to the image of God, and change 
us into the likeness of Christ, 2 Cor. iii. 18. That is the impression of 
this seal, left on the hearts of those where he cometh, and by which 
God's children are distinguished from others. He is given on purpose 
to heal our natures, destroy our sins, and to excite us to perfect holiness 
in the fear of God. Now where this effect is accomplished, they may 
certainly say, God hath given his Spirit, namely, where God doth sanc 
tify the souls of his people, mortify their lusts, and master their strongest 
corruptions, and raise them to those inclinations and affections which 
mere nature is a stranger unto. Surely a divine power hath been 
working there ; when they are more like God, and fit for the service of 
God, they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13. His 
first renewing and sanctifying work, and his carrying on that work, 
whereby the image of God is more imprinted on us, will be our surest 
evidence, especially when holiness of life floweth from it ; for graces 
acted and exercised do more discover themselves ; and such a super 
natural effect as the sanctifying our natures, and the ruling and govern 
ing of our lives. Could the love and fear of God be produced by any 
other cause than the Spirit of God ? 

2. The Spirit is a perfect opposite to the flesh ; and they that are 
under the power and conduct of the Spirit do resist and conquer the 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON i JOHN in. 235 

desires of the flesh ; for it is not a fruitless resistance: Gal. v. 16, 17, 
' This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts 
of the flesh : for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit 
against the flesh ; and these are contrary the one to the other ; ' 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 ; ' Gal. vi. 8, 
' For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but 
he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.' 
They spend their time and strength, life and love, care and thoughts 
in seeking after spiritual things ; their business is not to gratify the 
flesh, but enrich the soul, to excel in knowledge, love to God, faith in 
Christ, and hopes of the other world, though with the loss of carnal 
pleasures ; and so they comply with the precepts of Christ, which every 
where call upon us to curb the flesh, to dispossess us of the beast that 
is gotten into our natures, and to raise us in some measure into the 
degree and rank of an angel ; to draw us off from the natural and animal 
life to life spiritual and eternal, or, which is all one, to drive out the 
spirit of the world, and to introduce a divine and heavenly spirit. 
The brutish part of the world is enslaved to lower things, but they 
that are recovered out of this defection by the power of the Spirit grow 
wise and heavenly. The great disease of mankind was, that our immortal 
souls are depressed and tainted by the objects of sense, and did wholly 
crook and writhe itself to earthly things ; and instead of likeness to 
God, the image of a beast was impressed on man's nature, and the 
better part, his soul, was enslaved and embondaged to the worser part, 
his flesh. Now the Spirit of God cometh by degrees to restore human 
nature to its primitive perfection, that the spirit might command his 
flesh, and man might seek his happiness in some higher and more tran 
scending good than the beasts are capable of, something that suits with 
his immortal spirit, and to elevate us from a state of subjection to the 
flesh into a liberty for divine and heavenly things. 

3. The Spirit inclineth us to all duties to our neighbours ; for it is 
said, Eph. v. 9, ' The fruits of the Spirit in us are in all goodness and 
righteousness and truth.' Meaning thereby, he maketh men sincere, 
good, just in their carriage to men ; by ' goodness/ taking all occasions of 
being useful to others as to their spiritual and bodily estate ; by 'right 
eousness,' just dealings in all our transactions with others ; and by 
' truth,' a sincere carriage, free from lying hypocrisy and dissimulation. 
So Gal. v. 22, 23, ' But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long- 
suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance : against 
such there is no law.' Duties to our neighbour are implied in all these 
graces. By 'love,' understand love to our neighbour ; by 'joy,' sweetness of 
converse, or delighting in their good ; by ' peace,' that which concerneth 
all men as much as possible can be ; by ' long-suffering,' patience, bear 
ing and forgiving of injuries ; by ' gentleness,' easiness to be entreated ; 
by ' goodness,' a communicativeness to all, especially the household of 
faith; by 'faith,' fidelity, truth in our commerce; by 'meekness,' restraint 
of our anger ; by ' temperance,' a holy moderation in the use of earthly 
things and the delights thereof. Well, then, when these things are 
practised by us, the Spirit is given to us. 

4. The Spirit leadeth us to a heavenly life, as the flesh did to things 


grateful to present sense ; he discovereth those things to us : Eph. i. 
17, 18, ' That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 
may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the know 
ledge 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.' The reality of future glory 
and blessedness, he prepareth and fitteth us for it : 2 Cor. v. 5, ' Now 
he that hath wrought us to this self-same thing is God, who hath given 
us the earnest of the Spirit ; ' Horn. ix. 27, ' Prepared unto glory.' 
The heavenly mind, the purified heart ; he assureth us of it : 2 Cor. 
i. 22, ' Who hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit.' 
Comforteth us with it, and raiseth our longing after it : Rom. viii. 23, 
' And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of 
the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the 
adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies.' Quickening us to dili 
gence and seriousness in the pursuit of it : Phil. iii. 20, ' But our con 
versation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour.' Much of 
the Spirit's operation is about fitting us for heaven. 



Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said 
unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, ivhat 
shall we do ? — ACTS ii. 37. 

THIS scripture telleth us what was the fruit and effect of the first 
sermon that was preached after the pouring out of the Spirit. Peter 
preached that sermon, and brought in thousands of souls to Christ : 
Acts ii. 41, ' Then they that gladly received the word were baptized ; 
and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand 
souls.' Never did Peter show himself such a fisher of men as now. 
Three thousand souls were gained at that one draught, or one casting 
of the net of the gospel ; and those not very pliable ductile men neither, 
and easy to be caught, but sturdy sinners, such as had imbrued their 
hands in the blood of their Saviour, and were now in a mocking, scoff 
ing humour. But thus it is to venture in the confidence of the power 
of Christ's Spirit. It was a mighty thing that an angel should slay a 
hundred and eighty-five thousand in one night in Sennacherib's host; 
but it is easier to kill so many men than to convert and save one soul. 
One angel, by his mere natural strength, could kill so many armed 
men, but all the angels in heaven, if they should join all their forces 
together, could not convert one soul to God. Here was more done. 
Well, then, this being the first instance of the power of the word ac 
companied with the Spirit, we ought to regard it the more. When we 
hear of some physic that hath notably wrought on others, and cured 
them of their diseases, every sick man would try that physic, or inquire 
after it. Here we see how the word worketh for the cure of sick souls ; 
therefore let us consider a little the way of its operation. There is 
some account of that in the text, how it began to work, ' Now when 
they heard this, they were pricked at their hearts/ &c. 
In which words observe three things — 

1. The means and instrumental cause by which their trouble and 
perplexity was wrought, ' When they heard this.' 

2. The commotion or affection wrought in them, compuncti sunt 
corde, ' They were pricked at the heart.' 

3. The course they took for ease and relief, or the carriage of these 
converts after this piercing and brokenness of heart, ' And they said 

238 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [&ER. I. 

unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall 
we do ? ' 

First, The means, ' When they heard this.' There are these things 
that offer themselves to our consideration — (1.) It was the word of 
God produced this effect ; (2.) The word judiciously and powerfully 
managed ; (3.) Closely applied ; (4.) In this close application they 
were charged with a grievous sin ; (5.) This grievous sin was wrong 
done to Christ. All these things conduced to the piercing of their 

First, It was the word of God, which is of great power and force. 
Its piercing property discovereth its author : Heb. iv. 12, 13, ' 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 : neither is there any creature that is not manifest 
in his sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him with 
whom we have to do.' He speaketh not of the hypostatical and sub 
stantial word ; for he had before spoken of the word heard, and to be 
mingled with faith in the hearing. ^0709, for Christ, is peculiar to 
John ; only it is observable that the same things may be applied to 
Christ, the great prophet of the church, and the word by which he 
governeth the church, as if he resolved to discover all his power and 
.glory by this instrument. Now of this word it is said that it is £<w 
KOI evepyrjs, 'quick and powerful.' It is not a dead letter, neither to them 
that believe, nor the wicked ; it quickeneth the one, and maketh the 
conscience of the other feel its force. Either it openeth the heart, or 
hardeneth it. And again, 'That it is sharper than any two-edged 
sword.' No weapon like this to wound the souls of men, ' piercing 
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and 
marrow.' It can search every bone, muscle, and vein ; ' and all things 
are naked and open,' cut down by the chine-bone before God. So doth 
the word rip up the conscience of the sinner, and make him throw 
aside all his disguises and pretences ; so that he hath no reasons to 
allege, no excuses to make, no arguments to plead, but wholly lieth 
under the convictions of it : Isa. Iv. 10, 11, 'As the rain cometh down 
from heaven and watereth the earth, and returneth not again, so shall 
my word be.' The word is not preached in vain ; it worketh whereto 
it is sent, to convert or harden. When we have rain and snow in their 
season, we expect a fruitful year; so God's word shall have its effect. 
It is very notable here in the text that the virtue of the Holy Ghost 
did not show itself in the gift of tongues, as it did in and by the word. 
When they spake with divers tongues, as the Spirit gave utterance, 
though it were a wonderful effect, yet the Jews were still hardened, 
and thought that this unusual jabbering was nothing, but that it came 
from the fumes of wine ; that the apostles had taken a cup too much, 
rather than the effect of the operation of the Holy Ghost, But ' when 
they heard this/ when the word came, and was urged, and applied to 
their consciences, then they were pricked at the heart, and relented. 

Uses. Now this is — 

1. An argument to confirm us in the divine authority of the word, 
because it worketh such terrors and agonies in men's hearts. What 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 239 

but the word of God can cite men's consciences before his tribunal, who 
alone giveth laws to the conscience, and appalleth the stoutest sinners ? 
Paul, a prisoner at the bar, maketh the judge tremble. It is true, 
natural conscience can accuse and terrify, but it is for sins evident by 
natural light : Eom. ii. 15, ' Which show the work of the law written 
upon their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their 
thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another ; ' Heb. ii. 
15, ' Who through fear of death are all their lifetime subject to bon 
dage.' But not for gospel sins, and not believing in Christ ; that is 
the property of the word, accompanied by the Spirit : John xvi. 9, 
' He shall convince the world of sin, because they believe not in me.' 
And to convince them in such a heart-breaking manner as that 
nothing will satisfy them but the favour of God in Christ, that is 
divine. They that have not felt this power of the word fear it : John 
iii. 20, ' For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh 
to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.' They see the majesty 
of God in his word ransacking the conscience. 

2. It encourageth us to preach the word with power and authority, 
as knowing whose ministers we are, and whose word it is. Yea, though 
we have a refractory people, who are ready to deride and mock at what 
we say to them in the name of the Lord, yet we ought not to be daunted, 
but set our faces as an adamant stone. The prophet Jeremiah was dis 
couraged, and ready to give over, when he heard ' the defaming of 
many, and the word of the Lord was made a reproach to him,' Jer. xx. 
8-11, ' But the Lord is with me, as a mighty and terrible one.' That 
fetched up his spirits, and got up his courage again. We distrust the 
power of our Master, and his mighty Spirit, that hath ever gone along 
with his word, and made it able to break the stoutest and stiffest hearts. 
Two things may encourage us — 

[1.] The blood of Christ, which is of virtue sufficient to work off 
men from their inveterate customs : 1 Peter i. 18, ' For ye were not 
redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain 
conversations received by tradition from your fathers.' There is merit 
enough on his part to make the word effectual, and the power of his 
Spirit, which can bear down all prejudices. As here, where it was first 
poured out, when some of the persecutors of Christ were in a scoffing, 
mocking frame, they were indicted and arraigned by Peter, and con 
demned in their own consciences, yea, were changed and converted by 
it. And such a power doth still accompany the word : 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 
25, ' But if they all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, 
or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, and judged of all; and thus 
are the secrets of his heart made manifest ; and so falling down on his 
face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.' 
An infidel coming in by chance, God taketh him by the heart ; there 
fore why should we be dismayed and discouraged in the Lord's work ? 
2 Cor. x. 4, ' For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but 
mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds/ 

[2.] Encouragement to those that are sensible of hardness to wait on 
the word of God. It is a powerful instrument in the hand of God when 
used as his ordinance, and his blessing is waited for, to melt and soften 
us, and make us pliable to every holy purpose. God appealeth to our 

240 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. I. 

experience : Jer. xxiii. 29, ' Is not my word like fire, saiih the Lord, 
and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ? ' A fire to melt, 
and a hammer to break ! Ob, what can stand before the power of it ? 
Use it in good conscience, as one of the means of grace, and you shall 
find it will awaken you ; nay, wound and heal you, and prove the power 
of God to your salvation. Some consideration or other will be given 
out to set your hearts a-work in heavenly things with greater life and 
power. All the miracles which God showed, either before or at the 
death of Christ, did not work so as this one sermon of Peter's. Cer 
tainly either the word will do it, or nothing will do it. 

Secondly, It was the word of God, soundly taught, and handled with 
wisdom, and in a convincing way ; for Peter taketh the scriptures, and 
solidly proveth to them that Jesus, whom they crucified, was the 
Christ. That is his conclusion in the 36th verse, ' Therefore let all 
the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same 
Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ/ He maketh it 
evident in a powerful way of conviction : ' Now when they heard this 
they were pricked in their heart.' Note, a powerful searching ministry, 
that bringeth men to a sight and sense of their sins, is best to fit men 
for conversion to God. There is a playing with scripture in oratorian 
flourishes, and a sound inculcation of it. When men strive to make 
those that hear them the better for what they say, that is the ministry 
that will prick the heart ; the others scarce tear the skin. It was said 
of Pericles, that his speech was piercing, in animis auditorum aculeos 
reliquit: he left a sting in the minds of his hearers, not by the charms 
of rhetoric, but by a serious, pungent discourse. That is the best 
preaching which woundeth the heart ; it is most for the glory of God, 
and for the good of souls. Speaking pleasing things to tickle the ear 
better becometh the stage than the pulpit. It is said, Eccles. xii. 11, 
' That the words of the wise are as goads and nails, fastened by the 
master of the assemblies ; ' words that have a notable acumen in them ; 
some spiritual sharpness to affect the heart and quicken our dull 
affections. He meaneth sound and spiritual doctrine, such as doth not 
flatter men in their sins, but awaken and rouse them up. Si prcedica- 
toris non pungit sermo, sed oblectat, sapiens non est — He is not a wise 
preacher who doth not mind his end, whose speech is fuller of flashes 
of wit than of savoury wholesome truths, that rather thinketh to please 
the ear than to awaken the conscience. He dotli not act like a master 
of the assemblies. Illius doctoris vocem libenter audio, non qui sibi 
plausum, sed qui mihi plan ctum movet, saith Bernard. They are the 
best preachers, and most affectionate to you, that wound your souls ; 
though they rub an old sore till it ache, it is the better. The work 
of a minister is not to gain applause to himself, but souls to God. That 
maketh you go away, and say, not, How well hath he preached ! but, 
How ill have I lived ! — that ends with self-loathing rather than com 
mendation of his parts. He must not lenocinia qucerere, sed remedia, 
saith Salvian : seek out, not jingling words, but choice remedies for 
your souls. 

Use. All this is spoken that you may not grow weary of a sound and 
searching ministry. Many think they trouble the world, and drive 
men to despair. Indeed God's witnesses do torment the dwellers upon 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 241 

earth, Eev. xi. 10 ; they trouble their carnal rest, and will not let men 
sleep in their sins ; but is it not better you should be troubled in your 
sleep of sin than awake in flames ? Is it not a good despair that driveth 
you to God, and maketh way for a hope that will never leave you 
ashamed ? And if we go to heaven by the gates of hell, can you be 
angry for leading you aright ? I speak the rather, because the world 
cannot endure masculine, sound preaching. Ahab hated Micaiah : 1 
Kings xxii. 8, ' He doth not prophesy good of me, but evil.' Men are 
displeased with them that deal faithfully with their souls : Isa. xxx. 
10, ' They say unto the seers, See not ; and the prophets, Prophesy not 
unto us right things ; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.' 
They would have the prophets sleek their tongues, and come with loose, 
garish strains ; a sound practical sermon is loathed. They are cut at 
heart when they hear it, Acts vii. 54 ; they were unwilling to be 
searched at the bottom. It is one of the great sins of the age. Men 
preach in jest, and the people love to have it so ; and speak of heaven 
and hell as things made to play withal, rather than propound them to 
their serious belief. 

Thirdly, It was closely applied. The apostle doth not hover in 
generals, shoot at rovers ; he holdeth the point of the sword at their 
breasts, and dischargeth in their faces : ' This Jesus, whom ye have 
crucified, is both Lord and Christ. When they heard this, they were 
pricked in their hearts.' Applicative and close preaching is the best 
way to wound the heart, or to bring men to a sight and sense of their 
miserable condition. ' Thou art the man,' saith Nathan to David, 2 
Sam. xii. 6, 7 ; Acts vii. 51, 52, ' Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised 
in heart and ear, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost ; as your fathers 
did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted ? 
and they have slain them which showed before the coming of the just 
One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.' A clap 
of thunder at a distance doth not startle me so much as when it is in 
my zenith : 'The man is. convinced of all, and judged of all, when the 
secrets of his own heart are discovered,' 1 Cor. xiv. 25. We make 
little account of those things we have not a real interest in ; therefore 
this is a warrant to fly in the face of sinners, and charge them home, 
You are the men. Souls that are rocked asleep in a sinful course will 
else throw off all. An indictment without a name signifieth nothing. 
It prevents that captious cavil, The minister meant me, will they say, 
when their corruptions are met with ; not by an humble application of 
the word to their consciences, but by way of cavil and calumny, judg 
ing it some sinister intention or reproachful reflection upon them : Jer. 
vi. 10, ' The word of the Lord is to them a reproach, they have no 
delight in it.' They make reproof railing. If thy heart misgive thee 
that thou art guilty, he did mean thee, and should mean thee. The 
minister did no more than he ought, no more than he ought in point 
of conscience ; and it is just that every man should bear his own 
blame. But that he intended to shame thee before men, that is the 
false surmise of a galled conscience, when it beginneth to be stricken 
in its comforts. Apply it so as to humble thee, not to hate thy 

Fourthly, It was a close application of a grievous sin. That was it 


2i2 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [&ER. I. 

touched them so nearly, that they had crucified the Messiah, whom 
they had so long expected, and whom by their profession they were 
bound to receive : ' Now when they heard this.' Usually in awakening 
a sinner there is some remarkable and special sin that God sets home 
upon the conscience; as here, that they had crucified him who was 
appointed to be Christ and Lord. Christ convinceth the woman of 
Samaria of adultery : John iv. 18, ' He whom thou now hast is not 
thy husband.' Nothing that Christ had said before could work upon 
her conscience till he took this course with her. There is some special 
sin we are guilty of, which, when it is touched in the word, maketh 
guilt fly in the face of a sinner most insensible ; as a blunt iron, that 
toucheth many points at once, maketh a bruise, but a needle, that 
toucheth but one point, entereth to the quick. Loose discourses about 
sin in general do not affect the heart so much as the sound discovery 
of sin ; and when that one sin is discovered, it bringeth others into the 
view of conscience. As a man that is asleep is not awakened but by 
some great sound, but when once he is awake, he easily heareth lesser 
sounds ; so there is some gross or secret sin God sets home upon the 
conscience, some special sin that bringeth all the rest to remembrance ; 
usually the most shameful sin that ever we committed. Now it is our 
duty to lay these convictions to heart, and to consider our estate before 
God, when we find the word falling with light and power on any one 
sin of ours. 

Fifthly, This grievous sin was wrong done to Christ Jesus, ' Whom 
ye have crucified/ Now they find the nails pricking in their hearts 
as so many sharp daggers ; and having formerly pierced Christ, are 
now pierced themselves: 'Now when they heard this, they were 
pricked in their hearts.' Note from hence, that sin will then affect 
the heart most when the wrong done to Christ thereby is seriously 
thought of. It was prophesied of these Jews, Zech. xii. 10, 'They 
shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn 
for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness 
for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born ; ' John viii. 28, 
' When ye have lift up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I 
am he.' Christ had foretold this conviction ; after it was done they 
should be convinced of it, and their consciences let loose upon them, 
that they might see what a woful sin they had committed. And did 
the Jews only wrong Christ ? All of us have wronged him in his laws 
and servants ; and it is not only Jews, but Christians may look upon 
him whom they have pierced. Some are said, Heb. vi. 6, ' To crucify 
to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame/ 
The blood of Christ may not only be upon them that shed it, but on 
those that slight it. We do him the greatest contumely ; the Jews 
knew him not. Christ prayeth, ' Father, forgive them, for they know 
not what they do/ We know him, or else do ill in professing his 
name, and rejecting his benefits. 

Secondly, I come to the trouble and anxiety of heart caused by the 
word, Kctrevvyiiaav rfj tcapSia, 'They were pricked in their hearts/ 
Mark, it was not a slight stroke, the razing of the skin, but a com 
punction or pricking, a deep remorse and trouble. This was not of 
the eye, as Esau sought the blessing with tears when he had lost it, 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS ir. 37, 38. 243 

Heb. xii. 17, but in the heart. Not a lighter touch or sudden pang, 
but a deep wound. The words are passive, not pricked themselves, 
but ' were pricked.' Could they have told how to prevent it, it had 
never been ; but God breaketh in upon their consciences by his word, 
and then they are sore troubled. We read of some that, when they 
were charged with the same crime, they were ' cut at heart ; ' Acts 
vii. 54, ' Ye have been betrayers and murderers of the just One. And 
when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed 
on him with their teeth.' This is the more kindly work of the two. 
The word, when it is used as a means of conversion, then men are 
pricked at heart ; but when they misuse it, as a means of embittering 
their spirits, then they are cut at heart. This perplexity and trouble 
we may consider as the fruit and issue of sin, or as the beginning of 

1. If you consider it as a fruit of sin, that sin will be bitterness and 
terror to the soul in the issue, however it seem to content us, and 
please the flesh for a while. It carrieth a sting with it in the tail, 
that will show itself one time or other : Jer. ii. 19, ' Thine own 
wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backsliding shall reprove thee ; 
know therefore, and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter that thou 
hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith 
the Lord God of hosts.' Thou shalt know it by the gripes of thine 
own heart. Though conscience be seared and senseless for a time, yet 
after a little while it will awake. For the present men do with 
difficulty smother checks of conscience, and repel the reproofs of the 
word, but after a while your trouble will come upon you like an armed 
man, which you cannot resist : ' The pleasures of sin are but for a 
season,' Heb. xi. 25. But all this while you are but providing for 
your own sorrow : Job xx. 12-14, ' Though wickedness be sweet in 
the mouth, though he hide it under his tongue, though he spare it, 
and forsake it not, but keep it still within his mouth, yet his meat in 
his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.' 

Use 1. Oh, take we heed then how we play with sin, or the occa 
sions that lead thereunto. The contentment is soon over, like a 
draught of sweet poison, and then men feel the gall of asps within 
themselves, either in terrors of conscience in this life : Prov. xviii. 14, 
' A wounded conscience who can bear ? ' or in the torments of hell 
hereafter : Luke xvi. 24, ' Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of 
his finger in water, and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this 
flame : ' Horn. ii. 9, ' Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man 
that doeth evil.' Nay, though a kindly remorse should intervene : 
Mat. xxvi. 75, ' Peter went out and wept bitterly.' It will cost you 
heart-grief and sorrow. Therefore be not deceived ; do not sow to the 
flesh ; forbidden fruit will cost dear. You think it pleasant to satisfy 
your lusts : ' Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is 
pleasant ; but he knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her 
guests are in the depths of hell,' Prov. ix. 17, 18. The sting of con 
science and eternal torments will follow this. You are merry now, 
but this temper will not always last. If God put you into the stocks 
of conscience, or cast you into the prison of hell, then you will pay 
dear for all this frolicking. 

244 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. I. 

2. As a preparation and step towards grace. 

Doct. That the work of regeneration beginneth in a lively and smart 
sense of our sin and misery. 

Because this is the main point, I shall show you — (1.) What is this 
pricking of heart ; (2.) That this is the way God taketh to bring men 
to themselves ; (3.) Why, or for what reasons. 

I. What is this pricking at heart ? There is a preparatory trouble 
that goeth before a saving change. It is gradus ad rem, a step to this 
change, though not gradus in re, a part of this change ; as drying of 
the wood is not kindling of the wood. After this pricking at the 
heart, Peter biddeth them repent. This trouble lieth most in the 
passions and affections ; yet it presupposeth some work upon the 
understanding. Among the passions it lieth most in the fear of being 
damned for ever ; but it doth not exclude the work of other affections, 
as shame and sorrow ; for nature hath a quick and more tender sense 
of danger than any other thing ; as a man overgrown with sores is 
sensible of the filthiness and nastiness of his condition, but first and 
most of the pain. Well, then, let us consider it more distinctly. 

1. There is in our understanding an apprehension of our miserable 
and undone condition, by reason of our many and great sins. A 
sight of sin is necessary, or a sound conviction of our sinful estate : 
Jer. xxxi. 19, ' Surely after that I was turned, I repented ; and after 
I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was ashamed, yea, even 
confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth;' 1 Cor. 
xiv. 25, ' He is convinced of all, and judged of all, and falleth on his 
face, and worshippeth God.' Not a slight confused knowledge that 
we are all sinners in the general, nor empty notions by which sin may 
be made loathsome to us in a speculative way, but a setting it home 
upon the heart : 1 Kings viii. 47, ' Yet if they shall bethink them 
selves in the land whither they are carried captives, and repent, and 
make supplications unto thee in the land of them that carried them 
captives, saying, We have sinned, and done perversely, we have com 
mitted wickedness ;' Luke xv. 17, 18, 'And when he came to himself, 
he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough, 
and to spare, and I perish for hunger ? I will arise, and go to my 
father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, 
and before thee ; ' Jer. viii. 6, ' No man repented him of his wicked 
ness, saying, What have I done ? ' There must be also a sight and 
sense of the wrath of God that hangeth over our heads, and the danger 
we are in of being condemned and lost for ever ; as a man asleep on a 
bridge, and ready to fall into the water : Rom. vii. 9, ' I was alive 
without the law once ; but when the commandment came, sin revived, 
and I died.' Men snort securely over the pit's brink till awakened. 

2. After this conviction follows compunction, which is made up of 
fear, shame, and sorrow. Guilt breeds fears and terrors, and the folly 
and filthiness of sin, shame, and our misery, by reason of both, sorrows 
and groans, and sad lamentations. Fear is one great part of it, or sense 
of the wrath of God due for sins : Ps. xc. 11, ' Who knoweth the power 
of thine anger ? According to thy fear, so is thy wrath.' While 
others slight the wrath of God, pass their time merrily, not caring what 
estate they are in, these are deeply affected with the sense of God's dis- 

VER. 37.] SEKMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 245 

pleasure. There is also shame, or a sense of being found faulty, or 
their folly in doing what they have done. When the soul is filled with 
confusion because of its own ways : Bom. vi. 21, ' What fruit had ye 
then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of 
those things is death.' Then sorrow and deep lamentations because of 
their sad condition. That affection is expressed by the prophet, Lam. 
v. 16, ' Woe unto us, that we have sinned ; ' Ps. xxxviii. 8, ' I am feeble, 
and sore broken ; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.' 
Now in all these things there lieth compunction or brokenness of heart, 
which serveth, not as a bridle to keep us from God, but as a spur to 
drive us to him. 

II. That God taketh this course to bring home sinners to himself. 
God terrified Adam (Gen. iii. 10, 'I was afraid') to make him sensible 
of his defection, before he comforted him. So the Israelites, when he 
would enter into covenant with them, he first terrified them by giving 
the law with thunderings. When he would convert Paul, Acts ix. 6, 
1 He, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to 
do ? ' Acts xvi. 39, 40, the jailor came in trembling before Paul and 
Silas, and said, 'What must I do to be saved ? ' In the Old Testament, 
Ps. li. 17, ' The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and con 
trite heart, God, thou wilt not despise;' and in the New, Kom. viii. 
15, ' For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.' The 
holiness of God's nature seemeth with a kind of comely necessity 
to call for such a dispensation, that the sinner should be sensible of his 
displeasure by reason of sin, before he tasteth of grace ; that he should 
not per saltum leap into comfort and the assurance of God's love all 
of a sudden. And herein God is contrary to the devil, the world, and 
sin, which make promise of much pleasure, gain, arid honour at the 
first, and men find something that giveth contentment to their sensual 
desires and corrupt lusts, but it ends in bitterness and sorrow at last. 
But here a little bitterness at first, that maketh way for endless comforts. 
Not that all that are pricked in heart and troubled for sin shall be 
converted and saved ; the work may die with some in the very pangs, 
or their trouble may be slight, and soon worn off ; but all that are 
converted are thus troubled, and filled with perplexity about their 
eternal estate, though the degrees be different. As there is no birth 
without the pain of travail going before, though some have easier 
labour than others, as the Hebrew women ; so here. 

III. Why? 

1. To make us serious. A true sense of sin and misery maketh a 
soul active and inquisitive about a remedy ; as a man sensible of his 
wounds will not rest till he hath found a plaster. The prodigal when 
bitten with hunger came to himself, and then thought of returning to 
his father. W T e never make it our chief care to save our souls till we 
come to this. A wounded conscience will inquire after balm in 
Gilead. As men's trouble is, so do they lay out for help and relief. 
If sickness be the trouble, they seek for health ; if poverty, for riches ; 
if disgrace and contempt, for favour and reputation ; if outward 
affliction, for outward deliverance ; if terrors of conscience, for the re 
moval of the guilt of sin ; all their thoughts are about that. Here in the 
text, ' What shall we do ? ' They now find they have souls to lose, 

246 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. I. 

and souls to save. Till you find yourselves lost in the midst of your 
greatest earthly happiness and abundance, you will go on in a secure 
course of voluptuousness, worldliness, and profaneness ; but when you 
are once in straits of conscience, your greatest care will be to save your 
souls. Many live without all care or fear, doubt or distrust, of their 
spiritual estate ; they pass their time merrily, and hope well, but have 
no certainty, live at all adventures with God. But when God toucheth 
the heart of a sinner, then he beginneth to question himself about his 
estate and course of life. What is it, and what hath he been a-doing 
all his life hitherto ? What provision hath he made for eternity ? 
Whether he hath pleased the flesh, or pleased the Lord ? and what 
will be the end of this when he cometh to die ? None but the holy 
humble soul will seriously ask this question, ' What shall I do to be 
saved ? ' Men are not humbled. The wheel of the law never went 
over them, to the breaking of their hearts ; and this is the cause of 
all idleness and slothfulness in religion. These are the questions 
an humbled heart is conversant about. 

2. To wean us from sin. Corruption is the soul's darling, born and 
bred with us ; and the league between us and it is not easily dissolved. 
Till we feel the vileness of sin we shall never be brought to hate it. 
While we taste the sweet of it only, we spare it, and hide it under our 
tongue : Job xx. 12, ' Though wickedness be sweet in the mouth, and 
he hide it under his tongue.' But when once we feel, we are cautious of 
thrusting our hands into the fire of sin again : Josh. xxii. 17, ' Is 
the iniquity of Peor too little for us ? ' Children will no more play 
with snappish dogs when bitten by them. The old compunctions are 
never forgotten : Prov. i. 31, 'Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of 
their own way, and be filled with their own devices.' We are too bold, 
and too apt to play about the cockatrice's hole ; but when these sins 
have been as swords in your hearts, and you have felt the torment of 
an accusing conscience, this maketh you more cautious. 

3. That Christ may be more heartily welcome to us, and that we 
may the better entertain his comforts and grace. Christ is sweet 
to hungry consciences. Our passover must be eaten with sour herbs ; 
so it is the sense of our sin and misery that giveth these comforts a 
bitter 1 relish : Isa. Ivii. 15, 'To revive the spirit of the humble, and 
to revive the heart of contrite ones ; ' ver. 18, ' And restore comfort 
unto him and to his mourners.' Unutterable groans make way for 
unspeakable joys. It was not meet that Christ should be received with 
contempt or coldness, and made light of, and therefore exercised with 
piercing and heart-breaking sorrows. The bondage of Egypt maketh 
us long for Canaan. 

4. That we may more readily yield to God's terms : Acts ix. 6, 
' Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? ' Terrified Paul giveth God a 
blank to write his pleasure concerning him. A soul truly sensible of 
sin is ready to submit to any terms which God will impose upon him, 
and not stand hucking with God, as Pharaoh did. In our ease we 
would never hearken to the crucifying of the flesh, or deny ourselves, 
taking up our cross. Heaven must fall into our laps, or we will have 
none of it. Like Naaman the Syrian, we would pass away a trouble 
some condition ; but when our souls are perplexed, we will be glad to 

1 Qu. ' better '?— ED. 

VER. 37.] SEKMONS UPON ACTS IT. 37, 38. 247 

•accept of mercy upon any terms, take things at God's price : Anything, 
Lord ; a perfect resignation to the will of God. In pangs of conscience 
any course will please that shall be prescribed for our comfort and 

5. That we may be more chary of grace afterwards. Things that 
cost dear are the better kept. There need all means to fix the heart. 
Now this is a good means, to consider how hardly we came by it. It 
cost us many a bitter groan, and shall we part with it easily? How 
soon would we forfeit our pardon, and embezzle our stock of grace, and 
sin away our comforts, did we not remember how hardly we came by 
them ! As a riotous heir, that never knew what it was to get an 
estate, spends it freely. 


Now when they heard this, they ivere pricked in their hearts, and said 
unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, ichat 
shall we do ? — ACTS ii. 37. 

USB 1. If it be so that this is the method of God in conversion, let us 
not hinder nor smother so good a work ; for so far as this is cherished, 
we are in our way home to God. Let us not hinder it by omitting 
hearing, meditation, application. First, Hearing. It is a sign men 
have a mind to remain in the hardness of their hearts when they will 
not come to the means that might soften them : Zech. vii. 11, 12, ' But 
they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their 
ears, that they should not hear ; yea, they made their hearts as an ada 
mant, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of 
hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former prophets. Therefore came 
a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.' The way to harden the heart 
is to refuse the means. The word would keep alive some notions and 
thoughts of God that would not let us sleep in sin. Secondly, Medi 
tation and consideration, without which all availeth nothing, unless we 
debate points between God and ourselves in secret. All actions require 
time and space for their operations. A sudden glance without musing 
bringeth nothing to perfection ; as a hen that soon leaveth her nest. 
All arguments must be holden in the view of conscience, applied close 
to the soul : Ps. cxix. 59, ' I considered my ways, and turned my feet 
to thy testimonies.' A man may take fire in his hand, and presently 
throw it away without being burnt or hurt. The greatest matters in 
the world will not work upon him that will not think of them : 
Deut. xxxii. 46, ' Set your hearts to all the words which I testify among 
you this day.' Things will never go to the quick till the heart be set 
on them : Hosea vii. 2, ' And they consider not in their hearts that I 
remember all their wickedness ; now their doings have beset them 
about, they are before my face.' There the business stops. Men will 
not take it into their thoughts. There is a time when you shall con- 

248 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. II. 

sider, and not be able to look off : Ps. 1. 21, ' These things hast thou 
done, and I kept silence ; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a 
one as thyself ; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before 
thine eyes.' You will not think of it now, but then you cannot choose 
but think of it ; you will have nothing to occupy your thoughts but 
your sins, and the sad effects of them. If it be so irksome to think of 
hell, what will it be to feel it ? Now we .cannot prevail with you to 
bestow a few sober thoughts upon eternity, but then you shall do it 
without entreaty. As a man that hath the stone and the gout, he 
cannot forget the pain, if he would never so fain ; though now you 
cast off all thoughts of your condition, and therefore live peaceably in 
your sins, the time will come when you shall remember them. Thirdly, 
Application, and urging our own souls with the truths heard: Jer. viii. 
6, 'I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented 
him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done ? every one turneth 
to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle;' Rom. viii. 31, 'What 
shall we say to these things ? ' Job v. 27, ' Hear it, and know it for thy 
good ; ' Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall we escape if we neglect so great salva 
tion ? ' We will not let the word come close and home to our own 
consciences. Bouse up thine own heart, and bring home the stroke of 
the word, or else it proveth not effectual. Self-love puts by the blow, 
and thrusts it to others, as if they were unconcerned. 

2. Let us not hinder this work of compunction by way of commis 
sion. There is something that we cherish in ourselves that hinders 
this piercing of the heart. 

[1.] A misconceit of God's anger against sin; this is one great means 
to hinder the power of the word. Men think that God doth make no 
great reckoning of their sins, that it will not be so bad with them as 
others say; indeed, that we care not for sin, it is no wonder we have 
not such a lively indignation against it. Oh, but ' God is of purer eyes 
than to behold iniquity/ Hab. i. 13. His nature sets him against it. 
Any man that hath but a spark of the divine nature in him, how doth 
lie hate sin ! Lot's righteous soul was vexed from day to day ; and 
if man, how much more God ! If God make no great reckoning of 
sin. why hath he punished it so severely, as in drowning the whole 
world, burning of Sodom, bringing such calamities upon his people as 
we cannot read them with dry eyes ? Why is ' his wrath revealed from 
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ' ? Eom. i. 
18. If God make so little reckoning of sin, why is it that little infants, 
that are free from all actual sins, die ? Eom. v. 14, '' Nevertheless death 
reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after 
the similitude of Adam's transgression.' And many times with great 
gripes and pains, such as would make a man's heart grieve to see it. 
If God make so little account and reckoning of sin, why is it that little 
sins to appearance are chastised with so great punishments ? Adam for 
eating an apple, Uzzah for touching the ark, the Bethshemites for look 
ing into the ark, 1 Sam. vi. 19, 20 ; Ananias and Sapphira struck dead in 
the place for a lie, Zachary for unbelief struck dumb. Why are his 
people, the dearly beloved of his soul, so dreadfully punished ? Prov. 
xi. 31, ' Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much 
more the wicked and the sinner.' If God make so little reckoning of 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 249 

sin, why is hell and everlasting woe threatened to his creature, the work 
of his own hands ? We cannot without horror think of the howling of a 
dog in a fiery furnace for half-an-hour. If God make so little reckon 
ing of sin, why was Jesus Christ so troubled and exceedingly amazed 
when he stood in the place of sinners ? Mark xiv. 33, ' And he began 
to be amazed, and to be very heavy." He wanted not wisdom nor 
courage ; he knew the value of things as well as you ; had no want of 
fortitude ; he foresaw the sufferings would be short, the event glorious ; 
he knew God was his Father, that he loved him while he suffered ; yet 
when he took the task of sinners upon him, he was sore amazed. Oh, 
therefore be ashamed of so sottish a conceit, as if sin were nothing. 

[2.] Sensuality and inordinate love of pleasures. These take away 
the heart : Hosea iv. 11, 'Whoredom, and wine, and new wine, take 
away the heart,' wasteth all tenderness and feeling. Pleasures bring 
a brawn and deadness upon us, thrust the soul into a dead sleep : 
1 Tim. v. 6, 'She that liveth, in pleasure is dead while she liveth.' Like 
Nabal's heart, which died within him, and he became as a stone, 1 
Sam. xxv. 37. These things stupify the conscience and dull the spiri 
tual senses, so that men have not an ear for God, or a heart that is 
likely to be sensible of anything. Oh, therefore take heed of such a 
frame of heart. 

[3.] Worldliness. Men throng their hearts with care and business, 
and so have no time and leisure to mind the state of their souls: 
Luke xxi. 34, ' Take heed unto yourselves, lest at any time your hearts 
be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this 
life.' As Cain fell a-building to divert his conscience, or as they that 
offered their children to Moloch did still and drown their cries with 
drums and tabors ; so the din and noise of business will not let con 
science speak, they being ' cumbered with much serving.' They that 
cumber themselves with many things seldom mind the one thing 
necessary. This keepeth away all 1 heart-qualms. 

[4.] Great and heinous sins. These cast the soul into a swoon, and 
deprive it of all sense. There is some tenderness left with lesser sins, 
as a prick of a pin will make a man start, but a heavy blow stunneth 
him. David, for cutting off the lap of Saul's garment, his heart 
smote him, and so for numbering the people, he was pricked and 
wounded in conscience, 2 Sam. xxiv. 10 ; but in the matter of Uriah 
and Bathsheba it was not so ; he lay long dead and senseless. We 
hear of no kindly meltings and workings of heart from him till Nathan 
came to him: Ps. li., the title, 'A psalm of David, when Nathan 
the prophet came unto him after he had gone in to Bathsheba ; ' and 
that was when the child was born : 2 Sam. xii. 14, ' Howbeit, because 
by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord 
to blaspheme, the child also that is born to thee shall surely die.' Let 
a man run on in a course of gross sin, and he loseth his feeling : Eph. 
iv. 19, 'Who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasci- 
viousness, and to work all uncleanness with greediness.' And that 
is a sad crisis and state of soul. Oh, take heed of these presumptuous 
sins : Ps. xix. 13, ' Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins, and 
let them not have dominion over me ; so shall I be upright before thee, 
and innocent from the great transgression.' 

[5.] The customary committing of any lesser sins against conscience ; 

250 SEUMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SflR. II. 

these lead on to hardness of heart, and senselessness, and stupidity. 
The heart of young men, especially if well educated, is tender, and 
startleth at the least sin and thought of God's judgments ; the least sin 
will trouble it, and make it tender ; but when once we give way to small 
sins against knowledge, we every day grow more and more bold and 
venturous, and then shall swallow greater evils without any great trouble 
or fear of wrath. Water, when it beginneth to freeze, will not endure 
anything ; the least weight put upon it sinketh it presently ; but after 
a while it will bear the weight of a laden cart. Therefore take heed 
of giving way to sin. That heart that was easily troubled before, when 
once it is inured to sin, loseth all its sensibleness and tenderness, and 
what seemed intolerable at first will grow into a delight ; as Alipius, 
St Austin's friend, first abhorred the bloody spectacles of the gladiators, 
but giving himself leave, by importunity of friends, to be present, but 
would wink, and not open his eyes, yet at length, when the people 
shouted, he gave himself liberty to see, and then not only beheld them 
with delight, but drew others to behold what himself once loathed. 
Sin at first seemeth insupportable, then heavy, then light ; then the 
sense gone, then delightful, then desired. Oh, therefore watch over 
your souls if you would keep any feeling. Ab assuetis non fit passio. 
Things to which we are used do not work upon us ; we are not much 
moved with them. Custom maketh men sleep quietly by the falls of 
great waters where much noise is ; and some parts of the body grow 
callous, brawny, dry, and dead, as the labourer's hand and the 
traveller's heel, by much use. So doth the conscience; when often 
offered violence to, and used to sin, it groweth senseless, and less capable 
of this work, which is of such use and profit. 

3. Do not smother it when God beginneth it. Oh, it is dangerous to 
stifle convictions or lose the benefit of them ; for either afterwards 
conscience is more stupified or terrified. First, More stupified. No 
iron is so hard as that which hath been oft heated and oft quenched ; 
so no heart so hard as that which hath outworn these convictions and 
compunctions. As God saith of outward strokes, ' Why should ye be 
stricken any more ? ' Certainly he that will not take such warnings as 
God sends him is every day than other more unapt to be wrought to 
repentance. As water that hath been heated over the fire congealeth 
the soonest after it is taken off, so they that have felt the motions of 
God's Spirit freeze the soonest in the dregs and lusts of the flesh, and 
have their hearts extraordinarily hardened if once they forsake him. 
God ceaseth to renew and continue his former motions, and sin gets 
more strength ; conscience giveth over its office of checking, accusing, 
and awakening them. A wounded conscience neglected will prove a 
dead conscience ; as an ungracious child, after many corrections, is 
hardened thereby, and at length quite given over and cast off. Oh, 
therefore, when God cometh near, then call upon him : Isa. lv. 6, ' Seek 
ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.' 
It is dangerous to slight these rebukes from God, and, when the waters 
are stirred, not to put in for cure : Prov. i. 23, ' Turn at my reproof.' 
Secondly, By slighting convictions, conscience is terrified ; it maketh 
way for anguish of soul. They will be terrified when they come to 
die : Prov. i. 26, ' I will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your 

VEK. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 251 

fear cometh ; ' Prov. v. 11, 12, And thou mourn at last, when thy flesh 
and body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and 
my heart despised reproof ? ' Oh, with what horrors and amazing 
thoughts will you be filled when conscience, which lay asleep in sin 
before, shall be awakened by the approaches of death and the fears of 
judgment to come, and your repentance shall not be repentance to life, 
but, like that of Judas, repentance to death, the beginnings of sorrow, 
or the pledge of the worm that shall never die. t Oh, take heed then of 
smothering the work of God ! 

But when is this done ? 

[1.] When you take up with other comforts on this side Christ. 
Your hearts are set a- work, and your thirst is increased, but you quench 
it at the next ditch, not at the fountain of living waters. You drown 
all this work in mirth, and pleasures, and merry company. As Saul 
sought to cure the fit of the evil spirit by music, so these, when they 
are haunted with thoughts of sin, and guilt, and the world to come, 
think to put it off, and do not turn it to a right use, which is to turn 
to the Lord ; or as a man arrested maketh the officer drunk that he 
may escape for that time ; and so, when it might have been a beginning 
of conversion, it is to them a means of further hardening their hearts. 
This is quenching the Spirit, 1 Thes. v. 17, by suppressing his motions. 
Guard the heart then against all comforts but those which God speaketh 
and alloweth : Ps. xciv. 19, 'In the multitude of my thoughts within 
me, thy comforts delight my soul.' This is a work that must end well. 
Take heed lest the good seed be choked as soon as it is cast into the 

[2.] When you easily return to former sins, and after this qualm can 
lick up your vomit again. You have smarted, and been wounded, and 
burdened, and will you take up your load again ? John v. 14, ' Sin no 
more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.' This is to run to hell again, 
when you have felt the smart of it. Pharaoh had his qualms, but as 
soon as the plague was off, he returneth to what he was : Exod. ix. 27, 
'And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto 
them, I have sinned this time : the Lord is righteous, and I and my 
people are wicked.' Who could have thought but Pharaoh would have 
been another man ? But when the qualm is over, Pharaoh is Pharaoh 
still, and there must be a new judgment to humble him. Ahab 
oppresseth Naboth, and God threateneth him, and Ahab humbleth 
himself and walketh softly, but afterward imprisoneth Micaiah, and 
then God slayeth him. Felix trembled, but still continueth his course. 
Many have their tears, and sighs, and sorrows, and after all this they 
relapse. Oh, this is dangerous ! 

Thirdly, We come now to the course they take for ease and relief : 
' They said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, 
what shall we do ? ' Observe here — 

1. To whom they go, to ' Peter and the rest of the apostles.' 

2. What they say, ' Men and brethren, what shall we do ? ' Where — 
[1.] Their civil compilation and form of address, ' Men and 


[2.] Their solemn question, ' What shall we do ? ' 
From the whole I shall make these observations — 

252 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. II. 

1. The change that is wrought upon a sinner when God hath 
him under this preparative trouble; it doth not amount to a full con 
version, yet it inferreth a change ; a strange change in these men, both 
as to their thoughts of Christ and his apostles. 

[1.] As to Christ, where are those words now, ' Thou art a Samaritan, 
and hast a devil ? ' They are now convinced that Jesus is Lord and 
Christ. Where is now their fury, crying, ' Crucify, crucify him ' ? 
They are now pricked in their hearts, and hang the head : ' If thou 
lettest him go, thou art no friend to Cassar.' No such thing heard 
now. No ; but, ' What shall we do ? ' 

[2.] Their thoughts are changed towards the apostles. Now it is 
viri, fratres, 'Men and brethren,' whom before they looked upon as 
deceivers, and men full of new wine ; those whom they hated as enemies 
they now consult with as friends and physicians. They do not in con 
tempt call them Galileans and impostors, but 'Men and brethren.' 
They have other thoughts of men and things than formerly they had. 
I observe this — 

(1 .) To show the necessity of a change in conversion. If conviction 
and compunction work such a mighty change, what will conversion 
do ? Ego non sum ego — I am not myself. A man should not be the 
same man he was before. There is as palpable a difference as between 
light and darkness, life and death, the old man and the new. Broken- 
ness of heart varies the price and value of things and persons strangely. 
He that was judged to have a devil is now found to be Lord and Christ ; 
and those that were mocked as men full of new wine, and had taken a 
cup too much, are now owned to be the precious servants of the Lord. 
We are not the same men, have not the same thoughts and notions of 
things, when the Lord beginneth to work upon us. Men look upon 
men and things in the glass of their own humours, and passions, and 
brutish lusts, when they are wild careless creatures ; but when they 
come to themselves, and begin to be serious, they look upon things as 
they are in themselves. Men look upon men and things at a distance 
and by a slight view before ; now they look upon them nearer at hand, 
and by a different and more accurate view. Peter Martyr's similitude 
wrought upon Galiacius Caraccialus. Those that afar off see men 
skipping and dancing would think they were light and vain persons, 
but when they draw near unto them, they find their motion orderly, 
and keeping time and pace with the music, and as the laws of the 
exercise and dance require. There is a great alteration in men's notions 
of wisdom and folly, misery and happiness, liberty and bondage. The 
work of a sound conviction bewrayeth itself in nothing so much as in 
these things. They are wise who mind earthly things, fools and crazy 
brains who consult not with their profit, but their conscience ; no 
happiness but to flow in ease and plenty ; no misery like that to be 
kept short and bare in temporal conveniences and worldly accommo 
dations; no such bondage as to be held to duty and in the fetters of con 
science ; no such liberty as to live at large. But afterward they find 
it to be quite otherwise ; no folly like pleasing the flesh ; no misery like 
the loss of God's favour; no bondage like the slavery of sin. 

(2.) I observe it to show what difference there is in our thoughts of 
sin before and after the commission. With what a hurry and madness 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, 38. 253 

of a furious spirit were this people carried to desire the death of Christ ! 
' Crucify him, crucify him ! ' And now it is done, their consciences 
work, they are pricked in their hearts, and are at an utter loss : ' Men 
and brethren, what shall we do ? ' Christ foretold this : John viii. 28, 
' Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lift up the Son of man, 
then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but 
as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.' Evil men are 
permitted to run their own course, but when their consciences and 
God's judgments are let loose upon them, to see what a course they are 
engaged in, then they are ' pricked in heart.' Our first parents, when 
they had sinned, then their eyes were opened, and they knew they 
were naked, Gen. iii. 7, that is, ashamed in their nakedness ; they began 
to take notice of the miserable and sad condition into which Satan had 
brought them, that they might be humble, and seek to God for pardon. 
Many discover not aforehand the evils which their sins lead them into ; 
but afterwards they see it, and are left shiftless and helpless. When 
Judas had betrayed his master, the foulness of the act terrified him, 
and he goeth and hangeth himself. Peter hath no sense of his condi 
tion while he is denying Christ ; but afterwards conscience beginneth 
to work : ' He goeth out, and wept bitterly,' Mat. xxvi. 75. It is well 
when this is discovered to bring us to repentance for failings past, to 
make us more watchful for time to come, and to give us a fuller and 
quicker taste of God's mercy in our reconciliation by Jesus Christ. 
But when it is only discovered in order to our despair, as it was to Cain, 
Gen. iv. 14, that is sad. Well, then, they have other thoughts. This 
is the general observation. 

2. I observe again, that they took some course for their comfort and 
relief : ' They said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and 
brethren, what shall we do ? ' Felix trembled, but it was but a super 
ficial work, and came to nothing, Acts xxiv. 25 ; it was soon over ; he 
delayeth and adjourneth the consideration of his danger. Cain and 
Judas being terrified, they despair : Gen. iv. 13, 14, ' And Cain said 
unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear ; ' Mat. xxvii. 
3, 4, ' He brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests 
and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent 
blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that.' But 
this in the text was a more kindly work. They do not turn the sense 
of their misery into a slothful despair and despondency, but ask counsel. 
Many have some qualms and risings of conscience, but they soon die 
away. Therefore it is good to see what we do with our trouble. It is 
opus respectivum ; it reacheth to some further work, which we should 
look after, that we smother it not. 

3. I observe that they take a good course. They do not go to the 
scribes and pharisees, whose malice would have prompted them to have 
defaced this work, but to Peter and the rest of the apostles ; not to 
merry company and carnal delights, where it might be quenched, but 
to those that could best direct them how to improve it for good, to the 
ambassadors of Christ. When we are sick, it concerneth us to think 
what physician we choose ; some are mere mountebanks, and will pre 
scribe poisons instead of remedies. Many, when they are wounded in 
spirit, run to their carnal companions, and drink away sorrow, or game 


and play away sorrow, or read away sorrow, and seek to put themselves 
out of the humour. Alas ! this is but to put off that which they can 
not put away, and to fly from grief, not to cure it : not to settle, but 
to sear the conscience ; vain helps, that will in the issue perplex us the 
more, and make the cure the more difficult. 

4. I observe in the general, that they speedily took a good course. 
It is not good to neglect the present time, and lose the importunity of 
the present conviction. While it is warm upon our hearts, let us carry 
on the work of God as far as it will go. Let us step in as soon as we 
see the waters troubled, John v. 4. There is much time in a little 
opportunity. As soon as the wound is given and felt ; in bodily diseases 
delay is dangerous ; as soon as we feel the first strivings and grudgings 
of conscience : Acts xxiv. 25, ' Felix trembled.' He was all in an 
agony ; but he put off his conviction, and we hear no more of him. 
We read of converts that followed Christ forthwith : Mat. iv. 20, 
' Straightway they left their nets, and followed him ; ' and Gal. i. 16, 
' Immediately I consulted not with flesh and blood.' These impulses 
will be lost, and you will outgrow the feelings of conscience in a little 
time. These good motions are spent if not prosecuted, and then you 
will be in a worse condition than before. Your comforts will come the 
sooner, the sooner you look after a cure. Sorrow will increase to horror 
and desperation : 2 Chron. xxiv. 19, 20, 'When the king heard the 
words of the law, he presently rent his clothes, and commands them to 
go and inquire of the Lord for him.' Green wounds are the soonest 
cured. When a bone is out of joint, the longer the setting is forborne, 
the greater will the pain of the patient be ; yea, it may be so long 
neglected that no skill nor art can set it right again. So it is in the 
cure of a wounded spirit and bleeding conscience. The ground is fitter 
to receive the seed after it is newly ploughed, and the present impres 
sion of grace is a great advantage. Work while you have that advan 
tage. Worldly occasions and distractions will choke the sense we have 
of our condition ; therefore let us betimes strike in, and seek a remedy. 
To put it off is strangely to neglect the soul and eternal peace. When 
thy conscience is struck by the word, and thy heart is pierced, withdraw 
thyself from all other distractions, and drive the work home ; seek 
presently for direction and remedy. 


And they said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and 
brethren, what shall we do ? — ACTS ii. 37. 

OBSERVE in the words — (1.) To whom they go ; (2.) What they say. 

1. Their civil compellation. 

2. Their solemn question. 

First, Their civil compellation and respect to the apostles, ' Men and 
brethren.' Ministers are in season (and therefore in esteem) when 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, 38. 255 

men lie under distress of conscience. Pharaoh ran not to his magicians 
in his trouble, but to Moses and Aaron. Those that humour our lusts 
are ministers only for our carnal prosperity ; those that deal consci 
entiously are ministers for our distress ; and though they were con 
temptible before, and scorned by us, yet then they are in request. 
Before, they and their pains might be well spared, their persons are 
hated, their doctrine scorned and despised ; but stay a little, till a pang 
of spiritual trouble comes upon them, and then their sentiments are 
altered. Those that mocked at them before will now be glad of their 
advice. The jailor put the apostles into the inner prison, and put 
their feet in the stocks; but when a trembling fit cometh upon him, 
then it is, ' Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? ' Acts xvi. 30. Those 
that slighted holy things before, yet when chastened with pain upon 
the body, and their soul draweth near to the grave, and their life to 
the destroyers, oh, then for a faithful minister, for a ' messenger of God, 
one of a thousand, to show a man his uprightness,' Job xxxiii. 23. 
Then they are of great account and esteem. Ob, that we had the 
same notions of men and things in trouble and out of trouble, living 
and dying ! it would prevent a great deal of mischief. 

Reasons — (1.) Because the men are altered ; (2.) Because their 
work is altered. 

1. The men are altered, both in their judgments and affections. 

[1.] In their judgments. The pride of their carnal reason is sub 
dued ; or rather, their reason is set free from the captivity of brutish 
passions. Now they know what sin is, the nature of it, and the 
danger of it, and what necessity lieth upon them to part with it. 
Formerly they lived by sense, and were under the power of brutish 
lusts, and they thought it more than needs to wind up men to such 
a pitch of holiness, or to call upon them to be so watchful, serious, 
and diligent ; that this niceness and fond scrupulosity was over-doing. 
Now they see it is but necessary strictness ; that these were their best 
friends. Smart experience openeth their eyes. They now feel the 
evil they never feared before ; and by experience and sensible proof 
they see the deceit of them that cried, Peace, peace, that declaimed 
against strictness, and hated those that taught them the way of salva 
tion : Prov. xxviii. 23, ' He that rebuketh a man, afterward shall find 
more favour than he that flattereth with his tongue.' Kubbing an 
itch breedeth soreness and rawness. 

[2.] Their affections are altered, the stubbornness of their hearts is 
subdued: Job xxiii. 16, 'For God maketh my heart soft, and the 
Almighty troubleth me.' Before, Shall they pine and whine, and 
tremble at the word ? No ; they are no such babies. Till the arrows 
of Christ stick fast in the heart, they do not fall down before the truth : 
Ps. xlv. 5, ' Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, 
whereby the people fall under thee.' 

2. Their work is altered. They mind that which requireth a 
minister's work, the salvation of their souls. They slight God and 
their souls, and therefore may well slight God's ministers. There is 
no work for them to do. 

Use 1. To press ministers to evidence themselves to men's consciences 
rather than their lusts. Make known the truths of God sincerely to 

256 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. III. 

them : 2 Cor. iv. 2, 'Buthave renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, 
not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, 
but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every 
man's conscience in the sight of God;' 2 Cor. v. 11, 'Knowing the 
terror of the Lord, we persuade men ; but we are made manifest unto 
God, and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences/ You are 
accounted enemies fora while ; but if ever God touch their hearts, they 
will love you, when they are freed from the slavery of their lusts. It 
is not those that have quaint notions and rhetorical flourishes, that cry, 
Peace unto them, that will then serve their turn. 

Use 2. Is information, that he that hath a secret grudge and distaste 
against God's faithful servants and messengers was never kindly 
wrought upon. He might be touched at heart, but was not pricked 
at heart. They are sensible of a light that troubleth them, not a 
kindly remorse that maketh them to ask advice and counsel. If they 
had any true pangs of conscience, it would be otherwise. 

Secondly, Their question, ' What shall we do ? ' that is, do to 
escape the deserved punishment, do to obtain remission of sins, do to 
be saved ? Acts xvi. 30, as may be gathered by parallel places, and 
out of the apostle's answer, ' Repent, and be baptized for the remission 
of sins ; ' and, ' Save yourselves from this untoward generation.' The 
point is — 

Doct. That men are at a good and hopeful pass when once they 
come anxiously and fervently to ask, ' What shall we do to be 
saved ? ' 

This is the usual question of men wounded in spirit and in straits 
of conscience : Acts ix. 6, ' And he, trembling and astonished, said, 
Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ? ' Luke iii. 10, ' And the people 
asked him, saying, What shall we do then ? ' Acts xvi. 30, ' And 
brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? ' Job 
vii. 20, ' What shall I do unto thee, thou preserver of men ? ' 

1. It is a weighty question. 

2. When it is fitly proposed, it argueth a good and hopeful con 
dition and state of soul. 

1. It is a weighty question. The case is not for another, but for 
themselves. We read of an impertinent question put forth by Peter to 
Christ : John xxi. 21, ' Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, what 
shall this man do ? ' But here it is, ' What shall we do ? ' Many do not 
look inward, but are busy about the concerns of others. It is not, 
What shall he do ? but, ' What shall we do ? ' It is not about in 
tricate doubts, and nice debates, or the decision of scholastical questions, 
but a necessary thing. Curious questions argue too much levity and 
wantonness in those that propose them. Many that are heart-whole 
dispute and wrangle about nice things, but these ask advice. Those 
that wholly give up themselves to nice debates neglect the main profit 
able matters. A man in straits and pangs of conscience is not in a 
condition to trouble himself with niceties ; he is in danger of hell, and 
his care is how he shall do to escape it. It is not about the body, 
but the soul ; not for necessaries for the outward man. There are 
questions of that nature which we are apt to put : Mat. vi. 25, ' What 
shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we put on ? ' ' Take 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, 38. 257 

no thought for the body.' A man's main care is to save the soul. 
Christ, to divert them, puts them upon that : Mat. vi. 33, ' But seek ye 
first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things 
shall be added unto you.' These worldly questions perplex men's 
hearts ; as their trouble is, so they inquire. If they distrust God's pro 
vidence, what more usual than these questions ? Once more, it is not 
about speculations, but practicals; not, What shall we say? but, What 
shall we do ? Not about events : Luke xiii. 23, ' Lord, are there few 
that are saved ? ' but about duty. Chrysostom observeth well, They 
say not, How shall we be saved ? but, ' What shall we do to be saved ? ' 
It is presumptuous folly to hope for the end without the means. There 
is somewhat to be done if we mean to be saved. Balaam said, ' Let 
me die the death of the righteous,' Num. xxiii. 10. At oportuit sic 
vixisse — We should live so. There are means leading to every end. 
We must not think to go to heaven with hand in bosom, and land at 
the haven of glory when you turn the boat to the stream. Salvation 
will not be had without duty. That is worth nothing that is gotten 
for nothing. You cannot imagine such a worthy thing will cost you 
no pains. There is a proportion still between the means and the end : 
1 Thes. ii. 12, ' That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called 
you to his kingdom and glory ; something that will answer the great 
ness of your hopes. Many will go to heaven as far and as fast as good 
hopes and good wishes will carry them. They make a gentleman-like 
life of the profession of godliness ; their rents are brought in by their 
stewards, whether they sleep or wake, work or play. No ; these con 
verts propound it, ' What shall we do ? ' what course shall we take to 
save our souls ? 

But is not this a legal question, ' What shall we do ? ' as if heaven 
were to be had for doing ? 

Some think this is spoken with respect to the covenant of works, the 
sense of which is upon our hearts naturally. It is true such a question 
may be put in a legal way, as the young man that came to Christ, Mat. 
xix. 16, 'And behold one came, and said unto him, Good master, what 
good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life ? ' He was a rich 
man, but he saw his happiness lay not in riches, but in everlasting sal 
vation ; he desireth that, but he would earn it, and seek his justifica 
tion by works. But to inquire after the necessary means without such 
a presumption of merit is not legal. Christ answereth him according to 
his legal apprehensions : ver. 17, ' If thou wilt enter into life, keep the 
commandments/ That was the best way to humble a proud pharisee, 
to bid him make good his pretensions to keep the whole law in all 
points without sin; that was to hold him to his own covenant. But 
now Peter answereth these according to their meaning ; they inquire 
after the way and means of relief : ' Repent, and be baptized for the 
remission of sins.' Well, then, we have found it a good and weighty 

II. It is fitly propounded. It argueth a good and hopeful state of 
soul if anxiously and seriously put. We ask it in jest at other times, 
but convinced men are in the greatest earnest. Things now begin to 
be real, and seem other than formerly they did ; they think, and speak, 
and talk like men in another world. Sin is another thing. They were 



wont to marvel what made men keep such a stir about sin ; what harm 
was it to take a little forbidden pleasure ? that it was hard measure 
to be held so closely to duty ; but now they have other thoughts, are 
at a loss, ' What shall we do? ' This question seriously put argueth — 

1. Their present helplessness, or a sense of their lost condition. 
They speak like men at a loss, and at their wit's end, finding Jesus to 
be the Christ, of whose death they were guilty, and so liable to God's 
heavy judgment. They had cried out, ' His blood be upon us and our 
children.' They could not undo what they had done, and now know 
not what to do. They speak like men wholly void of senses ; as 
Eeuben, ' The child is not, and whither shall I go ? ' Gen. xxxvii. 30. 
So upon this their perplexity ariseth. Sin will put men to a nonplus, 
and bring men to be shiftless and helpless ; as Christ spake when he 
stood in our room, John xii. 37, ' Now is my soul troubled, and what 
shall I say ? ' Job vii. 20, ' I have sinned ; what shall I do unto thee, 
thou preserver of men ? ' What shall a sinner do ? In earth there 
is no balm for his wounds. It is as the white of an egg. If he look to 
heaven, there is a God to condemn him ; if to hell, there are devils to 
torment him. Their minds are distracted with the sense of the present 
evil. Now thus it should be before we can be brought home to Christ. 
He came to save that which was lost. You should be at such a loss 
that nothing should comfort you on this side Christ. Till the prodigal 
was brought to penury, and could no longer sustain himself by his 
shifts, he never thought of returning to his father ; but then he did. 
There are two remarkable parts in conversion — to bring a man and 
himself together, to bring Christ and him together. A man cometh to 
himself by compunction, or a sense of his misery ; but one great means 
to bring him to Christ is helplessness, when he can no longer shift for 
himself, and patch up a happiness by his own devices. Till we are at a 
loss, we go about like Ephraim : Jer. xxxi. 22, ' How long wilt thou 
go about ? ' Man is a proud creature, loath to be beholden, would 
be sufficient to his own happiness ; but when all his confidences are 
broken, then he casts himself into the arms of Christ, to be by him 
brought to God, when we see our utter inability to help ourselves. 

2. This question argueth some kind of hope that there may be relief 
for them ; for they do not give over the business as desperate, as if 
nothing could be done, but inquire, ' What shall we do ? ' Is there no 
remedy for such vile wretches as we are ? They presume there is 
some course to be taken. There is a kind of twilight in the soul, 
neither utter despair nor certain hope ; but only some present support, 
that we may not give over the business in despair : Joel ii. 14, ' Who 
knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him, 
even a meat-offering and a drink-offering unto the Lord your God ? ' 
They are in suspense, but incline to look for grace from God: Jonah 
iii. 9, ' Who can tell if God will return, and repent, and turn away 
from his fierce anger, that we perish not ?' It is a venture, but such as 
encourageth them to wait. There is a possibility or probability, but 
not a certainty , that hope is the fruit of faith. Sensible sinners have 
many sad tossings and conflicts of spirit between the expectation of 
God's mercy and the sense of their own deservings, so that they cannot 
speak the pure language of faith nor the pure language of unbelief, but 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 259 

mixed and made up of both ; as those Jews, Neh. xiii. 24, ' They spake 
half the language of the Jews, and half of Ashdod.' Yet such as it is, 
it maketh them wait and venture on God ; as Benhahad's servants on 
the king of Israel: 1 Kings xx. 31, 'And his servant said unto him, 
Behold, now we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are 
merciful kings : let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth upon our loins, and 
ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel ; perad venture 
he will save thy life.' So these doubtful thoughts have a mixture of 
hope ; yea, some predominancy of it ; so that though they do not cer 
tainly determine, yet they will try what will become of it. Now 
the soul is in a hopeful way. Faith is coming on, and comfort will not 
be far off, when we make these adventures, and inquire, though we do 
not know what will come of it : Jer. xviii. 12, ' All his trangressions 
that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him ; for his 
righteousness which he hath done, he shall live.' 

3. It expresseth their solicitude and anxious care, ' What shall we 
do ? ' It is a point of the highest consideration, and therefore they ask 
counsel. When the Corinthians were made sorry by Paul's letter, 2 
Cor. vii. 11, ' This self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, 
what carefulness it wrought in you ; yea, what clearing of yourselves, 
yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, 
what zeal, yea, what revenge ! In all things ye have approved your 
selves to be clear in this matter.' Carefulness and consultation about 
the means of grace and salvation is a hopeful beginning, and men are 
in a fair way of passing from death to life. The generality of the 
world is stupid and listless : Eom. iii. 11, ' There is no man that under- 
standeth, there is no man that seeketh after God.' Many never saw a 
need to do anything, nor have a heart to do anything ; therefore when 
men come to consult, either with themselves or others, there is some 
hope. With themselves ; as those lepers, 2 Kings vii. 3, 4, ' And there 
were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate, and they said 
one to another, Why sit we here until we die ? If we say, We will enter 
into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there ; 
and if we sit still here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us 
fall unto the host of the Syrians ; if they save us alive, we shall live ; 
and if they kill us, we shall but die ; ' Luke xv. 17, 18, ' And when he 
came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have 
bread enough and to spare, and I perish for hunger? I will arise, and 
go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned against 
heaven and before thee.' And as the wise steward, Luke xvi. 3, 4, 
' Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do ? For my 
lord taketh the stewardship from me : I cannot dig, to beg I am 
jishamed. I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of my 
stewardship they may receive me into their houses.' Or when they 
consult with others, when a man asketh serious questions, how to frame 
his heart to the obedience of the gospel, how to establish his heart in 
the hopes of pardon and glory ; this will come to somewhat. Men 
begin to be awake : Ps. xxii. 27, ' All the ends of the world shall re 
member, and turn to the Lord.' For a while they are like men sleep 
ing and distracted ; they do not act like men, having no sense, no heart 
for heavenly things. But when once they are full of pangs of con- 

260 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. III. 

science then there is hopes of them ; then they are serious, and mind 

4. It expresseth their resignation. They do not stand booking and 
dodging, but with readiness of mind offer themselves to be directed by 
the apostles : ' Men and brethren, what shall we do ? ' As if they had 
said, We will do anything that you shall enjoin. This is the fashion 
and manner of those that are in a hopeful way of conversion. They 
are wont to resign and offer themselves to be guided by Christ in his 
own way to heaven, without reservation : Acts ix. 6, ' Lord, what wilt 
thou have me to do ? ' ready to obey him in all things. They do not 
dispense with some things, and say. Thus far can we go, or, The Lord 
be merciful to me in this; but absolutely, 'What shall we do to be 
saved ? ' There were some that would follow Christ upon conditions : 
Luke ix. 59-62, ' And he said, Follow me ; but he said, Lord, suffer 
me first to go and bury my father. And Jesus said unto him, Let 
the dead bury the dead ; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 
Another said, Lord, I will follow thee ; but let me first go and 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 looketh back, is 
fit for the kingdom of God.' Herod did many things ; and the young 
man had a forwardness, and a longing desire. Now what is the reason 
they are so pliable to God's will, so ready to obey him in all things, 
without reserving any sin or lust ? Partly because they see an absolute 
necessity of coming out of the condition in which they are. Turn and 
live, sin and die : Ezek. xviii. 32, ' For I have no pleasure in him that 
dieth, saith the Lord ; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.' There 
fore they are willing to be and do anything to come out of it. God 
being peremptory to punish sin, they must be as peremptory in forsak 
ing sin, unless they mean to perish for ever. And partly because they 
think any condition more tolerable than that under which they are ; 
for now they feel the evil they never felt before : Ps. xxxviii. 4, ' For 
mine iniquities are gone over my head ; as a heavy burden they are too 
heavy for me.' Therefore, if God will prescribe any terms to them, 
they will accept them. The evil of sin is so great, that there is no 
evil equal to it, no good that can countervail it. There is a pressing 
necessity on the soul. These are the considerations that prevail in this 
condition, before regeneration, or a real bent of heart towards God, and 
sound consent be wrought. 

Use 1. Is reproof of our carelessness. We busy ourselves about the 
smallest matters : 1 Cor. vi. 2, speaking of the things of this life, he 
calls them ' the smallest matters.' We will ask, What shall become 
of us ? We are anxious about events, but not careful about duties ; 
and this for the outward man, What we shall eat ? not, ' What shall 
I do to be saved ? ' this question is very rare. A few poor, humble, 
broken-hearted Christians, and some that are fallen under the chasten 
ing of the Lord, and are ready to die, they see the need and worth of 
salvation ; but go up and down among people everywhere, we have no 
such questions as this. Now many live twenty or thirty years, and 
never question with themselves, Where am I ? whither am I going ? 
what shall become of me to all eternity ? Oh, that we could more 
frequently, more seriously, put this question, and were more diligent and 

VER. 37.] SERMONS UPON ACTS IT. 37, 38. 261 

earnest to get it resolved. There is another question to make way for this : 
Jer, viii. 6, ' What have I done ? ' And then there is another question 
after this : Hosea xiv. 8, ' What have I any more to do with idols ? ' 
These are the questions to be put to conscience. Certainly if you 
were troubled for sin, this would be your main inquiry ; but in most 
people this is not in all their thoughts. Oh, how do we forget our 
selves and our main errand in the world ! How little do we mind 
that which most concerneth us ! One drudgeth for riches, and another 
giveth up himself to pleasures. Hardly have we a thought wherefore 
we were born, and what will be the end of things ; and therefore this 
is the least part of our care, how we shall do to be saved. Some that 
seem a little affected yet are not soundly awakened, have not such a 
care as so weighty a business doth require ; like those that are heavy 
to sleep, that hear a great noise in the night, of wind, and rain, and 
thunder, or fire, are a little disturbed, but lie down and sleep again, 
and trouble themselves no more with it. 

Use 2. To direct you how to further, and also how to judge of, 
your progress in the work of conversion. 

1. When you begin to mind necessary things : Mat. vi. 20, 21, ' But 
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust 
doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal ; for 
where your treasure is, there will your hearts be also.' When you put 
questions to yourselves about heaven and the way thither, your thoughts 
must be more upon it, and your discourses tend that way ; at least, you 
will be running to means to hear more of God and heaven. 

2. When you have an anxious sense of your lost condition, and God 
hath showed you your danger, your hearts are troubled because of 
sin, that you find it a heavy burden, you are in the eye of the promise : 
Mat. xi. 28, ' Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, 
and ye shall find rest for your souls.' 

3. When you find the burden groweth so heavy (as it was with the 
young man that came to Christ, Mat. xix.) that you are resolved to 
save your souls whatever it cost you : Mat. xiii. 46, ' And when he 
had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all, and bought it/ 
Many cheapen the comforts of Christianity, but do not go through 
with the bargain. You will not stick with God for anything, but set 
yourselves to do his will, whatever reluctances from within or dis 
grace and oppositions from without you meet with. 

4. When your heart is so fixed and confirmed in this purpose, that 
when it cometh to trial and exigence, you do judge it better to deny 
your lusts, renounce your interests, run all hazards for Christ ; you 
can thwart your affections, run through straits, disgraces, nicknames, 
scorns, and can lay down your life at Christ's feet, Mat. xviii. 8, 9 ; 
part with right hand or right eye. Better go to heaven with the loss 
of all, than to hell with the greatest crown. 

262 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. IV. 


Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in 
the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall 
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. — ACTS ii. 38. 

IN the former verse we had their serious question ; here is Peter's 
seasonable answer. They that take a right course, and seriously in 
quire after the way of salvation, are not likely to be disappointed. 
God saith, ' Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you/ Mat. vii. 7. Men that are in 
good earnest in the use of means shall not be refused in any needful 
suit. Therefore ' Stand ye in the ways, and see ; ask for the old paths, 
where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for 
your souls,' Jer. vi. 16. So do these poor wounded souls do, and so 
must we do. Now what was the effect? It is the part of a good 
physician not only to discover the disease, but also to prescribe a 
remedy ; especially should spiritual physicians be tender of broken 
hearted sinners, willing and ready to give them counsel. When Judas 
had a wound in his conscience, he cometh to the high priest, and said, 
' I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.' But do they tender his 
case, or afford him any relief in his great straits ? No ; ' What is that 
to us ? see thou to that/ Mat. xxvii. 4 ; they leave him to his own 
horrors and despairing thoughts. But Peter dealeth more compas 
sionately with these converts : he doth not upbraid them with their 
past sin, and leave them in despair, but giveth them wholesome counsel 
and advice for the good of their souls : ' Then Peter said unto them/ &c. 

In Peter's direction and counsel to them take notice — (1.) What 
he persuadeth them to do ; (2.) The argument by which he persuadeth 
them ; what they shall do, and what they shall receive. 

In the first, two things — 

1. 'Bepent/ 

2. ' Be baptized in the name of Christ.' What ? why ? and to what 
end ? ' For the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the 
Holy Ghost/ 

First, The first thing he persuadeth them to is repentance. But 
this advice seemeth needless, yea, burdensome. Was it seasonable to 
press men that lay under deep terror and compunction to repent ? Is 
not this to break a bruised reed, and add sorrow to sorrow ? 

Ans. No such matter. Therefore I shall — 

1. Show the difference between the former work, and that to which 
they are now pressed. 

2. Evidence to you that this is a proper cure. 

[1.] The difference. Before it was Karevvyrjaav ; now it is /-tera- 
voijcrare. There is a great difference between these things. The 
word is more capacious, implying a change of mind and counsel. If 
you take repentance for godly sorrow and trouble of heart, yet still 
there is a difference between the former work and this. The former 
sorrow was legal, wrought by terror, and a fear of being damned ; 

VEIL 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, ss. 2G3 

this is evangelical, wrought by a sense of God's love. A malefactor 
ought not only to be sorry for his crime while he is in suspense, and 
knoweth not how his prince will deal with him, but after he is par 
doned is still to be ashamed and grieved for his offence. Their former 
sorrow was an involuntary impression; this an active grief. They 
were pricked at heart whether they would or no. Now repent : he 
would have that work theirs. That was dolor ntorbi, the pain of the 
disease ; this was dolor medicince, the trouble of physic, or the smart 
that comes by the cure. That sting was the effect of an accusing con 
science, which may be in the wicked ; this the grief of a confessing 
penitent, which argueth a tender heart. 

[2.] It is a proper cure. They were in sorrow ; therefore repent. 
Ars delude sequatur, nalura monstrante viam. Physicians will cure 
men of fluxes by giving a purge, and stay vomiting and a disposition 
to cast by a vomit, divert bleeding by letting of blood ; so they were 
in trouble and anguish, and he presseth them to repent, in a kindly 
manner to come and bewail their sin to God : ' Kepent, and be bap 
tized in, the name of Christ for the remission of sins.' 

Doct. Repentance is one special means which God hath instituted 
for the cure of a wounded soul. 

Not only faith, as Acts xvi. 31, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and thou shalt be saved ;' but repentance. Indeed those two are the 
two great means : Acts xx. 21, ' Testifying both to the Jews, and also 
to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord 
Jesus Christ/ 

I. Let us see what is repentance, or wherein it consists. There are 
three words by which it is expressed : fieravoia ; that word you 
have in the text, and it signifieth an after- wit, or a change of mind. 
Secondly, The next word is f^erafieXeta, an after-sorrow, or a change 
of heart; that word you have Mat. xxi. 29, 'But afterwards he repented, 
and went,' ^era/ieX^^ei? cnrrjkde ; he was sorry for his refusal. 
Thirdly, /zeTacn-pe^t?, an after-turning, or a change of course. That 
word you have Acts iii. 19, ' Repent ye, therefore, and be converted ; ' 
/Aeravoija'aTe KOI p,eraaTpe^rare : Acts ix. 35, 'And turned to the Lord ; ' 
as he that hath walked in a wrong course bethinketh himself, and 
goeth back again, and taketh another way. In all these three consists' 
repentance ; not in one alone, not in a change of mind. Many a man 
knoweth better, but doeth that which is worse. Video meliora proboque, 
deteriora sequor. There must be a change of heart as well as a change 
of mind, such a sorrow for sin as ' crucifieth the flesh, with the affec 
tions and lusts,' Gal. v. 24, that doth weaken the power and interest of 
sin in the heart; and not only a change of heart, but a change of 
course. Many men are troubled for sin, but still go on in the practice 
of sin. Vera p&nitentia est, saith Augustine, poenitenda non admittere, 
et admissa deflere; such a change of heart as draweth with it a change 
of life ; to repent for what is past, and amend what is to come : Prov. 
xxviii. 13, 'He that confesseth, and forsaketh his sin, shall find mercy.' 
Well, then, repentance consisteth not in an acknowledgment of sin, 
and saying, God be merciful ; but it is a change of our minds, hearts, 
purposes, and evil course of life. 

1. Merdvota, a change of mind and understanding : Rom. xii. 2,, 

264 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. IV. 

' Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing 
of your minds.' A transmentation is necessary, by which a sinner 
beginneth to approve the law of God, which before he disliked, and to 
prize holy things, which before he lightly esteemed ; to see the excel 
lency and sweetness of the spiritual life, and walking in communion 
with God, which before he disesteemed as a heavy bondage or a foolish 
niceness: 1 Cor. ii. 14, 'For 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.' In short, men's 
eyes are opened, and they have other thoughts of sin and duty than 
ever they had before. They did not think sin so bad as they find it ; 
nor that there was so much good and sweetness in a course of obedience. 
Now he seeth that all this while he hath gone astray, and been preju 
diced against his own happiness : Titus iii. 3, ' For we ourselves were 
sometimes foolish and disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and 
pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another ;' 
1 Cor. iii. 18, ' Let no man deceive himself ; if any man among you 
seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be 
wise.' That sin which was his delight before, is now his burden. He 
was wont to marvel why men kept such a stir about sin, and that their 
complaints were but words of course ; now he seeth it is the most hateful 
thing in the world, and all that was said is little enough to express the 
odiousness of it. He was wont to think a course of holy walking to be 
a dark, sad, and gloomy course ; but now his judgment is altered, he 
seeth that nothing is so lovely and sweet as obedience, and no liberty 
but in God's service ; that none live at large so much as they whose 
lusts are restrained, and whose consciences are still held under the awe 
of God's precepts. He was wont to call the proud happy and blessed, 
and that none lived so comfortable a life as they that had both ability 
and opportunity to please the flesh ; now he seeth they are the most 
miserable creatures in the world, because their snares and temptations 
are multiplied, and that poor afflicted godliness is a far better condition ; 
no preachers or scriptures are now too strict for him. This is a change 
of mind. 

2. MeraytteXeta, an after-care, when the soul cometh to grief, and 
shame, and sorrow, and hatred of sin : 2 Cor. vii. 10, 'For godly sorrow 
worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of ; but the sorrow 
of the world worketh death.' Godly sorrow is of great use in repent 
ance, to alienate and turn away the soul from sin. Our evil estate con- 
sisteth not so much in this, that we have sin, as that we love sin. Here 
lieth the root of all our mischief, that we are (frtXtf&ovot, /j,aX\.ov rj $i\6Qeoi, 
' that we are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God/ 2 Tim. 
iii. 4. Therefore, to dig at the root of sin, this breaking and rending 
the heart with godly sorrow is necessary, that the bitterness of grief may 
make it loathsome to us : Job ii. 13, ' His grief was great.' Therefore 
we must exercise ourselves with grief, and shame, and sorrow, because 
of our doings, and be touched with a deep sense of our folly and unkind- 
ness to God, that we have wronged God, and abused his grace. 

3. There is ^erao-Tpe-vJa?, a change of life. This ensueth upon the 
change of heart. By the change of heart we put off the old man, with 
his deceitful lusts ; and then there must needs be a change in our con- 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, 38. 26." 

versations : Mat. ii. 2, 'Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance;' such 
as will evidence a thorough change wrought in us, and give us a cer 
tain proof of it : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and 
he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly 
pardon.' This is always a-doing, wherein there is something privative 
and positive : in the privative part, the internal work is the chief, when 
a man maketh conscience of his thoughts ; the positive part is when a 
man maketh it the great business and trade of his life : Acts xxiv. 16, 
' And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of 
offence towards God and towards men.' 

Reasons to prove that this is one special means which God hath 
instituted for the cure of a wounded soul. 

1. Because it is God's prescribed course. The Lord himself must 
state the terms upon which his grace shall be dispensed ; now he hath 
appointed this way: Acts iii. 19, 'Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, 
that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshment shall 
come from the presence of the Lord.' Repentance is a means or con 
dition, or moral qualification on our parts ; it is conditio sine qua non, 
without which we are not capable of the benefit. The first moving 
cause is the mercy and grace of God : Isa. xliii. 25, ' I, even I, am he 
that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not 
remember thy sins.' The meritorious and procuring cause is the 
blood of Christ : Eph. i. 7, ' In whom we have redemption through 
his blood, the forgiveness of sin.' That is the satisfaction given to 
God for our offences, to repair him in point of honour. But the 
causes do not exclude our duty ; there must be something done on our 
part by way of application to make our right and title clear, and that 
is faith and repentance : these two sister graces, the one respects God, 
and the other the Mediator Jesus Christ : ' Repentance towards God, 
and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,' Acts xx. 21. The offence is 
done to God, and he is the party to whom we return by Christ. These 
two graces go hand in hand, and we must not put asunder what God 
hath joined together. If you ask which goes first ? that is hard to 
say ; there is not such a distinction of time in the work of conversion 
that we can tell which is first or which is last ; the work is inter 
mingled. The case in the new birth is somewhat like as it was in the 
travail of Tamar, Zarah putteth out the hand, but Pharez breaketh 
out first. We feel repentance, it is first in our sense ; but faith is the 
first-born, the elder sister. When a candle is brought into a room, 
the light showeth itself before the candle. Faith is first in order of 
nature, for without it no act is pleasing to God, Heb. xi. 6. Well 
then, repentance is God's prescribed course to get our sins blotted out ; 
that is, either out of the book of his remembrance, or out of the book 
of conscience. Out of the book of his remembrance : Col. ii. 14, 
' Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances, which was against us, 
which was contrary to us, nailing it to his cross ; ' that is, crossed out 
by the blood of Christ. But out of the book of conscience it is blotted 
by the Spirit of Christ : Heb. x. 22, ' Having our hearts sprinkled 
from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water ; ' 
when he giveth us gospel peace and comfort. 

206 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SlSB. IV. 

2. Because the saints have found it an effectual course, and mar 
vellously successful. God taught David by his own experience that the 
exercise of repentance was the right way to seek relief, after his spirits 
had been wasted and his flesh almost dried up : 'I acknowledged my 
sin unto thee, and mine iniquity I have not hid ; I said, I will confess 
my transgression unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the iniquity of 
my sin/ Ps. xxxii. 5. When he resolved sincerely to humble his 
heart before God, nay, though the purpose was not yet put into act, 
he felt the comfort. Another instance may be that, Jer. xxxi. 18-20, 
'I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast 
chastised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the 
yoke : turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my 
God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented ; and after that I 
was instructed, I smote upon the thigh : I was ashamed ; yea, con 
founded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim 
my dear son ? is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, 
I do earnestly remember him still : therefore my bowels are troubled 
for him ; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.' There 
is Ephraim's bewailing his sin, and God's returning an answer full of 
fatherly affection : at first he was like an unruly bullock, not easily 
brought to the yoke, but yet at length, when he was touched with 
shame and sorrow, then, ' Is not Ephraim a dear son ? a pleasant 
child ? ' 

3. Because it is the way to remove sin, which is the ground of the 
trouble, and that which hath given the soul such a deadly wound. 
There are two things that trouble the conscience, the guilt and power 
of sin ; and we must be eased of both, or else the plaster will not be as 
broad as the sore. A man that hath his leg broken, to be eased only 
of his smart will not suffice him, he must have it set right again : 
1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive 
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness/ Now repent 
ance worketh on both parts of the sin, the removal of the guilt, and 
also the filthiness and inherent corruption ; it maketh way for the 
pardon of sin and the removal of the guilt of it, as I said before ; and 
the whole tenor of the gospel showeth it, as Melancthon rightly defineth 
it against Islebus first, and Flaccius and his followers. The gospel is 
nothing else but a doctrine of repentance and remission of sin : these 
are two great points. Look upon Christ as a lawgiver : Luke xii. 47, 
' The servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, 
neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.' 
Or as a saviour and fountain of grace : Acts v. 31, ' Him hath 
God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give 
repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.' He requireth and giveth 
repentance in order to the remission of sins. Secondly, For the other 
part, the power of sin ; it mainly serveth for that, and is required for 
that. We use salt and bitter potions to kill the worms. The lusts 
that haunt our souls are best mortified by the bitterness and sorrows 
of repentance, otherwise it is sweet and dear to the soul, and we are 
apt to roll it under our tongue. This rending of hearts spoileth the 
taste of sin : Gal. v. 24, ' They that are Christ's have crucified the 
flesh, with the affections and lusts.' Sorrow assaulteth sin in its 

VER. 38.J SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 267 

strength, which is love of pleasure, for all sin is founded in flesh- 
pleasing delights ; it is lust draweth him away by some pleasurable 
lure or bait ; the flesh is all for sensitive pleasure, and the proper cure 
for it is godly sorrow. 

Use 1. If this be God's instituted course to ease troubled consciences, 
then they are physicians of no value for poor wounded souls that 
would direct you to another course ; either, first, pleasures, and sports, 
and plays, and play-books, and other merry books and company, and 
carnal diversions to get off heart-qualms. Some such mountebanks in 
religion there be in the world, that seek to divert men's grief rather 
than to put it away; this is like a man in debt, that drinketh away 
the thoughts of it, but his misery is never the further off. Secondly, 
Others seek to cure trouble for sin with further sins ; as men to ease 
themselves of the pains of a scald will hold the flesh to the fire again. 
This may stupify the conscience, but God hath means enough to 
awaken it. There is a worm that shall never die, and you will feel 
it one day. Others would have altogether lenitives, and cannot 
endure the sour doctrine of repentance, but would have men honied 
and oiled with grace ; decry this as not suiting with their loose appre 
hensions of the gospel. John said, ' Repent,' Mat. iii. 2 ; Jesus Christ 
saith, ' Repent, and believe the gospel ; ' Mark i. 15 ; and Mark vi. 12, 
' And the apostles went out and preached that men should repent.' 
There is a fleshly laziness and wantonness in men ; they cannot endure 
to hear of the severe and grave exercises of religion ; and when we go 
Christ's way to do them good, they are displeased. If we did come to 
you in our own name, and had a liberty of giving indulgence to one 
another, we might huddle up the matter ; nay, if we were left to our 
reason and discretion, we need not stand so exactly upon godly sorrow 
and serious self-loathing ; but God bath prescribed this course. Now why 
should we stick at it ? You should thankfully acknowledge the privilege ; 
be glad that repentance is granted, rather than grumble because it is 
required that we have leave to repent ; not mutter because of this 
command to repent. It was counted a favour heretofore : Acts xi. 18, 
' Then hath God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life.' 
The law doth not say, ' I will not the death of a sinner, but that he 
repent and live;' but, 'Do this and live, sin and die.' The law doth 
not say, ' Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden ; ' 
but, ' Depart, ye cursed.' It calleth for exact obedience, or threateneth 
eternal ruin. It is a grace granted to man above angels. God did 
not propound terms of repentance to them, whereby they should 
recover their lost estate, when they sinned ; they were left to their 
own obstinacy. A truly burdened soul is glad of this order and 
method ; the guilt of sin is not only his trouble, but the power of it : 
they like no terms like God's terras. Fulgentius saith, It is vile 
unthankfulness to prefer softness and carnal ease above the comfort of 
godly exercises. If repentance seem a burden, the fruits of sin in the 
end will be much greater : if this part of religion seem distasteful, the 
comfort of being well settled and established upon sound terms will be 
much greater than all the trouble it puts us to. 

Use 2. Is to persuade you to this work upon the necessity of this 
course. It is not only necessary necessitate prcecepti, but medii. It is 

268 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. IV. 

an irksome duty, but necessary. Till ye are brought to repentance, ye 
never had, nor can have, pardon of sins, and so no true peace of consci 
ence. Some things have only the necessity of a duty, we sin if we do 
it not ; but this hath the necessity of a remedy, we perish if we omit it. 
It is not only a duty but a remedy. When a father shall command a 
sick child to use such a remedy to save his life, he is not only guilty of 
disobedience if he refuse it, but destroyeth his own life by refusing a 
remedy necessary to preserve it. This is absolutely necessary. If you 
disobey God in other things, yet you should not in the command of 
repentance : those that need none, and care for none, Christ will have 
nothing to do with them : Mat. ix. 13, ' For I am not come to call the 
righteous, but sinners to repentance.' Would you hope for mercy in 
another way than God and Christ are agreed on ? But because exhor 
tations lose their force unless they be particularly directed, I must 
speak to two sorts. 

1. Some that never yet repented nor turned to the Lord. Oh, con 
sider, without repentance no pardon, and without pardon no salvation ; 
he that remaineth in his sins shall die in his sins. You may have ex 
perience of God's patience and common goodness, but never of his 
special mercy. A dog when he dieth will be in a better case than you : 
a dog when he dieth, his misery dieth with him ; but the misery of 
an impenitent sinner then beginneth. You are condemned already, 
what hindereth execution ? only God tarrieth, ' is long-suffering to 
us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to 
repentance,' 2 Peter iii. 9. He is willing to take a little more pains 
with you, to give you a little further time ; but do you know how long 
he will bear ? Have you any certain lease of enjoying the world and 
the comforts you now have ? After a few more refusals of his renewed 
offers, and slighting of his mercies and patience, who can tell but God 
may take the denial, and fret the slender thread of life asunder ? Who 
knoweth but the next day he will say, ' Cut it down, why cumbereth 
it the ground ? ' Therefore it is time to set about self-loathing and 
grieving for your sins, and dedicating yourselves seriously to God's use 
and service. 

2. To those that have repented already, to renew their repentance. 
This is a work that must always be doing, if you would maintain quiet 
and peace in your souls. As long as there is sin in your hearts, you 
ought to groan under it : Eom. vii. 24, ' Oh, wretched man that I am ! 
who shall deliver me from the body of this death ! ' And as often 
as sin is committed, so often must repentance be renewed: sin and 
trouble are inseparable. Conscience would be no conscience if it were 
otherwise. Therefore I would press you — 

[1.] To use this way constantly of fetching out grace. As your 
salvation is carried on from faith to faith, Kom. i. 17, so from repent 
ance to repentance. By repeated acts of the first graces our privileges 
are continued to us. Faith is never out of season, nor repentance ; it 
is as necessary afterwards as it was at first, whenever you sin against 
God. Those that have a Father in heaven must still come to him for 
forgiveness, Mat, vi. 13. It is a renewed act, for the continuance, sense, 
and the increase of the sense and feeling of pardon. If you are pre 
judiced against such a course, you have no reason to think your 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 269 

sins are pardoned. The Christian religion revealeth no other way of 
comfort and sound peace ; and that assurance is justly liable to suspi 
cion which can be maintained without repentance. 

But you will say, Sinners are pardoned already ; justification is one 
indivisible act of grace, pardoning all sins past, present, and to come. 

I answer — Though there be a justification of the person, yet there is 
a reiterated remission. There is a great deal of difference between 
the merit of pardon, justification of the person, and the actual remis 
sion of sin : the merit is but once, Christ never needeth to suffer more ; 
the justification of the person is obtained upon our actual interest in 
Christ ; then there is a release from the eternal punishment and wrath 
due to us because of sin. A believer can no more come under the 
power of the second death : this sentence is never reversed. 

But now, pardon of sin is another thing : Acts xiii. 38, 39, ' Be it 
known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is 
preached unto you the forgiveness of sins ; and by him all that believe 
are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by 
the law of Moses.' The sinner is justified, but not the sin ; these are 
distinct things. Justification noteth the state of the person, that is once 
upon our implantation into Christ ; but upon every peccant act we need 
a new pardon, that is repeated as sins are committed. Before it is com 
mitted it is not remitted, for it is not sin. It is pardoned in that notion 
in which it is sin ; virtually pardoned, but not formally. Justification 
is the grant of a privilege, that we have interest in remission of sin. 

Well, then, let me press you to — (1.) A daily repentance for daily 
sins ; (2.) A solemn repentance on the occasion of special duties. 

(1.) To a daily repentance for daily sins. As we pray for daily 
bread, so for daily pardon ; we need one as much as the other. We 
daily heap up new sins, and we must daily sue out our pardon. This was 
the method God took with Adam when he was fallen : God came to 
him in the cool of the day, Gen. iii. 8. God would not let them sleep 
in their sins, that he might bring them suddenly to recall themselves, 
and consider what they had done, that they might'long rest quiet in their 
sins. Under the law, if a man were unclean, yet when the evening came 
he was to wash his clothes, Lev. xi. 25 ; so we read of the evening 
sacrifice : Num. xxviii. 3, 4, ' This is the offering made by fire, which 
ye shall offer unto the Lord ; two lambs of the first year without spot 
day by day, for a continual burnt-offering: the one lamb shall be 
offered in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even ; ' 
Eph. iv. 26, 'Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.' If poison is 
taken, a man would get rid of it as soon as he could. While our faults 
are in mind, repentance is more kindly ; as fresh wounds are best cured 
at first, before they fester and rankle into a sore. Sin gets less ground, 
and we shall have rest the sooner ; and it is good to divide our work 
by parts, to come to an account, and make all even between God and 
us every day, as merchants sum up their accounts at the foot of every 
page ; AVC shall have the less to do when we come to die. 

(2.) To a solemn repentance on the occasion of special duties. At 
the Lord's table we come to renew our sense of the remission of sins ; 
for the cup of the new testament is given for that end : Mat. xxvi. 
28, ' For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed fur 

» Qu. ' juigbt not ' ?— ED. 

270 SEHMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiU. IV. 

many, for the remission of sins.' We use this duty for the obtaining of 
this benefit, either to get a confirmation or new extract when our dis 
charge hath been darkened by former failings. Now as we would 
renew the sense of pardon, so we must renew the exercise of repentance. 
There are two duties required of us in order to that work — (1.) Exa 
mination ; (2.) Meditation on Christ's death. 

First, examination, 'Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat.' 
Look into thy bill ; what owest thou ? When we come to counting 
and reckoning with ourselves, how many defects and failings may we 
discover ! If that work be done seriously, we must needs come num 
bly and penitently. Well, then, in this serious work consider — 

1. The exact purity of the law ; it condemneth the secret motions of 
our souls, thoughts, lusts, imperfect desires : ' The law is spiritual, but 
I am carnal,' Kom. vii. 14. ' What shall we do ? ' There are few that 
can stand before the letter of the law, but who can stand before the 
spiritual meaning of it ? You do not set up other gods ; ay, but your 
hearts are estranged by the secret idols of your hearts from the true 
God : Ezek. xiv. 3, 5, ' These men have set up their idols in their 
hearts, because they are estranged from me through their idols ; ' as 
the Jews preferred Barabbas before Christ. Practical atheism is 
worse than speculative. You may reason a man out of one, but not 
out of the other ; that is cured by grace. You abhor idols and images, 
but do your hearts submit to all the ordinances of Christ, to use them 
to the ends appointed ? You cannot endure vain or rash swearing, but 
doth thy life praise God ? Is there that reverence and seriousness in 
all matters of God ? You hate Sabbath profanations, but do you call 
it your delight ? You honour parents, but do you carry yourselves 
well in all your relations, and live as in the fear of God, and make con 
science of the duties which belong to them ? You are no murderers, 
but make no conscience of rash anger ; no adulterers, but yet have 
wanton glances and unclean motions, Mat. v. 28. No thief, but 
have no charity ; do not take away that which is another's, but do not give 
your own ; no liar, but a slanderer, whisperer, backbiter ; thy life is a 
lie, when thou wouldst seem better than thou art ; suppress the first 
motions ; but, ' Who can say his heart is clean, I am pure from my 
sin ? ' Prov. xx. 9. 

2. The holiness of God, we have not sense enough of that : Job iv. 
18, 'His angels he chargeth with folly ; ' 1 Sam. vi. 20, ' Who is able 
to stand before this holy Lord God ? ' I would excite Christians to 
have a sense of this above all things. 

3. Our proneness to sin : Ps. xl. 12, ' For innumerable evils have 
compassed me about ; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that 
I am not able to look up ; they are more than the hairs of my head ; 
therefore my heart faileth me.' 

4. The strictness of the last day's account. A long process : 1 Cor. 
iv. 5, ' Who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, 
arid make manifest the counsels of the heart.' Not only the state of 
the person, but all our actions. Conscience will be extended to the 
recollecting of all our ways ; a general bill will not serve the turn : 
else how will the wicked be ashamed, and the righteous applauded ? 
Idle words will come into account at that day, Mat. xii. 36. 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 271 

Second, Meditation of Christ's death. He that maketh light of sin 
is guilty of the contempt of Christ's blood, that either despiseth the 
causes or effects of it : Heb. x. 29, ' Of how much sorer punishment, 
suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot 
the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, where 
with he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the 
Spirit of grace ? ' It was not shed for a light cause, nor to produce 
mean effects : it showeth the heinousness of sin as well as the worth 
of God's image and favour : Zech. xii. 10, ' They shall look upon him 
whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one 
mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one 
that is in bitterness for his first-born.' Faith is required to promote 

(3.) After heinous sins we are especially to humble ourselves 
before God : this is the ready way to obtain pardon : Ps. xxxii. 
5, ' I acknowledged rny sin unto thee, and mine iniquities have I not 
hid : I said, I will acknowledge my transgression unto the Lord ; 
and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin ; ' 1 Kings xx. 32, ' And 
they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and 
came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I 
pray thee let me live.' Better come in voluntarily, than be drawn in 
by force. Heinous sins are wont to rifle all our confidences, therefore 
after such failings we are more seriously to renew our repentance, and 
to humble our souls in the sight of God. 


Repent, and be baptized in the name of Christ. — ACTS ii. 38. 

DOCT. That we obtain remission of sins by believing in the name of 

By ' the name of Christ ' is meant Christ himself, as revealed and 
set forth in the gospel ; the doctrine of his person and office : Acts iv. 
12, ' Neither is there salvation in any other ; for there is none other 
name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved ; ' 
that is, Christ is the only person by whom we shall be saved ; and 
Christ, as revealed in the gospel ; for that is the name by which he 
maketh himself known to us. Now this must be received and applied 
by faith ; so Peter explaineth it elsewhere : Acts iii. 16, ' And his 
name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong.' The 
name of Christ is Christ himself, and he puts forth his power upon 

I shall, for the opening of this point — (1.) Show what Christ doth 
or hath done for the pardon of sins ; (2.) That no other but Christ can 
procure this benefit for us ; (3.) The necessity of faith, that we may 
apply it to ourselves. 

I. What Christ doth or hath done in order to the pardon of sins. 

272 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 33. [SfiR. V. 

This benefit is chiefly the fruit of his priestly office. Now in his 
priestly office there are two parts — his oblation and intercession. They 
are spoken of in many places, but both together you have in one place : 
1 John ii. 1, 2, 'My little children, these things write I unto you, that 
ye sin not; and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, 
Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.' 
Our propitiation and our advocate. Let me insist upon these two 
notions — 

1. He is our propitiation. Christ is not only Ikacnij^, our propi 
tiator, but tXaoyio?, our propitiation ; that is, victima, i\a<mKr), the 
propitiatory sacrifice that was offered to God to appease his wrath for 
our sins. He is both the priest and the sacrifice, the propitiator and 
propitiation. This last is what we now pitch upon ; and the apostle 
telleth us, Korn. iii. 25, 'Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation 
through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission 
of sins.' The justice of God, and the truth of his commination in the 
former dispensation, permitted not so great a benefit to be bestowed 
without a satisfaction ; and this Christ hath made : so that God may 
be just, though he forgive sin. There can be no propitiation for sin 
without the expiation of it. The expiation of sin is by suffering the 
punishment due to it, which Christ hath done for us by his death, and 
so made way for our pardon and discharge. 

2. He is our advocate, ' We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous.' There are several terms by which Christ's plead 
ing his merit for us, and going between us and God, are set forth, and 
they have all their proper use. We shall compare them with this term 
of an advocate. The general word is 'mediator.' Christ is a mediator 
both in respect of his person and office, but an advocate only in respect of 
his office. A mediator, as a middle person indifferently disposed between 
two parties, that hath a mutual interest in both parties : Job ix. 33, 
' Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand 
upon us both.' One that miudeth the concernments of both, and could 
value the honour of God and the sins and misery of man. A mediator 
in respect of all his offices, but an advocate in respect of his priestly 
office. A mediator, as he doth deal with God for man, and with man 
for God, pacifying God towards man, and bringing man to God ; but 
an advocate as interceding with God and pleading our cause in 
heaven : ' We have an advocate with the Father.' Another word is 
'intercessor/ Intercession doth more of itself look like a friendly 
entreaty ; as Jonathan interceded for David : 1 Sam. xix. 4, ' And 
Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, 
Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because his 
works have been to thee-wards very good.' And Joab for Absalom's re 
turn, after he had suborned the woman of Tekoah: 2 Sam. xiv. 22, 'And 
Joab said, To-day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy 
sight, my lord, king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his 
servant.' But advocate is verbum forense, a judicial word ; it noteth 
Christ's undertaking the cause of a believer in a legal and judicial way ; 
not to solicit our pardon, but plead it, and make it out in a judicial way. 
Once more, Christ is not patronus, a word used in the civil law, but 
advocatiis. A patron or defender is one that under taketh to justify 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS u. 37, 38. 273 

the fact, but an intercessor or advocate is one that pleadeth to prevent 
the punishment, that doth not defend the fault, but intercedeth for the 
remission of the offence. 

Now in what manner this intercession is managed, and how Christ 
acts the part of an advocate for us, needeth a little to be cleared. 

It will not be enough to say that his merit and sufferings do continue 
to deserve such things for us, as if his pleading were only the virtue 
of his merit, which figuratively may be said to plead good for his 
people. So the apostle telleth us, ' The blood of sprinkling doth yet 
speak,' Heb. xii. 24. As the blood of Abel against Cain, so his blood 
for us. To grant no more than this would quite overturn the great 
act of Christ's intercession. And yet, on the other side, it cannot be 
thought that he intercedeth with such gestures and verbal expressions 
as men use with men, or as he himself did in the days of his flesh, when 
he offered up prayers with strong cries and tears, Heb. v. 7, which did 
become the state of his humiliation, but not his glorification. These 
are the two extremes. 

Let us now see what it is. 

[1.] This intercession of his may be conceived to consist in his 
appearing in heaven in our name, whereby the Son of God, being now 
man, presenteth himself as ready to answer for such and such sinners. 
His very being there in our nature speaketh his purpose in reference to 
this end, and God accepteth of it according to appointment : Heb. ix. 
24, ' For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, 
which are figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in 
the presence of God for us.' He presenteth himself as one that hath 
made satisfaction for our offences, hath performed his sacrifice without 
the camp, and bringeth blood before the mercy-seat. 

[2.] It may be supposed also to include a declared willingness and 
desire in our behalf to have such requests granted, such sinners par 
doned. This was a part of his intercession : John xvii. 24, ' Father, 
I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, 
that they may behold my glory.' ' Father, I will.' He declareth this 
to be his will ; it was his interceding to have it accomplished. The 
like may be conceived in heaven. Thus far Aquinas explaineth it : 
Interpellat autem pro nobis, primo, humanitatem, quam pro nobis 
assumpsit, representando ; item animce suce sanctissimce desiderium, 
quod de salute nostra kaouU, exprimendo — he intercedes for us by pre 
senting his human nature, which he took for us ; and also by expressing 
the desire of his most holy soul for our salvation. 

But is there not more ? Certain it is that a proper and form.nl 
prayer is not contrary to the human nature of Christ in that glorious 
estate in which it now is, neither as hypostatically united to the Godhead, 
nor as glorified. Not the first, for that he had in via, in which he 
made prayers and strong cries, Heb. v. 7. Not the second ; still it is 
a creature, inferior to God, therefore capable of prayer. Indeed, when 
lie was in the form of a servant, there was more subjection than now 
in heaven ; but still he prayeth. Therefore — 

[3.] There is a holy, reverent, though inconceivable adoration of the 
sovereign majesty of God, whereby the Mediator, now at the Father's 
right hand, doth in all his appearing for us, as being the head of the 

VOL. xxr. s 

274 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. V. 

body, adore the sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom of God with 
respect to the covenant of redemption, and sue out the benefits due to 
him thereby, namely, the pardon of our sins, and our comfort and 
peace : ' Ask of me/ Ps. ii. 8. By virtue of his paid ransom he may 
call for those blessings that are necessary for those that come to God 
by him. His saying to his disciples oftener than once, ' I will pray 
the Father for you/ John xiv. 16, ' And I will pray the Father, and he 
shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;' 
this doth imply some address to God, even in respect to peculiar 
persons and particular cases. It is a suing out of his merit in their 
behalf. I would add one thing more. 

[4.] He presents our prayers and supplications which we make in the 
behalf of ourselves to God, after he hath set us a-work by his Spirit : 
Rev. viii. 3, ' And there was given unto him much incense, that he should 
offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was 
before the throne ; ' Heb. viii. 1, 2, ' We have such an high priest, who 
is seated on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, 
a minister of the sanctuary.' He presents our prayers to his Father, 
perfumed with his merit. By his Spirit we are furnished with sighs 
and groans. 

II, No other but Christ can procure this benefit for us. 

1. Because none else was appointed : Acts iv. 12, ' Neither is there 
salvation in any other ; for there is none other name under heaven 
given among men whereby we must be saved.' Authorised by the 
Father: Acts v. 31, ' Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be 
a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of 
sins.' This is necessary, because the supreme authority resideth with 
God, who must and will choose in what way he will be satisfied and 
reconciled to sinners. Moses, that interposed of his own accord to 
be a mediator, was refused : Exod. xxxii. 32, 33, ' Yet now, if thou 
wilt, forgive their sin ; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy 
book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Who 
soever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.' Christ 
is authorised to do you good : John viii. 42, ' Neither came I of myself, 
but he sent me.' Christ had a commission from his Father. 

2. Because it needed to appear to us upon good evidence that he is 
the party whom God sets forth to save sinners. This is opus liberi 
consilii, an act of God's free grace; and therefore it cannot be determined 
by natural reason, but we must stand to the way revealed by God. 
The light of nature may show that man is fallen, but the light of 
nature cannot show the way of restoration. Heathens could not dream 
of it. The angels only knew it by the church : Eph. iii. 10, ' To the 
intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places 
might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' Those 
natural apostles, the sun and moon, are gone up and down the world 
to preach a God, an infinite and an eternal power ; their sound is gone 
out into all lands ; and conscience joining with this discovery will 
easily tell us that this God hath not been glorified as God ; therefore 
we are obnoxious to him. 

3. This appointment needed to be evidenced to the world by some 
notable discovery, that the world may be satisfied that this revelation 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, ss. 275 

is from God: John vi. 27, 'For him hath the Father sealed.' Christ 
hath a commission and letters patent sealed with the broad seal 
of heaven. As every ambassador hath letters of credence under the 
hand and seal of that prince from whom he is sent, so Christ working 
miracles, and giving other demonstrations of the divinity of his person, 
hath manifested his commission, that he is the person authorised to 
do us good : Acts x. 38, ' How God hath anointed Jesus of Nazareth 
with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good, and 
healing all that were oppressed of the devil ; for God was with him ; ' 
ver. 43, ' To him gave all the prophets witness, that, through his name, 
whosoever believeth in him should receive remission of sins.' He is 
the person. If you saw none of his miracles, the .whole church in all 
ages and places will come as a witness and deposit for it, and we 
have the scriptures of the old testament, and many evident principles 
of natural light, that have a fair correspondence with this mystery. 
Well, then, God, the supreme judge, hath taken up the controversy 
between him and us, and appointed Jesus Christ to be the person. 
His institution is instead of all reasons. 

Again, none else is able to satisfy God and pacify conscience. 

[1.] Not to satisfy God. Sin being committed against an infinite 
majesty, the suffering by which he is expiated must be of an infinite 
value ; and therefore it is impossible that any or all the angels, though 
holy and just, should propitiate God for our sins. As angels, they were 
not capable of punishment ; and though they should have assumed 
human nature, yet being but finite creatures, the worth of their 
sufferings would not be infinite. Therefore Christ himself, being God 
and man, was capable to suffer, and give a value to his sufferings ; and 
therefore we are said to be redeemed by the blood of God, Acts xx. 28, 
that is, by the blood of that person that was God. God would lose no 
glory by the fall ; therefore, whoever was the redeemer, he was to 
restore what Adam lost : Ps. Ixix. 4, ' I restored that which I took not 
away.' Adam was the robber, but Christ was to make amends. By 
the fall God's authority was violated, his honour despised. His 
authority was violated in the creature's transgression ; his command 
was just, our obedience reasonable. Now it was meet that God 
ishould keep up the authority of his law. His majesty despised in the 
threatenings ; his holiness, as if he did not hate sin ; his justice and 
truth, as if he would not punish it ; his power, it was an act of pre 
sumption, and a contest with God. Now in all these respects it was 
necessary God should vindicate his glory, and be no loser, which is 
fully done by Christ. 

[2.] Not pacify conscience. Conscience is not pacified till God be 
satisfied. God is infinitely merciful, but infinitely just. We cannot 
expect any more pity from his mercy than fear from his justice; yea, 
guilty nature is more presagious of evil than of good, as appeareth 
when we are sensible and serious. Every conscience must have content 
and satisfaction ; therefore till we can have such a righteousness as 
will take off the guilt of former sins, and make us bold to stand before 
God, which only we can have in Christ, guilty nature can never be 
quiet, nor till God be pacified. Conscience is God's deputy ; till he 
be satisfied, the creatures are at a loss. The great inquiry of nature 

276 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. V. 

is, 'Wherewith will he be pleased ?' Micah vi. 6, 7, ' Wherewith shall 
I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the most high God ? 
shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year 
old ? will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten 
thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I give rny first-born for my trans 
gression, and the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? ' Barbarous 
cruelties and costly offerings. Again, lost nature knoweth something 
of a sacrifice, and something of price and value. Now judge you 
whether God be satisfied or no. First, A priori. He hath the 
sacrifice of his own appointing: 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?' The sacrifices of the law could do that for which they 
were appointed, which was typical expiation and external sanctification ; 
they did qualify for worship-work, so far as appointed. And the same 
apostle saith, Heb. ix. 9, ' Which was a figure for the time then pre 
sent, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not 
make him that did the service perfect, as appertaining to the consci 
ence.' There was no real worth in themselves. The conscience could 
not have found any ground of satisfaction how God's justice could be 
satisfied by such mean things as the blood of bulls and goats. There 
must be something penal, something of value. But in this sacrifice, 
besides God's institution, there is a real intrinsic worth, which is the 
dignity of the person and the innocency of the person ; but he could 
not offer it for himself, therefore it must be intended for some other. 
Secondly, A posteriori. Consider how God hath accepted Christ. 
Christ is risen, our surety let out of prison. The Lord sent an angel 
to remove the stone, not to supply any lack of power in Christ, but as 
a judge, when the law is satisfied, sends an officer to open the prison 
doors. As the apostles, Acts xvi. 38, 39, 'And the Serjeants told these 
words unto the magistrates ; and they feared, when they heard that 
they were Romans; and they came and besought them, and brought 
them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.' ' The God of 
peace brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ,' Heb. xiii.- 
20. Though Christ had power to rise, yet not authority till the angel 
rolled away the stone: he did not break prison, but was brought out ; 
then he arose. If our surety had perished in prison, we could have 
no assurance ; and if he had continued under death, the world could 
have no discharge. But he rose again for our justification, Kom. iv. 
25. And not only so ; Christ is not only taken out of prison, but 
carried up to God in glory and honour : received into heaven, 1 Tim. 
iii. 16 ; not avefirj, ascended, but ave\^6ri, received. God hath 
rewarded him ; therefore Christ hath perfectly done his work. God 
hath not only taken him out of the grave, but taken him up to glory. 
Certainly God is well pleased, since lie hath not only given him a dis 
charge, but a reward. He did undertake to carry it through ; as Reuben 
said. Gen. xliii. 9, 'I will be surety for him ; of my hand shalt thou 
require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, 
let me bear the blame for ever.' 

VJSR. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. 277 

[3.] None so willing to relieve a poor afflicted creature as Christ : Heb. 
ii. 17, ' Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto 
his brethren, that he might be a merciful and a faithful high priest in 
things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the 
people.' He was once at liberty, but when he had undertaken he was 
bound. He was merciful to undertake, and faithful to accomplish it. 
He was God, equal in glory with the Father ; yet merciful to us, and 
faithful to God: merciful in dying, faithful in interceding, and mind 
ful of us at every turn ; and so every way qualified to do our souls 

III. The necessity of faith, that it may be applied to us. 

1. There must be an application. Many think there is a Jesus Christ, 
we need take no further care, he did die for sinners, and therefore we 
shall do well enough. No ; there must be some way how we may 
come to receive benefit ; besides the meritorious cause, there must be 
an effectual application, for we read of blood shed and blood sprinkled, 
of making the atonement and receiving the atonement, Rom. v. 11. 
It is for Christ's sake, for his merit and worthiness, that we are accepted. 
But then there is a way appointed how we shall be accepted ; therefore 
let us not presume of a propitiation without application. The cup of 
salvation yieldeth no benefit to us except we drink of it. Therefore 
since such a great part of the world miscarry, let us see that we do 
not defraud ourselves of so great a benefit. 

2. That God must state the way of application as well as the way 
of redemption. There is the same reason for the one as for the other ; 
that God should propose the terms upon which Christ should be made 
ours ; for all is a work of his free grace and counsel. Well, then, we 
must be careful to find out God's appointment, and the way of salva 
tion which he hath declared : Bom. iii. 25, ' Whom God hath set forth 
to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.' Not, ' through his 
blood ; ' but ' through faith in his blood.' 

3. God hath declared this way to be faith : Acts x. 43, 'That through 
his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.' 
First, The scripture is very express in limiting the promises of pardon 
to believers : John iii. 16, ' For God so loved the world, that he gave 
his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
perish, but have everlasting life.' Secondly, In declaring all those to 
be under the curse that believe not : John iii. 36, ' He that believeth 
on the Sou hath everlasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son 
shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.' Thirdly, In 
placing faith, correlatively taken, in the room which works had in the 
first covenant. Thence so often have we these sayings, ' It is of faith, 
not of works,' which we meet with everywhere ; so that there needeth 
no more ado. Faith is then required, not in the popish sense, as if 
faith were the beginning of that righteousness for which sins are 
forgiven ; neither is faith that which God accepteth instead of right 
eousness, but the means to receive it as our legal qualification. 

4. This faith must be of a right constitution ; namely, such a 
believing in Christ as receiveth him to all the ends and purposes that 
God hath appointed him ; that he may be Lord and Christ, Prince and 
Saviour : John i. 12, ' But as many as received him, to them gave he 

278 SISHMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SEB. V. 

power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his 
name ; ' James ii. 14, ' What doth it profit, my brethren, though he hath 
faith, and have not works? can faith save him?' Christ must be 
received so as he may dwell and rule in our hearts, and quicken us in 
the way of holiness to everlasting glory. When a sinner doth thus take 
Christ to himself, and give up himself to Christ, the work is ended : 
Acts xxvi. 18, ' To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to 
light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive 
forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified 
by faith that is in me.' This is the faith that is required on our part, 
as on God's part there is required the intervention of Christ's merits ; 
this is the faith that every one should strive to get, and see if we have 
it, yea or no. 

Use 1. To show us what course to take for peace and pardon. When 
we lie under a sense of guilt and anguish for sin, plead Christ's satis 
faction to God's justice. Lord Jesus Christ, thou didst take these 
my sinful debts upon thyself, and undertake to satisfy for them ; and I 
know that he hath made a full satisfaction ; I renounce all other hope 
of pardon and rest for my soul but upon his precious blood. If he 
be not able to save, I am content to perish : ' But he is able to save to 
the uttermost all that come unto God by him.' When you do this in a 
penitent broken-hearted manner, God will not refuse. As Adonijah 
took hold of the horns of the altar, 1 Kings i. 51, and said, ' If I 
perish, here will I perish ; ' so are we to plead that satisfaction before 
the tribunal of God. We are allowed to ask blessings in his name, 
and use his merit in pleading with God : John xvi. 23, ' Whatsoever 
ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.' When you 
have a feeling of all your wants, and seriously need the pardon of sins, 
you will get a good answer. This is to use Christ as our propitiation : 
Heb. x. 14, ' For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that 
are sanctified.' There needeth no more to be done by way of expiation. 

2. When you are confessing your sins, depend upon him as your 
advocate, as one that died for your sins, and is ready to appear before 
God, to plead for you, and put all your debts upon his score. Let us 
be sure to arraign and accuse ourselves : we must confess our sins, 1 
John i. 9, and then Christ will plead for the pardon of them. If we 
think to be our own advocates, and do deny, extenuate, or excuse sin, 
it will never succeed well with us ; but if Christ be our advocate, how 
can we miscarry ? There will not want accusers to lay sin to our 
charge : ' But we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the 

It is not a servant or a friend, but the dearly beloved of his soul 
that pleadeth for us , one that pleadeth not by way of entreaty, but 
merit : he is Jesus Christ the righteous. Now ' the prayer of a right 
eous man availeth much,' James v. 16, but much more the prayer of 
a righteous Saviour ; he that hath fully suffered for thy sins, that can 
bring blood to the mercy-seat, he prayeth for no more than he hath 
paid for. Oh, who shall condemn ? Bom. viii. 33, 34, ' Who shall 
lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth : 
who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that 
is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 279 

intercession for us.' Here is comfort enough, if we were in a condition 
to beg it, nay, if we were in a condition to need it ; for this comfort is 
for poor burdened souls. 

The next clause in this verse is remission of sins ; but this being 
handled in the first and second sermons of the twenty that were 
printed in quarto, and in the Lord's Prayer, and on 1 John ii. 11 in 
this volume, 1 it is omitted here. 


Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the 
remission of sins. — ACTS ii. 38. 

IN Peter's answer we have two things — (1.) His advice ; (2.) The 

In his advice we have two things — (1.) Repent every one of you ; (2.) 
' Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the 
remission of sins.' 

The second part of the advice I shall now insist upon : ' Be baptized 
every one of you.' And here I shall speak to three questions. 

Quest. 1. Why is baptism mentioned rather than faith, and other 
things more internal and necessary to salvation ? 

Ans. 1. Faith is implied : Mark xvi. 16, ' He that believeth and 
is baptized shall be saved.' For baptism is an open and real profession 
of faith in Christ crucified ; so that it must be explained thus : Be 
baptized, believing on the name of the Lord Jesus, for the remission of 
sins. Surely he would not have them dissemble, and seek remission of 
sins without faith in Christ, by the bare submission to the outward rite 
of baptism. 

2. Baptism is mentioned, because it was the visible rite of receiving 
proselytes to Christ. Now it imported them who were convinced as 
persecutors to turn professors, if they would have ease for their con 
sciences ; and not only to believe with the heart, but to make their 
profession manifest and open by submitting to this way : Rom. x. 10, 
' For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the 
mouth confession is made to salvation.' 

Quest. 2. Why in the name of Christ only ? The Father and the 
Holy Ghost are not mentioned, according to the precept, Mat. xxviii. 
19, 'Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' 

Ans. He speaketh not of the form of baptism, but the use and end 
thereof. Now the great use of baptism is, that we may have benefit by 
the mystery of redemption by Christ ; therefore we are said to be 
baptized into Christ, Rom. vi. 3, and Gal. iii. 27, ' For as many of 
you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' He is the 
head of the church, and by baptism we are planted into the mystical 

1 All contained in prior volume* of this Edition. — ED. 

280 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SER. VI. 

Quest. 3. Doth not this put too great an honour and necessity upon 
baptism to entitle remission of sins to this act, as it' every one that 
were baptized had his sins forgiven him ? 

Ans. When we submit to the gospel covenant, we believe that God 
for Christ's sake will forgive us our sins : in testimony of this faith 
we receive baptism, which, supposing that we do not ponere obicem, 
lay any block in the way, that we repent and believe the gospel, doth 
seal and deliver a pardon to us ; it doth seal, that is, confirm us in the 
expectation of it, and deliver it to us. It is our legal investiture ; 
it is the rite by which we are first solemnly put in possession of it. 
Supposing that we have a promise before, as all that repent and 
believe have, it doth seal and deliver. But because most are baptized 
in infancy, it doth excite and oblige us to take the way whereby we 
may obtain pardon according to the new covenant ; doing what is 
necessary, it assures and confirms us that he will be as good as his 

Doct. That baptism hath an especial use and respect unto this 
benefit of obtaining remission of sins in the name of Christ. 

To evidence this unto you, I must take it for granted for the 
present that baptism belongeth to the gospel or the new covenant ; 
or, if you will have it confirmed, that place doth it fully which was 
mentioned before : Mark xvi. 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.' Whence it followeth clearly and 
undeniably that baptism belongeth to the gospel or new covenant. 
Supposing this, let me take my rise a little higher. 

1. That God hath ever delighted to deal with his creatures in the 
way of a covenant, that we might know what to expect from him, and 
we might look upon ourselves under the firmer bonds of obedience to 
his blessed majesty ; for in a covenant, which is the most solemn 
transaction between man and man, both parties are engaged ; God to 
us, and we to God. It is not meet that one party should be bound 
and the other be free ; therefore both are bound to each other, God to 
bless, and we to obey. Indeed, in the first covenant the debitum pcence, 
the debt of punishment, is only mentioned, because that only took 
place : Gen. ii. 17, 'In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely 
die.' But the other part is implied, Do and live, sin and die. 

2. Because the first covenant was broken on our pnrt, God was 
pleased to enter into a second, wherein he would manifest the glory of 
his redeeming grace and pardoning mercy to fallen man. This was 
brought about in Christ : 2 Cor. v. 19, ' God was in Christ reconciling 
the world to himself.' And therefore this second covenant was called 
a covenant of peace, as being made with us after the breach, or with 
man obnoxious to the wrath of God : Isa. liv. 10, ' The covenant of 
my peace shall not be removed, saith the Lord.' Man needeth such a 
covenant, and Christ offereth it to us. 

3. In this covenant of peace, both the privileges and duties are 
suited to the state in which man was when God invited him into 
covenant with himself. Man was fallen from his duty, and obnoxious 
to the wrath and displeasure of God, and therefore the new covenant 
is a doctrine of repentance and remission of sins. What is ' preach 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 281 

the gospel to every creature/ in Mark xvi. 15, is in Luke xxiv. 47, 
' That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his 
name among all nations.' That is the gospel, or the new remedial 
law of our Lord Jesus ; repentance to heal us and set us in joint 
again as to our duty, and remission of sins to recover us into God's 
favour ; and both these benefits we have by the Redeemer : Acts v. 31 , 
' Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a 
saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.' He giveth 
the one simply, and both gives and requires the other ; so that by the 
new covenant remission of sins is conveyed to all true penitents. 

4. The more distinctly to understand the nature of this covenant, 
we must consider both the duties and privileges thereof ; for in every 
covenant there is ratio dati et accepti, there is something promised 
and given, and something required ; and usually the promise con- 
sisteth of somewhat which the party is willing of, and the duty or 
condition required is that to which he is more backward, and loath 
to submit unto. So in the covenant of grace ; in the promise God 
respecteth man's want ; in the duty, his own honour. Every man 
would have pardon, and be saved from hell, but God will have sub 
jection : every corrupt nature is not against desires of happiness; these 
God maketh use of to gain us to holiness. All men naturally greedily 
catch at felicity, and would have impunity, peace, comfort, glory, but 
are unwilling to deny the flesh, and are unwilling to renounce the 
credit, profit, or pleasure of sin, or to grow dead to the world and 
worldly things. Now God promiseth what we desire on condition 
that we will submit to those things we are against. As we sweeten 
bitter pills to children that they may the better swallow them ; they 
love the sugar, though they loathe the aloes ; so doth God invite us to 
our duty by our interest. Therefore whoever would enter into the 
gospel state must resolve to take the blessings and benefits offered for 
his happiness, and the duties required for his work. Indeed, accepting 
the benefits is a part of the condition, because we treat with an 
invisible God about a happiness that lieth in another world ; but it is 
but part, for there are terms : Heb. x. 22, ' Let us draw near with a 
true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from 
an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.' 

5. The privileges are two — pardon and life. These are the great 
blessings offered in the new covenant ; you have both together, Acts 
xxvi. 18, ' To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power 
of Satan unto God ; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an 
inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.' 
These two benefits are most necessary, the one to allay the fears of the 
guilty creature, the other to gratify desires of happiness, which are 
natural to us ; the one to remedy the misery incurred by the sin and 
fall of man, the other to establish our true and proper felicity in the 
everlasting enjoyment of God ; the one to ease our consciences, and to 
support us against troubles of mind, the other to comfort us against 
all the outward troubles and afflictions which sin hath introduced into 
this world. In short, the one to free us from deserved punishment, 
the other to assure us of undeserved blessings ; for one importeth 
deliverance from eternal death, the other entrance into everlasting life. 

282 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [$ER. VI. 

6. The duties thereof do either concern our first entrance into the 
Christian state, or our progress therein. Our Lord representeth it 
under the notions of the 'gate' and ' way ;' Mat. vii. 14, ' Strait is the 
gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life/ Other scriptures 
deliver it under the notions of making covenant and keeping covenant 
with God. Making covenant : Ps. 1. 5, ' Gather my saints together 
unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.' 
Keeping covenant : Ps. xxv. 10, 'All the paths of the Lord are mercy 
and truth to such as keep his covenant ; ' Ps. ciii. 18, ' To such as 
keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to 
do them.' The covenant must not only be made, but kept. 

[1.] As to entering into covenant with God, there is required true 
repentance and faith : Mark i. 15, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' 
Repentance respects God as our end, faith respects Christ as the way 
to the Father : Acts xx. 21, ' Repentance towards God, and faith 
toward our Lord Jesus Christ.' God is our end: 1 Peter iii. 18, 
' Christ also hath once suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might 
bring us to God.' And Christ is our way : John xiv. 6, ' I am the 
way, the truth, and the life : no man cometh to the Father but by 
me.' And Christianity is a coming to God by Christ, Heb. vii. 25. 
Now in our first entrance faith and repentance are both mixed, and it 
is hard to sever them, and to show what belongeth to the one and 
what to the other ; at least it would perplex the discourse. Both 
together imply that a man be turned from a life of sin to God by faith 
in Christ, or a renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, and a 
devoting and dedicating ourselves to God as our God. 

(1.) A renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh ; for these are 
the three great enemies of God and our salvation. When God is laid 
aside, self interposeth as the next heir. That which we count self is 
the flesh : Eph. ii. 2, 3, ' Wherein in time past ye walked, according 
to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of 
the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience ; 
among whom also we had our conversation in times past in the lusts 
of our 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 pervert and divert us, that we should 
not look after the one thing necessary ; the flesh is the corrupt 
inclination in us, which entertaineth and closeth with these tempta 
tions, to the neglect of God and the wrong of our own souls. The 
flesh is importunate to be pleased, and is the proper internal cause 
of all our mischief : James i. 14, ' But every man is tempted when he 
is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.' These must be renounced 
before you can return to God : Josh. xxiv. 23, ' Now therefore put 
away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline 
your heart to the Lord. God of Israel.' We must be turned from 
Satan to God ; we must be delivered from the present evil world ; we 
must abstain from fleshly lusts ; for God will have no copartners and 
competitors in our hearts. 

(2.) A devoting, consecrating, and giving up ourselves to God, 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS ir. 37 38. 283 

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as our God : 2 Cor. viii. 5, ' But first 
gave themselves to the Lord ; ' Rom. vi. 13,.' But yield yourselves unto 
God.' As our owner by creation : Ps. c. 3, ' The Lord is God ; it is 
he that hath made us, and not we ourselves ; we are his people and the 
sheep of his pasture.' As his by redemption : 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, ' And 
ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price ; therefore 
glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.' As 
your sovereign Lord : Jer. xxiv. 7, ' I will give them an heart to know 
me that I am the Lord ; and they shall be my people, and I will be 
their God : for they shall return unto me with their whole heart ; ' 
Isa. xxvi. 13, '0 Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had 
dominion over us.' As the fountain of our life and blessedness : Ps. 
xxxi. 14, ' But I trusted in thee, God ; I said, Thou art my God ; ' 
Lam. iii. 24, ' The Lord is my portion, saith my soul ; therefore I will 
hope in him ; ' Ps. cxix. 5, ' Thou art my portion, Lord ; I have 
said, I will keep thy words.' 

[2.] As to our progress, continuance, and perseverance ; for this 
is not the work of a day, but of our whole lives. This is our walking 
in the narrow way, and evidenceth our sincerity in making covenant, 
and our pursuit showeth it is a true consent. As to this progress and 
perseverance, three things are required — 

(1.) As to the enemies of God and our souls, there must be a for 
saking as well as a renouncing. The devil must be forsaken, we must 
be no more of his party and confederacy ; we must resist, stand out 
against all 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, steadfast in the 
faith.' The world must be overcome : 1 John v. 45, ' For 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 Jesus is the Son of God ? * The flesh 
must be subdued and crucified : Gal. v. 24, ' They that are Christ's 
have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts ; ' that we be no 
more governed by the desires of it. If we be sometimes foiled, we 
must not go back again, but the drift of our lives must be for God and 

(2.) As to God, to whom we have devoted ourselves, we must love, 
and please, and serve him all our days : Luke i. 75, ' In holiness and 
righteousness before him all the days of our life.' We must make it 
our work to love him, and our happiness to be beloved of him. and 
carefully apply ourselves to seek his favour, and cherish a fresh sense 
of it upon our hearts, and continue with all patience in well-doing, 
Rom. ii. 7, till you come to the complete sight and love of him : 1 
John iii. 2, ' We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.' 

(3.) You must always live in the hope of the coming of Christ and 
everlasting glory : Titus ii. 13, ' Looking for that blessed hope, and the 
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ ; ' 
Jude 21, ' Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal 
life.' As we die at first, thankfully 1 accept of our recovery by Christ, 
and at first consent to renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and 
resolve to follow God's counsel and direction, we must still persevere in 

> Qu. ' did at first thankfully ' ?— ED, 

284 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. VI. 

this mind, and use his appointed means in order to our final happiness. 
The sum then of our Christianity is this, that we should by true repent 
ance and faith forsake the flesh, world, and devil, and give up ourselves 
to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that he may take us as his reconciled 
children, and adopt us into his family, and for Christ's sake pardon all 
our sins, and by his Spirit give us grace to persevere in these resolutions, 
till our glory and final happiness come in hand. 

7. This covenant, consisting of such duties and privileges, God hath 
confirmed by certain visible ordinances, commonly called sacraments. 
These are baptism and the Lord's supper ; both which, but in a differ 
ent manner, respect the whole tenor of the covenant ; for as the covenant 
bindeth mutually on God's part and ours, so these duties have a mutual 
aspect or respect to what God doth and what we must do. On God's 
part they are a sign and seal ; on our part they are a badge and a bond. 

[1.] On God's part they are sealing signs. As circumcision is called 
a ' sign and seal of the righteousness which is by faith/ Rom. iv. 11 ; 
that is, of the grace offered to us in Christ ; so is baptism, which came 
in the room of circumcision : Col. ii. 11, 12, ' In whom also ye are 
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off 
the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ ; buried 
with him in baptism.' Surely the gospel ordinances sign as much 
grace as the ordinances of the Jews or legal covenant ; as circumcision 
was a sign and seal of the righteousness which is by faith, or a pledge 
of God's good-will in Christ, so is baptism, and so is the Lord's supper, 
to signify they are signs, and to confirm they are seals, to represent 
the grace, and confirm the grant of pardon and life by the use of these 
duties. As, for instance, baptism signifies pardon and life, so doth 
the Lord's supper : Mat. xxvi. 28, 29, ' For this is my blood of the 
new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins. I will 
not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I 
drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.' That for our growth 
and nourishment, this for our initiation. Baptism is under our con 
sideration at present. That this hath respect to remission of sins, the 
text is clear for it ; and so are many other scriptures. It was Ananias' 
advice to Paul, Acts xxii. 16, 'Arise and be baptized, and wash 
away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' His sins were 
solemnly washed away by baptism : Eph. v. 26, ' That he might 
sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word.' 
This washing represents the washing away of the guilt and filth of sin. 
And it signifieth also our resurrection to a blessed arid eternal life : 
1 Peter iii. 21, 'Even baptism doth now save us; not the putting away 
of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards 
God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.' Well, then, it is a sealing 
sign : 2 Kings xx. 8, ' What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal 
me ? ' It is a witness between us and God : Gen. xxxi. 48, ' This 
heap is a witness between me and thee this day.' So baptism is a 
witness that God will pardon our sins, and upon pardon give us eternal 

[2.] On our part they are a badge and a bond to oblige us to the 
duties of the covenant ; a badge of the profession, and a bond to engage 
us to the duties which that profession calleth for. It is a debt : Gal. v. 

SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 33. 285 

3, ' For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a 
debtor to the whole law.' He bindeth himself to the observances of 
Moses' law ; so a Christian to the law of Christ. Therefore the apostle 
saith, Rom. viii. 12, ' We are not debtors to the flesh.' And it is an 
answer towards God, 1 Peter iii. 21, or an undertaking faithfully to per 
form the conditions required of us. It is a vow or obligation taken upon 
ourselves : Horn. vi. 11, ' Likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead 
indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' 
It bindeth us chiefly to the duties that belong to our entrance ; as the 
Lord's supper doth more directly to the duties which belong to our 
progress. It bindeth us- to a true belief of the gospel, or an accept 
ance of Christ, and a consent to the covenant of grace ; to renounce 
the devil, the world, and the flesh ; and therefore the baptismal cove 
nant, by which we are initiated into the Christian religion, is expressed 
by being ' baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' 
Mat. xxviii. 19, which implieth a dedication or giving up ourselves to 
them in their distinct personal relations. To the Father, that we may 
return to him and obey him as our rightful Lord, that we may love 
him and depend upon him as our all-sufficient happiness, and be 
happy in his love as his dear children, and may prefer his honour 
before all sensual pleasures in the world. We are baptized in the 
name of Christ, that we believe him and accept him as our Redeemer 
and Saviour, expecting to be saved by his merits, righteousness, and 
intercession, from the wrath of God, and the guilt of sin and eternal 
death. And we are baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost as our 
guide, sanctifier, and comforter, that he may free us from sin, and 
change us into the image and likeness of Christ, and lead us into all 
truth and goodness, and fit and frame us for all holiness and godliness 
of conversation, and comfort us with the sense of our present interest 
in God's love, and the hopes of future glory. 

8. These visible confirming ordinances give us great advantages 
above the word and bare proposal of the covenant there, as these seal 
ing signs are an expression of God's earnest and sincere respect to our 
salvation. God hath opened his mind in the word concerning his 
love and good-will to sinners in Christ, and he hath also added his 
seal, that the charter of his grace might be more valid and authentic. 

[1.] It argueth the goodness and communicativeness of God to give 
notice in his word, but his solicitousness and anxious care of our good, 
to give us visible assurance, as sacraments do, as being willing over 
and above to satisfy the heirs of promise, Heb. vi. 17. When any one 
is more than ordinarily cautious to make all sure, it is a sign his heart 
is upon the thing. It is a great condescension that God would dispose 
his grace into a covenant form ; but it is a further condescension that 
he would add seals, which needed not on God's part, yet he added 
them to give us the more strong consolation. Nudum pactum, a 
naked promise is not so valid and authentic as when articles of agree 
ment are put into a formal instrument and deed of law, and that 
signed and sealed, and interchangeably delivered ; this breedeth more 
confidence and security on both sides. God's word certifieth us of his 
good-will ; but when he is pleased to make a formal indenture of it, 
and to sign it and seal it, it doth breed more assurance in our. minds 

286 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 33. [SER. VI. 

that his promises are made with a real intent to perform them ; and 
it bindeth us the more firmly to God when, besides our naked promise, 
there is a kind of vow and oath on our part solemnly entered into by 

[2.] There is this advantage in the sacraments above the word, that 
they are a closer application. The word speaketh to all promiscuously, 
as inviting ; the sacrament to every one in particular, as obliging. 
By the word none are excluded from the grace offered to them upon 
God's terms: ' Go, preach the gospel to every creature;' but by the 
sacraments every one is expressly admonished of his duty. The object 
revealed in the word is like the brazen serpent, which without differ 
ence was exposed to the eyes of all, that whosoever looked upon it 
might be healed ; but the same object offered in the sacraments is like 
the blood sprinkled on the door-posts, that every man might be assured 
that his family would be in safety. Now the reason of this difference 
is because things propounded in the word are like a treaty between 
God and us. It is an offer and a debating of matters till the parties 
do agree ; but sacraments are not of use till both sides have agreed 
upon the conditions of the covenant, in adults at least. The word 
conduceth to the making of the covenant, the sacraments suppose it 
made ; therefore the word universally propoundeth that which in the 
seals is particularly applied. Now those things do not affect us so 
much which are spoken indifferently to all as those that are particu 
larly applied to ourselves. These stir us up to a more accurate care and 
endeavour to fulfil the duty incumbent upon us. The conditions are 
propounded in the word, Repent and believe, and I will pardon and give 
eternal life ; but the sacraments suppose an actual consent, that thou hast 
done or undertaken to do it. And then God cometh and saith, Take 
this as an undoubted pledge that thou shalt have what I have promised, 
which doth more increase our hopes, and persuade us to our duty. 

[3.] By these sealing signs we are solemnly invested into a right to 
the things promised, put in possession ; as when we are put in posses 
sion of a bargain by formalities of law ; so, ' This is my body.' It is 
our solemn investiture. A believer receiveth Christ in the word : John 
i. 12, ' To as many as received him.' And is he not received in the 
Lord's supper? his right is solemnly owned and confirmed in the way 
which God hath appointed. As soon as a man consents to a bargain, 
be hath an interest in the thing bargained for ; but that right is made 
more explicit when it is delivered to him by some formality of law ; 
as an house by a key, or a field by a turf or twig, when put in posses 
sion of what he hath bargained for. Every penitent believing sinner 
hath a right to Christ and pardon, but his solemn enfeoffment is by the 
sacraments : ' Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of 
Christ for the remission of sins ; ' ' Arise and be baptized for the wash 
ing away of thy sins,' Acts xxii. 16. God gave Abraham the land of 
promise by word of mouth, Gen. xiii. ; but he biddeth him go through 
the land, and build an altar, and offer sacrifice there ; then he was 
actually invested. God gave Israel a grant of Canaan, but the clusters 
of Eshcol were as it were the livery and seisin of it. Though the gift 
be sufficiently made over by the promise, yet it is further rectified, and 
more solemnly conveyed and delivered, by the sacraments. 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, ss. 287 

[4.] This is one advantage more, that the mysteries of godliness are 
laid before our eyes in some visible rites, and so have a greater force 
to excite the mind to serious consideration. When God will conde 
scend to give us helps against our infirmities, it must needs be by the 
senses, by which all knowledge coineth into the soul. Now feeling, 
smelling, tasting, seemeth not so fit for this, as being more gross, and 
conducing to the welfare of the body ; but sight and hearing convey 
objects to the understanding, and therefore are called the senses of dis 
cipline and learning. Now the covenant is made by words which strike 
the ear, but the seals by visible things before our eyes: Gal. iii. 1, 
' Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified 
among you.' 

Use 1. Is caution to us, that we be not slight in the use of baptism 
and the Lord's supper, for they imply a solemn covenanting with God, 
that we may obtain remission of sins and eternal life, if we accept the 
covenant for ourselves or others. For ourselves in the Lord's supper, 
for others in offering our children to baptism. We must come ' with 
a true heart, in full assurance of faith,' Heb. x. 22 ; with a true heart, 
purposing the duties ; in full assurance of faith, depending upon the 
promises of Christ for the privileges thereof. 

As to children, we must resolve to instruct them in the duties of the 
covenant, repentance, faith, and new obedience : Eph. vi. 4, ' And ye 
fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them np in the 
nurture and admonition of the Lord/ This is to make way for the 
blessing, and to remove the obstructions : Gen. xviii. 19, ' For I know 
him, that he will command his children and his household after him, 
and they shall keep the way of the Lord, and do justice and judgment, 
that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken 
of him.' 

As to the privileges, to admire the grace of them : Gen. xvii. 3, 
'Abraham fell on his face when God talked with him;' and David, 
2 Sam. vii. 19, ' And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, Lord 
God ; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great 
while to come : and is this the manner of man, Lord God ? ' Wait 
ing for the accomplishment of them in God's way, as considering how 
loath God is to let go his covenant children : Acts iii. 25, 26, ' Ye are 
the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made 
with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the 
kindreds of the earth be blessed : unto you first, God, having raised up 
his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you in turning every one of you from 
his iniquities.' 

Use 2. Is to put us upon self-reflection. We are all baptized in the 
name of Christ, but what are we the better ? have we the more confi 
dence of pardon of our sins for his sake? Voluterranus reports of Lucian, 
that scoffing atheist, that when he revolted from the profession of 
Christianity, he scoffed at his baptism, saying, Se nildl ex eo conse- 
cutum, quam quod nomen ipsi esset cowuptum, ex Lucio Lucianum 
factum — That he got nothing by his baptism but a syllable to his 
name. What do the most get but a name ? It should not be so with 
you ; you should improve your baptism. 

1. For the obtaining of this benefit by a more serious work of 

288 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. VII. 

faith and repentance, for the washing away of sin : 1 Cor. vi. 11, ' And 
such were some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye 
are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our 

2. For the further sense, continuance, and increase of it, even to the 
rejoicing of faith : Heb. vi. 18, ' That we may have strong consola 
tion ; ' Acts viii. 39, ' And when they were come up out of the water, 
the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him 
no more ; and he went on his way rejoicing.' Hath God applied to 
me his covenant, taken me into his family, planted me into the mysti 
cal body of Christ ; and shall not we be glad, and rejoice in his sal 
vation ? 

3. For comfort in all our afflictions, perplexities, doubts, and fears. 
Luther telleth us that all his answer to the devil tempting him to 
despair was, Ecce ego baptizatus sum, et credo in Christum — I am 
baptized into the belief of the Christian faith. We must expect to be 
tempted. The devil tempted Christ after his baptism to question his 
filiation : Mat. iv. 6, ' If thou be the Son of God/ &c. So in outward 
troubles, Dionysia comforted Majoricus her son, an African martyr, 
with this, Memento fili, te in nomine Patris, &c. — Remember, son, that 
thou wast baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 
So in temptations to sin : Luther speaketh of a holy virgin, who, 
when tempted to sin, replied, Baptizata sum — I am baptized. A 
Christian hath but this one answer, I am dedicated to God to obtain 
pardon and life. 

Use 3. To condemn — 

1. The careless, who never look after the remission of sins so solemnly 
sealed in baptism, and those saving graces which may evidence their 
title thereunto : 1 Peter i. 3, ' Blessed be God, who hath begotten us 
to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.' 

2. The profane, that live directly contrary to their baptismal engage 
ment. To be worse than our words to men is bad enough ; but to 
forfeit our words to God, to list ourselves into his service, and then to 
turn deserters and fight against him, is grand apostasy. To be made 
Christians by baptism, and then to live like heathens, is a sin which 
will be attended with a severe doom. 

And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. — ACTS ii. 38. 

THIS chapter giveth an account of the'pouring out of the Spirit, accord 
ing to promise, presently after Christ's ascension. As soon as he was 
warm in the mediatorial throne, he was mindful of the church, and shed 
abroad his Spirit for the gathering and increasing thereof by the gospel. 
As soon as the Spirit was poured out, the apostles were enabled to speak 
in various languages, to the astonishment and wonder of the hearers. 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 289 

This was for the glory of God, and the confirmation and authoris 
ing them as messengers. At the sight of this miracle, some wonder, 
others mock, as if this speaking with divers tongues had been a confused 
jabbering that proceeded from the fumes of wine rather than the operation 
of the Holy Ghost. To satisfy both, Peter declareth the effect and intent 
of the miracle, proving Jesus Christ, whom they had slain, to be Lord 
and Christ. When they heard this, many of the most obstinate among 
them were pricked in their hearts, and relented. A happy sermon it 
was that Peter preached ; for it brought in thousands of souls to Christ ; 
the first handsel of the power of the Spirit and success of the gospel. 
It is good to observe what course they took for ease and relief after 
this piercing and brokenness of heart : ' They said to Peter and to the 
rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ? ' This is 
the usual question of men under sound and pressing convictions. To 
their serious question Peter rnaketh a seasonable answer, of which the 
text is a part. It is the part of a good physician not only to discover 
the disease, but also to prescribe a remedy ; especially should spiritual 
physicians be tender of broken-hearted sinners, willing and ready t6 
give them counsel. In Peter's direction and counsel to them observe — 

1. What he persuadeth them to do. 

2. By what motive and argument. We have seen already what 
they must do. Now what they shall receive : ' Arid ye shall receive 
the gift of the Holy Ghost.' There are twofold gifts of the Spirit — 
common or saving. The common were either miraculous or ordinary. 
The miraculous and extraordinary were those gifts of tongues, and pro 
phecy, and healing, which, in the primitive times, were poured out upon 
the church. The common are such gifts as are still vouchsafed. 

Now the question is, which of those gifts are intended in the pro 
mise, the extraordinary gifts, which were so rife in those times, or the 
gifts of the Spirit, which are necessary to salvation. 

I answer — I take the promise indefinitely, as it is propounded, and 
so exclude neither the one nor the other. 

First, The extraordinary gifts are not wholly to be excluded, partly 
because these were the things which they now saw and admired in the 
apostles. Now saith Peter, Kepent, and believe in Christ, and ye shall 
be made partakers of these gifts which ye so admire in us. And partly 
because the promise is to be interpreted by the effect. Those gifts 
were given to many upon their baptism : Actsiv. 30, 31, ' By stretching 
forth thine hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by 
the name of the holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the 
place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were 
all filled with the Holy Ghost ; ' Acts x. 44, 45, ' While Peter yet spake 
these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word ; and 
they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as 
came with Peter, because that on the gentiles also was poured out the 
gift of the Holy Ghost.' And partly because these gifts are not to be 
slighted, because they conduced much to the propagating and confirm 
ing of the gospel : Heb. ii. 4, ' God also bearing them witness, both 
with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy 
Ghost, according to his own will.' They were wonderfully confirmed 
by this means in the assurance of the truth of the gospel. 



Secondly, Besides this gratia gratis data, these free gifts, there is 
gratia gratum faciens, saving graces ; these are principally intended ; 

1. Miraculous gifts would have been small comfort to them that were 
pricked in heart, and did so anxiously inquire after the way of salvation, 
to put them off with tongues, and prophecy, and gifts common to 
hypocrites : Mat. vii. 22, 23, ' Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, 
Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast 
out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works ? And 
then will I profess unto them, I know you not ; depart from me, ye 
workers of iniquity ; ' 1 Cor. xiii. 1, ' Though I speak with the tongues 
of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding 
brass or a tinkling cymbal.' The apostle, who knew better how to satisfy 
and to heal these wounded souls, promiseth such a gift of the Holy 
Ghost as is joined with remission of sins. 

2. All parts of Peter's answer, both the precept and the promise, 
must be supposed to be suited to the question asked. Now the ques- 
fion asked was, ' What shall we do to be saved ? ' or freed from the 
misery into which we have plunged ourselves ? His answer was, Re 
pent, and seek remission by baptism in the name of Christ. If you do 
so, you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which shall teach you 
all things, and make you fit to do all things that are necessary to your 
salvation ; you are weak and impotent, but you shall have power from 
the Holy Ghost. For it concerned them not only to know what they 
should do, but whence they should have strength to do what was 
required of them. 

3. In the next words the apostle speaketh of a promise, and such a 
promise as was to them and their children, and to all that are afar off, 
even as many as the Lord our God shall call. This promise was the 
promise of internal grace ; be it the promise in Joel, or the promise in 
John vii. 38, ' He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out 
of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters." And the evangelist tell- 
eth us in the words that follow, ' But this spake he of the Spirit, which 
they that believe on him should receive ; for the Holy Ghost was not 
yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.' Those rivers out 
of the belly imply something flowing out of the heart ; a spring of 
living waters there, that would send forth life and influence to all their 
actions. Well, then, this was the promise, and a promise that did not 
only concern the first age, when these miraculous and extraordinary 
gifts were dispensed, but all the ages of the church ; a promise to us 
and our children, and as many as the Lord our God should call. It 
relateth to the gracious covenant, that God will be our God, and the 
God of our seed ; even that promise spoken of Gal. iii. 14, where the 
npostle saith that Christ was made a curse for us, ' that the blessing of 
Abraham might come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we 
might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.' The blessing 
of church privileges was Abraham's blessing, even ordinances accom 
panied with the Spirit, 

4. The process of the story showeth what the gift of the Holy Ghost 
is : ver. 41, ' There were added to the church about three thousand 
souls that day,' who received the faith of Christ, joined themselves to the 

VfiR. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. 291 

apostles, conversed together in a wonderful, charitable manner, owned 
Christ boldly and comfortably in the midst of afflictions. The sum is 
this, that though all had not miraculous gifts, yet they had better, being 
enabled to believe on Christ unto righteousness, and make a bold pro 
fession of his name with their mouths, and live with his followers in a 
high pitch of charity. 

Doct. Those that repent, and believe on Jesus Christ for the remis 
sion of sins, shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

I shall handle this point in this method — 

1. Show you in what sense we are said to receive the Spirit after 
repenting and believing. 

2. The use and office of the Spirit so received. 

3. The peculiar property and right of those that repent and believe 
to this gift. 

I. In what sense we are said to receive the Spirit after repenting and 
believing ; for this doubt doth presently arise in our minds, Can we 
repent and believe before we receive the Spirit ? or can a man convert 
himself to God without the Holy Ghost? So much seemeth to be 
intimated by the apostle's method, ' Repent, and be baptized in the name 
of Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the 
Holy Ghost.' I answer — 

1. We must distinguish between the spirit of regeneration and the 
spirit of adoption and perseverance ; for though the spirit of regenera 
tion be tied to no condition, but is dispensed according to the good 
pleasure of God, yet the spirit of adoption and perseverance in holi 
ness is tied to conditions, and is promised to all those that, with true 
faith and repentance, do seek after the grace of God in Jesus Christ. 
Therefore this receiving of the Spirit is meant of the increase of his 
grace in us ; namely, that the spirit of regeneration is followed with a 
great increase of light, comfort, and virtue. First the Holy Ghost is 
given to us to unite us to Christ, and afterwards to take up his abode 
in us as in his temples, and to dwell in us for our comfort and support. 
First as a Spirit of regeneration he buildeth an house for himself, then 
as a Spirit of adoption and perseverance he cometh to dwell in the house 
so built and furnished ; as bees first make their cells, and then dwell 
in them. By repentance and faith there is a fit mansion and resting- 
place prepared for him^and then he resteth upon us: 1 Peter iv. 14, 
' The Spirit of glory and' of God resteth upon you.' He taketh up his 
residence in us : not, comes upon them, but resteth on them. These 
two things must be carefully distinguished, the Spirit of regeneration 
and the Spirit of adoption, or God's converting and confirming grace. 
The first is given us that we may believe, the second upon believing. 
The first is spoken of Titus iii. 5, 6, ' Not by works of righteousness 
which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the 
washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which 
he hath shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour. 
The Lord out of his good pleasure, not excited by any works of ours, 
but merely by his grace, shed abroad the Holy Ghost in our hearts, 
to renew and sanctify us, that we may repent and believe, and return 
;ind obey him. This his prevailing 1 grace also is spoken of Zech. xii. 
10, ' I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication.' This 
1 Qu. ' prevening ' ? — ED. 


goeth before faith and repentance, and is the cause of it, as is there 

2. There is the Spirit of adoption and perseverance, that is, after 
believing : Gal. iv. 6, ' And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth 
the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' First we 
are sons, and then we have the spirit of sons. When we are entered 
as heirs to the promises, the Spirit of God doth more manifest his 
presence in our hearts, and put forth his gracious operations there : 
Eph. i. 13, ' After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit 
of promise.' Though none can actually believe before the Spirit of 
God works in them, yet upon believing, he cometh to dwell in the heart, 
and doth manifest that he hath taken up his abode there. 

II. The use and office of the Spirit so received. It may be referred 
to two things — (1.) Sanctification ; (2.) Consolation. 

First, Sanctification. The great work of the Spirit is to be the 
fountain and principle of the new life of grace within us, or to maintain 
and keep afoot the interest of Christ in our souls : Gal. v. 25, ' If we 
live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.' He doth not only 
begin life, but continueth it, and still actuateth it, enabling us to all 
the duties thereof. There is having and walking ; thence he is com 
pared to a spring or well of living water, that is always springing forth : 
John iv. 14, ' The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well 
of water springing up unto everlasting life.' Not only a draught, but 
a well. They that have any measure of true grace have the Spirit as a 
fountain to make this grace endure in itself and in its effects. Some 
have only a draught, a vanishing taste, others a cistern or a pond, that 
may be dried up ; but they that have the Spirit have a well, and a well 
that is always fresh and springing up and flowing forth till this stream 
become an ocean, and mortality be swallowed up of life. It is a spring 
that sendeth forth streams to water the ground about it. As the heart 
of man sendeth forth life to every faculty and member, and a general 
relief to all his parts, so doth the Spirit influence all our actions. Now 
both parts of Sanctification are promoted by the Spirit, mortification 
and vivification, subduing of sin and quickening us to holiness. Mor 
tification is seen in two things — purging out the lusts, or suppressing the 
acts of sin. 

1. In purging out the lusts of it. The Spirit is said to cleanse us, 
and to purify us to the obedience of the truth : 1 Peter i. 22, ' Seeing 
ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.' 
The Spirit showeth what purity of heart is pleasing to God, and work- 
eth it in us, casting out pride, and hard-heartedness, and malice, and 
hypocrisy, and sensuality, and all those lusts which defile our hearts, 
and dispose us to walk contrary to God. It is the contrary principle 
that sets us a- warring and striving against the flesh. 

2. Preventing and suppressing the acts of sin : Rom. viii. 13, 'If ye 
through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' That 
they may not break out to God's dishonour and our discomfort. We 
cannot do it without the Spirit, nor the Spirit without us: Gal. v. 16, 
' This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of 
the flesh.' There is no possibility of getting the power of inbred cor 
ruption subdued, or the lusts of sinful flesh curbed to any saving pur- 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS ir. 37, 33. 293 

pose, without the Spirit of God ; otherwise lusts will gather strength, 
and range abroad without any effectual resistance. He warneth us of 
our danger, and checketh sin. If we would hearken to him, and observe 
his checks and restraints, sin would not transport us so often, beyond 
the bounds of duty ; a man cannot sin so freely as before. 

[1.] He doth quicken us to holiness, increasing the internal habits : 
Eph. iii. 16, ' That he would grant you, according to the riches of his 
glory, to be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man.' 
That we may be fitted for the service of God, for which before we were 
indisposed to, and prepared to every good work. There is an inward 
man, holy and gracious qualities infused into the soul, which are so 
called. These are created by the Spirit of God, and supplied and 
cherished by him that reneweth strength upon us from day to day, that 
we may go from strength to strength, and be more able for God's 
service. Though a renewed heart be yet continued, yet, as the two olive- 
trees, Zech. iv. 13, dropping into the lamps, and emptying through the 
golden pipes the golden oil out of themselves ; so doth the Spirit of 
Christ supply an increase of grace to our graces. 

[2.] Exciteth to action, and helpeth us and aideth us therein, and 
inditeth good thoughts, and stirreth up holy motions and desires, besides 
new qualities, that we may be lively and fresh in God's service : Ezek. 
xxxvi. 27, ' I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in 
my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them : ' Phil. ii. 
13, ' For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do.' 
Especially in prayer : Horn. viii. 26, ' The Spirit also helpeth our infir 
mities ; ' goeth to the other end of the staff. Clothes do not warm the 
body till the body warm them, and the body cannot warm them till the 
soul, which is the principle of life, warm it ; so there can be no fervency 
in prayer without the Spirit, no warmth in the heart. Oh, what a mercy 
is it that we have an help at hand ! the Spirit of God dwelling in our 
hearts, to relieve us in all our necessities, and quicken us in the ways 
of God, which else would soon grow wearisome and uncomfortable 
to us. 

Secondly, The Spirit serveth for consolation, to uphold our hearts 
in the midst of all trials and difficulties, that we may go on cheerfully 
in a course of holiness, waiting for the end of our faith, the salvation 
of our souls. The Holy Ghost, where he cometh, he cometh as a com 
forter, refreshing and relieving the soul, especially when we most need 
comfort, after great conflicts, and contrition, and brokenness of spirit. 
Cordials are for those that faint : ' To revive the spirit of the humble, 
and to revive the hearts of the contrite ones,' Isa. Ivii. 15. To those 
that were pricked in their hearts Peter saith, ' Ye shall receive the gift 
of the Holy Ghost.' It is welcome news to poor wounded souls that 
they shall have the Comforter. So in deep afflictions : 1 Peter iv. 14, 
' If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye ; for the 
Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.' The Spirit of God 
dwelleth in the hearts of all his own, whether they be sufferers or not ; 
but especially in the hearts of those that suffer, in regard of his com 
forting and supporting operations. Philip, the Landgrave of Hesse, in 
his imprisonment said, Se divinas martyrum consolationes sensisse — that 
he felt the divine comforts of the martyrs. Their sense of his presence 


is greater and sweeter, and their allowance of comfort larger than what 
others have, or themselves formerly had. How dotli the Spirit com 
fort ? Partly with respect to the time present, and partly with respect 
to the time to come ; to witness our present standing in a state of grace, 
and to assure us of life and glory to come. 

1. For the present, to witness to us our adoption and pardon of sins, 
and acceptance with God : Rom. v. 5, ' The love of God is shed abroad 
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us.' The love of God is 
shed abroad in the scriptures : ' Thy name is poured out as a precious 
ointment.' But it is shed abroad in our hearts, that is, by the Holy 
Ghost. How doth the Holy Ghost comfort ? Per modum argumenti, 
et per modum causce efficients. Per modum argumenti, by way of 
argumentation. The Spirit is given as a pledge of God's love ; he is 
known by suitable gifts. Those whom God pardoneth he enricheth 
with grace. Some things are never given in judgment, as the Spirit. 
The comforts and honours of the world may be given us in wrath ; it 
is a plain evidence. So per modum causce efficientis, by way of an effi 
cient cause. He maketh us to feel the love of God in our consciences, 
and to be sensible of the comfort of it : Eom. 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 ; ' Eom. viii. 16, ' The 
Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of 
God.' A witness is one who giveth in a testimony against a man or 
for a man. Every matter of worth and weight is to be transacted 
before and proved by two sufficient witnesses. Now here are two wit 
nesses, our spirit and God's Spirit. Our conscience doth accuse or 
excuse, but that is fallible ; but then there is the Spirit itself. A 
greater witness cannot be had than the Spirit of God, that knoweth all 
things, the deep things of God and our own hearts. When he assureth 
us that we have God's favour, and may go boldly to him as to a father, 
why should we doubt ? 

2. To assure us of life and blessedness to come. The Holy Ghost is 
given for this end, that we may look and long for heaven. Our hearts 
of themselves are taken up with trifles and childish toys. Therefore, 
that we may more vehemently long after and desire the actual posses 
sion of this glory, and to sweeten the bitterness of the cross, the Spirit 
of God doth somewhat about our future hopes as well as our present 
interest. It is an earnest, and as the first-fruits. An earnest : 2 Co) 1 . 
i. 22, 'Who also hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit;' 
Eph. i. 14, ' Which is the earnest of our inheritance.' It is not only 
donum, a gift, but pignus, a pledge ; not only pignus, but arrha, an 
earnest. A pledge may be taken away, but God hath given us an 
earnest, that is, a part to assure us of the whole. Now it is not only 
an earnest to show how sure, but the first-fruits to show us how good : 
Bom. viii. 23, ' We ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the 
Spirit.' Some foresight and foretastes of glory to come, some prepara 
tions. Increasing grace is begun glory : 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, by the Spirit of the 

III. Quest. How is this peculiar to them that believe, to have the gift 

VER. 38.] SEKMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 295 

of the Holy Ghost ? Acts v. 32, ' And so is also the Holy Ghost, whom 
God hath given to them that obey him ; ' that is, that obey the gospel, 
that repent and believe : John xiv. 16, 17, ' And I will pray the 
Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide 
with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot 
receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him ; but ye know 
him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.' That place 
plainly showeth and proveth that he is peculiar to believers ; and that 
they are incapable of such a gift in the increase of it that have not any 
begun presence of the Spirit in their hearts. (1.) The world doth not 
receive him, because they value him not. Carnal men value nothing 
but the visible pomps and powers of the world ; they slight other 
things. It is so with all men in the state of nature and under the 
power of sin : 1 Cor. ii. 14, ' But the natural man receiveth not the 
things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither 
can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' They have 
no value for spiritual comforts and spiritual privileges. If religion 
would make them great in the world, they would embrace it ; but 
these things are so little desired, because so little known. (2.) The 
world cannot receive them; they are not prepared. There is a capacity 
or receptivity necessary ; they neither see him nor know him. They 
took no notice of his visible operations, arid did as little understand with 
their heart as see with their eyes ; but ye know him, and he dwelleth 
in you. His familiar presence shall be in them in a larger measure. 

Use. First, Why ? To quicken us to look after this gift. Let us see 
why and how. 

1. Consider our necessity. Better never had the spirit of a man, if 
we have not the Spirit of God. Man is only in fieri, in the way to his 
perfection. A brute hath all things now that belong to the perfection 
of his nature. Man, that was made for a higher end, must have a 
higher guide : Job xxxii. 8, ' But there is a spirit in man, and the 
inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.' A brute, when 
he hath served out his time, hath done his work, and when he dieth, 
his misery and happiness dieth with him ; but man's happiness or misery 
then beginneth. 

2. If the Holy Spirit of the Lord be not in you, the evil spirit is. God 
and Satan divide the world. The heart of man is not a waste ; it is- 
either possessed by God or the devil. Natural men, the devil worketh 
in them, Eph. ii. 2. The heart of a wicked man is Satan's forge and 
workhouse : 1 Sam. xvi. 14, ' The Spirit of the Lord departed from 
Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.' As soon as God 
is gone, the devil taketh possession. 

3. You may know where your mansion, your everlasting residence 
will be, by the spirit that dwelleth in you. Every spirit fitteth for 
his own place. There are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and 
vessels of mercy prepared unto glory, Kom. ix. 21. Heaven is not only 
prepared for us, but we for heaven ; and who prepareth us ? 2 Cor. 
v. 5, ' Now he that hath wrought us for this self-same thing is God, 
who hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.' The house and home of 
good spirits is heaven, of bad is hell. Each of them labour to conduct 
us to the several places whence they come. 

296 SERMONS UPON ACTS IT. 37, 38. [$ER. VII. 

4. Thou art unable for any duty, and incapable of any comfort : 
1 Cor. xii. 3, ' No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy 
Ghost ; ' that is, acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the true Saviour of 
the world. Thou canst not so much as pray, which is the most 
natural duty : Horn. viii. 26, ' For we know not what we should pray 
for as we ought.' Instinct teacheth all creatures to look for relief of 
their necessities. And thou art incapable of any comfort. All the good 
thoughts in us, all the good desires, the good hope we have, is by the 
Spirit ; all that we have and shall receive, all the spiritual joys and 
satisfactions. The Spirit indeed did not die, suffer, satisfy, reconcile 
you to God, purchase grace and glory for you. You are beholden to 
Christ for this ; yet all the sweet comforts depending thereupon, and 
the application of them to our souls, is from the Spirit. Your joy is 
from the Holy Ghost. You can neither live nor pray, nor work, not 
walk, nor hope without the Spirit. 

Secondly, How? 

1. Pray for it. If you feel the want of the Spirit, and do in good 
earnest seek for him, you shall find him. A cold suitor shutteth the 
door upon himself : ' Ask, seek, knock,' Mat. vii. 7 ; Luke xi. 8, 8ia 
rrjv dvaiSeiav, ' Because of his importunity he will rise and give him.' 
A father may deny a wanton child bread to play with or throw under 
his feet, but not a starving child, that cries, Bread, bread, to preserve 
his life. He may and will deny the Spirit to them that ask him in a 
careless fashion, or to pride himself in his gifts ; but not the hungry 
soul, that is pinched with a want of his grace, that crieth to him, Father, 
give me thy Holy Spirit. Nay, the vehemency is some evidence that 
thou hast him already : Isa. xliv. 3, ' I will pour water upon him that 
is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground : I will pour my Spirit upon 
thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.' 

2. The hopes to obtain him. It is donum, a gift : ' Ye shall receive 
the gift of the Holy Ghost.' It is donum promissum, a promised gift : 
' I will pour my Spirit upon all flesh,' Acts ii. 17. It is donum neces- 
sarium, a necessary bequest. When you pray for the Spirit, you pray 
as children when they ask bread. Bread is not so necessary for this 
life, as the Spirit for the life of grace ; it is the spring and fountain of 
holiness. We may crave health, and wealth, and outward prosperity, 
and receive that answer, ' Ye know not what ye ask.' But when you 
go beg the Holy Spirit, you ask that which is good and necessary for 
you. It is such a gift as is the foundation of all the rest, and without 
which we can have no pledge and assurance of God's love. Compare 
Mat. vii. 11, with Luke xi. 13. That which is called 'good things' in 
one place, is called the ' Holy Spirit ' in the other. Of whom do you 
seek ? Of God, who is your Father. Tarn pater nemo, tampius nemo. 
No one is so much a father and so good a father. In whose name do 
you seek it ? In Christ's, whose merit hath purchased this gift for 
you : Titus iii. 5, 6, ' The renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath 
shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; ' Eph. iii. 12, 
' In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence by the faith of 
him.' By him we have a kind of right. He opened the door by his 
merit, and keeps it open by his intercession. 

3. Wait in the word ; the Spirit is gotten and increased there : Gal. 

VER. 38.] SERMONS UPON ACTS n. 37, 38. 297 

iii. 2, ' Eeceived ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing 
of faith ? ' The ordinary means whereby God worketh this grace is by 
the hearing of the word : 2 Cor. iii. 6, ' Who also hath made us able 
ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit ; for 
the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life ;' Acts x. 44, ' While Peter 
yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard 
the word.' Therefore wait at wisdom's gate ; lie at the pool till the 
waters are stirred, John v. ; wait for the secret illapses of the Lord's 
grace ; improve the Lord's supper. Sacraments are blessed means to 
convey the Spirit. Christ is said to return from his baptism full of the 
Holy Ghost, Luke iv. 1. Especially the Lord's supper: 1 Cor. xii. 13, 
' For by the Spirit we are all baptized into one body, and have all been 
made to drink into one Spirit.' One Spirit is spoken of as the author, 
and the other as the end. It is the Spirit that is figured by water, 
which maketh fruitful, and wine, which maketh cheerful : Cant. i. 4, 
' We will remember thy love more than wine/ Now what further 
degree do you get by every receiving? What further comfort and 
strength ? Now quicken your desires after the Spirit. When Elias 
was about to depart, he saith to Elisha, ' What shall I do for thee ? ' 
' Only,' saith he, ' that thy spirit may be doubled on me.' Christ, in 
the same night in which he was betrayed, instituted this supper. Lord, 
thy Holy Spirit we ask. Will God deny such a request? When 
Solomon asked wisdom, the thing pleased the Lord. Will a natural 
father give a scorpion instead of fish, or a stone instead of bread ? 
Ask the Spirit to guide and sanctify and comfort you with the sense of 
his love ; ask and fear not: let your faith be strong. The woman said, 
' If I can but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be whole.' We 
have more reason to expect a blessing on these instituted signs than 
she by touching the hem of his garment. Renew your expectations. 
You take the cup to assure you. Christ continueth the same form in 
the covenant still. Observe what effect you have. In ordinary repast, 
how doth a man know that what he hath eaten doeth him good ? 
Why, he findeth himself fresher, abler, stronger, and more cheerful for 
his work. Do you go away walking in the fear of God and the com 
forts of the Holy Ghost? Only take heed there be no secret sin 
harboured in the heart or allowed in the practice : Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I 
regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me/ 

Use 2. Let us see whether we have the Spirit or no. We cannot 
say it — 

1. Because we have some good motions stirred in us. The devil 
stirreth up evil motions in the hearts of the godly, and maketh a foul 
stir in their bosoms ; yet he doth not dwell there as in those that are 
in the carnal state. These are slaves of Satan. But the Holy Spirit is 
often moving in the hearts and consciences of carnal creatures, coun 
selling, rebuking, exciting them ; but all cometh to nothing : Gen. vi. 
3, ' My Spirit shall not always strive with man/ 

2. It cannot be known by common gifts, illumination, conviction, 
restraining grace, assistance to perform external duties even to admir 
ation : Mat. vii. 22, 23, ' Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, 
we have prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and 
in thy name done many wonderful works , and then will I profess, I 

298 SERMONS UPON ACTS II. 37, 38. [SfiR. VII. 

never knew you ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity ; ' 1 Cor. xiii. 
1, ' Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, and have not 
charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal/ All 
this is nothing when he doth not take possession of your hearts as his 
dwelling-place and temple, 1 Cor. vi. 19. 

3. It will be known by your temper and frame ; if you have a divine 
nature and disposition put into you : John iii. 6, ' That which is born 
of the Spirit is spirit.' A soul is raised above his natural inclination 
as much as a man is above a beast : 2 Peter i. 4, ' Whereby are given 
unto us great and precious promises, that by these you might be par 
takers of the divine nature.' A man beginneth to look like God his 
Father, and to resemble him for heavenly wisdom, holiness, and right 
eousness ; he acts in another manner, as one that hath a divine spirit in 

4. By your savour : Horn. viii. 5, ' They that are after the flesh do 
mind the things of the flesh, and they that are after the Spirit the things 
of the Spirit.' Find therefore what thy gust is, and thou mayest know 
whether thy life be natural or spiritual. Dost thou value thyself by 
earthly enjoyments or spiritual ? 

5. They are led by the Spirit : Eom. viii. 14, ' As many as are led 
by the Spirit are the sons of God.' Dost thou take his counsel ? Art 
thou ruled and determined by him which way thou shalt go ? What 
authority and sway doth it bear with thee ? Art thou not driven, but 
led ? There is spontaneity and readiness for holy things. 



Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the 
word of God, ivhich Itveth and abidethfor ever. — 1 PETER i. 23. 

IN the context the apostle presseth to holiness, and in the immediately 
preceding verse to the love of the brethren ; he enforceth both from 

First, Holiness. They that have a new birth should have a new 
life ; for another principle doth necessarily infer other manner of opera 
tion. By the natural life, which consisteth in the union of the soul 
with the body, a man is enabled to move, speak, reason, and dis 
course, and do such actions as are consistent with that life ; so by the 
spiritual life, which consists in the union of the soul with Christ, a 
man is enabled to act suitably; therefore if Christians would walk 
answerably to their new birth, they should be holy. 

Secondly, Love to the brethren or fellow-saints. 

1. There is ground and reason to love them, for they are brethren ; 
not in respect of the first birth, which is from the flesh, but in respect 
of the second birth, which is from the Spirit. ^iXaSeX^'a and 
ar/airr) are joined together by the apostle Peter : 2 Peter i. 7, ' And 
to godliness, brotherly kindness.' All are brethren or our own flesh, 
as coming from the same stock ; but there is another relation, which 
is spiritual. Saints are brethren, as children of the same Father in 
heaven. If we be born again, it is but reason that we should live in 
love with the rest of our Father's children. 

2. The new birth doth not only yield us a reason to love them, but 
an inclination, heart, and power to love them. It begets this love, as 
well as enforceth it : 1 John v. 1, ' Whosoever believeth that Jesus is 
the Christ is born of God ; and every one that loveth him that begat, 
loveth him also that is begotten of him.' The same new nature that 
inclineth us to love our Father doth incline us also to love his children, 
which bear his image ; for there are the same inducements for the one 
as for the other. Therefore, ' See that ye love one another with a 
pure heart fervently ; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of 

In these words observe — 

[1.] The state of believers; they are 'Born again.' 


[2.] The instrumental cause or means used to bring them into this 
estate, ' Not of corruptible seed, but by the word of God, which liveth 
and abideth for ever. 1 Where the instrumental cause is laid down, 
dvTideriKa)*; Kal egeyijTitcG)?, both by way of opposition and by way 
of explication. 

(1.) By way of opposition to other births: 'Not of corruptible 
peed, but incorruptible;' alluding either to the seed of fruits, to which 
the word of God is compared, Mat. xiii. 19, or else to that seed by 
which we are born after the common course of nature ; that is, cor 
ruptible, perishing, and defiled with sin : Job xiv. 2, ' Who can bring 
a clean thing out of an unclean ? not one; ' John iii. 6, ' That which 
is born of flesh is flesh.' A frail and polluted creature. But the 
second birth is from incorruptible seed, spiritual, clean, and holy : 
1 John v. 18, ' For we know that whatsoever is born of God sinneth 
not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked 
one toucheth him not.' The fruit of that birth is immortal. 

(2.) It is set forth by way of explication ; for the apostle explaineth 
himself what he meaneth by incorruptible seed, ' The word of God, 
which liveth and abideth for ever.' Only mark the difference of 
phrase ; it is etc <nropa$, of seed, but Bia \vyov, by the word ; for 
the word of God is not the matter of spiritual regeneration, but the 
instrumental cause of it. And he commendeth the word of God by a 
twofold property — (1.) That it liveth ; and (2.) That it ' abideth for 

(1st.) Its actuosity and durability ; or from the constructure of the 
Greek phrases, the two attributes may be thought to be given to 
God, Sia \6yov £<wi/ro9 Oeov Kal pevovTos, ' by the word of the living 
God,' and ' abiding for ever.' But by the following verses, which are 
a quotation out of the prophet Isaiah, it appeareth plainly that they 
are to be applied to the word. Only by the way observe how the same 
attributes that may be given to God may be given to his word also ; 
as Heb. iv. 12, 13, ' For the word of God is quick and powerful, and 
sharper than any two-edged swovd, 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 : neither is there any creature that 
is not manifest in his sight, for all things are naked and open unto 
the eyes of him with whom we have to do/ God's word is like him 
self. These titles are elsewhere given to the word. It is said to be 
' living,' because of its efficacy ; it quickeneth us, and begets a life in 
us that cannot be quenched. It is t&v KOI evepyfo, Heb. iv. 12, ' living 
and powerful ; ' ' Thou hast the words of eternal life,' John vi. 63 ; 
and it is called ' the word of life,' Acts v. 20 ; and Phil. ii. 16, ' Holding 
forth the word of life,' and elsewhere. The word of God is a living 
word, not a dead letter. 

(2d.) The word ' abideth for ever.' The word dieth not when we 
die : Luke xxi. 33, ' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word 
shall not pass away ; ' Ps. cxix. 89, ' For ever, O Lord, thy word is 
settled in the heavens.' It is an eternal truth. The word abideth in 
the effects of it upon the regenerate. The sum of the words is this, 
that life which we have by natural generation is a mortal, frail life, 
but that life which we have by being born again is eternal. 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i PETER i. 23. 301 

The first point is, Those that do truly believe in God through Jesus 
Christ are born again. 

Such are spoken of in the context; and of such the apostle saith, 
' Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the 
word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.' 

I shall inquire — (1.) What is regeneration, or what it is to be born 
again ? (2.) The necessity of such a work, if we would be Christ's 
disciples, or truly believe in him. 

First, What is regeneration ? It is a notion often used in scripture : 
John iii. 3, ' Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom 
of God/ And baptism is called \ovrpov TraXiryyeveo-ias, ' The laver of 
regeneration,' Titus iii. 5 ; and a godly man is said to be born of God, 
and that his seed abideth in him, 1 John iii. 9. The occasion of the 
expression might be, that the Jews were wont to call their proselytes 
recens natos, men new born. But whatever the occasion were, the 
expression is solemnly consecrated by the Spirit of God to note our 
first implantation into Christ, and doth not barely signify outward 
profession, nor yet naked faith, or persuasion of the truths of the gospel, 
as appeareth by the dialogue between Christ and Nicodemus, who came 
to him and owned him as a teacher sent from God ; yet Christ presseth 
it upon him to be born again. Let us see then what is the true import 
ance of this notion in the Christian faith. It implieth such a work of 
God upon the heart as carrieth proportion with the outward and first 
birth, as appeareth by all the places where it is used. And it is that 
work of God whereby a new spiritual life and nature is communicated 
to us. The analogy may be supposed to stand in these things — 

1. A child is not born without some pain more or less, so neither is 
this change carried on without its pangs. The first work of the Spirit 
is to give us a sight of our own vileness and sinfulness, and to work in 
us the fear of deserved wrath; therefore called a 'spirit of bondage;' 
Rom. viii. 15, ' We have not received the spirit of bondage, again to 
fear.' The Spirit worketh according to the covenant that we are under. 
In our sinful estate we are obnoxious to the first covenant, unable to per 
form the duty, and liable to its curse ; so the Spirit rnaketh us sensible 
of it. Those converts in Acts ii. 37 ' were pricked in heart ; ' they had 
their pangs and troubles ; and still this is the ordinary way of coming 
to the new birth, by sorrow and brokenness of heart, as the child cometh 
into the world by the sorrows of travail. 

2. It is not a birth when there is nothing brought forth, though 
there be never so much pain ; so convictions, qualms of conscience, and 
pangs of legal sorrow, terrors wrought in us by the spirit of bondage, 
will never prove a man regenerate unless the new creature be brought 
forth. There is in many some deliberation and trouble about the ways 
of God, yet no actual choice ; as the young man went away sad when 
he heard the terms, Mat. xix. 22 ; he was sorry because he could not 
have heaven in his own way. Some anxious thoughts they have, but 
go not further. They have some throes, and give over. 

3. A new creature is brought forth entire and whole ; so it is when 
the birth is regular; but in the new birth it is so always. No new 
creature is born maimed, but of perfect shape, because that is the 
immediate work of the Spirit, "who cannot miscarry in his operations; 


and a defect in parts cannot be supplied by after growth, and it 
is fitted for the sight of God. Therefore here is a new creature 
brought forth, not a new substance of soul or body, but the faculties 
renewed and purified, and fitted for God's use and service, by certain 
infused qualities or graces, which is called the ' inward man,' 2 Cor. iv. 
16 ; Eph. iii. 16, ' That he would grant unto you, according to the 
riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the 
inner man ; ' and the 'hidden man of the heart/ 1 Peter iii. 4. And 
it is entire; a new mind, heart, conscience, will, and affections; new 
thoughts, new desires, comforts, and contentments. It is all perfect as 
to parts, though not degrees. In the natural birth, from little begin 
nings there is a going on to perfection ; so in the new birth, from the 
stature of a child there is a growing up to a perfect man in Christ Jesus, 
as they get more knowledge, more grace, and more experience. 

4. The child so born cometh from a place of darkness and confine 
ment into a state of light and liberty ; so doth the new creature. The 
terminus a quo, term from which, is darkness and bondage, figured by 
the state of the child before his birth ; and the terminus ad quern, term 
vo which, is a state of liberty,, of light, and the knowledge of God in 
Christ : 2 Cor. iv. 6, 'For God, who commanded the light to shine out 
of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge 
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' And they are called 
into the liberty of God's children, or freedom from the slavery of sin, 
and subjection to wrath : Kom. viii. 2, ' For the law of the Spirit of 
life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.' 
We are freed from those manacles of corruption wherein we were 
wrapped before. 

5. The new creature brought forth is living, endued with properties, 
inclinations, and dispositions agreeable to the nature that begat it ; so 
there is in us a principle of a new life that carrieth some measure of 
resemblance and conformity with the life of God. The effects of every 
perfect generation are life and likeness. Likeness is not enough to 
constitute a generation. An exquisite limner may draw a perfect pic 
ture of his sou, yet this picture is not said to be begotten or born of him, 
but made by him. The products of art have likeness, but not life. 
Again, life is not enough ; in equivocal generations there is life, but not 
likeness ; as frogs and worms and putrid creatures breed out of the 
slime by the heat of the sun ; these are produced, but not born. Both 
must be ; as when a man begets a son in his own image and likeness, 
there is both: so here, when we are born again, there is life and 

[1.] Life. There is another manner of life than we lived before. 
We live the life of God, from which we were alienated before, Eph. iv. 
18, as appeareth by new actions, desires, and delights. So there are 
other manner of principles and operations than came from life natural. 
It is now a living unto God : Gal. ii. 20, ' The life that I live in the 
flesh is by the faith of the Son of God.' As life natural is a living to 
itself, to its own ends and interests, so is this. Take end and principle 
together, it is a living to God. All the acts of the natural life are 
overruled to nobler ends : 1 Peter iv. 6, ' That they might be judged 
according to men in the flesh, but 'live according to God in the 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i PETER i. 23. 303 

spirit.' They are quickened by the Spirit to live a life of purity and 

[2.] Likeness : 2 Peter i. 4, ' Whereby are given unto us exceeding 
great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of 
the divine nature.' A restitution of the image of God lost at first. And 
because many duties imply inferiority and subjection, and many neces 
sities are introduced by the fall, therefore we are not only conformed 
to God, but to Christ, or God in our nature : 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 Lord.' That is the great work of the Spirit by the gospel ; there 
is a nature put into us, that of all things in the world cometh nearest 
to. the nature of God himself. 

6. Upon the new birth there ariseth a visible relation between the 
child born and his parents ; so, besides change of disposition, there is 
a change of state, a relative change, and a real change ; from a child of 
the devil he becometh the son of God through faith : John i. 12, ' To 
as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons 
of God, even to them that believe on his name.' And from a child of 
wrath he is made an heir of salvation, accepted for one of God's family, 
and hath a right to all the privileges depending thereupon. 

Secondly, The necessity of this work of regeneration. 

1. With respect to grace and glory. 

[1.] As to the work of grace, a man is unmeet for God's use till he 
be purified by this work of God upon his heart. There is something 
that doth hinder, nothing doth further this work. Something doth 
hinder: 2 Tim. ii. 21, ' If a man purge himself from these, he shall be 
a vessel unto honour, sanctified and made meet for the Master's use, 
and prepared unto every good work.' There is a mass of corruption 
which remaineth as a clog upon us, which maketh us averse and indis 
posed for the work of God ; all this must be done away. As a man 
that would build his house exactly regular and uniform must not 
patch up the old building, but raze it to the very bottom, that he may 
lay a new foundation, so doth God take away the old rubbish of cor 
ruption, wholly demolish Satan's work, purge the soul from those lusts 
which inclined it to carnal vanities, before it is meet for his spiritual 
service. Nothing to further; and so you cannot serve God till you 
are born again: Eph. ii. 10, 'You are his workmanship, created in 
Christ Jesus unto good works.' Every creature hath faculties suitable 
to those operations which belong to that creature ; so man must be a 
new created and formed creature, that he may be prepared, fitted, and 
made ready for the Lord. You cannot expect new operations till there 
be a new life. Here the business sticketh with man. This should be 
looked after and desired first, as a peculiar branch of the spiritual life. 
We expect strengthening grace before we have received renewing grace. 
This is like little children, that attempt to run before they can go. 
This is as if a man complained of an aching tooth when a mortal dis 
ease hath seized on his vitals, of a cut finger when at the same time he 
is wounded at heart, of wandering thoughts in prayer when at the same 
time the heart is habitually averse and estranged from God. They 
complain of want of quickening grace when they want converting grace; 

304 SERMONS UPON 1 PETEK I. 23. [&ER. I. 

as if we would have the Spirit blow to a dead coal. They confess only 
the infirmities of soul, when they should bewail the misery of an unre- 
generate and carnal estate. They complain of incident weakness, when 
we should first see that our habitual aversion from God be cured. 

[2.] As to the privileges of grace, you have no interest and title to 
them till you are born again. Nothing avails to establish your interest 
in Christ but a new creature : Gal. vi. 15, ' For in Christ Jesus neither 
circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.' 
It is not being of this or that party or opinion, though some more strict 
than others ; not doing this or that particular thing, submitting to this 
or that ordinance, praying or hearing the word. This is only an evi 
dence in our consciences of our justified estate and union with Christ : 
2 Cor. v. 17, ' If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ; old things 
are passed away, and all things are become new.' Every one that is 
an adopted son of God must have a new birth and a spiritual being : 
John i. 12, 13, ' But as many as received him, to them gave he power 
to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name ; 
which are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will 
of man, but of God/ A change of disposition. God adopts otherwise 
than men ; they take as they find, they cannot put in new qualities. 
To be the people of God without regeneration is as impossible as to be 
the children of men without generation ; for we are born God's enemies, 
and must be new-born his sons, or else remain enemies still. No hope 
of glory : 1 Peter i. 3, ' Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us 
again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.' 
Children only can look for a child's portion. 

2. As to glory. It is said, John iii. 3, ' Except a man be born again, 
he cannot see the kingdom of God.' I know ' seeing' is put for 'enjoy 
ing ; ' yet the phrase is emphatical : he shall not have a glimpse, or be 
suffered to look within the veil. A stranger cannot lay claim to the 
inheritance, but a son ; and sons we are not till we be regenerated. 
As I said before, we are incapable of blessedness ; there is no suitable 
ness between us and it. The apostle speaketh of being ' made meet,' 
Col. i. 12, meet for the enjoyment of God. Man neither knoweth his 
true happiness, nor careth for it, but followeth his own lusts. By 
nature man is opposite to the kingdom of God, being corrupt and fleshly 
in all the faculties of soul and body; hath no spiritual sense, disposition, 
motion, and inclination towards heavenly things. In short, our frail 
bodies must be changed before they can be brought to heaven : ' We 
shall not all die, but we shall be changed.' If the body must be changed, 
how much more the soul ? If that which is frail, much more that 
which is filthy ; if bare flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven till it 
be free from its corruptible qualities, certainly not a guilty soul till it 
be freed from its sinful qualities. Think again and again of the necessity 
of this. 

Use 1. To exhort you all to look after this work, to be new-born. 
And let me direct it to all sorts of men, young men and old. 

1. You that are young, you have been born in sin: Ps. li. 5, 'Behold, 
I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me ; ' 
Gen. v. 3, 'Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his own image.' 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON i PETER i. 23. 305 

Sinful man begets a sinful child. You must be born again. God 
provided a laver for us as soon as we were born. Baptism is the laver 
of regeneration, Titus iii. 5 ; and little ones were circumcised, Deut. 
xxx. 6. There is filthiness in you, and it is lusty and strong. It is 
good to begin with God betimes ; they glorify God more, and enjoy him 
sooner. They glorify him more : Eph. i. 12, ' That we should be to 
the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.' They that get into 
Christ before others bring more honour to God than they that are 
brought in after : Rom. xvi. 7, ' Who also were in Christ before me.' 
Old men may be ashamed when little ones get the start of them. The 
sooner you close with Christ, the work is done the more easily, before 
you are accustomed to a slavery to Satan, and your lusts are rooted in 
you. You enjoy him more. Christ calleth little children : Mark x. 
14, ' Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for 
of such is the kingdom of God.' He is willing to take them into his 
arms. You cannot come before you are welcome. The great God 
will deign to dwell in the hearts of little ones. 

2. You that are old, oh, it is high time for you to be born again ; 
you are as good as dead already : Heb. xi. 12, ' Therefore sprang from 
him one, and him as good as dead/ Chimneys long foul, if they be 
not swept, will be fired at length. You have long lived or died in the 
world : ' A sinner of a hundred years old shall be accursed/ Isa. Ixv. 
20. He that liveth unreclaimed and unrenewed, though his life be 
never so much prolonged, shall die an accursed wretch. You never 
begin to live till you live in Christ ; you have but told over so many 
summers and winters. All that time is lost that is spent in your 
unregenerate estate ; as a man may be a long time at sea, and yet 
make but a short voyage, get but a little ground though long tossed 
upon the waves. Oh, bethink yourselves before your hoary heads go 
down to the grave in sorrow. Say not, as Nicodemus, ' Shall a man 
return into his mother's womb, being old ? ' This is a spiritual work 
which must pass upon you. God promiseth to pour out his Spirit 
upon old ones, Acts ii. 17. A ruinous h