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Full text of "The works of John Owen"

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1 AV,. .S/^/-. Sectibfe ^ 

1 i\^. Book, >1 1 

Tlie John M. Krcbs 1>onation« 
















And sold l)y J. Parker, Oxford ; Dt'ij;lilon and Sons, Cambridge ; D. Brown, 
Waugli and Inncs, and U.S. Baynt-s and Co. I'idinbiirgli ; Clinlnirm and 
Collins, and M. Ogle, Glasgow ; IVI. Kccnc, and R, M. linis, Dublin. 






Tlie Preface 

CHAP. r. 

Indwelling sin in believers treated of by the apostle, Rom. vii. 21. Tiic place 
explained 5 


Indwelling sin a law. In what sense it is so called. What kind of law it is. 
An inward cftcctive principle called a law. The power of sin thence evinced liJ 


The seat or subject of the law of sin. The heart ; what meant thereby. Pro- 
perties of the heart as possessed by sin. Unsearchable. Deceitful. Whence 
tliat deceit ariseth. Improvements of these considerations 20 


Indwelling sin enmity against God. Thence its power. Admits of no peace 
nor rest. Is against God himself. Acts itself in avcrsalion from God ; and 
propensity to evil. Is universal. To all of God. In all of the soul. Constant. '..'8 


Nature of sin farther discovered as it is enmity against God. Its aversation from 
all good opened. Means to prevent the effects of it prescribi d S.> 


The work of this enmity against God, by way of opposition. First, it lustclb. 
Wherein the lusting of bin consisteth. Its surprising of the soul. Readiness 
to close with temptations. Its lighting and warring. 1. In rebellion against 
tlie law of grace. '2. In assanlting the soul ♦•'"' 



The captivating power of indwelling sin, wherein it consisteth. The prevalency 
of sin, when from itself, when from temptation. The rage and madness that 
is in sin • ' • • • 59 


Indwelling sin proved powerful from its deceit. Proved to be deceitful. The 
general nature of deceit. James i. 14. opened. How the mind is drawn off 
from its duty by the deceitfulness of sin. The principal duties of the mind in 
our obedience. The ways and means whereby it is turned from it 71 


The deceit of sin in drawing off the mind from a due attendance unto especial 
duties of obedience, instanced in meditation and prayer 86 


The deceit of sin in drawing off the mind from its attendance unto particular 
duties farther discovered. Several things required in the mind of believers, 
with respect unto particular duties of obedience. The actings of sin in a way 
of deceit, to divert the mind from them 97 


The working of sin by deceit to entangle the affections. The ways whereby it 
is done. Means of their prevention 112 


The conception of sin through its deceit. Wherein it consisteth. The consent 
of the will unto sin. The nature thereof. Ways and means whereby it is 
obtained. Other advantages made use of by the deceit of sin. Ignorance. 
Errors. 119 

Several ways whereby the bringing forth of conceived sin is obstructed 131 


The power of sin farther demonstrated by the effects it hath had in the lives of 
professors. First, in actual sins. Secondly, in habitual declensions 1.53 


Decays in degrees of grace caused by indwelling sin. The ways of its preva- 
lency to this purpose ■ 167 



The strength of indwelling lin, manifested from its power and effects in persons 
unregenerate IB^i 

The strength of sin evidenced from its resistance unto the power of the law • • • 195 


The Preface 209 

The words of the text explained • 215 


A particular account of the nature of this grace and duty of being spiritually 
minded. How it is stated in, and evidenced by, our thoughts 224 


Outward means and occasions of thoughts of such spiritual tilings, wliich do not 
prove men to be spiritually minded. Preaching of the word. Exercise of 
gifts. Prayer. How wc may know whether our thoughts of spiritual things 
in prayer are truly spiritual thoughts, proving us to be spiritually minded • • 23:5 


Other evidences of thoughts about spiritual things, arising from an internal prin- 
ciple of grace, whereby they are an evidence of our being spiritually minded. 
The abounding of these thoughts, how far, and wherein, such an evidence* • 253 


The objects of spiritual thoughts, or what they are conversant about, evidencing 
them in whom they are to be spiritually minded. Rules directing unto 
steadiness in the contemplation of heavenly things. Motives to fix our 
thoughts with steadiness in them 265 


Directions nnto the exercise of our thoughts on things above ; things future, in- 
visible and eternal; on God himself, with the difficulties of it, and oppositions 
unto it, and the way of their removal. Right notions of future glory statrd 29-1 



Especial objects of spiritual thouglits on the glorious state of heaven, and what 
belongs thereunto. First, of Christ himself. Thoughts of heavenly glory, in • 
opposition unto thoughts of eternal misery. The use of such thoughts. Ad- 
vantage in sufferings 309 


Spiritual thoughts of God himself. The opposition unto them and neglect of 
them, with their causes and the way of their prevalency. Predominant cor- 
ruptions expelling due thoughts of God, how to be discovered, &c. Thoughts 
of God, of what nature, and what they are to be accompanied withal, &c.» • 318 


What of God or in God we are to think and meditate upon. His being; rea- 
sons of it : opposition to it; the way of their conquest. Thoughts of the om- 
nipresence and omniscience of God, peculiarly necessary. The reasons hereof. 
As also of his omnipotency. The use and benefit of such thoughts 337 


Sundry things tendered unto such as complain that they know not how, that 
they are not able, to abide in holy thoughts of God, and spiritual or heavenly 
things, for their relief, instruction, and direction. Rules concerning stated 
spiritual meditation • 352 


The seat of spiritual mindedness in the affections. The nature and use of them. 
The ways and means used by God himself, to call the affections of men from 
the world • • • 371 


What is required in, and unto, our affections, that they may be spiritual. A 
threefold work on the affections described • • • • 390 


The work of the renovation of our affections. How differenced from any other 
impression on, or change wrought in, them, and how it is evidenced so to be. 
The first instance in the universality accompanying of affections spiritually 
renewed. The order of the exercise of our affections witli respect unto their 
objects • 397 


The second difference between affections spiritually renewed and those who have 
been only changed by light and conviction. Grounds and reasons of men's 
delight in duties of divine worship, and of tiieir diligence in their perform- 
ance whose minds are not spiritually minded. ' 406 



Delight of believers in the lioly institutions of divine worship. Tiic grounds and 
reasons thereof. The evidence of being spiritually minded thereby, &c. • • • 414 


Assimilation untothings heavenly and spiritual inatiections spiritually renewed. 
This assimilation tlie work of faith : how, and whereby. Reasons of the want 
of growth in our spiritual aflfections as unto this assimilation 432 


Decays in spiritual affections, with the causes and dangers of them. Advice 
unto them who arc sensible of the evil of spiritual decays • • 146 


The state of spiritual affections when they are daily exercised and improved. 
Their pattern, rule, and measarc of attainment 160 


Inquiry into the true notion and consideration of spiritual things which renders 
them the object of spiritual affectations, and causes them to cleave to them 
with delight and complacency 469 


The way of the soul's application of itself, and adherence unto, spiritual objects, 
by its affections • 478 

How being spiritually minded is life and peace 48 j 









O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ! I thank 
Grd, through Jesus Chnst our Lord. — Rom. vii. 24, 25. 



That the doctrine of original sin is one of the funda- 
mental truths of our Christian profession, hath been al- 
ways owned in the church of God. And an especial 
part it is of that peculiar possession of truth, which 
they enjoy, whose religion towards God is built upon, 
and resolved into, divine revelation. As the world by 
its wisdom never knew God aright, so the wise men of 
it were always utterly ignorant of this inbred evil in 
themselves and others. With us the doctrine and con.- 
viction of it lie in the very foundation of all wherein 
we have to do with God, in reference unto our pleasing 
of him here, or obtaining the enjoyment of him here- 
after. It is also known what influence it hath into the 
great truths concerning the person of Christ, his media- 
tion, the fruits and effects of it, with all the benefits that 
we are made partakers of thereby. Without a suppo- 
sition of it, not any of them can be truly known, or 
savingly believed. For this cause hath it been largely 
treated of by many holy and leurned men, both of old 
and of latter days. Some have laboured in the disco- 
very of its nature, some of its guilt and demerit; by 
whom also the truth concerning it hath been vindi- 
cated from the opposition made unto it, in the past and 
present ages. By most these things have been consi- 
dered in their full extent and latitude, witli respect unto 
all men by nature, with the estate and condition of them 
who are wholly under the power and guilt of it. How 
thereby men are disenabled and incapacitated in them- 
selves to answer the obedience required either in the 
law or the gospel, so as to free themselves from the curse 
of the one, or to make themselves partakers of the bless- 
ing of the other, hath been by many also fully evinced. 
Moreover, that there are remainders of it abiding in 

li 2 


believers after their regeneration and conversion to God, 
as the Scripture abundantly testifies, so it hath been 
fully taught and confirmed ; as also how the guilt of it 
is pardoned unto them, and by what means the power 
of it is weakened in them. All these things, I say, have 
been largely treated on, to the great benefit and edifi- 
cation of the church. In what we have now in design, 
we therefore take them all for granted, and endeavour 
only farther to carry on the discovery of it in its actings 
and oppositions to the law and grace of God in believ- 
ers. Neither do I intend the discussing of any thing 
that hath been controverted about it. What the Scrip- 
ture plainly revealeth and teacheth concerning it, what 
believers evidently find by experience in themselves, 
what they may learn from the examples and acknow- 
ledgments of others, shall be represented in a way suit- 
ed unto the capacity of the meanest and weakest who 
is concerned therein. And many things seem to render 
the handling of it at this season not unnecessary. The 
effects and fruits of it, which we see in the apostacies 
and backs] idings of many, the scandalous sins and mis- 
carriages of some, and the course and lives of the most, 
seem to call for a due consideration of it. Besides, of 
how great concernment a full and clear acquaintance 
with the power of this indwelling sin (the matter de- 
signed to be opened) is unto believers, to stir them up 
to watchfulness and diligence, to faith and prayer, to 
call them tt; repentance, humility, and self-abasement, 
will appear in our progress. These in general were the 
ends aimed at in the ensuing discourse, which being at 
first composed and delivered for the use and benefit of 
a few, is now by the providence of God made public. 
And if the reader receive any advantage by these weak 
endeavours, let him know that it is his duty, as to give 
glory \mto God, so to help them by his prayers, who in 
many temptations and afflictions are willing to labour in 
the vineyard of the Lord, unto which work they are called . 


OF inE REMAiNUEns or 

1 N J) W i: L L I N G SIN 



Indwelling sin in believers treated of Oy the apostle, Rom. vii. 21 . 
The place explained. 

It is of indwelling sin, and that in the remainders of it in 
persons after their conversion to God, with its power, efli- 
cacy, and efl'ects, that we intend to treat. This also is the 
great design of the apostle, to manifest and evince in chap, 
vii. of the Epistle to the Romans. Many, indeed, are the con- 
tests about the principal scope of the apostle in that chap- 
ter, and in what state the person is, under the law, or under 
grace, whose condition he expresseth therein. I shall not 
at present enter into that dispute, but take that for granted, 
which may be undeniably proved and evinced ; namely, that 
it is the condition of a regenerate person, with respect unto 
the remaining power of indwelling sin, which is there pro- 
posed and exemplified, by and in the person of the apostle 
himself. In that discourse therefore of his, shall the foun- 
dation be laid of what we have to offer upon this subject. 
Not that I shall proceed in an exposition of his revelation 
of this truth, as it lies in its own contexture, but only make 
use of what is delivered by him, as occasion shall offer it- 
self. And here first occurreth that which he affirms, ver. 21. 
' I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is pre- 
sent with me.' 

There are four things observable in these words: 
First, The appellation he gives unto indwelling sin, 
whereby he expresseth its power and efficacy; it is 'a law.' 


For that which he terms ' a law,' in this verse, he calls in the 
foregoing, ' sin that dwelleth in him.' 

Secondly, The way whereby he came to the discovery of 
this law, not absolutely, and in its own nature, but in him- 
self, he found it ; ' 1 find a law.' 

Thirdly, The frame of his soul and inward man with this 
law of sin, and under its discovery ; he ' would do good.' 

Fourthly, The state and activity of this law, when the 
soul is in that frame, when it would do good, it ' is present 
with him.' For what ends and purposes we shall shew 

The first thing observable is the compellation here used 
by the apostle. He calls indwelling sin 'a law.' It is a law. 

A law is taken either properly, for a directive rule, or 
improperly, for an operative effective principle, which seems 
to have the force of a law. In its first sense, it is a moral 
rule which directs and commands^ and sundry ways moves 
and regulates the mind and the will, as to the things which 
it requires or forbids. This is evidently the general nature 
and work of a law. Some things it commands, some things 
it forbids, with rewards and penalties, which move and im- 
pel men to do the one, and avoid the other. Hence in a se- 
condary sense, an inward principle, that moves and inclines 
constantly unto any actions, is called a law. The principle 
that is in the nature of every thing, moving and carrying it 
towards its own end and rest, is called the law of nature. 
In this respect every inward principle that inclineth and 
urgeth unto operations or actings suitable to itself, is a law. 
So, Rom. viii. 2. the powerful and effectual working of the 
Spirit and grace of Christ in the hearts of believers, is called 
' the law of the Spirit of life.' And for this reason doth the 
apostle here call indwelling sin a law. It is a powerful and 
effectual indwelling principle, inclining and pressing unto 
actions agreeable and suitable unto its own nature. This, 
and no other, is the intention of the apostle in this expres- 
sion; for although that term, ' a law,' may sometimes intend 
a state and condition, and if here so used, the meaning of 
the words should be, I find that this is my condition, this is 
the state of things with me, that ' when I would do good 
evil is present with me,' which makes no great alteration in 
the principal intendment of the place; yet properly it can 


denote nothing here, but the chief subject treated of; for 
although the name of a law be variously used by the apostle 
in this chapter, yet when it relates unto sin, it is nowhere 
applied by him to the condition of the person, but only to 
express either the nature, or the power of sin itself: so, ver. 
23. ' I see another law in my members, warring against the 
law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity unto the law 
of sin, which is in my members.' That which he here calls 
the law of his mind, from the principal subject and seat of 
it, is in itself no other but the ' law of the Spirit of life, which 
is in Christ Jesus;' chap. viii. 2. or the effectual power of 
the Spirit of grace, as was said. But the law, as applied unto 
sin, hath a double sense ; for as in the first place, ' I see a 
law in my members,' it denotes the being and nature of sin ; 
so in the latter, * leading into captivity to the law of sin which 
is in my members,' it signifies its power and efficacy : and 
both these are comprised in the same name singly used, ver. 
20. Now that which we observe from this name, or term of 
a 'law' attributed unto sin, is, That there is an exceeding 
efficacy and power in the remainders of indwelling sin in 
believers, with a constant working towards evil. 

Thus it is in believers ; it is a law even in them, though 
not to them. Though its rule be broken, its strength weak- 
ened and impaired, its root mortified, yet it is a law still of 
great force and efficacy. There where it is least felt, it is 
most powerful. Carnal men, in reference unto spiritual and 
moral duties, are nothing but this law ; they do nothing but 
from it, and by it. It is in them a ruling and prevailing 
principle of all moral actions, with reference unto a super- 
natural and eternal end. I shall not consider it in them in 
whom it hath most power, but in them in whom its power is 
chiefly discovered and discerned, that is, in believers; in the 
others only in order to the farther conviction and manifesta- 
tion thereof. 

Secondly, The apostle proposeth the way whereby he 
discovered this law in himself, tvpiaKw apa tuv vo/hov, ' I find 
then,' or therefore, *a law.' He found it; it had been told 
him there was such a law; it had been preached unto him. 
This convinced him, that there was a law of sin. But it is 
one thino- for a man to know in general, tliat there is a law 
of sin ; another thing for a man to have an experience of the 


power of this law of sin in himself. It is preached to alf; 
all men that own the Scripture acknowledge it, as being de- 
clared therein : but they are but few that know it in them- 
selves ; we should else have more complaints of it than we 
have, and more contendings against it, and less fruits of it 
in the world. But this is that which the apostle affirms ; 
not that the doctrine of it had been preached unto him, but 
that he found it by experience in himself. ' I find a law ;' I 
have experience of its power and efficacy. For a man to 
find his sickness and danger thereon from its effects, is an- 
other thing than to hear a discourse about a disease from its 
causes. And this experience is the great preservative of all 
divine truths jn the soul. This it is to know a thing indeed, 
in reality, to know it for ourselves, when as we are taught it 
from the word, so we find it in ourselves. Hence we observe, 

Secondly, Believers have experience of the power and effi- 
cacy of indwelling sin. They find it in themselves, they find 
it as a law. It hath a self-evidencing efficacy to them that 
are alive to discern it: they that find not its power, are under 
its dominion. Whosoever contend against it, shall know 
and find, that it is present with them, that it is powerful in 
them. He shall find the stream to be strong who swims 
against it, though he who rolls along with it be insensible 
of it. 

Thirdly, The general frame of believers, notwithstanding 
the inhabitation of this law of sin, is here also expressed. 
They 'would do good.' This law is present, OiXovri ejuoi ttouXv 
TO KoXbv. The habitual inclination of their will is unto 
good. The law in them is not a law unto them, as it is to 
unbelievers. They are not wholly obnoxious to its power, 
nor morally unto its commands. Grace hath the sovereignty 
in their souls : this gives them a will unto good ; they 'would 
do good,' that is, always and constantly; 1 John iii. 9. ttoihv 
aniapTiav/ to commit sin,' is to make a trade of sin, to make 
it a man's business to sin. So it is said, a believer doth not 
commit sin ; and so Trotav to koXov to do that which is good ; 
to will to do so, is to have the habitual bent and inclination 
of the will set on that which is good ; that is, morally and 
spiritually good, which is the proper subject treated of; 
whence is our third observation. 

There is, and there is through grace kept np in believers. 


a constant and ordinarily prevailing will of doing good, not- 
withstanding the power and efficacy of indwelling sin to the 

This in their worst condition, distinguisheth them from 
unbelievers in their best. The will in unbelievers is under 
the power of the law of sin. The opposition they make to 
sin, either in the root or branches of it, is from their light 
and their consciences ; the will of sinning in them is never 
taken away. Take away all other considerations and hin- 
derances, whereof we shall treat afterward, and they would 
sin willingly always. Their faint endeavours to answer their 
convictions, are far from a will of doing that which is good. 
They will plead, indeed, that they would leave their sins if 
they could, and they would fain do better than they do. 
But it is the working of their light and convictions, not any 
spiritual inclination of their wills, which they intend by 
that expression: for where there is a will of doing good, 
there is a choice of that which -is good for its own excel- 
lency sake; because it is desirable and suitable to the soul, 
and therefore to be preferred before that which is contrary. 
Now this is not in any unbelievers ; they do not, they cannot, 
so choose that which is spiritually good, nor is it so excel- 
lent or suitable unto any principle that is in them ; only 
they have some desires to attain that end, whereunto that 
which is good doth lead, and to avoid that evil which ihe 
neglect of it tends unto. And these also arc for the most 
part so weak and languid in many of them, that they put 
them not upon any considerable endeavours ; witness that 
luxury, sloth, worldliness, and security, that the generality 
of men are even drowned in. But in believers there is a 
will of doing good, an habitual disposition and inclination 
in their wills unto that which is spiritually good ; and where 
this is, it is accompanied v/ith answerable effects. The will 
is the principle of our moral actions, and therefore unto the 
prevailing disposition thereof, will the general course of our 
actings be suited. Good things will proceed from the good 
treasures of the heart ; nor can this disposition be evidenced 
to be in any but by its fruits. A will of doing good, with- 
out doing good, is but pretended. 

Fourthly, There is yet another thini;" remaining in these 
words of the ajmstle, arising from that respect that the |)re- 


sence of sin hath unto the time and season of duty ; *■ When 
I would do good,' saith he, ' evil is present with me.' 

There are two things to be considered in the will of do- 
ing good, that is in believers. 

1. There is its habitual residence in them. They have 
always an habitual inclination of will unto that which is 
good. And this habitual preparation for good is always pre- 
sent with them, as the apostle expresses it, ver. 18. of this 

2. There are especial times and seasons for the exer- 
cise of that principle. There is a * when I would do good,' 
a season wherein this or that good, this or that duty, is to be 
performed and accomplished, suitably unto the habitual pre- 
paration and inclination of the will. 

Unto these two, there are two things in indwelling sin 
opposed. To the gracious principle residing in the will, in- 
clining unto that which is spiritually good, it is opposed 
as it is a law, that is, a contrary principle inclining unto 
evil, with an aversation from that which is good. Unto 
the second, or the actual willing of this or that good in 
particular, unto this ' when I would do good,' is opposed 
the presence of this law, * evil is present with me,' TrapaKerat 
Ijuot TO KaKov ; evil is at hand and ready to oppose the actual 
accomplishment of the good aimed at. Whence, 

Fourthly, Indwelling sin is effectually operative in rebel- 
ling and inclining to evil, when the will of doing good is in 
a particular manner active, and inclining unto obedience. 

And this is the description of him who is a believer, and 
a sinner, as every one who is the former, he is the latter also. 
These are the contrary principles, and the contrary opera- 
tions that are in him. The principles are a will of doing 
good, on the one hand, from grace, and a law of sin on the 
other. Their adverse actings and operations are insinuated 
in those expressions, * When I would do good, evil is present 
with me.' And these both are more fully expressed by the 
apostle. Gal. v. 17. 'For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, 
and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one 
to the other ; so that I cannot do the things that I would.' 

And here lie the springs of the whole course of our obe- 
dience. An acquaintance with these several principles and 
their actings, is the principal part of our wisdom. They are, 


upon the matter, next to the free grace of God in our justifi- 
cation by the blood of Christ, the only things wherein the 
glory of God and our own souls are concerned. These are 
the springs of our holiness and our sins, of our joys and 
troubles, of our refreshments and sorrows. It is then all our 
concernments to be thoroughly acquainted with these thino-s, 
who intend to walk with God, and to glorify him in this 

And hence we may see what wisdom is required, in the 
guiding and management of our hearts and ways before 
God. Where the subjects of a ruler are in feuds, and oppo- 
sitions one against another, unless great wisdom be used in 
the government of the whole, all things will quickly be ruin- 
ous in that state. There are these contrary principles in the 
hearts of believers ; and if they labour not to be spiritually 
wise, how shall they be able to steer their course aright ? 
Many men live in the dark to themselves all their days ; what- 
ever else they know, they know not themselves. They know 
their outward estates, how rich they are, and the condition 
of their bodies as to health and sickness they are careful to 
examine ; but as to their inward man, and their principles as 
to God and eternity, they know little or nothing of them- 
selves. Indeed few labour to grow wise in this matter, few 
study themselves as they ought, are acquainted with the 
evil of their own hearts as they ought, on which yet the 
whole course of their obedience, and consequently of their 
eternal condition, doth depend. This therefore is our wis- 
dom, and it is a needful wisdom, if we have any design to 
please God, or to avoid that which is a provocation to the 
eyes of his glory. 

We shall find also in our inquiry hereinto, what (iiii- 
gence and watchfulness is required unto a Christian con- 
versation. There is a constant enemy unto it in every one's 
own heart ; and what an enemy it is we shall afterward 
show, for this is our design to discover him to the utter- 
most. In the mean time we may well bewail the woful 
sloth and negligence that is in the most, even in professors. 
They live and walk as though they intended to go to heaven 
hood-winked, and asleep, as .though they had no enemy to 
deal withal. Their mistake therefore and folly will be fully 
laid open in our progress. 


That which I shall principally fix upon, in reference unto 
our present design, from this place of the apostle, is that 
which was first laid down, namely, that there is an exceed- 
ing efficacy and power in the remainder of indwelling sin in 
believers, with a constant inclination and working towards 

Awake, therefore, all of you in whose hearts are any 
thing of the ways of God. Your enemy is not only upon 
you, as on Sampson of old, but is in you also. He is at 
work by all ways of force and craft, as we shall see. Would 
you not dishonour God and his gospel, would you not scan- 
dalize the saints and ways of God, would you not wound 
your consciences and endanger your souls, would you not 
grieve the good and Holy Spirit of God, the author of all 
your comforts, would you keep your garments undefiled, 
and escape the woful temptations and pollutions of the days 
wherein we live, would you be preserved from the number 
of the apostates in these latter days ; awake to the conside- 
ration of this cursed enemy, which is the spring of all these 
and innumerable other evils, as also of the ruin of all the 
souls that perish in this world. 


Indwellhig sin a law. In what sense it is so vailed. What kind of law it 
is. An inward effective principle called a law. The jwwer of sin thence 

That which we have proposed unto consideration is the 
power and efficacy of indwelling sin. The ways whereby it 
may be evinced are many. 1 shall begin with the appella- 
tion of it in the place before mentioned ; it is a law ; ' I find 
a law,' saith the apostle. It is because of its power and ef- 
ficacy that it is so called ; so is also the principle of grace 
in believers ' the law of the Spirit of life,' as we observed be- 
fore, Rom. viii. 3. which is the 'exceeding greatness of the 
power of God in them;' Eph. i. 19. Where there is a law, 
there is power. 

We shall therefore shew both what belongs unto it, as 
it is a law in general, and also what is peculiar or proper in 
it, as being such a law as we have described. 

OF INDM'i:r,LIN(; SI.V. 13 

There are in general two things attending every law, as 

First, Dominion; Rom. vii. 1. 'The law hath dominion 
over a man whilst he liveth ;' Kv^ievti too avOpwirov, ' it lordeth 
it over a man.' Where any law takes place, Kv^ntvsi, it hath 
dominion. It is projDerly the act of a superior, and it be- 
longs to its nature to exact obedience by way of dominion. 
Now there is a twofold dominion, as there is a twofold law. 
There is a moral authoritative dominion over a man, and 
there is a real effective dominion in a man. The first is an 
affection of the law of God, the latter of the law of sin. The 
law of sin hath not in itself a moral dominion, it hath not a 
rightful dominion or authority over any man, but it hath 
that which is equivalent unto it ; whence it is said ftacnXivttv, 
to reign as a king; Rom. vi. 12. and Kvpuvtiif, to lord it, or 
have dominion ; ver. 14. as a law in general is said to have, 
chap. vii. 1. But because it hath lost its complete domi- 
nion, in reference unto believers, of whom alone we speak, I 
shall not insist upon it in this utmost extent of its power. 
But even in them it is a law still, though not a law unto 
them ; yet, as was said, it is a law in them. And though it 
have not a complete and, as it were, a rightful dominion over 
them, yet it will have a domination as to some things in them. 
It is still a law, and that in them, so that all its actings are 
the actings of a law ; that is, it acts with power, though it 
have lost its complete power of ruling in them. Though it 
be weakened, yet its nature is not changed. It is a law still, 
and therefore powerful. And as its particular workings, 
which we shall afterward consider, are the ground of this 
appellation, so the term itself teacheth us in general, what 
we are to expect from it, and what endeavours it will use for 
dominion, to which it hath been accustomed. 

Secondly, A law, as a law, hath an efficacy to provoke 
those that are obnoxious unto it unto the things that it re- 
quireth, A law hath rewards and punishments accompany- 
ing of it. These secretly prevail on llieni to whom they arc 
proposed, tlnnigh thj things connnandcd be not much de- 
sirable. And gentrally all laws have their ctHcacy on the 
minds of men, from the rewards and punishments that are 
annexed unto them. Nor is this law without this spring of 
power : it hath its rewards and punishments. The pleasures 


of sin are the rewards of sin ; a reward that most men lose 
their souls to obtain. By this the law of sin contended in 
Moses against the law of grace ; Heb. xi. 25,26. ' He chose 
rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to 
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; for he looked unto 
the recompense of reward.' The contest was in his mind 
between the law of sin, and the law of grace. The motive 
on the part of the law of sin, wherewith it sought to draw 
him over, and wherewith it prevails on the most, was the re- 
ward that it proposed unto him, namely, that he should have 
the present enjoyment of the pleasures of sin. By this it 
contended against the reward annexed unto the law of grace, 
called ' the recompense of reward.' 

By this sorry reward doth this law keep the world in obe- 
dience to its commands. And experience shews us, of what 
power it is to influence the minds of men. It hath also pu- 
nishments that it threatens men with, who labour to cast off 
its yoke. Whatever evil, trouble, or danger in the world 
attends gospel obedience ; whatever hardship or violence is 
to be offered to the sensual part of our natures in a strict 
course of mortification, sin makes use of as if they were pu- 
nishments attending the neglect of its commands. By these 
it prevails on the fearful, who shall have no share in life 
eternal ; Rev. xxi. 8. And it is hard to say by whether of 
these, its pretended rewards, or pretended punishments, 
it doth most prevail, in whether of them its greatest strength 
doth lie. By its rewards it enticeth men to sins of commis- 
sion, as they are called, in ways and actions tending to the 
satisfaction of its lusts. By its punishments it induceth 
men to the omitting of duties, a course tending to no less a 
pernicious event than the former. By which of these the 
law of sin hath its greatest success in and upon the souls of 
men, is not evident, and that because they are seldom or 
never separated, but equally take place on the same persons. 
But this is certain, that by tenders and promises of the plea- 
sures of sin on the one hand, by threats of the deprivation 
of all sensual contentments, and the infliction of temporal 
evils on the other, it hath an exceeding efficacy on the minds 
of men, oftentimes on believers themselves. Unless a man 
be prepared to reject the reasonings that will offer themselves 
from the one and the other of these, there is no standing be- 


fore the power of the law. The world falls before them 
every day. With what deceit and violence they are urged 
and imposed on the minds of men, we shall afterward de- 
clare ; as also what advantages they have to prevail upon 
them. Look on the generality of men, and you shall find 
them wholly by these means at sin's disposal. Do the pro- 
fits and pleasures of sin lie before them, nothing can with- 
hold them from reaching after them. Do difficulties and 
inconveniencies attend the duties of the gospel, they will 
have nothing to do with them ; and so are wholly given up 
to the rule and dominion of this law. 

And this light in general we have into the power and ef- 
ficacy of indwelling sin from the general nature of a law, 
whereof it is partaker. 

We may consider, nextly, what kind of law in particular 
it is, which will farther evidence that power of it, which we 
are inquiring after. It is not an outward, written, com- 
manding, directing law, but an inbred, working, impelling, 
urging law. A law proposed unto us, is not to be compared 
for efficacy to a law inbred in us. Adam had a law of sin 
proposed to him in his temptation, but because he had no 
law of sin inbred and working in him, he might have with- 
stood it. An inbred law must needs be effectual. Let us 
take an example from that law, which is contrary to this law 
of sin. The law of God, was at first inbred and natural unto 
man, it was concreated with his faculties, and was their 
rectitude both in being and operation in reference to his 
end of living unto God, and glorifying of him. Hence it 
had an especial power in the whole soul, to enable it unto 
all obedience, yea, and to make all obedience easy and 
pleasant. Such is the power of an inbred law. And 
though this law, as to the rule and dominion of it, be now 
by nature cast out of the soul, yet the remaining sparks 
of it, because they are inbred, are very powerful and effec- 
tual, as the apostle declares, Rom ii. 14, 15. Afterward 
God renews this law, and writes it in tables of stone. But 
what is the efficacy of this law ? Will it now as it is exter- 
nal, and proposed unto men, enable them to perform the 
things that it exacts and requires ? Not at all. God knew it 
would not, unless it were turned to an internal law again ; 
that is, until of a moral outward rule, it be turned into an in- 


ward real principle. Wherefore God makes his law internal 
again, and implants it on the heart as it was at first, when 
he intends to give it power to produce obedience in his peo- 
ple ; Jer. xxxi^ 31 — 33. '1 will put my law in their inward 
parts, and write it in their hearts.' This is that which God 
fixeth on, as it were, upon a discovery of the insufficiency of 
an outward law leading men unto obedience. The written 
law, saith he, will not do it; mercies and deliverances from 
distress will not effect it; trials and afflictions will not ac- 
complish it ; then, saith the Lord, will I take another course; 
I will turn the written law, into an internal living principle 
in their hearts, and that will have such an efficacy, as shall 
assuredly make them my people, and keep them so. Now 
such is this law of sin, it is an indwelling law ; Rom. vii. 17. 
' It is sin that dwelleth in me ;' ver. 20. ' Sin that dwelleth in 
me ;' ver. 21. It ' is present with me ;' ver. 23. It * is in my 
members ;' yea, it is so far in a man, as in some sense it is 
said to be the man himself, ver. 18. ' I know that in me (that 
is, in my flesh) there dwelleth no good thing.' The flesh, 
which is the seat and throne of this law, yea, which indeed 
in this law, is in some sense the man himself, as grace also 
is the new man. Now from this consideration of it, that it 
is an indwelling law inclining and moving to sin, as an in- 
ward habit or principle, it hath sundry advantages increas- 
ing its strength and furthering its power. As, 

1. It always abides in the soul, it is never absent. 
The apostle twice useth that expression, it ' dwelleth in me.' 
There is its constant residence and habitation. If it came 
upon the soul only at certain seasons, much obedience 
might be perfectly accomplished in its absence. Yea, and 
as they deal with usurping tyrants, whom they intend to 
thrust out of a city, the gates might be sometimes shut 
against it, that it might not return. The soul might fortify 
itself against it. But the soul is its home, there it dwells, 
and is no wanderer. Wherever you are, whatever you are 
about, this law of sin is always in you ; in the best that you 
do, and in the worst. Men little consider what a dangerous 
companion is always at home with them. When they are 
in company, when alone, by night or by day, all is one, 
sin is with them. There is a living coal continually in 
their houses, which, if it be not looked unto, will fire them. 



and it [may be consume them. O the woful security of 
poor souls ! How little do the most of men think of this in- 
bred enemy, that is never from home ! How little , for the 
most part, doth the watchfulness of any professors answer 
the danger of their state and condition ! 

2. It is always ready to apply itself to every end and 
purpose that it serves unto. It doth not only 'dwell in 
me,' saith the apostle, ' but when I would do good, it is pre- 
sent with me;' there is somewhat more in that expression, 
than mere indwelling. An inmate may d veil in a house, and 
yet not be always meddling with what the good man of the 
house hath to do (that so we may keep to the allusion of in~ 
dwelling, used by the apostle) ; but it is so with this law, it 
doth so dwell in us, as that it will be present with us in every 
thing we do ; yea, oftentimes when with most earn estness 
we desire to be quit of it, with most violence it will put it self 
upon us ; ' When I would do good, it is present with me . 
Would you pray, would you hear, would you give aim S' 
would you meditate, would you be in any duty acting faith 
on God, and love towards him, wovdd you work righteous- 
ness, would you resist temptations ; this troublesome perplex- 
ing indweller, will still more or less put itself upon you, and 
be present with you, so that you cannot perfectly and com- 
pletely accomplish the thing that is good, as our apostle 
speaks, ver. 18. Sometimes men by hearkening to their 
temptations, do stir up, excite, and provoke their lusts; and 
no wonder if then they find them present and active. But 
it will be so, when with all our endeavours we labour to be 
free from them. This law of sin dwells in us, that is, it ad- 
heres as a depraved principle unto our minds in darkness 
and vanity ; unto our affections in sensuality ; unto our wills 
in a loathing of, and aversation from, that which is good ; 
and by some, more, or all, of these, is continually putting 
itself upon us, in inclinations, motions, or suggestions to 
evil, when we would be most gladly quit of it. 

3. It being an indwelling law, it applies itself to its 
work with great facility and easiness, like ' the sin that doth 
so easily beset us ;' Heb. xii. 1. It hath a great facihty and 
easiness in the application of itself unto its work, it needs 
no doors to be opened unto it, it needs no engines to work 
by. The soul cannot apply itself to any duty of a man, but 



it must be by the exercise of those faculties wherein this law 
hath its residence. Is the understanding or the mind to be 
applied uuto any thing ? there it is in ignorance, darkness, 
vanity, folly, madness. Is the will to be engaged ? .there it 
is also in spiritual deadness, stubbornness, and the roots of 
obstinacy. Is the heart and affections to be set on work? 
there it is in inclinations to the world, and present things, 
and sensuality, with proneness to all manner of defilements. 
Hence it is easy for it to insinuate itself into all that we do, 
and to hinder all that is good, and to farther all sin and 
wickedness. It hath an intimacy, an inwardness with the 
soul, and therefore in all that we do, doth easily beset us. 
It possesseth those very faculties of the soul, whereby we 
must do what we do, whatever it be, good or evil. Now all 
these advantages it hath as it is a law, as an indwelling law, 
which manifests its power and efl&cacy. It is always resi- 
dent in the soul, it puts itself upon all its actings, and that 
with easiness and facility. 

This is that law which the apostle affirms that he found 
in himself, this is the title that he gives unto the powerful 
and effectual remainder of indwelling sin even in believers, 
and these general evidences of its power from that appella- 
tion have we. Many there are in the world, who find not 
this law in them ; who, whatever they have been taught in the 
word, have not a spiritual sense and experience of the power 
of indwelling sin, and that because they are wholly under 
the dominion of it. They find not that there is darkness 
and folly in their minds, because they are darkness itself, 
and darkness will discover nothing. They find not dead- 
ness and an indisposition in their hearts and wills to God, 
because they are dead wholly in trespasses and sins. They 
are at peace with their lusts, by being in bondage unto them. 
And this is the state of most men in the world, which makes 
them wofully despise all their eternal concernments. 
Whence is it that men follow and pursue the world with so 
much greediness, that they neglect heaven, and life, and im- 
mortality for it every day ? Whence is it that some pursue 
their sensuality with delight, they will drink, and revel, and 
have their sports, let others say what they please ? Whence 
is it that so many live so unprofitably under the word, that 
they understand so little of what is spoken unto them, that 


they practise less of what they understand, and will by no 
means be stirred up to answer the mind of God in his calls 
unto them ? It is all from this law of sin, and the power of 
it that rules and bears sway in men, that all these things do 
proceed ; but it is not such persons of whom at present we 
particularly treat. 

From what hath been spoken, it will ensue, that if there 
be such a law in believers, it is doubtless their duty to find 
it out, to find it so to be. 

The more they find its power, the less they will feel its 
effects. It will not at all advantage a man to have an hecti- 
cal distemper, and not to discover it ; a fire lying secretly 
in his house, and not to know it. So much as men find of 
this law in them, so much they will abhor it, and themselves, 
and no more. Proportionably also to their discovery of it, 
will be their earnestness for grace ; nor will it rise higher. 
All watchfulness and diligence in obedience will be answer- 
able also thereunto. Upon this one hinge, or finding out 
and experiencing the power and the efficacy of this law of 
sin, turns the whole course of our lives. Ignorance of it 
breeds senselessness, carelessness, sloth, security, and pride; 
all which the Lord's soul abhors. Eruptions into great, open, 
conscience-wasting, scandalous sins, are from want of a due 
spiritual consideration of this law. Inquire then how it is with 
your souls. What do you find of this law, what experience 
have you of its power and efficacy? Do you find it dwelling 
in you, always present with you, exciting itself, or putting 
forth its poison with facility and easiness, at all times, in all 
your duties, ' when you would do good?' What humiliation, 
what self abasement, what intenseness in prayer, what dili- 
gence, what watchfulness doth this call for at your hands ? 
What spiritual wisdom do you stand in need of? What sup- 
plies of grace, what assistance of the Holy Ghost will be 
hence also discovered. I fear we have few of us a diligence 
proportionable to our danger. 




The seat or subject of the law of sin. The heart ; what meant thereby . Pro- 
perties of the heart as possessed by sin. Unsearchable. Deceitful. 
Whence that deceit ariseth. Improvements of these considerations. 

Having manifested indwelling sin whereof we treat in the 
remainders of it in believers, to be a law, and evinced in 
general, the power of it from thence, we shall now proceed 
to give particular instances of its efficacy and advantages, 
from some things that generally relate unto it as such. And 
these are three. First, Its seat and subjects ; secondly, Its 
natural properties ; and thirdly, Its operation and the man- 
ner thereof, which principally we aim at, and shall attend 

First, For the seat and subject of this law of sin, the Scrip- 
ture every where assigns it to be the heart. There indwel- 
ling sin keeps its especial residence. It hath invaded and 
possessed the throne of God himself; Eccles. ix. 3. * Mad- 
ness is in the heart of men whilst they live.' This is their 
madness, or the root of all that madness which appears in 
their lives. Matt. xv. 19. ' Out of the heart proceed evil 
thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false wit- 
ness, blasphemies,' &,c. There are many outward tempta- 
tions and provocations that befall men, which excite and stir 
them up unto these evils. But they do but as it were open 
the vessel, and let out what is laid up and stored in it. The 
root, rise, and spring of all these things is in the heart. 
Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only 
draw out what was in him before. Hence is that summary 
description of the whole work and effect of this law of sin. 
Gen. vi. 5. 'Every imagination of the thoughts of man's 
heart is only evil continually.' So also, chap. viii. 21. The 
whole work of the law of sin, from its first rise, its first coin- 
ing of actual sin, is here described ; and its seat, its work- 
house, is said to be the heart ; and so it is called by our 
Saviour, ' the evil treasure of the heart,' Luke vi. 45. * An 
evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth 
evil things.' This treasure is the prevailing principle of 
moral actions that is in men. So in the beginning of the 


verse, our Saviour calls grace' the good treasure of the heart' 
of a good man, whence that w^hich is good doth proceed. It 
IS a principle constantly and abundantly inciting and stirring 
up unto, and consequently bringing forth, actions conform- 
able and like unto it, of the same kind and nature with it- 
self; and it is also called a treasure for its abundance. It 
will never be exhausted, it is not wasted by men's spending 
on it; yea, the more lavish men are of this stock, the more 
they draw out of this treasure, the more it grows and abounds ; 
as men do not spend their grace, but increase it by its exer- 
cise, no more do they their indwelling sin. The more men 
exercise their grace in duties of obedience, the more it is 
strengthened and increased; and the more men exert and 
put forth the fruits of their lust, the more is that enraged 
and increased in them ; it feeds upon itself, swallows up its 
own poison, and grows thereby. The more men sin, the 
more are they inclined unto sin. It is from the deceitful- 
ness of this law of sin, whereof we shall speak afterward at 
large, that men persuade themselves, that by this or that par- 
ticular sin, they shall so satisfy their lusts, as that they shall 
need to sin no more. Every sin increaseth the principle, and 
fortifieth the habit of sinning. It is an evil treasure that in- 
creaseth by doing evil. And where doth this treasure lie? 
It is in the heart, therfe it is laid up, there it is kept in safety. 
AH the men in the world, all the angels in heaven, cannot 
dispossess a man of this treasure, it is so safely stored in 
the heart. 

The heart in the Scripture is variously used : sometimes 
for the mind and understanding; sometimes for the will; some- 
times for the affections; sometimes for the conscience; some- 
times for the whole soul. Generally it denotes the whole 
soul of man, and all the faculties of it, not absolutely, but 
as they are all one principle of moral operations, as they all 
concur in our doing good or evil. The mind as it inquireth, 
discerneth, and judgeth what is to be done, what refused ; 
the will as it chooseth, or refuseth, and avoids ; the affec- 
tions as they like or dislike, cleave to, or have an aversation 
from, that which is proposed to them ; the conscience as it 
warns, and determines, are altogether called the heart. And 
in this sense it is that we say the seat and subject of this 
law of sin is the heart of man. Only we may add, that the 


Scripture speaking of the heart, as the principle of men's 
good or evil actions, doth usually insinuate together with it 
two things belonging unto the manner of their performance. 

1. A suitableness and pleasingness unto the soul in the 
things that are done. When men take delight, and are 
pleased in and with what they do, they are said to do it 
heartily, with their whole hearts. Thus when God himself 
blesseth his people in love and delight, he says, he doth it 
'with his whole heart, and his whole soul ;' Jer. xxxii. 41. 

2. Resolution and constancy in such actions. And 
this also is denoted in the metaphorical expression before 
used of a treasure, from whence men do constantly take out 
the things which either they stand in need of, or do intend 
to use. 

This is the subject, the seat, the dwelling-place of this 
law of sin; the heart, as it is the entire principle of moral 
operations, of doing good or evil, as out of it proceed good 
or evil. Here dwells our enemy; this is the fort, the cita- 
del of this tyrant, where it maintains a rebellion against 
God all our days. Sometimes it hath more strength, and 
consequently more success ; sometimes less of the one, and 
of the other, but is always in rebellion whilst we live. 

That we may in our passage take a little view of the 
strength and power of sin from this seat and subject of it; 
we may consider one or two properties of the heart, that ex- 
ceedingly contribute thereunto. It is like an enemy in war, 
whose strength and power lie not only in his numbers, and 
force of men or arms, but also in the unconquerable forts 
that he doth possess. And such is the heart to this enemy 
of God and our souls, as will appear from the properties of 
it, whereof one or two shall be mentioned. 

1. It is unsearchable. Jer. xvii. 9, 10. * Who can know 
the heart? I the Lord search it.' The heart of man is per- 
vious to God only ; hence he takes the honour of searching 
the heart, to be as peculiar to himself, and as fully declaring 
him to be God, as any other glorious attribute of his nature. 
We know not the hearts of one another, we know not our 
own hearts as we ought. Many there are that know not 
their hearts as to their general bent and disposition, whether 
it be good or bad, sincere and sound, or corrupt and naught ; 
but no one knows all the secret intrigues, the windings and 


turnings, the actings and aversations of his own heart. Hath 
any one the perfect measure of his own light and darkness ? 
Can any one know what actings of choosing, or aversation 
his will will bring forth, upon the proposal of that endless 
variety of objects that it is to be exercised with ? Can any 
one traverse the various mutability of his affections ? Do 
the secret springs of acting and refusing in the soul, lie be- 
fore the eyes of any man? Doth any one know what will be 
the motions of the mind or will, in such and such conjunc- 
tions of things ? Such a suiting of objects, such a preten- 
sion of reasonings, such an appearance of things desirable? 
All in heaven and earth, but the infinite all-seeing God, are 
utterly ignorant of these things. In this unsearchable heart 
dwells the law of sin, and much of its security, and conse- 
quently of its strength, lies in this, that it is past our finding 
out. We fight with an enemy whose secret strength we cannot 
discover, whom we cannot follow into its retirements. Hence 
oftentimes, when we are ready to think sin quite ruined, after 
awhile we find it was but out of sight. It hath coverts and re- 
treats in an unsearchable heart, whither we cannot pursue it. 
The soul may persuade itself all is well, when sin may be safe 
in the hidden darkness of the mind, which it is impossible that 
he should look into ; for whatever makes manifest is light. 
It may suppose the will of sinning is utterly taken away, when 
yet there is an unsearchable reserve for a more suitable ob- 
ject, a more vigorous temptation, than at present it is tried 
withal. Hath a man had a contest with any lust, and a 
blessed victory over it by the Holy Ghost, as to that present 
trial ; when he thinks it is utterly expelled, he ere long 
finds that it was but retired out of sight. It can lie so close 
in the mind's darkness, in the will's indisposition, in the dis- 
order and carnality of the aftections, that no eye can disco- 
ver it. The best of our wisdom is but to watch its first ap- 
pearances, to catch its first under-earth heavings and work- 
ings, and to set ourselves in opposition to them ; for to fol- 
low it into the secret corners of the heart, that we cannot do. 
It is true, there is yet a relief in this case, namely, that he to 
whom the work of destroying the law of sin, and body of 
death in us is principally committed, namely, the Holy Ghost, 
comes with his axe to the very root, neither is there any 
thing in an unsearchable heart that is not open and naked 


unto him, Heb. iv. 12. But we in a way of duty may hence 
5ee what an enemy we have to deal withal. 

2. As it is unsearchable, so it is deceitful, as in the 
place above-mentioned ; * it is deceitful above all things,' in- 
comparably so. There is great deceit in the dealings of men 
in the world, great in their counsels and contrivances in re- 
ference to their affairs, private and public; great deceit in 
their words and actings: the world is full of deceit and 
fraud. But all tliis is nothing to the deceit that is in man's 
heart towards himself; for that is the meaning of the ex- 
pression in this place, and not towards others. Now in- 
comparable deceitfulness, added to unsearchableness, gives 
a great addition and increase of strength to the law of sin, 
upon the account of its seat and subject. I speak not yet 
of the deceitfulness of sin itself, but the deceitfulness of the 
heart where it is seated. Prov. xxvi. 25. * There are seven 
abominations in the heart;' that is, not only many, but an 
absolute complete number, as seven denotes. And they are 
such abominations as consist in deceitfulness; so the cau- 
tion foregoing insinuates, 'trust him not;' for it is only deceit 
that should make us not to trust in that degree and measure 
which the object is capable of. 

Now this deceitfulness of the heart, whereby it is ex- 
ceedingly advantaged in its harbouring of sin, lies chiefly 
in these two things: 

(1.) That it abounds in contradictions, so that it is notto 
be found and dealt withal, according to any constant rule 
and way of procedure. There are some men that have much 
of this from their natural constitution, or from other causes 
in their conversation. They seem to be made up of contradic- 
tions ; sometimes to be very wise in their affairs, sometimes 
very foolish ; very open, and very reserved ; very facile, and 
very obstinate ; very easy to be entreated, and very revenge- 
ful, all in a remarkable height. This is generally accounted 
a bad character, and is seldom found but when it proceeds 
from some notable predominant lust. But, in general, in 
respect of moral good or evil, duty or sin, it is so with the 
heart of every man; flaming hot, and key cold; weak, and 
yet stubborn ; obstinate, and facile, The frame of the heart 
is ready to contradict itself every moment. Now you would 
think you had it all for such a frame, such a way; anon it 


is quite otherwise : so that none know what to expect from 
it. The rise of this is the disorder that is brought upon all 
its faculties by sin. God created them all in a perfect har- 
mony and union. The mind and reason were in perfect sub- 
jection and subordination to God and his will ; the will 
answered in its choice of good, the discovery made of it by 
the mind ; the affections constantly and evenly followed the 
understanding and will. The mind's subjection to God was 
the spring of the orderly and harmonious motion of the soulf 
and all the wheels in it. That being disturbed by sin, the 
rest of the faculties move cross and contrary one to another; 
the will chooseth not the good which the mind discovers ; the 
affections delight not in that which the will chooseth, but all 
jar and interfere, cross and rebel against each other. This we 
have got by our falling from God. Hence sometimes the 
will leads, the judgment follows. Yea, commonly the affec- 
tions that should attend upon all, get the sovereignty, and 
draw the whole soul captive after them. And hence it is, 
as I said, that the heart is made up of so many contradic 
tions in its actings. Sometimes the mind retains its sove- 
reignty, and the affections are in subjection, and the will 
ready for its duty. This puts a good face upon things. Im- 
mediately the rebellion of the affections, or the obstinacy of 
the will take place and prevail, and the whole scene is 
changed. This, I say, makes the heart deceitful above all 
things ; it agrees not at all in itself, is not constant to itself, 
hath no order that it is constant unto, is under no certain 
conduct that is stable, but if I may so say, hath a rotation 
in itself, where ofttimes the feet lead and guide the whole. 
(2.) Its deceit lies in its full promisings upon the first 
appearance of things. And this also proceeds from the 
same principle with the former. Sometimes the affections 
are touched and wrought upon, the whole heart appears in a 
fair frame, all promiseth to be well. Within awhile the 
whole frame is changed; the mind was not at all affected or 
turned ; the affections a little acted their parts and are gone 
off", and all the fair promises of the heart are departed with 
them. Now add this deceitfulness to the unsearchableness 
before-mentioned, and we shall find, that at least the diffi- 
culty of dealing effectually with sin in its seat and throne, 
will be exceedingly increased. A deceiving and a deceived 
heart, who can deal with it? especially considering that the 


heart employs all its deceits unto the service of sin, contri- 
butes them all to its furtherance. All the disorder that is in 
the heart, all its false promises, and fair appearances, pro- 
mote the interest and advantages of sin. Hence God cau- 
tions the people to look to it, lest their own hearts should 
entice and deceive them. 

Who can mention the treacheries and deceits that lie in 
the heart of man? It is not for nothing that the Holy Ghost 
so expresseth it, ' it is deceitful above all things ;' uncertain 
in what it doth, and false in what it promiseth. And hence 
moreover it is, amongst other causes, that in the pursuit of 
our war against sin, we have not only the old work to go 
over and over, but new work still while we live in this world ; 
still new stratagems and wiles to deal withal, as ,the manner 
will be where unsearchableness and deceitfulness are to be 
contended with. 

There are many other properties of this seat and subject 
of the law of sin, which might be insisted on to the same end 
and purpose, but that would too far divert us from our par- 
ticular design ; and therefore I shall pass these over with 
some few considerations. 

First, Never let us reckon that our work in contending 
against sin, in crucifying, mortifying, and subduing of it, is at 
an end. The place of its habitation is unsearchable ; and when 
we may think that we have throughly won the field, there is 
still some reserve remaining that we saw not, that we knew 
not of. Many conquerors have been ruined by their care- 
lessness after a victory ; and many have been spiritually 
wounded after great successes against this enemy. David 
was so; his great surprisal into sin was after a long profes- 
sion, manifold experiences of God, and watchful keeping 
himself from his iniquity. And hence in part hath it come 
to pass, that the profession of many hath declined in their 
old age, or riper time, which must more distinctly be spoken 
to afterward. They have given over the work of mortifying 
of sin, before their work was at an end. There is no way for 
us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitation, but by being 
endless in our pursuit. And that command of the apostle 
which we have. Col. iii. 5. on this account is as necessary 
for them to observe, who are towards the end of their race, 
as those that are but at the beginning of it. ' Mortify 
therefore your members that are on the earth;' be always 


doing it whilst you live in this world. It is true, great 
ground is obtained, when the work is vigorously and con- 
stantly carried on ; sin is much weakened, so that the soul 
presseth forwards towards perfection. But yet the work 
must be endless, I mean whilst we are in this world. If we 
give over, we shall quickly see this enemy exerting itself 
with new strength and vigour. It may be, under some great 
affliction, it may be, in some eminent enjoyment of God, in 
the sense of the sweetness of blessed communion with Christ, 
we have been ready to say, that there was an end of sin, that 
it was dead and gone for ever. But have we not found the 
contrary by experience ? hath it not manifested that it was 
only retired into some unsearchable recesses of the heart, as 
to its inbeing and nature, though it may be greatly weakened 
in its power? Let us then reckon on it, that there is no way 
to have our work done, but by always doing of it; and he 
who dies fighting in this warfare, dies assuredly a conqueror. 

Secondly, Hath it its residence in that which is various, 
inconstant, deceitful above all things ? this calls for perpe- 
tual watchfulness against it. An open enemy that deals by 
violence only always gives some respite ; you know where to 
have him, and what he is doing, so as that sometimes you 
may sleep quietly without fear. But against adversaries that 
deal by deceit and treachery (which are long swords, and 
reach at the greatest distance), nothing will give security but 
perpetual watchfulness. It is impossible we should in this case 
be too jealous, doubtful, suspicious, or watchful. The heart 
hath a thousand wiles and deceits,and if we are in the least off 
from our watch, we may be sure to be surprised. Hence are 
those reiterated commands and cautions given for watching, 
for being circumspect, diligent, careful, and the like. There 
is no living for them who have to deal with an enemy de- 
ceitful above all things, unless they persist in such a frame. 
All cautions that are given in this case are necessary, espe- 
cially that, remember not to believe. Doth the heart pro- 
mise fair? rest not on it, but say to the Lord Christ, Lord, do 
thou undertake for me. Doth the sun shine fair in the morn- 
ing? reckon not therefore on a fair day; the clouds may arise 
and fall: though the morning give a fair appearance of sere- 
nity and peace, turbulent affections may arise, and cloud the 
soul with sin and darkness. 

Thirdly, then, commit the whole matter with all care and 


diligence unto him who can search the heart to the uttermost, 
and knows how to prevent all its treacheries and deceits. In 
the things before-mentioned lies our duty, but here lies our 
safety. There is no treacherous corner in our hearts, but he 
can search it to the uttermost; there is no deceit in them but 
he can disappoint it. This course David takes, Psal. cxxxix. 
After he had set forth the omnipresence of God, and his om- 
niscience, ver. 8 — 10. he makes improvement of it, ver. 23. 
* Search me, O Lord, and try me.' As if he had said, it is but 
a little that I know of my deceitful heart, only I would be 
sincere, I would not have reserves for sin retained therein; 
wherefore do thou, who art present with my heart, who 
knowest my thoughts long before, undertake this work, per- 
form it throughly, for thou alone art able so to do. 

There are yet other arguments for the evidencing of the 
power and strength of indwelling sin from whence it is 
termed a law, which we must pass through according to the 
order wherein before we laid them down. 


Indwellmc/ sin enmity against God. Thence its power. Admits of no peace 
nor rest. Is against God himself. Acts itself in aversation from God ; 
and propensity to evil. Is imiversal. To all of God. In all of the soul. 

We have seen the seat and subject of this law of sin. In 
the next place we might take a view of its nature in general, 
which also will manifest its power and efficacy. But this I 
shall not enlarge upon; it being not my business to declare 
the [nature of indwelling sin, it hath also been done by others. 
I shall therefore only in reference unto our special design in 
hand, consider one property of it, that belongs unto its na- 
ture ; and this always wherever it is. And this is that which 
is expressed by the apostle, Rom. viii. 7. ' The carnal mind 
is enmity against God.' That which is here called, (ppowtiina 
'Trig aapKog, ' the wisdom of the flesh,' is the same with the 
law of sin, which we insist on. And what says he hereof? 
why it is 'i'x^joa rrpog rot Oioi, ' enmity against God.' It is not 
only an enemy, for so possibly some reconciliation of it unto 
God might be made; but it is enmity itself, and so not 
capable of accepting any terms of peace. Enemies may be 


reconciled, but enmity cannot. Yea, the only way to re- 
concile enemies, is to destroy the enmity. So the apostle in 
another case tells us, Rom. v. 10. ' We who were enemies, 
are reconciled unto God ;' that is, a work compassed and 
brought about by the blood of Christ ; the reconciling of the 
greatest enemies. But when he comes to speak of enmity, 
there is no way for it, but it must be abolished and destroyed, 
Eph. ii. 15. ' Having abolished in his flesh the enmity.' There 
is no way to deal with any enmity whatever, but by its abo- 
lition or destruction. 

And this also lies in it as it is enmity, that every part 
and parcel of it, if we may so speak, the least degree of it 
that can possibly remain in any one, whilst and where there 
is any thing of its nature, is enmity still. It may not be so 
effectual and powerful in operation, as where it hath more 
life and vigour, but it is enmity still. As every drop of 
poison is poison, and will infect; and every spark of fire is 
fire, and will burn; so is every thing of the law of sin, the 
last, the least of it, it is enmity, it will poison, it will burn. 
That which is any thing in the abstract is still so ; whilst it 
hath any being at all. Our apostle, who may well be sup- 
posed to have made as great a progress in the subduing of 
it, as any one on tl.e earth, yet after all cries out for deliver- 
ance, as from an irreconcileable enemy, Rom. vii. 24. The 
meanest acting, the meanest and most imperceptible work- 
ing of it, is the acting and working of enmity. Mortifica- 
tion abates of its force, but doth not change its nature. 
Grace changeth the nature of man, but nothing can change 
the nature of sin. Whatever effect be wrought upon it, 
there is no effect wrought in it, but that it is enmity still, 
sin still. This then by it is our state and condition. ' God is 
love ;' 1 John iv. 8. He is so in himself, eternally excellent, 
and desirable above all. He is so to us, he is so in the 
blood of his Son, and in all the inexpressible fruits of it, by 
which we are what we are, and wherein all our future hopes 
and expectations are wrapped up. Against this God we 
carry about us an enmity all our days; an enmity that 
hath this from its nature, that it is incapable of cure or 
reconciliation. Destroyed it may be, it shall be, but cured 
it cannot be. If a man hath an enemy to deal withal that is 
too mighty for him, as David had with Saul, he may take 
the course that he did ; consider what it is that provoked 


his enemy against hira, and so address kimself to remove 
the cause and make up his peace. 1 Sam. xxvi. 19. 'If the 
Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an 
offering : but if they be the children of men, cursed be they 
of the Lord ;' come it from God or man, there is yet hopes 
of peace. But when a man hath enmity itself to deal 
withal, nothing is to be expected but continual fighting to 
the destruction of the one party. If it be not overcome 
and destroyed, it will overcome and destroy the soul. 

And herein lies no small part of its power which we are 
inquiring after; it can admit of no terms of peace, of no 
composition. There may be a composition, where there is 
no reconciliation ; there may be a truce, where there is no 
peace ; but with this enemy we can obtain neither the one 
nor the other. It is never quiet conquering nor conquered 
which was the only kind of enemy that the famous warrior 
complained of, of old. It is in vain for a man to have any 
expectation of rest from his lust, but by its death, of abso- 
lute freedom, but by his own. Some in the tumultuating of 
their corruptions, seek for quietness by labouring to satisfy 
them, * making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts 
thereof;' as the apostle speaks, Rom. xiii. 14. This is to 
aslake fire by wood and oil. As all the fuel in the world, 
all the fabric of the creation that is combustible, being cast 
into the fire, will not at all satisfy it, but increase it ; so is 
it with satisfaction given to sin by sinning, it doth but in- 
flame and increase. If a man will part with some of his 
goods unto an enemy, it may satisfy him; but enmity will 
have all, and is not one whit the more satisfied, than if he 
had received nothing at all. Like the lean cattle that were 
never the less hungry, for having devoured the fat. You 
cannot bargain with the fire to take but so much of your 
houses, ye have no way but to quench it. It is in this case, 
as it is in the contest between a wise man and a fool, Prov. 
xxix. 9. ' Whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest.' What- 
ever frame or temper he be in, his importunate folly makes 
him troublesome. It is so with this indwelling sin, whe- 
ther it violently tumultuate, as it will do on provocations 
and temptations, it will be outrageous in the soul, or whe- 
ther it seem to be pleased and contented, to be satisfied, all 
is one, there is no peace, no rest to be had with it or by it. 
Had it then been of any other nature, some other way 


might have been fixed on, but being it consists in enmity, 
all the relief the soul hath must lie in its ruin. 

Secondly, It is not only said to be enmity, but it is 
said to be * enmity against God.' It hath chosen a great 
enemy indeed. It is in sundry places proposed as our 
enemy : 1 Pet. ii. 11. 'Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war 
against the soul.* They are enemies to the soul, that is, to 
ourselves. Sometimes as an enemy to the Spirit that is in 
us : ' The flesh lusteth' or fighteth ' against the Spirit ;' Gal. 
V. 17. It fights against the Spirit, or the spiritual principle 
that is in us, to conquer it ; it fights against our souls to 
destroy them. It hath special ends and designs against our 
souls, and against the principle of grace that is in us ; but 
its proper formal object is God ; it is enmity against God. 
It is its work to oppose grace ; it is a consequent of its work 
to oppose our souls, which follows upon what it doth, more 
than what it intends ; but its nature and formal design is to 
oppose God; God as the lawgiver, God as holy, God as 
the author of the gospel, a way of salvation by grace, and 
not by works, is the direct object of the law of sin. Why 
doth it oppose duty, so that the good we would do, we do 
not, eitlier as to matter or manner? Why doth it render 
the soul carnal, indisposed, unbelieving, unspiritual, weary, 
wandering? It is because of its enmity to God, whom the 
soul aims to have communion withal in duty. It hath, as it 
were, that command from Satan, which the Assyrians had 
from their king, ' Fight neither with small nor great, save 
only with the king of Israel ;' 1 Kings xxii. 31. It is neither 
great nor small, but God himself, the King of Israel, that sin 
sets itself against. There lies the secret formal reason of all 
its opposition to good, even because it relates unto God. 
May a road, a trade, a way of duties be set up, where commu- 
nion with God is not aimed at, but only the duty itself, as 
is the manner of men in most of their superstitious worship, 
the opposition that will lie against it from the law of sin 
will be very weak, easy, and gentle. Or, as the Assyrians, 
because of his shew of a king, assaulted Jehosaphat, but 
when they found that it was not Ahab, they turned back 
from pursuing of him. Because there is a shew and appear- 
ance of the worship of God, sin may make head against it at 
first, but when tlie duty cries out in the heart, that indeed 
God is not there; sin turns away to seek out its proper enemy, 


even God himself, elsewhere. And hence do many poot 
creatures spend their days in dismal tiring superstitions, 
without any great reluctancy from within, when others can- 
not be suffered freely to watch with Christ in a spiritual 
manner one hour. And it is no wonder that men fight with 
carnal weapons for their superstitious worship without, when 
they have no fighting against it within. For God is not in 
it; and the law of sin makes not opposition to any duty, but 
to God in every duty. This is our state and condition; all 
the opposition that ariseth in us unto any thing that is spiri- 
tually good, whether it be from darkness in the mind, or 
aversation in the will, or sloth in the affections, all the secret 
arguings and reasonings that are in the soul in pursuit of 
them, the direct object of them is God himself. The enmity 
lies against him, which consideration surely should influence 
us to a perpetual constant watchfulness over ourselves. 

It is thus also in respect of all propensity unto sin, as 
well as aversation from God. It is God himself that is aimed 
at. It is true, the pleasures, the wages of sin, do greatly 
influence the sensual carnal affections of men ; but it is the 
holiness and authority of God that sin itself rises up against ; 
it hates the yoke of the Lord ; * Thou hast been weary of 
me,' saith God to sinners, and that during their performance 
of abundance of duties. Every act of sin is a fruit of being 
weary of God. Thus Job tells us what lies at the bottom in 
the heart of sinners, 'They say to the Lord, Depart from us,' 
it is enmity against him and aversation from him. Here lies 
the formal nature of every sin, it is an opposition to God, a 
casting off his yoke, a breaking off the dependance which 
the creature ought to have on the Creator. And the apostle, 
Rom. viii. 7. gives the reason why he affirms 'the carnal mind 
to be enmity against God,' namely, because 'it is not 
subject to the will of God, nor indeed can be.' It never is, 
nor will, nor can be subject to God, its whole nature con- 
sisting in an opposition to him. The soul wherein it is may 
be subject to the law of God, but this law of sin sets up in 
contrariety unto it, and will not be in subjection. 

To manifest a little farther the power of this law of sin 
from this property of its nature, that it is enmity against God, 
one or two inseparable adjuncts of it may be considered, 
which will farther evince it. 

1. It is universal. Some contentions are bounded unto 


some particular concernments, this is about one thing, that 
about another. It is not so here ; the enmity is absolute and 
universal, as are all enmities that are grounded in the nature 
of the things themselves. Such enmity is against the whole 
kind of that which is its object. Such is this enmity; for 
(1.) It is universal to all of God ; and (2.) It is universal in 
all of the soul. 

(1.) It is universal to all of God. If there were any 
thing of God, his nature, properties, his mind or will, his 
law or gospel, any duty of obedience to him, of communion 
with him, that sin had not an enmity against, the soul might 
have a constant shelter and retreat within itself, by ap- 
plying itself to that of God, to that of duty towards him, to 
that of communion with him, that sin would make no oppo- 
sition against. But the enmity lies against God, and all of 
God, and every thing wherein or whereby we have to do with 
him. It is not subject to the law, nor any part or parcel, 
word or tittle of the law. Whatever is opposite to any thing 
as such, is opposite unto all of it. Sin is enmity to God as 
God, and therefore to all of God. Not his goodness, not his 
holiness, not his mercy, not his grace, not his promises, 
there is not any thing of him, which it doth not make head 
against, nor any duty, private, public, in the heart, in exter- 
ternal works, which it opposeth not. And the nearer (if I 
may so say) any thing is to God, the greater is its enmity 
unto it. The more of spirituality and holiness is in any thing, 
the greater is its enmity. That which hath most of God, 
hath most of its opposition. Concerning them in whom this 
law is most predominant, God says, ' Ye have set at nought 
all my counsel, and you would have none of my reproofs;' 
Prov. i. 25. Not this or that part of God's counsel, his mind 
or will is opposed, but all his counsel, whatever he calleth 
for or guideth unto, in every particular of it, all is set at 
nought, and nothing of his reproof attended unto. A man 
would think it not very strange that sin should maintain an 
enmity against God in his law, which comes to judge it, to 
condemn it; but it raiseth a greater enmity against him in 
his gospel, wherein he tenders mercy and pardon, as a de- 
liverance from it, and that merely because more of the 
glorious properties of God's nature, more of his excellencies 
and condescension, is manifested therein, than in the other. 

VOL. XIII. 1) 


(2.) It IS universal in all of the soul. Would this law 
of sin have contented itself to have subdued any one faculty 
of the soul, would it have left any one at liberty, any one 
affection free from its yoke and bondage, it might pos- 
sibly have been with more ease opposed or subdued. But 
when Christ comes with his spiritual power upon the soul 
to conquer it to himself, he hath no quiet landing place. He 
can set foot on no ground but what he must fight for and 
conquer. Not the mind, not an affection, not the will, but all 
is secured against him. And when grace hath made its en- 
trance; yet sin will dwell in all its coasts. Were any thing 
in the soul at perfect freedom and liberty, there a stand 
might be made to drive it from all the rest of its holds ; but 
it is universal and wars in the whole soul. The mind hath its 
own darkness and vanity to wrestle with ; the will its own 
stubbornness, obstinacy, and perverseness ; every affection 
its own frowardness and aversation from God, and its sen- 
suality to deal withal ; so that one cannot yield relief unto 
one another as they ought ; they have, as it were, their hands 
full at home. Hence it is that our knowledge is imperfect, 
our obedience weak, love not unmixed, fear not pure, delight 
not free and noble. But I must not insist on these parti- 
culars, or I could abundantly shew how diffused this prin- 
ciple of enmity against God is through the whole soul. 

2. Hereunto might be added its constancy ; it is constant 
unto itself, it wavers not, it hath no thoughts of yielding or 
giving over, notwithstanding the powerful opposition that 
is made unto it both by the law and gospel, as afterward 
shall be shewed. 

This then is a third evidence of the power of sin, taken 
from its nature and properties, wherein I have fixed but on 
one instance for its illustration, namely, that it is enmity 
against God, and that universal and constant. Should we 
enter upon a full description of it, it would require more 
space and time than we have allotted to this whole subject. 
What hath been delivered might give us a little sense of it, 
if it be the will of God, and stir us up unto watchfulness. 
What can be of a more sad consideration than that we 
should carry about us constantly that which is enmity against 
God, and that not in this or that particular, but in all that 
he is, and in all wherein he hath revealed himself? I cannot 


say it is well with them who find it not: it is well with them 
indeed, in whom it is weakened, and the power of it abated. 
But yet for them who say it is not in them, they do but de- 
ceive themselves, and there is no truth in them. 


Nature of sin farther discovered as it is enmity against God. Its aversa- 
tionfrom all good opened. Means to prevent the effects of it prescribed. 

We have considered somewhat of the nature of indwelling 
sin, not absolutely, but in reference unto the discovery of 
its power. But this more clearly evidenceth itself in its 
actings and operations. Power is an act of life, and opera- 
tion is the only discoverer of life. We know not that any 
thing lives, but by the effects and works of life ; and great 
and strong operations discover a powerful and vigorous life. 
Such are the operations of this law of sin, which are all de- 
monstrations of its power. 

That which we have declared concerning its nature, is 
that it consists in enmity. Now there are two general heads 
of the working or operation of enmity : first, Aversation ; 
secondly. Opposition. 

First, Aversation. Our Saviour, describing the enmity 
that was between himself and the teachers of the Jews, by 
the effects of it, saith in the prophet, ' My soul loathed them, 
and their soul also abhorred me;' Zech. xi. 8. Where there 
is mutual enmity, there is mutual aversation, loathing, and 
abomination. So it was between the Jews and the Sama- 
ritans ; they were enemies, and abhorred one another ; as 
John iv. 9. 

Secondly, Opposition, or contending against one another, 
is the next product of enmity. Isa. Ixiii. 10. * He was turn- 
ed to be their enemy, and he fought against them;' speak- 
ing of God towards the people. Where there is enmity 
there will be fighting ; it is the proper and natural product 
of it. Now both these efiects are found in this law of sin. 

First, For aversation ; there is an aversation in it unto 
God, and every thing of God, as we have in part discovered 
in handling the enmity itself, and so shall not need much to 

D 2 


insist upon it again. All indisposition unto duty, wherein 
communion with God is to be obtained ; all weariness 
of duty, all carnality or formality unto duty, it all springs 
from this root. The wise man cautions us against this 
evil, Eccles. v. 1. ' When thou goest to the house of 
God, keep thy foot.' Hast thou any spiritual duty to per- 
form, and dost thou design the attaining of any communion 
with God ? look to thyself, take care of thy affections, they 
will be gadding and wandering, and that from their aversa- 
tion to what thou hast in hand. There is not any good that 
we would do, wherein we may not find this aversation exer- 
cising itself. ' When I would do good, evil is present with 
me ;' at any time, at all times, when I would do any thing 
that is spiritually good, it is present; that is, to hinder me, 
to obstruct me in ray duty, because it abhors and loaths the 
thing which I have in hand, it will keep me off from it if it 
be possible. In them in whom it prevails, it comes at length 
unto that frame which is expressed, Ezek. xxxiii. 31. It 
will allow an outward bodily presence unto the worship of 
God, wherein it is not concerned, but it keeps the heart 
quite away. 

It may be some will pretend, they find it not so in them- 
selves, but they have freedom and liberty in and unto all the 
duties of obedience that they attend unto. But I fear this 
pretended liberty will be found upon examination to arise 
from one or both of these causes. First, ignorance of the 
true state and condition of their own souls, of their inward 
man and its actings towards God. They know not how it 
is with them, and therefore are not to be believed in what 
they report. They are in the dark, and neither know what 
they do, nor whither they are going. It is like the Pharisee 
knew little of this matter, which made him boast of his du- 
ties to God himself; or, secondly, it may be, whatever duties 
of worship or obedience such persons perform, they may, 
through want of faith, and an interest in Christ, have no 
communion with them : and if so, sin will make but little 
opposition unto them therein. We speak of them, whose 
hearts are exercised with these things ; and if under their 
complaints of them, and groanings for deliverance from 
them, others cry out unto them. Stand off, we are holier 
than ye; they are willing to bear their condition, as knowing 


that their way may be safe, though it be troublesome ; and 
being willing to see their own dangers, that they may avoid 
the ruin which others fall into. 

Let us then a little consider this aversation in such acts 
of obedience, as wherein there is no concernment but that 
of God and the soul. In public duties there may be a mix- 
ture of other considerations ; they may be so influenced by 
custom and necessity, that a right judgment cannot from 
them be made of this matter; but let us take into consi- 
deration the duties of retirement, as private prayer and me- 
ditation, and the like; or else extraordinary duties, or duties 
to be performed in an extraordinary manner. 

1. In these will this aversation and loathing often- 
times discover itself in the affections. A secret striving 
will be in them about close and cordial dealing with God. 
Unless the hand of God in his Spirit be high and strong 
upon his soul, even when convictions, sense of duty, dear 
and real esteem of God, and communion with him, have car- 
ried the soul into its closet, yet if there be not the vigour 
and power of a spiritual life constantly at work, there will 
be a secret loathness in them unto duty; yea, sometimes 
there will be a violent inclination to the contrary, so that 
the soul had rather do any thing, embrace any diversion, 
though it wound itself thereby, than vigorously apply itself 
unto that which in the inward man it breathes after. It is 
weary before it begins, and says, when will the work be 
over? Here God and the soul are immediately concerned, 
and it is a great conquest to do what we would, though we 
come exceedingly short of what we should do. 

2. It discovers itself in the mind also : when we address 
ourselves to God in Christ, we are, as Job speaks, ' to fill our 
mouths with arguments ;' Job xxiii. 4. that we may be able 
to plead with him, as he calls upon us to do, Isa. xliii. 26. 
' Put me in remembrance, let us plead together.' Whence 
the church is called upon to take unto itself words or argu- 
ments in going to God, Hos. xiv. 2. The sum is, that the 
mind should be furnished with tiie considerations that are 
prevailing with God, and be in readiness to plead them, and 
to manage them in the most spiritual manner to the best ad- 
vantage. Now is there no difficulty to f;;et the mind into 
such a frame, as to lay out itself to the utmost in this work ? 



to be clear, steady, and constant in its duty ? to draw out, 
and make use of its stores and furniture of promises and ex- 
periences ? It starts, wanders, flags, all from this secret aver- 
sation unto communion with God, which proceeds from the 
law of indwelling sin. Some complain that they can make 
no work of meditation, they cannot bend their minds unto it. 
I confess there may be a great cause of this, in their want 
of a right understanding of the duty itself, and of the ways 
of managing the soul in it, which therefore I shall a little 
speak to afterward. But yet this secret enmity hath its 
band in the loss they are at also, and that both in their 
minds and in their affections. Others are forced to live in 
family and public duties, they find such little benefit and 
success in private. And here hath been the beginning of 
the apostacy of many professors, and the source of many 
foolish sensual opinions. Finding this aversation in their 
minds and affections from closeness and constancy in pri- 
vate spiritual duties, not knowing how to conquer and pre- 
vail against these difficulties, through him who enables us, 
they have at first been subdued to a neglect of them, first 
partial, then total, until having lost all conscience of them, 
they have had a door opened unto all sin and licentiousness, 
and so to a full and utter apostacy. I am persuaded there are 
very few that apostatize from a profession of any continuance, 
such as our days abound withal, but their door of entrance 
into the folly of backsliding, was either some great and no- 
torious sin that blooded their consciences, tainted their af- 
fections, and intercepted all delight of having any thing 
more to do with God; or else it was a course of neglect in 
private duties, arising from a weariness of contending against 
that powerful aversation which they found in themselves 
unto them. And this also, through the craft of Satan, hath 
been improved into many foolish and sensual opinions, of 
living unto God without, and above, any duties of commu- 
nion. And we find, that after men have for awhile choked 
and blinded their consciences with this pretence, cursed 
wickedness or sensuality hath been the end of their folly. 
And the reason of all this is, that the giving way to the law 
of sin in the least, is the giving strength unto it : to let it 
alone is to let it grow, not to conquer it is to be conquered 
by it. 


As it is in respect of private, so it is also in respect of 
public duties, that have any thing extraordinary in them. 
What strivings, strugglings, and pleadings are there in the 
heart about them, especially against the spirituality of them ? 
Yea, in and under them, will not the mind and affections 
sometimes be entangled with things uncouth, new, and 
strange unto them, such as at the time of the least serious 
business, a man would not deign to take into his thoughts ? 
But if the least loose, liberty, or advantage be given unto in- 
dwelling sin, if it be not perpetually watched over, it will 
work to a strange and unexpected issue. In brief, let the 
soul unclothe any duty whatever, private or public, anything 
that is called good, let a man divest it of all outward respects 
which secretly insinuate themselves into the mind and give 
it some complacency in what it is about, but do not render 
it acceptable unto God, and he shall assuredly find somewhat 
of the power and some of the effects of this aversation. It 
begins in loathness and indisposition, goes on with entangling 
the mind and affections with other things, and will end, if 
not prevented, in weariness of God, which he complains of 
in his people, Isa. xliii. 22. They ceased from duty because 
they were weary of God. 

But this instance being of great importance unto professors 
in their walking with God, we must not pass it over without 
some intimations of directions for them in their contending 
against it, and opposition to it. Only this must be premised, 
that I am not giving directions for the mortifying of in- 
dwelling sin in general, which is to be done alone by the 
Spirit of Christ, by virtue of our union with him, Rom. viii. 
13. but only of our particular duty, with reference unto this 
especial evil or effect of indwelling sin that we have a little 
insisted on, or what in this single case the wisdom of faith 
seems to direct unto and call for; which will be our way 
and course in our process upon the consideration of other 
effects of it. 

1. The great means to prevent the fruits and effects of 
this aversation, is the constant keeping of the soul in a uni- 
versally holy frame. As this weakens the whole law of sin, 
so answerably all its properties ; and particularly this aver- 
sation. It is this frame only that will enable us to say with 
the psalmist, Psal.lvii. 7. ' My heart is fixed, O God, my 


heart is fixed.' It is utterly impossible to keep the heart in 
a prevailing holy frame in any one duty, unless it be so in 
and unto all and every one. If sin entanglements get hold 
in any one thing, they will put themselves upon the soul in 
every thing. A constant even frame and temper in all duties, 
in all ways, is the only preservative for any one way. Let 
not him who is neglective in public persuade himself that all 
will be clear and easy in private, or on the contrary. There 
is a harmony in obedience; break but one part and you in- 
terrupt the whole. Our v(rounds in particular arise generally 
from negligence as to the whole course. So David informs 
us, Psal. cxix. 6. ' Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have 
a respect unto all thy commandments.' A universal respect 
to all God's commandments is the only preservative from 
shame. And nothing have we more reason to be ashamed 
of, than the shameful miscarriages of our hearts in point of 
duty, which are from the principle before mentioned. 

2. Labour to prevent the very beginnings of the work- 
ings of this aversation ; let grace be beforehand with it in 
every duty. We are directed, 1 Pet. iv. 7. to * watch unto 
prayer ; ' and as it is unto prayer, so unto every duty ; that is, 
to consider and take care that we be not hindered from 
within, nor from without as to a due performance of it. 
Watch against temptations to oppose them ; watch against 
the aversation that is in sin to prevent it. As we are not to 
give place to Satan, no more are we to sin. If it be not 
prevented in its first attempts, it will prevail. My meaning 
is, whatever good, as the apostle speaks, we have to do, and 
find evil present with us, as we shall find it present, prevent 
its parlying with the soul, its insinuating of poison into the 
mind and affections, by a vigorous, holy, violent stirring up 
of the sfrace or graces that are to be acted and set at work 
peculiarly in that duty. Let Jacob come first into the world, 
or, if prevented by the violence of Esau, let him lay hold 
on his heel to overthrow him, and obtain the birthright. 
Upon the very first motion of Peter to our Saviour, crying, 
' Master, spare thyself,' he immediately replies, * Get thee 
behind me, Satan.' So ought we to say. Get thee gone, thou 
law of sin, thou present evil, and it may be of the same use 
unto us. Get grace then up betimes unto duty, and be early 
in the rebukes of sin. 


3. Though it do its worst, yet be sure it never prevail 
to a conquest. Be sure you be not wearied out by its per- 
tinacity, nor driven from your hold by its importunity ; do 
not faint by its opposition. Take the apostle's advice, 
Heb. vi. 11. * We desire that every one of you do shew the 
same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end : 
that ye be not slothful.' Still hold out in the same diligence. 
There are many ways whereby men are driven from a con- 
stant holy performance of duties, all of them dangerous, if 
not pernicious to the soul. Some are diverted by business, 
some by company, some by the power of temptations, some 
discouraged by their own darkness; but none so dangerous 
as this, when the soul gives over in part, or in whole, as 
wearied by the aversation of sin unto it, or to communion 
with God in it. This argues the soul's giving up of itself unto 
the power of sin, which, unless the Lord break the snare of 
Satan therein, will assuredly prove ruinous. Our Saviour's 
instruction is, that ' we ought always to pray, and not to 
faint;' Luke xviii. 1 . Opposition will arise, none so bitter and 
keen as that from our own hearts; if we faint we perish. 
'Take heed lest you be wearied,' saith the apostle, 'and 
faint in your minds;' Heb.xii. 3. Such a fainting as is at- 
tended with a weariness, and that with a giving place to the 
aversation working in our hearts, is to be avoided if we 
would not perish. The caution is the same with that of the 
same apostle, Rom. xii. 12. * Rejoicing in hope, patient in 
tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.' And in general with 
that of chap. vi. 12. 'Let not sin therefore reign in your 
mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof.' 
To cease from duty, in part or in whole, upon the aversation 
of sin unto its spirituality, is to give sin the rule and to obey 
it in the lust thereof. Yield not then unto it, but hold out 
the conflict; wait on God and ye shall prevail. Isa. xl.31. 
'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; they shall run, and 
not be weary ; and they shall walk, and not faint.' Rut that 
which is now so difficult, will increase in difficulty if we give 
way unto it. But if we abide in our station, we shall jirevail ; 
the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. 

4. Carry about a constant humbling sense of this close 
aversation unto spiritualness that yet lies in our nature. If 
men find the efficacy of it, what should, what consideration 


can, be more powerful to bring them unto humble walking 
with God. That after all the discoveries that God hath 
made of himself unto them, all the kindness they have re- 
ceived from him, his doing of them good and not evil in all 
things, there should yet be such a heart of unkindness and 
unbelief still abiding, as to have an aversation lying in it to 
communion with him. How ought thethoughts of it to cast us 
into the dust, to fill us with shame and self-abhorrency all our 
days ? What have we found in God in any of our approaches 
or addresses unto him, that it should be thus with us ? What 
iniquity have we found in him ? Hath he been a wilderness 
unto us, or aland of darkness? Did we ever lose any thing 
by drawing nigh unto him? Nay, Iiath not therein lain all 
the rest and peace which we have obtained ? Is not he the 
fountain and spring of all our mercies, of all our desirable 
things ? Hath he not bid us welcome at our coming ? Have 
we not received from him more than heart can conceive or 
tongue express ? What ails then our foolish and wretched 
hearts, to harbour such a cursed secret dislike of him and his 
ways ? Let us be ashamed and astonished at the considera- 
tion of it, and walk in an humbling sense of it all our days. 
Let us carry it about with us in the most secret of our 
thoughts. And as this is a duty in itself acceptable unto God, 
who delights to dwell with them that are of an humble and 
contrite spirit, so it is of exceeding efficacy to the weakening 
of the evil we treat of. 

5. Labour to possess the mind with the beauty and 
excellency of spiritual things, that so they may be presented 
lovely and desirable to the soul, and this cursed aversation 
of sin will be weakened thereby. It is an innate acknow- 
ledged principle, that the soul of man will not keep up 
cheerfully unto the worship of God, unless it have a disco- 
very of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men 
had lost all spiritual sense and favour of the things of God, 
to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invent- 
ed outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in 
images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal or- 
naments which they have called the beauties of holiness. 
Thus much however was discovered therein, that the mind 
of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of 
God's worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will 
prevail. Let then the soul labour to acquaint itself with the 


spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and 
of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be 
filled with delight in them. It is not my present work to 
discover the heads and springs of that beauty and desirable- 
ness which is in spiritual duties, in their relation to God, the 
eternal spring of all beauty; to Christ, the love, desire, and 
hope of all nations; to the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls, 
rendering them by his grace all glorious within, in their suit- 
ableness to the souls of men, as to their actings towards 
their last end, in the rectitude and holiness of the rule in at- 
tendance whereunto they are to be performed ; but I only 
say at present in general, that to acquaint the soul throughly 
with these things is an eminent way of weakening the aver- 
sation spoken of. 


The work of this enmity against God, by way of opposition. First, It 
lusteth. Wherein the lusting of sin consisteth. £ts sin prising of the soul. 
Readiness lo close luith temptations. Its fighting and warring. 1. In 
liebellion against the law of grace. 2. In assaulting the soul. 

How this enmity worketh by way of aversation hath been 
declared, as also the means that the soul is to use for the 
preventing of its effects and prevalency. The second way 
whereby it exerts itself is opposition. Enmity will oppose 
and contend with that wherewith it is at enmity. It is so in 
things natural and moral. As light and darkness, heat and 
cold, so virtue and vice oppose each other. So is it with 
sin and grace ; saith the apostle, ' These are contrary one to 
the other;' Gal. v, 17. avriKHTai oAXZ/Aotc, they are placed 
and set in mutual opposition, and that continually and con- 
stantly, as we shall see. 

Now there are two ways whereby enemies manage an n|)- 
position. First, By force; and secondly, By fraud and de- 
ceit. So when the Egyptians became enemies to the children 
of Israel, and managed an enmity against them, Exod. i. 10. 
Pharaoh saith, ' Let us deal wisely,' or rather cunningly and 
subtilely ' with this people ;' for so Stephen, with respect to 
this word, expresseth it. Acts vii. 19. by Kor(/ao<|n(7o/ntT'or, he 


used ' all manner of fraudulent sophistry.' And unto this de- 
ceit they added force, in their grievous oppressions. This 
is the way and manner of things where there is a prevailing- 
enmity : and both these are made use of by the law of sin, 
in its enmity against God, and our souls. 

I shall begin with the first ; or its actings as it were in 
a way of force, in an open downright opposition to God and 
his law, or the good that a believing soul would do in obe- 
dience unto God and his law. And in this whole matter, 
we must be careful to steer our course aright, taking the 
Scripture for our guide, with spiritual reason and expe- 
rience for our companions ; for there are many shelves in 
our course, which must diligently be avoided, that none who 
consider these things be troubled without cause, or com- 
forted without a just foundation. 

In this first way, whereby this sin exerts its enmity in 
opposition, namely, as it were by force or strength, there are 
four things expressing so many distinct degrees in its pro- 
gress and procedure in the pursuit of its enmity. 

First, Its general inclination, ' it lusteth ;' Gal. v. 17. 
Secondly, Its particular way of contending ; it fights or 
wars; Rom. vii. 23. James iv. 1. 1 Pet. ii. 11. 

Thirdly, Its success in this contest; ' it brings the soul 
into captivity to the law of sin ;\Rom. vii. 23. 

Fourthly, Its growth and rage upon success ; it comes 
up to madness, as an enraged enemy will do ; Eccles. ix. 3. 
All which we must speak to in order. 

First, In general it is said to lust. Gal. v. 17. ' The flesh 
lusteth against the Spirit.' This word expresseth the ge- 
neral nature of that opposition which the law of sin maketh 
against God, and the rule of his Spirit or grace in them that 
believe ; and therefore, the least degree of that opposition is 
expressed hereby. When it doth any thing it lusteth. As 
because burning is the general acting of fire, whatever it 
doth else, it doth also burn. When fire doth any thing, it 
burns ; and when the law of sin doth any thing, it lusts. 

Hence all the actings of this law of sin are called the 
' lusts of the flesh.' Gal. v. 16. ' Ye shall not fulfil the lusts 
of the flesh.' Rom. xiii. 14, * Make no provision for the 
flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.' Nor are these lusts of the 
flesh those only whereby men act their sensuality in riot. 


drunkenness, uncleanness, and the like; but they compre- 
hend all the actings of the law of sin whatever, in all the fa- 
culties and affections of the soul. Thus, Eph. ii. 3. we 
have mention of the desires, or wills, or lusts of the mind, 
as well as of the flesh. The mind, the most spiritual part 
of the soul, hath its lusts, no less than the sensual appetite, 
which seems sometimes more properly to be called the flesh. 
And in the products of these lusts, there are defilements of 
the spirit, as well as of the flesh, 2 Cor. vii. 1. that is, of the 
mind and understanding, as well of the appetite and affec- 
tions, and the body that attends their service. And in the 
blamelessness of all these consists our holiness, 2 Thess. 
V. 23. ' The God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray 
God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved 
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Yea, 
by the flesh in this matter the whole old man, or the law of 
sin, is intended, John iii. 6. ' That which is born of the flesh 
is flesh ;' that is, it is all so, and nothing else : and whatever 
remains of the old nature in the new man is flesh still. And 
this flesh lusteth ; this law of sin doth so, which is the ge- 
neral bottom and foundation of all its opposition unto God. 
And this it doth two ways. 

1. In a hidden close propensity unto all evil. This 
lies in it habitually. Whilst a man is in the state of nature, 
fully under the power and dominion of this law of sin, it is 
said, that * every figment of his heart is evil, and that conti- 
nually;' Gen. vi. 5. It can frame, fashion, produce, or act 
nothing but what is evil, because this habitual propensity 
unto evil, that is in the law of sin, is absolutely predominant 
in such a one. It is in the heart like poison, that hath no- 
thing to allay its venomous qualities, and so infects what- 
ever it touches : and where the power and dominion of it is 
broken, yet in its own nature it hath still an habitual propen- 
sity unto that which is evil, wherein its lusting doth consist. 
But here we must distinguish between the habitual frame 
of the heart, and the natural propensity or habitual inclina- 
tion of the law of sin in the heart. The habitual inclina- 
tion of the heart is denominated from the principle that 
bears chief or sovereign rule in it; and therefore in believers 
it is unto good, unto God, unto holiness, unto obedience. 
The heart is not habitually inclined unto evil by the remain- 


ders of indwelling sin, but this sin in the heart hath a con- 
stant habitual propensity unto evil in itself, or its own na- 
ture. This the apostle intends by its being present with us ; 
it 'is present with me;' that is, always, and for its own end, 
which is to lust unto sin. 

It is with indwelling sin as with a river ; whilst the 
springs and fountains of it are open, and waters are conti- 
nually supplied unto its streams, set a dam before it, and it 
causeth it to rise and swell, until it bear down all, or over- 
flow the banks about it. Let these waters be abated, dried 
up in some good measure, in the springs of them, and the 
remainder may be coerced and restrained : but still as long 
as there is any running water, it will constantly press upon 
what stands before it, according to its weight and strength, 
because it is its nature so to do ; and if by any means it 
make a passage, it will proceed. So is it with indwelling 
sin; whilst the springs and fountains of it are open, in vain 
is it for men to set a dam before it by their convictions, 
resolutions, vows, and promises. They may check it for 
awhile, but it will increase, rise high, and rage at one time or 
another, until it bears down all those convictions and reso- 
lutions, or makes itself an underground passage by some se- 
cret lust, that shall give a full vent unto it. But now sup- 
pose that the springs of it are much dried up by regenerating 
grace, the streams or actings of it abated by holiness, yet 
whilst any thing remains of it, it will be pressing constantly 
to have vent, to press forward into actual sin ; and this is its 

And this habitual propensity in it is discovered two ways. 

(1.) In its unexpected surprisals of the soul into foolish sin- 
ful figments and imaginations which it looked not for, nor was 
any occasion administered unto them. It is with indwelling 
sin as it is with the contrary principle of sanctifying grace. 
This gives the soul, if I may so say, many a blessedsurprisal. 
It oftentimes ingenerates and brings forth a holy spiritual 
frame in the heart and mind, when we have had no previous 
rational considerations to work them thereunto- And this 
manifests it to be an habitual principle prevailing in the 
mind: so Cant. vi. 12. 'Or ever I was aware my soul made 
me as the chariots of Amminadib ; ' that is, free, willing, and 
ready for communion with Christ. >ny*T nb, I knew not, it 


was done by the |)ower of the Spirit of grace, so that I took 
no notice of it, as it were, until it was done. The frequent 
actings of grace in this manner, exciting acts of faith, love, 
and complacency in God, are evidences of much strength 
and prevalency of it in the soul. And thus also is it with 
indwelling sin; ere the soul is aware, without any provocation 
or temptation, when it knows not, it is cast into a vain and 
foolish frame. Sin produceth its figments secretly in the 
heart, and prevents the mind's consideration of what it is 
about. I mean hereby those 'actus primo primi,' first acts of 
the soul, which are thus far involuntary, as that they have 
not the actual consent of the will unto them, but are volun- 
tary, as far as sin hath its residence in the will. And these 
surprisals, if the soul be not awake to take speedy care for 
the prevention of their tendency, do oftentimes set all as it 
were on fire, and engage the mind and affections into actual 
sin. For, as by grace we are oftentimes, ere we are aware, 
made as the chariots of a willing people, and are far engaged 
in heavenly-mindedness and communion with Christ, making- 
speed in it as in a chariot, so by sin are we oftentimes, ere 
we are aware, carried into distempered affections, foolish 
imaginations, and pleasing delightfulness in things that are 
not good nor profitable. Hence is that caution of the 
apostle. Gal. 6. 1. lav irpoXricp^y, if a man be surprised at 
unawares with a fault or in a transgression. I doubt not but 
the subtlety of Satan and the power of temptation are here 
taken into consideration by the apostle, which causeth him 
to express a man's falling into sin, by lav TrpoXrj'pOrj, 'if he be 
surprised;' so this working of indwelling sin also hath its 
consideration in it, and that in the chiefest place, without 
which nothing else could surprise us. For without the help 
thereof, whatever comes from without, from Satan, or the 
world, must admit of some parley in the mind before it be 
received, but it is from within, from ourselves, that we are 
surprised. Hereby are we disappointed and wrought over to 
do that wliich we would not, and hindered from the doing of 
that which we would. 

Hence it is, that when the soul is oftentimes doing as it 
were quite another thing, engaged quite upon another design, 
sin starts that in the heart or imaginations of it, that carries 
it away into that which is evil and sinful. Yea, to manifest 


its power, sometimes when the soul is seriously engaged in 
the mortification of any sin, it will, by one means or other, 
lead it away into a dalliance with that very sin whose ruin it 
is seeking, and whose mortification it is engaged in. But 
as there is in this operation of the law of sin, a special en- 
ticing or entangling, we shall speak unto it fully afterward. 
Now these surprisals can be from nothing but an habitual 
propensity unto evil in the principle from whence they proceed. 
Not an habitual inclination unto actual sin in the mind or 
heart, but an habitual propensity unto evil in the sin that is 
in the mind or heart. This prevents the soul with its figments. 
How much communion with God is hereby prevented, how 
many meditations are disturbed, how much the minds and 
consciences of men have been defiled by this acting of sin, 
some may have observed. I know no greater burden in the 
life of a believer, than these involuntary surprisals of soul ; 
involuntary, I say, as to the actual consent of the will, but 
not so in respect of that corruption which is in the will, and 
is the principle of them. And it is in respect unto these, 
that the apostle makes his complaint, Rom. vii. 24. 

(2.) This habitual inclination manifests itself in its rea- 
diness and promptness, without dispute or altercation, to 
join and close with every temptation whereby it may possibly 
be excited. As we know it is in the nature of fire to burn, 
because it immediately lays hold on whatever is combustible. 
Let any temptation whatever be proposed unto a man, the 
suitableness of whose matter unto his corruptions, or manner 
of its proposal, makes it a temptation ; immediately he hath 
not only to do with the temptation as outwardly proposed, 
but also with his own heart about it. Without farther con- 
sideration or debate, the temptation hath got a friend in him. 
Not a moment's space is given between' the proposal and the 
necessity there is incumbent on the soul to look to its enemy 
within. And this also argues a constant habitual propensity 
unto evil. Our Saviour said of the assaults and temptations 
of Satan, 'The prince of this world cometh, and he hath no 
part in me ;' John xiv. 30. He had more temptations inten- 
sively and extensively, in number, quality, and fierceness, 
from Satan and the woi'ld, than ever had any of the sons of 
men: but yet in all of them he had to deal only with that 
which came from without. His holy heart had nothing to 


like them, suited to them, or ready to give them entertainment ; 
'the prince of this v/orld had nothing in him.* So it was with 
Adam ; when a temptation befell him, he had only the outward 
proposal to look unto ; all was well within, until the outward 
temptation took place and prevailed. With us it is not so. 

In a city that is at unity in itself, compact and entire, 
without divisions and parties, if an enemy approach about it, 
the rulers and inhabitants have no thoughts at all but only 
how they may oppose the enemy without, and resist him in his 
approaches. But if the city be divided in itself, if there be 
factions and traitors within, the very first thing they do, is 
to look to the enemies at home, the traitors within; to cut 
off the head of Sheba, if they will be safe. All was well with 
Adam within doors, when Satan came, so that he had nothing 
to do but to look to his assaults and approaches. But now. 
on the access of any temptation, the soul is instantly to look 
in, where it shall find this traitor at work, closing with the 
baits of Satan, and stealing away the heart. And this it doth 
always, which evinceth an habitual inclination. Psal.xxxviii. 
17. saith David, ' I am ready to halt,' or for halting; >m >d 
pD3 V^Tib, I am prepared and disposed unto hallucination, to 
the slipping of my foot into sin, verse 16. as he expounds the 
moaning of that phrase, Psal.lxxiii. 2. 3. There was from 
indwelling sin a continual disposition in him to be slipping, 
stumbling, halting on every occasion or temptation. There 
is nothing so vain, foolish, ridiculous, fond, nothing so vile 
and abominable, nothing so atheistical or execrable, but if it 
be proposed unto the soul in a way of temptation, there is 
that in this law of sin which is ready to answer it, before it 
be decried by grace. And this is the first thing in this lust- 
ing of the law of sin, it consists in its habitual propensity 
unto evil, manifesting itself by the involuntary surprisals of 
the soul unto sin, and its readiness, without dispute or con- 
sideration, to join in all temptations whatever. 

2. Its lusting consists in its actual pressing after that 
which is evil, and actual opposition unto that which is 
good. The former instances siiewed its constant readiness 
to this work ; this now treats of the work itself. It is not 
only ready, but for the most part always engaged. It lust- 
eth, saith tlie Holy Ghost, it doth so continually. It stirreth 
in the soul by one act or other constantly, almost as the 


60 thp: nature and power 

spirits in the blood, or the blood in the veins. This the 
apostle calls its tempting, James i. 14. ' Every man is tempted 
of his own lust.' Now what is it to be tempted? It is to 
have that proposed to a man's consideration, which if he 
close withal, it is evil, it is sin unto him. This is sin's trade; 
tTriOvjuLH, ' it lusteth.' It is raising up in the heart, and pro- 
posing unto the mind and affections that which is evil ; 
trying, as it were, whether the soul will close with its sug- 
gestions, or how far it will carry them on, though it do not 
wholly prevail. Now when such a temptation comes from 
without, it is unto the soul an indifferent thing, neither good 
nor evil unless it be consented unto. But the very proposal 
from within, it being the soul's own act, is its sin. And this 
is the work of the law of sin ; it is restlessly and continually 
raising up and proposing innumerable various forms and ap- 
pearances of evil, in this or that kind, indeed in every kind 
that the nature of man is capable to exercise corruption in. 
Something or other, in matter, or manner, or circumstance, 
inordinate, unspiritual, unanswerable unto the rule, it hatch- 
eth and proposeth unto the soul. And this power of sin to 
beget figments and ideas of actual evil in the heart the apostle 
may have respect unto, 1 Thess. v. 22. arrb iravTog hSovq 
TTovrjpov tnri)(^^a^£, ' Keep yourselves from every figment or 
idea of sin in the heart ; ' for the word there used doth not 
any where signify an outward form or appearance ; neither 
is it the appearance of evil, but an evil idea or figment that 
is intended. And this lusting of sin is that which the prophet 
expresseth in wicked men, in whom the law of it is pre- 
dominant, Isa. Ivii. 20. ' The wicked are like the troubled sea, 
when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.' 
A similitude most lively, expressing the lustings of the law 
of sin, restlessly and continually bubbling up in the heart, 
with wicked, foolish, and filthy imaginations and desires. 
This then is the first thing in the opposition that this en- 
mity makes to God, namely, in its general inclination, it 

Secondly, There is its particular way of contending, it fights 
or wars ; that is, it acts with strength and violence, as men 
do in war. First, it lusts, stirring and moving inordinate 
figments in the mind, desires in the appetite and the affec- 
tions, proposing them to the will. But it rests not there, it 


cannot rest; it urgeth, presseth, and pursueth its proposals 
with earnestness, strength, and vigour, fighting and contend- 
ing, and warring to obtain its end and purpose. Would it 
merely stir up and propose things to the soul, and imme- 
diately acquiesce in the sentence and judgment of the mind 
that the thing is evil, against God and his will, and not far- 
ther to be insisted on ; much sin might be prevented that is 
now produced. But it rests not here, it proceeds to carry 
on its design, and that with earnestness and contention. By 
this means, wicked men inflame themselves, Isa. Ivii. 5. 
They are self-inflamers, as the word signifies, unto sin, every 
spark of sin is cherished in them until it grows into a flame, 
and so it will do in others where it is so cherished. 

Now this fighting or warring of sin, consists in two 

1. In its rebellion against grace, or the law of the mind. 

2. In its assaulting the soul, contending for rule and so- 
vereignty over it. 

The first is expressed by the apostle, Rom vii. 23. ' I 
find,' says he, * another law,' avrKTrpartvofisvov rt^ vofiw tov 
voog fxov, ' rebelling against the law of my mind.' There 
are, it seems, two laws in us, the law of the flesh, or of sin ; 
and the law of the mind, or of grace. But contrary laws 
cannot both obtain sovereign power over the same person, 
at the same time. The sovereign power in believers, is in 
the hand of the law of grace ; so the apostle declares, ver. 22. 
' I delight in the law of God in the inward man.' Obedi- 
ence unto this law is performed with delight and compla- 
cency in the inward man, because its authority is lawful and 
good. So more expressly, chap. vi. 14. * For sin shall not 
have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but 
under grace.' Now to war against the law that hath a just 
"sovereignty, is to rebel ; and so avTiarpaTtviaOai signifies ; it 
is to rebel, and ought to have been so translated, * rebelling 
against the law of my mind.' And this rebellion consists in 
a stubborn, obstinate opposition unto the commands and 
directions of the law of grace. Doth the * law of the mind,' 
command any thing as duty ? doth it severely rise up against 
any thing that is evil ? When the lusting of the law of sin 
rises up to this degree, it contends against obedience with all 
its might, the effect whereof, as the apostle tells us, is ' thp 

E 2 


doing of that which we would not, and the not doing of that 
which we would ;' ver. 15, 16. And we may gather a nota- 
ble instance of the power of sin in this its rebellion from 
this place. The law of grace prevails upon the will, so that 
it would do that which is good. ' To will is present with 
me ;' ver. 18. ' When I would do good ;' ver. 21. And again, 
ver. 19. 'And I would not do evil.' And it prevails 
upon the understanding, so that it approves or disap- 
proves according to the dictates of the law of grace. Ver. 16. 
* I consent unto the law that it is good ;' and ver. 15. The 
judgment always lies on the side of grace. It prevails 
also on the affections, ver. 22. * I delight in the law of God 
in the inward man.' Now if this be so, that grace hath the 
sovereign power in the understanding, will, and affections, 
whence is it that it doth not always prevail, that we do not 
always do that which we would, and abstain from that which 
we would not? Is it not strange that a man should not do 
that which he chooseth, willeth, liketh, delighteth in? Is 
there any thing more required to enable us unto that which 
is good ? The law of grace doth all as much as can be ex- 
pected from it, that which in itself is abundantly sufficient 
for the perfecting of all holiness in the fear of the Lord. But 
here lies the difficulty, in the entangling opposition that is 
made by the rebellion of this law of sin. Neither is it ex- 
pressible with what vigour and variety sin acts itself in this 
matter. Sometimes it proposeth diversions, sometimes it 
causeth weariness, sometimes it finds out difficulties, some- 
times it stirs up contrary affections, sometimes it begets pre- 
judices, and one way or other entangles the soul, so that it 
never suffers grace to have an absolute and complete suc- 
cess, in any duty. Ver. 18. rb KarepyaZid^ai to koXov ovk ev- 
pi(TKw, 'I find not the way perfectly to work out, or accom- 
plish that which is good ;' so the word signifies ; and that 
from this opposition and resistance that is made by the law 
of sin. Now this rebellion appears in two things. 

(1.) In the opposition that it makes unto the general 
purpose and course of the soul. 

(2.) In the opposition it makes unto particular duties. 

(1.) In the opposition it makes to the general purpose 
and course of the soul. There is none in whom is the Spirit 
of Christ, that is his, but it is his general design and pur- 


pose to walk in a universal conformity unto him in all things. 
Even from the inward frame of the heart, to the whole com- 
pass of his outward actions, so it is with him. This God re- 
quires in his covenant. Gen. xvii. 1. 'Walk before me, and 
be thou perfect. Accordingly his design is to walk before 
God, and his frame is sincerity and uprightness therein. 
This is called, ' Cleaving unto the Lord with purpose of 
heart,' Acts xi. 23. that is, in all things, and that not with 
a slothful, dead, ineffectual purpose, but such as is opera- 
tive, and sets the wliole soul at work in pursuit of it. This 
the apostle sets forth, Phil. iii. 12—14. ' Not as though I 
had already attained, either were already perfect: but I fol- 
low after, if that 1 may apprehend that for which also I am 
apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself 
to have apprehended : but this one thing I do, forgetting 
those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those 
things which arc before, I press toward the mark for the 
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' He useth 
three words excellently expressing the soul's universal pur- 
suit of this purpose of heart in cleaving unto God ; first, saith 
he,dio)Ku>, ver. 12. 'I follow after,' prosecute; the word sig- 
nifies properly to persecute, which with what earnestness and 
diligence it is usually done, we know. Secondly, tir^KTHvofiai, 
' I reach forward,' reaching with great intention of spiritand 
affections. It is a great and constant endeavour that is ex- 
pressed in that word. Thirdly, Kara ctkottov Suokw, say we, 
* I press towards the mark,' tliat is, even as men that are run- 
ning for a prize. All set forth the vigour, earnestness, dili- 
gence, and constancy that is used in the pursuit of this pur- 
pose. And this the nature of the principle of grace requireth 
in them in whom it is. But yet we see with what failings, 
yea fallings, their pursuit of this course is attended. The 
frame of the heart is changed, the heart is stolen away, the 
aff'ections entangled, eruptions of unbelief and distempered 
passions discovered, carnal wisdom with all his attendencies 
are set on work ; all contrary to the general principle and 
})urpose of the soul. And all this is from the rebellion of 
this law of sin, stirring up and provoking the heart unto dis- 
obedience. The prophet gives this character of hypocrites, 
Hos. X. 2. * Their heart is divided, therefore shall they be 
found faulty.' Now though tins be wholly so in respect of 


the mind and judgment in hypocrites only, yet it is partially 
so in the best, in the sense described. They have a division, 
not of the heart, but in the heart; and thence it is that they 
are so often found faulty. So saith the apostle, *so that we 
cannot do the things that we would;' Gal. v. 17. We cannot 
accomplish the design of close walking according to the law 
of grace, because of the contrariety and rebellion of this law 
of sin. 

(2.) It rebels also in respect unto particular duties. It 
raiseth a combustion in the soul against the particular 
commands and designings of the law of grace. * You can- 
not do the things that you would ;' that is, the duties which 
you judge incumbent on you, which you approve and delight 
in, in the inward man, you cannot do them as you would. 
Take an instance in prayer- A man addresseth himself unto 
that duty ; he would not only perform it, but he would per- 
form it in that manner that the nature of the duty, and his 
own condition do require. He would ' pray in the spirit,' 
fervently, ' with sighs aTid groans that cannot be uttered ;' 
in faith, with love and delight, pouring forth his soul unto 
the Lord ; this he aims at. Now oftentimes he shall find a 
rebellion, a fighting of the law of sin in this matter. He shall 
find difficulty to get any thing done, who thought to do all 
things. I do not say, that it is thus always, but it is so 
when sin wars and rebels, which expresseth an especial act- 
ing of its power. Woful entanglements do poor creatures 
oftentimes meet withal upon this account. Instead of that 
free enlarged communion with God that they aim at, the best 
that their souls arrive unto, is but to go away mourning for 
their folly, deadness and indisposition. In a word, there is 
no command of the law of grace that is known, liked of, and 
approved by the soul, but when it comes to be observed, 
this law of sin one way or other makes head and rebels 
against it. And this is the first way of its fighting. 

2. It doth not only rebel and resist, but it assaults 
?he soul ; it sets upon the law of the mind and grace, 
which is the second part of its warring, 1 Pet. ii. 11. 
HTgartvovTai Kara rfig \pv)(rig, ' they fight,' or war 'against the 
soul.' James iv. 1. aTparevovrai Iv toXq fxeXimv vfidSv, ' they 
fight' or war ' in your members.' Peter shews what they op- 
pose and fight against, namely, the soul, and the law of grace 


therein. James, what they fight with, or by, namely, the 
members, or the corruption that is in our mortal bodies. 
'AvTatjTpaTivea^ai is to rebel against a superior; (rrpaTtvta^ai 
is to assault or war for a superiority. It takes the part of 
an assailant as well as of a resister. It makes attempts for 
rule and sovereignty, as well as opposetli the rule of grace. 
Now all war and fighting hath somewhat of violence in it, 
and there is therefore some violence in that acting of sin, 
which the Scripture calls fighting and warring : and this as- 
sailing efficacy of sin, as distinguished from its rebelling be- 
fore treated of, consists in these things that ensue. 

(1.) All its positive actings, in stirring up unto sin, be- 
long to this head. Oftentimes, by the vanity of the mind, 
or the sensuality of the affections, the folly of the imagi- 
nations, it sets upon the soul then, when the law of grace 
is not actually putting it on duty, so that therein it doth not 
rebel, but assault. Hence the apostle cries out, Rom. vii.24. 
* Who shall deliver me from it?' who shall rescue me out of 
its hand, as the word signifies. When we pursue an enemy, 
and he resists us, we do not cry out. Who shall deliver us? 
for we are the assailants; but. Who shall rescue me? is the 
cry of one who is set upon by an enemy. So it is here; a 
man is assaulted by his own lusts, as James speaks : by the 
way-side, in his employment, under a duty, sin sets upon 
the soul with vain imaginations, foolish desires, and would 
willingly employ the soul to make provision for its satisfac- 
tion, which the apostle cautions us against, Rom. xiii. 14. 
TitQ aapKoc irpuvoiai' //>) TToiaffS'c tig liriOvfiiag, do not accom- 
plish the providence or projection of the flesh, for its own 

(2.) Its importunity and urgency seems to be noted in 
this expression of its warring. Enemies in war arc rest- 
less, pressing, and importunate : so is the law of sin. Doth 
it set upon the soul? cast off its motions, it returns again ; 
rebuke them by the power of grace, they withdraw for awhile, 
and return again. Set before them the cross of Christ, 
they do as those that came to take him, at sight of him they 
went backwards, and fell unto the ground, but they arose 
again, and laid hands on him. Sin gives place for a season, 
but returns, and presseth on the soul again. Mind it of the 
love of God in Christ, though it be stricken, yet it gives 


not over. Present hell-fire unto it, it rusheth into the midst 
of those flames : reproach it with its folly and madness, it 
knows no shame, but presseth on still. Let the thoughts of 
the mind strive to fly from it, it follows as on the wings of 
the wind. And by this importunity it wearies and wears 
out the soul; and if the great remedy, Rom. viii. 13. come 
not timely, it prevails to a conquest. Tliere is nothing more 
marvellous nor dreadful in the working of sin, than this of 
its importunity. The soul knows not what to make of it; 
it dislikes, abhors, abominates the evil it tends unto, it de- 
spiseth the thoughts of it, hates them as hell, and yet is by 
itself imposed on with them, as if it were another person, an 
express enemy got within him. All this the apostle disco- 
vers, Rom. vii. 15 — 17. 'The things that I do, I hate;' it is not 
of outward actions, but the inward risings of the mind that 
he treats. ' I hate them,' saith he, ' I abominate them :' but 
why then will he have any thing more to do with them? If 
he hate them, and abhor himself for them, let them alone, 
have no more to do with them, and so end the matter. 
Alas ! saith he, ver. 17. ' It is no more I that do it, but sin 
that dwelleth in me.' I have one within me that is my ene- 
my, that with endless restless importunity puts these things 
upon me, even the things that 1 hate and abominate ; I can- 
not be rid of them, I am weary of myself, I cannot fly from 
them; * O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver meT 
I do not say that this is the ordinai'y condition of believers, 
but thus it is often, when this law of sin riseth up to war 
and fighting. It is not thus with them in respect of parti- 
cular sins, this or that sin, outward sins, sins of life and 
conversation ; but yet in respect of vanity of mind, inward 
and spiritual distempers, it is often so. Some, I know, pre- 
tend to great perfection, but I am resolved to believe the 
apostle before them all and every one. 

(3.) It carries on its war by entangling of the affec- 
tions, and drawing them into a combination against the 
mind. Let grace be enthroned in the mind and judgment, 
yet if the law of sin lays hold upon, and entangles the affec- 
tions, or any of them, it hath gotten a fort, from whence it 
continually assaults the soul. Hence the great duty of mor- 
tification is chiefly directed to take place upon the affections, 
Col. iii. 5. ' Moitify theiefore your members which are upon 


the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, 
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.' The 
members that are upon the earth are our affections : for in 
the outward part of the body sin is not seated; in particular, 
not covetousness, which is there enumerated to be mortified 
amongst our members that are on the earth. Yea, after 
grace hath taken possession of the soulj the affections do 
become the principal seat of the remainders of sin ; and 
therefore Paul saith, that this law is in our members, Rom. 
vii. 23. and James, that il wars in our members, chap. iv. 1. 
that is, our affections. And there is no estimate to betaken 
of the work of mortification aright, but by the affections. 
We may every day see persons of very eminent light, that 
yet visibly have unmortificd hearts and conversations ; their 
affections have not been crucified with Christ. Now then 
when this law of sin can possess any affection, whatever it 
be, love, delight, fear, it will make from it, and by it, fearful 
assaults upon the soul. For instance ; hath it got the love 
of any one entangled with the world, or the things of it, the 
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life ; 
how will it take advantage on every occasion to break in 
upon the soul : it shall do nothing, attempt nothing, be in 
no place or company, perform no duty, private or public, 
but sin will have one blow or other at it; it will be one way 
or other soliciting for itself. 

This is the sum of what we shall offer unto this acting 
of the law of sin, in a way of fighting and warring against 
our souls, which is so often mentioned in the Scripture ; and 
a due consideration of it is of no small advantage unto us, 
especially to bring us unto self-abasement, to teach us to 
walk humbly and mournfully before God. There are two 
things that are suited to humble the souls of men ; and they 
are, first, a due consideration of God, and then of them- 
selves. Of God, in his greatness, glory, holiness, power, 
majesty, and authority; of ourselves, in our mean, abject, 
and sinful condition. Now, of all things in our condition, 
there is nothing so suited unto this end and purpose, as 
that which lies before us ; namely, the vile remainders of 
enmity against God, which are yet in our hearts and na- 
tures. And il is no small evidence of a gracious soul, when 
it is willing to search itself in this matter, and to be helped 


therein from a word of truth. When it is willing that the 
word should dive into the secret parts of the heart, and rip 
open whatever of evil and corruption lies therein. The pro- 
phet says ofEphraim, Hos. x. 11. 'He loved to tread out the 
corn ;' he loved to work when he might eat, to have always 
the corn before him ; but God, says he, ' would cause him 
to plough;' a labour no less needful, though at present not 
so delightful. Most men love to hear of the doctrine of 
grace, of the pardon of sin, of free love, and suppose they 
find food therein ; however, it is evident that they grow and 
thrive in the life and notion of them. But to be breaking up 
the fallow ground of their hearts, to be inquiring after the 
weeds and briers that grow in them, they delight not so 
much, though this be no less necessary than the other. This 
path is not so beaten as that of grace, nor so trod in, though 
it be the only way to come to a true knowledge of grace it- 
self. It may be some who are wise and grown in other 
truths, may yet be so little skilled in searching their own 
hearts, that they may be slow in the perception and under- 
standing of these things : but this sloth and neglect is to be 
shaken off, if we have any regard unto our own souls. It is 
more than probable, that many a false hypocrite, who have 
deceived themselves as well as others, because they thought 
the doctrine of the gospel pleased them, and therefore sup- 
posed they believed it, might be delivered from their soul- 
ruining deceits, if they would diligently apply themselves 
unto this search of their own hearts. Or would other pro- 
fessors walk with so much boldness and security as some do, 
if they considered aright what a deadly watchful enemy they 
continually carry about with them, and in them ? would they 
so much indulge as they do carnal joys and pleasures, or 
pursue their perishing affairs with so much delight and gree- 
diness as they do ? it were to be wished, that we would all 
apply our hearts more to this work, even to come to a true 
understanding of the nature, power, and subtlety of this our 
adversary, that our souls may be humbled. And that, 

1. In walking with God. His delight is with the hum- 
ble and contrite ones, those that tremble at his word, the 
mourners in Sion ; and such are we only, when we have 
a due sense of our own vile condition. This will beget re- 
verence of God, sense of our distance from him, admiration 


of his grace and condescension, a due valuation of mercy, 
far above those light, verbal, airy attainments, that some 
have boasted of. 

2. In walking with others, it lays in provision to 
prevent those great evils of judging, spiritual unmerciful- 
ness, harsh censuring, which I have observed to have been 
pretended by many, who at the same time, as afterward 
hath appeared, have been guilty of greater or worse crimes 
than those which they have raved against in others. This, 
I say, will lead us to meekness, compassion, readiness to 
forgive, to pass by offences, even when we shall consider 
what is our state, as the apostle plainly declares. Gal. vi. ]. 
The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how 
vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solidly believing 
and obedient person. Others are fit only to delude them- 
selves, to disquiet families, churches, and all relations what- 
ever. Let us then consider our hearts wisely, and then go 
and see if we can be proud of our gifts, our graces, our va- 
luation and esteem amongst professors, our enjoyments. Let 
us go then and judge, condemn, reproach others that have 
been tempted ; we shall find a great inconsistency in these 
things. And many things of the like nature might be here 
added upon the consideration of this woful effect of indwell- 
ing sin. The way of opposing and defeating its design 
herein shall be afterward considered. 


The captivating power of indtvelling sin, wherein it consisteth. The preva- 
lencij of sin, when from itself , when from temptation. The rage and 
madness that is in sin. 

The third thing assigned unto this law of sin in its oppo- 
sition unto God, and the law of his grace, is, that it leads 
the soul captive, Rom. vii.23. * I find a law leading me cap- 
tive' (captivating me) ' unto the law of sin.' And this is the 
utmost height which the apostle in that place carries the op- 
position and warring of the remainders of indwelling sin 
unto; closing the consideration of it with a complaint of 
the state and condition of believers thereby ; and an earnest 


prayer for deliverance from it, ver. 24. ' O wretched man 
that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death.' 
What is contained in this expression, and intended by it, 
shall be declared in the ensuing observations. 

1. It is not directly the power and actings of the law 
of sin that are here expressed, but its success in and upon 
its actings. But success is the greatest evidence of powei', 
and leading captive in war is the height of success. None 
can aim at greater success, than to lead their enemies cap- 
tive. And it is a peculiar expression in the Scripture of 
great success. So the Lord Christ, on his victory over 
Satan, is said to ' lead captivity captive ;' Ephes. iv. 8. Tliat 
is, to conquer him who had conquered and prevailed upon 
others. And this he did when by death he ' destroyed him 
that had the power of death, that is, the devil ;' Heb. ii. 14. 
Here then a great prevalency and power of sin, in its warring 
against the soul, is discovered. It so wars as to lead cap- 
tive ; which, had it not great power, it could not do ; espe- 
cially against that resistance of the soul which is included 
in this expression. 

2. It is said, that it leads the soul captive * unto 
the law of sin.' Not to this or that sin, particular sin, 
actual sin, but to the 'law of sin.' God, for the most part, 
ordcreth things so, and gives out such supplies of grace unto 
believers, as that they shall not be made a prey unto this or 
that particular sin, that it should prevail in them, and com- 
pel them to serve it in the lusts thereof, that it should have 
dominion over them, that they should be captives and slaves 
unto it. This is that which David prays so earnestly against. 
Psalm xix. 12, 13. ' Cleanse thou me from secret faults. 
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them 
not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright.' He 
supposeth the continuance of the law of sin in him, ver. 12. 
which will bring forth errors of life, and secret sins, against 
which he findeth relief in pardoning and cleansing mercy 
which he prays for. This, saith he, will be my condition. 
But for sins of pride and boldness, such as all sins are that 
get dominion in a man, that make a captive of a man, the 
Lord restrain thy servant from them. For what sin soever 
gets such power in a man, be it in its own nature small or 
great, it becomes in him in whom it is a sin of boldness. 


pride, and presumption. For these things are not reckoned 
from the nature or kind of the sin, but from its prevalency 
and customariness, wherein its pride, boldness, and con- 
tempt of God doth consist. To the same purpose, if I mis- 
take not, prays Jabez, 1 Chron. iv. 10. ' O that thou wouldest 
bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand 
may be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, 
that it may not grieve me.' The holy man took occasion 
from his own name to pray against sin, that that might not 
be a grief and sorrow to him by its power and prevalency. 
I confess sometimes it may come to this with a believer, 
that for a season he may be led captive by some particular 
sin. It may have so much prevalency in him, as to have 
power over him. So it seems to have been with David 
when he lay so long in his sin without repentance. And 
was plainly so with those in Isa. Ivii. 17, 18. ' For the ini- 
quity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him : I hid 
me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of 
his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him.' They 
continued under the power of their covetousness : so that 
no dealings of God with them, for so long a time could re- 
claim them. But for the most part, when any lust or sin 
doth so prevail, it is from the advantage and furtherance 
that it hath got by some powerful temptation of Satan. He 
hath poisoned it, inflamed it, and entangled the soul. So 
the apostle, speaking of such as through sin were fallen off 
from their holiness, says, ' they were in the snare of the 
devil, being taken captive by him at his will ;' 2 Tim. ii. 26. 
Though it were their own lusts that they served, yet they 
were brought into bondage thereunto, by being entangled in 
some snare of Satan. And thence they are said to be taken 
alive, as a poor beast in a toil. 

And here, by the way, we may a little inquire, whether 
the prevailing power of a particular sin in any, be from it- 
self, or from the influence of temptation upon it, concerning 
which at present take only these two observations : 

(I.) Much of the prevalency of sin upon the soul, is 
certainly from Satan, when the perplexing and captivating 
sin hath no peculiar footing, nor advantage in the nature, 
constitution, or condition of the sinner. When any lust 
grows high and prevailing more than others upon its own 


account, it is from the peculiar advantage that it hatli in the 
natural constitution, or the station or condition of the per- 
son in the world. For otherwise the law of sin gives an 
equal propensity unto all evil, an equal vigour unto every 
lust. When therefore it cannot be discerned, that the cap- 
tivating sin is peculiarly fixed in the nature of the sinner, 
or is advantaged from his education or employment in the 
world, the prevalency of it is peculiarly from Satan. He 
hath got to the root of it, and hath given it poison and 
strength. Yea, perhaps sometimes that which may seem to 
the soul to be the corrupt lusting of the heart, is nothing 
but Satan's imposing his suggestions on the imagination. 
If, then, a man find an importunate rage from any corrup- 
tion that is not evidently seated in his nature, let him, as 
the Papists say, cross himself, or fly by faith to the cross of 
Christ, for the devil is nigh at hand. 

(2.) When a lust is prevalent unto captivity, where 
it brings in no advantage to the flesh, it is from Satan. All 
that the law of sin doth of itself, is to serve the providence 
of the flesh, Rom. xiii. 14. And it must bring in unto it 
somewhat of the profits and pleasures that are its object. 
Now, if the prevailing sin do not so act in itself, if it be 
more spiritual and inward, it is much from Satan by the 
imagination, more than the corruption of the heart itself. 
But this by the way. 

I say, then, that the apostle treats not here of our being 
captivated unto this or that sin, but unto the law of sin. 
That is, we are compelled to bear its presence and burden 
whether we will or no. Sometimes the soul thinks or hopes 
that it may through grace be utterly freed from this trouble- 
some inmate. Upon some sweet enjoyment of God, some 
full supply of grace, some return from wandering, some deep 
aflliction, some thorough humiliation, the poor soul begins 
to hope that it shall now be freed from the law of sin. But 
after awhile it perceives that it is quite otherwise. Sin acts 
again, makes good its old station, and the soul finds that 
whether it will or no it must bear its yoke. This makes it 
sigh and cry out for deliverance. 

3. This leading captive argues a prevalency against 
the renitency or contrary actings of the will. This is inti- 
mated plainly in this expression ; namely, that the will op 


poseth, and makes head, as it were, against the working of 
sin. This the apostle declares in those expressions which 
he uses, ver. 15. 19, 20. And herein consists the lusting of 
the Spirit against the flesh, Gal. v. 17. That is, the con- 
tending of grace to expel and subdue it. The spiritual 
habits of grace that are in the will, do so resist and act 
against it. And the excitation of those habits by the Spirit 
are directed to the same purpose. This leading captive, is 
contrary, I say, to the inclinations and actings of the re- 
newed will. No man is made a captive but against his will. 
Captivity is misery and trouble, and no man willingly puts 
himself into trouble. Men choose it in its causes, and in 
the ways and means leading unto it, but not in itself. So 
the prophet informs us, Hos. v. 11. ' Ephraim was' not 
willingly ' oppressed and broken in judgment ;' that was his 
misery and trouble ; but he willingly walked after the com- 
mandment of the idolatrous kings which brought him there- 
unto. Whatever consent, then, the soul may give unto sin, 
which is the means of this captivity, it gives none to the 
captivity itself; that is against the will wholly. Hence 
these things ensue : 

(1.) That the power of sin is great, which is that which 
we are in demonstration of; and this appears in its preva- 
lency unto captivity, against the actings and contendings of 
the will for liberty from it. Had it no opposition made 
unto it, or were its adversary weak, negligent, slothful, it 
were no great evidence of its power that it made captives. 
But its prevailing against diligence, activity, watchfulness, 
the constant renitency of the will, this evinceth its efficacy. 

(2.) This leading captive intimates manifold particular 
successes. Had it not success in particular it could not 
be said at all to lead captive. Rebel it might, assail it 
might, but it cannot be said to lead captive without some 
successes. And there are several degrees of the success of 
the law of sin in the soul. Sometimes it carries the person 
unto outward actual sin, which is its utmost aim ; some- 
times it obtaineth the consent of the will, but is cast out by 
grace, and proceeds no farther ; sometimes it wearies and 
entangles the soul, that it turns aside, as it were, and leaves 
contending, which is a success also. One or more, or all of 
these must be, where captivity takes place. Such a kind of 


course doth the apostle ascribe unto covetousness, 1 Tim. 
vi. 9. 

(3.) This leadirrg captive manifests this condition to 
be miserable and wretched. To be thus yoked and dealt 
withal against the judgment of the mind, the choice and 
consent of the will, its utmost strivings and contendings, 
how sad is it ! When the neck is sore and tender with for- 
mer pressures, to be compelled to bear the yoke again, this 
pierces, this grieves, this even breaks the heart. When the 
soul is principled by grace unto a loathing of sin, of every 
evil way, to a hatred of the least discrepancy between it- 
self and the holy will of God, then to be imposed on by this 
law of sin, with all that enmity and folly, that deadness and 
filth, wherewith it is attended ; what more dreadful condi- 
tion ? All captivity is dreadful in its own nature ; the 
greatest aggravation of it is from the condition of the tyrant 
unto whom any one is captivated. Now what can be worse 
than this law of sin ? Hence the apostle, having once men- 
tioned this captivity, cries out as one quite weary and ready 
to faint, ver. 24. 

(4.) This condition is peculiar to believers. Unrege- 
nerate men are not said to be led captive to the law of 
sin. They may indeed be led captive unto this or that par- 
ticular sin or corruption, that is, they may be forced to 
serve it against the power of their convictions. They are 
convinced of the evil of it, an adulterer of his uncleanness, 
a drunkard of his abomination, and make some resolutions, 
it may be, against it. But their lust is too hard for them, 
they cannot cease to sin, and so are made captives or slaves 
to this or that particular sin. But they cannot be said to 
be ' led captive to the law of sin,' and that because they are 
willingly subject thereunto. It hath, as it were, a rightful 
dominion over them, and they oppose it not, but only when 
it hath irruptions to the disturbance of their consciences. 
And then the opposition they make unto it is not from their 
wills, but is the mere acting of an affrighted conscience, and 
a convinced mind. They regard not the nature of sin, but 
its guilt and consequences. But to be brought into capti- 
vity is that which befalls a man against his will. Which is 
all that shall be spoken unto this degree of the actings of 
the power of sin, manifesting itself in its success. 


The fourth and last degree of the opposition made by 
the law of sin to God, and the law of his will and grace, is 
in its rage and madness. There is madness in its nature, 
Eccles. ix. 3. * The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, 
and madness is in their heart.' The evil that the heart of 
man is full of by nature, is that indwelling sin whereof we 
spenk. And this is so in their heart, that it riseth up unto 
madness. The Holy Ghost expresseth this rage of sin by a 
fit similitude, which he useth in sundry places; as, Jer. ii. 
24. Hos. viii. 9. * It maketh men as a wild ass ; she traverseth 
her ways, and snufFeth up the wind, and runneth whither 
her mind or lust leads her.' And he saith of idolaters, en- 
raged with their lusts, that they ' are mad upon their idols,' 
Jer. V. 38. We may a little consider what lies in this mad- 
ness and rage of sin, and how it riseth up thereunto. 

I. 'For the nature of it, it seems to consist in a violent, 
heady, pertinacious pressing unto evil or sin. Violence, 
importunity, and pertinacy are in it. It is the tearing and 
torturing of the soul by any sin to force its consent, and to 
obtain satisfaction. It riseth up in the heart, is denied by 
the law of grace, and rebuked; it returns and exerts its 
poison again; the soul is startled, casts it off; it returns 
again with new violence and importunity ; the soul cries 
out for help and deliverance, looks round about to all springs 
of gospel grace and relief, trembles at the furious assaults 
of sin, and casts itself into the arms of Christ for deliverance. 
And if it be not able to take that course, it is foiled and 
hurried up and down through the mire and filth of foolish 
imaginations, corrupt and noisome lusts, which rend and 
tear it, as if they would devour its whole spiritual life and 
power. See 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. 2 Pet. ii. 14. It was not 
much otherwise with them whom we instanced in before, 
Isa. Ivii. 17. They had an inflamed enraged lust working 
in them, even covetousness, or the love of this world ; by 
which, as the apostle speaks, men ' pierce themselves through 
with many sorrows.' God is angry with them, and dis- 
covereth his wrath by all the ways and means that it was 
possible for them to be made sensible thereof. He was 
wroth and smote them ; but though it maybe this staggered 
them a little, yet they went on. He is angry and hides 
himself from them, deserts them as to his gracious, assist- 



ing, comforting presence. Doth this work the effect ? No, 
they go on frovvardly still, as men mad on their covetous- 
ness. Nothing can put a stop to their raging lusts. This 
is plain madness and fury. We need not seek far for in- 
stances ; we see men mad on their lusts every day : and, 
which is the worst kind of madness, their lusts do not rage 
so much in them, as they rage in the pursuit of them. Are 
those greedy pursuits of things in the world, which we see 
some men engaged in, though they have other pretences, 
indeed any thing else but plain madness in the pursuit of 
their lusts? God, who searcheth the hearts of men, knows, 
that the most of things that are done with other pretences 
in the world, are nothing but the actings of men, mad and 
furious in the pursuit of their lusts. 

2. That sin ariseth not unto this height ordinarily, 
but when it hath got a double advantage. 

(1.) That it be provoked, enraged, and heightened, by 
some great temptation. Though it be a poison in itself, yet 
being inbred in nature, it grows not violently outrageous 
without the contribution of some new poison of Satan unto 
it in a suitable temptation. Itwas the advantage that Satan 
got against David, by a suitable temptation, that raised his 
lusts to that rage and madness which it went forth unto in 
the business of Bathsheba and Uriah. Though sin be al- 
ways a fire in the bones, yet it flames not, unless Satan 
come with his bellows to blow it up. And let any one in 
whom the law of sin ariseth to this height of rage, seriously 
consider, and he may find out where the devil stands and 
puts in in the business. 

(2.) It must be advantaged by some former enter- 
tainment and prevalency. Sin grows not to this height at 
its first assault. Had it not been suffered to make its en- 
trance, had there not been some yielding in the soul, this 
had not come about. The great wisdom and security of the 
soul in dealing with indwelling sin, is to put a violent stop 
unto its beginnings, its first motions and actings. Venture 
all on the first attempt. Die rather than yield one step unto 
it. If, through the deceit of sin, or the negligence of the 
soul, or its carnal confidence, to give bounds to lust's act- 
ings at other seasons, it makes any entrance into the soul, 
and finds any entertainment, it gets strength and power, and 


insensibly ariseth to the frame under consideration. Thou 
hadst never had the experience of the fury of sin, if thou 
hadst not been content with some of its dalliances. Hadst 
thou not brought up this servant, this slave delicately, it 
would not have now presumed beyond a son. Now when 
the law of sin in any particular hath got this double advan 
tage, the furtherance of a vigorous temptation, and some 
prevalency formerly obtained, Vv-hereby it is let into the 
strengths of the soul, it often riseth up to this frame whereof 
we speak. 

3. We may see what accompanies this rage and mad- 
ness, what are the properties of it, and what effects it pro- 
duce th. 

(1.) There is in it the casting off", for a time at least, of 
the yoke, rule, and government of the Spirit and law of 
grace. Where grace hath the dominion, it will never utterly 
be expelled from its throne, it will still keep its right and 
sovereignty; but its influences may for a season be inter- 
cepted, and its government be suspended by the power of 
sin. Can we think that the law of grace had any actual in- 
fluence of rule on the heart of David, when upon the provo- 
cation received from Nabal, he was so hurried with the de- 
sire of self-revenge, that he cried, * Gird on your swords,' to 
his companions, and resolved not to leave alive one man of 
his whole household; 1 Sam. xxv. 34. or that Asa was in 
any better frame, when he smote the prophet, and put him 
in prison, that spake unto him in the name of the Lord ? Sin 
in this case is like an untamed horse, which having first cast 
off his rider, runs away with fierceness and rage. It first 
casts off" a present sense of the yoke of Christ, and the law 
of his grace, and then hurries the soul at its pleasure. Let 
us a little consider how this is done. 

The seat and residence of grace is in the whole soul ; it 
is the inner man, it is in the mind, the will, and the afl^ec- 
tions ; for the whole soul is renewed by it unto the image 
of God ; Ephes. iv. 23, 24. and the whole man is a ' new 
creature ;' 2 Cor. v. 17. And in all these doth it exert its 
power and efficacy ; its rule or dominion is the pursuit of its 
effectual working in all the faculties of the soul, as they are 
one united principle of moral and spiritual operations. So 
then, the interrupting of its exercise, of its rule and power 



by the law of sin, must consist in its contrary acting in and 
upon the faculties and affections of the soul, whereon, and by 
which, grace should exert its power and efficacy ; and this it 
doth: it darkens the mind, partly through innumerable vain 
prejudices and false reasonings, as we shall see when we come 
to consider its deceitfulness, and partly through the steam- 
ino- of the affections, heated with the noisome lusts that 
have laid hold on them. Hence that saving light that is in 
the mind is clouded and stifled, that it cannot put forth its 
transforming power to change the soul into the likeness of 
Christ discovered unto it, which is its proper work, Rom. 
xii. 2. The habitual inclination of the will to obedience, 
which is the next way of the working of the law of grace, is 
first weakened, then cast aside, and rendered useless by the 
continual solicitations of sin and temptation ; so that the 
will first lets go its hold, and disputes whether it shall yield 
or no ; and at last gives up itself Ho its adversary; and for 
the affections commonly the beginning of this evil is in 
them. They cross one another, and torture the soul with 
their impetuous violence. By this way is the rule of the 
law of grace intercepted by the law of sin, even by imposing 
upon it in the whole seat of its government. When this is 
done, it is sad work that sin will make in the soul. The 
apostle warns believers to take heed hereof, Rom. vi. 12. 
' Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that you 
should obey it in the lusts thereof.' Look to it that it get 
not the dominion, that it usurp not rule, no not for a mo- 
ment. It will labour to intrude itself unto the throne, watch 
against it, or a woful state and condition lies at the door. 
This then accompanies this rage and madness of the law of 
sin; it casts off during its prevalency the rule of the law of 
grace wholly; it speaks in the soul, but is not heard; it 
commands the contrary, but is not obeyed ; it cries out, 
' Do not this abominable thing which the Lord hateth,' but 
is not regarded ; that is, not so far as to be able to put a pre- 
sent stop to the rage of sin, and to recover its own rule, 
which God in his own time restores to it by the power of 
his Spirit dwelling in us. 

(2.) Madness or rage are accompanied with fearless- 
ness and contempt of danger; it takes away the power of 
consideration, and all that influence that it ought to have 


upon the soul. Hence sinners that are wholly under the 
power of this rage, are said, ' To run upon God, and the 
thick bosses of his buckler;' Job. xvi. 21. That wherein he 
is armed for their utter ruin. They despise the utmost that 
he can do to them, being- secretly resolved to accomplish 
their lusts, though it cost them their souls. Some few con- 
siderations will farther clear this unto us. 

[1.] Ofttimes, when the soul is broken loose from the 
power of renewing grace, God deals with it to keep it with- 
in bounds by preventing grace. So the Lord declares that 
he will deal with Israel, Hos, ii. 6. Seeing thou hast rejected 
me, I will take another course with thee ; I will lay obstacles 
before thee that thou shalt not be able to pass on, whether 
the fury of thy lusts would drive thee. He will propose that 
to them from without, that shall obstruct them in their pro- 

[2.] These hinderances that God lays in the way of 
sinners, as shall be afterward at large declared, are of two 

1st. Rational considerations taken from the consequence 
of the sin and evil that the soul is solicited unto, and 
perplexed withal. Such are the fear of death, judgment, 
and hell, falling into the hands of the living God, who is a 
consuming fire. Whilst a man is under the power of the 
law of the Spirit of life, the ' love of Christ constraineth 
him;' 2 Cor. v. 14. The principle of his doing good and 
abstaining from evil, is faith working by love, accompanied 
with a followino^ of Christ, because of the sweet savour of 
his name. But now, when this blessed easy yoke is for a 
season cast off, so as was manifested before, God sets a 
hedge of terror before the soul, minds it of death and judg- 
ment to come, flashes the flames of hell fire in the face, fills 
the soul with consideration of all the evil consequence of 
sin to deter it from its purpose. To this end doth he make 
use of all threatenings recorded in the law and gospel. To 
this head also may be referred all the considerations that 
may be taken from things temporal, as shame, reproach, 
scandal, punishments, and the like. By the consideration 
of these things, I say, doth God set a hedge before them. 

2dly. Providential dispensations are used by the Lord 
to the same purpose, and these are of two sorts. 


(1st.) Such as are suited to work upon the soul, and to 
eause it to desist and give over in its lustings and pursuit of 
sin. Such are afflictions and mercies, Isa. Ivii. 17. *I was 
wroth, and I smote them ;' I testified my dislike of their 
tvays by afflictions. So Hos. ii. 9. 11, 12. * God chastens 
men with pains on their bodies,' saith he, in Job, ' to turn 
them from their purpose, and to hide sin from them;' Job 
xxxiii. 17. 19. And other ways he hath to come to them 
and touch them, as in their names, relations, estates, and de- 
sirable things ; or else he heaps mercies on them, that they 
may consider who they are rebelling against. It may be 
signal distinguishing mercies are made their portion for 
many days. 

(2dly.) Such as actually hinder the soul from pursuing 
sin, though it be resolved so to do. The various ways where- 
by God doth this, we must afterward consider. 

These are the ways, I say, whereby the soul is dealt 
withal, after the law of indwelling sin hath cast off for a sea- 
son the influencing power of the law of grace. But now, 
when lust rises up to rage or madness, it will also contemn 
all these, even the rod, and him that hath appointed it. It 
will rush on shame, reproaches, wrath, and whatever may 
befall it; that is, though they be presented unto it, it will 
venture upon them all. Rage and madness is fearless. And 
this it doth two ways. 

[1st.] It possesseth the mind, that it suffers not the con- 
sideration of these things to dwell upon it, but renders the 
thoughts of them slight and evanid ; or, if the mind do 
force itself to a contemplation of them, yet it interposeth 
between it and the affections, that they shall not be influ- 
enced by it in any proportion to what is required. The soul 
in such a condition will be able to take such things into 
contemplation, and not at all to be moved by them ; and 
where they do prevail for a season, yet they are insensibly 
wrought off from the heart again. 

[2dly.] By secret stubborn resolves to venture all upon the 
way wherein it is. 

And this is the second branch of this evidence of the 
power of sin, taken from the opposition that it makes to the 
law of grace, as it were by the way of force, strength, and 
violence; the consideration of its deceit doth now follow. 



Indwellimj sin proved powerful from its deceit. Proved to he deceitful. The 
general nature of deceit. James i. 14. opened. How the mind is drawn 
off from its diitij hi/ the deceitfidness of sin. The principal duties of the 
mind in our obedience. The ways and means whereby it is turnedfrom it. 

The second part of the evidence of the power of sin from its 
manner of operation, is taken from its deceitfuhiess. It 
adds in its working, deceit unto power. The efficacy of that 
must needs be great, and is carefully to be watched against, 
by all such as value their souls, where power and deceit are 
combined, especially advantaged and assisted by all the 
ways and means before insisted on. 

Before we come to shew wherein the nature of this de- 
ceitfulness of sin doth consist, and how it prevaileth there- 
by, some testimonies shall be briefly given in unto the thing 
itself, and some light into the general nature of it. 

That sin, indwelling sin, is deceitful, we have the ex- 
press testimony of the Holy Ghost, as Heb. iii. 13. 'Take 
heed that ye be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.' 
Deceitful it is, take heed of it, Vv'atch against it, or it will 
produce its utmost effect in hardening of the heart against 
God. It is on the account of sin, that the heart is said to 
be ' deceitful above all things ;' Jer. xvii. 9. Take a man in 
other things, and as Job speaks, though he ' would be wise 
and crafty, he is like the wild ass's colt,' Job xi. 12. a poor, 
vain, empty nothing. But consider his heart on the ac- 
count of this law of sin, it is crafty and deceitful above all 
things; 'They are wise to do evil/ saiththe prophet, 'but to 
do good they know not;' Jer. iv. 22. To the same purpose 
speaks the apostle, Ephes. iv. 2. ' The old man is corrupt ac- 
cording to deceitful lusts.' Every lust, which is a branch 
of this law of sin, is deceitful ; and where there is poison in 
every stream, the fountain must needs be corrupt. No par- 
ticular lust hath any deceit in it, but what is communicated 
unto it from this fountain of all actual lust, this law of sin. 
And, 2 Thess. ii. 10. the coming of the man of sin, is said to 
be in and with the 'deceivableness of unrighteousness.' Un- 
righteousness is a thing generally decried and evil spoken of 
amongst men, so that it is not easy to conceive how any 
man should prevail himself of a reputation thereby. But 


there is a deceivableness in it, whereby the minds of men 
are turned aside from a due consideration of it ; as we shall 
manifest afterward. And thus the account which the apo- 
stle gives concerning those who are under the power of sin 
is, that they are ' deceived,' Titus iii. 3. And the life of evil 
men, is nothing but * deceiving and being deceived ;' 2 Tim. 
iii. 13. So that we have suflScient testimony given unto this 
qualification of the enemy with whom we have to deal ; he 
is deceitful, which consideration of all things puts the mind 
of man to a loss in dealing with an adversary. He knows 
he can have no security against one that is deceitful, but in 
standing upon his own guard and defence all his days. 

Farther to manifest the strength and advantage that sin 
hath by its deceit, we may observe that the Scripture places 
it for the most part as the head and spring of every sin, even 
as though there were no sin followed after, but where deceit 
went before. So 1 Tim. ii. 13, 14. The reason the apostle 
gives why Adam, though he was first formed, was not 
first in the transgression, is because he was not first de- 
ceived. The woman though made last, yet being first de- 
ceived, was first in the sin. Even that first sin began in de- 
ceit, and until the mind was deceived, the soul was safe. 
Eve therefore did truly express the matter, Gen. iii. 13. 
though she did it not to a good end, 'the serpent beguiUed 
me,' saith she, ' and I did eat.' She thought to extenuate 
her own crime, by charging the serpent. And this was a 
new fruit of the sin she had cast herself into. But the mat- 
ter of fact was true, she was beguiled before she ate; deceit 
went before the transgression. And the apostle shews that 
sin and Satan still take the same course, 2 Cor. xi. 3. There 
is, saith he, the same way of working towards actual sin, as 
was of old ; beguiling, deceiving goes before ; and sin, that is, 
the actual accomplishment of it, foUoweth after. Hence all 
the great works that the devil doth in the world, to stir men 
up to an opposition unto the Lord Jesus Christ and his king- 
dom, he doth them by deceit; Rev. xii. 9. 'The devil, who 
deceiveth the whole world.' It were utterly impossible men 
should be prevailed on to abide in his service, acting his de- 
signs to their eternal, and sometimes their temporal ruin, 
were they not exceedingly deceived. See also chap. xx. 10. 

Hence are those manifold cautions that are given us to 


take heed, that we be not deceived, if we would take heed 
that we do not sin. See Ephes. v. 6. 1 Cor. vi. 9. xv. 
33. Gal. vi. 7. Luke xxi. 8. From all which testimonies we 
may learn the influence that deceit hath into sin, and conse- 
quently the advantage that the law of sin hath to put forth 
its power by its deceitfulness. Where it prevails to deceive, 
it fails not to bring forth its fruit. 

The ground of this efficacy of sin by deceit, is taken 
from the faculty of the soul aft'ected with it. Deceit pro- 
perly affects the mind; it is the mind that is deceived. 
When sin attempts any other way of entrance into the soul, 
as by the affections, the mind retaining its right and sove- 
reignty, is able to give check and control unto it. But 
where the mind is tainted, the prevalency must be great. 
For the mind or understanding is the leading faculty of the 
soul, and what that fixes on, the will and affections rush 
after, being capable of no consideration but what that pre- 
sents unto them. Hence it is, that though the entangle- 
ment of the affections unto sin be ofttimes most trouble- 
some, yet the deceit of the mind is always most dangerous ; 
and that because of the place that it possesseth in the soul, 
as unto all its operations. Its office is to guide, direct, 
choose, and lead ; and ' if the light that be in us be darkness, 
how great is that darkness !' 

And this will farther appear, if we consider the nature of 
deceit in general. It consists in presenting unto the soul, 
or mind, things otherwise than they are, either in their na- 
ture, causes, effects, or present respect unto the soul. This 
is the general nature of deceit, and it prevails many ways. 
It hides what ou2;ht to be seen and considered, conceals 
circumstances and consequences, presents what is not, or 
things as they are not, as we shall afterward manifest in par- 
ticular. It was shewed before, that Satan beguiled and de- 
ceived our first parents ; that term the Holy Ghost gives 
unto his temptation and seduction. And how he did de- 
ceive them the Scripture relates. Gen. iii. 4, 5. He did it 
by representing things otherwise than they were. The fruit 
was desirable, that was apparent unto the eye. Hence Sa- 
tan takes advantage secretly to insinuate, that it was merely 
an abridgment of their happiness, that God aimed at in for- 
biddins: them to eat of it. That it was for the trial of their 


obedience, that certain, though not immediate ruin, would 
ensue upon the eating of it, he hides from them ; only he 
proposeth the present advantage of knowledge, and so pre- 
sents the whole case quite otherwise unto them, than indeed 
it was. This is the nature of deceit ; it is a representation of 
a matter under disguise, hiding that which is undesirable, 
proposing that which indeed is not in it, that the mind may 
make a false judgment of it. So Jacob deceived Isaac by his 
brother's raiment, and the skins on his hands and neck. 

Again, deceit hath advantage by that way of manage- 
ment which is inseparable from it. It is always carried on 
by degrees, by little and Httle, that the Vv'hole of the design 
and aim in hand be not at once discovered. So dealt Satan 
in that great deceit before-mentioned ; he proceeds in it by 
steps and degrees. First, he takes off an objection, and 
tells them they shall not die ; then proposeth the good of 
knowledge to them, and their being like to God thereby. 
To hide and conceal ends, to proceed by steps and degrees, 
to make use of what is obtained, and thence to press on to 
farther effects, is the true nature of deceit. Stephen tells us, 
that the ki ng of Egypt ' dealt subtilly' or deceitfully ' with th Ar 
kindred ;' Acts vii. 19. How he did it we may see, Exod. i. 
he did not at first fall to killing and slaying of them, but 
says, ver. 10." Come let us deal wisely ;' beginning to oppress 
them. This brings forth their bondage, ver. 11. Having 
got this ground to make them slaves, he proceeds to destroy 
their children, ver. 16. He fell not on them all at once, but 
by degrees. And this may suffice to shew in general, that 
sin is deceitful and the advantages that it hath thereby. 

For the way, and manner, and progress of sin in work- 
ing by deceit, we have it fully expressed, James i. 14, 15. 
* Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own 
lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth 
forth sin : and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.' 
This place declaring the whole of what we aim at in this 
matter, must be particularly insisted on. 

In the foregoing verse, the apostle manifests that men 
are willing to drive the old trade, which our first parents at 
the entrance of sin set up withal, namely, of excusing 
themselves in tiieir sins, and casting the occasion and blame 
of them on others. It is not, say they, from themselves. 


their own nature and inclination^, their own designings, that 
they have committed such and such evils, but merely from 
their temptations ; and if" they know not where to fix the 
evil of those temptations, they will lay them on God him- 
self, rather than go without an excuse or extenuation of 
their guilt. This evil in the hearts of men the apostle re- 
buketh, ver. 13. ' Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am 
tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither 
tempteth he any man.' And to shew the justness of this 
reproof in the words mentioned, he discovers the true causes 
of the rise and whole progress of sin, manifesting that the 
whole guilt of it lies upon the sinner, and that the whole 
punishment of it, if not graciously prevented, will be his 
lot also. 

We have therefore, as was said, in these words the whole 
progress of lust or indwelling sin, by the way of subtlety, 
fraud, and deceit, expressed and limited by the Holy Ghost. 
And from hence we shall manifest the particular ways and 
means whereby it puts forth its power and efficacy in the 
hearts of men by deceitfulness and subtlety ; and we may 
observe in the words. 

First, The utmost end aimed at in all the actings of sin, 
or the tendency of it in its own nature, and that is death ; 
* sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death ;' the everlast- 
ing death of the sinner : pretend what it will, this is the end 
it aims at, and tends unto. Hiding of ends and designs is 
the pi'incipal property of deceit. This sin doth to the ut- 
most; other things innumerable it pleads, but not once de- 
clares that it aims at the death, the everlasting death c^ the 
soul. And a fixed apprehension of this end of every sin, is 
a blessed means to prevent its prevalency in its way of de- 
ceit or beguiling. 

Secondly, The general way of its acting towards that 
end is by temptation ; ' Every man is tempted of his own 
lust.' I purpose not to speak in general of the nature of 
temptations, it belongs not unto our present purpose, and be- 
sides I have done it elsewhere. It may suffice at present to 
observe, that the life of temptation lies in deceit ; so that in 
the business of sin, to be eflectually tempted, and to be be- 
guiled or deceived are the same. Thus it was in the first 
temptation ; it is every where called the serpent's beguiling 



or deceiving, as was manifested before : the serpent beguiled 
Eve; that is, prevailed by his temptations upon her. So 
that every man is tempted; that is, every man is beguiled 
or deceived by his own lust, or indwelling sin, which we 
have often declared to be the same. 

The degrees whereby sin proceedeth in this work of 
tempting or deceiving, are five ; for we shewed before, that 
this belongs unto the nature of deceit, that it works by de- 
grees, making its advantage by one step to gain another. 

The first of these consists in drawing off, or drawing 
away; ' Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of 
his own lust.' 

The second is in enticing; * and is enticed.' 

The third, in the conception of sin; 'when lust hath con- 
ceived,' when the heart is enticed, then lust conceives in it. 

The fourth is the bringing forth of sin in its actual ac- 
complishment ; ' when lust hath conceived it brings forth 
sin.' In all which there is a secret allusion to an adulterous 
deviation from conjugal duties, and conceiving or bringing 
forth children of whoredom and fornication. 

The fifth is, the finishing of sin, the completing of it, the 
filling up of the measure of it, whereby the end originally 
designed by lust is brought about ; * sin when it is finished 
bringeth forth death.' As lust conceiving, naturally and ne- 
cessarily bringeth forth sin ; so sin finished, infallibly pro- 
cureth eternal death. 

The first of these relates to the mind ; that is, drawn off, 
or drawn away by the deceit of sin. The second unto the 
affections; they are enticed or entangled. The third to the 
will, wherein sin is conceived ; the consent of the will being 
the formal conception of actual sin. The fourth to the con- 
versation wherein sin is brought forth; it exerts itself in the 
lives and courses of men. The fifth respects an obdurate 
course in sinning, that finisheth, consummates, and shuts 
up the whole work of sin, whereon ensues death or eternal 

I shall principally consider the three first, wherein the 
main strength of the deceit of sin doth lie, and that because 
in believers, whose state and condition is principally pro- 
posed to consideration, God is pleased, for the most part, 
graciously to prevent the fourth instance, or the bringing 


forth of actual sins in their conversations; and the last al- 
ways and wholly, or their being obdurate in a course of sin 
to the finishing of it. What ways God in his grace and 
faithfulness makes use of to stifle the conceptions of sin in 
the womb, and to hinder its actual production in the lives of 
men, must afterward be spoken unto. The first three in- 
stances then we shall insist upon fully, as those wherein the 
principal concernment of believers in this matter doth lie. 

The first thing which sin is said to do, working in a way 
of deceit, is to draw away, or to draw off; whence a man is 
said to be drawn off, or drawn away and diverted, namely, 
from attending unto that course of obedience and holiness, 
which, in opposition unto sin and the law thereof, he is 
bound with diligence to attend unto. 

Now it is the mind that this effect of the deceit of sin is 
wrought upon. The mind or understanding, as we have 
shewed, is the guiding, conducting faculty of the soul ; it 
goes before in discerning, judging, and determining, to make 
the way of moral actions fair and smooth to the will and af- 
fections ; it is to the soul what Moses told his father-in-law 
that he might be to the people in the wilderness, as ' eyes 
to guide them,' and keep them from wandering in that de- 
solate place : it is the eye of the soul, without whose guid- 
ance the will and affections would perpetually wander in 
the wilderness of this world, according as any object, with 
an appearing present good, did offer or present itself unto 

The first thins; therefore that sin aims at in its deceitful 
working, is to draw off and divert the mind from the dis- 
charge of its duty. 

There are two things which belong unto the duty of the 
mind, in that special office which it hath in and about the 
obedience which God requireth. 

1. To keep itself and the whole soul in such a frame 
and posture, as may render it ready unto all duties of obe- 
dience, and watchful against all enticements unto the con- 
ception of sin. 

2. In particular carefully to attend unto all parti- 
cular actions, that they be performed as God requireth, for 
matter, manner, time, and season, agreeably unto his will, as 
also for the obviating all particular tenders of sin in things 


forbidden. In these two things consists the whole duty of 
the mind of a believer ; and from both of them doth indwell- 
ing sin endeavour to divert it, and draw it off. 

1. The first of these is, the duty of the mind, in reference 
unto the general frame and course of the whole soul; and 
hereof two things may be considered. (1.) That it is found- 
ed in a due constant consideration ; of ourselves, of sin, 
and its vileness : of God, of his grace, and goodness ; 
and both these doth sin labour to draw it off from. (2.) In 
attending to those duties which are suited to obviate the 
working of the law of sin, in an especial manner. 

(1.) It endeavours to draw it off from a due consider- 
ation, apprehension, and sensibleness of its own vileness, 
and the danger wherewith it is attended. This, in the first 
place, we shall instance in. A due, constant consideration 
of sin in its nature, in all its aggravating circumstances, in 
its end and tendency, especially as represented in the blood 
and cross of Christ, ought always to abide with us. Jer. ii. 19. 
* Know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and a bitter, 
that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.' Every sin is a 
forsaking of the Lord our God. If the heart know not, if it 
consider not, that it is an evil thing and a bitter, evil in it- 
self, bitter in its effects, fruit, and event, it will never be se- 
cured against it. Besides, that frame of heart which is most 
accepted with God in any sinner, is the humble, contrite, 
self-abasing frame : Isa. Ivii. 15. 'Thus saith the high and 
lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy ; I 
dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a 
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the hum- 
ble, to revive the spirit of the contrite ones.' See also Luke 
xviii. 13, 14. This becomes a sinner, no garment sits so de- 
cently about him. ' Be clothed with humility,' saith the apo- 
stle, 1 Pet. V. 5. It is that which becomes us, and it is the 
only safe frame. He that walketh humbly walketh safely. 
This is the design of Peter's advice, 1 Epist. i. 17. ' Pass 
the time of your sojourning here in fear.' After that he 
himself had miscarried by another frame of mind, he gives 
this advice to all believers : it is not a bondage, servile fear, 
disquieting and perplexing the soul, but such a fear as may 
keep men constantly calling upon the Father, with refer- 
ence unto the final judgment, that they may be preserved 


from sin, whereof they were hi so great danger, which he 
advises them mito. * If ye call on the Father, who, without 
respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, 
pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.' This is the 
humble frame of soul; and how is this obtained? how is 
this preserved ? No otherwise but by a constant deep appre- 
hension of the evil, vileness, and danger of sin. So was it 
wrought, so was it kept up in the approved publican. 'God 
be merciful,' saith he, ' to me a sinner.' Sense of sin kept 
him humble, and humility made way for his access unto a 
testimony of the pardon of sin. 

And this is the great preservative through grace from 
sin, as we have an example in the instance of Joseph, Gen. 
xxxix. 9. Upon the urgency of his great temptation, he 
recoils immediately into this frame of spirit ; ' How,' saith 
he, ' can I do this thing, and sin against God ? ' A constant, 
steady sense of the evil of sin gives him such preservation, 
that he ventures liberty and life in opposition to it. To fear 
sin is to fear the Lord ; so the holy man tells us that they 
are the same. Job xxviii. 28. * The fear of the Lord, that is 
wisdom; and to depart from iniquity that is understanding.' 

This therefore in the first place, in general, doth the law 
of sin put forth its deceit about, namely, to draw the mind from 
this frame, which is the strongest fort of the soul's defence 
and security. It labours to divert the mind from a due appre- 
hension of the vileness, abomination, and danger of sin. It 
secretly and insensibly insinuates lessening, excusing, exte- 
nuating thoughts of it; or it draws it off from pondering 
upon it, from being conversant about it in his thoughts so 
much as it ought, and formerly hath been. And if, after the 
heart of a man hath, through the word, Spirit, and grace of 
Christ, been made tender, soft, deeply sensible of sin, it 
becomes on any account, or by any means whatever, to have 
less, fewer, slighter, or less affecting thoughts of it or about 
it, the mind of that man is drawn away by the deceitfulness 
of sin. 

There are two ways amongst others, whereby the law of 
sin endeavours deceitfully to draw off the mind from this 
duty, and frame ensuing thereon. 

[1.] It doth it by a horrible abuse of gospel grace. 
There is in the gospel a remedy provided against the whole 


evil of sin, the filth, the guilt of it, with all its dangerous 
consequents. It is the doctrine of the deliverance of the 
souls of men from sin and death. A discovery of the gracious 
will of God towards sinners by Jesus Christ. What now is 
the genuine tendency of this doctrine, of this discovery of 
grace, and what ought we to use it and improve it unto? 
This the apostle declares, Titus ii. 11, 12. '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.' This 
it teacheth, this we ought to learn of it and by it. Hence 
universal holiness is called a ' conversation that becometh 
the gospel,' Phil. i. 27. It becomes it as that which is an- 
swerable unto its end, aim, and design ; as that which it 
requires, and which it ought to be improved unto. And 
accordingly it doth produce this effect where the word of it 
is received and preserved in a saving light, Rom.xii. 2. 
Ephes. iv. 20 — 24. But herein doth the deceit of sin in- 
terpose itself. It separates between the doctrine of grace, 
and the use and end of it. It stays upon its notions, and 
intercepts its influences in its proper application. From 
the doctrine of the assured pardon of sin, it insinuates a re- 
gardlessness of sin. God in Christ makes the proposition, 
and Satan and sin make the conclusion. For that the deceit- 
fulness of sin is apt to plead unto a regardlessness of it from 
the grace of God whereby it is pardoned, the apostle declares 
in his reproof and detestation of such an insinuation, Rom. 
vi. 1. ' What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that 
grace may abound? God forbid.' Men's deceitful hearts, 
saith he, are apt to make that conclusion ; but far be it from 
us, that we should give any entertainment unto it. But yet 
that some have evidently improved that deceit unto their own 
eternal ruin, Jude declares, ver. 4. ' Ungodly men turning 
the grace of God into lasciviousness.' And we have had 
dreadful instances of it in the days of temptation wherein we 
have lived. 

Indeed, in opposition unto this deceit lies much of the 
wisdom of faith, and power of gospel grace. When the mind 
is fully possessed with, and cast habitually and firmly into, 
the mould of the notion and doctrine of gospel truth about 
the full and free forgivejiess of all sins in the blood of Christ, 


tlien to be able to keep the heart always in a deep humbling 
sense of sin, abhorrency of it, and self-abasement for it, is a 
great effect of gospel wisdom and grace. This is the trial 
and touchstone of gospel light. If it keep the heart sen- 
sible of sin, humble, lowly, and broken on that account; if 
it teach us to water a free pardon with tears, to detest for- 
given sin, to watch diligently for the ruin of that, which we 
are yet assured shall never ruin us, it is divine, from above, 
of the Spirit of grace. If it secretly and insensibly make men 
loose and slight in their thoughts about sin, it is adulterate, 
selfish, false. If it will be all, answer all ends, it is nothing. 

Hence it comes to pass, that sometimes we see men 
walking in a bondage-frame of spirit all their days, low in 
their light, mean in their apprehensions of grace, so that it is 
hard to discern whether covenant in their principles they 
belong unto ; whether they are under the law, or under grace, 
yet walk with a more conscientious tenderness of sinning, 
than many who are advanced into higher degrees of light 
and knowledge than they. Not that the saving light of the 
gospel is not the only principle of saving holiness and obe- 
dience ; but that through the deceitfulness of sin, it is variously 
abused to countenance the soul in manifold neglect of duties, 
and to draw off the mind from a due consideration of the 
nature, desert, and danger of sin. And this is done several 

(1st.) The soul having frequent need of relief by gospel 
grace against a sense of the guilt of sin and accusation of 
the law, comes at length to make it a common and ordinary 
thing, and such as may be slightly performed. Having found 
a good medicine for its wounds, and such as it hath had 
experience of its efficacy, it comes to apply it slightly, and 
rather skinneth over than cureth its sores. A little less earnest- 
ness, a little less diligence serves every time, until the soul, 
it may be, begins to secure itself of pardon in course. And 
this tends directly to draw off the mind from its constant 
and universal watchfulness against sin. He whose light hath 
made his way of access plain for the obtaining of pardon, if 
he be i^ot very watchful, he is far more apt to become overly, 
formal, and careless in his work, than he who by reason of 
mists and darkness, beats about to find his way aright to the 
throne of grace. As a man that hath often travelled a road 



passeth on without regard or inquiry j but he who is a 
stranger unto it, observing all turnings, and inquiring of all 
passengers, secures his journey beyond the other. 

(2dly.)The deceitfulness of sin takes advantage from the 
doctrine of grace, by many ways and means to extend the 
bounds of the soul's liberty beyond what God hath assign- 
ed unto it. Some have never thought themselves free from 
a legal bondage frame, until they have been brought into the 
confines of sensuality, and some into the depths of it. How 
often will sin plead, this strictness, this exactness, this so- 
licitude is no ways needful ; relief is provided in the gospel 
against such things. Would you live as though there were 
no need of the gospel ? as though pardon of sin were to no 
purpose ? But concerning these pleas of sin from gospel 
grace, we shall have occasion to speak more hereafter in 

(3dly.) In times of temptation, this deceitfulness of sin 
will argue expressly for sin from gospel grace ; at least it will 
plead for these two things : 

[1st.] That there is not need of such a tenacious severe 
contending against it, as the principle of the new creature is 
fixed on. If it cannot divert the soul or mind wholly from 
attending unto temptations to oppose them, yet it will en- 
deavour to draw them off as to the manner of their attend- 
ance. They need not use that diligence which at first the 
soul apprehends to be necessary. 

[2dly.] It will be tendering relief as to the event of 
sin, that it shall not turn to the ruin or destruction of the 
soul, because it is, it will, or maybe, pardoned by the grace 
of the gospel. And this is true, this is the great and only 
relief of the soul against sin, the guilt whereof it hath con- 
tracted already ; the blessed and only remedy for a guilty 
soul. But when it is pleaded and remembered by the deceit- 
fulness of sin in compliance with temptation unto sin, then 
it is poison; poison is mixed in every drop of this balsam, 
to the danger if not death of the soul. And this is the 
first way whereby the deceitfulness of sin draws off the mind 
from a due attendance unto that sense of its vileness,-which 
alone is able to keep it in that humble, self-abased frame, 
that is acceptable with God. It makes the mind careless, 
as though its work were needless, because of the abounding 


of grace ; which is a soldier's neglect of his station trusting 
to a reserve, provided indeed only in case of keeping his 
own proper place. 

[2.] Sin takes advantage to work by its deceit in 
this matter of drawing off the mind from a due sense of it, 
from the state and condition of men in the world. I shall 
give only one instance of its procedure in this kind. Men in 
their younger days have naturally their affections more quick, 
vigorous, and active, more sensibly working in them than 
afterward. They do as to their sensible working and ope- 
ration naturally decay, and many things befall men in their 
lives, that take off the edge and keenness of them. But as 
men lose in their affections, if they are not besotted in sen- 
suality, or by the corruptions that are in the world through 
lust, they grow and improve in their understandings, reso- 
lutions, and judgments. Hence it is, that if what had place 
formerly in their affections do not take place in their minds 
and judgments, they utterly lose them, they have no more 
place in their souls. Thus men have no regard for, yea, they 
utterly despise, those things which their affections were set 
upon with delight and greediness in their childhood. But 
if they are things that by any means come to be fixed in 
their minds and judgments, they continue a high esteem for 
them, and do cleave as close unto them, as they did when 
their affections were more vigorous ; only, as it were, they 
have changed their seat in the soul. It is thus in things 
spiritual ; the first and chiefest seat of the sensibleness of 
sin, is in the affections ; as these in natural youth, are great 
and large, so are they spiritually in spiritual youth ; Jer. ii. 2. 
' I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine 
espousals.' Besides, such persons are newly come off from 
their convictions, wherein they have been cut to the heart, 
and so made tender. Whatever touches upon a wound is 
throughly felt. So doth the guilt of sin before the wound 
given by conviction be throughly cured. But now, when 
affections begin to decay naturally, they begin to decay also 
as to their sensible actings and motions in things spiritual. 
Although they improve in grace, yet they may decay in 
sense. At least spiritual sense is not radically in them, but 
only by way of communication. Now in these decays, if 
the soul take not care to fix a deep sense of sin on the mind 

G 2 


and judgment, thereby perpetually to affect the heart and 
affections, it will decay. And here the deceit of the law of 
sin interposeth itself. It suffers a sense of sin to decay in the 
affections, and diverts the mind from entertaining a due, con- 
stant, fixed consideration of it. We may consider this a little 
in persons that never make a progress in the ways of God 
beyond conviction. How sensible of sin will they be for 
a season ? How will they then mourn and weep under a 
sense of the guilt of it ? How will they cordially and heartily 
resolve against it ? Affections are vigorous, and, as it were, 
bear rule in their souls. But they are like an herb that will 
flourish for a day or two with watering, although it have no 
root. For, awhile after, we see that these men the more ex- 
perience they have had of sin, the less they are afraid of it, 
as the wise man intimates, Eccles. viii. 11. and at length 
they come to be the greatest contemners of sin in the world. 
No sinner like him that hath sinned away his convictions of 
sin. What is the reason of this ? Sense of sin was in their 
convictions fixed on their affections ; as it decayed in them, 
they took no care to have it deeply and graciously fixed on 
their minds. This the deceitfulness of sin deprived them of, 
and so ruined their souls. In some measure it is so with be- 
lievers. If, as the sensibleness of the affections decay, if, 
as they grow heavy and obtuse, great wisdom and grace be 
not used to fix a due sense of sin upon the mind and judg- 
ment, which may provoke, excite, enliven, and stir up the 
affections every day, great decays will ensue. At first sor- 
row, trouble, grief, fear, affected the mind, and would give it 
no rest. If afterward the mind do not affect the heart with 
sorrow and grief, the whole will be cast out, and the soul be 
in danger of being hardened. And these are some of the 
ways whereby the deceit of sin diverts the mind from the 
first part of its safe preserving frame, or draws it off from its 
constant watchfulness against sin and all the effects of it. 

The second part of this general duty of the mind, is to 
keep the soul unto a constant, holy consideration of God 
and his grace. This evidently lies at the spring head of 
gospel obedience. The way whereby sin draws off the mind 
from this part of its duty is open and known sufficiently, 
though not sufficiently watched against. Now this the 
Scripture every where declares to be the filling of the minds 

OF indwelling; sin. 85 

of men with earthly things. This it placeth in direct oppo- 
sition unto that heavenly frame of the mind, which is the 
spring of gospel obedience. Col. iii. 2. ' Set your affections 
on things above, not on things on the earth ;' or set your 
minds. As if he had said, on both together you cannot be 
set or fixed, so as principally and chiefly to mind them both 
And the affections to the one and the other, proceeding from 
these different principles of minding the one and the other, 
are opposed as directly inconsistent, 1 John ii. 15, ' 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.' 
And actings in a course suitable unto these affections are 
proposed also as contrary ; * You cannot serve God and 
mammon.' These are two masters whom no man can serve 
at the same time to the satisfaction of both. Every inordi- 
nate minding, then, of earthly things, is opposed unto that 
frame wherein our minds ought to be fixed on God and his 
grace in a course of gospel obedience. 

Several ways there are whereby the deceitfulness of sin 
draws off the mind in this particular, but the chief of them 
is by pressing these things on the mind under the notion of 
things lawful, and it may be necessary. So all those who 
excuse themselves in the parable from coming in to the 
marriage-feast of the gospel, did it onaccountof their being 
engaged in their lawful callings. One about his farm, an- 
other his oxen, the means whereby he ploughed in this 
world. By this plea were the minds of men drawn ofT from 
that frame of heavenliness which is required to our walking 
with God ; and the rules of not loving the world, or using it 
as if we used it not, are hereby neglected. What wisdom, 
what watchfulness, what serious frequent trial and examina- 
tion of ourselves is required, to keep our hearts and minds 
in a heavenly frame, in the use and pursuit of earthly 
things, is not my present business to declare. This is evi- 
dent, that the engine whereby the deceit of sin draws off 
and turns aside the mind in this matter, is the pretence of 
the lawfulness of things about which it would have it exer- 
cise itself, against which very few are armed with sufficient 
^ diligence, wisdom, and skill. And this is the first and most 
general attempt that indwelling sin makes upon the soul by 
deceit : it draws away the mind from a diligent attention 


unto its course in a due sense of the evil of sin, and a due 
and constant consideration of God and his grace. 


The deceit of sin in dratving off the mind from a dtie attendance unto especial 
duties of obedience, instanced in meditation and prayer. 

How sin by its deceit endeavours to draw off the mind 
from attending unto that holy frame in walking with God, 
wherein the soul ought to be preserved, hath been declared. 
Proceed we now to shew how it doth the same work in re- 
ference unto those especial duties, by which the designs, 
workings, and prevalency of it may in an especial manner be 
obviated and prevented. Sin indeed maintains an enmity 
against all duties of obedience, or rather with God in them. 
' When I would do good,' saith the apostle, ' evil is present 
with me.' Whenever I would do good, or what good soever 
I would do, that is spiritually good, good in reference unto 
God, it is present with me, to hinder me from it, to oppose 
me in it. And on the other side, all duties of obedience do 
lie directly against the actings of the law of sin. For as 
the flesh in all its actings lusteth against the Spirit, so the 
Spirit in all its actings lusteth against the flesh. And there- 
fore every duty performed in the strength and grace of the 
Spirit, is contrary to the law of sin. Rom. viii. 13. ' If ye 
by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh.' Actings of 
the Spirit of grace in duties doth this work. These two are 
contrary. But yet there are some duties, which in their 
own nature, and by God's appointment, have a peculiar in- 
fluence into the weakening and subduing the whole law of 
sin in its very principles and chiefest strengths. And these 
the mind of a believer ought principally in his whole course 
to attend unto. And these doth sin in its deceit endeavour 
principally to draw off" the mind from. As in diseases of 
the body, some remedies, they say, have a specific quality 
against distempers ; so, in this disease of the soul, there are 
some duties that have an especial virtue against this sinful 
distemper. I shall not insist on many of them, but instance 
only in two, which seem to me to be of this nature ; namely. 


that by God's designation they have a special tendency to- 
wards the ruin of the law of sin. And then we shall shew 
the ways, methods, and means, which the law of sin useth 
to divert the mind from a due attendance unto them. 
Now these duties are, first, prayer, especially private prayer: 
and, secondly, meditation. I put them together because 
they much agree in their general nature and end, differing 
only in the manner of their performance. For by medita- 
tion I intend meditating upon what respect and suitableness 
there is between the word and our own hearts, to this end, 
that they may be brought to a more exact conformity. It 
is our pondering on the truth as it is in Jesus, to find out 
the image and representation of it in our own hearts ; and so 
it hath the same intent with prayer, which is to bring our 
souls into a frame in all things answering the mind and will 
of God. They are as the blood and spirits in the veins, that 
have the same life, motion, and use. But yet because per- 
sons are generally at a great loss in this duty of meditation, 
having declared it to be of so great efficacy, for the con- 
trolling of the actings of the law of sin, I shall in our pas- 
sage give briefly two or three rules for the directing of be- 
lievers to a right performance of this great duty, and they 
are these : 

1. Meditate of God with God ; that is, when we would 
undertake thoughts and meditations of God, his excel- 
lencies, his properties, his glory, his majesty, his love, his 
goodness, let it be done in a way of speaking unto God, in 
a deep humiliation and abasement of our souls before him. 
This wnll fix the mind, and draw it forth from one thino- to 
another, to give glory unto God in a due manner, and affect 
the soul until it be brought into that holy admiration of God 
and delight in him, which is acceptable unto him. My 
meaning is, that it be done in a way of prayer and praise, 
speaking unto God. 

2. Meditate on the word in the word ; that is, in the read- 
ing of it, consider the sense in the particular passages 
we insist upon, looking to God for help, guidance, and direc- 
tion, in the discovery of his mind and will therein, and then 
labour to have our hearts affected with it. 

3. What we come short of in evenness and con- 
stancy in our thoughts in these things, let it, be made up in 


frequency. Some are discouraged because their minds do 
not regularly supply them with thoughts to carry on their 
meditations, through the weakness or imperfection of their 
inventions. Let this be supplied by frequent returns of the 
mind unto the subject proposed to be meditated upon, 
whereby new senses will still be supplied unto it. But this 
by the way. 

These duties, I say, amongst others (for we have only 
chosen them for an instance, not excluding some others from 
the same place, office, and usefulness with them), do make 
an especial opposition to the very being and life of indwell- 
ing sin, or rather faith in them doth so. They are perpe- 
tually designing its utter ruin. I shall therefore upon this 
instance, in the pursuit of our present purpose, do these two 
things : 

(1.) Shew the suitableness and usefulness of this duty, 
or these duties (as I shall handle them jointly), unto the 
ruining of sin. 

(2.) Shew the means whereby the deceitfulness of sin 
endeavours to draw off the mind from a due attendance unto 

(1.) For the first observe, 

[1.] That it is the proper work of the soul in this duty, 
to consider all the secret workings and actings of sin, what 
advantages it hath got, what temptations it is in conjunc- 
tion withal, what harm it hath already done, and what it is 
yet farther ready to do. Hence David gives that title unto 
one of his prayers ; Psal. cii. ' A prayer of the afflicted, when 
he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the 
Lord.' I speak of that prayer which is attended with a due 
consideration of all the wants, straits and emergencies of the 
soul. Without this, prayer is not prayer j that is, whatever 
shew or appearance of that duty it hath, it is no way useful, 
either to the glory of God, or the good of the souls of men. 
A cloud it is without water, driven by the wind of the breath 
of men. Nor was there ever any more present and effectual 
poison for souls found out, than the binding of them unto a 
constant form and usage of I know not what words in their 
prayers and supplications, which themselves do not under- 
stand. Bind men so in their trades, or in their businesses 
in this world, and they will quickly find the effect of it. By 


this means are they disenabled from any due consideration 
of what at present is good for them, or evil unto them; with- 
out which, to what use can prayer serve, but to mock God, 
and delude men's own souls? But in this kind of prayer 
which we insist on, the Spirit of God falls in to give us his 
assistance, and that in this very matter of finding out and 
discovering the most secret actings and workings of the law 
of sin ; Rom. viii. 26. ' We know not what to pray for as we 
ought, but he helps our infirmities :' he discovers our wants 
unto us, and wherein chiefly we stand in need of help and 
relief. And we find it by daily experience, that in prayer, 
believers are led into such discoveries and convictions of 
the secret deceitful work of sin in their hearts, as no con- 
siderations could ever have led them into. So David, Psal. 
li. designing the confession of his actual sin, having his 
wound in his prayer searched by the skilful hand of the Spi- 
rit of God, he had a discovery made unto him of the root of 
all his miscarriages in his original corruption, ver. 5. The 
Spirit in this duty is as the candle of the Lord unto the soul, 
enabling it to search all the inward parts of the belly. It 
gives a holy, spiritual light into the mind, enabling it to 
search the deep and dark recesses of the heart, to find out 
the subtle and deceitful machinations, figments, and imagi- 
nations of the law of sin therein. Whatever notion there be 
of it, whatever power and prevalency in it, it is laid hand on, 
apprehended, brought into the presence of God, judged, con- 
demned, bewailed. And what can possibly be more effectual 
for its ruin and destruction ? For together with its discovery, 
application is made unto all that relief which in Jesus Christ 
is provided against it, all ways and means whereby it may 
be ruined. Hence it is the duty of the mind, * to watch unto 
prayer ;' 1 Pet. iv. 7. To attend diligently unto the estate 
of our souls, and to deal fervently and effectually with God 
about it. The like also may be said of meditation, wisely 
managed unto its proper end. 

[2.] In this duty there is wrought upon the heart a 
deep, full sense of the vileness of sin, with a constant re- 
newed detestation of it, which, if any thing, undoubtedly 
tends to its ruin. This is one design of prayer, one end of 
the soul in it, namely, to draw forth sin, to set it in order, to 
present it unto itself in its vileness, abomination, and aggra- 


vating circumstances, that it may be loathed, abhorred, and 
cast away as a filthy thing; as Isa. xxx. 22. He that pleads 
with God for sin's remission, pleads also with his own heart 
for its detestation, Hos. xiv- 3. Herein also sin is judged 
in the name of God ; for the soul in its confession sub- 
scribes unto God's detestation of it, and the sentence of his 
law against it. There is indeed a course of these duties, 
which convinced persons do give up themselves unto, as a 
mere covert to their lusts : they cannot sin quietly, unless 
they perform duty constantly. But that prayer we speak of, 
is a thing of another nature, a thing that will allow no com- 
position with sin, much less will serve the ends of the deceit 
of it, as the other formal prayer doth. It will not be bribed 
into a secret compliance with any of the enemies of God, or 
the soul, no not for a moment. And hence it is, that often- 
times in this duty, the heart is raised to the most sincere ef- 
fectual sense of sin, and detestation of it, that the soul ever 
obtains in its whole course of obedience. And this evidently 
tends also to the weakening and ruin of the law of sin. 

[3.] This is the way appointed and blessed of God to 
obtain strength and power against sin. James i. 5. 'Doth any 
man lack ? let him ask of God.' Prayer is the way of obtain- 
ing from God by Christ a supply of all our wants, assistance 
against all opposition, especially that which is made against 
us by sin. This, I suppose, need not be insisted on ; it is 
in the notion and practice clear to every believer. It is that 
wherein we call, and upon which the Lord Jesus comes 
in to our succour, with suitable help in a time of need, 
Heb. ii. 17. 

[4.] Faith in prayer countermines all the workings of 
the deceit of sin ; and that because the soul doth therein 
constantly engage itself unto God to oppose all sin what- 
soever. Psal. cxix. 106. * I have sworn, and I will perform it, 
that I will keep thy righteous judgments.' This is the lan- 
guage of every gracious soul in its addresses unto God: the 
inmost parts thereof engage themselves to God to cleave to 
him in all things, and to oppose sin in all things. He that 
cannot do this, cannot pray. To pray with any other frame^ 
is to flatter God with our lips, which he abhorreth. And 
this exceedingly helps a believer in pursuing sin unto its 
ruin. For, 


Isfc. If there be any secret lust that lies lurking in the 
heart, he will find it either rising up against this engagement, 
or using its artifices to secure itself from it. And hereby it 
is discovered ; and the conviction of the heart concerning 
its evil furthered and strengthened. Sin makes the most 
certain discovery of itself, and never more evidently than 
when it is most severely pursued. Lusts in men are com- 
pared to hurtful and noisome beasts, or men themselves are 
so because of their lusts, Isa. xi. 4, 5. Now such beasts use 
themselves to their dens and coverts, and never discover 
themselves, at least so much in their proper nature and rage, 
as when they are most earnestly pursued. And so it is with 
sin and corruption in the heart. 

2ndly. If any sin be prevalent in the soul, it will weaken 
it; and take it off from the universality of this engagement 
unto God, it will breed a tergiversation unto it, a slightness 
in it. Now when this is observed, it will exceedingly 
awaken a gracious soul, and stir it up to look about it. As 
spontaneous lassitude, or a causeless weariness and indispo- 
sition of the body, is looked on as the sign of an approach- 
ing fever, or some dangerous distemper, which stirs up men 
to use a timely and vigorous prevention, that they be not 
seized upon by it; so is it in this case. When the soul of a 
believer finds in itself an indisposition to make fervent, sin- 
cere engagements of universal holiness unto God, it knows 
that there is some prevalent distemper in it, finds the place 
of it, and sets itself against it. 

3dly. Whilst the soul can thus constantly engage itself 
unto God, it is certain that sin can rise unto no ruinous pre- 
valency. Yea, it is a conquest over sin, a most considerable 
conquest, when the soul doth fully and clearly, without any 
secret reserve, come off with alacrity and resolution in such 
an engagement ; as Psal. xviii. 23. And it may upon such 
a success triumph in the grace of God, and have good hope 
through faith, that it shall have a final conquest, and what 
it so resolves, shall be done ; that it hath decreed a thing, 
and it shall be established. And this tends to the disap- 
pointment, yea, to the ruin of the law of sin. 

4thly. If the heart be not deceived by cursed hypo- 
crisy, this engagement unto God will greatly influence it 
unto a peculiar diligence and watchfulness against all sin. 


There is no greater evidence of hypocrisy, than to have the 
heart like the whorish woman, Prov. vii. 14. to say, * I have 
paid my vows, now I may take myself unto my sin ;' or to 
be negligent about sin, as being satisfied that it hath prayed 
against it. It is otherwise in a gracious soul. Sense and 
conscience of engagements against sin made to God, do 
make it universally watchful against all its motions and ope- 
rations. On these and sundry other accounts, doth faith in 
this duty exert itself peculiarly, to the weakening of the 
power, and stopping of the progress, of the law of sin. 

If then the mind be diligent in its watch and charge, to 
preserve the soul from the efficacy of sin, it will carefully at- 
tend unto this duty, and the due performance of it, which is 
of such singular advantage unto its end and purpose. Here 

(2.) Sin puts forth its deceit in its own defence ; it la- 
bours to divert and draw off the mind from attending unto 
this and the like duties. And there are, among others, three 
engines, three ways and means, whereby it attempts the ac- 
complishment of its design. 

[1.] It makes advantage of its weariness unto the flesh. 
There is an aversation, as hath been declared, in the law of 
sin, unto all immediate communion with God. Now this 
duty is such. There is nothing accompanieth it whereby the 
carnal part of the soul may be gratified, or satisfied, as there 
may be somewhat of that nature in most public duties, in 
most that a man can do, beyond pure acts of faith and love. 
No relief or advantage then coming in by it, but what is 
purely spiritual, it becomes wearisome, burdensome to flesh 
and blood. It is like travelling alone without companion 
or diversion, which makes the way seem long, but brings 
the passenger with most speed to his journey's end. So our 
Saviour declares, when expecting his disciples according to 
their duty and present distress should have been engaged 
in this work, he found them fast asleep ; Matt. xxvi. 41. 
* The spirit,' saith he, * indeed is willing, but the flesh is 
weak ;' and out of that weakness grew their indisposition 
unto, and weariness of, their duty. So God complains of 
his people, Isa. xliii. 22. ' Thou hast been weary of me.' 
And it may come at length unto that height which is men- 
tioned, Mai. i. 13. ' Ye have said. Behold, what a weariness 


is it ! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts.' 
The Jews suppose that it was the language of men when they 
brought their offerings or sacrifices on their shoulders, which 
they pretended wearied them, and they panted and blowed 
as men ready to faint under them, when they brought only 
the torn, and the lame, and the sick. But so is this duty 
oftentimes to the flesh. And this the deceitfulness of sin 
makes use of, to draw the heart by insensible degrees from 
a constant attendance unto it. It puts in for the relief of 
the weak and weary flesh. There is a compliance between 
spiritual flesh, and natural flesh in this matter ; they help 
one another, and an aversation unto this duty is the effect of 
their compliance. So it was in the spouse, Cant. v. 2, 3. 
She was asleep drowsing in her spiritual condition, and 
pleads her natural unfitness to rouse herself from that state. 
If the mind be not diligently watchful to prevent insinuations 
from hence, if it dwell not constantly on those considera- 
tions which evidence an attendance unto this duty to be in- 
dispensable, if it stir not up the principle of grace in the 
heart to retain its rule and sovereignty, and not to be dallied 
withal by foolish pretences, it will be drawn off, which is the 
effect aimed at. 

[2.] The deceitfulness of sin makes use of corrupt 
reasonings taken from the pressing and urging occasions of 
life. Should we, says it in the heart, attend strictly unto 
all duties in this kind, we should neglect our principal oc- 
casions, and be useless unto ourselves and others in the 
world. And on this general account, particular businesses 
dispossess particular duties from their due place and time. 
Men have not leisure to glorify God and save their own 
souls. It is certain, that God gives us time enough for all 
that he requires of us in any kind in this world. No duties 
need to jostle one another, I mean constantly. Especial 
occasions must be determined according unto especial cir- 
cumstances. But if in any thing we take more upon us 
than we have time well to perform it in without robbing 
God of that which is due to him, and our own souls, this 
God calls not unto, this he blesseth us not in. It is more 
tolerable that our duties of holiness and regard to God, 
should intrench upon the duties of our callings and employ- 
ments in this world, than on the contrary; and yet neither 


doth God require this at our hands in an ordinary manner 
or course. How little, then, will he bear with that which 
evidently is so much worse upon all accounts whatever. 
But yet, through the deceitfulness of sin, thus are the souls 
of men beguiled. By several degrees they are at length 
driven from their duty. 

[3.] It deals with the mind to draw it off from its attend- 
ance unto this duty by a tender of a compensation to be 
made in and by other duties. As Saul thought to com- 
pensate his disobedience by sacrifice. May not the same 
duty performed in public, or in the family, suffice ? And if 
the soul be so foolish as not to answer, those things ought 
to be done, and this not to be left undone, it may be en- 
snared and deceived. For, besides a command unto it, 
namely, that we should personally watch unto prayer, there 
is, as hath been declared, sundry advantages in this duty so 
performed against the deceit and efficacy of sin, which in 
the more public attendance unto it, it hath not. These sin 
strives to deprive the soul of by this commutation, which by 
its corrupt reasonings it tenders unto it. 

[4.] I may add here that which hath place in all 
the workings of sin by deceit, namely, its feeding the soul 
with promises and purposes of a more diligent attendance 
unto this duty when occasions will permit. By this means 
it brings the soul to say unto its convictions of duty, as 
Felix did to Paul, ' Go thy way for this time, when I have 
a convenient season I will call for thee.' And by this means 
oftentimes the present season and time, which alone is ours, 
is lost irrecoverably. 

These are some of the ways and means whereby the de- 
ceit of sin endeavours to draw off the mind from its due at- 
tendance unto this duty, which is so peculiarly suited to 
prevent its progress and prevalency, and which aims so di- 
rectly and immediately at its ruin. I might instance also in 
other duties of the like tendency. But this may suffice to 
discover the nature of this part of the deceit of sin. And 
this is the first way whereby it makes way for the farther 
entangling of the affections and the conception of sin. 
When sin hath wrought this effect on any one, he is said to 
be drawn away, to be diverted from what in his mind he ought 
constantly to attend unto, in his walking before the Lord. 


And this will instruct us to see and discern where lies the 
beginning of our declensions and failings in the ways of 
God, and that either as to our general course, or as to our 
attendance unto especial duties. And this is of great im- 
portance and concernment unto us. When the beginnings 
and occasions of a sickness or distemper of body are known, 
it is a great advantage to direct in and unto the cure of it. 
God, to recall Sion to himself, shews her where was the be- 
ginning of her sin, Micah i. 13. Now this is that which for 
the most part is the beginning of sin unto us, even the 
drawing; off the mind from a due attendance in all thinars 
unto the discharge of its duty. The principal care and 
charge of the soul lies on the mind ; and if that fail of its 
duty, the whole is betrayed, either as unto its general frame, 
or as unto particular miscarriages. The failing of the mind 
is like the failing of the watchman in Ezekiel, the whole is 
lost by his neglect. This, therefore, in that self-scrutiny 
and search which we are called unto, we are most diligently 
to inquire after. God doth not look at what duties we per- 
form, as to their number and tale, or as to their nature 
merely, but whether Ave do them with that intention of mind 
and spirit which he require th. Many men perform duties 
in a road or course, and do not, as it were, so much as think 
of them. Their minds are filled with other things, only 
duty takes up so much of their time. This is but an endea- 
vour to mock God, and deceive their own souls. Would 
you, therefore, take the true measure of yourselves, consider 
how it is with you as to the duty of your minds which we 
have inquired after. Consider whether, by any of the de- 
ceits mentioned, you have not been diverted and drawn 
away ; and if there be any decays upon you in any kind, you 
will find that there hath been the beginning of them. By 
one way or other your minds have been made heedless, re- 
gardless, slothful, uncertain, being beguiled and drawn off 
from their duty. Consider the charge, Prov. iv. 23. 25 — 
27. May not such a soul say. If I had attended more dili- 
gently, if I had considered more wisely, the vile nature of sin ; 
if I had not suffered my mind to be possessed with vain 
hopes and foolish imaginations, by a cursed abuse of gospel 
grace; if I had not permitted it to be filled with the things 
of the world, and to become negligent in attending unto 


especial duties, I had not at this day been thus sick, weak, 
thriftless, wounded, decayed, defiled. My careless, my de- 
ceived mind, hath been the beginning of sin and transgres- 
sion unto my soul. And this discovery will direct the soul 
unto a suitable way for its healing and recovery, which will 
never be effected by a multiplying of particular duties, but 
by a restoring of the mind, Psal. xxiii. 3. 

And this also doth hence appear to be the great means of 
preserving our souls, both as unto their general frame and 
particular duties, according to the mind and will of God ; 
namely, to endeavour after a sound and steadfast mind. It is 
a signal grace to have the spirit of power, and of love, and 
of a sound mind, 2 Tim. i. 7. A stable, solid, resolved mind in 
the things of God, not easily moved, diverted, changed, not 
drawn aside, a mind not apt to hearken after corrupt reason- 
ings, vain insinuations, or pretences to draw it off from its 
dtity. This is that which the apostle exhorts believers unto, 
1 Cor. XV. 38. 'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, 
unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.' The 
steadfastness of our minds abiding in their duty, is the cause 
of all our unmoveableness and fruitfulness in obedience. And 
so Peter tells us, that those who are by any means led away, 
or enticed, ' they fall from their own steadfastness ;' 2 Pet. 
iii. 7. And the great blame that is laid upon backsliders, 
is, that they are not steadfast, Psal. Ixxviii. 37. 'Their spirit 
was not steadfast.' For if the soul be safe, unless the mind be 
drawn off from its duty, the soundness and steadfastness of 
the mind is its great preservative. And there are three parts 
of this steadfastness of the mind. First, A full purpose of 
cleaving to God in all things. Secondly, A daily renova- 
tion and quickening of the heart unto a discharge of this 
purpose. Thirdly, Resolutions against all dalliances or 
parlies about negligences in that discharge ; which are not 
here to be spoken unto. 



Ithe deceit of sin in drawing off the mind from its attendance unto parti- 
cular duties farther discovered. Several things required in the mind of 
of believers, with respect unto particular duties of obedience. The actings 
of sin in a way of deceit, to divert the mind from them. 

We have not as yet brought unto an issue the first way of 
the working of the deceit of sin; namely, in its drawing 
away of the mind from the discharge of its duty, which we 
insist upon the longer, upon a double account. 

First, Because of its importance and concernment. If 
the mind be drawn off, if it be tainted, weakened, turned 
aside from a due and strict attendance unto its charge and 
office, the whole soul, will, and affections, are certainly en- 
tangled and drawn iatosin, as hath been in part declared, 
and will afterward farther appear. This we ought therefore 
to give diligent heed unto, which is the design of the apo- 
stle's exhortation, Heb. ii. 1. * Therefore we ought to give the 
more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest 
at any time we should let them slip.' It is a failure of our 
minds, by the deceitfulness of sin, in losing the life, power, 
sense, and impression of the word which he cautions us 
against. And there is no way to prevent it, but by giving 
of most ' earnest heed unto the things which we have heard,' 
which expresseth the whole duty of our minds in attending 
unto obedience. 

Secondly, Because the actings and workings of the mind 
being spiritual, are such as the conscience, unless clearly 
enlightened, and duly excited and stirred up, is not affected 
withal, so as to take due notice of them. Conscience is not 
apt to exercise reflex acts upon the mind's failures, as prin- 
cipally respecting the acts of the whole soul. When the af- 
fections are entangled with sin (of which afterward), or the 
will begins to conceive it by its express consent, conscience 
is apt to make an uproar in the soul, and to give it no rest 
or quiet until the soul be reclaimed, or itself be one way or 
other bribed or debauched. But these neglects of the mind 
being spiritual, without very diligent attendance, they are 
seldom taken notice of. Our minds are often in the Scrip- 
tures called our spirits ; as Rom. i. 9. 'Whom I serve in my 



spirit ;' and are distinguished from the soul, which princi- 
pally intends the affections in that distribution, 1 Thess. v. 
23. * Sanctify you wholly, your whole spirit and soul ;' that 
is, your mind and affections. It is true, where the spirit is 
used to express spiritual gifts, it is as unto those gifts op- 
posed to our understandings, 1 Cor. xiv. 15. which is there 
taken for the first act of the mind in a rational perception 
of things. But as that word is applied unto any faculty of 
our souls, it is the mind that it expresseth. This then being 
our spirit, the actings of it are secret and hidden, and not 
to be discovered without spiritual wisdom and diligence. 
Let us not suppose then that we dwell too long on this con- 
sideration, which is of so great importance to us, and yet so 
hidden, and which we are apt to be very insensible of; and 
yet our carefulness in this matter is one of the best evi- 
dences that we have of our sincerity. Let us not then be 
like a man that is sensible, and complains of a cut finger, 
but not of a decay of spirits tending unto death. There re- 
mains therefore as unto this head of our discourse, the con- 
sideration of the charge of the mind in reference unto parti- 
cular duties and sins; and in the consideration of it we shall 
do these two things : 

1. Shew what is required in the mind of a believer, in 
reference unto particular duties. 

2. Declare the way of the working of the deceit of sin, 
to draw it off from its attendance thereunto. The like 
also shall be done with respect unto particular sins, and 
their avoidance. 

(1.) For the right performance of any duty, it is not 
enough that the thing itself required be performed, but 
that it be universally squared and fitted unto the rule of it. 
Herein lies the great duty of the mind ; namely, to attend 
unto the rule of duties, and to take care that all the concern- 
ments of them be ordered thereby. Our progress in obe- 
dience is our edification or building. Now it is but a very 
little furtherance unto a building, that a man bring wood 
and stones, and heap them up together without order : they 
must be hewed and squared, and fitted by Hne and rule, if 
we intend to build. Nor is it unto any advantage unto our 
edification in faith and obedience, that we multiply duties, 
if we heap them upon one another, if we order and dispose 


ihcm not according to rule : and therefore doth God express- 
ly reject a multitude of duties, when not universally suited 
unto the rule, Isa. i. 11. * To what purpose is the multitude 
of your sacrifices ?' and ver. 14. ' They are a trouble unto 
me ; I am weary to bear them.' And therefore all acceptable 
obedience is called a proceeding according unto rule. Gal. vi. 
16.it is a canonical, or regular obedience. As letters in 
the alphabet heaped together signify nothing, unless they 
are disposed into their proper order, no more do our duties 
without this disposal. That they be so is the great duty of 
the mind, and which with all dili^nce it is to attend unto, 
Ephes. V.15. ' Walk circumspectly,' exactly, accurately; that 
is, diligently in all things, take heed to the rule of what 
you do. We walk in duties, but we walk circumspectly in 
this attention of the mind. 

(1.) There are some special things which the rule directs 
unto, that the mind is to attend in every duty ; as, 

[1.] That as to the matter of it, it be full and complete. 
Under the law, no beast was allowed to be a sacrifice that 
had any member wanting, any defect of parts. Such were 
rejected, as well as those that were lame or blind. Duties 
must be complete as to the parts, the matter of them. There 
may be such a part of the price kept back, as may make the 
tendering of all the residue unacceptable. Saul sparing 
Agag, and the fattest of the cattle, rendered the destroying 
of all the rest useless. Thus, when men will give alms, or 
perform other services, but not unto the proportion that the 
rule requireth, and which the mind by diligent attention 
unto it might discover, the whole duty is vitiated. 

[2.] As to the principle of it, namely, that it be done 
in faith, and therein by an actual derivation of strength 
from Christ, John xv. 5. without whom we can do nothing. 
It is not enough that the person be a believer, though that 
be necessary unto every good work, Ephes. ii. 10. but also, 
that faith be peculiarly acted in every duty that we do ; for 
our whole obedience is the obedience of faith, Rom. i. 5. 
that is, which the doctrine of faith requireth, and which the 
grace of faith beareth or bringeth forth. So Christ is ex- 
pressly said to be 'our life,' Col. iii. 4. our spiritual life, that 
is, the spring, author, and cause of it. Now as in life na- 
tural, no vital act can be performed, but by the actual opera- 

n 2 


tion of the principle of life itself; so, in life spiritual, no 
spiritually-vital act, that is, no duty acceptable to God can 
be performed,but by the actual working of Christ, who is our 
life. And this is no other way derived unto us but by faith : 
whence saith the apostle. Gal. ii. 20. ' Christ liveth in me: and 
the life which I now lead in the flesh, is by the faith of the 
Son of God.* Not only was Christ his life, a living principle 
unto him, but he led a life, that is, discharged vital actions in^ 
all duties of holiness and obedience, by the faith of the Sou 
of God, or in him, deriving supplies of grace and strength 
from him thereby. This therefore ought a believer diligent- 
ly to attend unto, namely, that every thing he doth to God 
be done in the strength of Christ ; which wherein it con- 
sisteth ought diligently to be inquired into by all who in- 
tend to walk with God. 

[3.] In this respect unto rule, the manner of the per- 
formance of every duty is to be regarded. Now there are 
two things in the manner of the performance of any duty 
which a believer, who is trusted with spiritual light, ought to 
attend unto. 

1st. That it be done in the way, and by the means 
that God hath prescribed with respect unto the outward 
manner of its performance. And this is especially to be re- 
garded in duties of the worship of God ; the matter and out- 
ward manner whereof do both equally fall under his com- 
mand. If this be not regarded, the whole duty is vitiated. 
I speak not of them who suffer themselves to be deluded by 
the deceitfulness of sin, utterly to disregard the rule of the 
word in such things, and to worship God according to their 
own imaginations ; but of them principally, who although 
they in general profess to do nothing but what God requires, 
and as he requires it, yet do not diligently attend to the 
rule, to make the authority of God to be the sole cause and 
reason both of what they do, and of the manner of the per- 
formance of it. And this is the reason that God so often calls 
on his people to consider diligently and wisely, that they 
may do all according as he had commanded. 

2dly. The affections of the heart and mind in duties be- 
long to the performance of them in the inward manner. 
The prescriptions and commands of God for attendance 
hereunto are innumerable, and the want hereof renders 


every duty an abomination unto him. A sacrifice without 
a heart, without salt, without fire, of what value is it ? No 
more are duties without spiritual affections. And herein is 
the mind to keep the charge of God ; to see that the heart 
which he requires be tendered to him. And we find also 
that God require th especial affections to accompany special 
duties. *He that giveth with cheerfulness;' which if they 
are not attended unto, the whole is lost. 

[4,] The mind is to attend unto the ends of duties; 
and therein principally the glory of God in Christ. Several 
other ends will sin and self impose upon our duties : espe- 
cially two it will press hard upon us with: first, satisfaction 
of our convictions and consciences ; secondly, the praise 
of men. For self-righteousness and ostentation, are the 
main ends of men that are fallen off from God in all moral 
duties whatsoever. In their sins they endeavour for to sa- 
tisfy their lusts ; in their duties, their conviction and pride. 
These the mind of a believer is diligently to watch against, 
and to keep up in all a single eye to the glory of God, as 
that which answers the great and general rule of all our 
obedience ; ' Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.* 
These and the like things, I say, which are commonly 
spoken unto, is the mind of a believer obliged to attend 
diligently and constantly unto, with respect unto all the 
particular duties of our walking before God. Here then 
lies no small part of the deceit of sin ; namely, to draw 
the mind off from this watch, to bring an inadvertency upon 
it, that it shall not in these things keep the watch and 
charge of the Lord. And if it can do so, and thereby strip 
our duties of all their excellencies which lie in these con- 
cernments of them, that the mind is to attend unto, it will 
not much trouble itself nor us about the duties themselves. 
And this it attempts several ways. 

1st. By persuading the mind to content itself with ge- 
nerals, and to take it off from attending unto things in 
particular instances. For example; it would persuade the 
soul to rest satisfied in a general aim of doing things to the 
glory of God, without considering how every particular duty 
may have that tendency. Thus Saul thought that he had 
fulfilled his own duty, and done the will of God, and sought 
his glory in his war against Amalek, when for want of at- 


tendance to every particular duty in that service, he had 
dishonoured God, and ruined himself and his posterity. 
And men may persuade themselves, that they have a gene- 
ral design for the glory of God, when they have no active 
principle in particular duties tending at all that way. But 
if, instead of fixing the mind by faith on the peculiar ad- 
vancing the glory of God in a duty, the soul content itself 
with a general notion of doing so, the mind is already di- 
verted and drawn off from its charge by the deceitfulness 
of sin. If a man be travelling in a journey, it is not only 
required of him, that he bend his course that way, and so 
go on ; but if he attend not unto every turning, and other 
occurrences in his way, he may wander and never come to 
his journey's end. And if we suppose that in general we 
aim at the glory of God, as we all profess to do, yet if we 
attend not unto it distinctly upon every duty that occurs in 
our way, we shall never attain the end aimed at. And he 
who satisfies himself with this general purpose, without 
acting it in every special duty, will not long retain that 
purpose neither. It doth the same work upon the mind in 
reference unto the principle of our duties, as it doth unto 
the end. Their principle is, that they be done in faith, in 
the strength of Christ; but if men content themselves that 
they are believers, that they have faith, and do not labour 
in every particular duty to act faith, to lead their spiritual 
lives in all the acts of them by the faith of the Son of God, 
the mind is drawn off from its duty. It is particular actions 
wherein we express and exercise our faith and obedience ; 
and what we are in them, that we are, and no more. 

2dly. It draws off the mind from the duties before- 
mentioned, by insinuating a secret contentment unto it from 
the duty itself performed, as to the matter of it. This is a 
fair discharge of a natural conscience. If the duty be per- 
formed, though as to the manner of its performance it come 
short almost in all things of the rule, conscience and con- 
viction will be satisfied. As Saul, upon his expedition 
against Amalek, cries to Samuel, 'Come in, thou blessed of 
the Lord, I have done the commandment of the Lord.' He 
satisfied himself, though he had not attended as he ought 
to the whole will of God in that matter. And thus was it 
with them, Isa. Iviii. 3.^ 'Wherefore have we fasted, say « 


they, and thou regurdest it not?' they had pleased them- 
selves in the performance of their duties, and expected that 
God also should be pleased with them. But he shews them 
at large wherein they had failed, and that so far as to render 
what they had done an abomination. And the like charge he 
expresseth against them, chap, xlviii. 1,2. This the deceitful- 
ness of sin endeavours to draw the mind unto, namely, to take 
up in the performance of the duty itself. Pray thou oughtest, 
and thou hast prayed ; give alms thou oughtest, and thou hast 
given alms ; quiet then thyself in what thou hast done, and go 
on to do the like. If it prevail herein, the mind is discharged 
from farther attendance and watching unto duty, which 
leaves the soul on the borders of many evils. For, 

3dly. Hence customariness in all duties will quickly en- 
sue, which is the height of sins drawing off" the mind 
from duty. For men's minds may be drawn from all duties, 
in the midst of the most abundant performance of them. 
For in and under them, the mind may be subject unto an 
habitual diversion from its charge and watch unto the rule. 
What is done with such a frame, is not done to God, Amos 
v, 25. None of their sacrifices were to God, although they 
professed that they were all so. But they attended not 
unto his worship in faith, and unto his glory, and he de- 
spised all their duties. See also Hos. x. 1. And this is the 
great reason why professors thrive so little under the per- 
formance of a multitude of duties. They attend not unto 
them in a due manner, their minds being drawn off from 
their circumspect watch, and so they have little or no com- 
munion with God in them, which is the end whereunto they 
are designed, and by which alone they become useful and 
profitable unto themselves. And in this manner are many 
duties of worship and obedience performed by a woful 
generation of hypocrites, formalists, and profane persons, 
without either life or light in themselves, or acceptation 
with God ; their minds being wholly estranged from a 
due attendance unto what they do, by the power and de- 
ceitfulness of sin. 

2. As it is in respect of duties, so also it is in re- 
spect of sins. There are sundry things in and about 
every sin that the mind of a believer, by virtue of its office 
and duty, is obliged to attend diligently unto, for the pie- 


servation of the soul from it. Things they are which God 
hath ap|)ointed and sanctified, to give effectual rebukes and 
checks to the whole working of the law of sin, and such as 
in the law of grace, under which we are, are exceedingly 
suited and fitted unto that purpose. And these the deceit 
of sin endeavours by all means to draw off the mind from a 
due consideration of, and attendance unto. Some few of 
them we shall a little reflect upon. 

(1.) The first and most general is the sovereignty of 
God, the great lawgiver, by whom it is forbidden. This 
Joseph fixed on in his great temptation, Gen. xxxix. 9. 
' How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God V 
There was in it a great evil, a great ingratitude against man, 
which he pleads also and insists upon, ver. 8, 9. but that 
which fixed his heart and resolution against it, was the 
formality of it, that it was sin against God, by whom it was 
severely forbidden. So the apostle informs us, that in our 
dealing in any thing that is against the law, our respect is 
still to be unto the lawgiver and his sovereignty : James 
iv. 11, 12. 'If thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of 
the law, but a judge; there is one lawgiver who is able to 
save and to destroy.' Consider this always, there is one 
lawgiver, holy, righteous, armed with sovereign power and 
authority; he is able to save and destroy. Hence sin is 
called a rebellion, a casting off his yoke, a despising of him, 
and that in his sovereignty, as the great lawgiver ; and this 
ought the mind always practically to attend unto, in all the 
lustings, actings, and suggestions of the law of sin, espe- 
cially when advantaged by any suitable or vigorous tempta- 
tion. It is God that hath forbidden this thing, the great 
lawgiver, under whose absolute sovereignty I am, in de- 
pendance on whom 1 live, and by whom I am to be dis- 
posed of, as to my present and eternal condition. This Eve 
fixed on at the beginning of her temptation; ' God hath said, 
we must not eat of this tree,' Gen. iii. 3. but she kept not 
her ground, she abode not by that consideration, but suf- 
fered her mind to be diverted from it by the subtlety of 
Satan, which was the entrance of her transgression ; and 
so it is unto us all in our deviations from obedience. 

(2.) The deceit of sin, of every sin, the punishment 
appointed unto it in the law, is another thing that the 


mind ought actually to attend unto, in reference unto every 
particular evil. And the diversions from this, that the 
minds of men have been doctrinally and practically at- 
tended withal, have been an inlet into all manner of abomi- 
nations. Job professeth another frame in himself, chap, 
xxxi. 23. * Destruction from God was a terror to me, and 
by reason of his highness I could not endure.' Many evils 
he had mentioned in the foregoing verses, and pleads his 
innocency from them, although they were such as upon the 
account of his greatness and power, he could have com- 
mitted easily without fear of danger from men. Here he 
gives the reason that prevailed with him so carefully to 
abstain from them, 'Destruction from God was a terror to 
me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.' I 
considered, saith he, that God had appointed death and 
destruction for the punishment of sin, and that such was 
his greatness, highness, and power, that he could inflict it 
unto the uttermost, in such a way as no creature is able to 
abide or to avoid. So the apostle directs believers always 
to consider what a ' fearful thing it is to fall into the hands 
of the living God,' Heb. x. 31. and that because he hath 
said, 'Vengeance is mine, I will recompense ;' ver. 30. He 
is a sin-avenging God, that will by no means acquit the 
guilty; as in the declaration of his gracious name, infinitely 
full of encouragements to poor sinners in Christ, he adds 
that in the close, that 'he will by no means clear the 
guilty ;' Exod. xxxiv. 7. That he may keep upon the minds 
of them whom he pardoneth, a due sense of the punishment 
that is due from his vindictive justice unto every sin. And 
so the apostle would have us mind, that even * our God is a 
consuming fire,' Heb. xii. 29, that is, that we should con- 
sider his holiness and vindictive justice, appointing unto 
sin a meet recompense of reward. And men's breaking 
through this consideration, he reckons as the height of 
the aggravation of their sins, Rom. i, 32. ' They knew that 
it is the judgment of God, that they which commit sucii 
things were worthy of death, yet continued to do them,' 
What hope is there for such persons ? There is indeed re- 
lief against this consideration for humbled believing souls 
in the blood of Christ ; but this relief is not to take ott'the 
mind from it, as it is appointed of God to be a restraint 


from sin. And both these considerations, even the sove- 
reignty of God, and the punishment of sin, are put together 
by our Saviour, Matt. x. 28. 'Fear not them which kill the 
body, but are not able to kill the soul ; but rather fear him 
which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' 

(3.) The consideration of all the love and kindness of 
God, against whom every sin is committed, is another 
thing that the mind ought diligently to attend unto. And 
this is a prevailing consideration, if rightly and graciously 
managed in the soul. This Moses presseth on the people, 
Deut. xxxii. 6. ' Do you thus requite the Lord, O foolish 
people and unwise ? is not he thy father that bought thee ? 
hath he not made thee, and established thee?' Is this a 
requital for eternal love, and all the fruits of it ? for the love 
and care of a father, of a redeemer, that we have been made 
partakers of? And it is the same consideration which the 
apostle manageth to this purpose, 2 Cor. vii. 1. * Having 
therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse our- 
selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting 
holiness in the fear of God.' The receiving of the promises 
ought to be effectual, as to stir us up unto all holiness, so 
to work and effect an abstinence from all sin. And what 
promises are these ? namely, that God ' will be a father unto 
us, and receive us,' chap. vi. 17, 18. which compriseth the 
whole of all the love of God towards us here, and to eternity. 
If there be any spiritual ingenuity in the soul, whilst the 
mind is attentive to this consideration, there can be no pre- 
vailing attempt made upon it by the power of sin. Now 
there are two parts of this consideration. 

[1 .] That which is general in it, that which is common 
unto all believers. This is managed unto this purpose, 
1 John iii. I — 3. ' Behold, what manner of love the Father 
hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of 
God ! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew 
him not. 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. And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth him- 
self even as he is pure.' Consider, saith he, the love of God, 
and the privileges that we enjoy by it: ' Behold, what man- 
ner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we 


should be called the sons of God.' Adoption is an especial 
fruit of it, and how great a privilege is this? Such love it 
is, and such are the fruits of it, that the world knoweth no- 
thing of the blessed condition which we obtain and enjoy 
thereby : * The world knoweth us not.' Nay, it is such 
love, and so unspeakably blessed and glorious are the effects 
of it, that we ourselves are not able to comprehend them. 
What use then ought we to make of this contemplation of 
the excellent unspeakable love of God ? Why, saith lie, 
• Every one that hath this hope purifieth himself.' Every 
man who being made partaker of this love, and thereupon 
a hope of the full enjoyment of the fruits of it, of being 
made like to God in glory, puritieth himself, that is, in an 
abstinence from all and every sin, as in the following words 
is at large declared. 

[2.] It is to be considered as to such peculiar mercies 
and fruits of love, as every one's soul hath been made 
partaker of. There is no believer, but besides the love 
and mercy which he hath in common with all his breth- 
ren, he hath also in the lot of his inheritance, some en- 
closures, some especial mercies wherein he hath a single 
propriety. He hath some joy which no stranger inter- 
meddleth withal, Prov. xiv. 10. Particular applications of 
covenant love and mercy to his soul. Now these are all 
provisions laid in by God, that they may be borne in mind 
against an hour of temptation, that the consideration of them 
may preserve the soul from the attempts of sin. Their neg- 
lect is a high aggravation of our provocations. 1 Kings 
xi. 9. it is charged as the great evil of Solomon, that he had 
sinned against special mercies, especial intimations of love ; 
he sinned after God had appeared to him twice. God re- 
quired that he should have borne in mind that especial fa- 
vour, and have made it an argument against sin. But he 
neglected it, and is burdened with this sore rebuke. And 
indeed all especial mercies, all especial tokens and pledges 
of love, are utterly lost and misspent upon us, if they are 
not improved unto this end. This then is another thing, 
that it is the duty of the mind greatly to attend unto, and 
to oppose effectually unto every attempt that is made on the 
soul by the law of sin. 

(4.) The considerations that arise from the blooti and 


mediation of Christ, are of the same importance. Sa 
the apostle declares, 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 he died for all, 
that they which live should not henceforth live unto them- 
selves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.' 
There is a constraining efficacy in this consideration ; it is 
great, forcible, effectual, if duly attended unto. But I must 
not here in particular insist upon these things. Nor, 

(5.) Shall I speak of the inhabitation of the Spirit, the 
greatest privilege that we are made partakers of in this 
world. The due consideration how he is grieved by sin, 
how his dwelling-place is defiled thereby, how his comforts 
are forfeited, lost, despised by it, might also be insisted on. 
But the instances passed through are sufficient unto our pur- 
pose. Now herein lies the duty of the mind, in reference 
unto particular sins and temptations. It is diligently and 
carefully to attend unto these things, to dwell constantly 
upon the consideration of them, to have them in a continual 
readiness to oppose unto all the lustings, actings, warrings, 
attempts, and rage of sin. 

In reference hereunto doth sin in an especial manner put 
forth and act jts deceit. It labours by all means to draw off 
the mind from its due attendance unto these things ; to de- 
prive the soul of this great preservative and antidote against 
its poison. It endeavours to cause the soul to satisfy itself 
with general undigested notions about sin, that it may have 
nothing in particular to betake itself unto in its own de- 
fence, against its attempts and temptations. And the ways 
whereby it doth this may be also briefly considered. 

[1.] It is from the deceit of sin that the mind is spiri- 
tually slothful, whereby it becomes negligent unto this duty. 
The principal discharge of its trust in this matter is ex- 
pressed by watching, which is the great caution that the 
Lord Jesus gave unto his disciples in reference unto all their 
dangers from sin and Satan, Mark xiii. 37. * I say unto all, 
Watch.' That is, use your utmost diligence and circumspec- 
tion, that you be not surprised and entangled with tempta- 
tions. It is called also consideration: 'Consider your 
ways;' ' consider your latter end ;' the want whereof God 
complains of in his people, Deut. xxxii. 29. Now that 


which is contrary to these indispensable conditions of our 
preservation, is spiritual slothfulness, as the apostle declares, 
Heb. vi. 11, 12. * And we desire that every one of you do 
shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto 
the end : that ye be not slothful.' If we shew not diligence, 
we are slothful, and in danger of coming short to inherit the 
promises. See 2 Pet. i. 5 — 11. ' And besides this, giving all 
diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,' &c. 
* For if these things be in you, and abound, they make 
you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the 
knowledge of our Lord Jesus. But he that lacketh these 
things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten 
that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, 
brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election 
sure : for if you do these things you shall never full : for so 
an entrance shall be administered unto you abundantly into 
the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ.' All this the mind is turned from, if once by the 
deceit of sin it be made slothful. Now this sloth consists 
in three things. 

1st. Inadvertency ; it doth not set itself to consider and 
attend unto its special concernments. The apostle persuad- 
ing the Hebrews with all earnestness to attend diligently, to 
consider carefully, that they may not be hardened by the de- 
ceitfulness of sin, gives this reason of their danger, that they 
were 'dull of hearing/ chap. v. 11. that is, that they were 
slothful, and did not attend unto the things of their duty. 
A secret regardlessness is apt to creep upon the soul, and it 
doth not set itself to a diligent marking how things go with 
it, and what is continually incumbent on it. 

2dly. An unwillingness to be stirred up unto its duty. 
Prov. xix. 24. ' The slothful man hideth his hand in his 
bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.' 
There is an unwillingness in sloth to take any notice of warn- 
ings, calls, excitations, or stirrings up by the word. Spirit, 
judgments, any thing that God maketh use of, to call the 
mind unto a due consideration of the condition of the soul. 
And this is a perfect evidence that the mind is made sloth- 
ful by the deceit of sin, when especial calls and warnings, 
whether in a suitable word, or a pressing judgment, cannot 


prevail with it to pull its hand out of its bosom, that is, to 
set about the special duties that it is called unto. 

3dly. Weak and ineffectual attempts to recover itself unto 
its duty. Prov. xxvi. 14. 'As the door turneth itself upon 
its hinges, so doth the slothful man upon his bed.' In the 
turning of a door upon its hinges, there is some motion but 
no progress. It removes up and down, but is still in the 
place and posture that it was. So is it with the spiritually 
slothful man on his bed, or in his security. He makes some 
motions or faint endeavours towards a discharge of his duty, 
but goes not on. There where he was one day, there he is 
the next ; yea, there where he was one year, he is the next. 
His endeavours are faint, cold, and evanid ; he gets no 
ground by them, but is always beginning and never finishing 
his work. 

4thly, Heartlessness upon the apprehensions of diffi- 
culties and discouragements. Prov. xxii. 13. 'The slothful 
man saith, There is a lion in the way, I shall be slain in the 
streets.' Every difficulty deters him from duty. He thinks 
it impossible for him to attain to that accuracy, exactness, 
and perfection which he is in this matter to press after ; and 
therefore contents himself in his old coldness, negligence, 
rather than to run the hazard of a universal circumspec- 
tion. Now if the deceit of sin hath once drawn away the 
mind into this frame, it lays it open to every temptation and 
incursion of sin. The spouse in the Canticles seems to have 
been overtaken with this distemper, chap. v. 1 — 3. And 
this puts her on various excuses why she cannot attend unto 
the call of Christ, and apply herself unto her duty in walk- 
ing with him. 

[2.] It draws away the mind from its watch and duty 
in reference unto sin by surprisals. It falls in conjunction 
with some urging temptation, and surpriseth the mind into 
thoughts quite of another nature, than those which it ought 
to insist upon in its own defence. So it seems to have been 
with Peter ; his carnal fear closing with the temptation 
wherein Satan sought to winnow him, filled his mind with 
so many thoughts about his own imminent danger, that he 
could not take into consideration the love and warning of 
Christ; nor the evil whereunto his temptation led him, nor 


any thing that he ought to liave insisted on for his preser- 
vation. And therefore, upon a review of his folly in neglect- 
ing those thouglits of God, and the love of Christ, which 
through the assistance of the Holy Ghost might have kept 
liim from his scandalous fall, he wept bitterly. And this 
is the common way of the working of the deceit of sin, as 
unto particular evils. It lays hold on the mind suddenly, 
with thoughtfulness about the present sin, possesseth it, 
takes it up, so that either it recovers not itself at all to the 
considerations mentioned, or if any thoughts of them be sug- 
gested, the mind is so prepossessed and filled, that they 
take no impression on the soul, or make no abode in it. 
Thus doubtless was David surprised in the entrance of his 
great sin. Sin and temptation did so possess and fill his 
mind with the present object of his lust, that he utterly for- 
got, as it were, those considerations which he had formerly 
made use of, when he so diligently kept himself from his 
iniquity. Here therefore lies the great wisdom of the soul, 
in rejecting the very first motions of sin, because by parlies 
with them the mind may be drawn off from attending imto 
its preservatives, and so the whole rush into evil. 

[3.] It draws away the mind by frequency and long 
continuance of its solicitations, making as it were at last a 
conquest of it. And this happens not without an open neg- 
lect of the soul, in want of stirring up itself to give an effec- 
tual rebuke in the strength and by the grace of Christ unto 
sin, which would have prevented its prevalency. But of 
this, more shall be spoken afterward. And this is the first 
way whereby the law of sin acts its deceit against the soul. 
It draws off the mind from attendance unto its charge and 
office; both in respect of duty and sin. And so far as this 
is done, the person is said to be drawn away, or drawn off. 
He is tempted, every man is tempted, when he is thus drawn 
away by his own lust, or the deceit of sin dwelling in him. 
And the whole effect of this working of the deceitfulness of 
sin may be reduced unto these three heads. 

1st. The remission of a universally watchful frame of 
spirit unto every duty, and against all, even the most hid- 
den and secret actings of sin. 

2dly. The omission of peculiar attending unto such du- 
ties as have an especial respect unto the weakenino- and 


ruin of the whole law of sin, and the obviating of its deceit- 

3dly. Spiritual sloth, as to a diligent regard unto all the 
especial concernments of duties and sins. When these three 
things, with their branches mentioned, less or more, are 
brought about, in or upon the soul, or so far as they are so, 
so far a man is drawn off by his own lust, or the deceit of sin. 

There is no need of adding here any directions for the 
prevention of this evil, they having sufficiently been laid down 
in our passage through the consideration both of the duty 
of the mind, and of the deceit of sin. 


The working of sin by deceit to entangle the affections. The ways whereby 
it is done. Means of their prevention. 

The second thing in the words of the apostle ascribed unto 
the deceitful working of sin is its enticing. A man is drawn 
away and enticed. And this seems particularly to respect 
the affections, as drawing away doth the mind. The mind 
is drawn away from duty, and the affections are enticed 
unto sin. From the prevalency hereof a man is said to be 
enticed, or entangled as with a bait; so the word imports. 
For there is an allusion in it unto the bait wherewith a fish 
is taken on the hook which holds him to his destruction. 
And concerning this effect of the deceit of sin, we shall 
briefly shew two things : 

1. What it is to be enticed, or to be entangled with the 
bait of sin, to have the affections tainted with an inclination 
thereunto, and when they are so. 

2. What course sin takes, and what way it proceedeth 
in, thus to entice, ensnare, or entangle the soul. 

For the first, 

(1.) The affections are certainly entangled when they 
stir up frequent imaginations about the proposed object 
which this deceit of sin leadeth and enticeth towards. 
When sin prevails, and the affections are gone fully after it, 
it fills the imagination with it, possessing it with images, 
likenesses, appearances of it continually. Such persons 


'devise iniquity and work evil on their beds,' which they also 
practise when they are able, when it is in the power of their 
hand, Micah ii. 1. As in particular, Peter tells us that ' they 
have eyes full of an adulteress, and they cannot cease from 
sin;' 2Pet. ii. 14. that is, their imaginations are possessed 
with a continual representation of the object of their lusts. 
And it is so in part where the affections are in part entangled 
with sin, and begin to turn aside unto it. John tells us that 
the things that are in the world, are the ' lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life/ 1 Epist. ii. 16. The 
lust of the eyes is that which by them is conveyed unto the 
soul. Now it is not the bodily sense of seeing, but the fix- 
ing of the imagination from that sense on such things that 
is intended. And this is called the eyes, because thereby 
things are constantly represented unto the mind and soul, as 
outward objects are unto the inward sense by the eyes. And 
oftentimes the outward sight of the eyes is the occasion of 
these imaginations. So Achan declares how sin prevailed 
with him. Josh. vii. 21. First he saw the wedge of gold, 
and Babylonish garment, and then he coveted them. He 
rolled them, the pleasures, the profit of them, in his imagi- 
nation, and then fixed his heart upon the obtaining of them. 
Now the heart may have a settled, fixed detestation of sin ; 
but yet if a man find that the imagination of the mind is fre- 
quently solicited by it, and exercised about it, such a one 
may know that his affections are secretly enticed and en- 

(2.) This entanglement is heightened when the imagi- 
nation can prevail with the mind to lodge vain thoughts in it, 
with secret delight and complacency. This is termed by casu- 
ists, 'cogitatio morosa cum delectatione,' an abiding thought, 
with delight, which towards forbidden objects is in all cases 
actually sinful. And yet this may be, when the consent of the 
will unto sin is not obtained; when the soul would not for 
the world do the thing, which yet thoughts begin to lodge 
in the mind about. This lodging of vain thoughts in the 
heart the prophet complains of, as a thing greatly sinful, 
and to be abliorred, Jer. iv. 14. All these thoughts are mes- 
sengers that carry sin to and fro between the imagination 
and the affections, and still increase it, inflaming the imagi- 
nation, and more and more entangling the affections. Achan 



thinks upon the golden wedge, this makes him like it and 
love it; by loving of it his thoughts are infected, and return 
to the imagination of its worth, and goodly shew, and so by 
little and little the soul is inflamed unto sin. And here if 
the will parts with its sovereignty, sin is actually conceived. 

(3.) Inclinations, or readiness to attend unto extenua- 
tions of sin, or the reliefs that are tendered against sin 
when committed, manifest the affections to be entangled 
with it. We have shewed, and shall yet farther evidence, 
that it is a great part of the deceit of sin, to tender lessen- 
ing and extenuating thoughts of sin unto the mind. Is it 
not a little one ? or, there is mercy provided ; or, it shall be 
in due time relinquished and given over, is its language in 
a deceived heart. Now when there is a readiness in the 
soul to hearken and give entertainment unto such secret in- 
sinuations arising from this deceit, in reference unto any sin, 
or unapprovable course, it is an evidence that the affections 
are enticed. When the soul is willing, as it were, to be 
tempted, to be courted by sin, to hearken to its dalliances 
and solicitations, it hath lost of its conjugal affections unto 
Christ, and is entangled. This is ' looking on the wine 
when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it 
moveth itself aright;' Prov. xxiii. 31. A pleasing contem- 
plation on the invitations of sin, whose end the wise man 
gives us, ver. 32. When the deceit of sin hath prevailed 
thus far on any person, then he is enticed or entangled; the 
will is not yet come to the actual conception of this or that 
sin by its consent, but the whole soul is in a near inclina- 
tion thereunto. And many other instances I could give, as 
tokens and evidences of this entanglement : these may suf- 
fice to manifest what we intend thereby. 

2. Our next inquiry is, How, or by what means, the de- 
ceit of sin proceeds thus to entice and entangle the affec- 
tions ? and two or three of its baits are manifest herein. 

(1.) It makes use of its former prevalency upon the 
mind, in drawing it off from its watch and circumspection. 
Says the wise man, Prov. i, 17. ' Surely in vain is the net 
spread in the sight of any bird;' or before the eyes of every 
thing that hath a wing, as in the original. If it hath eyes 
open to discern the snare, and a wing to carry it away, it 
will not be caught. And in vain should the deceit of sin 


spread its snares and nets for the entanglement of the soul, 
whilst the eyes of the mind are intent upon what it doth, 
and so stir up the wings of its will and affections to carry it 
away and avoid it. But if the eyes be put out or diverted, 
the wings are of very little use for escape ; and therefore, 
this is one of the ways which is used by them who take 
birds or fowls in their nets ; they have false lights, or shews 
of things, to divert the sight of their prey ; and when that is 
done, they take the season to cast their nets upon them. 
So doth the deceit of sin; it first draws oft' and diverts the 
mind by false reasonings and pretences, as hath been shew- 
ed, and then casts its net upon the affections for their entan- 

(2.) Taking advantage of such seasons, it proposeth 
sin as desirable, as exceeding satisfactory to the corrupt 
part of our affections ; it gilds over the object by a thousand 
pretences, which it presents unto corrupt lustings. This is 
the laying of a bait, which the apostle in this verse evidently 
alludes unto. A bait is somewhat desirable and suitable, that 
is proposed to the hungry creature for its satisfaction, and 
it is by all artifices rendered desirable and suitable. Thus 
is sin presented by the help of the imagination unto the 
soul ; that is, sinful and inordinate objects, which the affec- 
tions cleave unto, are so presented. The apostle tells us, 
that there are * pleasures of sin ;' Heb. xi. 35. which, unless 
they are despised, as they were by Moses, there is no es- 
caping of sin itself. Hence they that live in sin are said to 
'live in pleasure;' James v. 5. Now this pleasure of sin 
consisteth in its suitableness to give satisfaction to the flesh, 
to lust, to corrupt affections. Hence is that caution, Rom. 
xiii. 14. ' Make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lust 
thereof.' That is, do not suffer your minds, thoughts, or 
affections, to fix upon sinful objects, suited to give satis- 
faction to the lusts of the flesh, to nourish and cherish them 
thereby. To which puspose he speaks again. Gal. v. 16. 
' Fulfil ye not the lusts of the flesh.' Bring not in the plea- 
sures of sin to give them satisfaction. When men are under 
the power of sin, they are said to * fulfil the desires of the 
flesh and of the mind ;' Ephes. ii. 3. Thus therefore the deceit 
of sin endeavours to entangle the affections, by proposing 
unto them, through the assistance of the imagination, that 



suitableness which is in it to the satisfaction of its corrupt 
lusts, now set at some liberty by the inadvertency of the 
mind. It presents its ' wine sparkling in the cup/ the 
beauty of the adulteress, the riches of the world unto sensual 
and covetous persons, and somewhat in the like kind, in 
some degrees to believers themselves. When therefore, I 
say, sin would entangle the soul, it prevails with the imagi- 
nation to solicit the heart, by representing this false-painted 
beauty, or pretended satisfactoriness of sin: and then if Sa- 
tan with any peculiar temptation fall into its assistance, it 
oftentimes inflames all the aifections, and puts the whole 
soul into disorder. 

(3.) It hides the danger that attends sin, it covers it 
as the hook is covered with the bait, or the net spread over 
with meat for the fowl to be taken. It is not indeed possible 
that sin should utterly deprive the soul of the knowledge of 
the danger of it. It cannot dispossess it of its notion or 
persuasion that ' the wages of sin is death,' and that it is the 
'judgment of God, that they that commit sin are worthy of 
death.' But this it will do ; it will so take up and possess 
the mind and affections with the baits and desirableness of 
sin, that it shall divert them from an actual and practical 
contemplation of the danger of it. What Satan did in and 
by his first temptation, that sin doth ever since. At first 
Eve guards herself with calling to mind the danger of sin ; 
if we eat, or touch it, we shall die. Gen. iii. 3. But so soon 
as Satan had filled her mind with the beauty and usefulness 
of the fruit to make one wise, how quickly did she lay aside 
her practical prevalent consideration of the danger of eating 
it, the curse due unto it ; or else relieves herself with a vain 
hope and pretence that it should not be, because the ser- 
pent told her so. So was David beguiled in his great trans- 
gression by the deceit of sin ; his lust being pleased and sa- 
tisfied, the consideration of the guilt and dano;er of his 
transgression was taken away ; and therefore he is said to 
have ' despised the Lord,' 2 Sam. xii. 9. in that he consi- 
dered not the evil that was in his heart, and the danger that 
attended it in the threatening or commination of the law. 
Now sin, when it presseth upon the soul to this purpose, 
will use a thousand wiles to hide from it the terror of the 
Lord, the end of transgressions, and especially of that pe- 


culiar folly which it solicits the mind unto. Hopes of par- 
don shall be used to hide it, and future repentance shall 
hide it, and present importunity of lust shall hide it, occa- 
sions and opportunities shall hide it, surprisals shall hide it, 
extf^nuation of sin shall hide it, balancing of duties against 
it shall hide it, fixing the imagination on present objects 
shall hide it, desperate resolutions to venture the uttermost 
for the enjoyment of lust in its pleasures and profits shall 
hide it. A thousand wiles it hath, which cannot be re- 

(4.) Having prevailed thus far, gilding over the plea- 
sures of sin, hiding its end and demerit, it proceeds to 
raise perverse reasonings in the mind, to fix it upon the 
sin proposed, that it may be conceived and brought forth, 
the affections being already prevailed upon, of which we 
shall speak under the next head of its progress. 

Here we may stay a little, as formerly, to give some few 
directions for the obviating of this woful work of the deceit- 
fulness of sin. Would we not be enticed or entangled, would 
we not be disposed to the conception of sin, would we be 
turned out of the road and way which goes down to death ? 
Let us take heed of our affections, which are of so great 
concernment in the whole course of our obedience, that they 
are commonly in the Scripture called by the name of the 
heart, as the principal thing which God requires in our walk- 
ing before him. And this is not slightly to be attended 
unto. Prov. iv. 23. saith the wise man, * Keep thy heart 
with diligence,' or, as in the original, ' above' or * before all 
keepings j' Before every watch, keep thy heart. You have 
many keepings that you watch unto ; you watch to keep 
your lives, to keep your estates, to keep your reputations, to 
keep up your families ; but, saith he, above all these keepings, 
prefer that, attend to that of the heart, of your affections, 
that they be not entangled with sin ; there is no safety with- 
out it. Save all other things and lose the heart, and all is 
lost, lost unto all eternity. You will say then, What shall 
we do, or how shall we observe this duty ? 

[1.] Keep your affections as to their object. 

1st. In general, Thisadvice the apostle gives in this very 
case. Col. iii. His advice in the beginning of that chapter is 
to direct us unto the mortification of sin, which he expressly 


engageth in, ver. 5. * Mortify therefore your members which are 
on the earth.' Prevent the working and deceit of sin which 
wars in your members. To prepare us, to enable us hereunto, 
he gives us that great direction, ver. 2. * Set your affections 
on things above, not on things of the earth.' Fix your affec- 
tions upon heavenly things ; this will enable you to mortify 
sin ; fill them with the things that are above, let them be 
exercised with them, and so enjoy the chiefest place in them. 
They are above, blessed and suitable objects, meet for, and 
answering unto, our affections. God himself, in his beauty 
and glory ; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is 'altogether lovely, 
the chiefest of ten thousand ;' grace and glory ; the myste- 
ries revealed in the gospel ; the blessedness promised thereby. 
Were our affections filled, taken up, and possessed with these 
things, as it is our duty that they should be, it is our hap- 
piness when they are, what access could sin with its painted 
pleasures, with its sugared poisons, with its envenomed baits, 
have unto our souls ? how should we loath all its proposals, 
and say unto them, Get ye hence as an abominable thing ? 
For what are the vain transitory pleasures of sin, in compa- 
rison of the exceeding recompense of reward which is pro- 
posed unto us ? Which argument the apostle presses, 2 Cor. 
iv. 18. 

2dly. As to the object of your affections in an especial 
manner ; let it be the cross of Christ, which hath exceed- 
ing efficacy towards the disappointment of the whole work 
of indwelling sin. Gal. vi. 14. 'God forbid that I should 
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby 
the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' 
The cross of Christ he gloried and rejoiced in ; this his 
heart was set upon, and these were the effects of it; it cru- 
cified the world unto him, made it a dead and undesirable 
thing. The baits and pleasures of sin are taken all of them 
out of the world, and the things that are in the world, namely, 
'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of 
life.' These are the things that are in the world ; from these 
doth sin take all its baits, whereby it enticeth and entan- 
gleth our souls. If the heart be filled with the cross of 
Christ, it casts death and undesirableness upon them all, it 
leaves no seeming beauty, no appearing pleasure or come- 
liness in them. Again, saith he. It crucifieth me to the 


world ; makes my heart, my affections, my desires dead unto 
any of these things. It roots up corrupt lusts and aJSections, 
leaves no principle to go forth and make provision for the 
flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Labour, therefore, to fill 
your hearts with the cross of Christ. Consider the sorrows 
he underwent, the curse he bore, the blood he shed, the cries 
he put forth, the love that was in all this to your souls, and 
the mystery of the grace of God therein. Meditate on the 
vileness, the demerit, and punishment of sin, as represented 
in the cross, the blood, the death of Christ. Is Christ cru- 
cified for sin, and shall not our hearts be crucified with him 
unto sin? shall we give entertainment unto that, or hearken 
unto its dalliances, which wounded, which pierced, which 
slew our dear Lord Jesus? God forbid. Fill your affections 
with the cross of Christ, that there may be no room for sin. 
The world once put him out of the house into a stable, when 
he came to save us ; let him now turn the world out of doors, 
when he is come to sanctify us. 

[2.] Look to the vigour of the affections towards hea- 
venly things; if they are not constantly attended, excited, 
directed, and warned, they are apt to decay, and sin lies in 
wait to take every advantage against them. Many complaints 
we have in the Scripture of those who lost their first love, in 
suffering their affections to decay. And this should make us 
jealous over our own hearts, lest we also should be overtaken 
with the like backsliding frame. Wherefore be jealous over 
them, often strictly examine them and call them to account, 
supply unto them due considerations for their exciting and 
stirring up unto duty. 


The conception of sin though its deceit. Wherein it consisteth. The consent 
of the will unto sin. The nature thereof. Waijs and means wherct/i/ it is 
obtained. Other advantages made use of by the deceit of sin. Ignorance. 

The third success of the deceit of sin in its progressive work, 
is the conception of actual sin. When it hath drawn the 
mind off from its duty, and entangled the affections, it pro- 
ceeds to conceive sin in order to the bringing of it forth. 


'Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.' Now 
the conception of sin, in order unto its perpetration, can be 
nothing but the consent of the will ; for as without the con- 
sent of the will sin cannot be committed, so where the will 
hath consented unto it, there is nothing in the soul to hinder 
its actual accomplishment. God doth indeed, by various 
ways and means, frustrate the bringing forth of these adul- 
terate conceptions, causing them to melt away in the womb, 
or one way or other prove abortive, so that not the least part 
of that sin is committed which is willed or conceived ; yet 
there is nothing in the soul itself that remains to give check 
unto it, when once the will hath given its consent. Ofttimes 
when a cloud is full of rain, and ready to fall, a wind comes 
and drives it away. And when the will is ready to bring forth 
its sin, God diverts it by one wind or other; but yet the 
cloud was as full of rain as if it had fallen, and the soul as 
full of sin as if it had been committed. 

This conceiving of lust or sin then, is its prevalency in 
obtaining the consent of the will unto its solicitations. And 
hereby the soul is deflowered of its chastity towards God in 
Christ, as the apostle intimates, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. To clear 
up this matter we must observe, 

1. That the will is the principle, the next seat and 
cause of obedience and disobedience. Moral actions are 
unto us, or in us, so far good or evil as they partake of the 
consent of the will. He spake truth of old who said, ' Omne 
peccatum est adeo voluntarium, ut non sit peccatum nisi sit 
voluntarium;' 'Every sin is so voluntary, that ifit be not vo- 
luntary it is not sin.' It is most true of actual sins. The 
formality of their iniquity ariseth from the acts of the will in 
them, and concerning them. I mean, as to the persons that 
commit them; otherwise in itself the formal reason of sin is 
its aberration from the law of God. 

2. There is a twofold consent of the will unto sin. 

(I.) That which is full, absolute, complete, and upon 
deliberation. A prevailing consent, the convictions of the 
mind being conquered, and no principle of grace in the will 
to weaken it. With this consent the soul goes into sin as a 
ship before the wind with all its sails displayed, without any 
check or stop. It rusheth into sin like the horse into the 
battle. Men thereby, as the apostle speaks, ' giving them- 


selves over to sin with greediness ;' Ephes. iv. 19. Thus 
Ahab's will was in the murdering of Naboth ; he did it upon 
deliberation, by contrivance, with a full consent ; the doing 
of it gave him such satisfaction as that it cured his malady, 
or the distemper of his mind. This is that consent of the will 
which is acted in the finishing and completing of sin, in un- 
regenerate persons, and is not required to the single bringing 
forth of sin, whereof we speak. 

(2.) There is a consent of the will, which is attended 
with a secret renitency and volition of the contrary. Thus 
Peter's will was in the denying of his master. His will was 
in it, or he had not done it ; it was a voluntary action, that 
which he chose to do at that season. Sin had not been 
brought forth if it had not been thus conceived. But yet, at 
this very time, there was resident in his will a contrary prin- 
ciple of love to Christ, yea, and faith in him which utterly 
failed not. The efficacy of it was intercepted, and its 
operations suspended actually, through the violent urging 
of the temptation that he was under ; but yet it was in his 
will, and weakened his consent unto sin, though it consented. 
It was not done with self-pleasing, which such full acts of 
the will do produce. 

3. Although there may be a predominant consent in the 
will, which may suflfice for the conception of particular sins; 
yet there cannot be an absolute, total, full consent of the 
will of a believer unto any sin. For, 

(1.) There is in his will a principle fixed on good, on 
all good. Rom. vii.21. ' He would do good.' The prin- 
ciple of grace in the will, inclines him to all good. And 
this in general is prevalent against the principle of sin, so 
that the will is denominated from thence. Grace hath the 
rule and dominion, and not sin, in the will of every believer. 
Now that consent unto sin in the will, which is contrary to 
the inclination and generally prevailing principle in the 
same will, is not, cannot be, total, absolute, and complete. 

(2.) There is not only a general, ruling, prevailing prin- 
ciple in the will against sin, but there is also a secret re- 
luctancy in it against its own act in consenting unto sin. 
It is true, the soul is not sensible sometimes of this reluc- 
tancy, because the present consent carries away the prevail- 
ing act of the will, and takes away the sense of the lusting 


of the spirit, or reluctancy of the principle of grace in the 
will. But the general rule holdeth in all things at all times. 
Gal. V. 17. 'The Spirit lusteth against the flesh:' it doth so 
actually, though not always to the same degree, nor with 
the same success. And the prevalency of the contrary 
principle in this or that particular act, doth not disprove it. 
It is so on the other side. There is no acting of grace in 
the will but sin lusts against it ; although that lusting be 
not made sensible in the soul, because of the prevalency of 
the contrary acting of grace ; yet it is enough to keep those 
actings from perfection in their kind. So is it in this re- 
nitency of grace against the acting of sin in the soul ; 
though it be not sensible in its operations, yet it is enough 
to keep that act from being full and complete. And much 
of spiritual wisdom lies in discerning aright between the 
spiritual renitency of the principle of grace in the will 
against sin, and the rebukes that are given the soul by con- 
science upon conviction for sin. 

4. Observe, that reiterated repeated acts of the con- 
sent of the will unto sin, may beget a disposition and 
inclinableness in it unto the like acts, that may bring the 
will unto a proneness and readiness to consent unto sin 
upon easy solicitations, which is a condition of soul dan- 
gerous, and greatly to be watched against. 

5. This consent of the will which we have thus de- 
scribed, may be considered two ways. 

(I.) As it is exercised about the circumstances, causes, 
means and inducements unto sin. 

(2.) As it respects this or that actual sin. 

In the first sense, there is a virtual consent of the will 
unto sin in every inadvertency unto the prevention of it, in 
every neglect of duty that makes way for it, in every hearken- 
ing unto any temptation leading towards it. In a word, in 
all the diversions of the mind from its duty, and entangle- 
ments of the affections by sin before-mentioned. For where 
there is no act of the will formally, or virtually, there is no 
sin. But this is not that which we now speak of; but in 
particular the consent of the will unto this or that actual 
sin, so far as that either sin is committed, or is prevented 
by other ways and means not of our present consideration. 
And herein consists the conceiving of sin. 


These things being supposed, that which in the next 
place we are to consider, is the way that the deceit of sin 
proceedeth in ; to procure the consent of the will, and 
so to conceive actual sin in the soul. To this purpose 

[1.] That the will is a rational appetite; rational as 
guided by the mind ; and an appetite as excited by the 
affections ; and so in its operation or actings hath respect 
to both, is influenced by both. 

[2.] It chooseth nothing, consents to nothing, but ' sub 
ratione boni,' as it hath an appearance of good, some 
present good. It cannot consent to any thing under the 
notion or apprehension of its being evil in any kind. Good 
is its natural and necessary object, and therefore whatever 
is proposed unto it for its consent, must be proposed 
under an appearance of being either good in itself, or good 
at present unto the soul, or good so circumstantiate as it is; 
so that, 

[3.] We may see hence the reason why the concep- 
tion of sin is here placed as a consequent of the mind's 
being drawn away, and the affections being entangled. Both 
these have an influence into the consent of the will, and the 
conception of this or that actual sin thereby. Our way 
therefore here is made somewhat plain. We have seen at 
large how the mind is drawn away by the deceit of sin, and 
how the affections are entangled ; that which remains is but 
the proper effect of these things. For the discovery whereof 
we must instance in some of the special deceits, corrupt and 
fallacious reasonings before-mentioned, and then shew their 
prevalency on the will to a consent unto sin. 

1st. The will is imposed upon by that corrupt reason- 
ing, that grace is exalted in a pardon; and that mercy is 
provided for sinners. This first, as hath been shewed, de- 
ceives the mind, and that opens the way to the will's con- 
sent, by removing a sight of evil which the will hath an 
aversation unto. And this in carnal hearts prevails so far 
as to make them think that their liberty consists in being 
servants of corruption, 2 Pet. ii. 19. And tlie poison of it 
doth oftentimes taint and vitiate the minds of believers 
themselves; whence we are so cautioned against it in the 
Scripture. To what therefore hath been spoken before, unto 


the use and abuse of the doctrine of the grace of the gospel, 
we shall add some few other considerations, and fix upon 
one place of Scripture that will give light unto it. There 
is a twofold mystery of grace ; of walking with God, and of 
coming unto God. And the great design of sin is to change 
the doctrine and mystery of grace in reference unto these 
things, and that by applying those considerations unto the 
one, which are proper unto the other, whereby each part is 
hindered, and the influence of the doctrine of grace into 
them for their furtherance defeated. See 1 John ii. 1, 2. 
'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.' Here 
is the whole design and use of the gospel briefly expressed. 
' These things,' saith he, ' I write unto you.' What things 
were these ? Those mentioned, ver. 2. ' The life was mani- 
fested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto 
you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was 
manifested unto us:' that is, the things concerning the 
person and mediation of Christ : and, ver, 7. that pardon, 
forgiveness, and expiation from sin is to be attained by the 
blood of Christ. But to what end and purpose doth he 
write these things to them, what do they teach, what do 
they tend unto ? A universal abstinence from sin ; 'I 
write unto you,' saith he, ' that you sin not.' This is the 
proper, only, genuine end of the doctrine of the gospel. 
But to abstain from all sin, is not our condition in this 
world: chap. i. 8. 'If we say that we have no sin, we de- 
ceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' What then 
shall be done in this case ? In supposition of sin, that we 
have sinned, is there no relief provided for our souls and 
consciences in the gospel ? Yes, saith he, ' If any man sin, 
we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the 
righteous, and he is a propitiation for our sins.' There is 
full relief in the propitiation and intercession of Christ for 
us. This is the order and method of the doctrine of the 
gospel, and of the application of it to our own souls : first, 
to keep us from sin; and then to relieve us against sin. 
But here entereth the deceit of sin, and puts this ' new 
wine into old bottles,' whereby the bottles are broken, and 
the wine perisheth as to our benefit by it. It changeth 


this method and order of the application of gospel truths. 
It takes up the last first, and that excludes the use of the 
first utterly. If any man sin, there is pardon provided, is 
all the gospel that sin would willingly suffer to abide on 
the minds of men. When we would come to God by be- 
lieving, it would be pressing the former part of being free 
from sin ; when the gospel proposeth the latter principally, 
or the pardon of sin for our encouragement. When we are 
come to God, and should walk with him, it will have only 
the latter proposed, that there is pardon of sin, when the 
gospel principally proposeth the former, of keeping our- 
selves from sin. The grace of God bringing salvation 
having appeared unto us to that end and purpose. 

Now the mind being entanoled with this deceit, drawn 
off from its watch by it, diverted from the true ends of the 
gospel, doth several ways impose upon the will to obtain 
its consent. 

(1st.) By a sudden surprisal in case of temptation. 
Temptation is the representation of a thing, as a present 
good, a particular good, which is a real evil, a general 
evil. Now when a temptation armed with opportunity and 
provocation, befalls the soul, the principle of grace in the 
will riseth up with a rejection and detestation of it. But 
on a sudden the mind being deceived by sin, breaks in upon 
the will, with a corrupt fallacious reasoning from gospel 
grace and mercy, which first staggers, then abates the will's 
opposition, and then causeth it to cast the scale by its 
consent of the side of temptation, presenting evil as a 
present good ; and sin in the sight of God is conceived, 
though it be never committed. Thus is the seed of God 
sacrificed to Moloch, and the weapons of Christ abused to 
the service of the devil. 

(2dly.) It doth it insensibly. It insinuates the poison 
of this corrupt reasoning by little and little, until it hath 
greatly prevailed. And as the whole effect of the doctrine 
of the gospel in holiness and obedience, consists in. the 
soul's being cast into the frame and mould of it, Rom. vi. 
17. so the whole of the apostacy from the gospel, is princi- 
pally the casting of the soul into the mould of this false 
reasoning, that sin may be indulged unto upon the account 
of grace and pardon. Hereby is the soul gratified in sloth 


and negligence, and taken off frona its care, as to particular 
duties and avoidance of particular sins. It works the soul 
insensibly off from the mystery of the law of grace, to look 
for salvation as if we had never performed any duty, being 
after we have done all unprofitable servants, with a resting 
on sovereign mercy through the blood of Christ, and to at- 
tend unto duties with all diligence as if we looked for no 
mercy; that is, with no less care, though with more liberty 
and freedom. This the deceitfulness of sin endeavoureth by 
all means to work the soul from, and thereby debaucheth 
the will when its consent is required unto particular sins. 

2dly. The deceived mind imposeth on the will to ob- 
tain its consent unto sin, by proposing unto it the advan- 
tages that may accrue and arise thereby, which is one me- 
dium whereby itself also is drawn away. It renders that 
which is absolutely evil, a present appearing good. So was 
it with Eve, Gen. iii. laying aside all considerations of the 
law, covenant, and threats of God, she all at once reflects 
upon the advantages, pleasures, and benefits, which she 
should obtain by her sin, and reckons them up to solicit the 
consent of her will. ' It is,' saith she, * good for food, 
pleasant to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise.' 
What should she do then but eat it? her will consented and 
she did so accordingly. Pleas for obedience are laid out of 
the way, and only the pleasures of sin are taken under con- 
sideration. So saith Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. * Naboth's vine- 
yard is near my house, and I may make it a garden of herbs,' 
therefore I must have it. These considerations a deceived 
mind imposed on his will ; until it made him obstinate in 
the pursuit of his covetousness through perjury and murder, 
to the utter ruin of himself and his family. Thus is the 
guilt and tendency of sin hid under the covert of advantages 
and pleasures, and so is conceived or resolved on in the soul. 

As the mind being withdrawn, so the affections being 
enticed and entangled, do greatly further the conception 
of sin in the soul by the consent of the will ; and they do it 
two ways. 

(1st.) By some hasty impulse and surprisal being them- 
selves stirred up, incited, and drawn forth by some violent 
provocation, or suitable temptation, they put the whole soul 
as it were into a combustion, and draw the will into a con- 


sent unto what they are provoked unto and entangled withal. 
So was the case of David in the matter of Nabal. A violent 
provocation from the extreme unworthy carriage of that 
foolish churl, stirs him up to wrath and revenge, 1 Sam. 
XXV. 13. He resolves upon it to destroy a whole family, the 
innocent with the guilty, ver. 33, 34. Self-revenge and 
murder were for the season conceived, resolved, consented 
unto, until God graciously took him off. His entangled, 
provoked affections, surprised his will to consent unto the 
conception of many bloody sins. The case was the same 
with Asa in his anger when he smote the prophet, and with 
Peter in his fear when he denied his Master. Let that soul 
which would take heed of conceiving sin, take heed of en- 
tangled affections. For sin may be suddenly conceived, the 
prevalent consent of the will may be suddenly obtained, 
which gives the soul a fixed guilt, though the sin itself be 
never actually brought forth. 

(2dly.) Enticed affections procure the consent of the 
will by frequent solicitations, whereby they get ground in- 
sensibly upon it, and enthrone themselves. Take an in- 
stance in the sons of Jacob, Gen. xxxvii. 4. They hate their 
brother, because their father loved him. Their affections 
being enticed many new occasions fall out to entangle them 
farther, as his dreams and the like. This lay rankling in their 
hearts, and never ceased soliciting their wills, until they re- 
solved upon his death. The unlawfulness, the unnatural- 
ness of the action, the grief of their aged father, the guilt of 
their own souls, are all laid aside ; that hatred and envy tiiat 
they had conceived against him ceased not until they had got 
the consent of their wills to his ruin. This gradual progress 
of the prevalency of corrupt affections to solicit the soul unto 
sin, the wise man excellently describes, Prov. xxiii. 31 — 35. 
And this is the common way of sin's procedure in the de- 
struction of souls which seem to have made some good en- 
gagements in the ways of God. When it hath entangled 
them with one temptation, and brought the will to some 
liking of it, that presently becomes another temptation, 
either to the neglect of some duty, or to the refusal of more 
light ; and commonly that whereby men fall off utterly from 
God, is not that wherewith they are first entangled. And 
this may briefly suffice for the third progressive act of the 


deceit of sin. It obtains the will's consent unto its concep- 
tion, and by this means are multitudes of sins conceived in 
the heart which very little less defile the soul, or cause it to 
contract veiy little less guilt than if they were actually com- 

Unto what hath been spoken concerning the deceitful- 
ness of indwelling sin in general, which greatly evidenceth 
its power and efficacy, I shall add as a close of this dis- 
course, one or two particular ways of its deceitful actings, 
consisting in advantages that it maketh use of, and means of 
relieving itself against that disquisition which is made after 
it by the word and Spirit for its ruin. One head only of 
each sort we shall here name. 

[I.] It makes great advantage of the darkness of the 
mind, to work out its design and intendments. The shades 
of a mind totally dark, that is, devoid utterly of saving 
grace, are the proper working-place of sin. Hence the 
effects of it are called, the ' works of darkness,' Ephes. v. 1 1 . 
Rom. xiii. 12. as springing from thence. Sin works and 
brings forth by the help of it. The working of lust under 
the covert of a dark mind, is as it were the upper region of 
hell ; for it lies at the next door to it for filth, horror, and 
confusion. Now there is a partial darkness abiding still in 
believers; they * know but in part,' 1 Cor. xiii. 12. Though 
there be in them all a principle of saving light, the day-star 
is risen in their hearts; yet all the shades of darkness are 
not utterly expelled out of them in this life. And there are 
two parts, as it were, or principal effects of the remaining 
darkness that is in believers. 

1st. Ignorance, or a nescience of the will of God, either 
'juris' or 'facti,' of the rule and law in general, or of the refer- 
ence of the particular fact that lies before the mind unto the law. 

2dly. Error and mistakes, positively taking that for truth 
which is falsehood, and that for lig-ht which is darkness. 
Now, of both of these doth the law of sin make great advan- 
tage for the exerting of its power in the soul. 

1st. Is there a remaining ignorance of any thing of the 
will of God, sin will be sure to make use of it, and improve 
it to the uttermost. Though Abimelech were not a believer, 
yet he was a person that had a moral integrity with him in 
his ways and actions; he declares himself to have had so, in 


a solemn appeal to God the searcher of all hearts, even in 
that wherein he miscarried. Gen. xx. 5. But being ignorant 
tliat fornication was a sin, or so great a sin, as that it became 
not a morally honest man to defile himself with it, lust 
hurries him into that intention of evil in reference unto 
Sarah, as we have it there related. God complains that his 
people perished ' for lack of knowledge,' Hos. iv. 6. Being 
ignorant of the mind and will of God, they rushed into evil 
at every command of the law of sin. Be it as to any duty 
to be performed, or as to any sin to be committed, if there 
be in it darkness or ignorance of the mind about them, sin 
will not lose its advantage. Many a man being ignorant of 
the duty incumbent on him for the instruction of his family, 
casting the whole weight of it upon the public teaching, is 
by the deceitfulness of sin brought into an habitual sloth and 
Jiegligcnce of duty. So much ignorance of the will of God 
and duty, so much advantage is given to the law of sin. 
And hence we may see what is that true knowledge which 
with God is acceptable ; how exactly doth many a poor soul, 
who is low as to notional knowledge, yet walk with God. 
It seems they know so much, as sin hath not on that account 
much advantage against them ; when others, high in their 
notions, give advantage to their lusts, even by their igno- 
rance, though they know it not. 

2dly. Error is a worse part or effect of the mind's dark- 
ness, and gives great advantage to the law of sin. There 
is indeed ignorance in every error, but there is not error in 
all ignorance, and so they may be distinguished. I shall 
need to exemplify this but with one consideration, and that 
is. of men, who being zealous for some error, do seek to 
suppress and persecute the truth. Indwelling sin desires 
no greater advantage. How will it every day, every hour, 
pour forth wrath, revilings, hard speeches ; breathe revenge, 
murder, desolation, inider the name perhaps of zeal. On 
this account we may see poor creatures pleasing themselves 
every day, as if they vaunted in their excellency, when they 
are foaming out their own shame. Under their real dark- 
ness and pretended zeal, sin sits securely, and fills pulpits, 
houses, prayers, streets, with as bitter fruits of envy, malice, 
wrath, hatred, evil surmises, false speakings, as full as they 



can hold. The common issue with such poor creatures is, 
the holy, blessed, meek Spirit of God withdraws from them, 
and leaves them visibly and openly to that evil, froward, 
wrathful, worldly spirit, which the law of sin hath cherished 
and heightened in them. Sin dwells not any where more 
secure, than in such a frame. Thus, I say, it lays hold in 
particular of advantages to practise upon, with its deceitful- 
ness, and therein also to exert its power in the soul, whereof 
this single instance of its improving the darkness of the mind 
unto its own ends, is a sufficient evidence. 

[2.] It useth means of relieving itself against the pur- 
suit that is made after it in the heart by the word and 
Spirit of grace. One also of its wiles, in the way of instance, 
I shall name in this kind, and that is the alleviation of its 
own guilt. It pleads for itself, that it is not so bad, so 
filthy, so fatal as is pretended ; and this course of extenua- 
tion it proceeds in two ways. 

1st. Absolutely; many secret pleas it will have that the 
evil which it tends unto is not so pernicious as conscience is 
persuaded that it is ; it may be ventured on without ruin. 
These considerations it will strongly urge, when it is at work 
in a way of surprisal, when the soul hath no leisure or liberty 
to weigh its suggestions in the balance of the sanctuary, and 
not seldom is the will imposed on hereby, and advantages 
gotten to shift itself from under the sword of the Spirit. It 
is not such but that it may be let alone, or suffered to die of 
itself, which probably within awhile it will do ; no need of 
that violence which in mortification is to be offered ; it is 
time enough to deal with a matter of no greater importance 
hereafter ; with other pleas like those before-mentioned. 

2dly. Comparatively; and this is a large field for its deceit 
and subtlety to lurk in. Though it is an evil indeed to be 
relinquished, and the soul is to be made watchful against 
it, yet it is not of that magnitude and degree, as we may 
see in the lives of others, even saints of God, much less 
such as some saints of old have fallen into. By these and 
the like pretences, I say, it seeks to evade and keep its 
abode in the soul when pursued to destruction. And 
how little a portion of its deceitfulness is it that we have 


CHAP. Xlll. 

Several ways whereby the bringing forth of conceived sin is obstructed. 

Before we proceed to the remaining evidences of the power 
and efficacy of the law of sin, we shall take occasion from 
what hath been delivered, to divert unto one consideration 
that offers itself from that Scripture, which was made the 
bottom and foundation of our discourse of the general de- 
ceitfulness of sin ; namely, James i. 14. The apostle tells 
us that 'lust conceiving brings forth sin;' seeming to inti- 
mate, that look what sin is conceived, that also is brought 
forth. Now placing the conception of sin, as we have done, 
in the consent of the will unto it, and reckoning, as we ought, 
the brinoino; forth of sin to consist in its actual commission, 
we know that these do not necessarily follow one another. 
There is a world of sin conceived in the womb of the wills 
and hearts of men, that is never brought forth. Our present 
business then shall be to inquire whence that comes to pass. 
I answer, then, 

1. That this is not so, is no thanks unto sin, nor the law 
of it. What it conceives, it would bring forth : and that 
it doth not, is for the most patt but a small abatement of 
its guilt. A determinate will of actual sinning, is actual 
sin. There is nothing wanting on sin's part, that every con- 
ceived sin is not actually accomplished. The obstacle and 
prevention lies on another hand, 

2. There are two things that are necessary in the crea- 
ture that hath conceived sin, for the bringing of it forth. 
First, Power. Secondly, Continuance in the will of sinning, 
until it be perpetrated and committed. Where these two 
are, actual sin will unavoidably ensue. It is evident, there- 
fore, that that which hinders conceived sin from being 
brought forth, must effect either the power or the will of the 
sinner. This must be from God. And he hath two ways 
of doing it. 

(1.) By his providence, whereby he obstructs the power 
of sinning. 

(2.) By his grace, whereby he diverts or changes the will 

K 2 


of sinning. I do not mention these ways of God's dispen- 
sations thus distinctly, as though the one of them were al- 
ways without the other ; for there is much of grace in pro- 
vidential administrations, and much of the wisdom of provi- 
dence seen in the dispensations of grace. But I place them 
in this distinction, because they appear most eminent there- 
in. Providence in outward acts respecting the power of the 
creature ; grace common or special in internal efficacy, re- 
specting his will. And we shall begin with the first. 

(1.) When sin is conceived, the Lord obstructs its pro- 
duction by his providence in taking away, or taking short, 
that power which is absolutely necessary for its bringing 
forth or accomplishment. As, 

[1.] Life is the foundation of all power, the principle 
of operation. When that ceaseth, all power ceaseth with 
it. Even God himself, to evince the everlasting stability 
of his own power, gives himself the title of the ' living God.' 
Now he frequently obviates the power of exerting sin ac- 
tually, by cutting short and taking away the lives of them 
that have conceived it. Thus he dealt with the army of 
Sennacherib, when, according as he had purposed, so he 
threatened that ' the Lord should not deliver Jerusalem out 
of his hand;' 2 Kings xviii. 35. God threatens to cut short 
his power, that he should not execute his intendment, chap. 
xix. 28. which he performs accordingly, by taking away 
the lives of his soldiers, ver. 35. without whom it was im- 
possible that his conceived sin should be brought forth. 
This providential dispensation in the obstruction of con- 
ceived sin, Moses excellently sets forth in the case of 
Pharaoh, Exod. xv. 9, 10. 'The enemy said, I will pursue, 
I will overtake, I will divide the spoil ; my lusts shall be 
satisfied upon them : I will draw my sword, my hand shall 
destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea 
covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.' Sin's 
conception is fully expressed, and as full a prevention is 
annexed unto it. In like manner he dealt with the com- 
panies of fifties and their captains, who came to apprehend 
Elijah, 2 Kings i. 10, 11. Fire came down from heaven and 
consumed them, when they were ready to have taken him. 
And sundry other instances of the like nature might be 


recorded. That which is of universal concernment, vvc have 
in that great providential alteration, which put a period to 
the lives of men. Men living hundreds of years, had a long 
season to bring forth the sins they had conceived ; there- 
upon the earth was filled with violence, injustice, and rapine, 
and ' all flesh corrupted their ways ;' Gen. vi. 12. 19. To 
prevent the like inundation of sin, God shortens the course 
of the pilgrimage of men in the earth, and reduces their lives 
to a much shorter measure. Besides this general law, God 
daily thus cuts off persons, who had conceived much mis- 
chief and violence in their hearts, and prevents the execu- 
tion of it. ' Bloodthirsty and deceitful men do not live out 
half their days.' They have yet much work to do, might 
they have but space given them to execute the bloody and 
sinful purposes of their minds. The psalmist tells us, Psal. 
cxlvi. 4, ' In the day that the breath of man goeth forth, 
his thoughts perish ;' he had many contrivances about sin, 
but now they are all cut off. So also, Eccles. viii. 12, 13. 
'Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be 
prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with 
them that fear God, which fear before him ; but it shall not 
be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, 
which are as a shadow ; because he feareth not before God.' 
How long soever a wicked n)an lives, yet he dies judicially, 
and shall not abide to do the evil he had conceived. 

But now seeing we have granted, that even believers 
themselves may conceive sin through the power and the 
deceitfulness of it, it may be, inquired, whether God ever 
thus obviates its production and accomplishment in them, 
by cutting off and taking away their lives, so as that they 
shall not be able to perform it. I answer, 

1st. That God doth not judicially cut off and take 
away the life of any of his, for this end and purpose, that 
he may thereby prevent the execution, or bringing forth of 
any particular sin that he had conceived, and which without 
that taking away he would have perpetrated. For, 

(1st.) This is directly contrary to the very declared end of 
the patience of God towards them : 2 Pet. iii. 9. This is 
the very end of the longsuffering of God towards believers, 
that before they depart hence, they may come to the sense, 
acknowledgment, and repentance, of every known sin. This 


is the constant and unchangeable rule of God's patience in 
the covenant of grace; which is so far from being in them 
an encouragement unto sin, that it is a motive to universal 
watchfulness against it; of the same nature with all gospel 
grace, and of mercy in the blood of Christ. Now this dis- 
pensation whereof we speak, would lie in a direct contra- 
diction unto it. 

(2dly.) This also flows from the former, that whereas con- 
ceived sin contains the whole nature of it, as our Saviour 
at large declares. Matt. v. And to be cut off under the guilt 
of it, to prevent its farther progress, argues a continuance in 
the purpose of it without repentance ; it cannot be but they 
must perish for ever who are so judicially cut off. But God 
deals not so with his, he casts not off the people whom he 
did foreknow. And thence David prays for the patience of 
God before-mentioned, that it might not be so with him; 
Psal. xxxix. 13. 'O spare me, that I may recover strength, 
before I go hence and be no more.' But yet, 

2dly. There are some cases wherein God may and 
doth take away the lives of his own, to prevent the guilt that 
otherwise they would be involved in ; as, 

(1st.) In the coming of some great temptation and trial 
upon the world. God knowing that such and such of his would 
not not be able to withstand it, and hold out against it, but 
would dishonour him and defile themselves, he may, and 
doubtless often doth, take them out of the world, to take 
them out of the way of it; Isa. Ivii. 1. 'The righteous is 
taken away from the evil to come ; ' not only the evil of pu- 
nishment and judgment, but the evil of temptations and trials, 
which oftentimes proves much the worst of the two. Thus 
a captain in war will call off a soldier from his watch and 
guard, when he knows that he is not able, through some in- 
firmity, to bear the stress and force of the enemy that is 
coming upon him. 

2dly. In case of their engagement into any way not 
acceptable to him, through ignorance or not knowing of his 
his mind and will. This seems to have been the case of Josiah. 
And doubtless the Lord doth oftentimes thus proceed with 
his. When any of his own are engaged in ways that please 
him not, through the darkness and ignorance of their minds, 
that they may not proceed to farther evil or mischief, he calls 


them off from their station and employment, and takes them 
to himself, where they shall err and mistake no more. But 
in ordinary cases, God hath other ways of diverting his own 
from sin than by killing of them, as we shall see afterward. 
(2.) God jorovidentially hinders the bringing forth of 
conceived sin, by taking away and cutting short the power 
of them that had conceived it ; so that though their lives con- 
tinue, they shall not have that power without which it is im- 
possible for them to execute what they had intended, or to 
bring forth what they had conceived. Hereof also we have 
sundry instances. This was the case with the builders of Ba- 
bel, Gen.xi. Whatever it were in particular that they aimed 
at, it was in the pursuit of a design of apostacy from God. 
One thing requisite to the accomplishing of what they aimed 
at, was the oneness of their language ; so God says, ver. 6. 
* They have all one language, and this they begin to do, and 
now nothing will be restrained from them that they have 
imagined to do.' In an ordinary way they will accomplish 
their wicked design. What course doth God now take to 
obviate their conceived sin? Doth he bring a flood upon 
them to destroy them, as in the old world sometime before ? 
Doth he send his angel to cut them off, like the army of 
Sennacherib afterward? Doth he by any means take away 
their lives ? No ; their lives are continued, but he confounds 
their language, so that they cannot go on with their work, 
ver. 7. takes away that wherein their power consisted. In 
like manner did he proceed with the Sodomites, Gen. xix. 1 1 . 
they were engaged in, and set upon the pursuit of, their hlthy 
lusts. God smites them with blindness, so that they could 
not find the door where they thought to have used violence 
for the compassing of their ends; their lives were continued, 
and their will of sinning, but their power is cut short and 
abridged. His dealing with Jeroboam, 1 Kings xiii. 4. was 
of the same nature. He stretched out his hand to lay hold 
of the prophet, and it withered and became useless. And 
this is an eminent way of the effectual acting of God's pro- 
vidence in the world, for the stopping of that inundation of 
sin, which would overflow all the earth were every womb of 
it opened. He cuts men short of their moral power, whereby 
they should eflect it. Many a wretch that hath conceived 
mischief against the church of God, hath by this means been 


divested of his power, whereby he thought to accomplish it. 
Some have their bodies smitten with diseases, that they can 
no more serve their lusts, nor accompany them in the per- 
petrating of folly. Some are deprived of the instruments 
whereby they would work. There hath been, for many days, 
sin enough conceived to root out the generation of the 
righteous from the face of the earth, had men strength and 
ability to their v/ill, did not God cut off and shorten their 
power, and the days of their prevalency. Psal. Ixiv. 6. * They 
search out iniquities, they accomplish a diligent search -.both 
the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is 
deep.' All things are in a readiness, the design is well laid, 
their counsels are deep and secret. What now shall hinder 
them from doing whatever they have imagined to do ? ver. 
7, 8. ' But God shall shoot at them with an arrow, suddenly 
shall they be wounded : so they shall make their own tongue 
to fall upon themselves.' God meets with them, brings them 
down, that they shall not be able to accomplish their design. 
And this way of God's preventing sin, seems to be, at least 
ordinarily, peculiar to the men of the world ; God deals thus 
with them every day, and leaves them to pine away in their 
sins. They go all their days big with the iniquity they have 
conceived, and are greatly burdened that they cannot be 
delivered of it. The prophet tells us, that ' they practise 
iniquity that they had conceived, because it is in the power 
of their hand ;' Micah ii. 1. If they have power for it, they 
will accomplish it ; Ezek. xxii. 6. * To their power they shed 
blood.' This is the measure of their sinning, even their 
power. They do, many of them, no more evil, they commit 
no more sin, than they can. Their whole restraint lies in 
being cut short in power, in one kind or another. Their 
bodies will not serve them for their contrived uncleannesses, 
nor their hands for their revenge and rapine, nor their in- 
struments for persecution ; but they go burdened with con- 
ceived sin, and are disquieted and tortured by it all their 
days. And hence they become in themselves, as well as unto 
others, 'a troubled sea that cannot rest;' Isa. Ivii. 20. 

It may be also in some cases, under some violent tempt- 
ations, or in mistakes, God may thus obviate the accom- 
plishment of conceived sin in his own. And there seems to be 
an instance of it in his dealing with Jehoshaphat, who had de- 


signed, against the mind of God, to join in affinity with Aliab, 
and to send his ships with him to Tarshish ; but God breaks 
iiis sliips by a wind, that he could not accomplish what he had 
designed. But in God's dealing with his in this way, there is 
a difference from the same dispensation towards others ; for, 

[1.] It is so only in cases of extraordinary temptation. 
When, through the violence of temptation and craft of Satan, 
they are hurried from under the conduct of the law of grace, 
God one way or other takes away their power, or may do so, 
that they shall not be able to execute what they had designed . 
But this is an ordinary way of dealing with wicked men. 
This hook of God is upon them in the whole course of their 
lives ; and they struggle with it, being as a wild bull in a 
net; Isa. li. 20. God's net is upon them, and they are filled 
with fury that they cannot do all the wickedness that they 

[2.] God doth it not to leave them to wrestle with sin, 
and to attempt other ways of its accomplishment, upon 
the failure of that which they were engaged in; but by their 
disappointment awakens them to think of their condition, 
and what they are doing, and so consumes sin in the womb 
by the ways that shall afterward be insisted on. Some 
men's deprivation of power for the committing of conceived 
contrived sin, hath been sanctified to the changing of their 
hearts from all dalliances with that or other sins. 

(3.) God providentially hinders the bringing forth of con- 
ceived sin, by opposing an external hindering power unto 
sinners. He leaves them their lives, and leaves them power 
to do what they intend, only he raiseth up an opposite power 
to coerce, forbid, and restrain them. An instance hereof we 
have, 1 Sam. xiv. 45. Saul had sworn that Jonathan should 
be put to death, and, as far as appears, went on resolutely to 
have slain him; God stirs up the spirit of the people, they 
oppose themselves to the wrath and fury of Saul, and Jona- 
than is delivered. So also, 2 Chron. xxvi. 17 — 19. when king 
Uzziah would have in his own person offered incense contrary 
to the law, eighty men of the priests resisted him, and drove 
him out of the temple. And to this head are to be referred 
all the assistances which God stirreth up for deliverance of 
his people against the fury of persecutors. He raiseth up 
saviours or deliverers on Mount Sion, ' to judge the mount of 


Edoni.' So Rev. xii. 16. the dragon, and those acting under 
him, spirited by him, were in a furious endeavour for the de- 
struction of the church ; God stirs up the earth to her assist- 
ance, even men of the world, not engaged with others in the 
design of Satan, and, by their opposition, hinders them from 
the execution of their designed rage. Of this nature seems 
to be that dealing of God with his own people, Hos. ii. 6, 7. 
they were in the pursuit of their iniquities, following after 
their lovers ; God leaves them for awhile to act in the folly 
of their spirits, but he sets a hedge and a wall before them, 
that they shall not be able to fulfil their designs and lusts. 

(4.) God obviates the accomplishment of conceived 
sin, by removing or taking away the objects on whom, or 
about whom, the sin conceived was to be committed. Acts 
xii. 11. yields us a signal instance of this issue of provi- 
dence. When the day was coming wherein Herod thought 
to have slain Peter who was shut up in prison, God sends 
and takes him away from their rage and lying in wait. So 
also was our Saviour himself taken away from the murderous 
rage of the Jews before his hour was come, John viii. 59. 
X. 39. Both primitive and latter times are full of stories to 
this purpose. Prison doors have been opened, and poor 
creatures appointed to die have been frequently rescued from 
the jaws of death. In the world itself, amongst the men 
thereof, adulterers and adulteresses, the sin of the one is 
often hindered and stifled by the taking away of the other. 
So wings were given to the woman to carry her into the wil- 
derness, and to disappoint the world in the execution of 
their rage. Rev. xii. 14. 

(5.) God doth this by some eminent diversions of the 
thoughts of men who had conceived sin. Gen. xxxvii. 24. 
The brethren of Joseph cast him into a pit, with an intent to 
famish him there : whilst they were, as it seems, pleasing 
themselves with what they had done, God orders a company 
of merchants to come by, and diverts their thoughts with 
that new object from the killing to the selling of their 
brother, ver. 26, 27. And how far therein they were sub- 
servient to the infinitely wise counsel of God, we know. 
Thus also, when Saul was in the pursuit of David, and was 
even ready to prevail against him to his destruction, God 
stirs up the Philistines to invade the land, which both di- 


verted his thoughts, and drew the course of his actings an- 
other way, 1 Sam. xxvii. 27. 

And these are some of the ways whereby God is pleased 
to hinder the bringing forth of conceived sin, by opposing 
himself and his providence to the power of the sinning 
creature. And we may a little in our passage take a brief 
view of the great advantages to faith and the church of God, 
which may be found in this matter. As, 

[1.] This may give us a little insight into the ever-to- 
be-adored providence of God, by these and the like ways in 
great variety obstructing the breaking forth of sin in the 
world. It is he who makes those dams, and shuts up those 
floodgates of corrupted nature, that it shall not break forth 
in a deluge of filthy abominations to overwhelm the crea- 
tion with confusion and disorder. As it was of old, so it is 
at this day ; * Every thought and imagination of the heart 
of man is evil, and that continually.' That all the earth is 
not in all places filled with violence, as it was of old, is 
merely from the mighty hand of God working effectually 
for the obstructing of sin. From hence alone it is, that the 
highways, streets, and fields, are not all filled with violence, 
blood, rapine, uncleanness, and every villany that the heart 
of man can conceive. O the infinite beauty of divine wis- 
dom and providence in the government of the world ! For 
the conservation of it asks daily no less power and wisdom 
than the first making of it did require. 

[2.] If we will look to our own concernments, they 
will in a special manner enforce us to adore the wisdom and 
efficacy of the providence of God, in stopping the progress 
of conceived sin. That we are at peace in our houses, at 
rest in our beds, that we have any quiet in our enjoyments, 
is from hence alone. Whose person would not be defiled or 
destroyed? whose habitation would not be ruined? whose 
blood almost would not be shed, if wicked men had power 
to perpetrate all their conceived sin ? It may be the ruin 
of some of us hath been conceived a thousand times. We 
are beholding to this providence of obstructing sin, for our 
lives, our families, our estates, our liberties, for whatsoever 
is, or may be, dear unto us. For may we not say sometimes 
with the psalmist, Psal. Ivii. 4. 'My soul is among lions, 
and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the son* 


of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue 
a sharp sword?' And how is the deliverance of men con- 
trived from such persons? Psal. Iviii. 6. * God breaks their 
teeth in their mouths, even the great teeth of the young 
lions.' He keeps this fire from burning, or quencheth it 
when it is ready to break out into a flame. He breaks their 
spears and arrows, so that sometimes we are not so much as 
wounded by them. Some he cuts off and destroys, some he 
cuts short in their power, some he deprives of the instru- 
ments whereby alone they can work, some he prevents of 
their desired opportunities, or diverts by other objects for 
their lusts, and oftentimes causeth them to spend them 
among themselves one upon another. We may say there-, 
fore with the psalmist, Psal. civ. 24. ' O Lord, how manifold 
are thy works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all : the earth 
is full of thy riches :' and with the prophet, Hos. xiv. 9. 
* Who is wise, and he shall understand these things ? pru- 
dent and he shall know them ? all the ways of the Lord are 
right, and the just shall walk in them : but the trangressors 
shall fall therein.' 

' C^'] I^ these and the like are the ways whereby God 
obviates the bringing forth of conceived sin in wicked men, 
we may learn hence how miserable their condition is, and in 
what perpetual torment for the most part they spend their 
days. They ' are like a troubled sea,' saith the Lord, ' that 
cannot rest.' As they endeavour that others may have no 
peace, so it is certain that themselves have not any : the 
principle of sin is not impaired nor weakened in them, the 
will of sinning is not taken away. They have a womb of 
sin that is able to conceive monsters every moment. Yea, 
for the most part, they are forging and framing folly all the 
day long. One lust or other they are contriving how to 
satisfy ; they are either devouring by malice and revenge, 
or vitiating by uncleanness, or trampling on by ambition, or 
swallowing down by covetousness, all that stand before 
them. Many of their follies and mischiefs they bring to 
the very birth, and are in pain to be delivered ; but God 
every day fills them with disappointment, and shuts up the 
Vvomb of sin. Some are filled with hatred of God's people 
all their days, and never once have an opportunity to exer- 
cise it. So David describes them, Psal. lix. 6. ' They re- 


turn at evening, they make a noise like a dog, and go round 
about the city. They go up and down and belch out with 
their mouths, swords are in their lips;' ver. 7 ; and yet are 
not able to accomplish their designs. What tortures do 
such poor creatures live in ? Envy, malice, wrath, revenge, 
devour their hearts by not getting vent. And when God 
hath exercised the other acts of his wise providence in 
cutting short their power, or opposing a greater power to 
them, when nothing else will do, he cuts them off in their 
sins, and to the grave they go full of purposes of iniquity. 
Others are no less hurried and diverted by the power of 
other lusts which they are not able to satisfy. This is the 
sore travail they are exercised with all their days. If they 
accomplish their designs they are more wicked and hellish 
than before ; and if they do not, they are filled with vexation 
and discontentment. Tiiis is the portion of them who 
know not the Lord, nor the power of his grace. Envy not 
their condition ; notwithstanding their ovitward glittering 
shew, their hearts are full of anxiety, trouble, and sorrow. 

[4.] Do we see sometimes the floodgates of men's lusts 
and rage set open against the church and interest of it, and 
doth prevalency attend them, and power is for a season on 
their side; let not the saints of God despond. He hath 
unspeakably various and effectual ways for the stifling of 
their conceptions, to give them dry breasts, and a miscarry- 
ing womb. He can stop their fury when he pleaseth. 
' Surely,' saith the psalmist, * the wrath of man shall praise 
thee, the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain ;' Psal. Ixxvi. 
10. When so much of their wrath is let out as shall exalt 
his praise, he can when he pleaseth set up a power, greater 
than the combined strength of all sinning creatures, and re- 
strain the remainder of the wrath that they had conceived. 
' He shall cut off the spirit of ])rinces, he is terrible to the 
kings of 1 he earth;' ver. 12. Some he will cut off and destroy, 
some he will terrify and afl'right, and prevent the rage of 
all. He can knock them on the head, or break out their 
teeth, or chain uj) their wrath, and who can oppose him ? 

[5.] Those who have received benefit by any of the 
ways mentioned, may know to whom they owe their preserv- 
ation, and not look on it as a common thing. When you 
have conceived sin, hath God weakened your pov^er for sin, 
or denied you opportunity, or took away the object of your 


lusts, or diverted your thoughts by new providences? know 
assuredly that you have received mercy thereby. Thougli 
God deal not these providences always in a subserviency to 
the covenant of grace, yet there is always mercy in them, 
always a call in them to consider the author of them. Had 
not God thus dealt with you, it may be this day you had 
been a terror to yourselves, a shame to your relations, and 
under the punishment due to some notorious sins which you 
had conceived. Besides, there is commonly an additional 
guilt in sin brought forth, above what is in the mere concep- 
tion of it. It may be others would have been ruined by it 
here, or drawn into a partnership in sin by it, and so have 
been eternally ruined by it, all which are prevented by these 
providences, and eternity will witness, that there is a singu- 
larity of mercy in them. Do not look then on any such 
things as common accidents, the hand of God is in them all ; 
and that a merciful hand if not despised ; if it be, yet God 
doth good to others by it, the world is the better, and you 
are not so wicked as you would be. 

[6.] We may also see hence the great use of magistra- 
cy in the world, that great appointment of God. Amongst 
other things, it is peculiarly subservient to this holy provi- 
dence, in obstructing the bringing forth of conceived sin ; 
namely, by the terror of him that bears the sword. God 
fixes that on the hearts of evil men which he expresseth, 
Rom. xiii. 4. ' If thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for the 
power beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister 
of God, a revenger to execute wrath on them that do evil.' 
God fixes this on the hearts of men, and by the dread and 
terror of it closeth the womb of sin, that it shall not bring- 
forth. When there was no king in Israel, none to put to re- 
buke, and none of whom evil men were afraid, there was 
woful work and havoc amongst the children of men made 
in the world, as we may see in the last chapters of the book 
of Judges. The greatest mercies and blessings that in this 
world we are made partakers of, next to them of the gospel 
and covenant of grace, come to us through this channel and 
conduit. And indeed, this whereof we have been speaking, 
is the proper work of magistracy, namely, to be subservient 
to the providence of God in obstructing the bringing forth 
of conceived sin. 

These then are some of the ways whereby God providen- 


tially prevents the bringing forth of sin, by opposing obsta- 
cles to the power of the sinner. And by them sin is not con- 
sumed, but shut up in the womb. Men are not burdened 
for it, but with it ; not laden in their hearts and consciences 
with its guilt, but perplexed with its power, whicli they are 
not able to exert and satisfy. 

The way that yet remains for consideration whereby God 
obviates the production of conceived sin, is his working on 
the will of the sinners, so making sin to consume away in 
the womb. 

There are two ways in general whereby God thus prevents 
the bringing forth of conceived sin, by working on the will 
of the sinner; and they are, 1st. by restraining grace : 2dly. 
by renewing grace. He doth it sometimes the one way, 
sometimes the other. The first of these is common to re- 
generate and unregenerate persons, the latter peculiar to 
believers ; and God doth it variously as to particulars by 
them both. We shall begin with the first of them. 

1st. God doth this in the way of restraining grace by 
some arrow of particular conviction, fixed in the heart and 
conscience of the sinner, in reference unto the particular sin 
which he had conceived. This staggers and changes the 
mind, as to the particular intended, causeth the hands to 
hang down, and the weapons of lust to fall out of them. 
Hereby conceived sin proves abortive. How God doth 
this work, by what immediate touches, strokes, blows, re- 
bukes of his Spirit ; by what reasonings, arguments, and 
commotions of men's own consciences, is not for us thoroughly 
to find out. It is done, as was said, in unspeakable variety, 
and the works of God are past finding out. But as to what 
light may be given unto it from Scripture instances, after we 
have manifested the general way of God's procedure, it shall 
be insisted on. 

Thus then God dealt in the case of Esau and Jacob. 
Esau had long conceived his brother's death, he comforted 
himself with the thoughts of it, and resolutions about 
it. Gen. xxvii. 41. as is the manner of profligate sinners. 
Upon his first opportunity he comes forth to execute his in- 
tended rage, and Jacob concludes that he would * smite the 
mother with the children ;' Gen. xxxii. 11. An opportunity 
is presented unto this wicked and profane person, to bring 


forth that sin that had lain in his heart now twenty years ; he 
hath full power in his hand to perform his purpose. In the 
midst of this posture of things, God comes in upon his heart 
with some secret and effectual working of his Spirit and 
power, changeth him from his purpose, causeth his con- 
ceived sin to melt away, that he falls upon the neck of him 
with embraces, whom he thought to have slain. 

Of the same nature, though the way of it was peculiar, 
was his dealing with Laban the Syrian, in reference to the 
same Jacob, Gen. xxxi. 24, By a dream, a vision in the 
night, God hinders him from so much as speaking roughly 
to him. It was with him as in Micah ii, 1. he had devised 
evil on his bed, and when he thought to have practised it in 
the morning, God interposed in a dream, and hides sin from 
him, as he speaks. Job xxxiii. 15 — 17. To the same purpose 
is that of the psalmist concerning the people. of God, Psal. 
cvi. 46. ' He made them to be pitied of all those who carried 
them captive.' Men usually deal in rigour with those whom 
they have taken captive in war. It was the way of old to 
rule captives with force and cruelty. Here God turns and 
changes their hearts, not in general unto himself, but to this 
particular of respect to his people. And this way in general 
doth God every day prevent the bringing forth of a world of 
sin. He sharpens arrows of conviction upon the spirits of 
men, as to the particular that they are engaged in. Their 
hearts are not changed as to sin, but their minds are altered 
as to this or that sin. They break, it may be, the vessel 
they had fashioned, and go to work upon some other. Now 
that we may a little see into the ways whereby God doth 
accomplish this work, we must premise the ensuing con- 

(1st.) That the general medium wherein the matter of re- 
straining grace doth consist, whereby God thus prevents the 
bringing forth of sin, doth lie in certain arguments and rea- 
sonings, presented to the mind of the sinner, whereby he is 
induced to desert his purpose, to change and alter his mind, 
as to the sin he had conceived. Reasons against it are pre- 
sented unto him, which prevail upon him to relinquish his 
design, and give over his purpose. This is the general way 
of the working of restraining grace, it is by arguments and 
reasonings rising up against the perpetration of conceived sin. 


(2diy.) That no arguments or reasonings, as such, ma- 
terially considered, are sufficient to stop or hinder any pur- 
pose of sinning, or to cause conceived sin to prove abortive, 
if the sinner have power and opportunity to bring it forth. 
They are not in themselves, and on their own account re- 
straining grace ; for if they were, the administration and 
communication of grace, as grace, were left unto every man 
who is able to give advice against sin. Nothing is, nor can 
be called grace, though common, and such as may perish, 
but with respect unto its peculiar relation to God. God, by 
the power of his Spirit, making arguments and reasons effec- 
tual and prevailing, turns that to be grace, I mean of this 
kind, which in itself, and in its own nature, was bare reason. 
And that efficacy of the vSpirit, which the Lord puts forth in 
these persuasions and motives, is that which we call restrain- 
ing grace. These things being premised, we shall now con- 
sider some of the arguments which we find that he hath 
made use of to this end and purpose. 

[1st.] God stops many men in their ways upon the con- 
ception of sin, by an argument taken from the difficulty, if 
not impossibility, of doing that they aim at. They have a 
mind unto it, but God sets a hedge and a wall before them, 
that they shall judge it to be so hard and difficult to accom- 
plish what they intend, that it is better for them to let it 
alone and give over. Thus Herod would have put John Bap- 
tist to death upon the first provocation, but he feared the 
multitude, because they accounted him as a prophet. Matt, 
xiv. 5. He had conceived his murder, and was free for the 
execution of it. God raised this consideration in his heart. 
If I kill him, the people will tumultuate, he hath a great 
party amongst them, and sedition will arise that may cost 
me my life, or kingdom. He feared the multitude, and durst 
not execute the wickedness he had conceived, because of the 
difficulty he foresaw he should be entangled withal. And 
God made the argument eflfectual for the season ; for other- 
wise we know that men will venture the utmost hazards for 
the satisfaction of their lusts ; as he also did afterward. 
The Pharisees were in the very same state and condition. 
Matt. xxi. 26. they would fain have decried the ministry of 
John, but durst not for fear of the people ; and, ver, 46. of 
the same chapter, by the same argument were they deterred 



from killing our Saviour, who had highly provoked them by 
a parable, setting out their deserved and approaching de- 
struction. They durst not do it for fear of a tumult among 
the people, seeing they looked on him as a prophet. Thus 
God overawes the hearts of innumerable persons in the world 
every day, and causeth them to desist from attempting to 
bring forth the sins which they had conceived. Difficulties 
they shall be sure to meet withal, yea, it is likely, if they 
should attempt it, it would prove impossible for them to ac- 
complish. We owe much of our quiet in this world, unto 
the efficacy given to this consideration in the hearts of men 
by the Holy Ghost : adulteries, rapines, murders, are obvi- 
ated and stifled by it. Men would engage into them daily, 
but that they judge it impossible for them to fulfil what they 
aim at. 

[2dly.] God doth it by an argument taken 'ab incom- 

modo,' from the inconveniencies, evils, and troubles that will 

befall men in the pursuit of sin. If they follow it, this or that 

inconvenience will ensue ; this trouble, this evil, temporal or 

eternal. And this argument, as managed by the Spirit of 

God, is the great engine in his hand, whereby he casts up 

banks and gives bounds to the lusts of men, that they break 

not out to the confusion of all that order and beauty which 

yet remains in the works of his hands. Paul gives us the 

general import of this argument, Rom. ii. 14, 15. * For when 

the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things 

contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto 

themselves : which shew the work of the law written in their 

hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their 

thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one 

another.' If any men in the world may be thought to be 

given up to pursue and fulfil all the sins that their lusts can 

conceive, it is those that have not the law, to whom the 

written law of God doth not denounce the evil that attends 

it. But though they have it not, saith the apostle, they shew 

forth the work of it, they do many things which it requireth, 

and forbear or abstain from many things that it forbiddeth, 

and so shew forth its work and efficacy. But whence is it 

that they so do? Why their thoughts accuse or excuse them. 

It is from the consideration and arguings that they have 

within themselves about sin and its consequents, which 


prevail upon tliein to abstain from many things that their 
hearts would carry them out unto. For conscience is a man's 
prejudging of liimself, with respect unto the future judgment 
of God. Thus Felix was staggered in his pursuit of sin, 
when he trembled at Paul's preaching of righteousness and 
judgment to come; Acts xxiv. 25. So Job tells us that the 
consideration of punishment from God hath a strong in- 
fluence on the minds of men to keep them from sin ; chap. 
xxxi. 1 — 3. How the Lord makes use of that consideration, 
even towards his own, when they have broken the cords of 
his love and cast off the rule of his grace for a season, I have 
before declared. 

[3dly.] God doth this same work by making effectual 
an argument, 'ab inutili,' from the unprofitableness of the 
thing that men are engaged in. By this were the brethren 
of Joseph stayed from slaying him. Gen. xxxvii. 26, 27. 
* What profit is it,' say they, * if we slay our brother and con- 
ceal his blood V We shall get nothing by it; it will bring 
in no advantage or satisfaction unto us. And the heads of 
this way of God's obstructing conceived sin, or the springs of 
these kinds of arguments, are so many and various, that 
it is impossible to insist particularly upon them. There is 
nothing present or to come, nothing belonging to this life or 
another, nothing desirable or undesirable, nothing good or 
evil, but, at one time or another, an argument may be taken 
from it for the obstructing of sin. 

[4thly.] God accomphsheth this work by arguments 
taken ' ab honesto,' from what is good and honest, what is 
comely, praiseworthy, and acceptable unto himself. This is 
the great road wherein he walks with the saints under their 
temptations, or in their conceptions of sin. He recovers 
effectually upon their minds a consideration of all those 
springs and motives to obedience, which are discovered and 
proposed in the gospel, some at one time, some at another. 
He minds them of his own love, mercy, and kindness ; his 
eternal love, with the fruits of it, whereof themselves have 
been made partakers. He minds them of the blood of his 
Son, his cross, sufferings, tremendous undertaking in the 
work of mediation, and the concernment of his heart, love, 
honour, name, in their obedience ; minds them of the love of 
the Spirit, with all his consolations which they have been 



made partakers of, and privileges wherewith by him they 
have been intrusted : minds them of the gospel, the glory 
and beauty of it, as it is revealed unto their souls ; minds 
them of the excellency and comeliness of obedience, of their 
performance of that duty they owe to God, that peace, 
quietness, and serenity of mind, that they have enjoyed 
therein. On the other side he minds them of being a pro- 
vocation by sin unto the eyes of his glory, saying in their 
hearts. Do not that abominable thing which my soul hateth ; 
minds them of their wounding the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
putting him to shame ; of their grieving the Holy Spirit, 
whereby they are sealed to the day of redemption ; of their, 
defiling his dwelling-place ; minds them of the reproach, 
dishonours, scandal, which they bring on the gospel and the 
profession thereof; minds them of the terrors, darkness, 
wounds, want of peace, that they may bring upon their own 
souls. From these and the like considerations doth God 
put a stop to the law of sin in the heart, that it shall not go 
on to bring forth the evil which it hath conceived. I could 
give instances in arguments of all these several kinds re- 
corded in the Scripture, but it would be too long a work for 
us, who are now engaged in a design of another nature. But 
one or two examples may be mentioned. Joseph resists his 
first temptation on one of these accounts. Gen. xxxix. 9. 
* How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? ' 
The evil of sinning against God, his God, that consideration 
alone detains him from the least inclination to his temptation. 
It is sin ati^ainst God to whom I owe all obedience, the 
God of my life and of all my mercies : I will not do it. The 
argument wherewith Abigail prevailed on David, 1 Sam. xxv. 
31. to withhold him from self-revenge and murder, was of 
the same nature, and he acknowledgeth that it was from 
the Lord, ver. 32. I shall add no more, for all the Scripture 
motives which we have to duty, made effectual by grace, are 
instances of this way of God's procedure. 

Sometimes, I confess, God secretly works the hearts of 
men by his own finger, without the use and means of such 
arguments as those insisted on, to stop the progress of sin. 
So he tells Abimelech, Gen. xx. 6. * I have withheld thee 
from sinning against me.' Now this could not be done by 
any of the arguments which w€ have insisted on, because 


Abimelech knew not that the thing he intended was sin; and 
therefore he pleads that in the ' integrity of his heart and in- 
nocency of his hands ' he did it, ver. 5. God turned about 
his will and thoughts, that he should not accomplish his in- 
tention ; but by what ways or means is not revealed. Nor 
is it evident what course he took in the change of Esau's 
heart, when he came out against his brother to destroy him. 
Gen. xxxiii. 4. Whether he stirred up in him a fresh spring 
of natural affections, or caused him to consider what grief 
by this means he should bring to his aged father, who loved 
him so tenderly ; or whether, being now grown great and 
wealthy, he more and more despised the matter of difference 
between him and his brother, and so utterly slighted it, is 
not known. It may be God did it by an immediate powerful 
act of his Spirit upon his heart, without any actual inter- 
vening of these or any of the like considerations. Now, 
though the things mentioned are in themselves at other times 
feeble and weak, yet when they are managed by the Spirit of 
God to such an end and purpose, they certainly become ef- 
fectual, and are the matter of his preventing grace. 

2dly. God prevents the bringing forth of conceived sin 
by real spiritual saving grace, and that either in the first 
conversion of sinners, or in the following supplies of it. 

(1st.) This is one part of the mystery of his grace and love. 
He meets men sometimes in their highest resolutions for sin, 
with the highest efficacy of his grace. Hereby he manifests 
tlie power of his own grace, and gives the soul a farther experi- 
ence of the law of sin, when it takes such a farewell of it, as 
to be changed in the midst of its resolutions to serve the lusts 
thereof. By this he melts down the lusts of men, causeth 
them to wither at the root, that they shall no more strive to 
bring forth what they have conceived, but be filled with 
shame and sorrow at their conception. An example and 
instance of this proceeding of God, for the use and instruc- 
tion of all generations, we have in Paul. His heart was full 
of wickedness, blasphemy, and persecution; his conception 
of them was come unto rage and madness, and a full purpose 
of exercising them all to the utmost; so the story relates it, 
Acts ix. so himself declares the state to have been with him. 
Acts xxvi. 9 — 12. 1 Tim. i. 13. In the midst of all this 
violent pursuiiof sin, a voice from heaven shuts up the womb 


and dries the breasts of it, and he cries, 'Lord, what wilt thou 
have me to do ?' Acts ix. 6. The same person seems to in- 
timate, that this is the way of God's procedure with others, 
even to meet them with his converting grace in the height 
of their sin and folly, 1 Tim. i. 16. For he himself, he says, 
was a pattern of God's dealing with others ; as he dealt with 
him, so also would he do with some such-like sinners. * For 
this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ 
might shew forth all long-suffering, as a pattern to them 
which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.* 
And we have not a few examples of it in our own days. 
Sundry persons on set purpose going to this or that place to 
deride and scoff at the dispensation of the word, have been 
met withal in the very place wherein they designed to serve 
their lusts and Satan, and have been cast down at the foot of 
God. This way of God's dealing with sinners is at large 
set forth. Job xxxiii. 15 — 18. Dionysius the Areopagite is 
another instance of this work of God's grace and love. Paul 
is dragged either by him or before him, to plead for his life, 
as a setter forth of strange gods, which at Athens was death 
by the law. In the midst of this frame of spirit God meets 
with him by converting grace, sin withers in the womb, and 
he cleaves to Paul and his doctrine ; Acts xvii. 18 — 34. The 
like dispensation towards Israel we have, Hos. xi. 7 — 10. 
But there is no need to insist on more instances of this ob- 
servation. God is pleased to leave no generation unconvinced 
of this truth, if they do but attend to their own experiences, 
and the examples of this work of his mercy amongst them. 
Every day, one or other is taken in the fulness of the purpose 
of his heart to go on in sin, in this or that sin, and is stopped 
in his course by the power of converting grace. 

(2dly.) God doth it by the same grace in the renewed 
communications of it, that is, by special assisting grace. 
This is the common way of his dealing with believers in this 
case. That they also, through the deceitfulness of sin, may 
be carried on to the conceiving of this or that sin, was be- 
fore declared. God puts a stop to their progress, or rather, 
to the prevalency of the law of sin in them, and that by 
giving in unto them special assistances needful for their 
preservation and deliverance. As David says of himself, 
Psal. Ixxiii. 2. His ' feet were almost gone, his steps had 


well nigh slipped.' He was at the very brink of unbelieving 
despairing thoughts and conclusions about God's provi- 
dence in the government of the worid ; from whence he was 
recovered, as he afterward declares. So is it with many a 
believer, he is oftentimes at the very brink, at the very door 
of some folly or iniquity, when God puts in by the efficacy 
of actually assisting grace, and recovers them to an obedi- 
ential frame of heart again. And this is a peculiar work of 
Christ, wherein he manifests and exerts his faithfulness to- 
wards his own. Heb. ii. 18. * He is able to succour them 
that are tempted.' It is not an absolute power, but a power 
clothed with mercy that is intended. Such a power as is 
put forth from a sense of the suffering of poor believers 
under their temptations. And how doth he exercise this 
merciful ability towards us ? chap. iv. 16. He gives forth 
and we find in him ' grace to help in a time of need ; season- 
able help and assistance for our deliverance, when we are 
ready to be overpowered by sin and temptation. When lust 
hath conceived, and is ready to bring forth, when the soul 
lies at the brink of some iniquity, he gives in seasonable 
help, relief, deliverance, and safety. Here lies a great part 
of the care and faithfulness of Christ towards his poor 
saints ; he will not suffer them to be worried with the power 
of sin, nor to be carried out unto ways that shall dishonour 
the gospel, or fill them with shame and reproach, and so 
render them useless in the world ; but he steps in with the 
saving relief and assistance of his grace, stops the course of 
sin, and makes them in himself more than conquerors. And 
this assistance lies under the promise, 1 Cor. x. 13. * There 
hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to 
man : but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be 
tempted above that you are able ; but will with the tempta- 
tion also make a way to escape, that you may be able to 
bear it.' Temptation shall try us, it is for our good ; many- 
holy ends doth the Lord compass and bring about by it. 
But when we are tried to the utmost of our ability, so that 
one assault more would overbear us, a way of escape is pro- 
vided. And as this may be done several ways, as 1 have 
elsewhere declared, so this we are now ui>on is one of the 
most eminent, namely, by supplies of grace to enable the 
soul to bear up, resist, and conquer. And when once God 


begins to deal in this way of love with a soul, he will not 
cease to add one supply after another, until the whole work 
of his grace and faithfulness be accomplished. An example 
hereof we have, Isa. Ivii. 17, 18. Poor sinners there are so 
far captivated to the power of their lusts, that the first and 
second dealings of God with them are not effectual for their 
delivery ; but he will not give them over, he is in the pur- 
suit of a design of love towards them, and so ceaseth not 
until they are recovered. These are the general heads of 
the second way whereby God hinders the bringing forth of 
conceived sin, namely, by working on the will of the sinner. 
He doth it either by common convictions or special grace, 
so that of their own accord they shall let go the purpose 
and will of sinning that they are risen up unto. And this 
is no mean way of his providing for his own glory, and the 
honour of his gospel in the world, whose professors would 
stain the whole beauty of it, were they left to themselves to 
bring forth all the evil that is conceived in their hearts. 

(3dly.) Besides these general ways, there is one yet more 
special, that at once worketh both upon the power and will of 
the sinner; and this is the way of afflictions,concerning which 
one word shall close this discourse. Afflictions, I say, work 
by both these ways in reference unto conceived sin. They 
work providentially on the power of the creature. When a 
man hath conceived a sin, and is in full purpose of the pur- 
suit of it, God oftentimes sends a sickness and abates his 
strength, or a loss cuts him short in his plenty, and so takes 
him off from the pursuit of his lusts, though it may be his 
heart is not weaned from them. His power is weakened, 
and he cannot do the evil he would. In this sense it be- 
longs to the first way of God's obviating the production of 
sin. Great afflictions work sometimes, not from their own 
nature immediately and directly, but from the gracious pur- 
pose and intendment of him that sends them. He insinu- 
ates into the dispensation of them that of grace and power, 
of love and kindness, which shall effectually take off the 
heart and mind from sin. Psal. cxix. 07, ' Before I was 
afflicted I went astray, but now have I learned thy com- 
mandments.' And in this way, because of the predominancy 
of renewing and assisting grace, they belong unto the latter 
means of preventing sin. 


And these are some of the ways whereby it pleaseth 
God to put a stop to the progress of sin, both in believers 
and unbelievers, which at present we shall instance in ; and 
if we would endeavour farther to search out his ways unto 
perfection, yet we must still conclude that it is but a little 
portion which we know of him. 


The power of sin farther demonsti-ated by the effects it hath had in the lives 
of professors. First, in actual sins. Secondly, in habitual declensions. 

We are now to proceed unto other evidences of that sad 
truth which we are in the demonstration of. But the main 
of our work being past through, I shall be more brief in the 
management of the arguments that do remain. 

That then which in the next place may be fixed upon, is 
the demonstration which this law of sin hath in all ages 
given of its power and efficacy, by the woful fruits that it 
hath brought forth, even in believers themselves. Now 
these are of two sorts. 1. The great actual eruptions of 
sin in their lives. 2. Their habitual declensions from the 
frames, state, and condition, of obedience and communion 
with God, which they had obtained ; both which by the 
rule of James, before unfolded, are to be laid to the account 
of this law of sin, and belong unto the fourth head of its 
progress, and are both of them convincing evidences of its 
power and efficacy. 

1. Consider the fearful eruptions of actual sins that 
have been in the lives of believers, and we shall find our 
position evidenced. Should I go through at large with this 
consideration, I must recount all the sad and scandalous 
failings of the saints that are left on record in the holy 
Scripture. But the particulars of them are known to all ; 
so that I shall not need to mention them, nor the many ag- 
gravations that in their circumstances they are attended 
with. Only some few things tending to the rendering of 
our present consideration of them useful, may be remarked. 

(1.) They are most of them in the lives of men that 


were not of the lowest form or ordinary sort of believers, 
but of men that had a peculiar eminency in them on the ac- 
count of their walking with God in their generation. Such 
were Noah, Lot, David, Hezekiah, and others. They were 
not men of an ordinary size, but higher than their brethren 
by the shoulders and upwards in profession, yea, in real 
holiness. And surely that must needs be of a mighty effi- 
cacy that could hurry such giants in the ways of God into 
such abominable sins as they fell into. An ordinary engine 
could never have turned them out of the course of their 
obedience. It was a poison that no athletic constitution of 
spiritual health, no antidote could withstand. 

(2.) And these very men fell not into their great sins 
at the beginning of their profession, when they had had but 
little experience of the goodness of God, of the sweet- 
ness and pleasantness of obedience, of the power and craft 
of sin, of its impulsions, solicitations and surprisals, but 
after a long course of walking with God, and acquaintance 
with all these things, together with innumerable motives 
unto watchfulness. Noah, according to the lives of men in 
those days of the world, had walked uprightly with God 
some hundreds of years before he was so surprised as 
he was. Gen. ix. Righteous Lot seems to have been to- 
wards the end of his days, ere he defiled himself with the 
abominations recorded. David, in a short life, had as much 
experience of grace and sin, and as much close, spiritual 
communion with God, as ever had any of the sons of men, 
before he was cast to the ground by this law of sin. So was 
it with Hezekiah in his degree, which was none of the 
meanest. Now to set upon such persons, so well acquainted 
with its power and deceit, so armed and provided against it, 
that had been conquerors over it for so many years, and to 
prevail against them, it argues a power and efficacy too 
mighty for every thing but the Spirit of the Almighty to 
withstand. Who can look to have a greater stock of inhe- 
rent grace than those men had ; to have more experience of 
God, and the excellency of his ways, the sweetness of his 
love, and of communion with him, than they had ? who hath 
either better furniture to oppose sin withal, or more obliga- 
tion so to do, than they ? and yet we see how fearfully they 
were prevailed against. 


(3.) As if God had permitted their falls on set purpose, 
that we might learn to be wary of this powerful enemy, 
they all of them fell out when they had newly received great 
and stupendous mercies from the hand of God, that ought 
to have been strong obligations unto diligence and watch- 
fulness in close obedience. Noah was but newly come forth 
of that world of waters wherein he saw the ungodly world 
perishing for their sins, and himself preserved by that 
astonishable miracle which all ages must admire. Whilst 
the world's desolation was an hourly remembrancer unto 
him of his strange preservation by the immediate care and 
hand of God, he falls into drunkenness. Lot had newly 
seen that which every one that thinks on cannot but tremble- 
He saw, as one speaks, hell coming out of heaven upon un- 
clean sinners, the greatest evidence, except the cross of 
Christ, that God ever gave in his providence of the judg- 
ment to come. He saw himself and children delivered by 
the special care and miraculous hand of God ; and yet, 
whilst these strange mercies were fresh upon him, he fell 
into drunkenness and incest. David was delivered out of 
all his troubles, and had the necks of his enemies given him 
round about, and he makes use of his peace from a world 
of trials and troubles to contrive murder and adultery. Im- 
mediately, it was, after Hezekiah's great and miraculous de- 
liverance, that he falls into his carnal pride and boasting. 
I say, their falls in such seasons, seem to be permitted on 
set purpose, to instruct us all in the truth that we have in 
hand ; so that no persons, in no seasons, with what furniture 
of grace soever, can promise themselves security from its 
prevalency, any other ways than by keeping close constantly 
to him, who hath supplies to give out that are above its 
reach and efficacy. Methinks this should make us look 
about us. Are we better than Noah, who had that testi- 
mony from God, that he was a perfect man in his generation, 
and walked with God? Are we better than Lot, whose 
righteous soul was vexed with the evil deeds of ungodly 
men, and is thereof commended by the Holy Ghost? Are 
we more holy, wise, and watchful than David, who obtained 
this testimony, that he was ' a man after God's own heart?' 
or better than Hezekiah, who appealed to God himself, 
that he had served him uprightly, with a perfect heart? 


And yet what prevalency this law of sin wrought in and over 
them, we see. And there is no end of the like examples ; 
they are all set up as buoys to discover unto us the sands, 
the shelves, the rocks, whereupon they made their ship- 
wreck, to their hazard, danger, loss, yea, and would have 
done to their ruin, had not God been pleased in his faith- 
fulness graciously to prevent it. And this is the first part 
of this evidence of the power of sin, from its effects. 

2. It manifests its power in the habitual declensions 
from zeal and holiness, from the frames, state and con- 
dition of obedience and communion with God, whereunto 
they had attained, which are found in many believers. 
Promises of growth and improvement are many and pre- 
cious ; the means excellent and effectual ; the benefits 
great and unspeakable : yet it often falls out, that instead 
hereof, decays and declensions are found upon professors, 
yea, in and upon many of the saints of God. Now whereas 
this must needs principally and chiefly be from the strength 
and efficacy of indwelling sin, and is therefore a great evi- 
dence thereof; I shall first evince the observation itself to 
be true, namely, that some of the saints themselves do 
oftentimes so decline from that growth and improvement in 
faith, grace, and holiness which might justly be expected 
from them ; and then shew, that the cause of this evil lies 
in that, that we are treating of. And that it is the cause of 
total apostacy in unsound professors, shall be after declared. 
But this is a greater work which we have in hand. The 
prevailing upon true believers unto a sinful declension and 
gradual apostacy, requires a putting forth of more strength 
and efficacy than the prevailing upon unsound profes- 
sors unto total apostacy. As the wind, which will blow 
down a dead tree that hath no root to the ground, will 
scarcely shake or bow a living well-rooted tree. But this it 
will do. There is mention made in the Scripture of the first 
ways of David, and they are commended above his latter, 
2 Chron. xvii. 3. The last ways even of David were tainted 
with the power of indwelling sin. Though we have mention 
only of the actual eruption of sin, yet that uncleanness, and 
pride which was working in him in his numbering of the 
people, were certainly rooted in a declension from his first 
frame. Those rushes did not grow without mire, David 


would not have done so in his younger days, when he fol- 
lowed God in the wilderness of temptations and trials, full 
of faith, love, humility, brokenness of heart, zeal, tender 
affection unto all the ordinances of God, all which were 
eminent in him. But his strength is impaired by the efficacy 
and deceitfulness of sin ; his locks cut, and he becomes a 
prey to vile lusts and temptations. We have a notable in- 
stance in most of the churches that our Saviour awakens to 
the consideration of their condition, in the Revelations. We 
may single out one of them : many good things were there in 
the church of Ephesus, chap. ii. 2, 3. for which it is greatly 
commended, but yet it is charged with a decay, a declension, 
a gradual falling off and aposlacy : ver. 4, 5. * Thou hast left 
thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, 
and do thy first works.' There was a decay both inward, in 
the frame of heart, as to faith and love ; and outward, as to 
obedience and works, in comparison of what they had for- 
merly, by the testimony of Christ himself. The same also 
might be shewed concerning the rest of those churches, only 
one or two of them excepted. Five of them are charged with 
decays and declensions. Hence there is mentioned in the 
Scripture of the ' kindness of youth,' of the ' love of es- 
pousals,' with great commendation, Jer. ii. 2, 3. of our * first 
faith,' 1 Tim. v. 12. of 'the beginning of our confidence,' 
Heb. iii. 14. And cautions are given, that we ' lose not the 
things tliatwe have wrought,' 2 John 8. But what need we 
look back or search for instances to confirm the truth of this 
observation ? An habitual declension from first engagements 
unto God, from first attainments of communion with God, 
from first strictness in duties of obedience, is ordinary and 
common amongst professors. 

Might we to this purpose take a general view of the profes- 
sors in these nations, among whom the lot of the best of us will 
be found in part or in whole, in somewhat or in all, to fall, we 
might be plentifully convinced of the truth of this observation. 
(1.) Is their zeal for God as warm, living, vigorous, effec- 
tual, solicitous, as it was in their first giving themselves unto 
God? Orrather, is there not a common, slight, selfish frame of 
spirit in the room of it come upon most professors '? Iniquity 
hath abounded, and their love hath waxed cold. Was it not 
of old a burden to their spirits to hear the name, and ways, 


and worship of God blasphemed and profaned ? could they 
not have said with the psalmist, Psal. cxix. 136. * Rivers of 
water run down our eyes because men keep not thy law?' 
Were not their souls solicitous about the interest of Christ 
in the world, like Eli's about the ark ? Did they not con- 
tend earnestly for the truth once delivered to the saints, 
and every parcel of it? especially wherein the grace of God, 
and the glory of the gospel was especially concerned : did 
they not labour to judge and condemn the world by a holy 
and separate conversation? And do now the generality of 
professors abide in this frame? have they grown, and made 
improvement in it? or is there not a coldness and indifFer- 
ency grown upon the spirits of many in this thing ? Yea, 
do not many despise all these things, and look upon their 
own former zeal as folly? May we not see many who have 
formerly been of esteem in ways of profession, become daily 
a scorn and reproach through their miscarriages, and that 
justly to the men of the world? Is it not with them as it 
was of old with the daughters of Sion, (Isa. iii. 24.) when 
God judged them for their sins and wantonness ? Hath not 
the world and self utterly ruined their profession ? and are 
they not regardless of the things wherein they have for- 
merly declared a singular concernment? Yea, are not some 
come, partly on one pretence, partly on another, to an open 
enmity unto, and hatred of, the ways of God ? they please 
them no more, but are evil in their eyes. But not to men- 
tion such open apostates any farther, whose hypocrisy 
the Lord Jesus Christ will shortly judge ; how is it with the 
best? are not almost all men grown cold and slack as to 
these things? are they not less concerned in them than 
formerly ? are they not grown weary, selfish in their reli- 
gion, and so things be indifferent well at home, scarce care 
how they go abroad in the world ? At least do they not 
prefer their ease, credit, safety, secular advantages, before 
these things ? A frame that Christ abhors, and declares, 
that those in whom it prevails are none of his. Some indeed 
seem to retain a good zeal for truth, but wherein they make 
the fairest appearance, therein will they be found to be most 
abominable : they cry out against errors, not for truth, but 
for parties' and interests' sake. Let a man be on their party, 
and promote their interest, be he never so corrupt in his 


judgment, he is embraced, and it may be admired. This is 
not zeal for God, bdt for a man's self. It is not ' The zeal 
of thine house hath eaten me up,' but ' Master, forbid them 
because they follow not with us.' Better it were doubtless 
for men never to pretend unto any zeal at all than to substi- 
tute such wrathful selfishness in the room of it. 

(2.) Is men's delight in the ordinances and worship of 
God the same as in former days? Do they find the same 
sweetness and relish in them as they have done of old ? 
How precious hath the word been to them formerly ? What 
joy and delight have they had in attendance thereon? How 
would they have run and gone to have been made partakers 
of it, where it was dispensed in its power and purity, in the 
evidence and demonstration of the Spirit ? Did they not 
call the sabbath their delight, and was not the approach of 
it a real joy unto their souls ? Did they not long after the 
converse and communion of saints ? and could they not un- 
dergo manifold perils for the attainment of it ? And doth 
this frame still abide upon them ? Are there not decays 
and declensions to be found amongst them? May it not 
be said. Grey hairs are here and there upon them, and they 
perceive it not? Yea, are not men ready to say with them 
of old, 'What a weariness is it?' Mai. i. 3. It is even a 
burden and a weariness to be tied up to the observation of 
all these ordinances. What need we be at all so strict in 
the observation of the sabbath ? What need we hear so 
often ? What need this distinction in hearing ? Insensibly 
a great disrespect, yea, even a contempt of the pleasant and 
excellent ways of Christ and his gospel, is fallen upon many 

(3.) May not the same conviction be farther carried on, 
by an inquiry into the universal course of obedience, and 
the performance of duties that men have been engaged 
in ? Is there the same conscientious tenderness of sinning; 
abiding in many, as was in days of old? the same exact per- 
formance of private duties ? the same love to the brethren ? 
the same readiness for the cross? the same humility of 
mind and spirit ? the same self-denial ? The steam of 
men's lusts, Avherewith the air is tainted, will not suffer 
us so to say. 

We need then go no farther than this wretched genera- 


tion wherein we live, to evince the truth of the observation 
laid down, as the- foundation of the instance insisted on ; 
the Lord give repentance before it be too late. 

Now all these declensions, all these decays that are 
found in some professors, they all proceed from this root 
and cause, they are all the product of indwelling sin, and 
all evince the exceeding power and efficacy of it. For the 
proof whereof I shall not need to go farther than the gene- 
ral rule which out of James we have already considered ; 
namely, that lust or indwelling sin, is the cause of all actual 
sin, and all habitual declensions in believers. This is that 
which the apostle intends in that place to teach and de- 
clare. I shall therefore handle these two things, and shew, 
[l.J That this doth evince a great efficacy and power in 
sin. [2.] Declare the ways and means whereby it brings 
forth, or brings about this cursed effect ; all in design of 
our general end, in calling upon and cautioning believers 
to avoid it, to oppose it. 

[1.] It appears to be a work of great power and effi- 
cacy, from the provision that is made against it, which it 
prevails over. There is in the covenant of grace plentiful 
provision made, not only for the preventing of declensions 
and decays in believers, but also for their continual carry- 
ing on towards perfection. As, 

1st. The word itself, and all the ordinances of the gos- 
pel, are appointed and given unto us for this end, Ephes. iv. 
11 — 15. That which is the end of giving gospel officers to 
the church, is the end also of giving all the ordinances to be 
administered by them. For they are given for the work of 
the ministry, that is, for the administration of the ordinances 
of the gospel. Now what is, or what are, these ends? They 
are all for the preventing of decays and declensions in the 
saints, all for the carrying them on to perfection ; so it is 
said, ver. 12. In general it is for the perfecting of the saints, 
carrying on the work of grace in them, and the work of holi- 
ness and obedience by them ; or for the edifying of the body 
of Christ, their building up in an increase of faith and love, 
even of every true member of the mystical body. But how 
far are they appointed thus to carry them on, thus to build 
them up ? Hath it bounds fixed to its work ? doth it carry 
them so far, and then leave them? No, saith the apostle, 


ver. 13. the dispensation of the word of the gospel, and 
the ordinances thereof, is designed for our help, assistance, 
and furtherance, until the whole work of faith and obedience 
is consummate. It is appointed to perfect and complete 
that faith, knowledge, and growth in grace and holiness, 
which is allotted unto us in this world. But what and if op- 
positions and temptations do lie in the way, Satan and his 
instruments working with great subtlety and deceit? Why, 
ver. 14. these ordinances are designed for our safe-guarding 
and deliverance from all their attempts and assaults, that so 
being preserved in the use of them, or ' speaking the truth in 
love, we may grow up unto him in all things who is the head, 
even Christ Jesus.' This is in general the use of all gospel 
ordinances, the chief and main end for which they were 
given and appointed of God ; namely, to preserve believers 
from all decays of faith and obedience, and to carry them 
on still towards perfection. These are means which God, 
the good husbandman makes use of, to cause the vine to 
thrive and bring forth fruit. And I could also manifest the 
same to be the especial end of them distinctly. Briefly, the 
word is milk and strong meat, for the nourishing and strength- 
ening of all sorts, and all degrees of believers. It hath both 
seed and water in it, and manuring with it, to make them 
fruitful. The ordinance of the supper is appointed on pur- 
pose for the strengthening of our faith in the remembrance 
of the death of the Lord, and the exercise of love one to- 
wards another. The communion of saints is for the edify- 
ing each other in faith, love, and obedience. 

2dly, There is that which adds weight to this consi- 
deration. God suffers us not to be unmindful of this assist- 
ance he hath afforded us, but is continually calling upon us 
to make use of the means appointed for the attaining of the 
end proposed. He shews them unto us, as the angel shewed 
the water-spring to Agar. Commands, exhortations, pro- 
mises, threatenings, are multijdied to this purpose ; see them 
summed up, Heb. ii. 1. He is continually saying to us. 
Why will you die? why will you wither and decay ? Come 
to the pastures provided for you, and your souls shall live. 
If we see a lamb run from the fold into the wilderness, we 
wonder not if it be torn and rent of wild beasts : if we see a 
sheep leaving its green pastures and water-courses, to abide 

VOL. Xlll. M 


in dry barren heaths, we count it no marvel, nor inquire far- 
ther, if we see him lean and ready to perish. But if we find 
lambs wounded in the fold, we wonder at the boldness and 
rage of the beasts of prey, that durst set upon them there. 
If we see sheep pining in full pastures, we judge them to be 
diseased and unsound. It is indeed no marvel that poor 
creatures, who forsake their own mercies, and run away from 
the pasture and fold of Christ in his ordinances, are rent and 
torn with divers lusts, and do pine away with hunger and fa- 
mine. But to see men living under, and enjoying, all the 
means of spiritual thriving, yet to decay, not to be fat and 
flourishing, but rather daily to pine and wither, this argues 
some secret powerful distemper, whose poisonous and nox- 
ious qualities hinder the virtue and efficacy of the means they 
enjoy. This is indwelling sin. So wonderfully powerful, 
so effectually poisonous it is, that it can bring leanness on 
the souls of men in the midst of all precious means of growth 
and flourishing. It may well make us tremble to see men 
living under, and in, the use of the means of the gospel, 
preaching, praying, administration of sacraments, and yet 
grow colder every day than other in zeal for God, more self- 
ish and worldly, even habitually to decline as to the degrees 
of holiness which they had attained unto. 

3dly, Together with the dispensation of the outward 
means of spiritual growth or improvement, there are also 
supplies of grace continually afforded the saints from their 
head, Christ. He is the head of all the saints. And he is a 
living head, and so a living head, as that he tells us, that 
* because he liveth, we shall live also ;' John xiv 12. He 
communicates of spiritual life to all that are is. In him is 
the fountain of our life, which is therefore said to be ' hid 
with him in God ;' Col. iii. 3. And this life he gives unto 
his saints, by quickening of them by his Spirit ;' Kom. ix. 
II. And he continues it unto them, by the supplies of liv- 
ing grace which he communicates unto them. From these 
two, his quickening of us, and continually giving out sup- 
plies of life unto us, he is said to live in us. Gal. ii. 20. ' I 
live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' The spiritual life 
which I have is not mine own, not from myself was it educed, 
not by myself is it maintained, but it is merely and solely the 
work of Christ ; so that it is not I that live, but he lives 


in me, the whole of my life beinp; from him alone. Neither 
doth this living head communicate only a bare life unto be- 
lievers, that they should merely live and no more, a poor, 
weak, dying life, as it were, but he gives out sufficiently to 
afford them a strong, vigorous, thriving, flourishing lil'e ; John 
X. 10. He comes not only that his sheep may have life, but 
that * they may have it more abundantly ;' that is, in a plen- 
tiful manner, so as that they may flourish, be fat and fruitful. 
Thus is it with the whole body of Christ, and every member 
thereof. Ephes. iv. 13, 16. ' Whereby it grows up into him 
in all things, which is the head, even Christ ; from whom 
the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that 
which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual work- 
ing in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the 
body unto the edifying of itself in love.' The end of all 
communications of grace, and supplies of life from this liv- 
ing and blessed head, is the increase of the whole body, and 
every member of it, and the edifying of itself in love. His 
treasures of grace are unsearchable, his stores inexhausti- 
ble. His life, the fountain of ours, full and eternal ; his heart 
bounteous and large, his hand open and liberal; so that 
there is no doubt but that he communicates supplies of grace 
for their increase in holiness abundantly unto all his saints. 
Whence then is it that they do not all flourish and thrive 
accordingly ? As you may see it oftentimes in a natural 
body, so is it here. Though the seat and rise of the blood 
and spirits in head and heart be excellently good and sound, 
yet there may be a withering member in the body ; somewhat 
intercepts the influences of life unto it. So that though the 
heart and head do perform their office, in giving of supplies 
no less to that, than they do to any other member, yet all 
the effect produced, is merely to keep it from utter perish- 
ing ; it grows weak and decays every day. The withering 
and decaying of any member in Christ's mystical body, is 
not for the want of his communication of grace for an abun- 
dant life, but from the powerful interception that is made 
of the efficacy of it, by the interposition and opposition of 
indwelling sin. Hence it is that where lust grows strong, a 
great deal of grace will but keep the soul alive, and not give 
it any eminency in fruitfulness at all. Oftentimes Christ 
gives very much grace, where not many of its effects do ap- 

M 2 


pear. It spends its strength and power in withstanding 
the continual assaults of violent corruptions and lusts, so 
that it cannot put forth its proper virtue towards farther 
fruitfulness. As a virtuous medicine, that is fit both to check 
vicious and noxious humours, and to comfort, refresh, and 
strengthen nature ; if the evil humour be strong and greatly 
prevailing, spends its whole strength and virtue in the sub- 
duing and correcting of it, contributing much less to the re- 
lief of nature than otherwise it would do, if it met not with 
such oppositions; so is it with the eye-salve, and the heal- 
ing grace which we have abundantly from the wings of the 
Sun of righteousness. It is forced oftentimes to put forth 
its virtue to oppose and contend against, and in any measure 
subdue, prevailing lusts and corruptions : that the soul re- 
ceiveth not that strengthening unto duties and fruitfulness 
which otherwise it might receive by it, is from hence. How 
sound, healthy, and flourishing, how fruitful and exemplary 
in holiness, might many a soul be, by and with that grace 
which is continually communicated to it from Christ, which 
now, by reason of the power of indwelling sin, is only not 
dead, but weak, withering, and useless. And this, if any 
thing, is a notable evidence of the efficacy of indwelling sin, 
that it is able to give such a stop and check to the mighty 
and effectual power of grace, so that notwithstanding the 
blessed and continual supplies that we receive from our 
head, yet many believers do decline and decay, and that ha- 
bitually, as to what they had attained unto ; their last ways 
not answering their first. This makes the vineyard in the 
very fruitful hill to bring forth so many wild grapes. This 
makes so many trees barren in fertile fields. 

4thly, besides the continual supplies of grace that con- 
stantly, according to the tenure of the covenant, are com- 
municated unto believers, which keeps them that they 
thirst no more as to a total indigence, there is moreover a 
readiness in the Lord Christ to yield peculiar succour to the 
souls of his, according as their occasions shall require. 
The apostle tells us, that he is' a merciful High Priest,' and 
' able' (that is, ready prepared and willing) * to succour them 
that are tempted ;' Heb. ii. 18. And we are on that account 
invited to come ' with boldness to the throne of grace, that 
we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need ;' 


that is, grace sufficient, seasonable, suitable unto any espe- 
cial trial or temptation that we may be exercised withal. 
Our merciful High Priest is ready to give out this especial 
seasonable grace, over and above those constant communi- 
cations of supplies of the spirit, which we mentioned before. 
Besides the never-failing springs of ordinary covenant 
grace, he hath also peculiar refreshing showers for times of 
drought. And this is exceedingly to the advantage of the 
saints, for their preservation and growth in grace ; and there 
may very many more of the like nature be added. But 
now, I say, notwithstanding all these, and the residue 
of the like importance, such is the power and efficacy of 
indwelling sin, so great its deceitfulness and restlessness, 
so many its wiles and temptations, it often falls out that 
many of them for whose growth and improvement all this 
provision is made, do yet, as was shewed, go back and de- 
cline, even as to their course of walking with God. Samp- 
son's strength fully evidenced itself when he brake seven 
new withs, and seven new cords, wherewith he was bound, 
as burning tow and as thread. The noxious humour in the 
body which is so stubborn, as that no use of the most sove- 
reign remedies can prevail against it, ought to be regarded. 
Such is this indwelling sin if not watched over. It breaks 
all the cords made to bind it ; it blunts the instruments ap- 
pointed to root it up ; it resists all healing medicines, though 
never so sovereign, and is therefore assuredly of exceeding 
efficacy. Besides, believers have innumerable obligations 
upon them from the love, the command of God, to grow in 
grace, to press forward towards perfection, as they have 
abundant means provided for them so to do. Their doing 
so is a matter of the greatest advantage, profit, sweetness, 
contentment unto them in the world. It is the burden, the 
trouble of their souls, that they do not so do, that they are 
not more holy, more zealous, useful, fruitful ; they desire it 
above life itself; they know it is their duty to watch against 
this enemy, to fight against it, to pray against it, and so they 
do. They more desire his destruction than the enjoyment 
of all this world, and all that it can afford. And yet, not- 
withstanding all this, such is the subtlety, and fraud, and 
violence, and fury, and urgency, and importunity of this 
adversary, that it frequently prevails, to bring them into the 


woful condition mentioned. Hence it is with believers 
sometimes as it is with men in some places at sea. They 
have a good and fair gale of wind, it may be, all night long ; 
they ply their tackling, attend diligently their business, and 
it may be take great contentment to consider how they pro- 
ceed in their voyage. In the morning, or after a season, 
coming to measure what way they have made, and what 
progress they have had, they find that they are much back- 
ward of what they were, instead of getting one step for- 
ward ; falling into a swift tide or current against them, it 
hath frustrated all their labours, and rendered the wind in 
their sails almost useless ; somewhat thereby they have 
borne up against the stream, but have made no progress. 
So is it with believers ; they have a good gale of supplies of 
the Spirit from above, they attend duties diligently, pray 
constantly, hear attentively, and omit nothing that may 
carry them in their voyage towards eternity. But after 
awhile, coming seriously to consider by the examination of 
their hearts and ways, what progress they have made, they 
find that all their assistance and duties have not been able 
to bear them up against some strong tide or current of in- 
dwelling sin. It hath kept them indeed that they have not 
been driven and split on rocks and shelves ; it hath pre- 
served them from gross, scandalous sins ; but yet they have 
lost in their spiritual frame, or gone backwards, and are en- 
tangled under many woful decays ; which is a notable evi- 
dence of the life of sin, about which we are treating. Now 
because the end of our discovering this power of sin, is, 
that we may be careful to obviate and prevent it in its ope- 
ration, and because of all the effects that it produceth there 
is none more dangerous or pernicious than that we have last 
insisted on, namely, that it prevails upon many professors 
unto an habitual declension from their former ways and at- 
tainments, notwithstanding all the sweetness and excellency 
which their souls have found in them, I shall, as was said, 
in the next place consider by what ways and means, and 
through what assistance it usually prevails in this kind, that 
we may the better be instructed to watch against it. 



Decays in der/rccs of grace caused by indivelUng sin. The ways of its 
prevalency to this purpose. 

The ways and means whereby indwelling sin prevailelh on 
believers unto habitual declensions and decays as to degrees 
of grace and holiness, is that now which comes under con- 
sideration, and are many. 

1. Upon the first conversion and calling of sinners 
unto God and Christ, they have usually many fresh springs 
breaking forth in their souls, and refreshing showers coming 
upon them, which bear them up to a high rate of faith, 
love, holiness, fruitfulness, and obedience. As upon a land- 
flood when many lesser streams run into a river, it swells 
over its bounds, and rolls on with a more than ordinary ful- 
ness. Now if these springs be not kept open, if they pre- 
vail not for the continuance of these showers, they must 
needs decay and go backwards. We shall name one or two 
of them. 

(I.) They have a fresh vigorous sense of pardoning 
mercy. According as this is in the soul, so will its love and 
delight in God, so will its obedience, be. As, I say, is the 
sense of gospel-pardon, so will be the life of gospel-love. 
Luke vii. 47. * I say, unto thee,' saith our Saviour of the 
poor woman, * her sins, which were many, are forgiven ; for 
she loved much : but to whom little is forgiven, the same 
loveth little.' Her great love was an evidence of great for- 
giveness, and her great sense of it. For our Saviour is not 
rendering a reason of her forgiveness, as though it were for 
her love, but of her love, that it was because of her forgive- 
ness. Having in the foregoing parable, from ver. 38. and 
onwards, convinced the Pharisees with whom he had to do, 
that he to whom most was forgiven would love most, as 
ver. 43. he thence gives an account of the great love of 
the woman springing from the sense she had of the great 
forgiveness which she had so freely received. Thus sinners, 
at their first conversion, are very sensible of great forgive- 
ness. ' Of whom I am chief,' lies next their heart. This 
greatly subdues their hearts and spirits unto all in God, and 


quickens them unto all obedience ; even that such poor 
cursed sinners as they were, should so freely be delivered 
and pardoned. The love of God and of Christ in their for- 
giveness, highly conquers and constrains them to make it 
their business to live unto God. 

(2.) The fresh taste they have had of spiritual things, 
keeps up such a savour and relish of them in their souls, 
as that worldly contentments whereby men are drawn off 
from close walking with God, are rendered sapless and 
undesirable unto them. Having tasted of the wine of the 
gospel they desire no other, for they say, this is best. So 
was it with the apostles, upon that option offered them as to 
a departure from Christ, upon the apostacy of many false 
professors : ' Will ye go away also V John vi. 67. They 
answer by Peter, * Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the 
words of eternal life ;' ver. 68. They had such a fresh sa- 
vour and relish of the doctrine of the gospel, and the grace 
of Christ upon their souls, that they can entertain no 
thoughts of declining from it. As a man that hath been 
long kept in a dungeon, if brought forth on a sudden into 
the light of the sun, finds so much pleasure and content- 
ment in it, in the beauties of the old creation, that he thinks 
he can never be weary of it, nor shall ever be contented on 
any account to be under darkness again. So is it with souls 
when first translated into the marvellous light of Christ, to 
behold the beauties of the new creation. They see a new 
glory in him, that hath quite sullied the desirableness of all 
earthly diversions. And they see a new guilt and filth in 
sin, that gives them an utter abhorrency of its old delights 
and pleasures ; and so of other things. 

Now whilst these and the like springs are kept open in 
the souls of converted sinners, they constrain them to a vi- 
gorous active holiness. They can never do enough for God ; 
so that oftentimes their zeal as saints suffers them not to 
escape without some blots on their prudence as men, as might 
be instanced in many of the martyrs of old. 

This then is the first, at least one, way whereby indwelling 
sin prepares men for decays and declensions in grace and 
obedience. It endeavours to stop or taint these springs. 
And there are several ways whereby it brings this to pass. 

[1.] It works by sloth and negligence. It prevails in 


the soul to a neglect of stirring up continual thoughts of, or 
about, the things that so powerfully influence it unto strict 
and fruitful obedience. If care be not taken, if diligence and 
watchfulness be not used, and all means that are appointed 
of God, to keep a quick and living sense of them upon the 
soul, they will dry up and decay, and consequently, that obe- 
dience that should spring from them, will do so also. Isaac 
digged wells, but the Philistines stopped them, and his flocks 
had no benefit by them. Let the heart never so little disuse 
itself to gracious soul-affecting thoughts of the love of God, 
the cross of Christ, the greatness and excellency of gospel 
mercy, the beauties of holiness, they will quickly be as much 
estranged to a man as he can be to them. He that shuts his 
eyes for a season in the sun, when he opens them again can 
see nothing at all. And so much as a man loseth of faith to- 
wards these things, so much will they lose of power towards 
him. They can do little or nothing upon him, because of his 
unbelief, which formerly were so exceedingly effectual towards 
him. So was it with the spouse in the Canticles, chap. v. 2. 
Christ calls unto her, ver. 1. with a marvellous loving and gra- 
cious invitation unto communion with himself. She who had 
formerly been ravished at the first hearing of that joyful sound, 
"being now mider the power of sloth and carnal ease, returns 
a sorry excusing ansvv'er to his call, which ended in her own 
signal loss and sorrow. Indwelling sin, I say, prevailing by 
spiritual sloth upon the souls of men unto an inadvertency 
of the motions of God's Spirit in their former apprehensions 
of divine love, and a negligence of stirring up continual 
thoughts of faith about it, a decay grows insensibly upon the 
whole soul. Thus God oft complains that his people had 
forgotten him, that is, grew unmindfuKof his love and grace, 
which was the beginning of their apostacy. 

[2.] By unframing the soul, so that it shall have formal, 
weary, powerless thoughts of those things whicii should 
prevail with it unto diligence in thankful obedience. The 
apostle cautions us, that in dealing with God we should 
use reverence and godly fear, because of his purity, holiness, 
and majesty, Heb. xii. 28, 29. And this is that which the 
Lord himself spake in the destruction of Nadab and Abihu, 
• I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me ;' Levit. x. 3, 
He will be dealt withal in an awful, holy, reverend manner. 


So are we to deal with all the things of God, wherein, or 
whereby, we have cooimunion with him. The soul is to have 
a great reverence of God in them. When men begin to take 
them into slight or common thoughts, not using and im- 
proving them unto the utmost for the ends whereunto they 
are appointed, they lose all their beauty, and glory, and 
power towards them. When we have any thing to do wherein 
faith or love towards God is to be exercised, we must do it 
with all our hearts, with all our minds, strength, and souls, 
not slightly and perfunctorily, which God abhors ; he doth 
not only require that we bear his love and grace in remem- 
brance, but that, as much as in us lieth, we do it according 
to the worth and excellency of them. It was the sin of He- 
zekiah, that he * rendered not again according to the benefits 
done to him,' 2 Chron. xxxii. 25. So whilst we consider 
gospel truths, the uttermost endeavour of the soul ought to 
be, that we may be changed into the same image or likeness, 
2 Cor. iii. 18. that is, that they may have their full power 
and effect upon us. Otherwise James tells us what our ' be- 
holding the glory of the Lord in a glass,' there mentioned by 
the apostle, that is, reading or hearing the mind of God in 
Christ revealed in the gospel, comes unto, chap. i. 23,24. ' It 
is but like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 
for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway 
forgetteth what manner of man he was.' It makes no im- 
pression upon him, begets no idea nor image of his likeness 
in his imagination, because he doth it only slightly, and with 
a transient look. So is it with men that will indeed think 
of gospel truths, but in a slight manner, without endeavouring 
with all their hearts, minds, and strength, to have them in- 
grafted upon their souls, and all the effects of them produced 
in them. Now this is the way of sinners in their first en- 
gagements unto God. They never think of pardoning mercy, 
but they labour to affect their whole souls with it, and do 
stir up themselves unto suitable affections and returns of 
constant obedience. They think not of the excellency of 
Christ, and spiritual things, now newly discovered unto them 
in a saving light, but they press with all their might after a 
farther, a fuller enjoyment of them. This keeps them humble 
and holy, this makes them thankful and fruitful. But now, 
if the utmost diligence and carefulness be not used to improve 


and grow in this wisdom, to keep up this frame, indwelling 
sin, working by the vanity of the minds of men, will insen- 
sibly bring them to content themselves with slight and rare 
thoughts of these things, without a diligent sedulous endea- 
vour to give them their due improvement upon the soul. As 
men decay herein, so will they assuredly decay and decline 
in the power of holiness and close walking with God. The 
springs being stopped or tainted, the streams will not run so 
swiftly, at least not so sweetly, as formerly. Some by this 
means, under an uninterrupted profession, insensibly wither 
almost into nothing. They talk of religion and spiritual things 
as much as ever they did in their lives, and perform duties 
with as much constancy as ever they did, but yet they have 
poor, lean, starving souls, as to any real and effectual com- 
munion with God. By the power and subtlety of indwelling 
sin they have grown formal, and learned to deal about spi- 
ritual things in an overly manner, whereby they have lost 
all their life, vigour, savour, and efficacy towards them. Be 
always serious in spiritual things, if ever you intend to be 
bettered by them. 

[3.] Indwelling sin oftentimes prevails to the stopping 
of these springs of gospel obedience, by false and foolish 
opinions, corrupting the simplicity of the gospel. False 
opinions are the work of the flesh. From the vanity and 
darkness of the minds of men, with a mixture more or less of 
corrupt affections, do they mostly proceed. The apostle was 
jealous over his Corinthians in this matter; he was afraid 
lest their minds should * by any means be corrupted from the 
simplicity that is in Christ,' 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. which he knew 
would be attended by a decay and declension in faith, love, 
and obedience. And thus matters in this case often fall out. 
We have seen some, who after they have received a sweet 
taste of the love of God in Christ, of the excellency of par- 
doning mercy, and have walked humbly with God for many 
years in the faith and apprehension of the truth, have by the 
corruption of their minds from the simplicity that is in Christ, 
by false and foolish opinions, despised all their own expe- 
riences, and rejected all the efficacy of truth, as to the fur- 
therance of their obedience. Hence John cautions the elect 
lady and her children to take heed they were not seduced, 
'lest they should lose the thingi that they had wrought,' 


2 Epist. ver. 8. lest they should themselves cast away all 
their former obedience as lost, and a thing of no value. We 
have innumerable instances hereof in the days wherein we 
live. How many are there, who not many years since put an 
unspeakable value on the pardon of sin in the blood of Christ, 
who delighted in gospel discoveries of spiritual things, and 
walked in obedience to God on the account of them, who 
being beguiled and turned aside from the truth as it is in 
Jesus, do despise these springs of their own former obedience. 
And as this is done grossly and openly in some, so there 
are more secret and more plausible insinuations of corrupt 
opinions, tainting the springs and fountains of gospel obe- 
dience, and through the vanity of men's minds, which is a 
principal part of indwelling sin, getting ground upon them. 
Such are all those that tend to the extenuation of special 
grace in its freedom and efficacy, and the advancement of the 
wills or the endeavours of men in their spiritual power and 
ability : they are works of the flesh, and howsoever some 
may pretend a usefulness in them to the promotion of ho- 
liness, they will be found to taint the springs of true evan- 
gelical obedience, insensibly to turn the heart from God, and 
to bring the whole soul into a spiritual decay. 

And this is one way whereby indwelling sin produceth 
this pernicious effect, of drawing men off from the power, 
purity, and fruitfulness attending their first conversion and 
engagements unto God, bringing them into habitual declen- 
sion, at least as unto degrees, of their holiness and grace. 
There is not any thing we ought to be more watchful against, 
if we intend effectually to deal with this powerful and subtle 
enemy. It is no small part of the wisdom of faith, to observe 
whether gospel truths continue to have the same savour unto, 
and efficacy upon, the soul, as formerly they have had ; and 
whether an endeavour be maintained to improve them con- 
tinually as at the first. A commandment that is always 
practised is always new, as John speaks of that of love. And 
he that really improves gospel truths, though he hears them 
a thousand times, they will be always new and fresh unto 
him, because they put him on newness of practice. When 
to another that grows common under them, they are bur- 
densome and common unto him, and he even loaths the 
manna that he is so accustomed unto. 


2. Indwellincr sin doth this, by taking men off from 
their watch against the returns of Satan. When our Lord 
Christ comes first to take possession of any soul for him- 
self, he binds that strong man and spoils his goods ; he 
deprives him of all his power, dominion, and interest. Satan 
being thus dispossessed and frustrated in his hopes and ex- 
pectations, leaves the soul, as finding it newly mortified to 
his baits. So he left our Saviour upon his first fruitless 
attempts. But it is said, * He left him only for a season,' 
Luke iv. 13. He intended to return again, as he should see 
his advantage. So is it with believers also. Being cast out 
from his interest in them, he leaves them for a season, at 
least comparatively he doth so. Freed from his assaults and 
perplexing temptations, they proceed vigorously in the 
course of their obedience, and so flourish in the ways of 
God. But this holds not ; Satan returns again, and if the 
soul stands not continually upon his guard against him, he 
will quickly get such advantages, as shall put a notable in- 
terruption upon his fruitfulness and obedience. Hence 
some, after they have spent some time, it may be some years, 
in cheerful exemplary walking with God, have upon Satan's 
return, consumed all their latter days in wrestling with 
perplexing temptations, wherewith he hath entangled them. 
Others have plainly fallen under the power of his assaults. 
It is like a man, who having for awhile lived usefully 
amongst his neighbours, done good and communicated 
according to his ability, distributing to the poor, and 
helping all around about him, at length falling into the 
hands of vexatious, wrangling, oppressive men, he is forced 
to spend his whole time and revenue in defending himself 
against them at law, and so becomes useless in the place 
where he lives. So is it with many a believer ; after he 
hath walked in a fruitful course of obedience to the glory of 
God, and edification of the church of Christ, being afresh 
set upon by the return of Satan in one way or other, he hath 
enough to do all the remainder of his life to keep himself 
alive ; in the mean time, as to many graces, wofully decaying 
and going backward. Now this also, though Satan hath a 
hand in it, is from indwelling sin ; I mean, tlie success is so 
which Satan doth obtain in his undertaking. This encou- 
rageth him, maketh way for his return, and gives entrance 


to his temptations. You know how it is with them, out of 
whom he is cast only by gospel conviction ; after he hath 
wandered and waited awhile, he saith, he will return to his 
house from whence he was ejected. And what is the issue ? 
Carnal lusts have prevailed over the man's convictions, and 
made his soul fit to entertain returning devils. It is so as 
to the measure of prevalency, that Satan obtains against 
believers, upon advantages administered unto him, by 
sin's disposing the soul unto an obnoxiousness to his 

Now the way and means whereby indwelling sin doth 
give advantage to Satan for his return, are all those which 
dispose them toward a declension which shall afterward be 
mentioned. Satan is a diligent, watchful, and crafty adver- 
sary ; he will neglect no opportunity, no advantage that is 
is offered unto him. Wherein then soever our spiritual 
strength is impaired by sin, or which way soever our lusts 
press, Satan falls in with that weakness, and presseth to- 
wards that ruin. So that all the actings of the law of sin 
are subservient to this end of Satan. I shall therefore only 
at present mention one or two, that seem principally to in- 
vite Satan to attempt a return. 

(1.) It entangleth the soul in the things of the world, 
all which are so many purveyors for Satan. When Pharaoh 
had let the people go, he heard after awhile that they were 
entangled in the wilderness, and supposeth that he shall 
therefore now overtake them and destroy them. This stirs 
him up to pursue after them. Satan finding those whom he 
hath been cast out from, entangled in the things of the 
world, by which he is sure to find an easy access unto them, 
is encouraged to attempt upon them afresh ; as the spider 
to come down upon the strongest fly that is entangled in 
his web. For he comes by his temptations only to impel 
them unto that whereunto by their own lusts they are in- 
clined, by adding poison to their lusts, and painting to the 
objects of them. And oftentimes by this advantage he gets 
so in upon the souls of men, that they are never well free 
of him more whilst they live. And as men's diversions in- 
crease from the world, so do their entanglements from Satan. 
When they have more to do in the world than they can 
well manage, they shall have more to do from Satan than 


they can well withstand. When men are made spiritually 
faint, by dealing in and with the world, Satan sets on them 
as Amaiek did on the faint and weak of the people that 
came out of Egypt. 

(2.) It produceth this effect by making the soul neg- 
ligent, and taking it off from its watch. We have before 
shewed at large that it is one main part of the effectual de- 
ceitfulness of indwelling sin, to make the soul inadvertent, 
to turn it off from the diligent watchful attendance unto its 
duty, which is required. Now there is not any thing in 
reference whereunto diligence and watchfulness is more 
strictly enjoined, than the returning assaults of Satan, 
1 Pet. V. 8. 'Be sober, be vigilant;' and why so? 'be- 
cause of your adversary the devil.' Unless you are exceed- 
ing watchful, at one time or other he will surprise you. 
And all the injunctions of our blessed Saviour, to watch, 
are still with reference unto him and his temptations. Now 
when the soul is made careless and inadvertent, forgetting 
what an enemy it hath to deal withal, or is lifted up with 
tlie successes it hath newly obtained against him, then is 
Satan's time to attempt a re-entrance of his old habita- 
tion, which if he cannot obtain, yet he makes their lives 
uncomfortable to themselves, and unfruitful to others, in 
weakening their root, and withering their fruit through his 
poisonous temptations. He comes down upon our duties of 
obedience, as the fowls upon Abraham's sacrifice, that if we 
watch not, as he did, to drive them away (for by resistance 
he is overcome and put to flight), he will devour them. 

(3.) Indwelling sin takes advantage to put forth its 
efficacy and deceit, to withdraw men from their primitive 
zeal and holiness, from their first faith, love, and works, by 
the evil examples of professors amongst whom they live. 
When men first engage into the ways of God, they have a 
reverent esteem of those whom they believe to have been 
made partakers of that mercy before themselves ; these they 
love and honour, as it is their duty. But after awhile, they 
find many of them walking in many things unevenly, 
crookedly, and not unlike the men of the world. Here sin 
is not wanting to its advantage. Insensibly it prevails with 
men to a compliance with them. This way, this course of 
walking, doth well enough with others, why may it not do 


SO with US also ? Such is the inward thought of many, that 
works effectually in them. And so, through the craft of sin, 
the generation of professors corrupt one another. As a 
stream arising from a clear spring or a fountain, whilst it 
runs in its own peculiar channel, and keeps its water un- 
mixed, preserves its purity and cleanness, but when it falls 
in its course with other streams that are turbid and foul, 
though running the same way with it, it becom.es muddy 
and discoloured also. So is it in this case. Believers come 
forth from the spring of the new birth with some purity and 
cleanness, this for awhile they keep in the course of their 
private walking with God ; but now when they come some- 
times to fall into society with others, whose profession flows 
and runs the same way with theirs, even towards heaven, 
but yet are muddied and sullied with sin and the world, 
they are often corrupted with them, and by them, and so 
decline from their first purity, faith, and holiness. Now lest 
this may have been the case of any who shall read this dis- 
course, I shall add some few cautions that are necessary to 
preserve men from this infection. 

[1.] In the body of professors there is a great number 
of hypocrites. Though we cannot say of this or that man 
that he is so, yet that some there are is most certain. Our 
Saviour hath told us that it will be so to the end of the 
world. All that have oil in their lamps, have it not in their 
vessels. Let men take heed how they give themselves up 
unto a conformity to the professors they meet withal, lest 
instead of saints and the best of men, they sometimes pro- 
pose for their example hypocrites, which are the worst ; and 
when they think they are like unto them who bear the image 
of God, they conform themselves unto those who bear the 
image of Satan. 

[2.] You know not what may be the present temptation 
of those whose ways you observe. It maybe they are under 
some peculiar desertion from God, and so are withering 
for a season, until he send them some refreshing showers 
from above. It may be they are entangled with some spe- 
cial corruptions, which is their burden, that you know not 
of; and for any voluntarily to fall into such a frame, as 
others are cast into by the power of their temptations, or to 
think that will suffice in them, which they see to suffice in 



others whose distempers they know not, is folly and pre- 
sumption. He that knows such or such a person to be a 
living man, and of a healthy constitution, if he see him go 
crawling up and down about his affairs, feeble and weak, 
sometimes falling, sometimes standing, and making small 
progress in any thing, will he think it sufficient for himself 
to do so also ? will he notinquirewhether the person he sees, 
have not lately fallen into some distemper or sickness, that 
hath weakened him, and brought him into that condition? 
Assuredly he will so do. Take heed. Christians, many of the 
professors with whom ye do converse are sick, and wounded ; 
the wounds of some of them do stink, and are corrupt be- 
cause of their folly. If you have any spiritual health, do 
not think their weak and uneven walking will be accepted 
at your hands ; much less think it will be well for you to 
become sick and to be wounded also. 

[3.] Remember that of many of the best Christians, the 
worst only is known and seen. Many who keep up pre- 
cious communion with God, do yet oftentimes, by their na- 
tural tempers of freedom or passion, not carry so glorious 
appearances as others, who perhaps come short of them in 
grace and the power of godliness. In respect of their out- 
ward conversation it may seem they are scarcely saved, 
when in respect of their faith and love they may be eminent. 
They may, as the king's daughter, be all glorious within; 
though their clothes be not always of wrought gold. Take 
heed then that you be not infected with their worst, when 
ye are not able it may be to imitate them in their best ; but 
to return. 

(4.) Sin doth this work by cherishing some secret par- 
ticular lust in the heart. This the soul contends against 
faintly. It contends against it upon the account of since- 
rity, it cannot but do so ; but it doth not make thorough 
work, vigorously to mortify it by the strength and power of 
grace. Now where it is thus with a soul, an habitual de- 
clension as to holiness will assuredly ensue. David shews us 
how in his first days he kept his heart close unto God; Psal. 
xviii. 23. ' I was upright before him, and I kept myself from 
mine iniquity.' His great care was lest any one lust should 
prevail in him, or upon him, that might be Called his iniquity 
in a peculiar manner. The same course steered Paul also ; 



1 Cor. ix. 27. he was in danger to be lifted up by his spiritual 
revelations and enjoyments. This makes him keep his body 
in subjection, that no carnal reasonings or vain imagination 
mio-ht take place in him. But where indwelling sin hath 
provoked, irritated, and given strength unto a special lust, 
it proves assuredly a principal means of a general declension. 
For as an infirmity and weakness in any one vital part will 
make the whole body consumptive, so will the weakness in 
any one grace, which a perplexing lust brings with it, make 
the soul. It every way weakens spiritual strength. It 
weakens confidence in God in faith and prayer. The knees 
will be feeble, and the hands will hang down in dealing with 
God, where a galling and unmortified lust lies in the heart, 
it will take ' such hold upon the soul, that it shall not be 
able to look up ;' Psal. xl. 12. It darkens the mind by innu- 
merable foolish imaginations, which it stirs up to make pro- 
vision for itself. It galls the conscience with those spots 
and stains, which in and by its actings it brings upon the 
soul. It contends in the will for rule and dominion. An active 
stirring corruption would have the commanding power in the 
soul, and it is ever and anon ready to take the throne. It 
disturbs the thoughts, and sometimes will even frighten the 
soul from dealing with it by meditation, lest corrupt affec- 
tions being entangled by it, grace loses ground instead of 
prevailing. It breaks out oftentimes into scandalous sins, 
as it did in David and Hezekiah, and loads the sinner with 
sorrow and discouragement. By these and the like means, 
it becomes to the soul like a moth in a garment, to eat up 
and devour the strongest threads of it, so that though the 
whole hang loose together, it is easily torn to pieces. Though 
the soul with whom it is thus do for a season keep up a fair 
profession, yet his strength is secretly devoured ; and every 
temptation tears and rents his conscience at pleasure. It 
becomes with such men as it is with some who have for a 
many years been of a sound, strong, athletic constitution. 
Some secret, hectical distemper seizeth on them : for a season 
they take no notice of it ; or if they do, they think they shall 
do well enough with it, and easily shake it off when they 
have a little leisure to attend unto it ; but for the present 
they think as Samson with his locks cut, they will do as at 
other times. Sometimes it may be they complain that they 

OF lNDWELLl>rG SIX. 179 

are not well, they know not what aileth them, and it may 
be rise violently in an opposition to their distemper; but 
after a while struggling in vain, the vigour of their spirits 
and strength failing them, they are forced to yield to the 
power of a consumption. And now all they can do is little 
enough to keep them alive. It is so with men brought into 
spiritual decay by any secret perplexing corruption. It may 
be they have had a vigorous principle of obedience and holi- 
ness. Indwelling sin watching its opportunities, by some 
temptation or other, hath kindled and inflamed some par- 
ticular lust in them. For awhile it may be they take little 
notice of it. Sometimes they complain, but think they will 
do as in former times, until being insensibly weakened in 
their spiritual strength, they have work enough to do in keep- 
ing alive what remains and is ready to die ; Hos. v. 13. I 
shall not add any thing here as to the prevention and ob- 
viating this advantage of indwelling sin, having elsewhere 
treated of it peculiarly and apart. 

(5.) It works by negligence of private communion with 
God in prayer and meditation. I have shewed before how 
indwelling sin puts forth its deceitfulness in diverting the 
soul from watchfulness in and unto these duties. Here if 
it prevails, it will not fail to produce an habitual declension 
in the whole course of obedience. All neglect of private 
duties is principled by a weariness of God as he complaineth, 
Isa. xliii. 22. ' Thou hast not called upon me, thou hast been 
weary of me.' Neglect of invocation proceeds from weari- 
ness ; and where there is weariness, there will be withdraw- 
ing from that whereof we are weary. Now God alone being 
the fountain and spring of spiritual life, if there be a weari- 
ness of him, and withdrawing from him, it is impossible but 
that there will a decay in the life ensue. Indeed what men 
are in these duties, I mean as to faith and love in them, that 
they are and no more. Here lies the root of their obedience, 
and if this fail, all fruit will quickly fail. You may some- 
times see a tree flourishing with leaves and fruit goodly and 
pleasant. After awhile the leaves begin to decay, the fruit 
to wither, the whole to droop. Search, and you shall find 
the root, whereby it should draw in moisture and fatness 
from the earth to supply the body and branches with sap and 
juice for growth and fruit, hath received a wound, is some 

N 2 


way perished, and doth not perform its duty, so that though 
the branches are flourishing awhile with what they had re- 
ceived, their sustenance being intercepted they must decay. 
So it is here. These duties of private communion with God, 
are the means of receiving supplies of spiritual strength from 
him ; of sap and fatness from Christ the vine and olive. 
Whilst they do so, the conversation and course of obedience 
flourisheth and is fruitful, all outward duties are cheerfully 
and regularly performed. But if there be a wound, a de- 
fect, a failing, in that which should first take in the spiritual 
radical moisture, that should be communicated unto the 
whole, the rest may for a season maintain their station and 
appearance, but after awhile profession will wither, fruits 
will decay, and the whole be ready to die. Hence our Sa- 
viour lets us know. Matt. vi. 6. what a man is in secret, in 
these private duties, that he is in the eyes of God, and no 
more. And one reason amongst others is, because they have 
a more vigorous acting of unmixed grace than any other 
duties whatever. In all or most particular duties, besides 
the influence that they may have from carnal respects, which 
are many, and the ways of their insinuation subtle and im- 
perceptible, there is an alloy of gifts, which sometimes even 
devours the pure gold of grace, which should be the chief 
and principal in them. In these, there is immediate inter- 
course between God and that which is of himself in the 
soul. If once sin, by its deceits and treacheries, prevail to 
take off' the soul from diligent attendance unto communion 
with God, and constancy in these duties, it will not fail to 
effect a declining in the whole of a man's obedience. It hath 
made its entrance, and will assuredly make good its progress. 
(6.) Growing in notions of truth without answerable 
practice, is another thing that indwelling sin makes use of 
to bring the souls of believers unto a decay. The apostle 
tell us, that 'knowledge puff'eth up;' 1 Cor. viii. 1. If it be 
alone, not improved in practice, it swells men beyond a due 
proportion. Like a man that hath a dropsy, we are not to 
expect that he hath strength to his bigness. Like trees that 
are continually running up a head, which keeps them from 
bearing: fruit. When once men have attained to this, that 
they can entertain and receive evangelical truths in a new 
and more glorious light, or more clear discovery than for- 


merly, or new manifestations of truth which they knew not 
before, and please themselves in so doing, without diligent 
endeavours to have the power of those truths and notions 
upon their hearts, and their souls made conformable unto 
them, they generally learn so to dispose of all truths for- 
merly known, which were sometimes inlaid in their hearts 
with more efficacy and power. This hath proved, if not the 
ruin, yet the great impairing of many in these days of light 
wherein we live. By this means, from humble close walking, 
many have withered into an empty, barren, talking pro- 
fession. All things almost have in a short season become 
alike unto them : have they been true or false, so they 
might be debating of them, and disputing about them, all 
is well. This is food for sin ; it hatchelh, increaseth it, and 
is increased by it. A notable way it is for the vanity that 
is in the mind, to exert itself without a rebuke from con- 
science. Whilst men are talking, and writing, and studying 
about religion, and hearing preaching, it may be, with great 
delight, as those in Ezekiel, chap, xxxiii. 32. conscience, 
iniless thoroughly awake and circumspect, and furnished 
with spiritual wisdom and care, will be very well pacified, 
and enter no rebukes or pleas against the way that the soul 
is in. But yet all this may be nothing but the acting of 
that natural vanity which lies in the mind, and is a princi- 
pal part of the sin we treat of. And generally this is so, 
when men content themselves, as was said, with the notions 
of truth, without labouring after an experience of the power 
of them in their hearts, and the bringing forth the fruit of 
them in their lives, on which a decay must needs ensue. 

(7.) Growth in carnal wisdom is another help to sin 
in producing this sad effect. *Thy wisdom and thy know- 
ledge,' saith the prophet, ' hath perverted thee;' Isa. xlvii. 
10. So much as carnal wisdom increaseth, so much faith 
decays. The proper work of it is to teach a man to trust 
to and in himself, of faith to trust wholly in another. So 
it labours to destroy the whole work of faith, by causing 
the soul to return into a deceiving fulness of his own. We 
have woful examples of the prevalency of this principle of 
declension in the days wherein we live. How many a poor, 
humble, broken-hearted creature, who followed after God in 
simplicity and integrity of spirit, have we seen, through the 
observation of the ways and walkings of others, and closing 


with the temptations to craft and subtlety, which opportu- 
nities in the world have administered unto them, come to 
be dipped in a worldly carnal frame, and utterly to wither in 
their possession. Many are so sullied hereby, that they are 
not known to be the men they were. 

(8.) Some great sin lying long in the heart and con- 
science unrepented of, or not repented of as it ought, 
and as the matter requires, furthers indwelling sin in this 
work. The great turn of the life of David, whence his first 
ways carried the reputation, was in the harbouring his great 
sin in his conscience without suitable repentance. It was 
otherwise we know with Peter, and he had another issue. 
A great sin will certainly give a great turn to the life of a 
professor. If it be well cured in the blood of Christ, with 
that humiliation which the gospel requires, it often proves 
a means of more watchfulness, fruitfulness, humility, and 
contentation, than ever before the soul obtained. If it be 
neglected, it certainly hardens the heart, weakens spiritual 
strength, enfeebles the soul, discouraging it unto all com- 
munion with God, and is a notable principle of a general 
decay. So David complains, Psal. xxxiii. 5. ' My wounds 
stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.' His 
present distemper was not so much from his sin, as his 
folly, not so much from the wounds he had received, as 
from his neglect to make a timely application for their cure. 
It is like a broken bone, which, being well set, leaves the 
place stronger than before ; if otherwise, makes the man a 
cripple all his days. These things we do but briefly name, 
and sundry other advantages of the like nature that sin 
makes use of to produce this effect, might also be instanced 
in ; but these may suffice unto our present purpose. What- 
ever it useth, itself is still the principle; and this is no 
small demonstration of its efficacy and power. 


The strength of indwelling sin, manifested from its power and effects in 
persons unregenerate. 

It is of the power and efficacy of indwelling sin, as it re- 
mains in several degrees in believers, that we are treating. 


Now I have elsewhere shewed, that the nature and all the 
natural properties of it do still remain in them : though 
therefore we cannot prove directly what is the strength of 
sin in them, from what its power is in those in whom it is 
only checked and not at all weakened; yet may we, from an 
observation thereof, caution believers of the real power of 
that mortal enemy with whom they have to do. 

If the plague do violently rage in one city, destroying 
multitudes, and tiiere be in another an infection of the same 
kind, which yet arises not unto that height and fury there, 
by reason of the correction that it meets withal from a 
better air, and remedies used ; yet a man may demonstrate 
unto the inhabitants the force and danger of that infection 
got in among them, by the effects that it hath and doth 
produce among others, who have not the benefit of the 
preventives and preservatives which they enjoy; which will 
both teach them to value the means of their preservation, 
and be the more watchful against the power of the infec- 
tion that is among them. It is so in this case. Believers 
may be taught what is the power and efficacy of that plague 
of sin, which is in and among them, by the effects the 
same plague produceth in and among others, who have 
not those corrections of its poison, and those preserva- 
tives from death which the Lord Jesus Christ hath fur- 
nished them withal. 

Having then fixed on the demonstration of the power of 
sin, from the effects it doth produce, and having given a 
double instance hereof in believers themselves, I shall now 
farther evidence the same truth, or pursue the same evidence 
of it, by shewing somewhat of the power that it acteth in 
them who are unregenerate, and so have not the remedies 
against it which believers are furnished withal. 

I shall not handle the whole power of sin in unregene- 
rate persons, which is a very large field, and not the busi- 
ness I have in hand ; but only by some few instances of its 
effects in them, intimate, as I said, unto believers, what they 
have to deal withal, 

1. It appears in the violence it offers to the nature 
of man, compelling them unto sins, fully contrary to all 
the principles of the reasonable nature wherewith they 
are endued from God. Every creature of God hath in its 


creation, a law of operation implanted in it, which is the 
rule of all that proceedeth from it, of all that it doth of its 
own accord. So the fire ascends upwards, bodies that are 
weighty and heavy descend ; the water flows, each accord- 
ing to the principles of their nature, which give them the 
law of their operation. That which hinders them in their 
operation is force and violence, as that which hinders a 
stone from descending, or the fire from going upwards. 
That which forceth them to move contrary to the law of 
their nature, as a stone to go upwards, or the fire to de- 
scend, is in its kind the greatest violence, of which the 
degrees are endless. Now that which should take a great 
millstone, and fling it upwards into the air, all would 
acknowledge to be a matter of wonderful force, power, and 

Man also hath his law of operation and working con- 
created with him. And this may be considered two ways ; 
either, first, as it is common to him with other creatures ; 
or as peculiar, with reference unto that special end for 
which he was made. Some things are, I say, in this law of 
nature common to man with other creatures ; as to nourish 
their young, to live quietly with them of the same kind and 
race with them ; to seek and follow after that which is good 
for them in that state and condition wherein they are 
created. These are things which all brute living creatures 
have in the law of their nature, as man also hath. 

But now besides these things, man being created in an 
especial manner to give glory to God by rational and moral 
obedience, and so to obtain a reward in the enjoyment of 
him; there are many things in the law of his creation, 
that are peculiar to him ; as to love God above all, to 
seek the enjoyment of him as his chiefest good and last 
end, to inquire after his mind and will, and to yield obe- 
dience, and the like. All which are part of the law of his 

Now these things are not distinguished so, as though a man 
might perform the actions of the law of his nature which are 
common to him with other creatures, merely from the prin- 
ciples of his nature, as they do ; but the law of his depend- 
ance upon God, and doing all things in obedience unto him, 
passeth on them all also. He can never be considered as a 


mere creature, but as a creature made for the glory of God by 
rational moral obedience ; rational, because by him chosen, 
and performed with reason ; and moral, because regulated 
by a law whereunto reason doth attend. 

For instance ; it is common to man with other creatures, 
to take care for the noui'ishing of his children, of the young 
helpless ones that receive their being by him. There is im- 
planted in him, in the principles of his nature, concreated 
with them, a love and care for them ; so is it with other living- 
creatures. Now let other creatures answer this instinct and 
inclination, and be not hardened against them like the foolish 
ostrich, unto whom God hath not implanted this natural 
wisdom. Job xxxix. 16,17. they fully answer the law of their 
creation. With man it is not so ; it is not enough for him to 
answer the instinct and secret impulse and inclination of his 
nature and kind, as in the nourishing of his children ; but 
he must do it also in subjection to God, and obey him therein, 
and doing it unto his glory ; the law of moral obedience 
passing over all his whole being, and all his operations; but 
in these things lie, as it were, the whole of a man, namely, 
in the things which are implanted in his nature as a creature, 
common to him with all other living creatures, seconded by 
the command or will of God, as he is a creature capable of 
yielding moral obedience, and doing all things for his glory. 

That then which shall drive and compel a man to trans- 
gress this law of his nature, which is not only as to throw 
millstones upward, to drive beasts from taking care of their 
young, to take from cattle of the same kind the herding of 
themselves in quietness, but, moreover, to cast off what lies 
in him, his fundamental dependance on God, as a creature 
made to yield him obedience, must needs be esteemed of 
great force and efficacy. 

Now this is frequently done by indwelling sin in persons 
unregenerate. Let us take some few instances. 

(1.) There is nothing that is more deeply inlaid in the 
principles of the natures of all living creatures, and so of man 
himself, than a love unto, and a care for, the preservation 
and nourishing of their young ; many brute creatures will 
die for them; some feed them with their own flesh and blood ; 
all deprive themselves of that food which nature directs them 


to as their best, to impart it to them ; and acting in their 
behalf to the utmost of their power. 

Now such is the efficacy, power, and force of indwelling 
sin in man, an infection that the nature of other creatures 
knows nothing of, that in many it prevails to stop this 
fountain, to beat back the stream of natural affections, to 
root up the principles of the law of nature, and to drive them 
unto a neglect, a destruction, of the fruit of their own loins. 
Paul tells us of the old Gentiles, that they were aaropyot, 
Rom. i. 31. 'without natural affection ;' that which he aims 
at is that barbarous custom among the Romans, who ofttimes 
to spare the trouble in the education of their children, and 
to be at liberty to satisfy their lusts, destroyed their own 
children from the womb. So far did the strength of sin 
prevail to obliterate the law of nature, and to repel the force 
and power of it. 

Examples of this nature are common in all nations ; 
amongst ourselves, of women murdering their own children, 
through the deceitful reasoning of sin. And herein sin turns 
the strong current of nature, darkens all the light of God in 
the soul, controls all natural principles influenced with the 
power of the command and will of God. But yet this evil 
hath, through the efficacy of sin, received a fearful aggra- 
vation. Men have not only slain, but cruelly sacrificed, their 
children to satisfy their lusts. The apostle reckons idolatry, 
and so consequently all superstition, among the works of the 
flesh. Gal. v. 20. that is, the fruit and product of indwelling 
sin. Now from hence it is that men have offered that horrid 
and unspeakable violence to the law of nature mentioned. 
So the psalmist tells us, Psal, cvi. 37,38. The same is again 
mentioned, Ezek. xvi. 20, 21. and in sundry other places. The 
whole manner of that abomination I have elsewhere declared. 
For the present it may suffice to intimate, that they took 
their children and burnt them to ashes in a soft fire ; the 
wicked priests that assisted in the sacrifice affording them 
this relief, that they made a noise and clamour, that the vile 
wretches might not hear the woful moans and cries of the 
poor dying tormented infants. 1 suppose in this case we 
need no farther evidence. Naturalists can give no rational 
account, they can only admire the secret force of that little 


fish, which, they say, will stop a ship in full sail in the midst 
of the sea. And we must acknowledge that it is beyond our 
power to give an account of that secret force and unsearch- 
able deceit that is in that inbred traitor, sin, that cannot 
only stop the course of nature, when all the sails of it that 
carry it forward are so filled as they are in that of affections 
to children, but also drive it backward with such a violence 
and force, as to cause men so to deal with their own children, 
as a good man would not be hired with any reward to deal 
with his dog. And it may not be to the disadvantage of the 
best, to know and consider, that they carry that about them, 
and in them, which in others hath produced these effects. 

The like may be spoken of all other sins against the prime 
dictates of the law of nature, that mankind is or hath been 
stained and defamed withal. Murder of parents and children, 
of wives and husbands, sodomy, incest, and the like enor- 
mities ; in all which sin prevails in men against the whole 
law of their being and dependance upon God. 

What should I reckon up the murders of Cain and Abel, 
the treason of Judas, with their aggravations ; or remind the 
filth and villany of Nero, in whom sin seemed to design an 
instance of what it could debase the nature of man unto; in 
a word, all the studied, premeditated perjuries ; all the de- 
signed, bloody revenges; all the filth and uncleanness; all 
the enmity to God and his ways that is in the world, is fruit 
growing from this root alone. 

2. It evidences its efficacy in keeping men off from be- 
lieving under the dispensation of the gospel. This evidence 
must be a little farther cleared. 

(1.) Under the dispensation of the gospel, there are but 
few that do believe. So the preachers of it complain, Isa. 
liii. 1. ' Who hath believed our report V which the apostle in- 
terprets of the paucity of believers. John xii. 38. our Saviour 
Christ himself tells us that * many are called ;' the word is 
preached unto many, * but few are chosen,' And so the church 
complains of its number, Micah vi. 1. Few there be who enter 
the narrow gate; daily experience confirms this woful ob- 
servation. How many villages, parishes, yea, towns, may we 
go unto, where the gospel, it may be, hath been preached 
many years, and perhaps scarce meet a true believer in them, 
and one who shews forth the death of Christ in his conver- 


sation. In the best places, and most eminent for profession, 
are not such persons like the berries after the shaking of an 
olive-tree, two or three in the top of the upmost boughs, and 
four or five in the highest branches? 

(2.) There is proposed to men in the preaching of the 
gospel, as motives unto believing, every thing in conjunc- 
tion that severally prevail with men to do v^^hatever else 
they do in their lives. Whatever any one 4oth with consi- 
deration, he doth it either because it is reasonable and good 
for him so to do, or profitable and advantageous, or pleasant, 
or lastly, necessary for the avoidance of evil ; whatever, I 
say, men do with consideration, whether it be good or evil, 
whether it be in the works of this life or in things that lead to 
another, they do it from one or other of the reasons or mo- 
tives mentioned. And, God knows, ofttimes they are very 
poor and mean in their kind, that men are prevailed upon by. 
How often will men for a very little pleasure, a very little 
profit, be induced to do that which shall imbitter their 
lives, and damn their souls. And what industry will they 
use to avoid that which they apprehend evil or grievous to 
them. And any one of these is enough to oil the wheels 
of men's utmost endeavours, and set men at work to the 

But now all these things centre in the proposal of the 
gospel, and the command of believing ; and every one of 
them in a kind, that the whole world can propose nothing 
like unto it. 

[1.] It is the most reasonable thing that can be proposed 
to the understanding of a man, that he who through his own 
default hath lost that way of bringing glory to God and 
saving his own soul (for which ends he was made), that he 
was first placed in, should accept of and embrace that other 
blessed, easy, safe, excellent way for the attaining of the ends 
mentioned, which God in infinite grace, love, mercy, wisdom, 
and righteousness, hath found out, and doth propose unto 
him. And, 

[2.] It is the profitablest thing that a man can possibly 
be invited unto ; if there be any profit or benefit, any ad- 
vantage in the forgiveness of sins, in the love and favour of 
God, in a blessed immortality, in eternal glory. And, 

[3.] It is most pleasant also. Surely it is a pleasant 


thing to be brought out of darkness into light, out of a 
dungeon unto a throne, from captivity and slavery to Satan 
and cursed lusts, to the glorious liberty of the children of 
God, with a thousand heavenly sweetnesses not now to be 
mentioned. And, 

[4.] It is surely necessary, and that not only from the 
command of God, who hath the supreme authority over 
us, but also indispensably so for the avoidance of eternal 
ruin of body and soul. Matt. xvi. 16. It is constantly pro- 
posed under these terms, believe, or you perish under the 
weight of the wrath of the great God, and that for ever- 

But now, notwithstanding that all these considerations 
are preached unto men, and pressed upon them in the name 
of the great God, from day to day, from one year to another, 
yet, as was before observed, very few there are who set their 
hearts unto them, so as to embrace that which they lead 
unto. Tell men ten thousand times that this is wisdom, yea, 
riches ; that all their profit lies in it, that they will assuredly 
and eternally perish, and that it may be within a few hours, 
if they receive not the gospel, assure them that it is their 
only interest and concernment, let them know that God 
himself speaks all this unto them ; yet all is one, they re- 
gard it not, set not their hearts unto it, but, as it were, 
plainly say. We will have nothing to do with these things ; 
they will rather perish in their lusts than accept of mercy. 

(3.) It is indwelling sin that both disenableth men 
unto, and hinders them from, believing, and that alone. 
Blindness of mind, stubbornness of the will, sensuality of 
the affections, all concur to keep poor perishing souls at a 
distance from Christ. Men are made blind by sin, and can- 
not see his excellencies ; obstinate, and will not lay hold of 
his righteousness ; senseless, and take no notice of their own 
eternal concernments. 

Now certainly that which can prevail with men wise and 
sober, and prudent in other things, to neglect and despise 
the love of God, the blood of Christ, the eternal welfare of 
their own souls, upon weak and worthless pretences, must 
be acknowledged to have an astonishable force and efficacy 
accompanying it. 

Whose heart, who hath once heard of the ways of God, 


can but bleed to see poor souls eternally perishing under a 
thousand gracious invitations to accept of mercy and pardon 
in the blood of Christ? And can we but be astonished at 
the power of that principle from whence it is that they run 
headlong to their own destruction ? And yet all this befalls 
them from the power and deceit of sin that dwelleth in 

3. It is evident in their total apostacies. Many men 
not really converted, are much wrought upon by the word. 
The apostle tells us, that they do ' clean escape them that 
live in error ;' 2 Pet. ii. 18. They separate themselves from 
idolatry and false worship, owning and professing the truth ; 
and they also escape the pollutions of the world, ver. 20. 
that is, 'the corruption that is in the world through lust,' 
as he expresseth it, chap. i. 4. those filthy, corrupt, and 
unclean ways, which the men of the world, in the pursuit of 
their lusts, do walk and live in ; these they escape from in 
the amendment of their lives, and ordering of their conver- 
sation, according to the convictions which they have from 
the word. For so he tells us, that all this is brought about 
* through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ ;* that is, by the preaching of the gospel : they are so 
far wrought upon as to forsake all ways of false worship, to 
profess the truth, to reform their lives, and to walk answer- 
able to the convictions that are upon them. 

By this means do they gain the reputation of professors; 
' They have a name to live ;' Rev. iii. 1. and are made par- 
takers of some or all of those privileges of the gospel, that 
are numbered by the apostle, Heb. vi. 4, 5. 

It is not my present business to show how far, or wherein, 
a man may be effectually wrought upon by the word, and 
yet not be really wrought over to close with Christ ; or what 
may be the utmost bounds and limits of a common work of 
grace upon unregenerate men. It is on all hands confessed 
that it may be carried on so far, that it is very difficult to 
discern between its effects and productions, and those of 
that grace which is special and saving. 

But now, notwithstanding all this, we see many of these 
daily fall off from God, utterly and wickedly ; some into 
debauchery and uncleanness, some to worldliness and covet- 
ousness, some to be persecutors of the saints, all to the 


perdition of their own souls. How this comes about, the 
apostle declares in that place mentioned ; they are, saith he, 
entangled again ; to entice and entangle, as I have shewed 
before from James i. 14, 15. is the proper work of indwelling 
sin ; it is that alone which entangles the soul ; as the apostle 
speaks, ver. 18. They are allured from their whole profes- 
sion, into cursed apostacy, through the lusts of the flesh. 

It prevails upon them through its deceit and power to an 
utter relinquishment of their profession, and their whole en- 
gagement unto God. And this several ways evinces the 
greatness of its strength and efficacy. 

(1.) In that it giveth stop or control unto that exceed- 
ing greatness of power which is put forth in the word, in 
their conviction and reformation. We see it by experience, 
that men are not easily wrought upon by the word ; the most 
of men can live under the dispensation of it all the days of 
their lives, and continue as senseless and stupid as the seats 
they sit upon, or the flint in the rock of stone. Mighty 
difficulties and prejudices must be conquered, great strokes 
must be given to the conscience before this can be brought 
about. It is as the stopping of a river in his course, and 
turning his streams another way ; the hindering of a stone in 
his falling downwards, or the turning away of the wild ass, 
when furiously set to pursue his way, as the prophet speaks, 
Jer. ii. 24. To turn men from their corrupt ways, sins, and 
pleasures ; to make them pray, fast, hear, and do many 
things contrary to the principle of flesh, which is secretly 
predominant in them, willingly and gladly ; to cause them 
to profess Christ and the gospel, it may be under some trials 
and reproaches; to give them light to see into sundry mys- 
teries, and gifts for the discharge of sundry duties ; to make 
dead, blind, senseless men to walk, and talk, and do all the 
outward offices and duties of living and healthy men, with 
the like attendencies of conviction and reformation, are the 
effects and products of mighty power and strength. In- 
deed the power that the Holy Ghost puts forth by the word, 
in the staggering and conviction of sinners, in the wakening 
of their consciences, the enlightening of their minds, the 
changing of their affections, the awing of their hearts, the 
reforming of their lives, and compelling them to duties, is 


But now, unto all these is there check and control given 
by indwelling sin. It prevails against this whole work of 
the Spirit by the word, with all the advantages of providen- 
tial dispensations, in afflictions and mercies, wherewith it is 
attended. When sin is once enraged, all these things be- 
come but like the withs and cords wherewith Samson was 
bound before his head was shaven : cry but to it. The Phi- 
listines are upon thee, there is a subtle, a suitable tempta- 
tion, now shew thy strength and efficacy, all these things 
become like tow that have smelt the fire. Conscience is 
stifled, reputation in the church of God despised, light sup- 
planted, the impressions of the word cast off, convictions 
digested, heaven and hell are despised ; sin makes its way 
through all, and utterly turns the soul from the good and 
right ways of God. Sometimes it doth this subtilely, by im- 
perceptible degrees, taking off all force of former impres- 
sions from the Spirit by the word, sullying conscience by 
degrees, hardening the heart, and making sensual the affec- 
tions by various workings, that the poor backslider in heart 
scarce knows what he is doing, until he be come to the very 
bottom of all impiety, profaneness, and enmity against God. 
Sometimes falling in conjunction with some vigorous temp- 
tation, it suddenly, and at once, plunges the soul into a 
course of alienation from God, and the profession of his 

(2.) It takes them off from those hopes of heaven, 
which upon their convictions, obedience, and temporary 
faith or believing, they had attained. There is a general 
hope of heaven, or at least of the escaping of hell, of an un- 
troublesome immortality, in the most sottish and stupid 
souls in the world, who either by tradition or instruction 
from the word, are persuaded that there is another state of 
things to come after this life ; but it is in unconvinced, un- 
enlightened persons, a dull, senseless, unaffecting thing, that 
hath no other hold upon them, nor power in them, but only 
to keep them free from the trouble and perplexity of con- 
trary thoughts and apprehensions. The matter is other- 
wise with them who by the word are so wrought upon as we 
have before declared ; their hope of heaven and a blessed 
immortality is ofttimes accompanied with great joys and 
exultations, and is a relief unto them, under and against the 


worst of their fears and trials. It is such as they would not 
part withal for all the world ; and upon all occasions they 
retreat in their minds unto it, for comfort and relief. 

Now all this by the power of sin are they prevailed 
withal to forego. Let heaven go if it will, a blessed immor- 
tality with the enjoyment of God himself, sin must be served, 
and provision made to fulfil the lusts thereof. 

If a man, in the things of this world, had such a hope 
of a large inheritance, of a kingdom, as wherein he is satis- 
fied that it will not fail him, but that in the issue he shall 
surely enjoy it, and lead a happy and a glorious life in the 
possession of it many days ; if one should go to him and 
tell him,. It is true, the kingdom you look for is an ample 
and honourable dominion, full of all good things desirable, 
and you may attain it ; but come, cast away all hopes and 
expectations of it, and come join with me in the service and 
slavery of such or such an oppressing tyrant. You will 
easily grant, he must have some strange bewitching po\ver 
with him, that should prevail with a man in his wits to follow 
his advice. Yet thus it is, and much more so, in the case we 
have in hand. Sin itself cannot deny, but that the kingdom 
of heaven, which the soul is in hope and expectation of, is 
glorious and excellent, nor doth it go about to convince 
him that his thoughts of it are vain, and such as will de- 
ceive him, but plainly prevails with him to cast away his 
hopes, to despise his kingdom that he was in expectation 
of, and that upon no other motive but that he may 
serve some worldly, cruel, or filthy and sensual lust ; 
certainly here lies a secret efficacy, whose depths can 
not be fathomed. 

(3.) The apostle manifests the power of the entan- 
glements of sin in and upon apostates, in that it turns 
them off from * the way of righteousness after they have 
known it ;' 2 Pet. ii. 21. It will be found at the last day an 
evil thing and a bitter, that men live all their days in the 
service of sin, self, and the world, refusing to make any trial 
of the ways of God whereunto they are invited ; though 
they have no experience of their excellency, beauty, plea- 
santness, safety ; yet, having evidence brought unto them 
from God himself, that they are so, the refusal of them will, 
I say, be bitterness in the latter end. But their condition 



is yet far worse, who, as the apostle speaks, having known 
the way of righteousness, are by the power of indwelling sin, 
turned aside fiom the holy commandment. To leave God 
for the devil, after a man hath made some trial of him and 
his service ; heaven for hell, after a man hath had some 
cheering, refreshing thoughts of it ; the fellowship of the 
saints, for an ale-house or a brothel-house, after a man hath 
been admitted unto their communion, and tasted of the 
pleasantness of it ; to leave walking in pure, clear, straight 
paths, to wallow in mire, draughts and filth, this will be for 
a lamentation ; yet this doth sin prevail upon apostates 
unto ; and that against all their light, conviction, expe- 
riences, professions, engagements, or whatever may be 
strong upon them to keep them up to the known ways of 

(4.) It evinces its strength in them by prevailing 
with them unto a total renunciation of God as revealed in 
Christ, and the power of all gospel truth, in the sin against 
the Holy Ghost. I do not now precisely determine what 
is the sin against the Holy Ghost ; nor wherein it doth con- 
sist. There are different apprehensions of it ; all agree in 
this ; that by it an end is put to all dealings between God 
and man in a way of grace. It is a sin unto death. And 
this doth the hardness and blindness of many men's hearts 
bring them to ; they are by them at length set out of the 
reach of mercy. They choose to have no more to do with 
God; and God swears that they shall never enter into his 
rest. So sin brings forth death. A man by it is brought 
to renounce the end for which he was made ; wilfully to 
reject the means of his coming to the enjoyment of God, 
to provoke him to his face ; and so to perish in his rebellion. 

I have not mentioned these things, as though I hoped 
by them to set out to the full the power of indwelling sin 
in unregenerate men : only by a few instances I thought to 
give a glimpse of it. He that would have a fuller view of 
it, had need only to open his eyes, to take a little view of 
that wickedness which reigneth, yea, rageth all the world 
over. Let him consider the prevailing flood of the things 
mentioned by Paul to be ' the fruits of the flesh,' Gal. v. 
19 — 21. that is, among the sons of men, in all places, na- 
tions, cities, towns, parishes; and then let him add there- 


unto but this one consideration, that the world, which is 
full of the steam, filth, and blood of these abominations, as 
to their outward actings of them, is a pi asant garden, a 
paradise, compared to the heart of man, wherein they are 
all conceived, and hourly millions of more vile abomina- 
tions, which being stifled in the womb, by some of the ways 
before insisted on, they are never able to bring forth to 
light. Let a man, I say, using the law for his light and 
rule, take this course, and if he have any spiritual discern- 
ing, he may quickly attain satisfaction in this matter. 

And I shewed in the entrance of this discourse, how this 
consideration doth fully confirm the truth proposed. 


The strength of sin evidenced from its resistance mUo the power 
of the law. 

The measure of the strength of any person, or defenced 
city, may be well taken from the opposition that they are 
able to withstand, and not be prevailed against. If we hear 
of a city that has endured a long siege from a potent enemv, 
and yet is not taken or conquered, whose walls have en- 
dured great batteries, and are not demolished, though we 
have never seen the place, yet we conclude it strong, if not 

And this consideration will also evidence the power and 
strength of indwelling sin ; it is able to hold out, and not 
only to live, but also to secure its reign and dominion, 
against very strong opposition that is made unto it. 

I shall instance only in the opposition that is made unto 
it by the law, which is ofttimes great and terrible, always 
fruitless; all its assaults are borne by it, and it is not pre- 
vailed against. There are sundry things wherein the law 
opposeth itself to sin, and the power of it. As, 

(1.) It discovers it; sin in the soul is like a secret 
hectical distemper in the body ; its being unknown and 
unperceived, is one great means of its prevalency. Or as 
traitors in a civil state, whilst they lie hid, they vigorously 
carry on their design. The greatest part of men in the 
world, know nothing of this sickness, vea, death of their 

o 2 


souls. Though they have been taught somewhat of the 
doctrine of it, yet they know nothing of its power. They 
know it not so, as to deal with it as their mortal enemy. 
As a man, whatever he be told, cannot be said to know 
that he hath a hectical fever, if he love his life, and set 
not himself to stop its progress. This then the law doth, 
it discovers this enemy ; it convinceth the soul that there 
is such a traitor harbouring in his bosom, Rom. vii. 7. *I 
had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known 
lust, except the law had said. Thou shalt not covet.' I 
had not known it, that is, fully, clearly, distinctly. Con- 
science will somewhat tumultuate about it; but a man can- 
not know it clearly and distinctly ftam thence. It gives a 
man such a sight of it, as the blind man had in the gospel 
upon the first touch of his eyes, ' He saw men like trees 
walking,' obscurely, confusedly ; but when the law comes, 
that gives the soul a distinct sight of this indwelling sin. 
Again, ' I had not known it,' that is, the depths of it, the 
root, the habitual inclination of my nature to sin, which 
is here called lust; as it is by James, chap. i. 14. I had 
not known it or not known it to be sin, 'but by the law/ 
This then the law doth, it draws out this traitor from its 
secret lurking places, the intimate recesses of the soul. A 
man when the law comes is no more ignorant of his enemy ; 
if he will now perish by him, it is openly and knowingly; 
he cannot but say that the law warned him of him, disco- 
vered him unto him, yea, and raised a concourse about 
him in the soul of various affections, as an officer doth, 
that discovers a thief or robber, calling out for assistance 
to apprehend him. 

(2.) The law not only discovers sin, but discovers it 
to be a very bad inmate, dangerous, yea, pernicious to the 
soul; Rom. vii. 13. ' Was then that which is good,' that is, 
the law, 'made death unto me ? God forbid. But sin, that 
it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is 
good, that sin by the commandment might become exceed- 
ing sinful.' There are many things in this verse wherein we 
are not at present concerned ; that which I only aim at is, 
the manifestation of sin by the law, it appears to be sin ; and 
the manifestation of it in its own colours, it appears to be 
exceeding sinful. The law gives the soul to know the filth 


and guilt of this indwelling sin, how great they are, how vile it 
is; what an abomination, what an enmity to God, how hated of 
him, the soul shall never more look upon it as a small matter, 
what thoughts soever it had of it before, whereby it is greatly 
surprised. As a man that finds himself somewhat distemper- 
ed, sending for a physician of skill, when he comes, requires 
his judgment of his distemper. He considering his condition, 
tells him, Alas, 1 am sorry for you, the case is far otherwise 
with you than you imagine, your disease is mortal, and it 
hath proceeded so far pressing upon your spirits, and infect- 
ing the whole mass of your blood, that I doubt unless most 
effectual remedies be used, you will live but very few hours. 
So is it in this case; a man may have some trouble in his 
mind and conscience about indwelling sin ; he finds all not 
well, as it should be with him, more from the effects of sin, 
and its continual eruptions, than the nature of it, which he 
hopes to wrestle withal ; but now, when the law comes, that 
lets the soul know, tliat its disease is deadly and mortal, that 
it is exceeding sinful, as being the root and cause of all 
his alienation from God ; and thus also the law proceeds 
against it. 

(3.) The law judgeth the person, or lets the sinner 
plainly know what he is to expect upon the account of this 
sin. This is the law's proper work, its discovering property 
is but preparative to its judging. The law is itself, when it 
is in the throne. Here it minceth not the matter with sin- 
ners, as we use to do one with another, but tells him plainly, 
* Thou art the man,' in whom this exceeding sinful sin doth 
dwell, and you must answer for the guilt of it. And this, 
raethinks, if any thing, should rouse up a man to set himself 
in opposition to it, yea, utterly to destroy it. The law lets 
him know that upon the account of this sin, he is obnoxious 
to the curse and wrath of the great God against him; yea, 
pronounceth the sentence of everlasting condemnation upon 
him upon that account : abide in this state and perish, is its 
language. It leaves not the soul without this warning in 
this world, and will leave it without excuse on that account 
in the world to come. 

(4.) The law so follows on its sentence, that it dis- 
quiets and affrights the soul, and suffers it not to enjoy the 
least rest or quietness in harbouring its sinful inmate. When- 


ever the soul hath indulged to its commands, made provision 
for it, immediately the law flies upon it, with the wrath and 
terror of the Lord, makes it quake and tremble ; it shall 
have no rest, but is like a poor beast that hath a deadly ar- 
row sticking in its sides, that makes it restless wherever it 
is, and whatever it doth. 

(5.) The law stays not here, but also it slays the soul, 
Rom. vii. 3. that is, by its conviction of the nature, power, 
and desert of this indwelling sin, it deprives him in whom it 
is of all that life of self-righteousness and hope, which for- 
merly he sustained himself withal ; it leaves him as a poor, 
dead, helpless, hopeless creature. And all this in the pur- 
suit of that opposition that it makes against this sin. May 
we not now expect, that the power of it.will be quelled, and 
its strength broken ; that it will die away before these strokes 
of the law of God ? but the truth is, such is its power and 
strength, that it is quite otherwise ; like him whom the 
poets feign to be born of the earth, when one thought to slay 
him by casting him on the ground, by every fall he recovered 
new strength, and was more vigorous than formerly. So is 
it with all the falls and repulses that are given to indwelling 
sin by the law. For, 

[1.] It is not conquered. A conquest infers two thin os 
in respect of the conquered ; first, loss of dominion ; and 
secondly, loss of strength. Wherever any one is conquered, 
he is despoiled of both these. He loses both his authority 
and his power. So the strong man armed, being prevailed 
against, he is bound, and his goods are spoiled. But now 
neither of these befalls indwelling sin by the assaults of the 
law ; it loseth not one jot of its dominion nor strength by 
all the blows that are given unto it. The law cannot do this 
thing, Rom. viii. 3. it cannot deprive sin of its power and 
dominion, for he that ' is under the law is also under sin ;' 
that is, whatever power the law gets upon the conscience of 
a man, so that he fear to sin, lest the sentence and curse of 
it should befall him, yet sin still reigns and rules in his heart. 
Therefore, saith the apostle, Rom. vi. 14. ' Sin shall not 
have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but 
under grace ;' intimating plainly, that though a person be 
in never so much subjection to the authority of the law, yet 
that will not exempt and acquit him from the dominion of 


sin. Yea, the law by all its work upon the soul, instead of 
freeing and acquitting it from the reign of sin and bondage 
unto it, doth accidentally greatly increase its misery and 
bondage ; as the sentence of the judge on the bench against 
a malefactor adds to his misery. The soul is under the do- 
minion of sin, and it may be, abides in its woful condition 
in much security, fearing neiiher sin nor judgment. The law 
setting upon him in this condition by all the ways foremen- 
tioned, brings him into great trouble and perplexity, fear^ 
and terror, but delivers him not at all. So that it is with 
the soul, as it was vvith the Israelites when Moses had de- 
livered his message unto Pharaoh, they were so far from 
getting liberty by it, that their bondage was increased, and 
* they found that they were in a very evil case ;* Exod. v. 17. 
Yea, and we shall see, that sin doth like Pharaoh, finding; its 
rule disturbed, it grows more outrageously oppressive, and 
doubles the bondaoe of their souls. This is not then the work 
of the law to destroy sin, or deprive itof that dominion which 
it hath by nature. Nor doth it by all these strokes of the law 
lose any thing of its strength. It continues both its authority 
and its force ; it is neither destroyed, nor weakened. Yea, 

[2.] It is so far from being conquered, that it is only 
enraged. The whole work of the law, doth only pro- 
voke and enrage sin ; and cause it, as it hath opportunity, 
to put out its strength with more power, and vigour, and 
force than formerly. This the apostle shews at large, Rom. vii. 
9 — 13. But you will say, Do we not see it by experience, that 
many are wrought upon by the preaching of the law, to a 
relinquishment of many sins, and amendment of their lives, 
and to a great contending against the eruptions of those 
other corruptions which they cannot yet mortify ? and it 
cannot be denied, but that great is the power and efficacy of 
the law, when preached and applied to the conscience in a 
due manner. I answer, 

1st. It is acknowledged, that very great and effectual 
is the power of the law of God. Great are the effects that 
are wrought by it; and it shall surely accomplish every end 
for which of God it is appointed. But yet the subduing of 
sin, is none of its work ; it is not designed of God unto that 
purpose; and (hcrofore it is no dishonour, if it cannot do 
that which is not its proper work, Rom. viii. 3. 


2dly. Whatever effects it have upon some, yet we see 
that in the most, such is the power and prevalency of sin, 
that it takes no impression at all upon them. May you not 
see every where men living many years in congregations 
where the law is powerfully preached, and applied unto the 
consciences as to all the ends and purposes for which the 
Lord is pleased to make use of it, and not once be moved by 
it; that receive no more impression from the stroke of it, 
than blows with a straw would give to an adamant? They 
are neither convinced by it, nor terrified, nor awed, nor in- 
structed, but continue deaf, ignorant, senseless, secure, as if 
they had never been told of the guilt of sin, or terror of 
the Lord. Such as these are congregations full of, who pro- 
claim the tritimphing power of sin over the dispensation of 
the law. 

3dly. When any of the effects mentioned are wrought, 
it is not from the power of the letter of the law, but from 
the actual efficacy of the Spirit of God, putting forth his vir- 
tue and power for that end and purpose; and we deny not 
but that the Spirit of the Lord is able to restrain and quell 
the power of lust when he pleaseth ; and some ways where- 
by he is pleased so to do we have formerly considered. 

4thly. Notwithstanding all that may be observed of 
the power of the law upon the souls of men, yet it is most 
evident that lust is not conquered, not subdued, nor morti- 
fied by it. For, 

(1st.) Though the course of sin may be repelled for a sea- 
son by the dispensation of the law, yet the spring and foun- 
tain of it, is not dried up thereby. Though it withdraws 
and hides itself for a season, it is, as I have elsewhere shewed, 
but to shift out of a storm, and then to return again. As a 
traveller, in his way meeting with a violent storm of thunder 
and rain, immediately turns out of his way, to some house or 
tree for his shelter; but yet this causeth him not to give 
over his journey ; so soon as the storm is over, lie returns to 
his way and progress again. So it is with men in bondage 
unto sin : they are in a course of pursuing their lust; the 
law meets with them in a storm of thunder and lightning 
from heaven, terrifies and hinders them in their way ; this 
turns them for a season out of their course ; they will run 


to prayer or amendment of life, for some shelter from the 
storm of wrath which is feared coming upon their con- 
sciences. But is their course stopped? are their principles 
altered ? Not at all ; so soon as the storm is over, that they 
begin to wear out that sense and the terror that was upon 
them, they return to their former course, in the service of 
sin again. This was the state with Pharaoh once and again. 

(2dly.) In such seasons sin is not conquered but di- 
verted. When it seems to fall under the power of the law, 
indeed it is only turned into a new channel, it is not dried 
up. If you go and set a dam against the streams of a river, 
that you suffer no water to pass in the old course and chan- 
nel, but it breaks out another way, and turns all its streams 
in a new course, you will not say you have dried up that 
river ; though some that come and look into the old channel 
may think, perhaps, that the waters are utterly gone. So is it 
in this case ; the streams of sin, it may be, run in open sen- 
suality and profaneness, in drunkenness and viciousness ; 
the preaching of the law sets a dam against these courses ; 
conscience is terrified, and the man dares not walk in the 
ways wherein he hath been formerly engaged. His com- 
panions in sin not finding him in his old ways begin to 
laugh at him, as one that is converted and growing precise. 
Professors themselves begin to be persuaded that the work 
of God is upon his heart, because they see his old streams 
dried up ; but if there have been only a work of the law 
upon him, there is a dam put to his course, but the spring 
of sin is not dried up, only the streams of it are turned an- 
other way. It may be the man is fallen upon other more 
secret, or more spiritual sins; or, if he be beat from them 
also, the whole strength of lust and sin will take up its resi- 
dence in self-righteousness, and pour out thereby as filthy 
streams as in any other way whatever. So that notwith- 
standing the whole work of the law upon the souls of men, 
indwelling sin will keep alive in them still, which is another 
evidence of its great power and strength. 

I shall yet touch upon some other evidences of the same 
truth, that I have under consideration ; but I shall be brief 
in them. 

(3dly.) In the next place, then, the great endeavours of men 
ignorant of the righteousness of Christ for the subduing 


and mortifying of sin, which are all fruitless, do evidence 
the great strength and power of it. 

Men who have no strength against sin, may yet be made 
sensible of the strength of sin. The way whereby for the 
most part they come to that knowledge, is by some previous 
sense that they have of the guilt of sin. This men have by 
the light of their consciences ; they cannot avoid it. This 
is not a thing in their choice ; whether they will or no, they 
cannot but know sin to be evil, and that such an evil that 
renders them obnoxious to the judgment of God. This galls 
the minds and consciences of some so far as that they are 
kept in awe, and dare not sin as they would. Being awed 
with a sense of the guilt of sin, and the terror of the Lord, 
men begin to endeavour to abstain from sin, at least from 
such sins as they have been most terrified about. Whilst 
they have this design in hand, the strength and power of 
sin begins to discover itself unto them. They begin to find 
that there is something in them, that is not in their own 
power ; for notwithstanding their resolutions and purposes, 
they sin still ; and that so, or in such a manner, as that their 
consciences inform them that they must therefore perish 
eternally. This puts them on self-endeavours to suppress 
the eruption of sin, because they cannot be quiet unless so 
they do; nor have any rest or peace within. Now being 
ignorant of that only way whereby sin is to be mortified, 
that is, by the Spirit of Christ, they fix on many ways in 
their own strength to suppress it, if not to slay it ; as being 
ignorant of that only way whereby consciences burdened 
with the guilt of sin may be pacified, that is, by the blood of 
Christ; they endeavour by many other ways to accomplish 
that end in vain; for no man, by any self-endeavours, can ob- 
tain peace with God. 

Some of the ways whereby they endeavour to suppress 
the power of sin, which casts them into an unquiet condition, 
and their insufficiency for that end we must look into. 

(1.) They will promise and bind themselves by vows 
from those sins, which they have been most liable unto, and 
so have been most perplexed withal. The psalmist shews 
this to be one great engine whereby false and hypocritical 
persons do endeavour to extricate and deliver themselves 
out of trouble and perplexity. They make promises to God, 


which he calls flattering him with the lips, Psal. Ixxviii, 3G. 
So is it in this case; being freshly galled with the guilt of 
any sin, that by the power of their temptations, they, it may 
be, have frequently been overtaken in, they vow and pro- 
mise, that at least for some such space of time as they will 
limit, they will not commit that sin again ; and this course 
of proceeding is prescribed unto them by some who pretend 
to direct their consciences in this duty. Conscience of this 
now makes them watch over themselves as to the outward 
act of the sin that they are galled with ; and so it hath one 
of these two effects ; for either they do abstain from it for 
the time they have prefixed, or they do not : if they do not, 
as seldom they do, especially if it be a sin that hath a pecu- 
liar root in their nature and constitution, and is improved 
by custom into a habit, if any suitable temptation be pre- 
sented unto them ; their sin is increased, and therewith their 
terror, and they are wofully discouraged in making any op- 
position to sin ; and therefore, for the most part, after one or 
two vain attempts, or more it may be, knowing no other way 
to mortify sin, but this of vowing against it, and keeping of 
that vow in their own strength, they give over all contests, 
and become wholly the servants of sin, being bounded only 
by outward considerations, without any serious endeavours 
for a recovery. Or, secondly, suppose that they have suc- 
cess in their resolutions, and do abstain from actual sins 
their appointed season ; commonly one of these two things 
ensue ; either they think that they have well discharged 
their duty, and so may a little now, at least for a season, 
indulge to their corruptions and lusts, and so are entangled 
again in the same snares of sin as formerly ; or else they 
reckon that their vow and promise hath preserved them, and 
so sacrifice to tlieir own net and drag, setting up a righ- 
teousness of their own against the grace of God; which is so 
far from weakening indwelling sin, that it strengthens it in 
the root and principle, that it may hereafter reign in the 
soul in security. Or, at the most, the best success that can 
be imagined unto this way of dealing with sin, is but the 
restraining of some outward eruptions of it, which tends no- 
thing to the weakening of its power; and therefore such 
persons, by all their endeavours, are very far from being freed 
from the inward toiling, burning, distquieting, perplexing 


power of sin. And this is the state of most men that are 
kept in bondage under the power of conviction. Hell, 
death, and the wrath of God, are continually presented unto 
their consciences ; this makes them labour with all their 
strength against that in sin which most enrageth their con- 
sciences, and most increaseth their fears; that is, the actual 
eruption of it ; for, for the most part, while they are freed 
from that they are safe ; though in the mean time, sin lie 
tumultuating in, and defiling of, the heart continually. As 
with running sores, outward repelling medicines may skin 
them over, and hinder their corruption from coming forth ; 
but the issue of them is, that they cause them to fester in- 
wardly, and so prove, though it may be not so noisome 
and offensive as they were before, yet far more dangerous. 
So is it with this repelling of the power of corruption by 
men's vows, and promises against it ; external eruptions are 
it may be restrained for a season ; but the inward root and 
principle is not weakened in the least. And most com- 
monly this is the issue of this way ; that sin having gotten 
more strength, and being enraged by its restraint, breaks 
all its bounds, and captivates the soul unto all filthy abo- 
minations ; which is the principle, as was before observed, 
of most of the visible apostacies which we have in the 
world, 2 Pet. ii. 19, 20. 

The Holy Ghost compares sinners, because of the odious, 
fierce, poisonous nature of this indwelling sin, unto lions, 
bears, and asps, Isa. xi. 6 — 9. Now this is the excellency 
of gospel-grace, that it changes the nature and inward prin- 
ciples of these otherwise passionate and untamed beasts ; 
making the wolf as the kid, the lion as the lamb, and the 
bear as the cow. When this is effected, they may safely 
be trusted in ; 'a little child may lead them.' But these 
self-endeavours do not at all change the nature, but restrain 
their outward violence : he that takes a lion, or a wolf, and 
shuts him up from ravening, whilst yet his inward violence 
remains, may well expect that at one time or other they will 
break their bonds, and fall to their former ways of rapine 
and violence. However, shutting them up, doth not, as we 
see, change their natures, but only restrain their rage from 
doing open spoil. So it is in this case ; it is grace alone 
that changeth the heart, and takes away that poison and 


fierceness that is in tlieni by natvire; men's self-endeavours 
do but coerce them as to some outward eruptions. But, 

(2.) Beyond bare vows and promises, with some watch- 
fulness to observe them iu a rational use of ordinary means, 
men have put, and some do yet put themselves on extra- 
ordinary ways of mortifying- sin. This is the foundation 
of all that hath a shew of wisdom and religion in the pa- 
pacy ; their hours of prayer, fastings, their immuring and 
cloistering themselves, their pilgrimages, penances, and 
self-torturing discipline, spring all from this root. I shall 
not speak of the innumerable evils that have attended 
these self-invented ways of mortification, and how they all 
of them have been turned into means, occasions, and ad- 
vantages of sinning ; nor of the horrible hypocrisy which 
evidently cleaves unto the most of their observers ; nor of 
that superstition which gives life to them all, being a thing 
rivetted in the natures of some, and their constitutions; 
fixed on others by inveterate prejudices; and the same by 
others taken up for secular advantages ; but I will suppose 
the best that can be made of it, and it will be found to be 
a self-invented design of men ignorant of the righteousness 
of God, to give a check to this power of indwelling sin 
whereof we speak. And it is almost incredible, what fearful 
self-macerations, and horrible sufferings this design hath 
carried men out unto : and undoubtedly their blind zeal 
and superstition will rise in judgment, and condemn the 
horrible sloth and negligence of the most of them to whom 
the Lord hath granted the saving light of the gospel. But 
what is the end of these things ? The apostle in brief 
gives us an account, Rom. ix. 31,32. They attain not the 
righteousness aimed at; they come not up unto a con- 
formity to the law ; sin is not mortified ; no, nor the power 
of it weakened ; but what it loses in sensual, in carnal 
pleasures, it takes up with great advantage, in blindness, 
darkness, superstition, self-righteousness and soul-pride, 
contempt of the gospel and the righteousness of it, and 
reigns no less than in the most profligate sinners in the 

(3.) The strength, efficacy, and power of this law of 
sin, may be farther evidenced from its life and in-being in 
the soul, notwithstanding the wound that is given unto it. 


in the first conversion of the soul to God ; and in the con- 
tinual opposition that is made unto it by grace. But this is 
the subject and design of another endeavour. 

It may now be expected, that we should here add the 
especial uses of all this discovery that hath been made of 
the power, deceit, prevalency, and success, of this great 
adversary of our souls. But as for what concerns that 
humility, self-abasement, watchfulness, diligence, and ap- 
plication unto the Lord Christ for relief, which will become 
those who find in themselves by experience the power of 
this law of sin, have been occasionally mentioned and in- 
culcated through the whole preceding discourse; so for what 
concerns the actual mortification of it, I shall only recom- 
mend unto the reader for his direction, another small treatise 
written long since unto that purpose, which I suppose he 
may do well to consider together with this, if he find these 
things to be his concernment. 

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and ma- 
jesty, dominion, and power, both now and for 
ever. Amen. 


on, TUP 





To be spirituallii minded is life and peace. — Rom. viii. C. 
Set ymir affections on things above. — Col. iii. 3. 


I THINK it necessary to give the reader a brief ac- 
count of the nature and design of the plain ensuing 
discourse, which may both direct him in the reading, 
and be some kind of apology for myself in the pub- 
lishing of it. He may therefore know, that the 
thoughts here communicated, were originally private 
meditations for my own use, in a season wherein I 
was every way unable to do any thing for the edifi- 
cation of others, and far from expectation that ever 
I should be so able any more in this world. Receiv- 
ing, as I thought, some benefit and satisfaction in 
the exercise of my own meditations therein, when 
God was graciously pleased to restore a little strength 
unto me, I insisted on the same subject, in the in- 
struction of a private congregation ; and this I did, 
partly out of a sense of the advantage I had received 
myself by being conversant in them ; and partly from 
an apprehension that the duties directed and pressed 
unto, in the whole discourse, were seasonable from 
all sorts of present circumstances, to be declared and 
urged on the minds and consciences of professors. 
For leaving others unto the choice of their own 
methods and designs, I acknowledge that these are 
the two things whereby I regulate my work in the 
whole course of my ministry. To impart those truths, 
of whose power I hope I have had in some measure, 
a real experience, and to press those duties which 
present occasions, temptations, and other circum- 
YOL. xin. p 


Stances do render necessary to be attended unto in a 
peculiar manner, are the things which I would prin- 
cipally apply myself unto in the work of teaching 
others. For as in the work of the ministry, in general, 
the whole counsel of God concerning the salvation of 
the church by Jesus Christ is to be declared ; so, in 
particular, we are not to fight uncertainly as men 
beating the air, nor shoot our arrows at randora,with- 
out a certain scope and design. Knowledge of the 
flock whereof we are overseers, with a due consider- 
ation of their wants, their graces, their temptations, 
their light, their strength, and weakness are required 
herein. And when, in pursuance of that design, the 
preparation of the word to be dispensed, proceeds 
from zeal to the glory of God, and compassion unto 
the souls of men; when it is delivered with the de- 
monstration of a due reverence unto God, whose word 
it is, and of authority towards them unto whom 
it is dispensed, with a deep sense of that great ac- 
count which both they that preach, and they that 
hear the word preached, must shortly give, before 
the judgment-seat of Christ ; there may be a com- 
fortable expectation of a blessed issue of the whole 
work. But my present design is only to declare in 
particular, the reasons why I judged the preaching 
and publishing of this small and plain discourse con- 
cerning the Grace and Duty of being Spiritually 
Minded, not to be altogether unseasonable at this 
time, in the present circumstances of most Christians. 
Andthefirst thingwhichi would observe unto this end 
is, the present importunity of the world to impose 
itself on the minds of men ; and the various ways of 
insinuation whereby it possesseth and filleth them. 
If it attain hereunto, if it can fill the minds, the 
thoughts, and affections of men with itself, it will in 
some, fortify the soul against faith and obedience, 


and in others, weaken all grace, and endanger eter- 
nal ruin. 

For ' if we love the world the love of the Father is 
not in us ;' and when the world fills our thoughts, it 
will entangle our affections. And first, the pre- 
sent state of all public affairs in it, with an appre- 
hended concernment of private persons therein, con- 
tinually exerciseth the thoughts of many, and is al- 
most the only subject of their mutual converse. For 
the world is at present in a mighty hurry, and being 
in many places cast off from all foundations of stead- 
fastness, it makes the minds of men giddy with its 
revolutions, or disorderly in the expectations of them. 
Thoughts about these things are both allowable 
and unavoidable, if they take not the mind out of its 
own power, by their multiplicity, vehemency, and 
urgency, until it be unframed as unto spiritual things, 
retaining neither room nor time for their entertain- 

Hence men walk and talk, as if the world were 
all, when comparatively it is nothing. 

And when men come with their warmed affec- 
tions reeking with thoughts of these things unto the 
performance of, or attendance unto, any spiritual duty, 
it is very difficult for them, if not impossible, to stir 
up any grace unto a due and vigorous exercise. 
Unless this plausible advantage which the world 
hath obtained of insinuating itself and its occasions 
into the minds of men, so as to fill them and pos- 
sess them, be watched against and obviated, so far, 
at least, as that it may not transform the mind into 
its own image and likeness, this grace of being spi- 
ritually minded, which is life and peace, cannot be 
attained nor kept unto its due exercise. 

Nor can we be, any of us, delivered from this 
snare, at this season, without a watchful endeavour 



to keep and preserve our minds in the constant con- 
templation of things spiritual and heavenly, proceed- 
ing from the prevalent adherence of our affections 
unto them, as will appear in the ensuing discourse. 

Again, there are so great and pregnant evidences 
of the prevalency of an earthly worldly frame of spirit, 
in many who make profession of religion, that it is 
high time they were called unto a due consideration, 
how unanswerable they are therein, unto the power 
and spirituality of that religion which they do pro- 
fess. There is no way whereby such a frame may be 
evinced to prevail in many ; yea, in the generality of 
such professors, that is not manifest unto all. In their 
habits, attires, and vestments, in their usual converse 
and mispense of time, in their over liberal entertain- 
ment of themselves and others unto the borders of 
excess, and sundry other things of a like nature, 
there is in many such a conformity unto the world 
(a thing severely forbidden), that it is hard to make a 
distinction between them. And these things do ma- 
nifest such a predominancy of carnal affections in 
the minds of men, as whatever may be pretended unto 
the contrary, is inconsistent with spiritual peace. To 
call men off from this evil frame of heart and mind, 
to discover the sin and danger of it, to direct them 
unto the ways and means whereby it may be effected, 
to supply their thoughts and affections with better 
objects, to discover and press that exercise of them 
which is indispensably required of all believers, if 
they design life and peace, is some part of the work 
of the ensuing discourse. It may be it will be judged 
but a weak attempt as unto the attaining of that end. 
But it cannot be denied to have these two advantages; 
first, that it is seasonable ; and secondly, that it is sin- 
cerely intended. And if it have this only success, 
that it may occasion others who have more ability 


and opportunity than 1 have, to bring in their assist- 
ance for an opposition unto the vehement and impor- 
tunate insinuations of the world in these things, to 
have an entertainment in the minds of professors, this 
labour will not be lost. But things are come to that 
pass amongst us, that unless a more than ordinary vi- 
gorous exercise of the ministry of the word, with 
other means appointed unto the same end be engaged 
in, to recall professors unto that strict mortification, 
that sincerity of conversation, that separation from 
the ways of the world, that heavenly mindedness, 
that delight in the contemplation of spiritual things, 
which the gospel and the whole nat.ue of Chris- 
tian religion do require, we shall losetheglory of our 
profession, and leave it very uncertain what will be 
our eternal condition. The same may be spoken 
concerning love of the world, as unto the advantages 
and emoluments which men trust to attain unto them- 
selves thereby. This is that which renders men 
earthly minded, and most remote from having their 
conversations above. In the pursuit of this corrupt 
affection do many professors of religion grow wither- 
ing, useless, sapless, giving no evidence that the love 
of God abideth in them. On these and many other 
accounts, do many Christians evidence themselves 
to be strangers from spiritual mindedness, from a life 
of meditation and hoi y contemplation on things above; 
yet, unless we are found in these things in some good 
measure, no grace will thrive or flourish in us. No 
duty will be rightly performed by us, no condition 
sanctified or improved, nor are we prepared, in a due 
manner, or 'made meet for the inheritance of the 
saints in light.' Wherefore, as was said, to direct and 
provoke men unto that which is the only remedy of 
all these evils, which alone is the means of giving 


them a view into, and a foretaste of, eternal glory ; 
especially unto such who are in my own condition, 
namely, in a very near approach unto a departure 
out of this world, is the design and scope of the 
ensuing discourse ; which is recommended unto the 
grace of God for the benefit of the reader. 





' ]iiit lo be spintHally minded is life and peace.' — Rom. viii. 6. 


The words of the text explained, 

'^1 HE expression in our translation sounds differently from 
that in the original. 'To be spiritually minded/ say we. In 
the original it is ^p6v\]fia rov TrvevjuaTog ; as that in the for- 
mer part of the verse, is (l>povnfxa ti]q aapKog; which we 
render ' to be carnally minded.' In the margin we read, 'the 
minding of the flesh' and ' the minding of the Spirit.' And 
there is great variety in the rendering of the words in all 
translations both ancient and modern. ' Prudentia, sapien- 
tia, intelligentia, mens cogitatio, discretio, id quod Spi- 
ritus sapit;' 'the wisdom, the understanding, the mind, the 
thought or contrivance, the discretion of the Spirit, that 
which the Spirit savoureth,' are used to express it. All our 
English translations, from Tindal's, the first of them, have 
constantly used, ' to be spiritually minded.' Neither do I 
know any words whereby the emphasis of the original, con- 
sidering the design of the apostle in the place, can be better 
expressed. But the meaning of the Holy Ghost in them 
must be farther inquired into. 

In the whole verse there are two entire propositions, 
containing a double antithesis, the one in their subjects, 
the other in their predicates. And this opposition is the 
highest and greatest that is beneath eternal blessedness, 
and eternal ruin. 

The opposite subjects, are the ' minding of the flesh/ and 
the ' minding of the Spirit / or the being ' carnally minded,' 
and 'spiritually minded.' And these two do constitute two 


states of mankind, unto the one of which every individual 
person in the world doth belong. And it is of the highest 
concernment unto the souls of men, to know whether 
of them they appertain unto. As unto the qualities ex- 
pressed by the flesh and the Spirit, there may be a mixture 
of them in the same persons at the same time ; there is so 
in all that are regenerate. For in them ' the flesh lusteth 
against the Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, 
and these are contrary ;' Gal. v. 17. Thus different contrary 
actings in the same subject constitute not distinct states. 
But where either of them is predominant or hath a preva- 
lent rule in the soul, there it makes a different state. This 
distinction of states, the apostle expresseth, ver. 9. ' But 
ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.' Some are ' in the 
flesh, and cannot please God,' ver. 8. they ' are after the 
flesh,' ver. 5. they ' walk after the flesh,' ver. 1. they ' live 
after the flesh,' ver. 13. This is one state. Others 'are 
in the Spirit,' ver. 9. ' after the Spirit,' ver. 5. ' walk after 
Spirit,' ver. 1. This is the other state. The first sort are 
carnally minded, the other are spiritually minded. Unto 
one of these doth every living man belong, he is under the 
ruling conduct of the flesh or of the Spirit; there is no 
middle state ; though there are different degrees in each of 
these as to good and evil. 

The difference between these two states i^^ great, and 
the distance in a manner infinite, because an eternity in 
blessedness or misery doth depend upon it. And this at 
present is evidenced by the different fruits and effects of 
the principles and their operations which constitute these 
different states; which is expressed in the opposition that 
is between the predicates of the proposition ; for the mind- 
ing of the flesh is death; but the minding of the Spirit is 
life and peace. 

•To be cam lly minded is death.' Death, as it is ab- 
solutely penal, is either spiritual or eternal. The first of 
these it is formally, the other meritoriously. It is formally 
death spiritual ; * for they that are carnally minded, are dead 
in trespasses and sins ;' Eph. ii. 1. ' For those who fulfil 
the desires of the flesh and of the mind, are by nature 
children of wrath,' ver. 3. are penally under the power of 
spiritual death. 'They are dead in sins and the uncircum- 
cision of the flesh;' Col. ii. 13- And it is death eternal. 


meritoriously. 'For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die/ 
Rom. viii. 13. as ' the wages of sin is death;' chap. vi. 23. 

The reason why the apostle denounces so woful a doom, 
so dreadful a sentence on the carnal mind, he declares in 
the two next verses : * For the carnal mind is enmity against 
God; for it is not subject unto the law of God, nor indeed 
can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please 
God,' If it be thus with the carnal mind, it is no wonder 
that to be carnally minded is death ; it is not meet it should 
be any thing else. That which is enmity against God, is 
under the curse of God. 

In opposition hereunto it is affirmed, that ' to be spiritu- 
ally minded,' or the minding of the Spirit, * is life and peace.' 
And these are the things which we are particularly to in- 
quire into ; namely. What is this minding of the Spirit ; 
and then, How it is life and peace. 

1. The Spirit in this context is evidently used in a 
double sense, as is usual where both the Holy Spirit himself, 
and his work on the souls of men, are related unto. 1. The 
person of the Spirit of God himself, or the Holy Ghost 
is intended by it : ver. 9. ' If so be that the Spirit of God 
dwelleth in you.' And so also ver. 11. 'The Spirit of him 
that raised up Jesus from the dead.* He is spoken of as the 
principal efficient cause of all the spiritual mercies and be- 
nefits here and afterward insisted on. 2. It is used for 
the principle of spiritual life wrought in all that are rege- 
nerate by the Holy Ghost. ' For that which is born of the 
Spirit is spirit ;' John iii. 6. 

It is most probable that the name Spirit is here used in 
the latter sense, not for the Spirit himself, but for that which 
' is born of the Spirit,' the principle of spiritual life in thera 
that are born of God. For it is in its nature, actings, in- 
clinations, and operations, opposed unto the flesh, ver. 1. 
4, 5. But the flesh here intended is that inherent corrupt 
principle of depraved nature, whence all evil actions do pro- 
ceed, and wherewith the actions of all evil men are vitiated. 
The opposition between them is the same with that men- 
tioned and declared by the apostle. Gal. v. 17, 18, &c. 
Wherefore the Spirit in this place is the holy vital prin- 
ciple of new obedience wrought in the souls of believers by 
the Holy Ghost, enabling them to live unto God. 


I 2. Unto this Spirit there is <pp6vniJia ascribed, which, as 
i we have intimated, is translated with great variety. <Pp6vti(Tig, 
is the principal power and act of the mind. It is its light, 
• wisdom, prudence, knowledge, understanding, and discre- 
i tion. It is not so with respect unto speculation, or ratio- 
! cination merely; which is diavoia, or avvemg. But this 
I ^povrtrng is its power as it is practical, including the habi- 
■ tual frame and inclination of the affections also. It is its 
faculty to conceive of things with a delight in them and ad- 
herence unto them, from that suitableness which it finds in 
them unto all its affections. Hence we translate (^povuv 
sometimes ' to think,' that is, to conceive and judge, Rom. 
j xii. 3. Sometimes to ' set the affections,' Col. iii. 2. to have 
I such an apprehension of things as to cleave unto them with 
our affections. Sometimes ' to mind ;' ' to mind earthly 
things,' Phil. iii. 19. which includeth that relish and savour 
which the mind finds in the things it is fixed on. Nowhere 
doth it design a notional conception of things only ; but 
principally the engagement of the affections unto the things 
which the mind apprehends. 

^povrffia, the word here used, expresseth the actual exer- 
cise. Trig (ppovi]ai(i)g, of the power of the mind before described. 
Wherefore, the minding of the Spirit is the actual exercise 
of the mind as renewed by the Holy Ghost, as furnished with 
a principle of spiritual life and light in its conception of spi- 
ritual things, and the setting of its affections on them, as 
finding that relish and savour in them, wherewith it is pleased 
and satisfied. 

And something we must yet farther observe, to give light 
unto this description of the minding of the Spirit, as it is here 
spoken of. 

1. It is not spoken of absolutely as unto what it is in 
itself, but with respect unto its power and prevalency in us ; 
significantly rendered, 'to be spiritually minded ;' that is, to 
have the mind changed and renewed by a principle of spiritual 
life and light, so as to be continually acted and influenced 
thereby unto thoughts and meditations of spiritual things, 
from the affections cleaving unto them with delight and sa- 
tisfaction. So on the contrary it is, when men mind earthly 
things. From a principle of love unto them, arising from 
their suitableness unto their corrupt affections, their thoughts. 


meditations, and desires, are continually engaged about them. 

2. Three things may be distinguished in the great duty 
of being spiritually minded, under which notion it is here 
recommended unto us. 

1. The actual exercise of the mind in its thoughts, medi- 
tations, and desires, about things spiritual and heavenly. So 
is it expressed in the verse foregoing. ' They that are after 
the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh ;' they think on 
them, their contrivances are about them, and their desires 
after them. ' But they that are after the Spirit, the things of 
the Spirit.' They mind them by fixing their thoughts and 
meditations upon them. 

2. The inclination, disposition, and frame of the mind, 
in all its affections, whereby it adheres and cleaves unto spi- 
ritual things. This minding of the Spirit resides habitually 
in the affections. Wherefore, the <^p6vr\na of the Spirit, or 
the mind as renewed and acted by a spiritual principle of 
light and life, is the exercise of its thoughts, meditations, 
and desires on spiritual things, proceeding from the love and 
delight of its affections in them, and engagement unto them. 

3. A complacency of mind from that gust, relish, and 
savour which it finds in spiritual things, from their suitable- 
ness unto its constitution, inclinations, and desires. There 
is a salt in spiritual things, whereby they are condited and 
made savoury unto a renewed mind ; though to others they 
are as the white of an egg, that hath no taste or savour in it. 
In this gust and relish lies the sweetness and satisfaction of 
spiritual life. Speculative notions about spiritual things, 
when they are alone, are dry, sapless, and barren. In this 
gust we taste by experience that God is gracious, and that 
the love of Christ is better than wine, or whatever else hath 
the most grateful relish unto a sensual appetite. This is the 
proper foundation of that 'joy which is unspeakable and full 
of glory.* 

All these tilings do concur in the minding of the Spirit, 
or to constitute any person spiritually minded. And although 
the foundation of the whole duty included in it lies in the af- 
fections, and their immediate adherence unto spiritual things, 
whence the thoughts and meditations of the mind about them 
do proceed, yet I shall treat of the distinct parts of this duty 
in the order laid down, beginning with the exercise of our 


thoughts and meditations about them. For they being the 
first genuine actings of the mind, according unto the preva- 
lency of affections in it, they will make the best and most 
evident discovery of what nature the spring is from whence 
they do arise. And I shall not need to speak distinctly unto 
what is mentioned in the third place, concerning the com- 
placency of the mind in what its affections are fixed on, for 
it will fall in with sundry other things that are to be spoken 

But before we do proceed, it is not amiss, as I suppose, 
to put a remark upon those important truths, which are di- 
rectly contained in the words proposed as the foundation of 
the present discourse. As, 

1. To be spiritually minded is the great distinguishing 
character of true believers from all unregenerate persons. 
As such is it here asserted by the apostle. All those who are 
carnally minded, who are in the flesh, they are unregenerate, 
they are not born of God, they please him not, nor can do 
so, but must perish for ever. But those who are spiritually 
minded are born of God, do live unto him, and shall come 
to the enjoyment of him. Hereon depends the trial and de- 
termination of what state we do belong unto. 

2. Where any are spiritually minded, there, and there 
alone, is life and peace. What these are, wherein they do 
consist, what is their excellency and pre-eminence above all 
things in this world, how they are the effects and conse- 
quents of our being spiritually minded, shall be afterward 

There is neither of these considerations but is sufficient 
to demonstrate of how great concernment unto us it is to be 
spiritually minded, and diligently to inquire whether we are 
so or no. 

It will therefore be no small advantage unto us, to have 
our souls and consciences always affected with, and in due 
subjection unto, the power of this truth, namely, that 'to be 
spiritually minded is life and peace ;' whence it will follow, 
that whatever we may think otherwise, if we are not so, we 
have neither of them, neither life nor peace. It will, I say, 
be of use unto us, if we are affected with the power of it. 
For many greatly deceive themselves in hearing the word. 
They admit of sacred truths in their understanding, and 
assent unto them, but take not in the power of them on theit 


consciences, nor strictly judge of their state and condition 
by them, which proves their ruin. For hereby they seem to 
themselves to believe that, whereof in truth they believe not 
one syllable as they ought. They hear it, they understand 
it in the notion of it, they assent unto it, at least they do not 
contradict it, yea, they commend it oftentimes and approve 
of it. Butyet they believe it not. For if they did they would 
judge themselves by it, and reckon on it, that it will be with 
them at the last day according as things are determined 

Or such persons are, as the apostle James declares, 'like 
a man beholding his natural face in a glass ; for he beholdeth 
himself and goetli his way, and straightway forgetteth what 
manner of man he was ;' James i. 23, 24. There is a repre- 
sentation made of them, their state and condition, unto them 
in the word ; they behold it, and conclude that it is even so 
with them, as the word doth declare. But immediately their 
minds are filled with other thoughts, acted by other affections, 
taken up with other occasions, and they forget in a moment 
the representation made of themselves and their condition. 
Wherefore, all that I have to offer on this subject will be 
utterly lost, unless a firm persuasion hereof be fixed on our 
minds, unless we are under the power of it, that to be spirit- 
ually minded is life and peace; so that whatever our light 
and profession be, our knowledge or our duty, without this 
we have indeed no real interest in life and peace. 

These things being premised, I shall more practically 
open the nature of this duty, and what is required unto this 
frame of spirit. To be spiritually minded may be considered 
either as unto the nature and essence of it, or as unto its 
degrees ; for one may be so more than another, or the same 
person may be more so at one time than another. In the 
first way it is opposed unto being carnally minded ; in the 
other unto being earthly minded. 

'To be carnally minded is,' as the apostle speaks, 'death ;' 
it is so every way; and they who are so are dead in tres- 
passes and sins. This is opposed unto being spiritually 
minded as unto its nature or essence. Where a man, as 
unto the substance and being of the grace and duty intended, 
is not spiritually minded, he is carnally minded, that is, 
under the power of death spiritual, and obnoxious unto death 


eternal. This is the principal foundation we proceed upon^ 
whence we demonstrate the indispensable necessity of the 
frame of mind inquired after. 

There are two ways wherein men are earthly minded. 
The one is absolute, when the love of earthly things is wholly 
predominant in the mind. This is not formally and properly 
to be carnally minded, which is of a larger extent. The one 
denomination is from the root and principle, namely, the 
flesh ; the other from the object, or the things of the earth. 
The latter is a branch from the former, as its root. To be 
earthly minded, is an operation and effect of the carnal mind 
in one especial way and instance. And it is as exclusive of 
life and salvation as the carnal mind itself; Phil. iii. 19. 
1 Johnii. 16. This therefore is opposed unto the being of 
spiritual mindedness, no less than to be carnally minded is. 
When there is in any a love of earthly things that is predo- 
minant, whence a person may be rightly denominated to 
be earthly minded, he is not, nor can be, spiritually minded 
at all ; he hath no interest in the frame of heart and spirit 
intended thereby. And thus it is evidently with the greatest 
part of them who are called Christians in the world, let them 
pretend what they will to the contrary. 

Again ; there is a being earthly minded, which consists 
in an inordinate affection unto the things of this world. It 
is that which is sinful, which ought to be mortified ; yet it is 
not absolutely inconsistent with the substance and being of 
the grace inquired after. Some who are really and truly 
spiritually minded, yet may for a time, at least, be under 
such an inordinate affection unto, and care about, earthly 
things, that if not absolutely, yet comparatively, as unto 
what they ought to be and might be, they raay be justly said 
to be earthly minded. They are so in respect of those de- 
grees in being spiritually minded, which they ought to aim 
at and may attain unto. And where it is thus, this grace can 
never thrive or flourish, it can never advance unto any emi- 
nent degree. 

This is the Zoar of many professors ; that little one 
wherein they would be spared. Such an earthly mindedness 
as is wholly inconsistent with being spiritually minded, as 
unto the state and condition which depends thereon, they 
would avoid. For this they know would be absolutely ex- 


elusive of life and peace. They cannot but know that such 
a frame is as inconsistent with salvation as living in the 
vilest sin that any man can contract the guilt of. There 
are more ways of spiritual and eternal death than one, as 
well as of natural. All that die have not the plague ; and 
all that perish eternally are not guilty of the same profligate 
sins. The covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God 
no less severely than fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and 
thieves; 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. But there is a degree in being 
earthly minded, which they suppose their interest, advan- 
tages, relations, and occasions of life do call for, which they 
would be a little indulged in ; they may abide in such a 
frame without a disparagement of their profession. And the 
truth is, they have too many companions to fear an especial 
reflection on themselves. The multitude of the guilty take 
away the sense and shame of the guilt. But besides, they 
hope well that it is not inconsistent absolutely with being 
spiritually minded; only they cannot well deny but that it 
is contrary unto such degrees in that grace, such thriving in 
that duty, as is recommended unto them. They think well 
of others who are spiritually minded in an eminent degree. 
At least they do so as unto the thing itself in general ; for 
when they come unto particular instances of this or that 
man, for the most part, they esteem what is beyond their 
own measure to be little better than pretence. But in ge- 
neral, to be spiritually minded in an eminent degree, they 
cannot but esteem it a thing excellent and desirable. But it 
is for them who are more at leisure than they are : their cir- 
cumstances and occasions require them to satisfy themselves 
with an inferior measure. 

To obviate such pretences, 1 shall insist on nothing in 
the declaration of this duty and the necessity of it, but what 
is incumbent on all that believe, and without which they have 
no grounds to assure their conscience before God. And at 
present in general I shall say, whoever he be, who doth not 
sincerely aim at the highest degree of being spiritually 
minded, which the means he enjoyeth would lead him unto, 
and which the light he hath received doth call for; who 
judgeth it necessary unto his present advantages, occasions, 
and circumstances, to rest in such measures or degrees of it 
as he cannot but know that they come short of what he ought 


to aim at, and so doth not endeavour after completeness in 
the will of God herein, can have no satisfaction in his own 
mind ; hath no unfailing grounds whereon to believe that he 
hath any thing at all of the reality of this grace in him. Such 
a person possibly may have life which accompanies the. 
essence of this grace, but he cannot have peace which 
follows on its degree in a due improvement. And it is to 
be feared, that far the greatest number of them who satisfy 
themselves in this apprehension, willingly neglecting an en- 
deavour after the farther degrees of this grace and growth in 
this duty, which their light or convictions, and the means 
they enjoy do suggest unto them, are indeed carnally minded, 
and every way obnoxious unto death. 

CHAP. 11. 

A particular account of the nature of tins grace and duty of being spiritually 
minded. How it is stated in, and evidenced by, our thoughts. 

Having stated the general concernments of that frame of 
mind which is here recommended unto us, we may proceed 
to inquire more particularly into the nature of it, according 
unto the description before given, in distinct propositions. 
And we shall carry on both these intentions together ; first, 
to shew, what it is, and wherein it doth consist ; and then, 
how it doth evidence itself, so as that we may frame a right 
judgment whether it be in us or no. And we shall have no 
regard unto them, who either neglect or despise these things 
on any pretence whatever. For this is the word according 
unto which we shall all shortly be judged, * To be carnally 
minded is death ; but to be spiritually minded is life and 

Thoughts and meditations as proceeding from spiritual 
affections are the first things wherein this spiritual minded- 
ness doth consist, and whereby it doth evidence itself. Our 
thoughts are like the blossoms on a tree in the spring. You 
may see a tree in the spring all covered with blossoms 
that nothing else of it appears. Multitudes of them fall off 
and come to nothing. Ofttimes where there are most bios- 


soras there is least fruit. But yet there is no fruit, be it of 
what sort it will, good or bad, but it comes in and from some 
of those blossoms. Tiie mind of man is covered with thoughts, 
as a tree with blossoms. Most of them fall off, vanish, and 
come to nothing, end in vanity ; and sometimes where the 
mind doth most abound with them, there is the least fruit ; 
the sap of the mind is wasted and consumed in them. How- 
beit there is no fruit which actually we bring forth, be it 
good or bad, but it proceeds from some of these thoughts. 
Wherefore ordinarily these give the best and surest measure 
of the frame of men's minds. As a man ' thinketh in his heart, 
so is he ;' Prov. xxiii.7. In case of strong and violent temp- 
tations, the real frame of a man's heart is not to be judged 
by the multiplicity of thoughts about any object; for whether 
they are from Satan's suggestions, or from inward darkness, 
trouble, and horror, they will impose such a continual sense 
of themselves on the mind, as shall engage all its thoughts 
about them. As when a man is in a storm at sea, the current 
of his thoughts run quite another way, than when he is in 
safety about his occasions. But ordinarily voluntary thoughts 
are the best measure and indication of the frame of ouv minds. 
As the nature of the soil is judged by the grass which it 
brings forth, so may the disposition of the heart by the pre- 
dominancy of voluntary thoughts; they are the original act- 
ings of the soul, the way whereby the heart puts forth and 
empties the treasure that is in it; the waters that first rise 
and flow from that fountain. Every man's heart is his trea- 
sury, and the treasure that is in it is either good or evil, 
as our Saviour tells us. There is a good and bad treasure 
of the heart; but whatever a man hath, be it good or evil, 
there it is; this treasure is opening, emptying, and spend- 
ing itself continually, though it can never be exhausted ; 
for it hath a fountain in nature or grace, which no expense 
can diminish, yea, it increaseth and getteth strength by it. 
The more you spend of the treasure of your hearts in any 
kind, the more will you abound in treasure of the same kind. 
Whether it be good or evil, it grows by expense and exer- 
cise, and the principal way whereby it puts forth itself, is by 
the thoughts of the mind ; if the heart be evil, they are for 
the most part vain, filthy, corrupt, wicked, foolish ; if it be 
under the power of a principle of grace, and so have a good 



treasure in it, it puts forth itself by thoughts suitable unto 
its nature, and compliant with its inclinations. 

Wherefore, these thoughts give the best measure of the 
frame of our minds and hearts, I mean such as are voluntary, 
such as the mind of its own accord is apt for, inclines and 
ordinarily betakes itself unto. Men may have a multitude 
of thoughts about the affairs of their callings and the occa- 
sions of life, which yet may give no due measure of the in- 
ward frame of their hearts ; so men, whose calling and work 
it is to study the Scripture or the things revealed therein, 
and to preach them unto others, cannot but have many- 
thoughts about spiritual things ; and yet may be, and often- 
times are, most remote from being spiritually minded. They 
may be forced by their work and calling to think of them 
early and late, evening and morning; and yet their minds 
be no way rendered or proved spiritual thereby. It were well 
if all of us who are preachers would diligently examine our- 
selves herein. So is it with them who oblige themselves to 
read the Scriptures, it may be so many chapters every day ; 
notwithstanding the diligent performance of their task, they 
may be most remote from being spiritually minded. See 
Ezek xxxiii. 31. But there is a certain track and course of 
thoughts that men ordinarily betake themselves unto, when 
not affected with present occasions. If these be vain, foolish, 
proud, ambitious, sensual, or filthy, such is the mind and its 
frame ; if they be holy, spiritual, and heavenly, such may the 
frame of the mind be judged to be. But these things must 
be more fully explained. 

It is the great character and description of the frame of 
men's minds in an unregenerate condition, or before the re- 
novation of their natures, ' That every imagination of the 
thoughts of their hearts are only evil continually;' Gen. vi. 5. 
They are continually coining figments and imaginations in 
their hearts, stamping them into thoughts that are vain, 
foolish, and wicked. All other thoughts in them are occa- 
sional ; these are the natural, genuine product of their hearts. 
Hence the clearest and sometimes first discovery of the bot- 
tomless evil treasure of filth, folly, and wickedness, that is in 
the heart of man by nature, is from the innumerable multi- 
tude of evil imaginations, which are there coined and thrust 
forth every day. So the wicked are said to be ' like the 


troubled sea when it cannot vest, whose waters cast up mire 
and dirt;' Isa. Ivii. 20. There is a fulness of evil in their 
hearts, like that of vvater in the sea ; this fulness is troubled 
or put into continual motion by their lusts and impetuous 
desires. Hence the mire and dirt of evil thoughts are con- 
tinually cast up in them. 

It is therefore evident that the predominancy of voluntary 
thoughts is the best and most sure indication of the inward 
frame and state of the mind. For if it be so on the one side 
as unto the carnal mind, it is so on the other as unto the spi- 
ritual. Wherefore to be spiritually minded, in the first place, 
is to have the course and stream of those thoughts which 
we ordinarily retreat unto, which we approve of as suited 
unto our affections, to be about spiritual things. Therein 
consists the minding of the Spirit. 

But because all men, unless horribly profligate, have 
thoughts about spiritual things, yet we know that all men 
are not spiritually minded, we must consider, what is re- 
quired unto such thoughts, to render them a certain indica- 
tion of the state of our minds. And there are these three 
things required hereunto. 

1. That they be natural, arising from ourselves, and not 
from outward occasions. The psalmist mentions the inward 
thoughts of men, Psal. xlix. 11. Ixiv. 6. But whereas all 
thoughts are the inward acts of the mind, it should seem 
that this expression makes no distinction of the especial 
kind of thoughts intended from those of another sort. But 
the difference is not in the formal nature of them, but in the 
causes, springs, and occasions. Inward thoughts are such 
as arise merely and solely from men's inward principles, dis- 
positions, and inclinations, that are not suggested or excited 
by any outward objects. Such in wicked men are those 
actings of their lusts, whereby they entice and seduce them- 
selves, James i. 14. Their lusts stir up thoughts leading and 
encouraging them to make provision for the flesh. These 
are their inward thoughts. Of the same nature are those 
thoughts which are the minding of the Spirit. They are the 
first natural egress and genuine acting of the habitual dis- 
position of the mind and soul. 

Thus in covetous men there are two sorts of thought^, 
whereby their covetousness acts itself. First, such as are 

Q 2 



occasioned by outward objects and opportunities. So it was 
with Aclian, Josh. vii. 21. 'When/ saith he, ' I saw among 
the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred 
shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, then I coveted them.' 
His sight of them, with an opportunity of possessing himself 
of them, excited covetous thoughts and desires in him. So 
is it with others every day, whose occasions call them to 
converse with the objects of their lusts. And some by such 
objects may be surprised into thoughts that their minds are 
not habitually inclined unto. And therefore, when they are 
known, it is our duty to avoid them. But the same sort of 
persons have thoughts of this nature arising from themselves 
only, their own dispositions and inclinations, without any 
outward provocations. 'The vile person will speak villany, 
and his heart will work iniquity ;' Isa. xxxii. 6. And this he 
doth as the liberal deviseth liberal things, ver. 8. from his 
own disposition and inclination, he is contriving in his 
thoughts how to act according to them. So the unclean per- 
son hath two sorts of thoughts with respect unto the satis- 
faction of his lusts. First, such as are occasioned in his 
mind by the external objects of it. Hereunto stage plays, 
revellings, dancings, with the society of bold persons, per- 
sons of corrupt communication, do contribute their wicked 
service. For the avoidance of this snare. Job made a cove- 
nant with his eyes, chap. xxxi. 1. And our Saviour gives that 
holy declaration of the evil of it. Matt. v. 28. But he hath 
an habitual spring of these thoughts in himself, constantly 
inclining and disposing him thereunto. Hence the apostle 
Peter tells us that such persons ' have eyes full of an adul- 
teress, that cannot cease from sin ;' 2 Epist. ii. 14. Their own 
affections make them restless in their thoughts and contriv- 
ances about sin. So is it with them who are given to excess 
in wine or strong drink. They have pleasing thoughts raised 
in them from the object of their lust represented unto them. 
Hence Solomon gives that advice against the occasion of 
them, Prov. xxiii. 31. But it is their own habitual disposi- 
tion which carries them unto pleasing thoughts of the satis- 
faction of their lusts, which he describes, ver. 34, 35. So is 
it in other cases. The thoughts of this latter sort, are men's 
inward thoughts ; and such must these be of spiritual things, 
whence we maybe esteemed spiritually minded, 


Psal. xlv. 1. Saith the psalmist, 'My heart is inditing a 
good matter : I speak of the things which I have made 
touching the king.' He was meditating on spiritual things, 
on the things of the person and kingdom of Christ. Hence 
his heart' bubbled up' (as it is in the original) a good matter. 
It is an illusion taken from a quick spring of living waters : 
from its own life and fulness it bubbles up the water that 
runs and flows from it. So is it with these thoughts in thera 
that are spiritually minded. There is a living fulness of 
spiritual things in their minds and affections, that springeth 
up into holy thoughts about them. 

From hence doth our Saviour give us the great description 
of spiritual life. It is ' a well of living water springing up 
into everlasting life ;' John. iv.l2. The Spirit, with his graces 
residing in the heart of a believer, are a well of living water. 
Nor is it such a well as, content with its own fulness, doth 
not of its own accord, without any instrument or pains in 
drawing, send out its refreshing waters, as it is with most 
wells though of living water. For this is spoken by our 
Saviour in answer and opposition unto that objection of the 
woman, upon this mention of giving living water, ver. 10. 
' Sir,* saith she, ' thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well 
is deep, whence wilt thou have this water?' ver. 11. True, 
saith he, such is the nature of this well and water, dead 
earthly things. They are of no use unless we have instru- 
ments, lines, and buckets to draw withal. But the living 
water which I shall give is of another nature. It is not water 
to be kept in a pit or cistern without us, whence it must be 
drawn ; but it is within us, and that not dead and useless, 
but continually springing up unto the use and refreshment 
of them that have it. For so is it with the principle of the 
new creature, of the new nature, the Spirit and his graces in 
the hearts of them that do believe. It doth of itself and from 
itself, without any external influence on it, incline and dis- 
pose the whole soul unto spiritual actings that tend unto 
eternal life. Such are the thoughts of them that are spiritu- 
ally minded. They arise from the inward principle, inclina- 
tion, and disposition of the soul, are the bubblings of this 
well of living water; they are the mindings of the Spirit. 

So our Saviour describes them. Matt. xii. 35. 'A good 
man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth 


good things.' First, the man is good ; as he said before, 
make the tree good, or the fruit cannot be good, ver. 33. He 
is made so by grace in the change and renovation of his 
nature ; for in ourselves we are every way evil. This good 
man hath a treasure in his heart. So all men have \ as the 
next words are, ' the evil man out of the evil treasure of the 
heart.' And this is the great difference that is between men 
in this world. Every man hath a treasure in his heart ; that 
is, a prevailing inexhaustible principle of all his actings and 
operations. But in some this treasure is good, in others it is 
evil ; that is, the prevailing principle in the heart, which 
carries along with it its dispositions and inclinations, is in 
some good and gracious, in others it is evil. Out of this 
good treasure, a good man bringeth forth good things. The 
first opening of it, the first bringing of it forth, is by these 
thoughts. The thoughts that arise out of the heart are of 
the same nature with the treasure that is in it. If the thoughts 
that naturally arise and spring up in us, are for the most part 
vain, foolish, sensual, earthly, selfish, such is the treasure 
that is in our hearts, and such are we. But where the 
thoughts that thus naturally proceed from the treasure that 
is in the heart, are spiritual and holy, it is an argument that 
we are spiritually minded. 

Where it is not thus with our thoughts, they give no such 
evidence as that inquired after. Men may have thoughts of 
spiritual things, and that many of them, and that frequently, 
which do not arise from this principle, but may be resolved 
into two other causes. 1. Inward force ; 2. Outward occasions. 

1. Inward force, as it may be called. This is by con- 
victions. Convictions put a kind of a force upon the mind, 
or an impression that causeth it to act contrary unto its own 
habitual disposition and inclination. It is in the nature of 
water to descend. But apply an instrument unto it that 
shall make a compression of it and force it unto a vent, 
it will fly upwards vehemently, as if that were its natural 
motion. But so soon as the force of the impression ceaseth, 
it returns immediately unto its own proper tendency, de- 
scending towards its centre. So is it with men's thoughts 
ofttimes. They are earthly, their natural course and motion 
IS downwards unto the earth and the things thereof. But 
when any efficacious conviction presseth on the mind, it 


forceth the egress of its thoughts upwards towards heavenly 
things. It will think much and frequently of them ; as if 
that were their proper motion and course. But so soon as 
the power of conviction decays or wears off, that the mind 
is no more sensible of its force and impression, the thoughts 
of it return again unto their old course and track, as the 
water tends downwards. 

This state and frame is graphically described, Psal. Ixxviii. 
34—37. 'When he slew them, then they sought him; and 
they returned and inquired early after God. And they re- 
membered that God was their rock, and the high God their 
redeemer. Nevertheless they did but flatter him with their 
mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues ; for then- 
heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in 
his covenant.' Men in troubles, dangers, sickness, fears of 
death, or under effectual conviction of sin from the preaching 
of the word, will endeavour to think and meditate on spiritual 
things. Yea, they will be greatly troubled that they cannot 
think of them more than they do, and esteem it their 
folly that they think of any thing else. But as freedom 
and deliverance do approach, so these thoughts decay and 
disappear. The mind will not be compelled to give place 
unto them any more. The prophet gives the reason of it, 
Jer. xiii. 23. ' Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the 
leopard his spots ? then may ye also do good, that are ac- 
customed do to evil.' They have had another haunt, been 
taught another course, the habit and inclination of the mind 
lies another way, and they will no longer tend towards 
spiritual things, than an impression is on them from their 

And it is an argument of very mean attainments, of a low 
and weak degree in this frame of heart, or in our being spi- 
ritually minded, when our thoughts of spiritual things do 
rise or fall according unto renewed occasional convictions. 
If when we are under rebukes from God in our persons or 
relations, in fears of death and the like, and withal have 
some renewed convictions of sin, in commission or on)ission 
of duties, and thereon do endeavour to be more sjjiritually 
minded in the constant exercise of our thoughts on spiritual 
things, which we fail in ; and these thoughts decay as our 
convictions in the causes of them do wear oil" or are removed, 


we have attained a very low degree in this grace, if we have 
any interest in it at all. 

Water that ariseth and floweth from a living spring runneth 
equally and constantly, unless it be obstructed or diverted 
by some violent opposition ; but that which is from thunder- 
showers runs furiously for a season, but is quickly dried 
up. So are those spiritual thoughts which arise from a 
prevalent internal principle of grace in the heart ; they are 
even and constant, unless an interruption be put upon them 
for a season by temptations. But those which are excited 
by the thunder of convictions, however their streams may 
be filled for a season, they quickly dry up and utterly 

2. Such thoughts may arise in the minds of men not 
spiritually minded from outward means and occasions. Such 
I intend as are indeed useful, yea appointed of God for this 
end among others, that they may ingenerate and stir up 
holy thoughts and affections in us. But there is a difference 
in their use and operation. In some they excite the inward 
principle of the mind to act in holy thoughts according 
unto its own sanctified disposition and prevalent affections. 
This is their proper end and use. In others they occasion- 
ally suggest such thoughts unto the minds of men, which 
spring only from the notions of the things proposed unto 
them. With respect unto this end also, they are of singular 
use unto the souls of men, howbeit such thoughts do not 
prove men to be spiritually minded. Where you till and 
manure your land, if it brings forth plentiful crops of corn, 
it is an evidence that the soil itself is good and fertile ; the 
dressing of it only gives occasion and advantage to put 
forth its own fruit-bearing virtue. But if in the tilling of 
land, you lay much dung upon it, and it brings forth here 
and there a handful where the dung lay ; you will say, 
the soil is barren, it brings forth nothing of itself. These 
means that we shall treat of, are as the tilling of a fruitful 
soil, which help it in bringing forth its fruit, by exciting- 
its own virtue and power. They stir up holy affections 
unto holy thoughts and desires. But in others, whose 
hearts are barren, they only serve, as it were, some of them 
here and there, to stir up spiritual thoughts, which gives 
no evidence of a gracious heart or spirit. But because 


this is a matter of great importance, it shall be handled 
distinctly by itself". 


Outward means and occasions of thoughts of such spirit\ial things, which 
do not prove men to be spiritually minded. Preaching of the word. 
Exercise of gifts. Prayer. Hoiv ive may know whether our thoughts of 
spiritual things in prayer are truly spiritual thoughts, proving us to he 
spiritually minded. 

First, Such a means is the preaching of the word itself. It 
is observed concerning many in the gospel, that they heard 
it willingly, received it with joy, and did many things 
gladly, upon the preaching of it. And we see the same 
thing exemplified in multitudes every day. But none of 
these things can be without many thoughts in the minds 
of such persons, about the spiritual things of the word. 
For they are the effects of sucli thoughts, and being 
wrought in the minds of men, will produce more of the 
same nature. Yet were they all hypocrites, concerning 
whom these things are spoken, and were never spiritually 

The cause of this miscarriage is given us by our Saviour, 
Matt. xiii. 20, 21. ' He that receiveth the seed into stony 
places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon 
receiveth it with joy; yet hath he not root in himself, 
but dureth for a while.' The good thoughts they have, 
proceed not from any principle in themselves. Neither 
their affections nor their thoughts of these things, have any 
internal root whereon they should grow. So is it with 
many who live under the present dispensation of the gospel. 
They have thoughts of spiritual things continually suggested 
unto them ; and they do abide with them more or less 
according as they are affected. For I speak not of them 
who are either despisers of what they hear, or way-side 
hearers, who understand nothing of what they hear, and 
immediately lose all sense of it, all thoughts about it. But 
I speak of them who attend with some diligence, and receive 
the word with some joy. These insensibly grow in know- 


ledge and understanding, and therefore cannot be without 
some thoughts of spiritual things. Howbeit for the most 
part they are, as was said, but like unto waters that run 
after a shower of rain. They pour out themselves as if they 
proceeded from some strong living spring, whereas indeed 
they have none at all. When once the waters of the 
shower are spent, their channel is dry, there is nothing in 
it but stones and dirt. When the doctrine of the word 
falls on such persons as showers of rain, it gives a course, 
sometimes greater sometimes less, unto their thoughts 
towards spiritual things. But they have not a well of 
water in them springing up into everlasting life. Where- 
fore, after awhile their minds are dried up from such 
thoughts ; nothing remains in them but earth, and that 
perhaps foul and dirty. 

It must be observed, that the best of men, the most holy 
and spiritually minded, may have, nay ought to have, their 
thoughts of spiritual things excited, multiplied, and con- 
firmed, by the preaching of the word. It is one end of its 
dispensation, one principal use of it in them by whom it 
is received. And it hath this effect two ways. 1. As it 
is the spiritual food of the soul, whereby its principle of 
life and grace is maintained and strengthened. The more 
this is done, the more shall we thrive in being spiritually 
minded. 2. As it administereth occasion unto the exercise 
of grace. For proposing the proper object of faith, love, 
fear, trust, reverence unto the soul, it draws forth all those 
graces into exercise. Wherefore, although the vigorous 
actings of spiritual thoughts be occasional from the word, 
be more under and after the preaching of it, than at other 
times, it is no more but what ariseth from the nature and 
use of the ordinance, by God's own appointment, nor is it 
any evidence that those with whom it is so are not spiritually 
minded ; but on the contrary that they are. Yet where 
men have no other thoughts of this matter but what are 
occasioned by the outward dispensation of the word, such 
thoughts do not prove them to be spiritually minded. Their 
endeavours in them are like those of men in a dream. 
Under some oppression of their spirits, their imagination 
fixeth on some thing or other, that is most earnestly to be 
desired or avoided. Herein they seem to themselves to 


strive with all their might, to endeavour to go, run or con- 
tend, but all in vain ; every thing fails them, and they are 
not relieved until they are awaked. So such persons in 
impressions they receive from the word, seem to strive and 
contend in their thoughts and resolutions to comply with 
what is proposed unto them ; but their strength fails, they 
find no success for want of a principle of spiritual life, and 
after a time give over their endeavours until they are occa- 
sionally renewed again. Now the thoughts which in the 
dispensation of the word do proceed from an inward princi- 
ple of grace excited unto its due exercise, are distinguish- 
able from them which are only occasionally suggested unto 
the mind by the word outwardly preached. For, 1. They 
are especial actings of faith and love towards the things 
themselves that are preached. They belong unto our re- 
ceiving the truth in the love thereof. And love respects 
the goodness of the things themselves, and not merely the 
truth of the propositions wherein they are expressed. The 
other thoughts are only the sense of the mind as affected 
with light and truth, without any cordial love unto the 
things themselves. 2. They are accompanied with com- 
placency of soul arising from love, experience, more or less, 
of the power of them, and their suitableness unto the new 
nature or principle of grace in them. For when our minds 
find that so indeed it is in us, as it is in the word ; that 
this is that which we would be more conformable unto ; it 
gives a secret complacency with satisfaction unto the soul. 
The other thoughts which are only occasional, have none 
of these concomitants or effects, but are dry and barren, 
unless it be in a few words or transient discourse. 3. The 
former are means of spiritual growth. So some say the 
natural growth of vegetables is not by insensible motion, but 
by gusts and sensible eruptions of increase. These are both 
in spiritual growth, and the latter consists much in those 
thoughts which the principle of the new nature is excited 
unto by the word in the latter. 

2. The duty of prayer is another means of the like na- 
ture. One principal end of it is to excite, stir up, and draw 
forth the principle of grace, of faith and love in the heart, 
unto a due exercise in holy thoughts of God and spiritual 
things, with affections suitable unto them. Those who de- 


sign not this end in prayer, know not at all what it is to 
pray. Now all sorts of persons have frequent occasion to 
join with others in prayer, and many are under the convic- 
tion that it is their own duty to pray every day, it may be 
in their families and otherwise. And it is hard to conceive 
how men can constantly join with others in prayer, much 
more how they can pray themselves, but that they must 
have thoughts of spiritual things every day ; howbeit it is 
possible that they may have no root, or living spring of 
them in themselves, but they are only occasional impres- 
sions on their minds from the outward performance of 
the duty. I shall give some instances of the grounds here- 
of, which on many reasons require our diligent consi- 

Spiritual thoughts may be raised in a person in his own 
duty, by the exercise of his gifts, when there is no acting of 
grace in them at all. For they lead and guide the mind 
unto such things as are the matter of prayer ; that is, spi- 
ritual things. Gifts are nothing but a spiritual improvement 
of our natural faculties or abilities. And a man cannot 
speak or utter any thing but what proceeds from his ra- 
tional faculties by invention or memory, or both, managed 
in and by his thoughts, unless he speak by rote, and that 
which is not rational. What therefore proceeds from a man's 
rational faculty in and by the exercise of his gifts, that his 
thoughts must be exercised about. 

A man may read a long prayer that expresseth spiritual 
things, and yet never have one spiritual thought arise in his 
mind about them. For there is no exercise of any faculty 
of his mind required unto such reading, but only to attend 
unto the words that are to be read. This I say may be so, 
I do not say that it is always so, or that it must be so. But 
as was said in the exercise of gifts, it is impossible but 
there must be an exercise of reason, by invention, judg- 
ment, and memory; and consequently, thoughts of spiritual 
things. Yet may they all be merely occasional from the 
present external performance of the duty, without any 
living spring or exercise of grace. In such a course may 
men of tolerable gifts continue all their days, unto the satis- 
faction of themselves and others, deceiving both them and 
their own souls. 


This being evident from the Scripture and experience, 
an inquiry may be made thereon, as unto our own concern- 
ment in these things ; especially of those who have re- 
ceived spiritual gifts of their own, and of them also in some 
degree, who usually enjoy the gifts of others in this duty. 
For it may be asked, how we shall know whether the 
thoughts which we have of spiritual things in and upon 
prayer do arise from gifts only, those of our own or other 
men's, giving occasion unto them, or are influenced from 
a living principle and spring of grace in our hearts. A 
case this is (however by some it may be apprehended) of 
great importance, and which would require much time fully 
to resolve. For there is nothing whereby the refined sort 
of hypocrites do more deceive themselves and others, no- 
thing whereby some men do give themselves more counte- 
nance in an indulgence unto their lusts, than by this part 
of the form of godliness, when they deny the power there- 
of. And besides, it is that wherein the best of believers 
ought to keep a diligent watch over themselves, in every 
particular instance of the performance of this duty. With 
respect hereunto, in an especial manner, are they to watch 
unto prayer. If they are at any time negligent herein, they 
may rest in a bare exercise of gifts, when on a due examina- 
tion and trial, they have no evidence of the acting of grace 
in what they have done. I shall, therefore, with what brevity 
I can, give a resolution unto this inquiry. And to this end 

1. It is an ancient complaint, that spiritual things are 
filled with great obscurity and difficulty ; and it is true. 
Not that there is any such thing in themselves, for they all 
come forth from the Father of lights, and are full of light, 
order, beauty, and wisdom. And light and order are the 
only means whereby any thing makes a discovery of itself. 
But the ground of all darkness and difficulty in these 
things lies in ourselves. We can more clearly and steadily 
see and behold the moon and the stars, than we can the 
sun when it shines in its p;reatest lustre. It is not because 
there is more light in the moon and stars than in the sun, 
but because the light of the sun is greater than our visive 
faculty can directly bear and behold. So we can more 
clearly discover the truth and distinct nature of things, 


moral and natural, than we can of things that are heavenly 
and spiritual. See John iii. 14. Not that there is more 
substance or reality in them, but because the ability of our 
understanding is more suited unto the comprehension of 
them. The other are above us. We know but in part, and 
our minds are liable to be hindered and disordered in their 
apprehension of things heavenly and spiritual, by ignorance, 
temptations, and prejudices of all sorts. In nothing more 
are men subject unto mistakes than in the application of 
things unto themselves, and a judgment of their interest 
in them. Fear, self-love, with the prevalency of tempta- 
tions and corruptions, do all engage their powers to darken 
the light of the mind and to pervert its judgment. In no 
case doth the deceitfulness of the heart, or of sin, which is 
all one, more act itself. Hence multitudes say peace to 
themselves, to whom God doth not speak peace ; and some 
who are children of light do yet walk in darkness. Hence 
is that fervent prayer of the apostle for help in this case, 
Ephes. i. 16 — 19. There is also a great similitude between 
temporary faith, and that v/hich is saving and durable ; and 
between gifts and graces in their operations, which is that 
that is under present consideration. It is acknowledged, 
therefore, that without the especial light and conduct of the 
Spirit of God, no man can make such a judgment of his 
state and his actions, as shall be a stable foundation of 
giving glory to God, and of obtaining peace unto his own 
soul. And therefore the greatest part of mankind do con- 
stantly deceive themselves in these things. 

But ordinarily, under this blessed conduct in the search 
of ourselves and the concernments of our duty, we may 
come unto a satisfaction whether they are influenced by 
faith and have grace exercised in them, especially this duty 
of prayer, or whether it derive from the power of our na- 
tural faculties, raised by light and spiritual gifts only ; and 
so whether our spiritual thoughts therein do spring from a 
vital principle of grace, or whether they come from occa- 
sional impressions on the mind, by the performance of the 
duty itself. 

If men are willing to deceive themselves, or to hide them- 
selves from themselves, to walk with God at all peradven- 
tures, to leave all things at hazard, to put off all trials unto 


that at the last clay, and so never call themselves unto an 
account as unto the nature of their duties in any particular 
instance, it is no wonder, if they neither do nor can make 
any distinction in this matter as unto the true nature of 
their thoughts in spiritual duties. Two things are required 

1. That we impartially and severely examine and try the 
frames and actings of our minds in holy duties by the word 
of truth ; and thereon not be afraid to speak that plainly 
unto our souls which the word speaks unto us. This dili- 
gent search ought to respect our principles, aims, ends, 
actings, with the whole deportment of our souls in every 
duty. See 2 Cor. xiii. 5. If a man receiveth much money, 
and look only on the outward form and superscription, 
when he supposeth that he hath great store of current coin 
in gold and silver, he may have only heaps of lead or copper 
by him. But he that trades in it as the comfort and sup- 
port of his natural life and condition, he will try what he 
receives both by the balance and the touchstone, as the oc- 
casion requires, especially if it be in a time when much 
adulterated coin is passant in the world. And if a man 
reckons on his duties by tale and number, he may be ut- 
terly deceived ; and be spiritually poor and a bankrupt, 
when he esteems himself rich, increased in goods, and want- 
ing nothing. Some duties may appearingly hold in the 
balance as to weight, which will not hold it at the touch- 
stone as to worth. Both means are to be used if we would 
not be mistaken in our accounts. Thus God himself, in the 
midst of a multitude of duties, calls the people to try and 
examine themselves, whether or no they are such as have 
faith and grace in them, and so like to have acceptance with 
him. Isa. Iviii. 2 — 5. 

2. Add we must unto our own diligent inquiry fervent 
prayers unto God, that he would search and try us, as unto 
our sincerity, and discover unto us the true frame of our 
hearts. Hereof we have an express example, Psal. cxxxix. 
23, 24. ' Search me, O God, and know my heart : try me, 
and know my thoughts : and see if there be any wicked 
way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' This is 
the only way whereby we may have the Spirit of God 
witnessing unto our sincerity, with our own spirits. There 


is need of calling in divine assistance in this matter, both 
from the importance of it, and from its difficulty ; God 
alone knowing fully and perfectly, what is in the hearts 
of men. 

I no way doubt but that in the impartial use of these 
means, a man may come to assured satisfaction in his own 
mind, such as wherein he shall not be deceived, whether he 
doth animate and quicken his thoughts of spiritual things 
in duties with inward vital grace, or whether they are im- 
pressions on his mind, by the occasion of the duty. 

A duty this is of great importance and necessity, now 
hypocrisy hath made so great an inroad on profession, and 
gifts have deflowered grace in its principal operations. No 
persons are in greater danger of walking at hazard with 
God, than those who live in the exercise of spiritual gifts 
in duties, unto their own satisfaction and others. For they 
may countenance themselves with an appearance of every 
thing that should be in them in reality and power, when 
there is nothing of it in them. And so it hath fallen out. 
We have seen many earnest in the exercise of this gift, who 
have turned vile and debauched apostates. Some have 
been known to live in sin and an indulgence of their lusts, 
and yet to abide constant in their duties. Isa. i. 15. And 
we may hear prayers sometimes that openly discover them- 
selves unto spiritual sense, to be the labour of the brain, by 
the help of gifts in memory and invention, without an evi- 
dence of any mixture of humility, reverence, or godly fear ; 
without any acting of faith and love. They flow as wine, 
yet smell and taste of the unsavoury cask from whence they 
proceed. It is necessary therefore that we should put our- 
selves on the severest trial, lest we should be found not to 
be spiritually minded in spiritual duties. 

Gifts are gracious vouchsafements of Christ to make 
grace useful unto ourselves and others ; yea, they may 
make them useful unto the grace of others, who have no 
grace in themselves. But as unto our own souls they are 
of no other advantage or benefit but to stir up grace unto 
its proper exercise ; and to be a vehicle to carry it on, in its 
proper use. If we do not always regard this in their exer- 
cise, we had better be without them. If instead hereof, 
they once begin to impose themselves practically upon us. 


SO as that we rest in spiritual light acting our inventions, 
memories, and judgments, with a ready utterance, or such as 
it is, there is no form of prayer can be more prejudicial unto 
our souls. As wine, if taken moderately and seasonably, 
helps the stomach in digestion, and quickens the natural 
spirits, enabling the powers of nature unto their duty, is 
useful and helpful unto it, but if it be taken in excess, it 
doth not help nature, but oppress it, and takes on itself to 
do what nature should be assisted unto ;'it fills men's car- 
cases with diseases as well as their souls with sin. So whilst 
spiritual gifts are used and employed only to excite, aid, and 
assist grace in its operations, they are unutterably useful. 
But if they put themselves in the room thereof, to do all 
that grace should do ; they are hurtful and pernicious. We 
have need therefore to be very diligent in this inquiry, 
whether our spiritual thoughts, even in our prayers, be not 
rather occasioned from the duty, than spring from a gra- 
cious principle in our hearts, or are the actings of real 
saving grace. 

2. Where thoughts of spiritual things in prayer are oc- 
casional only in the way before described, such prayers will 
not be a means of spiritual growth unto the soul. They 
will not make the soul humble, holy, watchful, and diligent 
in universal obedience. Grace will not thrive under the 
greatest constancy in such duties. It is an astonishing 
thing to see how under frequency of prayer, and a seeming 
fervency therein, many of us are at a stand as to visible 
thriving in the fruits of grace ; and it is to be feared with- 
out any increase of strength in the root of it. * God's hand 
is not shortened that he cannot save, nor his ear deafened 
that he cannot hear.' He is the same as in the days of old, 
when our fathers cried unto him and were delivered, when 
they trusted in him and were not confounded, 'Jesus 
Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.* 
Prayer is the same that it was, and shall lose nothing of its 
prevalency whilst this world endureth. Whence is it then 
that there is so much prayer amongst us, and so little suc- 
cess ? 1 speak not with respect unto the outward dispensa- 
tions of divine providence in affl-ictions or persecutions, 
wherein God always acts in a way of sovereignty, and oft- 
times gives the most useful answer unto our prayers by 



denying our requests. I intend that only whereof the 
psalmist giveth us his experience, Psal. cxxxviii. 3. *In 
the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and strength- 
enedst me with strength in my soul.' Where prayers are 
effectual, they will bring in spiritual strength. But the 
prayers of many seem to be very spiritual, and to express 
all conceivable supplies of grace ; and they are persisted in 
with constancy. And God forbid we should judge them to 
be hypocritical and wholly insincere. Yet there is a defect 
somewhere, which should be inquired after. For they are 
not so answered, as that they who pray them, are strength- 
ened with strength in their souls. There is not that spiri- 
tual thriving, that growth in grace, which might be expected 
to accompany such supplications. 

I know that a man may pray often, pray sincerely and 
frequently, for an especial mercy, grace, or deliverance from 
a particular temptation, and yet no spiritual supply of 
strength unto his own experience come in thereby. So Paul 
prayed thrice for the removal of his temptation, and yet had 
the exercise of it continued. In such a case there may be 
no defect in prayer, and yet the grace in particular aimed at 
not be attained. For God hath other holy ends to accomplish 
hereby on the soul. But how persons should continue in 
prayer in general, according to the mind of God, so far 
as can be outwardly discovered, and yet thrive not at all, 
as unto spiritual strength in their souls, is hard to be 

And, which is yet more astonishable, men abide in the 
duty of prayer, and that in constancy, in their families and 
otherwise, and yet live in known sins. Whatever spiritual 
thoughts such men have in and by their prayers, they 
are not spiritually minded. Shall we now say that all such 
persons are gross hypocrites ; such as know they do but 
mock God and man ; know that they have not desires nor 
aims after the things which they mention in their own |)rayers ; 
but do these things either for some corrupt end, or at best 
to satisfy their convictions ? Could we thus resolve, the 
whole difficulty of the case were taken off. For such double 
minded men have no reason to think ' that they shall receive 
any thing of the Lord,' as James speaks, chap. i. 7. Indeed 
they do not. They never act faith with reference unto their 


own prayers. But it is not so with all of this sort. Some 
judge themselves sincere and in good earnest in their prayers, 
not without some; hopes and expectations of success. I will 
not say of all such persons, that they are among the number 
of them concerning whom the wisdom of God says, * Because 
I called unto them, and they refused ; they shall call on me, 
but I will not answer, they shall seek me early, and shall not 
find me;' Prov. i. 18 — 21. And although we may say unto 
such persons in general, Either leave your sinning, or leave 
your praying, from Psal. 1. 16, 17. and that witli respect 
unto present scandal, and certain miscarriage in the end, if 
both be continued in ; yet in particular I would not advise 
any such person to leave off his praying until he had left his 
sin. This were to advise a sick man to use no remedies 
until he were well cured. Who knows but that the Holy 
Spirit, who works when and how he pleaseth, may take a 
time to animate these lifeless prayers, and make them a 
means of deliverance from the power of this sin. In the 
mean time the fault and guilt is wholly their own, who have 
effected a consistency between a way in sinning and a course 
in praying. And it ariseth from hence, that they have never 
laboured to fill up their requests with grace. What there 
hath been of earnestness or diligence in them, hath been from 
a force put upon them by their convictions and fears. For 
no man was ever absolutely prevailed on by sin, who prayed 
for deliverance according to the mind of God. Every pray- 
ing man that perisheth was a hypocrite. The faithfulness of 
God in his promises will not allow us to judge otherwise. 
Wherefore, the thoughts that such persons have of spiritual 
things even in their duties, do not arise from within, nor 
are a natural emanation of, the frames of their hearts and 

3. Earnestness and appearing fervency in prayer, as unto 
the outward delivery of the words of it, yea, though the 
mind be so affected as to contribute much thereunto, will 
not of themselves prove, that the thoughts of men therein do 
arise from an internal spring of grace. There is a fervency 
of spirit in prayer, tliat is one of the best properties of it, 
being an earnest acting of love, faith, and desire. But there 
is a fervency wherewith the mind itself may be affected, that 
may arise from other causes. 

R 2 


1. It may do so from the engagement of natural aflfections 
unto the object of their prayer, or the things prayed for. 
Men may be mighty earnest and intent in their minds, in 
praying for a dear relation, or for deliverance from eminent 
troubles or imminent dangers ; and yet all this fervour arise 
from the vehement actings of natural affections about the 
things prayed for, excited in an especial manner by the pre- 
sent duty. Hence God calls the earnest cries of some for 
temporal things, not a ' crying unto him,' but * a howling,' 
Hos. vii. 14. that is, the cry of hungry ravenous beasts, that 
would be satisfied. 

2. Sometimes it ariseth from the sharpness of con- 
victions, which will make men even ' roar in their prayers 
for disquietment of heart.' And this may be where there is 
no true grace as yet received, nor, it may be, ever will be so. 
For the perplexing work of convictions goes before real con- 
version ; and as it produceth many other effects and changes 
in the mind, so it may do this of great fervency in vocal 
prayers, especially if it be accompanied with outward af- 
flictions, pains, or troubles; Psal. Ixxviii. 34,35. 

3. Ofttimes the mind and affections are very little con- 
cerned in that fervour and earnestness which appear in the 
outward performance of the duty. But in the exercise of 
gifts, and through their own utterance, men put their natural 
affections into such an agitation as shall carry them out into 
a great vehemency in their expressions. It hath been so 
with sundry persons, who have b6en discovered to be rotten 
hypocrites, and have afterward turned cursed apostates. 
Wherefore, all these things may be, where there is no gracious 
spring or vital principle acting itself from within in spiritual 

Some, it may be, will design an advantage by their con- 
ceptions unto the interest of profaneness and scoffing. For 
if there may be these evils under the exercise of the gift of 
prayer, both in constancy and with fervency ; if there may 
be a total want of the exercise of all true grace with it and 
under it ; then, it may be, all that is pretended of this gift 
and its use, is but hypocrisy and talk. But I say, 1. It 
may be as well pretended, that because the sun shining on 
a dunghill doth occasion offensive and noisome steams, 
therefore all at this pretended of its influence on spices an- 1 


flowers, causing them to give out their fragrancy, is utterly 
false. No man ever thought that spiritual gifts did change 
or renew the minds and natures of men : where they are 
alone, they only help and assist unto the useful exercise 
of natural faculties and powers. And therefore, where the 
heart is not savingly renewed, no gifts can stir up a saving 
exercise of faith. But where it is so, they are a means to 
cause the savour of it to flow forth. 2. Be it so that there 
may be some evils found under the exercise of the gift of 
prayer, what remedy for them may be proposed ? Is it that 
men should renounce their use of it, and betake themselves 
unto the reading of prayers only? 1. The same may be 
said of all spiritual g'ifts whatever, for they are all of them 
liable unto abuse. And shall we reject all the powers of the 
world to come, the whole complex of gospel gifts for the 
communication whereof the Lord Christ hath promised to 
continue his Spirit with his church unto the end of the 
world, because by some they are abused ? 2. Not only the 
same, but far greater evils may be found in and under the 
reading of prayers, which needs no farther demonstration 
than what it gives of itself every day. 3. It is hard to un- 
derstand, how any benefit at all can accrue unto any by this 
relief, when the advantages of the other way are evident. 

Wherefore the inquiry remains. How we may know unto 
our own satisfaction, that the thoughts we have of spiritual 
things in the duty of prayer, are from an internal fountain 
of grace, and so are an evidence that we are spiritually 
minded, whereunto all these things do tend. Some few 
things I shall oiFer towards satisfaction herein. 

1. I take it for granted, on the evidence before given, 
that persons who have any spiritual light, and will dili- 
gently examine and try their own hearts, will be able to 
discern what real actings of faith, of love, and delight in 
God, there are in their duties ; and consequently, what is 
the spring of their spiritual thoughts. In general we are 
assured, that' he that believeth, hath the witness in himself;' 
1 John V. 10. Sincere faith will be its own evidence. And 
where there are sincere actings of faith, they will evidence 
themselves, if we try all things impartially by the word. 
But if men do, as for the most part they do, content them- 
selves with the performance of any duty, without an ex- 


amination of their principles, frames, and actings of grace 
in them, it is no wonder if they walk in all uncertainty. 

2. When the soul finds a sweet spiritual complacency 
in and after its duties, it is an evidence that grace hath 
been acted in its spiritual thoughts and desires. Jer. xxxi. 
the prophet receiveth a long gracious message from God, 
filled up with excellent promises and pathetical exhortations 
unto the church. The whole is as it were summed up in 
the close of it, ver. 25. ' For I have satiated the weary 
soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.' Where- 
on the prophet adds, ' Upon this I awaked, and beheld, and 
my sleep was sweet unto me.' God's gracious message had 
so composed his spirits, and freed his mind from trouble, as 
that he was at quiet repose in himself, like a man asleep. 
But after the end of it, he stirs up himself unto a review and 
consideration of what had been spoken unto him : ' I awaked 
and beheld,' or I stirred up myself, and considered what 
had been delivered unto me ; and, saith he, * my sleep was 
sweet unto me ;' I found a gracious complacency in, and 
refreshment unto, my soul, from what I had heard and 
received. So is it ofttimes with a soul that hath had 
real communion with God in the duty of prayer. It finds 
itself both in it, and afterward when it is awakened unto 
the consideration of it, spiritually refreshed, it is sweet 
unto him. 

This holy complacency, this rest and sweet repose of 
mind, is the foundation of the delight of believers in this 
duty. They do not pray only because it is their duty so to 
do, nor yet because they stand in need of it, so as that they 
cannot live without it, but they have delight in it ; and to 
keep them from it, is all one as to keep them from their 
daily food and refreshment. Now we can have no delight 
in any thing but what we have found some sweetness, rest, 
and complacency in. Without any such experience we may 
do or use any thing, but cannot do it with delight. And it 
arisetb, 1. From the approach that is made unto God there- 
in. It is in its own nature an access unto God on a throne 
of grace; Ephes. ii. 18. Heb. x. 19, 20. And when this 
access is animated by the actings of grace, the soul hath a 
spiritual experience of a nearness in that approach. Now 
God is the fountain and centre of all spiritual refreshment. 


rest, and complacency : and in such an access unto him, 
there is a refreshing taste of them communicated unto the 
soul. Psal. xxxvi, 7 — 9. * How excellent is thy loving kind- 
ness, O God ! therefore the children of men put their trust 
under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly 
satisfied with the fatness of thy house : and thou shalt make 
them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is 
the fountain of life : in thy light we shall see light.' God 
is proposed in the excellency of his loving kindness, 
which is comprehensive of his goodness, grace, and mercy. 
And so he is also as the spring of life and light, all spiri- 
tual powers and joys. Those that believe, are described by 
their * trust under the shadow of his wings.' In his worship, 
the fatness of his house, they make their approaches unto 
him. And the fruit hereof is, that he makes them to * drink 
of the river of his pleasures,' the satisfying, refreshing 
streams of his grace and goodness ; they approach unto 
him as unto the 'fountain of life,' so as to drink of that 
fountain, in renewed communications of life and grace ; 
and in the light of God, the light of his countenance, to 
'see light,' in satisfying joy. In these things doth consist, 
and from them doth arise, that spiritual complacency which 
the souls of believers do find in their duties. 2. From the 
due exercise of faith, love, and delight, the graces wherein 
the life of the new creature doth principally consist. There 
is a suitableness unto our natural constitution, and a secret 
complacency of our natures in the proper actings of life na- 
tural, for its own preservation and increase. There is so in 
in our spiritual constitution, in the proper actings of the 
powers of our spiritual life unto its preservation and in- 
crease. These graces, in their due exercise, do compose and 
refresh the mind, as those which are perfective of its state, 
which quell and cast out whatever troubles it. Thence a 
blessed satisfaction and complacency befalls the soul. Here- 
in *he that believeth hath the witness in himself.' Besides, 
faith and love are never really acted on Christ, but they 
prepare and make meet the soul to receive communications 
of love and grace from him; which it never faileth of, al- 
though it be not always sensible thereof. 3. From the 
testimony of conscience, bearing witness unto our sin- 
cerity, both in aims, ends, and performances of the duty. 


Hence a gracious repose of mind and great satisfactoriness 
doth ensue. 

If we have no experience of these things, it is evident 
that we walk at random in the best of our duties ; for they 
are among the principal things that we do or ought to pray 
for. And if we have not experience of the effects of our 
prayers in our hearts, we neither have advantage by them, 
nor give glory unto God in them. 

But yet here, as in most other spiritual things, one of 
the worst of vices is ready to impose itself in the room and 
place of the best of our graces. And this is, self-pleasing 
in the performance of the duty. This instead of a grace 
steeped in humility, as all true grace is, is a vile eifect of 
spiritual pride, or the offering of a sacrifice unto our own net 
and drag. It is a glorying in the flesh ; for whatever of 
self any doth glory in, it is but flesh. When men have had 
enlargements in their expressions, and especially when they 
apprehend that others are satisfied or affected therewith, 
they are apt to have a secret self-pleasing in what they have 
done, which before they are aware turns into pride and a 
noxious elation of mind. The same may befall men in their 
most secret duties, performed outwardly by the aid of spi- 
ritual gifts. But this is most remote from, and contrary unto, 
that spiritual complacency in duty which we speak of, which 
yet it will pretend unto, until it be diligently examined. The 
language of the spiritual complacency is, ' I will go in the 
strength of the Lord God, I will make mention of thy righ- 
teousness, of thine only;' Psal. Ixxi. 16. That of spiritual 
pride is, ' God I thank thee that I have done thus and 
thus ;' as it was expressed by the Pharisee. That is in God 
alone, this is in self. That draws forth the savour of all 
graces: this immediately covereth and buries them all, if 
there be any in the soul. That fills the soul eminently with 
humility and self-abasement ; this with a lifting up of the 
mind, and proud self-conceit. That casts out all remem- 
brance of what we have done ourselves, retaining only a 
sense of what we have received from God, of the impressions 
of his love and grace. This blots out all remembrance of 
what we have freely received from God, and retains only 
what we have done ourselves. Wherever it is, there is no 
due sense either of the greatness or goodness of God. 


Some, it may be, will say that if it be so, they, for their 
parts are cut off. They have no experience of any such 
spiritual rest and complacency in God, in or after their 
prayers. At the best they begin them with tears and end 
them with sorrow ; and sometimes they know not what is 
become of them, but fear that God is not glorified by them, 
nor their own souls bettered. 

I answer, 1. There is great spiritual refreshment in that 
godly sorrow which is at work in our prayers. Where the 
Holy Ghost is a Spirit of grace and supplication, he causeth 
mourning, and in that mourning there is joy. 2. The secret 
encouragement which we receive by praying, to adhere unto 
God constantly in prayer, ariseth from some experience of 
this holy complacency, though we have not a sensible evi- 
dence of it. 3. Perhaps some of them who make this com- 
plaint, if they would awaken and consider, will find that 
their souls, at least sometimes, have been thus refreshed, 
and brought unto a holy rest in God. 4. Then shall you 
know the Lord, if you follow on to know him. Abide in 
seeking after this complacency and satisfaction in God, and 
you shall attain it. 

3. It is a sure evidence that our thoughts of spiritual 
things in our supplications are from an internal spring of 
grace, and are not merely occasioned by the duty itself, 
when we find the daily fruit and advantage of them ; espe- 
cially in the preservation of our souls in a holy, humble, 
watchful frame. 

Innumerable are the advantages, benefits, and effects of 
prayer, which are commonly spoken unto. Growth in grace 
and consolation is the substance of them. Where there is 
continuance in prayer, there will be spiritual growth in some 
proportion. For men to be earnest in prayer and thriftless 
in grace, is a certain indication of prevalent corruptions and 
want of being spiritually minded in prayer itself. If a man 
eats his daily food, let him eat never so much or so often, if 
he be not nourished by it, his body is under the power of 
prevalent distempers. And so is his spiritual constitution, 
who thriveth not in the use of the food of the new creature. 
But that which I fix upon with respect unto the present in- 
quiry, is the frame that it preserves the soul in. It will keep 
it humble and upon a diligent watch as unto its dispositions 


and actings. He who prays as he ought, will endeavour to 
live as he prays. This none can do who doth not with dili- 
gence keep his heart unto the things he hath prayed about. 
To pray earnestly and live carelessly, is to proclaim that a 
man is not spiritually minded in his prayer. Hereby then 
we shall know what is the spring of those spiritual thoughts 
which our minds are exercised withal in our supplications. 
If they are influenced unto a constant daily watch for the 
preservation of that frame of spirit, those dispositions and 
inclinations unto spiritual things which we pray for, they 
are from an internal spring of grace. If there be generally 
an unsuitableness in our minds unto what we seem to contend 
for in our prayers, the gift may be in exercise, but the grace 
is wanting. If a man be every day on the exchange, and 
there talketh diligently and earnestly about merchandise 
and the affairs of trade, but when he comes home thinks 
no more of them, because indeed he hath nothing to do, 
no interest in them, he may be a very poor man notwith- 
standing his pretences. And he may be spiritually very 
poor, who is on occasions fervent in prayer, if when he 
retires unto himself, he is not careful and diligent about the 
matter of it. 

4. When spiritual affections and due preparation of heart 
unto the duty do excite and animate the gift of prayer, and 
not the gift make impressions on the affections, then are we 
spiritually minded therein. Gifts are servants, not rulers, in 
the mind ; are bestowed on us to be serviceable unto grace, 
not to lead, but to follow it, and to be ready with their as- 
sistance on its exercise. For the most part where they lead 
all, they are all alone. This is the natural order of these 
things. Grace habitually inclineth and disposeth the heart 
unto this duty. Providence and rule give the occasions 
for its exercise. Sense of duty calls for preparation. Grace 
coming into actual exercise, gifts come in with their assist- 
ance. If they lead all, all is out of order. It may be other- 
wise sometimes. A person indisposed and lifeless, engaging 
into prayer in a way of obedience, upon conviction of duty, 
may, in and by the gift, have his affections excited, and 
graces engaged unto its proper work. It may be so, I say ; 
but let men take heed how they trust unto this order and 
method. For where it is so, there may be little or nothing of 


the exercise of true grace irx all their fervour and commotion 
of affections. But when the genuine actings of faith, love, 
holy reverence, and gracious desires, do stir up the gift unto 
its exercise, calling in its assistance unto the expression of 
themselves, then are the heart and mind in their proper 

5. It is so when other duties of religion are equally re- 
garded and attended unto with prayer itself. He, all whose 
religion lies in prayer and hearing, hath none at all. God 
hath an equal respect unto all other duties, and so must we 
have also. So is it expressed as unto the instance of alms. 
Acts X. 31. And James placeth all religion herein, because 
there is none without it, chap. i. 27. I shall not value his 
prayers at all, be he never so earnest and frequent in them, 
who gives not alms according to his ability. And this in an 
especial manner is required of us who are ministers; that we 
be not like a hand set up in cross ways, directing others 
which way to go, but staying behind itself. 

This digression about the rise and spring of spiritual 
thoughts in prayer, I judged not unnecessary in such a time 
and season wherein we ought to be very jealous, lest gifts 
impose themselves in the room of grace, and be careful 
that they are employed only unto their proper end, which 
is to be serviceable unto grace in its exercise, and not 

3. There is another occasion of thoughts of spiritual 
things, when they do not spring from a living principle 
within, and so are no evidence of being spiritually minded. 
And this is the discourse of others. ' They that fear the 
Lord will be speaking one to another' of the things wherein 
his glory is concerned, Mai. iii. 16. To declare the righ- 
teousness, the glory of God, is the delight of his saints. 
Psal. cxlv. 3 — 8. * Great is the Lord, and greatly to be 
praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation 
shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy 
mighty works. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy 
majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak 
of the might of thy terrible acts ; and I will declare thy 
greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy 
great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The 
Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and 


of great mercy.' And accordingly there are some who are 
ready on all occasions to be speaking or making mention of 
things divine, spiritual, and holy, and it is to be wished that 
there were more of them. All the flagitious sins that the 
world is filled withal, are not a greater evidence of the de- 
generacy of the Christian religion than this is, that it is 
grown unusual, yea, a shame or scorn, for men to speak to- 
gether of the things of God. It was not so when religion 
was in its primitive power and glory; nor is it so with them 
who really fear God, and are sensible of their duty. Some, 
I say, there are, who embrace all occasions of spiritual com- 
munication. Those with whom they do converse, if they are 
not profligate, if they have any spiritual light, cannot but so 
far comply with what they say, as to think of the things 
spoken which are spiritual. Ofttimes the track and course 
of men's thoughts lie so out of the way, are so contrary unto 
such things, that they seem strange unto them, they give 
them no entertainment. You do but cross their way with 
such discourses, whereon they stand still a little and so pass 
on. Even the countenances of some men will change hereon, 
and they betake themselves unto an unsatisfied silence, until 
they can divert unto other things. Some will make such 
replies of empty words, as shall evidence their hearts to be 
far enough estranged from the things proposed unto them. 
But with others, such occasional discourses will make such 
impressions on their minds as to stir up present thoughts of 
spiritual things. But though frequent occasions hereof may 
be renewed, yet will such thoughts give no evidence that 
any man is spiritually minded. For they are not genuine, 
from an internal spring of grace. 

From these causes it is, that the thoughts of spiritual 
things are with many as guests that come into an inn, and 
not like children that dwell in the house. They enter occa- 
sionally, and then there is a great stir about them, to provide 
meet entertainment for them. Within awhile they are dis- 
posed of, and so depart unto their own occasions, being 
neither looked nor inquired after any more. Things of an- 
other nature are attended unto; new occasions bring in new 
guests for a season. Children are owned in the house, are 
missed if they are out of the way, and have their daily pro- 
vision constantly made for them. So is it with these occa" 


sional thoughts about spiritual things. By one means or 
other they enter into the mind, and there are entertained for 
a season. On a sudden they depart, and men hear of them 
no more. But those that are natural and genuine, arising 
from a living spring of grace in the heart disposing the mind 
unto them, are as the children of the house. They are ex- 
pected in their places and at their seasons. If they are 
missing, they are inquired after. The heart calls itself unto 
an account whence it is that it hath been so long without 
them, and calls them over into its wonted converse with 


Other evidences of thoughts about spiritual things, arising from an internal 
principle of grace, wherehg they are an evidence of our being spiritually 
minded. The abounding of these thoughts, how far, and wherein, such an 

The second evidence that our thoughts of spiritual things 
do proceed from an internal fountain of sanctified light 
and affections, or that they are acts or fruits of our being 
spiritually minded, is, that they abound in us, that our minds 
are filled with them. We may say of them as the apostle 
doth of other graces; * If these things are in you and abound, 
you shall not be barren.' It is well indeed, when our minds 
are like the land of Egypt in the years of plenty, when it 
brought forth by handfulls ; when they flow from the well of 
living water in us with a full stream and current. But there 
is a measure of abounding, which is necessary to evidence 
our being spiritually minded in them. 

There is a double effect ascribed here unto this frame of 
spirit : first life, and then peace. The nature and being of 
this grace depends on the former consideration of it, namely, 
its procedure from an internal principle of grace, the eflect 
and consequence whereof is life. But that it is peace also, 
depends on this degree and measure of the actings of this 
part of it in our spiritual thoughts. And this we must 


It is the character of all men in the state of depraved 
nature and apostacy from God, ' that every imagination of 
the thoughts of their hearts, is only evil continually ;' Gen. 
vi. 5. All persons in that condition are not swearers, blas- 
phemers, drunkards, adulterers, idolaters, or the like. These 
are the vices of particular persons, the effects of particular 
constitutions and temptations. But thus it is with them, 
all and every one of them, all the imaginations of the thoughts 
of their hearts are evil, and that continually. Some as unto 
the matter of them, some as unto their end, all as unto their 
principle ; for out of the evil treasure of the heart can pro- 
ceed nothing but what is evil. That infinite multitude of 
open sins which is in the world, doth give a clear prospect 
or representation of the nature and effects of our apostacy 
from God. But he that can consider the numberless number 
of thoughts which pass through the minds of every individual 
person every day, all evil, and that continually, he will have 
a farther comprehension of it. 

We can therefore have no greater evidence of a change 
in us from this state and condition, than a change wrought 
in the course of our thoughts. A relinquishment of this or 
that particular sin, is not an evidence of a translation from 
this state. For as was said, such particular sins proceed 
from particular lusts and temptations, and are not the im- 
mediate universal consequence of that depravation of nature 
vv^hich is equal in all. Such alone is the vanity arid wicked- 
ness of the thoughts and imaginations of the heart. A 
change herein is a blessed evidence of a change of state. 
He who is cured of a dropsy is not immediately healthy, 
because he may have the prevailing seeds and matter of 
other diseases in him, and the next day die of a lethargy. 
But he who, from a state of sickness, is restored in the tem- 
perature of the mass of blood and the animal spirits, and all 
the principles of life and health, unto a good crisis and 
temperature, his state of body is changed. The cure of a 
particular sin may leave behind it the seeds of eternal death, 
which they may quickly effect. But he who hath obtained 
a change in this character which belongs essentially unto 
the state of depraved nuture, is spiritually recovered. And 
the more the stream of our tliDughts is turned, the more our 


minds are filled by those of a contrary nature, the greater 
and more firm is our evidence of a translation out of that 
depraved state and condition. 

There is nothing so unaccountable as the multiplicity of 
thoughts of the minds of men. They fall from them like 
the leaves of trees when they are shaken with the wind in 
autumn. To have all these thoughts, all the several figments 
of the heart, all the conceptions that are framed and agitated 
in the mind, to be evil and that continually, what a hell of 
horror and confusion must it needs be ? A deliverance from 
this loathsome hateful state is more to be valued than the 
whole world. Without it neither life, nor peace, nor immor- 
tality, or glory, can ever be attained. 

The design of conviction is to put a stop unto these 
thoughts, to take off from their number, and thereby to lessen 
their guilt. It deserves not the name of conviction of sin, 
which respects only outward actions, and regards not the 
inward actings of the mind. And this alone will for a season 
make a great change in the thoughts, especially it will do so 
when assisted by superstition directing tiiem unto other ob- 
jects. These two in conjunction are the rise of all that de- 
votional religion which is in the papacy. Conviction labours 
to put some stop and bounds i>nto thoughts absolutely evil 
and corrupt; and superstition suggests other objects for 
them which they readily embrace ; but it is a vain attempt." 
The minds and hearts of men are continually minting and 
coining new thoughts and imaginations. The cogitative 
faculty is always at work. As the streams of a mighty river 
running into the ocean, so are the thoughts of a natural man, 
and through self they run into hell. It is a fond thing to set 
a dam before such a river, to curb its streams. For a little 
space there may be a stop made, but it will quickly break 
down all obstacles or overflow all its bounds. There is no 
way to divert its course but only by providing other channels 
fov its waters, and turning them thereinto. The mighty 
stream of the evil thoughts of men will admit of no bounds 
or dams to put a stop unto them. There are but two ways 
of relief from them ; the one respecting their moral evil, the 
other their natural abundance. The first by throwing salt 
into the spring, as Ebsha cured the waters of Jericho; that 
is, to get the heart and mind seasoned with grace ; for the 


tree must be made good before the fruit will be so. The 
other is, to turn their streams into new channels, putting 
new aims and ends upon them, fixing them on new objects; 
so shall we abound in spiritual thoughts ; for abound in 
thoughts we shall, whether we will or no. 

To this purpose is the advice of the apostle, Ephes. v. 
18, 19. ' And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess ; but 
be filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves in psalms 
and hymns and spiritual songs.' When men are drunk 
with wine unto an excess, they make it quickly evident, 
what vain, foolish, ridiculous imaginations it filleth their 
minds withal. In opposition hereunto, the apostle ad- 
viseth believers to ' be filled with the Spirit,' to labour for 
such a participation of him as may fill their minds and 
hearts, as others fill themselves with wine. To what end, 
unto what purpose, should they desire such a participation 
of him, to be so filled with him ? It is unto this end, 
namely, that he by his grace may fill them with holy spi- 
ritual thoughts, as on the contrary men drunk unto an ex- 
cess, are filled with those that are foolish, vain, and wicked. 
So the words of ver. 19. do declare, for he adviseth us to 
express our abounding thoughts, in such duties as will give 
an especial vent unto them. 

Wherefore, when we are spiritually minded, we shall 
abound in spiritual thoughts, or thoughts of spiritual things. 
That we have such thoughts will not sufficiently evidence 
that we are so, unless we abound in them. And this leads 
us unto the principal inquiry on this head ; namely, what 
measure we ought to assign hereof, how we may know when 
we abound in spiritual thoughts, so as that they may be an 
evidence of our being spiritually minded. 

I answer in general, among other Scriptures read over 
Psal. cxix. with understanding. Consider therein what David 
expresseth of himself, as unto his constant delight in, and 
continual thoughts of, the law of God, which was the only 
means of divine revelation at that season. Try yourselves 
by that pattern; examine yourselves whether you can truly 
speak the same words with him ; at least if not in the same 
degree of zeal, yet with the same sincerity of grace. You 
will say, that was David. It is not for us, it is not our duty 
to be like unto him, at least not to be equal with him. But 


as far as I know, we must be like him, if ever we intend to 
come to the place where he is. It will ruin our souls, if 
when we read in the Scripture, how the saints of God ex- 
press their experience in faith, love, delight in God, and 
constant meditations on him, we grant that it was so with 
them, that they were good and holy men, but it is not ne- 
cessary that it should be so with us. These things are not 
written in the Scripture to shew what they were, but what 
we ought to be. All things concerning them ' were written 
for our admonition;' ICor.x. 11. And if we have not the same 
delight in God as they had, the same spiritual mindedness 
in thoughts and meditations of heavenly things, we can have 
no evidence that we please God as they did, or shall go to 
that place whither they are gone. Profession of the life of 
God passeth with many at a very low and easy rate. Their 
thoughts are for the most part vain and earthly, their com- 
munication unsavoury, and sometimes corrupt, their lives at 
best uneven and uncertain, as unto the rule of obedience ; 
yet all is well, all is life and peace. The holy men of old, 
who obtained this testimony, that they pleased God, did 
not so walk before him. They meditated continually in the 
law ; thought of God in the night seasons ; spake of his 
ways, his works, his praise ; their whole delight was in him, 
and in all things they followed hard after him. It is the 
example of David in particular that I have proposed. And 
it is a promise of the grace to be administered by the gospel, 
that he 'who is feeble shall be as David;' Zech. xii. 8. And 
if we are not so in his being spiritually minded, it is to be 
feared we are not partakers of the promise. But that we 
may the better judge of ourselves therein, I shall add some 
few rules unto this direction by example. 

1. Consider what proportion your thoughts of spiritual 
things bears with those about other things. Our principal 
interest and concern, as we profess, lies in things spiritual, 
heavenly, and eternal. Is it not then a foolish thing to sup- 
pose that our thoughts about these things, should not hold 
some proportion with those about other thmgs, nay, that they 
should not exceed them ? No man is so vain in earthly 
things, as to pretend that his principal concern lieth in that 
whereof he thinks very seldom in comparison of other things. 
It is not so with men in reference unto their families, their 



trades, their occasions of life. It is a truth not only conBe- 
crated by the testimony of him who is truth, but evident 
also in the light of reason, ' that where our treasure is there 
will our hearts be also.' And the affections of our hearts do 
act themselves by the thoughts of our minds. Wherefore, 
if our principal treasui'e be, as we profess, in things spiritual 
and heavenly, and woe vmto us if it be not so, on them will 
our affections, and consequently our desires and thoughts, be 
principally fixed. 

That we may the better examine ourselves by this rule, 
we must consider of what sorts men's other thoughts are; 
and as unto our present purpose, they may be reduced unto 
these heads. 

1. There are such as are exercised about their callings 
and lawful occasions. These are numberless and endless; 
especially among a sort of men who rise early and go to bed 
late, and eat the bread of carefulness, or are particularly 
industrious and diligent in their ways. These thoughts men 
approve themselves in, and judge them their duty, as they 
are in their proper place and measure. But no heart can 
conceive the multitude of these thoughts, which partly in 
contrivances, partly in converse, are engaged and spent 
about these things. And the more men are immersed in 
them, the more do themselves and others esteem them dili- 
gent and praiseworthy. And there are some who have neither 
necessity nor occasion to be engaged much in the duties of 
any especial calling, who yet by their words and actions de- 
clare themselves to be confined almost in their thoughts 
unto themselves, their relations, their children, and their 
self-concerns, which though most of them are very imperti- 
nent, yet they justify themselves in them. All sorts may do 
well to examine what proportion their thoughts of spiritual 
things do bear unto those of other things. I fear with most 
it will be found to be very small, with many next to none at 
all. What evidence then can they have that they are spi- 
ritually minded, that their principal interest lies in things 
above ? It may be it will be asked, whether it be necessary 
that men should think as much and as often about things 
spiritual and heavenly, as they do about the lawful affairs of 
their callings ? I say, more, and more often, if we are what 
we profess ourselves to be. Generally it is the best sort of 


men. as to the things of God and man, who are busied in 
their callings, some of one sort, some of another. But even 
among the best of these, many will continually spend the 
strength of their minds and vigour of their spirits about 
their affairs all the day long ; and, so they can pray in the 
morning and evening, with some thoughts sometimes of spi- 
ritual things occasionally administered, do suppose they 
acquit themselves very well. As if a man should pretend 
that his great design is, to prepare himself for a voyage unto 
a far country, where is his patrimony and his inheritance ; 
but all his thoughts and contrivances are about some few 
trifles, which, if indeed he intend his voyage, he must leave 
behind him ; and of his main design he scarce thinketh at 
all. We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immor- 
tality, and glory : but is it any evidence we really design it, 
if all our thoughts are consumed about the trifles of this 
world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occa- 
sional thoughts of things above '? I shall elsewhere shew, 
if God will, how men may be spiritually minded in their 
earthly affairs. If some relief may not be thence obtained, 
1 cannot tell what to say or answer for them, whose thoughts 
of spiritual things do not hold proportion with, yea, exceed 
them which they lay out about their callings. 

This whole rule is grounded on that of our Saviour, 
Matt. vi. 31 — 34. 'Take no thought, saying. What shall we 
eat? or, What shall we drink? or. Wherewith shall we be 
clothed ? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righ- 
teousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. 
Take therefore no thought for the morrow.' When we have 
done all we can, when we have made the best of them we are 
able, all earthly things, as unto our interest in them, amount 
to no more but what we eat, what we drink, and wherewith 
we are clothed. About these things our Saviour forbids us 
to take any thought, not absolutely, but with a double limita- 
tion. As first, That we take no such thought about them 
as should carry along with it a disquietment of mind, through 
a distrust of the fatherly care and providence of God. This 
is the design of the context. Secondly, No thought that for 
constancy and engagement of spirit, should be like unto 
those which we ought to have about spiritual things. 'Seek 
first the kingdom of God and his righteousness/ Let that 

s 2 


be the principal thing in your thoughts and consciences. 
We may therefore conclude, that at least they must hold an 
exceeding proportion with them. 

Let a man industriously engaged in the way of his calling, 
try himself by this rule every evening. Let him consider 
what have been his thoughts about his earthly occasions, 
and what about spiritual things ; and thereon ask of himself 
whether ne be spiritually minded or no. Be not deceived ; 
as a man thinketh, so is he. And if we account it a strange 
thing, that our thoughts should be more exercised about 
spiritual things than about the affairs of our callings, we 
must not think it strange if, when we come to the trial, we 
cannot find that we have either life or peace. 

Moreover it is known, how often, when we are engaged 
in spiritual duties, other thoughts will interpose, and impose 
themselves on our minds. Those which are about men's 
secular concernments will do so. The world will freqiiently 
make an inroad on the ways to heaven, to disturb the 
passengers and wayfaring men. There is nothing more fre- 
quently complained of by such as are awake unto their duty, 
and sensible of their weakness. Call to mind therefore, how 
often on the other hand, spiritual thoughts do interpose, and 
as it were impose themselves on your minds, whilst you are 
engaged in your earthly affairs. Sometimes, no doubt, but 
with all that are true believers it is so. * Or ever I was 
aware,' saith the spouse, * my soul made me as the chariots 
of Amminadib;' Cant. vi. 12. Grace in her own soul surprised 
her into a ready willing frame unto spiritual communion 
with Christ, when she was intent on other occasions. But 
if these thoughts of heavenly things so arising in us, bear no 
proportion with the other sort, it is an evidence what frame 
and principle is predominant in us. 

2. There are a multitude of thoughts in the minds of 
men, which are vain, useless, and altogether unprofitable. 
These ordinarily, through a dangerous mistake, are looked 
on as not sinful, because, as it is supposed, the matter of 
them is not so. And therefore, men rather shake them off 
for their folly than their guilt. But they arise from a 
corrupt fountain, and wofuUy pollute both the mind and 
conscience. Wherever there are ' vain thoughts,' there is 
sin; Jer. iv. 14. Such are those numberless imaginations. 


whereby men fancy themselves to be what they are not, to 
do what they do not, to enjoy what they enjoy not, to dispose 
of themselves and others, at their pleasure. That our nature 
is liable unto such a pernicious folly, which some of tena- 
cious fancies have turned into madness, we are beholding 
alone to our cursed apostacy from God, and the vanity that 
possessed our minds thereon. Hence the prince of Tyrus 
thought he was a god, and ' sat in the seat of God ;' Ezek. 
xxviii. 2. So it hath been with others. And in those, in 
whom such imaginations are kept unto some better order 
and bounds, yet being traced unto their original, they will 
be found to spring some of them immediately from pride, 
some from sensual lusts, some from the love of the world, 
all from self, and the old ambition to be as God, to dispose 
of all things as we think meet. I know no greater misery or 
punishment in this world, than the debasing of our nat^ure 
to such vain imaginations ; and a perfect freedom from them 
is a part of the blessedness of heaven. It is not my present 
work to shew how sinful they are ; let them be esteemed 
only fruitless, foolish, vain, and ludicrous. But let men ex- 
amine themselves, what number of these vain useless thoughts 
night and day, do rove up and down in their minds. If now 
it be apprehended too severe, that men's thoughts of spiritual 
things should exceed them that are employed about their 
lawful callings, let them consider what proportion they bear 
unto those that are vain and useless. Do not many give 
more time unto them than they do unto holy meditations, 
without an endeavour to mortify the one, or to stir up and 
enliven the other? Are they not more wonted to their seasons 
than holy thoughts are ? And shall we suppose that those 
with whom it is so are spiritually minded? 

3. There are thoughts that are formally evil ; they are 
so in their own nature, being corrupt contrivances to fulfil 
the desires of the flesh in the lusts thereof. These also will 
attempt the minds of believers. But they are always looked 
on as professed enemies to the soul, and are watched against. 
I shall not therefore make any comparison between them 
and spiritual thoughts, for they abound only in them that 
are carnally minded. 

2. The second rule to this purpose is, that we would 
consider, whether thoughts of spiritual things do constantly 


take possession of their proper seasons. There are some 
times and seasons in the course of men's lives, wherein they 
retire themselves unto their own thoughts. The most busied 
men in the world have some times of thinkino; unto them- 
selves. And those who design no such thing, as being afraid 
of coming to be wiser and better than they are, do yet spend 
time therein whether they will or no. But they who are 
wise will be at home as much as they can, and have as 
many seasons for such their retirements as is possible for 
them to attain. If that man be foolish who busieth himself 
so much abroad in the concerns of others, that he hath no 
time to consider the state of his own house and family, much 
more is he so, who spendeth all his thoughts about other 
things, and never makes use of them in an inquiry, how it is 
with himself and his own soul. However, men can hardly 
avoid, but that they must have some seasons, partly stated, 
partly occasional, wherein they entertain themselves with 
their own thoughts. The evening and the morning, the times 
of waking on the bed, those of the necessary cessation of all 
ordinary affairs, of walking, journeying, and the like, are 
such seasons. 

If we are spiritually minded, if thoughts of spiritual 
things do abound in us, they will ordinarily, and that with 
constancy, possess these seasons, look upon them as those 
which are their due, which belong unto them. For they 
are expressly assigned unto them in the way of rule, express- 
ed in examples and commands. See Psal. xvi. 7,8. xcii. 2. 
Deut. vi. 7. If they are usually given up unto other ends 
and occasions, are possessed with thoughts of another na- 
ture, it is an open evidence that spiritual thoughts have but 
little interest in our minds, little prevalency in the conduct 
of our souls. It is our duty to afford unto them stated times, 
taken away from other affairs that call for them. But if in- 
stead thereof we rob them of what is as it were their own, 
which no other things or business can lay any just claim 
unto, how dwelleth the love of spiritual things in us? Most 
professors are convinced that it is their duty to pray morn- 
ing and evening, and it is to be wished that they were all 
found in the practice of it. But if ordinarily they judge 
themselves in the performance of that duty, to be discharged 
from any farther exercise of spiritual thoughts, applying 


them unto things worldly, useless, or vain, they can make no 
pretence to be spiritually minded. 

And it must be observed, which will be found to be true, 
that if the seasons which are as it were due unto such medi- 
tations be taken from them, they will be the worst employed 
of all the minutes of our lives. Vain and foolish thoughts, 
corrupt imaginations, will make a common haunt unto the 
minds of men in them, and habituate themselves unto an ex- 
pectation of entertainment; whence they will grow importu- 
nate for admission. Hence, with many, those precious mo- 
ments of time which might greatly influence their souls unto 
life and peace, if they were indeed spiritually minded, make 
the greatest provision for their trouble, sorrow, and confu- 
sion. For the vain and evil thoughts which some persons 
do accustom themselves unto in such seasons, are, or ought 
to be, a burden upon their consciences more than they can 
bear. That which providence tenders unto their good is 
turned into a snare ; and God doth righteously leave them 
unto the fruits of their own folly, who so despise his gracious 
provision for their good. If we cannot afford unto God our 
spare time, it is evident that indeed we can afford nothing 
at all. Micah ii. 1. ' They devise iniquity upon their beds ;' 
the seasons proper for holy contemplation, they make use 
of to fill their minds with wicked imaginations, * and when 
the morning is light they practise it ;' walking all day on 
all occasions, suitably unto their devices and imaginations 
of the night. Many will have cause to complain unto eter- 
nity, of those leisure times which might have been improved 
for their advantage unto eternal blessedness. 

If we intend therefore to maintain a title unto this grace 
of being spiritually minded, if we would have any evidence 
of it in ourselves, without which we can have none of life or 
peace, and what we pretend thereof is but an effect of secu- 
rity, we must endeavour to preserve the claim and right of 
spiritual thoughts unto such seasons, and actually put them 
in possession of them. 

3. Consider how we are affected with our disappoint- 
ments about these seasons. Have we by negligence, by 
temptations ; have we by occasional diversions or affairs of 
life, been taken off from thoughts of God, of Christ, of hea- 
venly things, when we ought to have been engaged in themj 


how are we affected with a view hereof? A carnal mind is 
well enough satisfied with the omission of any duty, so it 
have the pretence of a necessary occasion. If it hath lost a 
temporal advantage, through attendance unto a spiritual 
duty, it will deeply reflect upon itself, and it may be like the 
duty the worse afterward. But a gracious soul, one that is 
truly spiritually minded, will mourn under a review of such 
omissions, and by every one of them is stirred up unto more 
watchfulness for the future. Alas, will it say, how little 
have I been with Christ this day ! How much time hath 
passed me without a thought of him ! How foolish was I, to 
be wanting to such or such an opportunity ! I am in arrears 
unto myself, and have no rest until I be satisfied. 

I say, if indeed we are spiritually minded, we will duly 
and carefully call over the consideration of those times and 
seasons, wherein we ought to have exercised ourselves in 
spiritual thoughts ; and if we have lost them, or any of them, 
mourn over our own negligence. But if we can omit and 
lose such seasons or opportunities from time to time, with- 
out regret or self-reflections, it is to be feared that we wax 
worse and worse. Way will be made hereby for farther 
omissions, until we grow wholly cold about them. 

And indeed that woful loss of time that is found amongst 
many professors, is greatly to be bewailed. Some lose it on 
themselves, by a continual track of fruitless impertinent 
thoughts about their own concerns ; some in vain converse 
with others, wherein for the most part they edify one another 
unto vanity. How much of this time might, nay ought to be 
redeemed for holy meditations ? The good Lord make all 
professors sensible of their loss of former seasons, that they 
may be the more watchful for the future, in this great con- 
cernment of their souls. Little do some think what light, 
what assurance, what joy, what readiness for the cross, or 
for heaven, they might have attained, had they laid hold on 
all just seasons of exercising their thoughts about spiritual 
things which they have enjoyed, who now are at a loss in 
all, and surprised with every fear or difficulty that doth befall 

This is the first thing that belongs unto our being spirit- 
ually minded ; for, although it doth not absolutely or essen- 
tially consist therein, yet is it inseparable from it, and the 


most undeceiving indication of it. And thus of abounding 
and abiding in thoughts about spiritual things, such as arise 
and spring naturally from a living principle, a spiritual frame 
and disposition of heart within. 


The objects of spirittial thoughts, or what they are conversant about, cvi- 
ilencing them in whom they are to he spiritually minded. Rules direct- 
ing unto steadiness in the contemplation of heavenly things. Motives to 
fix our thoughts with steadiness in them. 

Before I proceed unto the next general head, and which 
is the principal thing, the foundation of the grace and duty 
inquired after, some things must be spoken to render what 
hath been already insisted on, yet more particularly useful. 
And this is, to inquire what are, or what ought to be, the 
special objects of those thoughts, which under the qualifica- 
tions laid down, are the evidences of our being spiritually 
minded. And it may be, we may be useful unto many herein, 
by helping of them to fix their minds, which are apt to rove 
into all uncertainty. For this is befallen us through the 
disorder and weakness of the faculties of our souls, that 
sometimes what the mind guides, leads, and directs unto, in 
things spiritual and heavenly,our wills and affections, through 
their depravation and corruption, will not comply withal, and 
so the good designings of the mind are lost. Sometimes 
what the will and affections are inclined unto and ready for, 
the mind, through its weakness and inconstancy, cannot lead 
them to the accomplishment of; so to will is present with 
us, but how to perform that will we know not. So many are 
barren in this duty, because they know not what to fix upon, 
nor how to exercise their thoughts when they have chosen a 
subject for their meditations. Hence they spend their time 
in fruitless desires that they could use their thoughts unto 
more purpose, rather than make any progress in the duty it- 
self. They tire themselves, not because they are not willing 
to go, but because they cannot find their way. Wherefore, 
both these things shall be spoken unto ; both what are the 
proper objects of our spiritual thoughts, and how we may 


be steady in our contemplations of them. And I shall unto 
this purpose, first give some general rules, and then some 
particular instances in way of direction. 

1. Observe the especial calls of providence, and apply 
your minds unto thoughts of the duties required in them 
and by them. There is a voice in all signal dispensations 
of providence. * The voice of the Lord crieth unto the city, 
the men of wisdom shall see thy name ; hear ye the rod and 
who hath appointed it ;' Micah vi. 9. There is a call, a cry in 
every rod of God, in every chastising providence ; and there- 
in makes a declaration of his name, his holiness, his power, 
his greatness. This every wise substantial man will labour 
to discern, and so comply with the call. God is greatly pro- 
voked when it is otherwise. ' Lord, when thy hand is lifted 
up, they will not see, but they shall see and be ashamed;' 
Isa. xxvi. 11. If therefore we would apply ourselves unto 
our present duty, we are wisely to consider what is the voice 
of God, in his present providential dispensations in the world. 
Hearken not unto any who would give another interpretation 
of them, but that they are plain declarations of his displea- 
sure and indignation against the sins of men. Is not his 
wrath in them revealed from heaven against the ungodliness 
of men, especially such as detain the truth in unrighteous- 
ness, or false hypocritical professors of the gospel? Doth he 
not also signally declare the uncertainty and instability of 
earthly enjoyments, from life itself to a shoe-latchet ? As also, 
how vain and foolish it is to adhere inordinately unto them? 
The fingers that appeared writing on the wall the doom of 
Belshazzar, did it in characters that none could read, and 
words that none could understand but Daniel. But the pre- 
sent call of God in these things is made plain upon tables, 
that he may run who readeth it. If the heavens gather black- 
ness with clouds, and it thunder over us, if any that are on 
their journey will not believe that there is a storm coming, 
they must bear the severity of it. 

Suppose then this to be the voice of providence, suppose 
there be in it these indications of the mind and will of God, 
what are the duties that we are called unto thereby ? They 
may be referred unto two heads. 

1. A diligent search into ourselves, and a holy watch 
over ourselves, with respect unto those ways and sins which 


the displeasure of God is declared against. That present pro- 
vidences are indications of God's anger and displeasure, we 
take for granted. But when this is done, the most are apt to 
cast the causes of them on others and to excuse themselves ; 
so long as they see others more wicked and profligate than 
themselves, openly guilty of such crimes, as they abhor the 
thoughts of, they cast all the wrath on them, and fear no- 
thing but that they shall suffer with them. But alas! when 
the storm came on the ship at sea, wherein there was but 
one person that feared God ; upon an inquiry for whose 
sake it came, 'the lot fell on him ;' Jonah i. 7. The cause of 
the present storm may as well be the secret sins of profes- 
sors, as the open provocations of ungodly men. God will 
punish severely those which he hath known ; Amos iii. 2. 
It is therefore certainly our duty to search diligently, that 
nothing be found resting in us, against which God is declar- 
ing his displeasure. Take heed of negligence and security 
herein. When our Saviour foretold his disciples, ' that one 
of them should betray him,' he who alone was guilty, was the 
last that said, * Master, is it I ?' Let no ground of hopes you 
have of your spiritual condition and acceptance with God, 
no sense of your sincerity in any of your duties, no visible 
difference between you and others in the world, impose 
themselves on your minds to divert them from diligence in 
this duty; ' the voice of the Lord crieth unto the city, and 
the man of wisdom will see his name.' 

2. A diligent endeavour to live in a holy resignation of 
our persons, our lives, our families, all our enjoyments, unto 
the sovereign will and wisdom of God ; so as that we may 
be in readiness to part with all things upon his call without 
repining. This also is plainly declared in the voice of pre- 
sent providences. God is making wings for men's riches, he 
is shaking their habitations, taking away the visible defences 
of their lives, proclaiming the instability and uncertainty 
of all things here below ; and if we are not minded to con- 
tend with him, we have nothing left to give us rest and peace 
for a moment, but a holy resignation of all unto his sove- 
reign pleasure. 

Would you now know what you should fix and exercise 
your thoughts upon, so as that they may be evidences of 
your being spiritually minded ? I say, be frequently con- 


versant in them about these things. They lie before you, 
they call upon you, and will find you a just employment. 
Count them part of your business, allow them some part 
of your time, cease not until you have the testimony of your 
consciences, that you have in sincerity stated both these 
duties in your minds, which will never be done without 
many thoughts about them. Unless it be so with you, God 
will be greatly displeased at the neglect of his coming and 
call, now it is so plain and articulate. Fear the woful 
dooms recorded, Prov. i. 24 — 28. Isa. Ivi. 12. Ixvi. 4. to 
this purpose. And if any calamity, public or private, do 
overtake you under a neglect of these duties, you will be 
wofully surprised, and not know which way to turn for re- 
lief. This therefore is the time and season wherein you may 
have an especial trial and experiment whether you be spi- 
ritually minded or no. It is the wisdom of faith to excite 
and draw forth grace into exercise according unto present 
occasions. If this grace be habitually resident in you, it will 
put itself forth in many thoughts about these present duties. 
But alas ! for the most part, men are apt to walk con- 
trary to God in these things, as the wisdom of the flesh is 
contrary unto him in all things. A great instance we have 
with respect unto these duties, especially the latter of them. 
For, 1. Who almost makes a diligent search into, and trial 
of, his heart and ways, with respect unto the procuring causes 
of the displeasure and judgments of God? Generally, when 
the tokens and evidences of them do most abound, the 
world is full of outrageous provoking sins. These visibly 
proclaim themselves to be the causes of the * coming of the 
wrath of God on the children of disobedience.' Hence most 
men are apt to cast the whole reason of present judgments 
upon them, and to put it wholly from themselves. Hence 
commonly there is never less of self-examination, than when 
it is called for in a peculiar manner. But as I will not deny, 
but that the open daring sins of the world, are the procuring 
cause of the wrath of God against it in temporal judgments ; 
so, the wisest course for us is to refer them unto the great 
judgment of the last day. This the apostle directs us unto, 
2 Thess. i. 6 — 10. Our duty it is to consider on what ac- 
counts 'judgment begins at the house of God,' and to exa- 
mine ourselves with respect thereunto. 


2. Again, the other part of our present duty in compliance 
with the voice of Providence, is an humble resignation of 
ourselves and all our concernments unto the will of God, 
sitting loose in our affections from all earthly temporal en- 
joyments. This we neither do, nor can do, let us profess 
what we will, unless our thoughts are greatly exercised about 
the reasons of it and motives unto it. For this is the way 
whereby faith puts forth its efficacy unto the mortification 
of eelf and all earthly enjoyments. Wherefore without this 
we can make no resignation of ourselves unto the will of 
God. But alas ! how many at present do openly walk con- 
trary unto God herein ? The ways, the countenances, the 
discourses, of men do give evidence hereunto. Their love 
unto present things, their contrivances for their increase 
and continuance do grow and thrive under the calls of God 
to the contrary. So it was of old ; ' they did eat, they drank, 
they married, and gave in marriage, until the day that Noah 
entered the ark.' Can the generality of professors at this 
day give testimony unto the exercise of their thoughts upon 
such things as should dispose them unto this holy resigna- 
tion ? that they meditate on the calls of God, and thence 
make themselves ready to part with all at his time and plea- 
sure ? How can persons pretend to be spiritually minded, the 
current of whose thoughts lies in direct contrariety unto the 
mind of God ? 

Here lies the ground of their self-deceivings ; they are 
professors of the gospel in a peculiar manner, they judge 
themselves believers, they hope they shall be saved, and 
have many evidences for it. But one negative evidence 
will render a hundred that are positive useless. * All these 
things have I done,' saith the young man ; * yet one thing thou 
wantest,' saith our Saviour. And the want of that one ren- 
dered his 'all things' of no avail unto him. Many things you 
have done, many things you do, many grounds of hope abide 
with you, neither yourselves nor others do doubt of your 
condition. But are you spiritually minded ? If this one thing 
be wanting, all the rest will not avail you, you have indeed 
neither life nor peace. And what grounds have you to judge 
that you are so, if the current of your thoughts lie in direct 
contrariety unto the present calls of God ? If at such a time 
as this is, your love to the world be such as ever it was, and 


perhaps be increased ; if your desires are strong to secure 
the things of this life unto you and yours ; if the daily con- 
trivance of your minds be not how you may attain a con- 
stant resignation of yourselves and your all unto the will of 
God, which will not be done without much thoughtfulness 
and meditations on the reasons of it, and motives unto it, I 
cannot understand how you can judge yourselves to be spi- 
ritually minded. 

If any therefore shall say, that they would abound more 
in spiritual thoughts, only they know not what to fix them 
upon ; I propose this in the first place, as that which will 
lead them unto the due performance of present duties. 

2. The special trials and temptations of men, call for 
the exercise of their thoughts in a peculiar manner with 
respect unto them. If a man hath a bodily disease, pain, or 
distemper, it will cause him to think much of it whether he 
will or no ; at least if he be wise he will so do ; nor will he 
always be complaining of their smart, but inquire into their 
causes and seek their removal. Yet are there some distem- 
pers, as lethargies, which in their own nature take away all 
sense and thoughts of themselves ; and some are of such a 
slow secret progress, as hectic fevers, that they are not taken 
notice of. But both these are mortal. And shall men be 
more negligent about the spiritual distempers of their souls ; 
so as to have multiplied temptations, the cause of all spi- 
ritual diseases, and take no thought about them ? Is it not 
to be feared, that where it is so, they are such as either in 
their own nature have deprived them of spiritual sense, or 
by their deceitfulness are leading on insensiblty unto death 
eternal ? Not to have our minds exercised about these things, 
is to be stupidly secure ; Prov. xxiii. 34, 35. 

There is I confess some difficulty in this matter, how 
to exercise our thoughts aright about our temptations. 
For the great way of the prevalency of temptations is by 
stirring up multiplied thoughts about their objects, or 
what they do lead unto. And this is done or occasioned 
several ways : 1. From the previous power of lust in the 
affections. This will fill the mind with thoughts. The 
heart will coin imaginations in compliance therewith. They 
are the way and means whereby lust draws away the heart 
from duty and enticeth unto sin ; .Tames i. 14. The means 


at least whereby men come to have * eyes full of adultery,' 
2 Pet. ii. 14. or live in constant contemplation of the plea- 
sures of sin. 2. They arise and are occasioned by re- 
newed representations of the object of sin. And this is 
twofold: 1. That which is real, as Achan saw the wedge 
of gold and coveted it; Josh. vii. 21. Prov. xxiii. 31. 
Against this is that prayer of the psalmist, ' turn away 
mine eyes from beholding vanity;' and the covenant of 
Job, chap. xxxi. 1. 2, Imaginary, when the imagination 
being tainted or infected by lust, continually represents the 
pleasure of sin and the actings of it unto the mind. Herein 
do men make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts 
thereof ; Rom. xiii. 14. 3. From the suggestions of Satan, 
who useth all his wiles and artifices to stir up thoughts 
about that sin whereunto the temptation leads. And temp- 
tation seldom fails of its end, when it can stir up a multi- 
tude of unprofitable thoughts about its object. For when 
temptations do multiply thoughts about sin, proceeding 
from some or all of these causes, and the mind hath wonted 
itself to give them entertainment, those in whom they are 
do want nothing but opportunities and occasions, taking off 
the power of outward restraints, for the commission of 
actual sin. When men have so devised mischief, * they 
practise it when it is in the power of their hand;' Micah 
ii. 1 . It is no way safe to advise such persons to have many 
thoughts about their temptations; they will all turn to their 

I speak unto them only, unto whom their temptations 
are their affliction and their burden. And such persons 
also must be very careful how they suffer their thoughts 
to be exercised about the matter of their temptation, lest it 
be a snare, and be too hard for them. Men may begin their 
thoughts of any object with abhorrency and detestation, 
and, if it be in case of temptation, end them in complacency 
and approbation. The deceitfulness of sin lays hold on 
something or other that lust in the mind stays upon with 
delectation, and so corrupts the whole frame of spirit which 
began the duty. There have been instances wherein per- 
sons have entered with a resolution to punish sin, and have 
been ensnared by the occasion unto the commission of the 
sin they thought to punish. Wherefore, it is seldom that 


the mind of any one exercised with an actual temptation, 
is able safely to conflict with it, if it entertain abiding 
thoughts of the matter of it, or of the sin whereunto it 
leads. For sin hath ' mille nocendi artes,' and is able to 
transfuse its poison into the affections from every thing 
it hath once made a bait of, especially if it hath already 
defiled the mind with pleasing contemplations of it. Yea, 
oftentimes a man that hath some spiritual strength and 
therein engageth unto the performance of duties, if in the 
midst of them the matter of his temptation is so presented 
unto him, as to take hold of his thoughts in a moment, as 
if he had seen (as they say) Medusa's head, he is turned 
into a stone ; his spirits are all frozen, his strength is gone, 
all actings of grace do cease, his armour falls from him, and 
he gives up himself a prey to his temptation. It must be 
a new supply of grace that can give him any deliverance. 
Wherefore, whilst persons are exercised with any tempta- 
tion, I do not advise them to be conversant in their 
thoughts about the matter of it. For sometimes remem- 
brances of former satisfaction of their lusts, sometimes 
present surprisals, with the suitableness of it unto corrup- 
tion not yet mortified, sometimes the craft of Satan fixing 
their imagination on it, will be too hard for them, and carry 
them unto a fresh compliance with that sin, which they 
would be delivered from. 

But this season calls in an especial manner for the exer- 
cise of the thoughts of men, about the ways and means 
of deliverance from the snare wherein they are taken, or the 
danger they find themselves exposed unto. Think of the 
guilt of sin, that you may be humbled. Think of the 
power of sin, that you may seek strength against it. Think 
not of the matter of sin, the things that are in the world 
suited unto the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and 
the pride of life, lest you be more and more entangled. 
But the present direction is, think much of the ways of 
relief from the power of your own temptation leading unto 
sin. But this men, unless they are spiritually minded, are 
very loath to come unto. I speak not of them that love 
their shackles, that glory in their yoke, that like their 
temptations well enough, as those which give the most 
satisfactory entertainment unto their minds. Such men 


know not well what to do unless they may in their minds 
converse with the objects of their lusts, and do multiply 
thoughts about them continually. The apostle calls it 
' making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.' 
Their principal trouble is, that they cannot comply with 
them to the utmost by reason of some outward restraints. 
These dwell near unto those fools who make a mock of 
sin, and will ere long take up their habitation among 

But I speak, as I said before, of them only whose 
temptations are their afllictions, and who groan for de- 
liverance from them. Acquaint such persons with the 
great, indeed only, way of relief in this distress, as it is ex- 
pressed, Heb. ii. 17, 18. 'He is a merciful and faithful 
high priest in things appertaining unto God. For in that 
he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour 
them that are tempted ;' and chap. iv. 15, 16. * For we have 
not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling 
of our infirmities ; but was in all points tempted like as we 
are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the 
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace 
to help in time of need :' let them know that their only 
way for their deliverance is by acting faith in thoughts on 
Christ, his power to succour them that are tempted, with 
the ways whereby he administereth a sufficiency of grace 
unto that end ; retreating for relief unto him on the urgency 
of temptations, they can hardly be brought unto a com- 
pliance therewithal. They are ready to say, ' Are not 
Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus better than all the 
waters of Israel?' Is it not better to betake ourselves and 
to trust unto our own promises, resolutions, and endeavours, 
with such other ways of escape as are in our own power ? 
I shall speak nothing against any of them in their proper 
place, so far as they are warranted by Scripture rule. But 
this I say, none shall ever be delivered from perplexing 
temptations unto the glory of God and their own spiritual 
advantage, but by the acting and exercising of faith on 
Christ Jesus, and the sufficiency of his grace for our deli- 
verance. But when men are not spiritually minded, they 
cannot fix their thoughts on spiritual things. Therefore do 
men daily pine away under their temptations, they get 



ground upon them, until their breach grow great like the 
sea, and there be no healing of it. 

I mention this only to shew the weight and necessity of 
the duty proposed. For when men under the power of 
conviction are pressed with temptation, they will do any 
thing rather than betake themselves unto the only efficacious 
relief. Some will groan and cry out under their vexation 
from the torture they are put unto in the conflict between 
their temptations and convictions. Some will betake them- 
selves unto the pretended relief that any false religion tenders 
unto them. But to apply themselves in thoughts of faith 
unto Jesus Christ, whose grace alone is sufficient for all, that 
they will not be persuaded unto. 

We are all of us liable unto temptations. Those who 
are not sensible of it, are under the power of what the temp- 
tation leads unto. And they are of two sorts ; first, such as 
are extraordinary, when the hand of God is in them in a pe- 
culiar manner for our rebuke. It is true, God tempts none, 
as temptation formally leads unto sin. But he orders temp- 
tations so far forth as they are afflictive and chastisements. 
Thus it is when he suffers an especial corruption within to 
fall in conjunction with an especial temptation without, and 
to obtain a prevalency thereby. Of these there is no doubt, 
but any man not judicially hardened, may know both his dis- 
ease and the remedy. But that ordinary course of tempta- 
tions which we are exercised withal, needs a diligent at- 
tendance for their discovery as well as for our deliverance 
from them. And it is to be feared, that many are kept in 
spiritual weakness, useless, and in darkness, all their days, 
through the power of their temptations, yet never know what 
they are, or wherein they consist. These gray hairs are 
sprinkled on them, yet they know it not ; some approve them- 
selves in those very things and ways which are their temp- 
tations. Yet in the exercise of due watchfulness, diligence, 
and prudence, men may know both the plague of their own 
hearts in their prevailing corruptions, and the ways whereby 
it is excited through temptation, with the occasions it makes 
use of, and the advantages it takes. For instance ; one may 
have an eminency in gifts, and usefulness or success in his 
labours, which gives him great acceptance with others. Such 
a one shall hardly avoid a double temptation. First, of spi 


ritual pride and self-exaltation. Hence the apostle will not 
admit a novice, one unexperienced in the ways of grace and 
deceits" of sin, into the office of the ministry, lest he should 
be lifted up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the 
devil; 1 Tim. iii. 6. He himself was not without danger hereof ; 
2 Cor. xii. 17. The best of men can hardly fortify their minds 
against the secret workings of pride upon successes and ap- 
plause, unless they keep themselves constantly balanced with 
thoughts of their own vileness in the sight of God. And, 
secondly, remissness unto exact universal mortification, 
which they countenance themselves against, by their accep- 
tance and success above others in the ministry. It were 
much to be desired that all who are ministers, would be care- 
ful in these things ; for although some of us may not much 
please others, yet we may so far please ourselves, as to expose 
our souls unto these snares. And the effects of negligence 
herein do openly appear unto the disadvantage of the gospel. 
Others are much conversant in the world and the affairs of it. 
Negligence as unto a spiritual watch, vanity in converse, love 
of earthly things, with conformity unto the world, will on all 
occasions impose themselves upon them. If they under- 
stand not their temptations herein, spiritual mindedness will 
be impaired in them continually. Those that are rich have 
their especial temptations, which for the most part are many, 
plausible, and effectual ; and those that are poor have theirs 
also. The snares of some lie in their constitutions, of others 
in their society, of most in the various circumstances of life. 
Those who are upon their watch in any due measure, who 
exercise any wisdom or observation concerning themselves, 
may know wherein their temptations do lie, what are the ad- 
vantages whereby they perplex their minds and endanger 
their souls. 

In these cases, generally, men are taught what are the ways 
and means of their deliverance and preservation. Where- 
fore there are three things required unto this duty, and spi- 
ritual wisdom unto them all : 1. To know what are the es- 
pecial temptations from whence you suffer, and whereby the 
life of God is obstructed in you. If this be neglected, if it 
be disregarded, no man can maintain either life or peace, or 
is spiritually minded. 2. Know your remedy, your relief, 
wherein alone it doth consist. Many duties are required of 

T 2 


US unto this end, and are useful thereunto. But know as- 
suredly, that no one of them, not all of them in conjunction, 
will brincr in relief unto the glory of God and your own 
peace, without application by faith unto him who ' is able to 
succour them that are tempted.' Wherefore, 3. Herein lies 
your great duty with respect unto your temptations, namely, 
in a constant exercise of vourthouo-hts on the love, care, 
compassion, and tenderness of Christ, with his ability to help, 
succour, and save them that do believe, so to strengthen your 
faith and trust in him, which will prove assuredly successful 
and victorious. 

The same duty is incumbent on us with respect unto 
any urgent prevalent general temptation. There are seasons 
wherein an hour of temptation comes on the earth to try them 
that dwell therein. Whatifaman should judge that now it is 
such an hour, and that the power ofdarkness is put forth there- 
in? What if he should be persuaded that a general security, 
coldness, deadness, and decay in grace, especially as to the 
vigorous actings of zeal, love, and delight in God, with an in- 
differency unto holy duties, are the effects of this hour of temp- 
tation ? I do not say determinately that so it is, let others 
judge as they see cause. But if any one do so judge, un- 
doubtedly it is his duty to be exercised in his thoughts, how 
he may escape in this day of trial, and be counted worthy to 
stand before the Son of man. He will find it his concern- 
ment to be conversant in his mind with the reasons and 
motives unto watchfulness, and how he may obtain such 
supplies of grace as may effectually preserve him from such 

3. All things in religion, both in faith and practice, are to 
be the objects of such thoughts. As they are proposed or 
occur in our minds in great variety on all sorts of occasions, 
so we ought to give them entertainment in our meditations. 
To hear things, to have them proposed unto us, it may be, 
in the way of a divine ordinance, and to let them slip outer 
flow from us, as water that is poured into a leaking vessel, 
is the ruin of many souls. I shall therefore choose out some 
instances, as was before proposed, of those things which I 
judge that they who would be spiritually minded, ought to 
abide and abound in thoughts concerning them. 

1. It is our duty greatly to mind the things that are above. 


eternal things, both as unto their reality, their present state, 
and our future enjoyment of them. Herein consists the life 
of this grace and duty. To be heavenly minded, that is, to 
mind the things of heaven, and to be spiritually minded is 
all one ; or it is the effect of being spiritually minded, as unto 
its original and essence ; or the first proper actings of it. It 
is the cause of it, as unto its growth and degrees; and it is 
the evidence of it in experience. Nor do I understand how 
it is possible for a man to place his chief interest in things 
above, and not have many thoughts of them. It is the great 
advice of the apostle, on a supposition of our interest in 
Christ and conformity unto him. Col. iii. 1,2. 'If ye then 
be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where 
Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on 
(or your thoughts), mind much, ' the things that are above.* 
It becomes those who through the virtue of the resurrection 
of Christ are raised unto newness of life, to have their 
thoughts exercised on the state of things above, with respect 
unto the presence of Christ among them. And the singular 
use of our prospect into these things, or our meditations on 
them, he instructs us in, 2 Cor. iv. 16 — 18. ' For which cause 
we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the in- 
ward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction 
which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceed- 
ing and eternal weight of glory ; while we look not at the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : 
for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things 
which are not seen are eternal.' Not to faint under the daily 
decays of our outward man, and the approaches of death 
thereby, to bear afflictions as things light and momentary, 
to thrive under all in the inward man, are unspeakable mercies 
and privileges. Can you attain a better frame ? Is there 
any thing that you would more desire, if you are believers? 
Is it not better to have such a mind in us, than to enjoy all 
the peace and security that the world can afiord ? One prin- 
cipal means whereby we are made partakers of these things, 
is a due meditation on things unseen and eternal. These are 
the things that are within the vail, whereon we ought to cast 
the anchor of our hope in all the storms we meet withal, 
Heb. vi. 19,20. whereof we shall speak more afterward. 
Without doubt ^he generality of Christians are greatly 


defective in this duty, partly for want of light into them, 
partly for want of delight in them ; they think little of an 
eternal country. Wherever men are, they do not use to neg- 
lect thoughts of that country wherein their inheritance lies. 
If they are absent from it for a season, yet will they labour 
to acquaint themselves with the principal concernments of 
it. But this heavenly country, wherein lies our eternal in- 
heritance, is not regarded. Men do not as they ought exer- 
cise themselves unto thoughts of things eternal and invisible- 
It were impossible if they did so, that their minds should 
be so earthly, and their aflPections cleave so as they do unto 
present things. He that looks steadily on the sun, although 
he cannot bear the lustre of its beams fully, yet his sight is 
so affected with it, that when he calls off his eyes from it, 
he can see nothing as it were of the things about him, they 
are all dark unto him. And he who looks steadily in his 
contemplations on things above, eternal things, though he 
cannot comprehend their glory, yet a veil will be cast by it 
on all the desirable beauties of earthly things, and take off 
his affections from them. 

Men live and act under the power of a conviction, that 
there is a state of immortality and glory to come. With 
a persuasion hereof they much relieve themselves in their 
sorrows, sufferings, and temptations. Yet with many it is 
only a reserve when they can be here no more ; but as unto 
daily contemplation of the nature and causes of it, or as 
unto any entrance into it by faith and hope, the most are 
strangers thereunto. If we are spiritually minded, nothing 
will be more natural unto us, than to have many thoughts 
of eternal things, as those wherein all our own principal con- 
cerns do lie, as well as those which are excellent and glo- 
rious in themselves. The direction thereon is, that we would 
make heavenly things, the things of the future state of bless- 
edness and glory, a principal object of our thoughts ; that 
we would think much about them, that we would meditate 
much upon them. Many are discouraged herein, by their 
ignorance and darkness, by their want of due conceptions 
and steady apprehensions of invisible things. Hence one of 
these two things do befall them, when they would meditate 
on things above. 1. The glory of them, the glory of God 
in them, being essentially infinite and iticomprehensible. 


doth immediately overwhelm them, and, as it were in a mo- 
ment, put them unto an utter loss, that they cannot frame 
one thought in their minds about them. Or, 2. They want 
skill and ability to conceive aright of invisible things, and to 
dispose of them in such order in their minds, as that they 
may sedately exercise their thoughts about them. Both 
these shall be afterward spoken unto. At present I shall 
only say, that. 

Whosoever shall sincerely engage in this duty according 
unto what he hath, and shall abide constant therein, he v/ill 
make such a refreshing progress in his apprehension of hea- 
venly things, as he will be greatly satisfied withal. We are 
kept in darkness, ignorance, and unsteadiness of meditations 
about them, not from the nature of the things themselves, 
but from our own sloth, negligence, and readiness to be 
turned aside by apprehensions of difficulties, of the lion in 
the way. Wherefore, I shall consider two things : 1 . What 
are the principal motives unto this duty of fixing our thoughts 
on the things that are above, and the advantages which 
we receive thereby. 2. Give some directions how and on 
what in particular we may exercise our thoughts on those 
things above. 

1. Faith will be increased and strengthened by it. In- 
visible things are the proper objects of faith. It is the evi- 
dence of things not seen;' Heb. xi. 1. Wherefore in our 
thoughts of them, faith is in its proper exercise, which is 
the principal means of its growth and increase. And hereon 
two things will ensue. 

1. The soul will come unto a more satisfactory abiding 
sense of the reality of them. Things of imagination which 
maintain a value of themselves by darkness, will not bear a 
diligent search into them. They lose of their reputation on 
every serious inquiry. If rational men would but give them- 
selves the liberty of free indagation by their own thoughts, 
it would quickly cashier the fool's paradise of Mahomet, 
the purgatory of the Papists, and all such creatures of ima- 
gination and superstition. But where things are real and 
substantial, the more they are inquired into, the more they 
evidence their being and subsistence. It is not therefore 
every profession of a faith of a future state of blessedness, 
that will realize it in our minds. And therefore, for the most 


part, it is rather a notion that men have of heavenly things 
which they do not contradict, than any solid satisfaction in, 
or spiritual sense of, their reality. For these are things that 
'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor will enter into the heart 
of man to conceive;' whose existence, nature, and real state 
are not easily comprehended. But through the continual 
exercise of holy thoughts about them, the soul obtains an 
entrance into the midst of them, finding in them both du- 
rable substance and riches. There is no way therefore to 
strengthen faith unto any degree, but by a daily contempla- 
tion on the things themselves. They who do not think of 
them frequently shall never believe them sincerely. They 
admit not of any collateral evidence, where they do not 
evidence themselves unto our souls. Faith, as we said, thus 
exercised, will give them a subsistence, not in themselves, 
which they have antecedent thereunto ; but in us, in our 
hearts, in the minds of them that do believe. Imagination 
creates its own object; faith finds it prepared beforehand. 
It will not leave a bare notion of them in the understanding, 
but give them a spiritual subsistence in the heart ; as Christ 
himself dwells in our hearts by faith. And there are two things 
that will discover this subsistence of them in us: 1. When 
we find them in a continual readiness to rise up in our minds, 
on all occasions wherein the thoughts and remembrance of 
them are needful and useful unto us. There are many sea- 
sons, some whereof shall be immediately spoken unto, and 
many duties wherein and whereunto the faith and thoughts 
of things invisible and eternal are needful unto us, so as 
that we cannot fill up those seasons, nor perform those duties 
in a due manner without them. If on all such occasions they 
do from the inward frame of our minds present themselves 
unto us, or through our acquaintance and familiarity with 
them, we recur in our thoughts unto them, they seem to have 
a re9,l subsistence given unto them in our souls. But if on 
such occasions wherein alone they will yield us help and re- 
lief, we accustom ourselves to other thoughts, if those con- 
cerning them are as it were out of the way, and arise not in 
our minds of their own accord, we are yet strangers unto this 
effect of faith. 2. They are realized unto us, they have a 
subsistence in us, when the soul continually longeth to be 
in them. When they have given such a relish unto our 


hearts, as the first fruits of glory, that we cannot but desire 
on all opportune considerations, to be in the full enjoyment 
of them, faith seems to have had its effectual work herein 
upon us. For want of these things do many among us walk 
in disconsolation all their days. 

2. It will gradually give the heart an acquaintance 
with the especial nature and use of these things. General 
thoughts and notions of heaven and glory do but fluctuate 
up and down in the mind, and very little influence it unto 
other duties. But assiduous contemplation will give the 
mind such distinct apprehensions of heavenly things as shall 
duly affect it with the glory of them. 

1. The more we discern of the glory and excellency of 
them in their own nature, of their suitableness unto ours, as 
our only proper rest and blessedness, as the perfection and 
complement of what is already begun in us by grace, of the 
restless tendency of all gracious dispositions.and inclinations 
of our hearts towards their enjoyment, the more will faith 
be established in its cleaving unto them ; so in the contempla- 
tion of these things consists the principal food of faith, 
whereby it is nourished and strengthened. And we are not to 
expect much work, where there is not provision of proper food 
for them that labour. No wonder if we find faith faint and 
w^eak in the work it hath to do, which ofttimes is great and 
weighty, if we neglect to guide it daily unto that whicli 
should administer strength unto it. 

2. It will give life and exercise unto the grace of 
hope. Hope is a glorious grace, whereunto blessed effects 
are ascribed in the Scripture, and an effectual operation unto 
the supportment and consolation of believers. By it are we 
purified, sanctified, saved. And to sum up the whole of its 
excellency and efficacy, it is a principal way of the working 
of Christ as inhabiting in us; Col. i. 27. 'Christ in you 
the hope of glory.' Where Christ evidenceth his presence 
with us, he gives us an infallible hope of glory ; he gives us 
an assured pledge of it, and worketh our souls into an 
expectation of it. Hope in general is but an uncertain ex- 
pectation of a future good which we desire. But as it is a 
gospel grace, all uncertainty is removed from it, which would 
hinder us of the advantage intended in it. It is an earnest 
expectation proceeding from faith, trust, and confidence. 


accompanied with longing desires of enjoyment. From a 
mistake of its nature it is, that few Christians labour after it, 
exercise themselves unto it, or have the benefit of it. For 
to live by hope, they suppose infers a state not only beneath 
the life of faith and all assurance in believing, but also 
exclusive of them. They think to hope to be saved is a 
condition of men who have no grounds of faith or assurance. 
But this is to turn a blessed fruit of the Spirit into a common 
affection of nature. Gospel hope is a fruit of faith, trust, 
and confidence. Yea, the height of the actings of all grace 
issues in a well-grounded hope, nor can it rise any higher. 
Rom. V. 2 — 5. 

Now the reason why men have no more use of, no more 
benefit by, this excellent grace, is because they do not abide 
in thoughts and contemplation of the things hoped for. The 
especial object of hope is eternal glory; Col. i. 27. Rom. 
V. 2. The peculiar use of it is, to support, comfort, and re- 
fresh the soul in all trials, under all weariness and despond- 
encies, with a firm expectation of a speedy entrance into 
that glory, with an earnest desire after it. Wherefore, unless 
we acquaint ourselves by continual meditation with the 
reality and nature of this glory, it is impossible it should be 
the object of a vigorous active hope, such as whereby the 
apostle says, * we are saved.' Without this we can neither 
have that evidence of eternal things, nor that valuation of 
them, nor that preparedness in our minds for them, as should 
keep us in the exercise of gracious hope about them. 

Suppose sundry persons engaged in a voyage unto a most 
remote country, wherein all of them have an apprehension 
that there is a place of rest, and an inheritance provided for 
them. Under this apprehension they all put themselves upon 
their voyage, to possess what is so prepared. Howbeit some 
of them have only a general notion of these things, they 
know nothing distinctly concerning them, and are so busied 
about other affairs that they have no leisure to inquire into 
them, or do suppose that they cannot come unto any satis- 
factory knowledge of them in particular, and so are content 
to go on with general hopes and expectations. Others there 
are who by all possible means acquaint themselves particu- 
larly with the nature of the climate whither they are going, 
with the excellency of the inheritance and provision that is 


made for them. Their voyage proves long and wearisome, 
their difficulties many and their dangers great, and they 
have nothing to relieve and encourage themselves but the 
hope and expectation of the country whither they are going. 
Those of the first sort will be very apt to despond and faint; 
their general hopes will not be able to relieve them. But 
those who have a distinct notion and apprehension of the 
state of things whither they are going, and of their incom- 
parable excellency, have always in a readiness wherewith to 
cheer their minds and support themselves. 

In that journey or pilgrimage wherein we are engaged 
towards a heavenly country, we are sure to meet with all 
kinds of dangers, difficulties, and perils. It is not a general 
notion of blessedness that will excite and work in us a spi- 
ritual refreshing hope. But when we think and meditate on 
future glory as we ought, that grace which is neglected for 
the most part as unto its benefit, and dead as unto its exer- 
cise, will of all others be most vigorous and active, putting 
itself forth on all occasions. This therefore is an inestimable 
benefit of the duty exhorted unto, and which they find the 
advantage of, who are really spiritually minded. 

3. This alone will make us ready for the cross, for all 
sorts of sufferings that we may be exposed unto. 

There is nothing more necessary unto believers at this 
season, than to have their minds furnished with provision 
of such things as may prepare them for the cross and suffer- 
ings. Various intimations of the mind of God, circum- 
stances of providence, the present state of things in the world, 
with the instant peril of the latter days, do all call them here- 
unto. If it be otherwise with them, they will at one time or 
other be wofully surprised, and think strange of their trials, 
as if some strange thing did befall them. Nothing is more 
useful unto this end, than constant thoughts and contem- 
plations of eternal things and future glory. From thence 
alone can the soul have in a readiness, what to lay in the 
balance against all sorts of sufferings. When a storm begins 
to arise at sea, the mariners bestir themselves in the manage- 
ment of the tackling of the ship, and other applications of 
their art for their safety. But if the storm increase and 
come to extremity, they are forced to forego all other means 
and betake themselves* unto a sheet-anchor, to hold their 


ship steady against its violence. So when a storm of perse- 
cution and troubles begins to arise, men have various ways 
and considerations for their relief. But if it once comes to 
extremity, if sword, nakedness, famine, and death are in- 
evitably coming upon them, they have nothing to betake 
themselves unto that will yield them solid relief, but the 
consideration and faith of things invisible and eternal. 

So the apostle declares this state of things, 2 Cor. iv. 
16 — 18. the words before insisted on. ' For which cause we 
faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward 
man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction which is 
but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory ; while we look not at the things 
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for 
the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which 
are not seen are eternal.' He lays all sorts of afflictions in 
one scale, and on the consideration of them, declares them 
to be light and but for a moment. Then he lays glory in 
the other scale, and finds it to be ponderous, weighty, and 
eternal ; 'an exceeding weight of glory.' In the one is sorrow 
for a little while, in the other eternal joy. In the one pain 
for a few moments, in the other everlasting rest; in the one 
is the loss of some few temporary things, in the other the 
full fruition of God in Christ, who is all in all. 

Hence the same apostle casts up the account of these 
things, and gives us his judgment concerning them, Rom. 
viii. 18. 'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present 
time are not to be compared with the glory that shall be 
revealed in us;' there is no comparison between them, as if 
one had as much evil and misery in them as the other hath 
of good and blessedness ; as though his state was any way 
to be complained of, who must undergo the one whilst he 
hath an interest in the other; or as though to escape the 
one he hazard the enjoyment of the other. 

It is inseparable from our nature to have a fear of, and 
aversation from, great distressing sufferings, that are above 
the power of nature to bear. Even our Lord Jesus himself, 
having taken on him all the sinless properties of our nature, 
had a fear and aversation, though holy and gracious with 
respect unto his own. Those who through a stout-hearted- 
ness do contemn them before their approach, boasting in 


themselves of their abilities to undergo them, censuring such 
as will not unadvisedly engage in them, are such as seldom 
glorify God when they are really to conflict with them. 
Peter alone trusted unto himself that he would not forsake 
his master, and seemed to take the warning ill that they 
should all do so; and he alone denied him. All church 
stories are filled with instances of such as having borne 
themselves high before the approach of trials, have shame- 
fully miscarried when their trials have come. Wherefore, it 
is moreover allowed unto us, to use all lawful means for the 
avoiding of them. Both rules and examples of the Scripture 
give sufficient warranty for it. But there are times and 
seasons wherein, without any tergiversation, they are to be 
undergone unto the glory of God, and in the discharge of 
our duty, confessing Christ before men, as we would be 
owned by him before his Father in heaven. All things do 
now call us to prepare for such a season, to be martyrs in 
resolution, though we should never really lose our lives by 
violence. Nothing will give us this preparation, but to have 
our minds exercised in the contemplation of heavenly things, 
of things that are invisible and eternal. He who is thus 
spiritually minded, who hath his thoughts and affections 
set on things above, will have always in a readiness what to 
oppose unto any circumstance of his sufferings. 

Those views which such a one hath had by faith of the 
uncreated glories above, of the things in heavenly places 
where Christ sits at the right hand of God, of the glory 
within the veil, whereby they have been realized and made 
present unto his soul, will now visit him every moment, abide 
with him continually, and put forth their efficacy unto his 
supportment and refreshment. Alas! what will become of 
many of us, who are grovelling continually on the earth, 
whose bellies cleave unto the dust, who are strangers unto 
the thoughts of heavenly things, when distressing troubles 
shall befall us ? Why shall we think that refreshing thoughts 
of things above will then visit our souls, when we resisted 
their admittance in days of peace ? Do you come to me in 
your distress, saith Jephtha, when in the time of your peace 
you drove me from you? When we would thus think of 
heavenly things to our refreshment, we shall hardly get them 
to make an abode with us. I know God can come in by the 


mighty power of his Spirit and grace, to support and comfort 
the souls of them who are called and even surprised into the 
greatest of sufferings. Yet do I know also, that it is our 
duty not to tempt him in the neglect of the ways and means 
which he hath appointed for the communication of his grace 
unto us. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, as 'the author and finisher 
of our faith, for the joy that was set before him, endured the 
cross, and despised the shame;' Heb. xii. 2. His mediatory 
glory in the salvation of the church was the matter of the 
joy set before him. This he took the view and prospect of 
in all his sufferings, unto his refreshment and supportment. 
And his example, as 'the author and finisher of our faith,' is 
more efficaciously instructive than any other rule or precept. 
Eternal glory is set before us also ; it is the design of God's 
wisdom and grace, that by the contemplation of it we should 
relieve ourselves in all our sufferings, yea, and rejoice with 
joy unspeakable and full of glory. How many of those 
blessed souls, now in the enjoyment of God and glory, who 
passed through fiery trials and great tribulations, were en- 
abled to sing and rejoice in the flames by a prepossession of 
this glory in their minds through believing? yea, some of 
them have been so filled with them, as to take off all sense 
of pain under the most exquisite tortures. When Stephen 
was to be stoned, to encourage him in his sufferings, and 
comfort him in it, the ' heavens were opened, and he saw 
Jesus standing at the right hand of God.' Who can conceive 
what contempt of all the rage and madness of the Jews, what 
a neglect of all the pains of death, this view raised his holy 
soul unto ? To obtain therefore such views frequently by 
faith, as they do who are truly spiritually minded, is the 
most effectual way to encourage us unto all our sufferings. 
The apostle gives us the force of this encouragement in a 
comparison with earthly things, 1 Cor. ix. 25. 'Every man 
who striveth for the mastery, is temperate in all things ; now 
they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorrupt- 
ible.' If men, when a corruptible crown of vain honour and 
applause is proposed unto them, will do and endure all that 
is needful for the attainment of it, and relieve themselves in 
their hardships with thoughts and imaginations of attaining 
it, grounded on uncertain hopes ; shall not we who have a 


crown immortal and invisible proposed unto us, and that 
with the highest assurance of the enjoyment of it, cheerfully 
undergo, endure, and suffer, what we are to go through in the 
way unto it? 

4. This is the most effectual means to wean the heart 
and affections from things here below ; to keep the mind 
unto an undervaluation, yea, a contempt of them as occasion 
shall require. For there is a season wherein there is such a 
contempt required in us of all relations and enjoyments, as 
our Saviour calleth, the hating of them; that is, not abso- 
lutely, but comparatively, in comparison of him and the 
gospel, with the duties which belong unto our profession; 
Luke xiv. 26. ' If any man come to me, and hate not father, 
and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, 
yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.' Some 
I fear, if they did but consider it, would be apt to say, * This 
is a hard saying, who can bear it?' and others cry out with 
the disciples in another case, ' Lord, who then can be saved V 
But it is the word whereby we must be judged, nor can we 
be the disciples of Christ on any other terms. But here in 
an especial manner lies the wound and weakness of faith and 
profession in these our days. ' The bellies of men cleave 
unto the dust,' or their affections unto earthly things. 

I speak not of those who by rapine, deceit, and oppres- 
sion, strive to enrich themselves ; nor of those who design 
nothing more than the attainment of greatness and promo- 
tions in the world, though not by ways of open wickedness ; 
least of all of them who make religion, and perhaps their mi- 
nistry therein, a means for the attaining secular ends and 
preferments. No wise man can suppose such persons, any 
of them, to be spiritually minded, and it is most easy to 
disprove all their pretences. But I intend only those at 
present, whose ways and means of obtaining riches, are 
lawful, honest, and unblamable ; who use them with some 
moderation, and do profess that their portion lies in better 
things ; so as it is hard to fasten a conviction on them in 
matter of their conversation. Whatever may seem to reflect 
upon them, they esteem it to be that whose omission would 
make them foolish in their affairs, or negligent in their duty. 
But even among these also, there is ofttinies that inordinate 
love unto present things, that esteem and valuation of them. 


that concernment in them, as are not consistent with their 
being spiritually minded. With some their relations, with 
some their enjoyments, with most both in conjunction, are 
an idol which they set up in their hearts, and secretly bow 
down unto. About these are their hopes and fears exer- 
cised, on them is their love, in them is their delight. They 
are wholly taken up with their own concerns, count all lost 
that is not spent on them, and all time mispent that is not 
engaged about them. Yet the things which they do, they 
judge to be good in themselves, their hearts do not condenm 
them as to the matter of them. The valuation they have of 
their relations and enjoyments they suppose to be lawfub 
within the bounds which they have assigned unto it. Their 
care about them is in their own minds but their duty. It is 
no easy matter, it requires much spiritual wisdom, to fix 
right boundaries unto our affections and their actings about 
earthly things. But let men plead and pretend what they 
please, I shall offer one rule in this case which will not fail. 
And this is, that when men are so confident in the good 
state and measure of their affections and their actings to- 
wards earthly things, as that they will oppose their engage- 
ments into them, unto known duties of religion, piety, and 
charity, they are gone into a sinful excess. Is there a state 
of the poor that requires their liberality and bounty? you 
must excuse them, they have families to provide for ;.when 
what is expected from them signifies nothing at all, as unto 
a due provision for their families, nor is what would lessen 
their inheritances or portions one penny in the issue. Are 
they called to an attendance on seasons of religious du- 
ties ? they are so full of business, that it is impossible for 
them to have leisure for any such occasions ; so by all ways 
declaring that they are under the power of a prevalent 
predominant affection unto earthly things. This fills all 
places with lifeless, sapless, useless professors, who approve 
themselves in their condition, whilst it is visibly unspiritual 
and withering. 

The heart will have something whereon in a way of pre- 
eminence, it will fix itself and its affections. This in all its 
perpetual motions it seeks for rest and satisfaction in; and 
every man hath an edge, the edge of his aftections is set one 
way or other, though it be more keen in some than others. 


And whereas all sorts of things, that the heart can fix upon 
or turn the edge of its affections unto, are distributed by 
the apostle into * things above' and ' things beneath,' things 
heavenly and things earthly, if we have not such a view and 
prospect of heavenly things as to cause our hearts to cleave 
unto them and deliglit in them, let us pretend what we will, 
it is impossible but that we shall be under the power of a 
predominant affection unto the things of this world. 

Herein lies the great danger of multitudes at this pre- 
sent season. For let men profess what they will under the 
power of this frame, their eternal state is in hazard every 
moment. And persons are engaged in it in great variety of 
degrees. And we may cast them under two heads. 

1. Some do not at all understand that things are amiss 
with them, or that they are much to be blamed. They plead, 
as was before observed, that they are all lawful things which 
their hearts do cleave unto, and which it is their duty to 
take care of and regard. May they not delight in their own 
relations, especially at such a time when others break and 
cancel all duties and bonds of relation in the service of and 
provision they make for their lusts ? May they not be care- 
ful in good and honest ways of diligence about the things of 
the world, when the most either lavish their time away in the 
pursuit of bestial lusts, or heap them up by deceit and op- 
pression ? May they not contrive for the promotion of their 
children in the world, to add the other hundred or thousand 
pounds unto their advancement, that they may be in as good 
condition as others, seeing he is worse than an infidel who 
provides not for his own family ? By such reasonings and 
secret thoughts do many justify themselves in their earthly 
mindedness. And so fixed they are in the approbation of 
themselves, that if you urge them to their duty, you shall 
loose their acquaintance, if they do not become your ene- 
mies for telling them the truth. Yea, they will avoid one 
duty that lieth not against their earthly interest, because it 
leads unto another. They will not engage in religious as- 
semblies. Or be constant unto their duty in them, for fear 
duties of charity should be required of them or expected 
from them : on what grounds such persons can satisfy them- 
selves that they are spiritually minded, I know not. 1 shall 
leave only one rule with persons that are thus minded. 
VOL. xin. u 


Where our love unto the world, hath prevailed by its rea- 
sonings, pleas, and pretences, to take away our fear and jea- 
lousy over our own hearts, lest we should inordinately love 
it, there it is assuredly predominant in us. 

2. Others are sensible of the evil of their hearts, at least 
are jealous and afraid lest it should be found that their 
hearts do cleave inordinately unto these things. Hence they 
endeavour to contend against this evil, sometimes by forcing 
themselves unto such acts of piety or charity as are contrary 
unto that frame, and sometimes by labouring a change of the 
frame itself: especially they will do so when God is pleased 
to awaken them by trials and afflictions, such as write vanity 
and emptiness on all earthly enjoyments. But for the most 
part they strive not lawfully, and so obtain not what they 
seem to aim at. 

This disease with many is mortal ; and will not be tho- 
roughly cured in any but by the due exercise of this part of 
spiritual mindedness. There are other duties required also 
unto the same end, namely, of the mortification of our de- 
sires and affections unto earthly things, whereof I have 
treated elsewhere. But without this, or a fixed contem- 
plation on the desirableness, beauty, and glory of heavenly 
things, it will not be attained. Farther to evince the truth 
hereof, we may observe these two things : 1. If by any 
means a man do seem to have taken off his heart from the 
love of present things, and be not at the same time taken up 
with the love of things that are heavenly, his seeming mor- 
tification is of no advantage unto him . So persons frequently 
through discontent, disappointments, or dissatisfaction with 
relations, or mere natural weariness, have left the world, the 
affairs and cares of it, as unto their wonted conversations in 
it, and have betaken themselves to monasteries, convents, 
or other retirements suiting their principles, without any ad- 
vantage to their souls. 2, God is no such severe lord and 
master as to require us to take off our affections from, and 
mortify them unto, those things which the law of our na- 
ture makes dear unto us, as wives, children, houses, lands 
and possessions, and not propose unto us somewhat that is 
incomparably more excellent to fix them upon. So he in- 
vites the elect of the Gentiles unto Christ ; Psal. xlv. 10. 
' Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear ; 


forget also thine own people and thy father's house ;' that is, 
come into the faith of Abraham, who forsook his country and 
his father's house, to follow God whithersoever he pleased. 
But he proposeth this for their encouragement, ver. 11. 'So 
shall the King greatly desire thy beauty, for he is thy Lord, 
and worship thou him.' The love of the great King is an abun- 
dant satisfactory recompense for parting with all things in 
this world. So when Abraham's servant was sent to take Re- 
bekah for a wife unto Isaac, he required that she should imme- 
diately leave father and mother, brothers, and all enjoyments, 
and go along with him ; but withal, that she might know 
herself to be no loser thereby, he not only assured her of the 
greatness of his master, but also at present he gave her jewels 
of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment; Gen. xxiv. 53. 
And when our Saviour requires that we should part with all 
for his sake and the gospel, he promiseth a hundred-fold in 
lieu of them, even in this life ; namely, in an interest in things 
spiritual and heavenly. Wherefore, without an assiduous 
meditation on heavenly things, as a better, more noble, and 
suitable object for our affections to be fixed on, we can never 
be freed in a due manner from an inordinate love of the 
things here below. 

It is sad to see some professors who will keep up spiritual 
duties in churches and in their families, who will speak and 
discourse of spiritual things, and keep themselves from the 
open excesses of the world ; yet when they come to be tried 
by such duties as intrench on their love and adherence unto 
earthly things, quickly manifest how remote they are from 
being spiritually minded in a due manner. Were they to be 
tried, as our Saviour tried the young man who made such a 
profession of his conscientious and religious conversation; 
' Go sell what thou hast, give to the poor, and follow me ;' 
something might be pleaded in excuse for their tergiversation. 
But alas ! they will decline their duty when they are not 
touched unto the hundreth part of their enjoyments. 

I bless God, I speak not thus of many of my own know- 
ledge ; and may say with the apostle unto the most unto 
whom I usually speak in this manner, * But, beloved, we are 
persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany 
salvation, though we thus speak;' Heb. vi. 9. Yea, the same 
testimony may be given of many in this citv, which the same 

u 2 


apostle gives unto the churches of Macedonia ; 2 Cor. viii. 
1 — 3. ' Understand the grace of God bestowed on the 
churches of Macedonia, how that in a great trial of affliction, 
the abundance of their joy and their poverty abounded unto 
the riches of their liberality. For to their power, and beyond 
their power, they were willing of themselves.' There hath 
been nothing done amongst us, that may or can be boasted 
of, yet considering all circumstances, it may be there have 
not been more instances of true evangelical charity in any 
age or place for these many years. For them who have been 
but useful and helpful herein, the Lord remember them for 
good, and spare them according to the multitude of his mer- 
cies. It is true, they have not, many of them, founded col- 
leges, built hospitals, or raised works of state and magnifi- 
cence. For very many of them are such, as whose deep po- 
verty comparatively hath abounded unto the riches of their 
liberality. The backs and bellies of multitudes of poor and 
needy servants of Christ have been warmed and refreshed 
by them, blessing God for them. * Thanks be to God,' saith 
the apostle in this case, ' for his unspeakable gift ;' 2 Cor. 
ix. 15. Blessed be God, who hath not left the gospel without 
this glory, nor the profession of it without this evidence of 
its power and efficacy. Yea, God hath exalted the glory of 
persecutions and afflictions. For many, since they have lost 
much of their enjoyments by them, and have all endangered 
continually, have abounded in duties of charity beyond what 
they did in the days of their fulness and prosperity. So ' out 
of the eater there hath come forth meat.' And if the world 
did but know what fruits in a way of charity and bounty, 
unto the praise of God and glory of the gospel, have been 
occasioned by their making many poor, it would abate of 
their satisfaction in their successes. 

But with many it is not so. Their minds are so full of 
earthly things, they do so cleave unto them in their affec- 
tions, that no sense of duty, no example of others, no con- 
cernment of the glory of God or the gospel can make any 
impressions on them. If there be yet in them so much life 
and light of grace, as to design a deliverance from this wo- 
ful condition, the means insisted on must be made use of. 

Especially this advice is needful unto those who are rich, 
who have large possessions, or abound in the goods of this 


world. The poor, the afflicted, the sorrowful are prompted 
from their outward circumstances, as well as excited by 
inward grace, frequently to remember and to think of the 
things above, wherein lies their only reserve and relief 
against the trouble and urgency of their present condition. 
But the enjoyment of these things in abundance, is accom- 
panied with a two-fold evil, lying directly contrary unto this 

1. A desire of increase and adding thereunto. Earthly 
enjoyments enlarge men's earthly desires ; and the love oi 
them grows with their income, A moderate stock of 
waters, sufficient for our use, may be kept within ordinary 
banks. But if a flood be turned into thcni, they know no 
bounds, but overflow all about them. The increase of 
wealth and riches enlargeth the desires of men after them 
beyond all bounds of wisdom, sobriety, or safety, lie that 
labours hard for his daily bread, hath seldom such earnest 
vehement desires of an addition unto what he hath, as many 
have who already have more than they know hovv to use, 
or almost what to do withal. This they must have more, 
and the last advantage serves for nothing but to stir them 
up to look out for another. And yet such men would on 
other accounts be esteemed good Christians, and spiritually 
minded, as all good Christians are. 

2. They draw the heart to value and esteem them, as 
those which bring in their satisfaction, and make them to 
differ from those whom they see to be poor and miserable. 
Now these things are contrary unto, and where they are 
habitually prevalent, inconsistent utterly with, being spiri- 
tually minded. Nor is it possible, that any who in the 
least degree are under their power, can ever attain deli- 
verance, unless their thoughts are fixed, and their minds 
thereby possessed with due apprehensions of invisible things 
and eternal glory. 

These are some few of those many advantages which 
we may obtain by fixing our thoughts and meditations, 
and thereby our affections on the things that are above. 
And there are some things which make me willing to give 
some few directions for the practice of this duty. For 
whatever else we are and do, we neither are nor can be 
truly spiritually minded, whereon life and peace depend. 


unless we do really exercise our thoughts unto meditations 
of things above. Without it all our religion is but vain. 
And as I fear, men are generally v>'anting and defective 
herein in point of practice ; so I do also, that many, through 
the darkness of their minds, the w^eakness of their intel- 
lectuals, and ignorance of the nature ofall things unseen, do 
seldom set themselves unto the contemplation of them. 
I shall therefore give some few directions for the practice 
of this duty. 


Directions unto the exercise of our thoughts on things above ; things 
future, invisible and eternal; on God himself , with the difficulties of it, 
and oppositions unto it, and the tvay of their removal. Right notions of 
future glory stated. 

We have treated in general before of the proper objects 
of our spiritual thoughts as unto our present duty. That 
which we were last engaged in, is an especial instance in 
heavenly things ; things future and invisible, with the 
fountain and spring of them all in Christ and God himself. 
And because men generally are unskilled herein, and great 
difficulties arise in the way of the discharge of this part of 
the duty in hand, I shall give some especial directions 
concerning it. 

1. Possess your minds with right notions and appre- 
hensions of things above, and of the state of future glory. 
We are in this duty * to look at the things which are not 
seen;' 2 Cor. iv. 16. It is faith only whereby we have a 
prospect of them ; for 'we walk by faith and not by sight.' 
And faith can give us no interest in them, unless we have 
due apprehensions of them. For it doth but assent and 
cleave unto the truth of what is proposed unto it. And 
the greatest part of mankind do both deceive themselves, 
and feed on ashes in this matter. They fancy a future 
estate, which hath no foundation but in their own imagina- 
tions. Wherefore the apostle, directing us to seek and 
mind the ' things that are above', adds for the guidance of 
our thoughts, the consideration of the principal concern- 


ment of them, ' where Christ sitteth on the right liand of 
God;' Col. iii. 1, 2. He would lead us unto distinct ap- 
prehensions of those heavenly things, especially of the 
presence of Christ in his exaltation and glory. Wherefore 
the true notion of these things which we are to possess our 
minds withal, may here be considered. 

All that have an apprehension of a future state of 
happiness do agree in this matter, that it contains in it, 
or is accompanied with, a deliverance and freedom from 
all that is evil. But in what is so, they are not agreed. 
Many esteem only those things that are grievous, trouble- 
some, wasting and destructive unto nature to be so ; that 
is, what is penal, in pain, sickness, sorrow, loss, poverty, 
with all kind of outward troubles, and death itself, are evil. 
Wherefore they suppose that the future state of blessedness 
will free them from all these things, if they can attain unto 
it. This they will lay in the balance against the troubles of 
life, and sometimes it may be against the pleasures of it, 
which they must forego. Yea, persons profane and profli- 
gate, will, in words at least, profess, that heaven will give 
them rest from all their troubles. But it is no place of rest 
for such persons. 

Unto all others also, unto believers themselves, these 
things are evil, such as they expect a deliverance from 
in heaven and glory. And there is no doubt, but it is 
lawful for us, and meet that we should contemplate on 
them, as those which will give us a deliverance from all 
outward troubles, death itself and all that leads thereunto. 
Heaven is promised * as rest unto them that are troubled ;' 
2 Thess. i. 7. It is our duty, under all our sufferings, re- 
proaches, persecutions, troubles, and sorrows, to raise up 
our minds unto the contemplation of that state, wherein we 
shall be freed from them all. It is a blessed notion of 
heaven, * that God shall therein wipe away all tears from 
our eyes'. Rev. vii. 17. or remove far from us all causes of 
sorrow. And it would be unto our advantage, if we did 
accustom our minds more unto this kind of relief than we 
do ; if upon the incursion of fears, dangers, sorrows, we did 
more readily retreat unto thoughts of that state wherein we 
shall be freed from them all ; even this most inferior con- 
sideration of it, would render the thoughts of it more 


familiar, and the thing itself more useful unto us. Much 
better it were, than on such occasions to be exercised with 
heartless complaints, uncertain hopes, and fruitless contri- 

But there is that which unto them who are truly 
spiritually minded, hath more evil in it than all these 
things together, and that is sin. Heaven is a state of 
deliverance from sin, from all sin, in all the causes, con- 
comitants, and effects of it. He is no true believer unto 
whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow, and trouble. 
Other things, as the loss of dear relations, or extraordinay 
pains, may make deeper impressions on the mind by its 
natural affections at some seasons, than ever our sins did at 
any one time, in any one instance. So a man may have a 
greater trouble in sense of pain, by a fit of the tooth ache, 
which will be gone in an hour, than in a hectic fever or 
consumption, which will assuredly take away his life. But 
take in the whole course of our lives, and all the actings of 
our souls in spiritualjudgment, as well as natural affection, 
and I do not understand how a man can be a sincere be- 
liever, unto whom sin is not the greatest burden and 

Wherefore, in the first place, it belongs unto the true 
notion of heaven, that it is a state wherein we shall be 
eternally freed from sin, and all the concernments of it, but 
only the exaltation of the glory of God's grace in Christ, 
by the pardon of it. He that truly hates sin and abhors it, 
whose principal desire and design of life is to be freed from 
it, so far as it is possible ; who walks in self abasement 
through a sense of his many disappointments, when he 
hoped it should act in him no more, cannot, as I judge, but 
frequently betake himself for refreshment unto thoughts 
of that state wherein he shall be freed from it and triumph 
over it unto eternity. This is a notion of heaven that is 
easily apprehended and fixed on the mind, which we may 
dwell upon, unto the great advantage and satisfaction of 
our souls. 

Frequent thoughts and meditations of heaven under this 
notion, do argue a man to be spiritually minded. For it is 
a convining evidence that sin is a burden unto him, that he 
longs to be delivered from it and all its consequents ; that 


no thoughts are more welcome unto him, than those of that 
state wherein sin shall be no more. And although men are 
troubled about their sins, and would desirously be freed 
from them, so far as they perplex their minds, and make 
their consciences uneasy; yet if they are not much in the 
prospect of this relief, if they find not refreshment in it, 
I fear their trouble is not such as it ought to be. Where- 
fore, when men can so wrangle and wrestle with their convic- 
tions of sin, and yet take up the best of their relief in 
hopes that it will be better with them at some time or 
other in this world, without longing desires after that state 
wherein sin shall be no more, they can give no evidence 
that they are spiritually minded. 

It is quite otherwise with sincere believers in the exer- 
cise of this duty. The considerations of the grace and love 
of God, of the blood of Christ, of the purity and holiness 
of that good Spirit that dwelleth in them, of the light, 
grace, and mercy which they have attained through the 
promises of the gospel, are those which make the remain- 
ders of sin most grievous and burdensome unto them. 
This is that which even breaks their hearts, and makes some 
of them go mourning all the day long, namely, that any 
thing of that which alone God hates should be found in 
them, or be remaining with them. It is in this condition 
an evidence that they are spiritually minded, if together 
with watchful endeavours for the universal mortification of 
sin, and utter excision of it, both root and branch, they con- 
stantly add these thoughts of that blessed state wherein 
they shall be absolutely and eternally freed from all sin, 
with refreshment, delight, and complacency. 

These thino-s belons: unto our direction for the fixing of 
our thoughts and meditations on things above. This the 
meanest and weakest person who hath the least spark of 
sincerity and grace is capable of apprehending, and able to 
practise. And it is that which the sense they have of the 
evil of sin will put them on every day, if they shut not their 
eyes against the light of the refreshment that is in it. Let 
them who cannot arise in their minds unto fixed and stable 
thoughts of any other notion of these invisible things, dwell 
on this consideration of them, wherein they will find no 
small spiritual advantage and refreshment unto their souls. 


2. As unto the positivepart of this glorious future state, 
the thoughts and apprehensions of men are very various. 
And that we may know as well what to avoid, as what to 
embrace, we shall a little reflect on some of them. 

1. Many are able to entertain no rational conceptions 
about a future state of blessedness and glory, no notions 
wherein either faith or reason is concerned. Imagination 
they have of something that is great and glorious, but what 
it is they know not. No wonder if such persons have no 
delight in, no use of, thoughts of heaven. When their ima- 
ginations have fluctuated up and down in all uncertainties 
for awhile, they are swallowed up in nothing. Glorious and 
therefore desirable they take it for granted that it must be. 
But nothing can be so unto them, but what is suitable unto 
their present dispositions, inclinations, and principles. And 
hereof there is nothing in the true spiritual glory of heaven, 
or in the eternal enjoyment of God. These things are not 
suited unto the wills of their minds and of the flesh, and 
therefore they cannot rise up unto any constant desires of 
them. Hence, to please themselves, they begin to imagine 
what is not. But whereas what is truly heaven pleaseth 
them not, and what doth please them is not heaven, nor 
there to be found 5 they seldom or never endeavour in good 
earnest to exercise their thoughts about it. 

It were well if darkness and ignorance of the true nature 
of the future state and eternal glory, did not exceedingly 
prejudice believers themselves, as unto their delight in them 
and meditations about them. They have nothing fixed or 
stated in their minds, which they can betake themselves 
unto in their thoughts when they would contemplate about 
them. And by the way, whatever doth divert the minds of 
men from the power and life of spiritual worship, as do all 
pompous solemnities in the performance of it, doth greatly 
hinder them as unto right conceptions of our future state. 
There was a promise of eternal life given unto the saints 
under the Old Testament : but whereas they were obliged 
unto a worship that was carnal and outwardly pompous, 
they never had clear and distinct apprehensions of the fu- 
ture state of glory ; for * life and immortality were brought to 
light by the gospel.' Wherefore, although no man living can 
see or find out the infinite riches of eternal glory ; yet it is 


the duty of all to be acquainted with the nature of it in ge- 
neral, so as that they may have fixed thoughts of it, love 
unto it, earnest desires after it, all under its own true and 
proper notion. 

2. So great a part of mankind as the Mahometans, unto 
whom God hath given all the principal and most desirable 
parts of the world to inhabit and possess, do conceive the 
state of future blessedness to consist in the full satisfaction 
of their sensual lusts and pleasures. And evidence this is, 
that the religion which they profess, hath no power or effi- 
cacy on their minds to change them from the love of sin, or 
placing their happiness in fulfilling the desires of the flesh. 
It doth not at all enlighten their minds to discern a beauty 
in spiritual things, nor excite their affections unto the love 
of them, nor free the soul to look after blessedness in such 
things as alone are suited unto its rational constitution. For 
if it did, they would place their happiness and blessedness 
in them. Wherefore, it is nothing but an artifice of the god 
of this world to blind the eyes of men unto their eternal 

3. Some of the philosophers of old did attain an appre- 
hension that the blessedness of men in another world doth 
consist in the soul's full satisfaction in the goodness and 
beauty of the divine nature. And there is a truth in this 
notion which contemplative men have adorned with excel- 
lent and rational discourses. And sundry who have been, 
and are learned among Christians, have greatly improved 
this truth, by the light of the Scripture. From reason they 
take up with thoughts of the goodness, the amiableness, the 
self-sufficiency, the all-sufficient satisfactoriness of the infi- 
nite perfections of the divine nature. These things shine in 
themselves with such a glorious light, as that there is no 
more required unto a perception of them, but that men do 
not wilfully shut their eyes against it, through bestial sen- 
suality and love of sin. From reason also do they frame their 
conceptions concerning the ca])acity of the souls of men for 
the immediate enjoyment of God, and what is suited therein 
unto their utmost blessedness. No more is required unto 
these things, but a due consideration of the nature of God 
and man, with our relation unto him and dependance on 
him. By the light of the Scripture they frame these things 


into that which they call the beatifical vision, whereby they 
intend all the ways whereby God in the highest and imme- 
diate instances, can and doth communicate of himself unto 
the souls of men, and the utmost elevation of their intellec- 
tual capacities to receive those communications. It is such 
an intellectual apprehension of the divine nature and per- 
fections, with ineffable love, as gives the soul the utmost 
rest and blessedness which its capacities can extend unto. 

These things are so ; and they have been by many both 
piously and elegantly illustrated. Howbeit they are above 
the capacities of ordinary Christians, they know not how to 
manage them in their minds, nor exercise their thoughts 
about them. They cannot reduce them unto present useful- 
ness, nor make them subservient unto the exercise and in- 
crease of grace. And the truth is, the Scripture gives us 
another notion of heaven and glory, not contrary unto this, 
not inconsistent with it, but more suited unto the faith and 
experience of believers, and which alone can convey a true 
and useful sense of these things unto our minds. This there- 
fore is diligently to be inquired into, and firmly stated in our 
thoughts and affections. 

4. The principal notion which the Scripture gives us of 
the state of heavenly blessedness, and which the meanest 
believers are capable of improving in daily practice, is, that 
faith shall be turned into sight, and grace into glory. ' We 
walk now by faith and not by sight,' saith the apostle; 2 Cor. 
V. 7. Wherefore this is the difference between our present 
and our future state, that sight hereafter shall supply the 
room of faith ; 1 John iii. 2. And if sight come into the place 
of faith, then the object of that sight must be the same with 
the present object of our faith. So the apostle informs 
us, 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10. 12. ' For we know in part, and we 
prophecy in part ; but when that which is perfect is come, 
that which is in part shall be done away. For now we see 
through a glass darkly; but then face to face.' Those things 
which we now see darkly as in a glass, we shall then have 
an immediate sight and full comprehension of ; for that 
which is perfect must come and do away that which is in 
part. What then is the principal present object of faith as 
it is evangelical, into whose room sight must succeed ? Is 
it not the manifestation of the glory of the infinite wisdom. 


grace, love, kindness, and power of God in Christ, the reve- 
lation of the eternal counsels of his will, and the ways of 
their accomplishment unto the eternal salvation of the 
church in and by him; with the glorious exaltation of 
Christ himself? Wherefore, in the full satisfactory repre- 
sentation of these things unto our souls, received by sight 
or a direct immediate intuition of them, doth the glory of 
heaven principally consist. We behold them now darkly as 
in a glass ; that is, the utmost which by faith we can attain 
unto ; in heaven they shall be openly and fully displayed. 
The infinite incomprehensible excellencies of the divine na- 
ture are not proposed in Scripture as the immediate object 
of our faith, nor shall they be so unto sight in heaven. The 
manifestation of them in Christ is the immediate object of 
our faith here, and shall be of our sight hereafter. Only 
through this manifestation of them we are led even by 
faith ultimately to acquiesce in them ; as we shall in heaven 
be led by love perfectly to adhere unto them with delight 
ineffable. This is our immediate objective glory in heaven ; 
we hope for no other. And this, if God will, I shall shortly 
more fully explain. 

Whoever lives in the exercise of faith, and hath any ex- 
perience of the life, power, and sweetness of these heavenly 
things, unto whom they are a spring of grace and consola- 
tion, they are able to meditate on the glory of them in their 
full enjoyment. Think much of heaven, as that which will 
give you a perfect view and comprehension of the wisdom, 
and love, and grace of God in Christ, with those other things 
which shall be immediately declared. 

Some perhaps will be ready to say, that if this be heaven, 
they can see no great glory in it, no such beauty as for 
which it should be desired. It may be so, for some have no 
instrument to take a view of invisible things but carnal ima- 
ginations. Some have no light, no principle, no disposition 
of mind or soul, whereunto these things are either accepta- 
ble or suitable. Some will go no further in the considera- 
tion of the divine excellencies of God, and the faculties and 
actings of our souls, than reason will guide them, which may 
be of use. But we look for no other heaven, we desire none, 
but what we are led unto and prepared for by the light of 
the gospel ; tliat which shall perfect all the beginnings of 


God's grace in us ; not what shall be quite of another na- 
ture and destructive of them. We value not that heaven 
which is equally suited unto the desires and inclinations of 
the worst of men as well as of the best ; for we know that 
they who like not grace here, neither do nor can like that 
which is glory hereafter. No man who is not acquainted 
experimentally in some measure, with the life, power, and 
evidence of faith here, hath any other heaven in his aim, 
but what is erected in his own imagination. The glory of 
heaven which the gospel prepares us for, which faith leads 
and conducts us unto, which the souls of believers long after, 
as that which will give full rest, satisfaction, and compla- 
cency, is the full, open, perfect manifestation of the glory of 
the wisdom, goodness, and love of God in Christ, in his per- 
son and mediation, with the revelation of all his counsels 
concerning them, and the communication of their effects 
unto us. He that likes it not, unto whom it is not desira- 
ble, may betake himself unto Mahomet's paradise, or the 
philosopher's speculations, in the gospel heaven he hath no 
interest. These are the things which we see now darkly as 
in a glass, by faith ; in the view of them are our souls gra- 
dually changed into the likeness of God ; and the compre- 
hension of them is that which shall give us our utmost con- 
formity and likeness unto him whereof our natures are ca- 
pable. In a sense and experience of their reality and good- 
ness given us by the Holy Ghost, do all our spiritual conso- 
lations and joys consist. The effects produced by them in 
our souls are the first fruits of glory. Our light, sense, ex- 
perience, and enjoyment of these things, however weak and 
frequently interrupted, our apprehensions of them, however 
dark and obscure, are the only means whereby we are 'made 
meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.' 

To have the eternal glory of God in Christ, with all the 
fruits of his wisdom and love, whilst we are ourselves under 
the full participation of the effects of them, immediately, 
directly, revealed, proposed, made known unto us, in a divine 
and glorious light, our souls being furnished with a capacity 
to behold and perfectly comprehend them, this is the heaven 
which according unto God's promise we look for. But as 
was said, these things shall be elsewhere more fully treated of. 

It is true, that there are sundry other things in particular 


that belong unto this state of glory. But what we have 
mentioned is the fountain and spring of them all. We can 
never have an immediate enjoyment of God in the immensity 
of his nature, nor can any created understanding conceive 
any such things. God's communications of himself unto 
us, and our enjoyment of him, shall be in and by the mani- 
festation of his glory in Christ. He who can see no glory, 
who is sensible of no blessedness in these things, is a stranger 
unto that heaven which the Scripture reveals, and which 
faith leads unto. 

It may be inquired, what is the subjective glory, or what 
change is to be wrought in ourselves that we may enjoy 
this glory? Now that consists principally as unto our souls 
in the perfection of all grace, which is initially wrought and 
subjectively resides in us in this world. The grace which 
we have here, shall not be done away as unto its essence and 
nature, though somewhat of it shall cease as unto the manner 
of its operation. What soul could think with joy of going 
to heaven, if thereby he must lose all his present light, faith, 
and love of God, though he be told that he sliQuld receive 
that in lieu of them, which is more excellent, whereof he 
hath no experience, nor can understand of what nature it is. 
When the saints enter into rest, their good works do follow 
them ; and how can they do so, if their grace do not accom- 
pany them, from whence they proceed ? The perfection of 
our present graces, which are here weak and interrupted in 
their operations, is a principal eminency of the state of glory. 
Faith shall be heightened into vision, as was proved before, 
which doth not destroy its nature, but cause it to cease as 
unto its manner of operation towards things invisible. If a 
man have a weak small faith in this life, with little evidence, 
and no assurance, so that he doubts of all things, questions 
all things, and hath no comfort from what he doth believe ; 
if afterward, through supplies of grace, he hath a mighty 
prevailing evidence of the things believed, is filled with com- 
fort and assurance ; this is not by a faith or grace of another 
kind than what he had before ; but by the same faith raised 
unto a higher degree of perfection. When our Saviour 
cured the blind man, and gave him his sight, Mark viii. at 
first he saw all things obscurely and imperfectly, he saw 
• men as trees walking ;' ver. 24. but on another applica- 


tion of virtue unto him, he saw all things clearly, ver. 25. 
It was not a sight of another kind which he then received, 
than what he had at first ; only its imperfection whereby 
he * saw men like trees walking,' was taken away. Nor will 
our perfect vision of things above, be a grace absolutely of 
another kind from the light of faith which we here enjoy ; 
only what is imperfsct in it will be done away, and it will be 
made meet for the present enjoyment of things here at a dis- 
tance and invisible. Love shall have its perfection also, and 
the least alteration in its manner of operation of any grace 
whatever. And there is nothing that should more excite us 
to labour after a growth in love to God in Christ, than this, 
that it shall to all eternity be the same in its nature and in 
all its operations, only both the one and the other shall be 
made absolutely perfect. The soul will by it be enabled 
to cleave unto God unchangeably, with eternal delight, sa- 
tisfaction, and complacency. Hope shall be perfect in enjoy- 
ment, which is all the perfection it is capable of. So shall 
it be as unto other graces. 

This subjective perfection of our nature, especially in all 
the faculties, powers, and affections of our souls, and all their 
operations, belongs unto our blassedness, nor can we be 
blessed without it. All the objective glory in heaven would 
not in our beholding and enjoyment of it (if it were possible) 
make us blessed and happy, if our own natures were not made 
perfect, freed from all disorder, irregular motions, and weak 
imperfect operations. What is it then that must give our 
nature this subjective perfection? It is that grace alone 
whose beginnings we are here made partakers of. For there- 
in consists the renovation of the image of God in us. And 
the perfect communication of that image unto us, is the ab- 
solute perfection of our natures ; the utmost which their ca- 
pacity is suited unto. And this gives us the last thing to 
be inquired into, namely, by what means in ourselves we 
shall eternally abide in that state. And this is by the unal- 
terable adherence of our whole souls unto God, in perfect 
love and delight. This is that whereby alone the soul reach- 
eth unto the essence of God, and the infinite incomprehen- 
sible perfections of his nature. For the perfect nature hereof, 
divine revelation hath left it under a veil, and so must we do 
also. Nor do I designedly handle these things in this place 


but only in the way of a direction how to exercise our 
thoughts about them. 

This is the notion of heaven which those who are spiri- 
tually minded ought to be conversant withal. And the true 
stating of it by faith, is a discriminating character of be- 
lievers. This is no heaven unto any others. Those who 
have not an experience of the excellency of these things in 
their initial state in this world, and their incomparable 
transcendency unto all other things, cannot conceive how 
heavenly glory and blessedness should consist in them. 
Unskilful men may cast away rough unwrought diamonds 
as useless stones ; they know not what polishing will bring 
them unto. Nor do men unskilful in the mysteries of god- 
liness, judge there can be any glory in rough unwrought 
grace ; they know not what lustre and beauty the polishing 
of the heavenly hand will give unto it. 

It is generally supposed that however men differ in and 
about religion here, yet they agree well enough about 
heaven ; they would all go to the same heaven. But it is a 
great mistake, they differ in nothing more ; they would not 
all go to the same heaven. How few are they who value 
that heavenly state which we have treated of; or do under- 
stand how any blessedness can consist in the enjoyment of 
it ? But this and no other heaven would we go unto. Other 
notions there may be, there are, of it, which being but fruits 
and effects of men's own imaginations, the more they dwell 
in the contemplation of them, the more carnal they may 
grow, at best the more superstitious. But spiritual thoughts 
of this heaven, consisting principally in freedom from all 
sin, in the perfection of all grace in the vision of the glory 
of God in Christ, and all the excellencies of the divine na- 
ture as manifested in him, are an effectual means for the 
improvement of spiritual life, and the increase of all graces 
in us. For they cannot but effect an assimilation in the 
mind and heart unto the things contemplated on, where the 
principles and seeds of them are already inlaid and begun. 
This is our first direction. 

2. Having fixed right notions and apprehensions of 
heavenly things in our minds, it is our duty to think and 
contemplate greatly on them, and our own concernment in 
them. Without this all our speculations concerning the 



nature of eternal things, will be of no use unto us. And 
unto your encouragement and direction, take these few short 
rules relating unto this duty. 1, Here lies the great trial 
whether we are spiritually minded or no, by virtue of this 
rule ; ' If we are risen with Christ, we will mind the things 
that are above ;' Col. iii. 3. 2. Here lies the great means 
whereby we may attain farther degrees in that blessed frame 
of mind, if it be already formed in us, by virtue of that rule ; 
' Beholding the glory of God as in a glass, we are changed 
into the same image from glory to glory;' 2 Cor. iii. 18. (3.) 
Here lies the great evidence whether we have a real interest 
in the things above or no : whether we place our portion 
and blessedness in them by virtue of that rule ; * Where our 
treasure is, there will our hearts be also.' Are they our trea- 
sure, our portion, our reward, in comparison whereof all 
other things are but loss and dung? we shall assuredly be 
conversant in our minds about them. (4.) It cannot be 
imagined, that a man should have in him a principle cog- 
nate and suited unto things above, of the same kind and na- 
ture with them, that his soul should be under the conduct 
of those habits of grace, which strive and naturally tend 
unto perfection, labouring greatly here under the weight of 
their own weaknesses, as it is with all who are truly spi- 
ritually minded, and yet not have his thoughts greatly ex- 
ercised about these things ; 1 John iii. 3. 

It were well if we would try ourselves by things of so 
uncontrollable evidence. What can any object unto the 
truth of these things, or the necessity of this duty ? If it be 
otherwise with us, it is from one of these two causes ; either 
we are not convinced of the truth and reality of them, or we 
have no delight in them, because we are not spiritually 
minded. Do we think that men may turmoil themselves in 
earthly thoughts all the day long, and when they are freed 
of their affairs, betake themselves unto those that are vain 
and useless, without any stated converse with things above, 
and yet enjoy life and peace ? We must take other measures 
of things, if we intend to live unto God, to be like him, and 
to come unto the enjoyment of him. 

What is the matter with men that are so stupid ? They 
all generally desire to go to heaven, at least when they can 
live here no longer. Some indeed have no other regard unto 


it, but only that they would not go to hell. But most would 
*die the death of the righteous,' and have their latter end like 
his; yet few there are who endeavour to attain a right notion 
of it, to try how it is suited unto their principles and desires ; 
but content themselves with such general notions of it as 
please their imaginations. It is no wonder if such persons 
seldom exercise their minds or thoughts about it, nor do 
they so much as pretend to be spiritually minded. But as 
for those who are instructed in these things, who profess 
their chiefest interest to lie in them,not to abound in medi- 
tation concerning them, it argues indeed that whatever they 
profess, they are earthly and carnal. 

Again ; meditate and think of the glory of heaven, so as 
to compare it with the opposite state of death and eternal 
misery. Few men care to think much of hell, and the ever- 
lasting torments of the wicked therein. Those do so least, 
who are in the most danger of falling thereinto. They put 
far from them the evil day, and suppose their covenant with 
death and hell to be sure. Some begin to advance an opi- 
nion that there is no such place, because it is their interest 
and desire that there should be none. Some out of profane- 
ness make a scoff at it, as though a future judgment were 
but a fable. Most seem to think that there is a severity in 
thoughts about it, which it is not fit we should be too much 
terrified withal. Some transient thoughts they will have of 
it, but not suffer them to abide in their minds, lest they 
should be too much discomposed. Or they think it not 
consistent with the goodness of Christ to leave any men in 
that condition ; whereas there is more spoken directly of 
hell, its torments and their eternity, by himself, than in all 
the Scripture besides. These thoughts in most proceed from 
an unwillingness to be troubled in their sins, and are useful 
unto none. It is the height of folly for men to endeavour 
the hiding of themselves for a few moments from that 
which is unavoidably coming upon them unto eternity ; and 
the due consideration whereof, is a means for an escape 
from it. But I speak only of true believers. And the more 
they are conversant in their thoughts about the future estate 
of eternal misery, the greater evidence they have of the life 
and confidence of faith. It is a necessary duty to consider 

X 2 


it, as what we were by nature obnoxious unto, as being 
children of wrath ; what we have deserved by our personal 
sins, as * the wages of sin is death ;' what we are delivered 
from through Jesus the Deliverer, who saves us from the 
wrath to come ; what expression it is of the indignation of 
God against sin, who hath prepared this Tophet of old ; 
that we may be delivered from sin, kept up to an abhorrency 
of it, walking in humility, self-abasement, and the admira- 
tion of divine grace. This therefore is required of us, that 
in our thoughts and meditations, we compare the state of 
blessedness and eternal glory, as a free and absolute effect 
of the grace of God in and through Christ Jesus, with that 
state of eternal misery, which we had deserved. And if there 
be any spark of grace or of holy thankfulness in our hearts, 
it will be stirred up unto its due exercise. 

Some it may be will say, that they complained before 
that they cannot get their minds fixed on these things. 
Weakness, weariness, darkness, diversions, occasions, do 
prevalently obsti'uct their abiding m such thoughts. I shall 
speak farther unto this afterward. At present I shall only 
suggest two things. 1. If you cannot attain, yet continue 
to follow after ; get your minds in a perpetual endeavour 
after an abod^ in spiritual thoughts. Let your minds be 
rising towards them every hour; yea, a hundred times a 
day, on all occasions, on a continual sense of duty ; and 
sigh within yourselves for deliverance, when you find dis- 
appointments, or not a continuance in them. It is the sense 
of that place, Rom. viii. 23 — 26. 2. Take care you go not 
backwards and lose what you have wrought. If you neglect 
these things for a season, you will quickly find yourselves 
neglected by them. So I observe it every day in the hearing 
of the word. Whilst persons keep up themselves to a dili- 
gent attendance on it where they find it preached unto their 
edification, they find great delight in it, and will undergo 
great difficulties for the enjoyment of it : let them be di- 
verted from it for a season, after a while it grows indifferent 
unto them, any thing will satisfy them that pretends unto 
the same duty. 



Especial objects of spiritual thoughts on the glorious state of heaven, and 
what beloyigs thereunto. First, of Christ himself. Thoughts of heavenly 
glory, in opposition unto thoughts of eternal misery. The use of such 
thoughts. Advantage in suffei'ings. 

It will be unto our advantage, having stated right notions 
of the gloiy of the blessed state above in our minds, to fix 
on some particulars belonging unto it, as the especial ob- 
ject of our thoughts and meditations. As, 1. Think much 
of him who unto us is the life and centre of all the glory of 
heaven, that is, Christ himself. I shall be very brief in 
treating hereof, because I have designed a peculiar treatise 
on this subject, of beholding the glory of Christ, both here 
and unto eternity. At present, therefore, a few things only 
shall be mentioned, because on this occasion they are not 
to be omitted. The whole of the glory of the state above is 
expressed by ' being ever with the Lord ; where he is, to be- 
hold his glory.' For in and through him is the beatifical 
manifestation of God and his glory made for evermore. And 
through him are all communications of inward glory unto 
us. The present resplendency of heavenly glory, consists 
in his mediatory ministry, as I have at large elsewhere de- 
clared. And he will be the means of all glorious com- 
munications between God and the church unto eternity. 
Wherefore, if we are spiritually minded, we should tix 
our thoughts on Christ above, as the centre of all heavenly 
glory. To help us herein we may consider the things that 

1. Faith hath continual recourse unto him on the ac- 
count of what he did and suffered for us in this world. For 
thereon, pardon of sin, justification, and peace with God do 
depend. This ariseth in the first place from a sense of our 
own wants. But love of him is no less necessary unto us 
than faith in him. And although we have powerful motives 
unto love, from what he did and was in this world, yet the 
formal reason of our adherence unto him thereby is what he 
is in himself, as he is now exalted in heaven. If we rejoice 
not at the remembrance of his present glory, if the thoughts 


of it be not frequent with us and refreshing unto us, how 
dwelleth his love in us ? 

2. Our hope is that ere long we shall be ever with him. 
And if so, it is certainly our wisdom and duty to be here 
with him as much as we can. It is a vain thing for any to 
suppose that they place their chiefest happiness in being for 
ever in the presence of Christ, who care not at all to be with 
him here as they may. And the only way of our being pre- 
sent with him here, is by faith and love, acting themselves 
in spiritual thoughts and affections. And it is an absurd 
thing for men to esteem themselves Christians, who scarce 
think of Christ all the day long. Yet some, as one com- 
plained of old, scarce ever think or speak of him but when 
they swear by his name. I have read of them who have 
lived and died in continual contemplation on him, so far as 
the imperfection of our present state will admit. 1 have 
known them, I do know them, who call themselves unto 
a reproof if at any time he hath been many minutes out of 
their thoughts. And it is strange that it should be other- 
wise with them who love him in sincerity ; yet I wish I did 
not know more, who give evidences that it is a rare thing for 
them to be exercised in serious thoughts and meditations 
about him. Yea, there are some who are not averse upon 
occasions to speak of God, of mercy, of pardon, of his power 
and goodness, who, if you mention Christ unto them, with 
any thing of faith, love, trust in him, they seem unto them as 
a strange thing. Few there are who are sensible of any re- 
ligion beyond what is natural. The things of the wisdom 
and power of God in Christ, are foolishness unto them. 
Take some directions for the discharge of this duty. 1. In 
your thoughts of Christ be very careful that they are con- 
ceived and directed according to the rule of the word, lest 
you deceive your own souls, and give up the conduct of your 
affections unto vain imaginations. Spiritual notions be- 
falling carnal minds, did once by the means of superstition 
ruin the power of religion. A conviction men had that they 
must think much of Jesus Christ, and that this would make 
them conformable unto him ; but having no real evarigelical 
faith, nor the wisdom of faith to exercise it in their thoughts 
and affections in a due manner, nor understanding what it 
was to be truly like unto him, they gave up themselves unto 


many foolish inventions and imaginations, by which they 
thought to express their love and conformity unto him. 
They would have images of him, which they would embrace, 
adore, and bedew with their tears. They would have cruci- 
fixes, as they called them, which they would carry about 
them, and wear next unto their hearts, as if they resolved to 
lodge Christ always in their bosoms. They would go in pil- 
grimage to the place where he died and rose again, through 
a thousand dangers; and purchase a feigned chip of a tree 
whereon he suffered, at the price of all they had in the world. 
They would endeavour, by long thoughtfulness, fastings, and 
watchings, to cast their souls into raptures and ecstasies, 
wherein they fancied themselves in his presence. They came 
at last to make themselves like him, in getting impressions 
of wounds, on their sides, their hands and feet. Unto all 
these things and sundry others of a like nature and tendency, 
did superstition abuse, and corrupt the minds of men, from 
a pretence of a principle of truth ; for there is no more cer- 
tain gospel truth than this, that believers ought continually 
to contemplate on Christ, by the actings of faith in their 
thoughts and affections ; and that thereby they are changed 
and transformed 'into his image;' 2 Cor. iii. 18. And we 
are not to forego our duty, because other men have been 
mistaken in theirs ; nor part with practical fundamental 
principles of religion, because they have been abused by su- 
perstition. But we may see herein, how dangerous it is to 
depart in any thing from the conduct of Scripture light and 
rule, when for want thereof the best and most noble endea- 
vours of the minds of men, even to love Christ and to be like 
unto him, do issue in provocations of the highest nature. 

Pray, therefore, that you may be kept unto the truth in 
all things, by a diligent attendance unto the only rule there- 
of, and conscientious subjection of soul unto the authority 
of God in it. For we ought not to suffer our affections to 
be entangled with the paint or artificial beauty of any way 
or means of giving our love unto Christ, which are not war- 
ranted by the word of truth. Yet I must say, that I had ra- 
ther be among them who, in the actings of their love and 
afl'ections unto Christ, do fall into some irregularities and ex- 
cesses in the manner of expressing it (provided their worship 
of him be neither superstitious nor idolatrous), than among 


those who, professing themselves to be Christians, do almost 
disavow their having any thoughts of or affection unto the 
person of Christ: but there is no need that we should fool- 
ishly run into either of these extremes. God hath in the 
Scripture sufficiently provided against them both. He hath 
both shewed us the necessity of our diligent acting of faith 
and love on the person of Christ ; and hath limited out the 
way and means whereby we may so do; and let our designs 
be what they will, where in any thing we depart from his 
prescriptions, we are not under the conduct of his Spirit, and 
so are sure to lose all that we do. 

Wherefore two things are required that we may thus 
think of Christ and meditate on him according to the mind 
and will of God. 1. That the means of bringing him to 
mind, be what God hath promised and appointed. 2. That 
the continued proposal of him, as the object of our thoughts 
and meditations, be of the same kind. For both these ends, 
the superstitious minds of men invented the ways of images 
and crucifixes, with their appurtenances before mentioned. 
And this rendered all their devotion an abomination. That 
which tends unto these ends among believers, is thepromise 
of the Spirit ; and the institutions of the word. Would you 
then think of Christ as you ought ; take these two direc- 
tions. (1.) Pray that the Holy Spirit may abide with you 
continually, to mind you of him, which he will do in all in 
whom he doth abide ; for it belongs unto his office. (2.) 
For more fixed thoughts and meditations ; take some express 
place of Scripture, wherein he is set forth and proposed 
either in his person, office, or grace unto you ; Gal. iii, 1. 

4. This duty lies at the foundation of all that blessed 
communion and intercourse that is between Jesus Christ 
and the souls of believers. This I confess is despised by 
some, and the very notion of it esteemed ridiculous. But 
they do therein no less than renounce Christianity, and turn 
the Lord Christ into an idol, that neither knoweth, seeth, 
nor heareth. But I speak unto them who are not u tter 
.strangers unto the life of faith, who know not what religion is, 
unless they have real spiritual intercourse and communion 
with the Lord Christ thereby. Consider this, therefore, as it 
is ill particular exemplified in the book of Canticles. There 
is not one instance of it to be found, which doth not sup- 


pose a continued thoughtfulness of him. And in answer 
unto them, as they are actings of faith and love wherein he 
is delighted, doth he by his Spirit insinuate into our minds 
and hearts, a gracious sense of his own love, kindness, and 
relation unto us. The great variety wherein these things 
are mutually carried on between him and the church, the 
singular endearments which ensue thereon, and blessed es- 
tate in rest and complacency, do make up the substance of 
that holy discourse. No thoughts then of Christ, proceed- 
ing from faith, accompanied with love and delight, shall be 
lost : they that sow this seed, shall return with their sheaves ; 
Christ will meet them with gracious intimations of his accept- 
ance of them, delight in them, and return a sense of his own 
love unto them. He never will be, he never was, behind with 
any poor soul in returns of love. Those gracious and blessed 
promises which he hath made of coming unto them that be- 
lieve in him, of making his abode with them, and of supping 
with them, all expressions of a gracious presence and inti- 
mate communion, do all depend on this duty. Wherefore, 
we may consider three things concerning these thoughts of 
Christ. 1. That they are exceeding acceptable unto him, 
as the best pledges of our cordial affection. Cant. ii. 14. 
* O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret 
places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear 
thy voice ; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is 
comely.' When a soul through manifold discouragements 
and despondencies withdraws, and as it were hides itself 
from him, he calleth to see a poor weeping, blubbered face, 
and to hear a broken voice, that scarce goes beyond sighs and 
groans. 2. These thoughts are the only means, whereby 
we comply with the gracious intimations of his love men- 
tioned before. By them do we hear his knocking, know his 
voice, and open the door of our hearts to give him entrance, 
that he may abide and sup with us. Sometimes indeed the 
soul is surprised into acts of gracious communion with 
Christ, Cant vi. 11. But they are not to be expected unless 
we abide in those ways and means which prepare and make 
our souls meet for the reception and entertainment of him. 
Wherefore, 3. Our want of experience in the power of this 
holy intercourse and communion with Christ, ariseth princi- 
pally from our defect in this duty. I have known one who 


after a long profession of faith and holiness, fell into great 
darkness and distress, merely on this account, that he did 
not experience in himself, the sweetness, life, and power of 
the testimonies given concerning the real communications 
of the love of Christ unto, and the intimation of his presence 
with, believers. He knew well enough the doctrine of it, 
but did not feel the power of it ; at least he understood there 
was more in it, than he had experience of. God carried 
him by faith through that darkness ; but taught him withal, 
that no sense of these things was to be let into the soul, 
but by constant thoughtfulness and contemplations on Christ. 
How many blessed visits do we lose, by not being exercised 
unto this duty. See Cant. v. 1 — 3. Sometimes we are busy, 
sometimes careless and negligent, sometimes slothful, some- 
times under the power of temptations, so that we neither in- 
quire after, nor are ready to receive, them. This is not the 
way to have our joys abound. 

Again, I speak now with especial respect unto him in 
heaven. The glory of his presence as God and man eter- 
nally united, the discharge of his mediatory office, as he is 
at the right hand of God, the glory of his present acting for 
the church, as he is the minister of the sanctuary and the 
true tabernacle which God hath fixed and not man, the 
love, power, and efficacy of his intercession, whereby he 
takes care for the accomplishment of the salvation of the 
church, the approach of his glorious coming unto judg- 
ment, are to be the objects of our daily thoughts and me- 

Let us not mistake ourselves. To be spiritually minded 
is not to have the notions and knowledge of spiritual things 
in our minds ; it is not to be constant, no not to abound, in 
the performance of duties, both which may be where there 
is no grace in the heart at all. It is to have our minds really 
exercised with delight about heavenly things, the things 
that are above, especially Christ himself as at the right hand 
of God. 

Again, so think of eternal things as continually to lay 
them in the balance against all the sufferings of this life. 
This use of it I have spoken unto somewhat before ; and it 
is necessary it should be pressed upon all occasions. It is 
very probable that we shall yet suffer more than we have 


done. Those who have gone before us, have done so ; it is 
foretold in the Scripture, that if we will ' live godly in Christ 
Jesus, we must do so ;' we stand in need of it, and the world 
is prepared to bring it on us. And as we must suffer, so it 
is necessary unto the glory of God, and our own salvation 
that we suffer in a due manner. Mere sufferings will neither 
commend us unto God, nor any way advantage our own 
souls. When we suffer according to the will of God, it is an 
eminent grace, gift, and privilege, Psal. i. 29. But many 
things are required hereunto. It is not enough that men 
suppose themselves to suffer for conscience sake, though if 
we do not so, all our sufferings are in vain. Nor is it enough 
that we suffer for this or that way of profession in religion, 
which we esteem to be true and according to the mind of 
God, in opposition unto what is not so. The glory of suf- 
ferings on these accounts solely, hath been much sullied in 
the days wherein we live. It is evident that persons out of 
a natural courage, accompanied with deep radicate persua- 
sions, and having their minds influenced with some sinister 
ends, may undergo things hard and difficult, in giving testi- 
mony unto what is not according to the mind of God. Ex- 
amples we have had hereof in all ages, and in that wherein 
we live in an especial manner. See 1 Pet. iv. 14 — 16. We 
have had enough to take off all paint and appearance of 
honour from them who in their sufferings are deceived in 
what they profess. But men may from the same principles 
suffer for what is indeed according to the mind of God, yea 
may give their bodies to be burned therein, and yet not to 
his glory nor their own eternal advantage. Wherefore we are 
duly to consider all things that are requisite to make our 
sufferings acceptable unto God and honourable unto the 

I have observed in many a frame of spirit with respect 
unto suflerings, that I never saw good event of when it was 
tried to the uttermost. Boldness, confidence, a pretended 
contempt of hardships, and scorning other men whom they 
suppose defective in these things, are the garments or livery 
they wear on this occasion. Such principles may carry men 
out in a bad cause, they will never do so in a good. Evan- 
gelical truth will not be honourably witnessed unto, but by 
evangelical graces. Distrust of ourselves, a due apprehen- 


sion of the nature of the evils to be undergone, and of our 
own frailty, with continual prayers to be delivered from 
them, or supported under them, and prudent care to avoid 
them without an inroad on conscience, or neglect of duty, 
are much better preparations for an entrance into a state of 
suffering. Many things belong unto our learning aright 
this first and last lesson of the gospel, namely, of bearing 
the cross, or undergoing all sorts of sufferings for the pro- 
fession of it. But they belong not unto our present occa- 
sion. This only is that which we now press, as an evi- 
dence of our sincerity in our sufferings, and an effectual 
means to enable us cheerfully to undergo them, which is to 
have such a continual prospect of the future state of glory, 
so as to lay it in the balance against all that we may un- 
dergo. For, 

1. To have our minds filled and possessed with thoughts 
thereof, will give us an alacrity in our entrance into sufferings 
in away of duty. Other considerations will offer themselves 
unto our relief, which will quickly fade and disappear. They 
are like a cordial water which gives a little relief for a sea- 
son, and then leaves the spirits to sink beneath what they 
were before it was taken. Some relieve themselves from the 
consideration of the nature of their sufferings ; they are not 
so great, but that they may conflict with them and come off 
with safety. But there is nothing of that kind so small, 
which will not prove too hard and strong for us, unless we 
have especial assistance. Some do the same from their du- 
ration ; they are but for ten days or six months, and then 
they shall be free. Some from the compassion and esteem 
of men. These and the like considerations are apt to occur 
unto the minds of all sorts of persons, whether they are spi- 
ritually minded or no. But when our minds are accustomed 
unto thoughts of the glory that shall be revealed, we shall 
cheerfully entertain every way and path that leads there- 
unto ; as suffering for the truth doth in a peculiar manner. 
Through this medium we may look cheerfully and comfort- 
ably, on the loss of name, reputation, goods, liberty, life 
itself; as knowing in ourselves that we have better and 
more abiding comforts to betake ourselves unto. And we 
can no other way glorify God by our alacrity in the entrance 
of sufferings, than when it ariseth from a prospect into and 


valuation of those invisible things which he hath promised 
as an abundant recompense for all we can lose in this world. 
2. The great aggravation of sufferings is their long con- 
tinuance, without any rational appearance or hopes of relief. 
Many who have entered into sufferings with much courage 
and resolution, have been wearied and worn out with their 
continuance. Elijah himself was hereby reduced to pray 
that God would take away his life, to put an end unto his 
ministry and calamities. And not a few in all ages have 
been hereby so broken in their natural spirits, and so shaken 
in the exercise of faith, as that they have lost the glory of 
their confession, in seeking deliverance by sinful com- 
pliances in the denial of truth. And although this may be 
done out of mere weariness (as it is the design of Satan to 
wear out the saints of the Most High) with reluctance of 
mind, and a love yet remaining unto the truth in their 
hearts, yet hath it constantly one of these two effects. 
Some, by the overwhelming sorrow that befalls them on the 
account of their failure in profession, and out of a deep 
sense of their unkindness unto the Lord Jesus, are stirred 
up immediately unto higher acts of confession than ever 
they were before engaged in, and unto a higher provoca- 
tion of their adversaries, until their former troubles are 
doubled upon them, which they frequently undergo with 
great satisfaction. Instances of this nature occur in all 
stories of great persecutions. Others being cowed and dis- 
couraged in their profession, and perhaps neglected by them 
whose duty it was rather to restore them, have by the craft 
of Satan given place to their declensions, and become vile 
apostates. To prevent these evils arising from the duration 
of sufferings without a prospect of deliverance, nothing is 
more prevalent than a constant contemplation on the future 
reward and glory. So the apostle declares it, Heb. xi. 35. 
When the mind is filled with the thoughts of the unseen 
glories of eternity, it hath in readiness what to lay in the 
balance against the longest continuance and duration of 
sufferings, which in comparison thereunto at their utmost 
extent are but for a moment. 

I have insisted the longer on these things, because they 
are the peculiar object of the thoughts of them that are in- 
deed spiritually minded. 



Spirit%ial thoughts of God himself. The opposition unto them and neglect 
of them, with their causes and the way of their prevalency. Predomi- 
nant corruptions expelling due thoughts of God, how to he discovered, §t. 
Thoughts of God, of what nature, and wliat they are to be accompanied 
withal, ^c. 

I HAVE spoken very briefly unto the first particular instance 
of the heavenly things, that we are to fix our thoughts upon, 
namely, the person of Christ. And I have done it on the 
reason before mentioned, namely, that I intend a peculiar 
treatise on that subject, or an inquiry how we may behold 
the glory of Christ in this life, and how we shall do so unto 
eternity. That which I have reserved unto the last place as 
unto the exercise of their thoughts about, who are spiri- 
tually minded, is that which is the absolute foundation and 
spring of all spiritual things ; namely, God himself. He is 
the fountain whence all these things proceed, and the ocean 
wherein they issue ; he is their centre and circumference 
wherein they all begin, meet, and end. So the apostle issues 
his profound discourse of the councils of the divine will and 
mysteries of the gospel, Rom. xi. 36. * Of him, and through 
him, and to him are all things, to whom be glory for ever.' 
All things arise from his power, are all disposed by his 
wisdom into a tendency unto his glory ; ' of him, and 
through him, and to him are all things.' Under that con- 
sideration alone are they to be the objects of our spiritual 
meditations, namely, as they come from him, and tend unto 
him. All other things are finite and limited ; but they 
begin and end in that which is immense and infinite. So 
God is all in all. He therefore is, or ought to be, the only 
supreme absolute object of our thoughts and desires ; other 
things are from and for him only. Where our thoughts do 
not either immediately and directly, or mediately and by 
just consequence tend unto and end in him, they are not 
spiritual, 1 Pet. i. 21. 

To make way for directions how to exercise our thoughts 
on God himself, some thing must be premised concerning a 
sinful defect herein, with the causes of it. 

First, It is the great character of a man presumptuously 


and flagitiously wicked, ' that God is not in all his thoughts ;' 
Psal. X. 4. That is, he is in none of them. And of this want 
of thoughts of God there are many degrees; for all wicked 
men are not equally so forgetful of him. 

1. Some are under the power of atheistical thoughts: 
they deny, or question, or do not avowedly acknowledge 
the very being of God. This is the height of what the 
enmity of the carnal mind can rise unto. To acknowledge 
God, and yet to refuse to be subject to his law or will, a 
man would think were as bad, if not worse, than to deny 
the being of God. But it is not so. That is a rebellion 
against his authority, this an hatred unto the only fountain 
of all goodness, truth, and being ; and that because they 
cannot own it, but withal they must acknowledge it to be 
infinitely righteous, holy, and powerful, which would destroy 
all their desires and security. Such may be the person in 
the psalm ; for the words may be read, 'AH his thoughts are 
that there is no God.' Howbeit the context describes him 
as one who rather despiseth his providence, than denieth 
his being. But such there are whom the same psalmist 
elsewhere brands for fools, though themselves seem to sup- 
pose that wisdom was born and will die with them, Psal. 
xiv. 1. liii. 1. 

It may be, never any age since the flood, did more 
abound with open atheism, among such as pretended unto 
the use and improvement of reason, than that wherein we 
live. Among the ancient civilized heathen, we hear ever 
and anon of a person branded for an atheist ; yet are not 
certain whether it was done justly or no. But in all nations 
of Europe at this day, cities, courts, towns, fields, armies, 
abound with persons, who, if any credit may be given unto 
what they say or do, believe not that there is a God. And 
the reason hereof may be a little enquired into. 

Now this is no other in general, but that men Jiave 
decocted and wasted the light and power of Christian reli- 
gion. It is the fullest revelation of God, that ever he made, 
it is the last that ever he will make in this world. If this 
be despised, if men rebel against the light of it, if they 
break the cords of it, and are senseless of its power, 
nothing can preserve them from the highest atheism that 
the nature of man is capable of. It is in vain to expect relief 


or preservation from inferior means, where the highest and 
most noble is rejected. Reason or the light ofnature gives 
evidences unto the being of Godj and arguments are still 
vi^ell pleaded from them to the confusion of atheists. And 
they were sufficient to retain men in an acknowledgment 
of the divine power and Godhead, who had no other, no 
higher evidences of them. But where men have had the 
benefit of divine revelation, where they have been educated 
in the principles of Christian religion, have had some know- 
ledge, and made some profession of them ; and have 
through the love of sin, and hatred of every thing that is 
truly good, rejected all convictions from them concerning 
the being, power and rule of God, they will not be kept 
unto a confession of them by any considerations that the 
light ofnature can suggest. 

There are therefore among others, three reasons why 
there are more atheists among them who live where the 
Christian religion is professed, and the power of it rejected, 
than among any other sort of men, even than there were 
among the heathens themselves. 

1. God hath designed to magnify his word above all his 
name, or all other ways of the revelation of himself unto 
the children of men, Psal. cxxxviii. 2. Where therefore 
this is rejected and despised, he will not give tlie honour 
unto reason or the light of nature, that they shall preserve 
the minds of men from any evil whatever. Reason shall 
not have the same power and efficacy on the minds of men, 
who reject the light and power of divine revelation by the 
word, as it hath, or may have, on them whose best guide 
it is, who never enjoyed the light of the gospel. And there- 
fore there is ofttimes more common honesty among ci- 
vilized heathens and Mahometans than amongst degene- 
rate Christians. And from the same reason the children 
of professors are sometimes irrecoverably profligate. It 
will be said, many are recovered unto God by afflictions, 
who have despised the word. But it is otherwise; never 
any were converted unto God by afflictions who had re- 
jected the word. Men may by afflictions be recalled unto 
the light of the word, but none are immediately turned unto 
God by them. As a good shepherd, when a sheep wanders 
from the flock, and will not hear his call, sends out his dog. 


Vvhich stops him and bites him. Hereon he looks about 
him, and hearing the call of the shepherd returns again td 
the flock; Job xxxiii. 19 — 25. But with this sort of persona 
it is the way of God, that where the principal means of the 
revelation of himself, and wherein he doth most glorify his 
wisdom and his goodness, is despised, he will not only take 
off the efficacy of inferior means, but judicially harden the 
hearts and blind the eyes of men, that such means shall be 
of no use unto them. See Isa. vi. 8 — 12. Acts xiii. 40, 41. 
Rom. i. 21. 28. 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12. 

2. The contempt of gospel light and Christian religion, 
as it is supernatural (which is the beginning of transgression 
unto all atheists among us), begets in and leaves on the 
mind such a depraved, corrupt habit, such a congeries of all 
evils, that the hatred of the goodness, wisdom, and grace of 
God can produce, that it cannot but be wholly inclined unto 
the worst of evils, as all our original vicious inclinations 
succeeded immediately on our rejection and loss of the 
image of God. The best things corrupted, yield the worst 
savour ; as manna stunk and bred worms. The knowledge 
of the gospel being rejected, stinking worms take the place 
of it in the mind, which grow into vipers and scorpions. 
Every degree of apostacy from gospel-truth, brings in a pro- 
portionate degree of inclination unto wickedness into the 
hearts and minds of men; 2 Pet. ii. 21. and that which is 
total, unto all the evils that they are capable of in this world. 
Whereas therefore multitudes, from their darkness, unbelief, 
temptation, love of sin, pride and contempt of God, do fall 
off from all subjection of soul and conscience unto the gospel, 
either notionally or practically, deriding or despising all 
supernatural revelations ; they are a thousand times more 
disposed unto downright atheism, than persons who never 
had the light or benefit of such revelations. Take heed of 
decays. Whatever ground the gospel loseth in our minds, 
sin possesseth it for itself and its own ends. 

Let none say, it is otherwise with them. Men grow cold 
and negligent in the duties of gospel worship, public and pri- 
vate ; which is to reject gospel light. Let them say and pre- 
tend what they please, that in other things, in their minds 
and conversations, it is well with them : indeed it is not so. 
Sin will, sin doth, one way or other, make an increase in 



them proportionate unto these decays ; and will sooner or 
later discover itself so to do. And themselves, if they are 
not utterly hardened, may greatly discover it, inwardly in 
their peace, or outwardly in their lives. 

3. Where men are resolved not to see, the greater the 
light is that shines about them, the faster they must close 
their eyes. All atheism springs from a resolution not to see 
things invisible and eternal. Love of sin, a resolved conti- 
nuance in the practice of it, the effectual power of vicious 
inclinations, in opposition unto all that is good, make it the 
interest of such men that there should be no God to call 
them to an account. For a supreme unavoidable judge, an 
eternal rewarder of good and evil, is inseparable from the 
first notion of a divine being. Whereas, therefore, the most 
glorious light and uncontrollable evidence of these things 
shines forth in the Scripture, men that will abide by their 
interest to love and live in sin, must close their eyes with all 
the arts and powers that they have, or else they will pierce 
into their minds unto their torment. This they do by down- 
right atheism, which alone pretends to give them security 
against the light of divine revelation. Against all other con- 
victions, they might take shelter from their fears, under less 
degrees of it. 

It is not therefore unto the disparagement, but honour, of 
the gospel, that so many avow themselves to be atheists, in 
those places wherein the truth of it is known and professed. 
For none can have the least inclination or temptation there- 
unto, until they have beforehand rejected the gospel, which 
immediately exposeth them unto the worst of evils. 

Nor is there any means for the recovery of such persons. 
The opposition that hath been made unto atheism, with ar- 
guments for the divine being and existence of God, taken 
from reason and natural light, in this and other ages, hath 
been of good use to cast contempt on the pretences of evil 
men, to justify themselves in their folly. But that they 
have so much as changed the minds of any, I much doubt. 
No man is under the power of atheistical thoughts, or can 
be so long, but he that is insnared into them by his desire 
to live securely and uncontrollably in sin. Such persons 
know it to be their interest, that there should be no God, 
and are willing to take shelter under the .bold expressions 


and reasonings of them, who by the same means have har- 
ilened and blinded tlieir minds into such foolish thoughts. 
But the most rational arguments for the being of the Deity, 
will never prove an effectual cure unto a predominant love 
of, and habitual course in, sin, in them who have resisted and 
rejected the means and motives unto that end declared in 
divine revelation. And unless the love of sin be cured in 
the heart, thoughts in the acknowledgment of God, will not 
be fixed in the mind. 

2. There are those of whom also it may be said, that God 
is not in all their thoughts, though they acknowledge his 
essence and being. For they are not practically influenced 
in any thing by the notions they have of him. Such is the 
person of whom this is affirmed; Psal. x. 4. He is one who 
through pride and profligacy with hardness in sin, regards 
not God in the rule of the world; yer. 4, 5. 11. 13. Such is 
the world filled withal at this day, as they are described, Tit. 
i. 16. ' They profess that they know God, but in works deny 
him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every 
good work reprobate.' They think, they live, they act in all 
things as if there were no God, at least as if they never 
thoucrht of him with fear and reverence. And for the most 
part we need not seek far for evidences of their disregard of 
God ; the ' pride of their countenances testify against them ;' 
Psal. X. 4. And if they are followed farther, cursed oaths, 
licentiousness of life, and hatred of all that is good, will con- 
firm and evidence the same. Such as these may own God 
in words, may be afraid of him in dangers, may attend out- 
wardly on his worship ; but they think not of God at all in 
a due manner; he is not in all their thoughts. 

3. There are yet less degrees of this disregard of God 
and forgetfulness of him. Some are so filled with thoughts 
of the world, and the occasions of life, that it is impossible 
they should think of God as they ought. For as the love of 
God, and the love of the world, in prevalent degrees, are in-* 
consistent, (* for if a man loveth this world, how dwelleth the 
love of God in him ?') so thoughts of God and of the world, 
in the like degree, are inconsistent. This is the state of many 
who yet would be esteemed spiritually minded. They are 
continually conversant in their minds about earthly things. 

y 2 


Some things impose themselves on them under the notion of 
duty : they belong unto their callings, they must be attended 
unto. Some are suggested unto their minds from daily occa- 
sions and occurrences. Common converse in the world engag- 
eth men into no other but worldly thoughts : love and desire 
of earthly things, their enjoyment and increase, exhaust the 
vigour of their spirits all the day long. In the midst of a 
multitude of thoughts arising from these and the like occa- 
sions, whilst their hearts and heads are reeking with the 
steam of them, many fall immediately in their seasons unto 
the performance of holy duties. Those times must suffice 
for thoughts of God. But notwithstanding such duties, 
what through the want of a due preparation for them, what 
through the fulness of their minds and affections with other 
things, and what through a neglect of exercising grace in 
them, it may be said comparatively, that * God is not in all 
their thoughts.' 

I pray God, that this, at least, as unto some degrees of it, 
be not the condition of many among us. I speak not now 
of men who visibly and openly live in sin, profane in their 
principles, and profligate in their lives. The prayers of such 
persons are an abomination unto the Lord ; neither have 
they ever any thoughts of him, which he doth accept : but 
I speak of them who are sober in their lives, industrious in 
their callings, and not openly negligent about the outward 
duties of religion. Such men are apt to approve of them- 
selves, and others also to speak well of them ; for these things 
are in themselves commendable and praiseworthy. But if 
they are traced home, it will be found as to many of them, 
that * God is not in all their thoughts' as he ought to be. 
Their earthly conversation, their vain communication, with 
their foolish designs, do all manifest that the vigour of their 
spirits, and most intense contrivances of their minds, are en- 
gaged into things below : some refuse, transient, unmanaged 
thoughts are sometimes cast away on God, which he despiseth. 

4. Where persons do cherish secret predominant lusts 
in their hearts and lives, God is not in their thoughts as he 
ought to be. He may be, he often is, much in the words of 
such persons, but in their thoughts he is not, he cannot be 
in a due manner. And such persons no doubt there are. 


Ever and anon, we hear of one and another whose secret 
lusts break forth into a discovery. They flatter themselves 
for a season, but God ofttimes so orders things in his holy 
providence, that their iniquity shall be found out to be hate- 
ful. Some hateful lust discovers itself to be predominant in 
them : one is drunken, another unclean, a third an oppres- 
sor. Such there were ever found among professors of the 
gospel, and that in the best of times: among the apostles 
one was a traitor, a devil. Of the first professors of Chris- 
tianity, there were those * whose God was their belly, whose 
end was destruction, who minded earthly things ;' Phil. iii. 
18, 19. Some may take advantage at this acknowledgment, 
that there are such evils among such as are called professors. 
And it must be confessed that great scandal is given hereby 
unto the world, casting both them that give it, and them to 
whom it is given, under a most dreadful woe. But we must 
bear the reproach of it, as they did of old, and commit the 
issue of all things unto the watchful care of God. However, 
it is good in such a season to be 'jealous over ourselves and 
others, to exhort one another daily whilst it is called to-day, 
lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.' See 
Heb. xii. 13 — 17. And because those with whom it is thus, 
cannot be spiritually minded, yet are there some difficulties 
in the case, as unto the predominancy of a secret lust or sin, 
I shall consider it somewhat more distinctly. 

1. We must distinguish between a time of temptation in 
some, and the ordinary state of mind and affections in others. 
There may be a season wherein God in his holy wise order- 
ings of all things towards us, and for his own glory, in his 
holy blessed ends, may suffer a lust or corruption to break 
loose in the heart, to strive, tempt, suggest, and tumultuate 
unto the great trouble and disquietude of the mind and con- 
science. Neither can it be denied, but that falling in con- 
junction with some vigorous temptation, it may proceed so 
far as to surprise the person in whom it is into actual sin, 
unto his defilement and amazement. In this case no man 
can say, he is tempted of God, for God tempteth no man, 
but every man is tempted of his own lust and enticed. But 
yet temptations of what sort soever they be, so far as they 
are afflictive, corrective, or penal, are ordered and disposed 
by God himself. For there is no evil of that nature, and he 


liath not done it: and where he will have the power of any 
corruption to be afflictive in any instance, two things may 
safely be ascribed to him. 

1. He withholds the supplies of that grace whereby it 
might be effectually mortified and subdued. He can give in 
a sufficiency of efficacious grace, to repel any temptation, to 
subdue any or all our lusts and sins. For he can and 
doth work in us to will and to do, according to his pleasure. 
Ordinarily he doth so in them that believe ; so that although 
their lusts may rebel and war, they cannot defile or prevail. 
But unto the continual supplies of this actual prevailing 
grace he is not obliged. When it may have a tendency unto 
his holy ends, he may and doth withhold it. When it may 
be a proud soul is to be humbled, a careless soul to be 
awakened, an unthankful soul to be convinced and rebuked, 
a backsliding soul to be recovered, a froward, selfish, pas- 
sionate soul to be broken and meekened, he can leave them 
for a season unto the sore exercise of a prevalent corruption, 
which under his holy guidance shall contribute greatly unto 
his blessed ends. It was so in the temptation of Paul, 
2 Cor. xi. 7 — 9. If a man, through disorder and excesses, is 
contracting many habitual distempers of body, which gra- 
dually and insensibly tend unto his death, it may be an ad- 
vantage to be cast into a violent fever, which threatens im- 
mediately to take away his life. For he will hereby be 
thoroughly awakened unto the consideration of his danger, 
and not only labour to be freed from his fever, but also for 
the future to watch against those disorders and excesses which 
cast him into that condition. And sometimes a loose, care- 
less soul, that walks in a secure formal profession, contracts 
many spiritual diseases which tend unto death and ruin. 
No arguments or considerations can prevail with him, to 
awaken himself, 'to shake himself out of the dust,' and to 
betake himself unto a more diligent and humble walking 
before God. In this state, it may be, through the permission 
of God, he is surprised into some open actual sin. Hereon, 
through the vigorous actings of an enlightened conscience, 
and the stirrings of any sparks of grace which yet remain, 
he is amazed, terrified, and stirs up himself to seek aftei 

2. God may and doth, in his providence, administer ob- 


jects and occasions of men's lusts for their trial. He will 
place them in such relations, in such circumstances, as shall 
be apt to provoke their affections, passions, desires, and incli- 
nations unto those objects that are suited unto them. 

In this state any lust will quickly get such power in the 
mind and affections, as to manage continual solicitations 
unto sin. It will not only dispose the affections towards it, 
but multiply thoughts about it, and darken the mind as unto 
those considerations, which ought to prevail unto its morti- 
fication. In this condition it is hard to conceive how God 
should be in the thoughts of man in a due manner. How- 
ever, this state is very different from the habitual preva- 
lency of any secret sin or corruption, in the ordinary course 
of men's walking in the world, and therefore I do not di- 
rectly intend it. 

If any one shall inquire how we may know this difference, 
namely, that is between the occasional prevalency of any 
lust or corruption in conjunction with a temptation, and the 
power of sin in any instance habitually and constantly com- 
plied withal, or indulged in the mind ; I answer, 

1. It is no great matter whether we are able to distin- 
guish between them or no. For the end why God suffers 
any corruption to be such a snare and temptation, such a 
thorn and briar, is to awaken the souls of men out of their 
security, and to humble them for their pride and negligence. 
The more severe are their apprehensions concerning it, the 
more effectual it will be unto this end and purpose. It is 
good, it may be, that the soul should apprehend more of 
what is sinful in it, as it is a corruption, than of what is 
afflictive in it, as it is a temptation. For if it be conceived 
as a predominant lust, if there be any spark of grace re- 
maining in the soul, it will not rest until in some measure it 
be subdued. It will also immediately put it upon a diligent 
search into itself, which will issue in deep self-abasement, 
the principal end designed. But, 

2. For the relief of them that may be perplexed in their 
minds, about their state and condition, I say, there is an 
apparent difference' between these things. A lust or cor- 
ruption arising up or breaking forth into a violent tempta- 
tion, is the continual burden, grief, and affliction of the 
soul wherein it is. And as the temptation for the most part 


which befalls such a person will give him no rest from its re- 
iterated solicitations ; so he will give the temptation no rest, 
but will be continually conflicting with it, and contending 
against it. It fills the soul with an amazement at itself, and 
continual self-abhorrency, that any such seeds of filth and 
folly should be yet remaining in it. With them in whom 
any sin is ordinarily prevalent, it is otherwise. According 
to their light and renewed occasional convictions, they 
have trouble about it ; they cannot but have so, unless their 
consciences are utterly seared. But this trouble respects 
principally, if not solely, its guilt and effects. They know 
not what may ensue on their compliance with it, in this 
world and another. Beyond this they like it well enough, 
and are not willing to part with it. It is of this latter sort 
of persons of whom we speak at present. 

2. We must distinguish between the perplexing solicita- 
tion of any lust, and the conquering predominancy of it. 
The evil that is present with us, will be soliciting and 
pressing unto sin of its own accord, even where there is no 
such especial temptation as that spoken of before. So is 
the case stated, so are the nature and operations of it de- 
scribed, Rom. i. Gal. v. And sometimes an especial par- 
ticular lust, may be so warmed and fomented by men's con- 
stitutions within, or be so exposed unto provoking, exciting 
occasions without, as to bring perpetual trouble on the 
mind. Yet this may be where no sin hath the predomi- 
nancy inquired after. And the difference between the per- 
plexing solicitation of any corruption unto sin, and the 
conquering prevalency of it, lies in this ; that under the 
former, the thoughts, contrivances, and actings of the mind, 
are generally disposed and inclined unto an opposition unto 
it, and a conflict with it, how it may be obviated, defeated, 
destroyed, how an absolute victory may be obtained against 
it. Yea, death itself is sweet unto such persons under this 
notion, as it is that which will deliver them from the per- 
plexing power of their corruptions; so is the state of such a 
soul at large represented, Rom. i. In the other case, 
namely, of its predominancy, it disposeth of the thoughts 
actually, for the most part, to make provision for the flesh, 
and to fulfil it in the lusts thereof. It fills the mind with 
pleasing contemplations of its object, and puts it on contri- 


vances for satisfaction. Yea, part of the bitterness of death 
unto such persons is, that it will make an everlasting sepa- 
ration between them and the satisfaction they have re- 
ceived in their lusts. It is bitter in the thoughts of it unto 
a worldly-minded man, because it will take him from all 
his enjoyments, his wealth, profits, and advantages. It is 
so unto the sensual person, as that which finally determines 
all his pleasures. 

3. There is a difference in the degrees of such a pre- 
dominant corruption. In some it taints the affections, 
vitiates the thoughts, and works over the will unto acts of 
a secret complacency in sin, but proceeds no farther. The 
whole mind may be vitiated by it, and rendered in the mul- 
titude of its thoughts, vain, sensual, or worldly, according 
as is the nature of the prevailing corruption. Yet here God 
puts bounds unto the raging of some men's corruptions, and 
says to their proud waves, ' thus far shall ye proceed, and 
no farther.' He either lays a restraint on their minds, that 
when lust hath fully conceived, it shall not bring forth sin, 
or he sets a hedge before them in his providence, that they 
shall not be able, in their circumstances, to find their way 
unto what perhaps they do most earnestly desire. A woful 
life it is that such persons lead. They are continually 
tortured between their corruptions and convictions, or the 
love of sin, and fear of the event. With others it pursues 
its course into outward actual sins, which in some are dis- 
covered in this world, in others they are not. For some 
men's sins go before them unto judgment, and some follow 
after. Some fall into sin upon surprisal, from a concur- 
rence of temptation with corruption, and opportunities ; 
some habituate themselves unto a course in sin, though in 
many it be not discovered, in some it is. But among those 
who have received any spiritual light, and made profession 
of religion thereon, this seldom falls out, but from the great 
displeasure of God. For when men have long given way 
unto the prevalency of sin in their affections, inclinations, 
and thoughts, and God hath set many a hedge before them 
to give bounds unto their inclinations, and to shut up the 
womb of sin; sometimes by afflictions, sometimes by fears 
and dangers, sometimes by the word ; and yet the bent of 
their spirits is towards their sin ; God takes off his hand of 


restraint, removes his hinderances, and gives them up unto 
their own heart's lusts, to do the things that are not conve- 
nient. All things hereon suit their desires, and they rush 
into actual sins and follies, setting their feet in the paths 
that go down to the chambers of death. The uncontrol- 
lable power of sin in such persons, and the greatness of 
God's displeasure against them, makes their condition most 

Those that are in this state, of either sort, the first or 
the latter, are remote from being spiritually minded, nor 
is God in all their thoughts as he ought to be. For, 

1. They will not so think and meditate on God. Their 
delight is turned another way. Their affections, which are 
the spring of their thoughts, which feed them continually, 
do cleave unto the things which are most adverse unto him. 
Love of sin is gotten to be the spring in them; and the 
whole stream of the thoughts which they choose and de- 
light in, are towards the pleasures of it. If any thoughts of 
God come in, as a faint tide for a few minutes, and drive 
back the other stream, they are quickly repelled and car- 
ried away with the strong current of those which proceed 
from their powerful inclinations. Yet may such persons 
abide in the performance of outward holy duties ; or at- 
tendance unto them. Pride of, or satisfaction in, their gifts, 
may give them delight in their own performances, and 
something in those of others they may be exceedingly 
pleased withal ; as it is expressly affirmed, Ezek. xxxiii. 31, 
32. But in these things they have no immediate real 
thoughts of God, none that they delight in, none that they 
seek to stir up in themselves ; and those which impose them- 
selves on them they reject. 

2. As they will not, so they dare not, think of God. 
They will not, because of the power of their lusts ; they 
dare not, because of their guilt. No sooner should they 
begin to think of him in good earnest, but their sin would 
lose all its desirable forms and appearances, and represent 
itself in the horror of guilt alone : and in that conditioii 
all the properties of the divine nature are suited to increase 
the dread and terror of the sinner. Adam had heard God's 
voice before with delight and satisfaction ; but on the hear- 
ing of the same voice, after lie had sinned, he hid himself. 


and cried that he was afraid. There is a way for men to 
think of God with the guilt of sin upon them, which they 
intend to forsake; but none for any to do it with the guilt 
of sin which they resolve to continue in. Wherefore of all 
these sorts of persons it may be said, that God is not in all 
their thoughts, and therefore are they far enough from being 
spiritually minded. For unless we have many thoughts of 
God, we cannot be so. Yea, moreover, there are two things 
required unto those thoughts which we have of God, that 
there be an evidence of our being so. 

1. That we take delight in them, Psal. xxx. 4. 'Sing 
unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the 
remembrance of his holiness.' The remembrance of God 
delighteth and refresheth the hearts of his saints, and stirs 
them up unto thankfulness. 

1. They rejoice in what God is in himself. Whatever is 
good, amiable, or desirable; whatever is holy, just, and 
powerful; whatever is gracious, wise, and merciful, and all 
that is so, they see and apprehend in God. That ' God is 
what he is,' is the matter of their chiefest joy. Whatever 
befalls them in this world, whatever troubles and disquiet- 
ment they are exercised withal, the remembrance of God is 
a satisfactory refreshment unto them : for therein they be- 
hold all that is good and excellent, the infinite centre of all 
perfections. Wicked men would have God to be in any 
thing but what he is : nothing that God is really and truly 
pleaseth them. Wherefore, they either frame false notions 
of him in their minds, as Psal. 1. 21. or they think not of 
him at all, at least as they ought, unless sometimes they 
tremble at his anger and power. Some benefit they suppose 
may be had, by what he can do, but how there can be any 
delight in what he is, they know not : yea, all their trouble 
ariseth from hence, that he is what he is. It would be a 
relief unto them, if they could make any abatement of his 
power, his holiness, his righteousness, his omnipresence ; 
but his saints, as the psalmist speaks, ' give thanks at the 
remembrance of his holiness.' 

And when we can delight in the thoughts of what God 
is in himself, of his infinite excellencies and perfections, it 
gives us a threefold evidence of our being spiritually minded. 
1. In that it is such an evidence that we have a <rracious 


interest in those excellencies and perfections, whereon we 
can say, with rejoicing in ourselves, 'This God,' thus holy, 
thus powerful, thus just, good, and gracious, 'is our God, 
and he will be our guide unto death.' So the psalmist, 
under the consideration of his own frailty, and apprehen- 
sions of death in the midst of his years, comforts and re- 
fresheth himself with thoughts of God's eternity and immu- 
tability, with his interest in them ; Psal. cii. 23 — 28. And 
God himself proposeth unto us, his infinite immutability 
as the ground whereon we may expect safety and deliver- 
ance ; Mai. iii. 6. When we can thus think of God, and 
what he is with delight, it is, I say, an evidence that we 
have a gracious covenant interest, even in what God is in 
himself ; which none have but those who are spiritually 

2. It is an evidence that the image of God is begun to 
be wrought in our own souls ; and we approve of and rejoice 
in it more than in all other things whatever. Whatever 
notions men may have of the divine goodness, holiness, 
righteousness, and purity, they are all but barren, jejune, 
and fruitless, unless there be a similitude and conformity 
unto them wrought in their minds and souls. Without this 
they cannot rejoice in the thoughts and remembrance of the 
divine excellencies. Wherefore, when we can do so, when 
such meditations of God are sweet unto us, it is an evidence 
that we have some experience in ourselves of the excellency 
of the image of those perfections, and that we rejoice in them 
above all things in this world. 

3. They are so also, in that they are manifest, that we 
do discern and judge that our eternal blessedness doth con- 
sist in the full manifestation, and our enjoyment, of God in 
what he is, and of all his divine excellencies. This men for 
the most part take for granted, but how it should be so, they 
know not. They understand it, in some measure, whose 
hearts are here deeply affected with delight in them; they 
are able to believe that the manifestation and enjoyment of 
the divine excellencies will give eternal rest, satisfaction, 
and complacency unto their souls. No wicked man can 
look upon it otherwise than a torment, to abide for ever 
'with eternal holiness ;' Isa. xxxiii. 14. And we ourselves 
can have no present prospect into the fulness of future 


glory, when God shall be all in all, but through the delight 
and satisfaction which we have here in the contemplation 
of what God is in himself, as the centre of all divine per- 

I would therefore press this unknown, this neglected 
duty on the minds of those of us in an especial manner, 
who are visibly drawing nigh unto eternity. The days are 
coming, wherein what God is in himself, that is as manifest 
and exerted in Christ, shall alone be (as we hope) the 
eternal blessedness and reward of our souls. Is it possible 
that any thing should be more necessary for us, more use- 
ful unto us, than to be exercised in such thoughts and con- 
templations. The benefits we may have hereby are not to 
be reckoned, some of them only may be named. As, 1. 
We shall have the best trial of ourselves, how our hearts 
really stand affected towards God. For if upon examina- 
tion we find ourselves not really to delight and rejoice in 
God, for what he is in himself, and that all perfections are 
eternally resident in him, how dwelleth the love of God in 
us? But if we can truly 'rejoice at the remembrance of 
his holiness,' in the thoughts of what he is, our hearts are 
upright with him. 2. This is that which will effectually 
take off our thoughts and affections from things here below. 
One spiritual view of the divine goodness, beauty, and holi- 
ness, v?ill have more efficacy to raise the heart unto a con- 
tempt of all earthly things, than any other evidences what- 
ever. 3. It will increase the grace of being heavenly- 
minded in us, on the ground sbefore declared. 4. It is the 
best, I had almost said, it is the only preparation for the 
future full enjoyment of God. This will gradually lead us 
into his presence, take away all fears of death, increase our 
longing after eternal rest, and ever make us groan to be 
unclothed. Let us not then cease labouring with our 
hearts, until, through grace, we have a spiritually sensible 
delight and joy in the remembrances and thoughts of what 
God is in himself. 

2. In thoughts of God, his saints rejoice at the remem- 
brance of what he is, and what he will be unto them. Herein 
have they regard unto all the holy relations that he hath 
taken on himself towards them, w ith all the effects of his 
covenant in Christ Jesus. To that purpose were some of 


the last words of David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. ' Although my 
house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an 
everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure ; this is 
all my salvation and all my desire.' In the prospect he 
had of all the distresses that were to befall his family, he 
triumphantly rejoiceth in the everlasting covenant that God 
had made with him. In these thoughts his saints take de- 
light ; they are sweet unto them, and full of refreshment. 
' Their meditations of him are sweet, and they are glad in 
the Lord,' Psal. civ. 34. Thus is it with them that are truly 
spiritually minded : they not only think much of God, but 
they take delight in these thoughts ; they are sweet unto 
them; and not only so, but they have no solid joy nor de- 
light, but in their thoughts of God, which therefore they 
retreat unto continually. They do so especially on great 
occasions, which of themselves are apt to divert them from 
them. As suppose a man hath received a signal mercy, with 
the matter whereof he is exceedingly affected and delighted ; 
the minds of some men are apt on such occasions to be 
filled with thoughts of what they have received, and their 
affections to be wholly taken up with it. But he who is 
•spiritually minded, will immediately retreat unto thoughts 
of God, placing his delight and taking up his satisfaction 
in him. And so, on the other side, great distresses, preva- 
lent sorrows, strong pains, violent distempers, are apt of 
themselves to take up and exercise all the thoughts of men 
about them. But those who are spiritually minded, will in 
and under them all continually betake themselves unto 
thoughts of God, wherein they find relief and refreshment 
against all that they feel or fear. In every state, their prin- 
cipal joy is in the remembrance of his holiness. 

2. That they be accompanied with godly fear and re- 
verence. These are required of us in all wherein we have to 
do with God, Heb. xii. 28, 29. And as the Scripture doth 
not more abound with precepts unto any duty, so the nature 
of God and our own, with the infinite distance between them, 
make it indispensably necessary even in the light of the na- 
tural conscience. Infinite greatness, infinite holiness, infinite 
power, all which God is, command the utmost reverential 
fear that our natures are capable of. The want hereof is the 
spring of innumerable evils ; yea, indeed, of all that is so. 


Hence are blasphemous abuses of tlie lioly name of God in 
cursed oaths and execrations ; hence it is taken in vain, in 
ordinary exclamations ; hence is all formality in religion. 

It is the spiritual mind alone that can reconcile those 
things which are prescribed us as our duty towards God. 
To delight and rejoice in him always, to triumph in the re- 
membrance of him, to draw nigh unto him with boldness and 
confidence, are, on the one hand, prescribed unto us : and 
on the other it is so, that we fear and tremble before him, 
that we fear that great and dreadful name the Lord our God, 
that we have grace to serve him with reverence and godly 
fear, because he is a consuming fire. These things carnal 
reason can comprehend no consistency in ; what it is afraid 
of, it cannot delight in ; and what it delights in, it will not 
long fear. But the consideration of faith (concerning what 
God is in himself, and what he will be unto us) gives these 
diflerent graces their distinct operations, and a blessed re- 
conciliation in our souls. Wherefore all our thoughts of God 
ought to be accompanied with a holy awe and reverence, 
from a due sense of his greatness, holiness, and power. Two 
things will utterly vitiate all thoughts of God, and render 
them useless unto us. 

1. Vain curiosity. 2. Carnal boldness. 1. It is inima- 
ginable how the subtle disquisitions and disputes of men, 
about the nature, properties, and counsels of God, have been 
corrupted, rendered sapless and useless, by vain curiosity, 
and striving for an artificial accuracy in the expression of 
men's apprehensions. When the wits and minds of men are 
engaged in such thoughts, God is not in all their thoughts, 
even when all their thoughts are concerning him. When 
once men are got into their metaphysical curiosities and 
logical niceties, in their contemplations about God and his 
divine properties, they bid farewell, for the most part, unto 
all godly fear and reverence. 2. Others are under the power 
of carnal boldness, that they think of God with no other 
respect than if they thought of worms of the earth like them- 
selves. There is no holy awfulness upon their minds and 
souls in the mention of his name. By these things may our 
thoughts of God be so vitiated, that the heart shall not in 
them be affected with a reverence of him, nor any evidence 
be given that we are spiritually minded. 


It is this holy reverence that is the means tdF bringing iil 
sanctifying virtue into our souls from God, upon our thoughts 
of him» None that think of God with a due reverence, but 
he shall be sensible of advantage by it. Hereby do we 
sanctify God in our access unto him; and when we do so, he 
will sanctify and purify our hearts by those very thoughts in 
which we draw nigh to him. 

We may have many sudden, occasional, transient thoughts 
of God, that are not introduced into our minds by a preceding- 
reverential fear. But if they leave not that fear on our hearts, 
in proportion unto their continuance with us, they are of no 
value, but will insensibly habituate us unto a common bold 
frame of spirit, which he despises. 

So is it in the case of thoughts of a contrary nature. 
Thoughts of sin, of sinful objects, may arise in our minds 
from the remainders of corruption, or be occasioned by the 
temptations and suggestions of Satan. If these are imme- 
diately rejected and cast out of us, the soul is not more pre- 
judiced by their entrance, than it is advantaged by their 
rejection through the power of grace. But if they make 
frequent returns into thp minds of men, or make any abode 
or continuance in their soliciting of the affections, they 
greatly defile the mind and conscience, disposing the person 
unto the farther entertainment of them. So if our occasional 
thoughts of God do immediately leave us, and pass away 
without much affecting our minds, we shall have little or no 
benefit by them. But if, by their frequent visits, and some 
continuance with us, they dispose souls unto a holy reve- 
rence of God, they are a blessed means of promoting our 
sanctification. Without this, I say, there may be thoughts 
of God unto no advantage of the soul. 

There is implanted on our nature such a sense of a divine 
power and presence, as that on all sudden occasions and 
surprisals, it will act itself according unto that sense and 
apprehension. There is * vox naturse clamantis ad Dominum 
naturae ;"a voice in nature itself, upon any thing that is sud- 
denly too hard for it, which cries out immediately unto the 
God of nature.' So men, on such occasions, without any 
consideration, are surprised into a calling on the name of 
God, and crying unto him. And from the same natural ap- 
prehension it is, that wicked arrd profane persons will break 


forth on all occasions into cursed swearing by his name. So 
men in such ways have thoughts of God without either re- 
verence or godly fear, without giving any glory unto him, 
and, for the most part, unto their own disadvantage. Such 
are all thoughts of God that are not accompanied with holy 
fear and reverence. 

There is scarce any duty that ought at present to be 
more pressed on the consciences of men, than this of keeping 
up a constant holy reverence of God in all wherein they have 
to do with him, both in private and public, in their inward 
thoughts and outward communication. Formality hath so 
prevailed on religion, and that under the most effectual 
means of its suppression, that very many do manifest that 
they have little or no reverence of God in the most solemn 
duties of his worship, and less, it may be, in their secret 
thoughts. Some ways that have been found out to keep up 
a pretence and appearance of it, have been and are destruc- 
tive unto it. 

But herein consists the very life of all religion. The 
fear of God is in the Old Testament the usual expression of 
all the due respect of our souls unto him ; and that because 
where that is not in exercise, nothing is accepted with him. 
And thence the whole of our wisdom is said to consist there- 
in; and if it be not in a prevalent exercise in all wherein we 
have to do with him immediately, all our duties are utterly 
lost as to the ends of his glory, and the spiritual advantage 
of our own souls. 


What of God or iri God we are to think and meditate upon. His hein^r ; 
reasons of it ; oppositions to it ; the way of their conquest. Thoughts 
of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, peculiarly necessary. The 
reasons hereof As also of his omnipoteucy. The use and benefit of such 

These things mentioned have been premised in general, as 
unto the nature, manner, and way of exercise of our thoughts 
on God. That which remains is to give some particular in- 
stances of what we are to think upon in an especial man- 
voL. xni. z 


ner ; and what we will be conversant withal in our thoughts, 
if so be we are spiritually minded. And I shall not insist 
at present on the things which concern his grace and love 
in Christ Jesus, which belong unto another head, but on 
those which have an immediate respect unto the divine na- 
ture itself, and its holy essential properties. 

First, Think much of the being and existence of God. 
Herein lies the foundation of all our relation and access unto 
him, Heb. xi. 6. 'He that cometh unto God, must believe 
that he is.' This is the first object of faith ; and it is the 
first act of reason ; and being the sole foundation of all re- 
ligion, it is our duty to be exercised unto multiplied thoughts 
about it, renewed on all occasions. For many who are not 
direct atheists, yet live without any solid well-grounded as- 
sent unto the divine being ; they do not so believe it as to 
be practically influenced with the consideration of it. It is 
granted, that the inbred light of nature, in the due exercise 
of reason, will give any rational creature satisfaction in the 
being of God. But there is in the most an anticipation of 
any thoughts of this nature by tradition and education, 
which hath invited men into an assent unto it, they know 
not how. They never called it into question, nor have as 
they suppose any cause so to do. Nature itself startles at 
the first thoughts of denying of it; but if ever such persons 
on any urgent occasions come to have real thoughts about 
it, they are at a loss, and fluctuate in their minds, as not hav- 
ing any certain indubitable conviction of its truth. Where- 
fore, as our knowledge of the Divine Being is as to the 
foundation of it laid in the light of nature, the operation of 
conscience, and the due exercise of reason about the works 
and effects of infinite power and wisdom ; so it ought to be 
increased, and rendered useful by faith in divine revelations, 
and the experience of divine power through them. By this 
faith we ought to let in frequent thoughts of the divine 
being and existence: and that on two reasons, rendering the 
duty necessary in an eminent manner, in this age wherein 
we live. 

1. The abounding of atheism, both notional and practi- 
cal. The reasons of it have been given before, and the mat- 
ter of fact is evident unto any ordinary observation. And 
on two accounts with respect hereunto we ought to abound 


in thoughts of faith concerning the being of God. 1. An 
especial testimony is required in us, in opposition to this 
cursed effect of hell. He, therefore, who is spiritually minded, 
cannot but have many thoughts of the being of God, there- 
by giving glory to him. Isa. xliii. 9 — 12. ' Let all the na- 
tions be gathered together, and let the people be assembled : 
who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? 
let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justi- 
fied ; or let them hear, and say. It is truth. Ye are my wit- 
nesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen : 
that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am 
he : before me there was no God formed, neither shall there 
be after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is 
no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have 
shewed, when there was no strange God among you : there- 
fore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.' 
xliv. 8. * Fear ye not, neither be afraid ; have not I told thee 
from that time, and have declared it ; ye are even my wit- 
nesses. Is there a God besides me ? yea, there is no God : 
I know not any.' 2. We shall have occasion of them con- 
tinually administered unto us. Those atheistical impieties, 
principles, and practices, which abound amongst us, are griev- 
ous provocations unto all pious souls. Without frequent 
retreat unto thoughts of the being of God, there is no relief 
nor refreshment to be had under them. Such was the case 
of Noah in the old world, and of Lot in Sodom, which ren- 
dered their graces illustrious. 

2. Because of the unaccountable confusions that all 
things are filled withal at this day in the world. Whatever 
in former times hath been a temptation in human affairs 
unto any of the people of God, it abounds at this day. 
Never had men, profane and profligate, greater outward ap- 
pearances to strengthen them in their atheism, nor those 
that are godly greater trials for their faith, with respect 
unto the visible state of things in tlie world. The psalmist 
of old on such an occasion was almost surprised into unbe- 
lieving complaints ; Psal. Ixxiii. 2 — 4, &,c. And such sur- 
prisals may now also befal us, that we may be ready to say 
with him, * Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and 
washed my hands in innocency ; for all the day long have I 
been plagued, and chastened every morning.' Hence when 

z 2 


the prophet Habakkuk was exercised with thoughts about 
such a state of things as is at this day in the world, which 
he declares, chap. i. 6 — 12. he lays the foundation of his con- 
sideration in the fresh exercise of faith on the being and 
properties of God, ver. 12, 13. And David makes that his 
retreat on the like occasion, Psal. xi, 3 — 5. 

In such a season as this is, upon both the accounts men- 
tioned, those who are spiritually minded will much exercise 
their thoughts about the being and existence of God. They 
will say within themselves, ' Verily there is a reward for the 
righteous; verily he is a God who judgeth in the earth.' 
Hence will follow such apprehensions of the immensity of his 
nature, of his eternal power and infinite wisdom, of his abso- 
lute sovereignty, as will hold their souls firm and steadfast, 
in the highest storms of temptation that may befall them. 

Yet are there two things that the weaker sort of believ- 
ers may be exercised with, in their thoughts of the divine 
being and existence, which may occasion them some 

1. Satan knowing the weakness of our minds in the im- 
mediate contemplation of things infinite and incomprehen- 
sible, will sometimes take advantage to insinuate blasphe- 
mous imaginations in opposition unto what we would fix 
upon, and relieve ourselves withal. He will take that very 
time, trusting unto our weakness and his own methods of 
subtlety, to suggest his temptations unto atheism, by in- 
snaring inquiries, when we go about to refresh our souls 
with thoughts of the divine being and excellencies. But is 
there a God indeed ? How do you know that there is a God? 
and may it not be otherwise? will be his language unto our 
minds. For from his first temptation by way of an insnar- 
ing question, 'Yea, and hath God said it, ye shall not eat of 
every tree of the garden ? he proceeds still much in the 
same methods. So he did with our Saviour himself, ' If 
thou be the Son of God.' Is there a God? how if there 
should be none? In such a case the rule is given us by the 
apostle ; ' Above all take the shield of faith, whereby ye shall 
be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked ;' Eph. vi. 
16. Tov TTovnpov, of the wicked one,' that is the devil. And 
two ways will faith act itself on this occasion. 

1. By a speedy rejection of such diabolical suggestions 


witli detestation. So did our Saviour in a case not unlike 
it; ' Get thee behind me, Satan.' Wherefore, if any such 
thoughts are suggested, or seem to arise in your minds, 
know assuredly that they are no less immediately from the 
devil, than if he personally stood before you, and visibly 
appeared unto you; if he did so, there is none of you but 
would arm yourselves with an utter defiance of what he 
should offer unto you. It is no less necessary on this occa- 
sion, when you may feel him, though you may see him not. 
Suffer not his fiery darts to abide one moment with you; en- 
tertain no parly or dispute about them; reject them with in- 
dignation, and strengthen your rejection of them with some 
pertinent testimony of Scripture, as our Saviour did. If a 
man have a grenado or fire-ball cast into his clothes by his 
enemy, he doth not consider whether it will burn or no, but 
immediately shakes it off from him. Deal no otherwise with 
these fiery darts, lest by their abode with you they inflame 
your imagination unto greater disturbance. 

(2.) In case they utterly depart not upon this endeavour 
for their exclusion and casting out, return immediately with- 
out farther dispute unto your own experience. When the 
devil hath asked you the question, if you answer him, you 
will be insnared ; but if thereon you ask yourselves the 
question, and apply yourselves unto your own experience 
for an answer unto it, you will frustrate all his designs. 

There are arguments to be taken, as was said, from the 
light of nature, and reason in its proper exercise, sufficient 
to defeat all objections of that kind. But these are not our 
proper weapons in case of our own temptation, which alone 
is now under consideration. It requires longer and more 
sedate reasonings than such a state will admit of; nor is it a 
sanctified medium for our relief. 

It is what is suited unto suggestions on the occasion of 
our meditations that we inquire after. In them we are not 
to argue on such principles, but to take the shield of faith 
to quench these fiery darts. And if on such occasions Satan 
can divert us into long disputes about the being of God, he 
hath his end, by carrying us off from the meditation on him 
which we did design, and after awhile he will prevail to make 
it a common road and trade, that no sooner shall we begin 


to think of God, but immediately we must dispute about his 

Therefore the way in this case for him who is really a be- 
liever, is to retreat immediately unto his own experience, 
which will pour shame and contempt on the suggestions of 
Satan. There is no believer, who hath knowledge and time 
to exercise the wisdom of faith in the consideration of him- 
self and of God's dealings with him, but hath a witness in 
himself of his eternal power and godhead, as also of all those 
other perfections of his nature which he is pleased to mani- 
fest and glorify by Jesus Christ. Wherefore, on this sugges- 
tion of Satan, that there is no God, he will be able to say, 
that he might better tell me that I do not live nor breathe, 
that I am not fed by my meat, nor warmed by my clothes, 
that I know not myself nor any thing else ; for I have spi- 
ritual sense and experience of the contrary : like him of old, 
who when a cunning sophister would prove unto him by syl- 
logisms that there was no such thing as motion, he gave no 
answer unto his arguments, but rose up and walked. How 
often, will he say, have I had experience of the power and 
presence of God in prayer ; as though I had not only heard 
of him by the hearing of ear, but also seen him by the seeing 
of the eye? How often hath he put forth his power and 
grace in me by his Spirit and his word with an uncontrolla- 
ble evidence of his being, goodness, love, and grace ? How 
often hath he refreshed my conscience with the sense of the 
pardon of sin, speaking that peace unto my soul, which all 
the world could not communicate unto me ? In how many 
afflictions, dangers, troubles, hath he been a present help and 
relief? what sensible emanations of life and power from him 
have I obtained in meditation on his grace and glory ? As 
he who had been blind, answered the Pharisees unto their 
insnaring and captious questions; be it what it will, * One 
thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.' What- 
ever, saith such a soul, be in this temptation of Satan, one 
thing I know full well, that 'whereas I was dead, I am alive, 
whereas I was blind, now I see, and that by the effect of di- 
vine power.' 

This shield of faith, managed in the hand of experience, 
will quench the fiery darts of Satan ; and he will fall under 


a double defeat. 1. His temptations will be repelled by 
the proper way of resistance, whereon he will not only desist 
in his attempt, but even fly from you. ' Resist the devil,' 
saith the apostle, ' and he will fly from you.' He will not 
only depart and cease to trouble you, but will depart as one 
defeated and confounded. And it is for want of this re- 
sistance lively made use of, that many hang so long in the 
briars of this temptation. 2. Recalling the experiences 
we have had of God, will lead us unto the exercise of all 
kind of graces, which is the greatest disappointment of our 

2. In thoughts of the divine being and existence, we 
are apt to be at a loss, to be as it were overwhelmed in our 
minds, because the object is too great and glorious for us 
to contemplate on. Eternity and immensity, every thing 
under the notion of infinite, take off* the mind from its dis- 
tinct actings, and reduce it as it were unto nothing. Hereon 
in some, not able to abide in the strict reasons of things, 
vain and foolish imaginations are apt to arise, and inquiries 
how can these things be, which we cannot comprehend? 
Others are utterly at a loss, and turn away their thoughts 
from them, as they would do their eyes from the bright 
beams of the sun. Two things are advisable in this case. 

1. That we betake ourselves unto a holy admiration of 
what we cannot comprehend. In these things we cannot 
see God and live ; nay, in life eternal itself, they are not ab- 
solutely to be comprehended, only what is infinite can fully 
comprehend what is so. Here they are the objects of faith 
and worship : in them we may find rest and satisfaction, 
when inquiries and reasonings will disquiet us, and it may 
be overwhelm us. Infinite glory forbids us any near ap- 
proach but only by faith. The soul thereby bowing down 
itself unto God's adorable greatness, and incomprehensible 
perfections, finding ourselves to be nothing and God to be 
all, will give us rest and peace in these things; Rom. xi. 
33 — 36. We have but unsteady thoughts of the greatness 
of the world, and all the nations and inhabitants of it; yet 
are both it and these but as ' the dust of the balance, and 
the drop of the bucket, as vanity, as nothing,' compared 
with God : what then can our thoughts concerning him issue 
in, but holy admiration ? 


2. In case we are brought unto a loss and disorder in 
our minds, on the contemplation of any one infinite property 
of God, it is good to divert our thoughts unto the effects of 
it, such as whereof we have, or may have, experience ; for 
what is too great or high for us in itself, is made suitable to 
our understandings in its effects. So the ' invisible things 
of God, are known in and by the things that are seen.' And 
there is indeed no property of the divine nature, but we may 
have an experience of it as unto some of its effects in and 
upon ourselves. These we may consider, and in the streams 
taste of the fountain which we cannot approach. By them 
we may be led unto a holy admiration of what is in itself 
infinite, immense, incomprehensible. I cannot comprehend 
the immensity of God's nature ; it may be I cannot under- 
stand the nature of immensity ; yet if I find by experience, 
and do strongly believe, that he is always present wherever 
I am, I have the faith of it, and satisfaction in it. 

Secondly, With thoughts of the Divin eBeing, those of 
his omnipresence and omniscience ought continually to ac- 
company us. We cannot take one step in a walk before him, 
unless we remember that always and in all places he is pre- 
sent with us; that the frame of our hearts and our inward 
thoughts are continually in his view no less than our out- 
ward actions. And as we ought to be perpetually under an 
awe of, and -in the fear of, God in these apprehensions, so 
there are some seasons wherein our minds ought to be in 
the actual conception and thoughts of them, without which 
we shall not be preserved in our duty. 

1. The first season of this nature, is when times, places, 
with other occasions of temptation, and consequently of 
sinning, do come and meet. With some, company doth 
constitute such a season ; and with some, secrecy with op- 
portunity do the same. There are those who are ready with 
a careless boldness to put themselves on such societies as 
they do know have been temptations imto them and occa- 
sions of sin ; every such entrance into any society or com- 
pany, unto them who know how it hath formerly succeeded, 
is their actual sin, and it is just with God to leave them 
to all the evil consequents that do ensue. Others also do 
either choose, or are frequently cast on, such societies ; and 
no sooner are they engaged in them, bu.t they forget all re- 


gard unto God, and give themselves up not only unto vanity, 
but unto various sorts of excess. David knew the evil and 
danger of such occasions; and gives us an account of his 
behaviour in them, Psal. xxxix. 1 — 3. 'I said, I will take 
heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue : I will keep 
my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I 
was dumb with silence ; 1 held my peace, even from good, 
and my sorrow was stirred : my heart was hot within me ; 
while I was musing, the fire burned : then spake I with my 
tongue.' As for their evil words and ways he would have 
no communication with them. And as unto good discourse, 
he judged it unseasonable to cast * pearl before swine.' He 
was therefore silent as unto that also, though it was a grief 
and trouble to him. But this occasioned in him afterward 
those excellent meditations which he expresseth in the fol- 
lowing verses. In the entrance of these occasions, if men 
would remember the presence of God with them in these 
places, with the holy severity of the eye that is upon them, 
it would put an awe upon their spirits, and imbitter those 
jollities, whose relish is given them by temptation and sin. 
He doth neither walk humbly nor circumspectly, who being 
unnecessarily cast on the society of men, wicked or profane 
(on such occasions wherein the ordinary sort of men give 
more than ordinary liberty unto corrupt communication or 
excess in any kind), doth not in his entrance of them call 
to mind the presence and all-seeing eye of God, and at his 
departure from them, consider whether his deportment hath 
been such as became that presence, and his being under 
that eye. But, alas ! pretences of business and necessary 
occasions, engagement of trade, carnal relations, and the 
common course of communication in the world, with a 
supposition that all sorts of society are allowed for diver- 
sion, have cast out the remembrance of God from the minds 
of most, even then when men cannot be preserved from sin 
without it. 

This hath sullied the beauty of gospel conversation 
amongst the most, and left in very few any prevalent evi- 
dence of being spiritually minded. 

Wherefore, as unto them who either by their voluntary 
choice or necessity of their occasions, do enter and engage 
promiscuously into all societies and companies, let them 


know assuredly, that if they awe not their hearts and spirits 
continually with the thoughts and apprehensions of the om- 
nipresence and omniscience of God, that he is always with 
them, and his eye always upon them, they will not be pre- 
served from snares and sinful miscarriages. 

Yea, such thoughts are needful unto the best of us all, 
and in the best of our societies, that we behave not ourselves 
indecently in them at any time. 

Again, unto some, privacy, secrecy, and opportunity, are 
occasions of temptation and sin. They are so unto persons 
under convictions not wholly turned to God. Many a good 
beginning hath been utterly ruined by this occasion and 
temptation. Privacy and opportunity have overthrown 
many such persons in the best of their resolutions : and 
they are so unto all persons not yet flagitiously wicked. 
Cursed fruits proceed every day from these occasions. We 
need no other demonsti'ation of their power and efficacy in 
tempting unto sin, but the visible effects of them : and 
what they are unto any, they may be unto all, if not dili- 
gently watched against. So the apostle reflects on the 
* shameful things that are done in the dark,' in a concur- 
rence of secrecy and opportunity. This, therefore, gives a 
just season unto thoughts of the omnipresence and omni- 
science of God, and they will not be wanting in some mea- 
sure in them that are spiritually minded. 

God is in this place, the darkness is no darkness unto 
him, light and darkness are with him both alike ; are 
sufficient considerations to lay in the balance against any 
temptation springing out of secrecy and opportunity. One 
thought of the actual presence of the holy God, and the 
open view of his all-seeing eye, will do more to cool those 
affections which lust may put into a tumult on such occa- 
sions, than any other consideration whatever. A speedy 
retreat hereunto upon the first perplexing thought where- 
with temptation assaults the soul, will be its strong tower, 
where it shall be safe. 

2. A second season calling for the exercise of our minds 
in thoughts of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, 
is made up of our solitudes and retirements. These give us 
the most genuine trials whether we are spiritually minded 
or no. What we are in them, tliat we are and no more. 


But yet in some of them, as in walking and journeying, or 
the like, vain thoughts and foolish imajjinations are ex- 
ceeding apt to solicit our minds. Whatever is stored up in 
the affections or memory, will at such a time offer itself for 
our present entertainment : and where men have accustomed 
themselves unto any sort of things, they will press on them 
for the possession of their thoughts, as it were, whether they 
will or no. The psalmist gives us the way to prevent this 
evil ; Psal. xvi. 7, 8. 'I will bless the Lord who hath given 
me counsel ; my reins also instruct me in the night season. 
I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my 
right hand.' His reins, that is, his affections, and secret 
thoughts, gave him counsel, and instructed him in all such 
seasons : but whence had they that wisdom and faithfulness? 
in themselves they are the seat of all lusts and corruptions, 
nor could do any thing but seduce him into an evil frame. 
It was from hence alone 'that he set the Lord always be- 
fore him.' Continual apprehensions of the presence of 
God with him, kept his mind, his heart and affections, 
in that awe and reverence of him, as that they always 
instructed him unto his duty. But as I remember, I spake 
somewhat as unto the due management of our thoughts in 
this season before. 

3. Times of great difficulties, dangers, and perplexities 
of mind thereon, are a season calling for the same duty. 
Suppose a man is left alone in his trials for the profession 
of the gospel, as it was with Paul, when 'all men forsook 
him, and no man stood by him.' Suppose him to be brought 
before princes, rulers, or judges that are filled with rage 
and armed with power against him, all things being disposed 
to affect him with dread and terror. It is the duty of such 
a one to call off his thoughts from all things visibly present, 
and to fix them on the omnipresence and omniscience of 
God. He sits amongst those judges though they acknow- 
ledge him not; he rules over them at his pleasure ; he knows 
the cause of the oppressed, and justifies them whenever the 
world condemns; and can deliver them when he pleaseth. 
With t)ie thoughts hereof did those holy souls support them- 
selves when they stood before the fiery countenance of the 
bloody tyrant on the one hand, and the burning fiery fur- 
nace on the other, Dan. iii. 17, 18. * Our God whom we serve 

348 thp: grace and duty of 

is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he 
will deliver us out of thine hand, O king; but if not, be it 
known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, 
nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.' 
Thoughts of the presence and power of God, gave them not 
only comfort and supportment under their distress, when 
they were alone and helpless, but courage and resolution to 
defy the tyrant to his face. And when the apostle was 
brought before Nero, that monster of cruelty and villany, 
and all men forsook him, he affirms, * That the Lord stood by 
him and strengthened him ;' 2 Tim. iv. 17. He refreshed 
himself with thoughts of his presence, and had the blessed 
fruit of it. 

Wherefore, on such occasions, when the hearts of men 
are ready to quake, when they see all things about them 
filled with dread and terror, and all help far away, it is, I say, 
their duty and wisdom to abstract and take off their thoughts 
from all outward and present appearances, and to fix them 
on the presence of God. This will greatly change the scene 
of things in their minds; and they will find that strength, 
and power, and wisdom are on their side alone ; all that ap- 
pears against them, being but vanity, folly, and weakness. 

So when the servant of Elisha saw the place where they 
were compassed with a host, both liorses and chariots that 
came to take them, he cried out for fear, 'Alas ! my master, 
how shall we do V But upon the prayer of the prophet, 
the Lord opening the eyes of the young man, to see the 
heavenly guard that he had sent unto him, the mountain 
being full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha, 
his fear and trouble departed; 2 Kings vi. 15 — 17. And 
when in the like extremity God opens the eye of faith to 
behold his glorious presence, we shall no more be afraid 
of the dread of men. Herein did the holy martyrs triumph 
of old, and even despised their bloody persecutors. Our 
Saviour himself made it the ground of his supportment on 
the like occasion ; John xvi. 32. * Behold' (saith he to his 
disciples, his only friends), 'the hour cometh, yea, is now 
come, that ye shall be scattered every one to his own, and 
leave me alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father 
is with me.' Can we but possess our souls with the appre- 
hension, that when we are left alone in our trials and dan- 


gers, from any countenance of friends, or help of men, yet 
that indeed we are not alone, because the Father is with us, 
it will support us under our despondencies, and enable us 
unto our duties. 

4. Especial providential warnings call for thoughts of 
God's omnipresence and omniscience. So Jacob, in his 
nightly vision, instantly made this conclusion ; ' God is in 
this place, and I knew it not.' We have frequently such 
warnings given unto us. Sometimes we have so in the 
things which are esteemed accidental, whence it may be 
we are strangely delivered. Sometimes we have so in the 
things which we see to befall others, by thunder, lightning, 
storms at sea or land. For all the works of God, especially 
those that are rare and strange, have a voice whereby he 
speaks unto us. The first thing suggested unto a spiritual 
mind in such seasons, will be, God is in this place, he is 
present that liveth and seeth, as Hagar confessed on the 
like occasion ; Gen. xvi. 13, 14. 

Thirdly, Have frequent thoughts of God's omnipotency, 
or his almighty power. This mostm en, it may be, suppose 
they need not much exhortation unto; for none ever doubted 
of it; who doth not grant it on all occasions ? Men grant it 
indeed in general; for eternal power is inseparable from the 
first notion of the Divine Being. So are they conjoined by 
the apostle, * his eternal power and Godhead,' Rom. i. 20. 
Yet few believe it for themselves, and as they ought. Indeed, 
to believe the almighty power of God, with reference unto 
ourselves and all our concernments, temporal and eternal, is 
one of the highest and most noble acts of faith, which in- 
cludes all others in it. For this is that which God at first 
proposed alone as the proper object of our faith, in our en- 
trance into covenant with him. Gen. xvii. 1. ' I am God 
Almighty :' that which Job arrived unto after his long exer- 
cise and trial : * I know,' saith he, 'thou canst do every thing, 
and no thought of thine can be hindered;' chap. xlii. 2. 
' God hath spoken once' saith the psalmist, ' twice have I 
heard this, that power belongs unto God;' Psal. Ixii. 11. 
It was that which God saw it necessary frequently to instruct 
him in. For we are ready to be aft'ected with the appear- 
ances of present power in creatures, and to suppose that all 
things will go according unto their wills, because of their 


power. But it is quite otherwise ; all creatures are poor 
feeble ciphers that can do nothing : power belongs unto God ; 
it is a flower of his crown imperial, which he will suffer 
none to usurp; if the proudest of them go beyond the bounds 
and limits of his present permission, he will send worms to 
eat them up, as he did to Herod. 

It is utterly impossible we should walk before God, 
unto his glory, or with any real peace, comfort, or satisfaction 
in our own souls, unless our minds are continually exercised 
with thoughts of his almighty power. Every thing that 
befalls us, every thing that we hear of, which hath the least 
of danger in it, will discompose our minds, and either make 
us tremble like the leaves of the forest that are shaken with 
the wind, or betake ourselves to foolish or sinful relief, un- 
less we are firmly established in the faith hereof. Consider 
the promises of God unto the church which are upon record, 
and as yet unaccomplished ; consider the present state of 
the church in the world, with all that belongs unto it ; in all 
the fears and dangers they are exposed unto, in all the evils 
they are exercised withal, and we shall quickly find that 
unless this sheet-anchor be well fixed, we shall be tossed up 
and down at all uncertainties, and exposed to most violent 
temptations; Rev. xix. 6. Unto this end are we called 
hereunto by God himself, in his answer unto the despon- 
dent complaints of the church in its greatest dangers and 
calamities; Isa. xl. 28 — 31. 'Hast thou not known, hast 
thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the 
Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is 
weary ? There is no searching of his understanding. He 
giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, 
he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be 
weary, and the young men shall utterly fall : but they that 
wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength : they shall 
mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be 
weary, and they shall walk and not faint.' 

Take one instance, which is the continual concernment 
of us all. We are obnoxious unto death every moment. It 
is never the farther from any of us because we think not of 
it as we ought. This will lay our bodies in the dust, from 
whence they will have no more disposition nor power in 
themselves to rise again, than any other part of the mould of 


the earth. Theii* recovery mu§t be an act of external al- 
mighty power, when God shall have a desire to the work of 
his hands ; when he shall call, and we shall answer him out 
of the dust. And it will transmit the soul into an invisible 
world, putting a final end unto all relations, enjoyments, and 
circumstances here below. I speak not of them who are 
stout-hearted and far from righteousness, who live and die 
like beasts, or under the power of horrible presumption, 
without any due thoughts of their future and eternal state. 
But, as unto others, what comfort or satisfaction can any 
man have in his life, whereon his all depends, and which is 
passing from him every moment, unless he hath continual 
thoughts of the mighty power of God, whereby he is able 
to receive his departing soul, and to raise his body out of 
the dust? 

Not to insist on more particulars; thus is it with them 
who are spiritually minded ; thus must it be with us all, if 
we pretend a title unto that privilege. They are filled with 
thoughts of God, in opposition unto that character of wicked 
men, that God is not in all their thoughts. And it is greatly 
to be feared, that many of us, when we come to be weighed 
in this balance, will be found too light. Men may be in the 
performance of outward duties; they may hear the word with 
delight, and do many things gladly ; they may escape the 
pollutions that are in the world through lust, and not run 
out into the same compass of excess and riot with other 
men ; yet may they be strangers unto inward thoughts of 
God with delight and complacency. I cannot understand 
how it can be otherwise with them whose minds are over 
and over filled with earthly things, however they may satisfy 
themselves with pretences of their callings and lawful enjoy- 
ments, or not any way inordinately set on the pleasures or 
profits of the world. 

To walk with God, to live unto him, is not merely to be 
found in an abstinence from outward sins, and in the per- 
formance of outward duties, though with dilio-ence in the 
multiplication of them. All this may be done upon such 
principles, for such ends, with such a frame of heart, as to 
find no acceptance with God. It is our hearts that he re- 
quireth, and we can no way give them unto him but by our 
affections and holy thoughts of him with delight. This it is 


to be spiritually minded, this it is to walk with God. Let 
no man deceive himself: unless he thus abound in holy 
thoughts of God, unless our meditation of him be sweet 
unto us, all that v/e else pretend unto will fail us in the day 
of our trial. 

This is the first thing wherein we may evidence ourselves 
unto ourselves, to be under the conduct of the minding of 
the Spirit, or to be spiritually minded. And I have insisted 
the longer on it, because it contains the first sensible egress 
of the Spirit of living waters in us, the first acting of spiri- 
tual life unto our own experience. I should now proceed 
unto the consideration of our affections, of whose frame 
and state these thoughts are the only genuine exposition. 
But whereas there are, or may be, some who are sensible of 
their own weakness and deficiency in the discharge of that 
part of this duty in being spiritually minded, which we have 
passed through, and may fall under discouragements thereon, 
we must follow him, as we are able, who will not ' quench 
the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed,' by offering 
sometliing unto the relief of them that are sincere under the 
sense of their own weakness. 


Sundry things tendered unto such as complain that they know not how, that 
they are not able to abide in holy thoughts of God, and spiritual or heavenly 
things ; for their relief, instruction, and direction. Rules concerning 
stated spiritual meditation. 

Some will say, yea, on many occasions do say, that there is 
not any thing in all their duty towards God, wherein they 
are more at a loss than they are in this one, of fixing or ex- 
ercising their thoughts or meditations on things heavenly or 
spiritual. They acknowledge it a duty ; they see an excel- 
lency in it, with inexpressible usefulness. But although 
they often try and attempt it, they cannot attain unto any 
thing but what makes them ashamed both of it and them- 
selves. Their minds they find are unsteady, apt to rove and 
wander, or give entertainment unto other things, and not to 
abide on the object which they design their meditation to- 


wards. Their abilities are small, their invention barren, their 
memories frail, and their judgments, to dispose of things into 
riolit order, weak and unable. They know not what to think 
on for the most part, and when they fix on any thing, they 
are immediately at a loss as unto any progress, and so give 
over. Hence other thoughts, or thoughts of other things, 
take advantage to impose themselves on them, and what 
began in spiritual meditation, ends in carnal vanity. On 
these considerations, ofttimes they are discouraged to enter 
on the duty, ofttimes give it over so soon as it is begun, 
and are glad if they come off without being losers by their 
endeavours, which often befalls them. With respect unto 
other duties, it is not so with them. Unto such as are really 
concerned in these things, unto whom their want and defect 
is a burden, who mourn under it, and desire to be freed 
from it, or refreshed in their conflict with it, I shall offer the 
things that ensue. 

First, That sense of the vanity of our minds which this 
consideration duly attended unto will give us, ought greatly 
to humble and abase our souls. Whence is it thus with us, 
that we cannot abide in thoughts and meditations of things 
spiritual and heavenly .' Is it because they are such things 
as we have no great concernment in? It may be they are 
things worthless and unprofitable, so that it is to no purpose 
to spend our thoughts about them. The truth is, they alone 
are worthy, useful, and desirable ; all other things, in com- 
parison of them, are but loss and dung. Or is it because 
the faculties and powers of our souls were not originally 
suited unto the contemplation of them and delight in them ? 
This also is otherwise ; they were all given unto us, all 
created of God for this end, all fitted with inclinations and 
power to abide with God in all things, without aversation or 
weariness. Nothing was so natural, easy, and pleasant unto 
them, as steadiness in the contemplation of God and his 
works. The cause, therefore, of all this evil lies at our own 
doors. All this, therefore, and all other evils, came upon us 
by the entrance of sin. And therefore Solomon, in his in- 
quiry after all the causes and effects of vanity, brings it 
under this head ; ' Lo this only have I found, that God made 
man upright; but they have sought out many inventions ;' 
Eccles. vii. 29. For hereby our minds that were created in 

VOL. XIII. 2 a 


a state of blessed adherence unto God, were wholly turned 
off from him, and not only so, but filled with enmity against 
him. In this state, that vanity which is prevalent in them 
is both their sin and their punishment. Their sin is a per- 
petual inclination unto things vain, foolish, sensual, and 
wicked. So the apostle describes it at large, Ephes. iv. 17 
— 19. Tit. iii. 3. And their punishment in that, being turned 
off from the chiefest good, wherein alone rest is to be found, 
they are filled with darkness, confusion, and disquietment, 
being like ' a troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters 
cast up mire and dirt.' 

By grace our minds are renewed ; that is, changed and 
delivered from this frame ; but they are so partially only. 
The principle of vanity is no longer predominant in us, to 
alienate us from the life of God, or to keep us in enmity 
against him. Those who are so renewed, do not walk in 
the vanity of their minds as others do, Ephes. iv. 17. They 
go up and down in all their ways and occasions with a 
stream of vain thoughts in their minds. But the remain- 
ders of it are effectually operative in us, in all the actings 
of our minds towards God, affecting them with uncertainty 
and instability. As he who hath received a great wound in 
any principal part of his body, though it may be so cured, 
as that death shall not immediately ensue thereon ; yet it 
may make him go weak and lame all his days, and hinder 
him in the exercise of all the powers of life. The vanity of 
our minds is so cured, as to deliver us from spiritual death ; 
but yet such a wound, such a weakness doth remain, as 
both weakens and hinders us in all the operations of spi- 
ritual life. Hence those who have made any progress in 
grace, are sensible of their vanity, as the greatest burden of 
their souls, and do groan after such a complete renovation 
of their minds, as whereby they may be perfectly freed from 
it. This is that which they principally regard in that com- 
plaining desire, Rom. vii. 24. ' O wretched man that I am ! 
who shall deliver me from this body of death?' Yea, they 
groan under a sense of it every day ; nor is any thing such 
a trouble unto them, observing how it defeats them in their 
designs to contemplate on heavenly things ; how it frus- 
trates their best resolutions to abide in the spiritual actings 
of faith and love ; how they are imposed on by it with the 


thouglits of things which either in themselves, or in their 
consequences, they most ablior ; nothing are they so afraid 
of, nothing is so grievous and burdensome unto them, no- 
thing do they more groan for deliverance from. When there 
is war in any place, it behoveth them that are concerned, to 
have an eye and regard unto all their enemies, and their 
attempts against them. But if they are vigilant and dili- 
gent in their opposition unto those that are without, that 
visibly contend with them, and in the mean time neglect 
such as traiterously act within among themselves, betraying 
their counsels, and weakening their strength, they will be 
undoubtedly ruined. Wise men do first take care of what 
is within, as knowing if they are there betrayed, all they do 
against their open enemies is to no purpose. In the war- 
fare wherein we are engaged, we have enemies of all sorts 
that openly and visibly, in various temptations, fight against 
our souls. These it is our duty to watch against, to con- 
flict with, and to seek a conquest over. But it is this in- 
ternal vanity of mind, that endeavours in all things to 
betray us, to weaken us in all our graces, or to hinder 
their due operations ; and to open the doors of our hearts 
unto our cursed enemies. If our principal endeavour be 
not to discover, suppress, and destroy this traitor, we shall 
not succeed in our spiritual warfare. 

This therefore being the original cause of all that dis- 
ability of mind as unto steadiness in holy thoughts and 
meditations whereof you do complain, when you are 
affected therewith, turn unto the consideration of that from 
whence it doth proceed. Labour to be humbled greatly, 
and to walk humbly, under a sense of the remainders of tliis 
vanity of mind. So some wholesome fruits may be taken 
from this bitter root ; and meat may come out of this eater. 
If when you cannot abide in holy thoughts of God, and your 
relation unto him, you reflect on this cause of it to your 
farther humiliation and self-abasement, your good design 
and purposes are not lost. Let such a one say ; I began 
to think of God, of his love and grace in Christ Jesus, of 
my duty towards him ; and where now in a few minutes do 
I find myself? I am got into the ends of the earth, into 
things useless and earthly ; or am at such a loss as that I 
have no mind to proceed in the work wherein I was en- 

2 A 2 


2a2:ed.. O wretched man that I am, what a cursed enemy 
have I within me ! I am ashamed of myself, weary or 
myself, loath myself; 'who shall deliver me from this body 
of death?' Such thoughts may be as useful unto him as 
those which he first designed. 

True it is we can never be freed absolutely from all the 
effects of this vanity and instability of mind in this world. 
Unchangeable cleaving unto God, always, in all the powers 
and affections of our minds, is reserved for heaven. But 
yet great degrees may be attained in the conquest and ex- 
pulsion of it, such as I fear few have experience of ; yet 
ought all to labour after. If we apply ourselves as we 
ought to the increase of spiritual light and grace ; if we 
labour diligently to abide and abound in thoughts of spi- 
ritual things, and that in love to them, and delight in them; 
if we watch against the entertainment and approbation of 
such thoughts and things in our minds, as whereby this 
vain frame is pleased and confirmed ; there is, though not 
an absolute perfection, yet a blessed degree of heavenly 
mindedness to be attained, and therein the nearest approach 
unto glory, that in this world we are capable of. If a man 
cannot attain an athletic constitution of health, or a strength 
like that of Samson ; yet, if he be wise, he will not omit 
the use of such means as may make him to be useful in the 
ordinary duties of life. And although we cannot attain 
perfection in this matter, which yet is our duty to be con- 
tinually pressing after ; yet, if we are wise, we will be en- 
deavouring such a cure of this spiritual distemper, as we 
may be able to discharge all the duties of the life of God. 
But if men, in all other things, feed the vanity of their own 
minds., if they permit them to rove continually after things 
foolish, sensual, and earthly ; if they wilfully supply them 
with objects unto that end, and labour not by all means for 
the mortification of this evil frame ; in vain shall they de- 
sire or expect to bring them at any time, on any occasion, 
to be steady in the thoughts of heavenly things. If it be 
thus with any, as it is to be feared it is with many, it is 
their duty to mind the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in 
the first place, * make the tree good, and the fruit will be 
good,' and not before. When the power of sanctifying 
grace hath made the mind habitually spiritual and heavenly. 


thoughts of sucli things will be natural unto it, and accom- 
panied with delight. But they will not be so until the God 
of peace have sanctified us in our whole spirits, souls, and 
bodies, whereby we may be preserved blameless unto the 
coming of Jesus Christ. 

Secondly, Be always sensible of your own insufficiency 
to raise in your minds or to manage spiritual thoughts, or 
thoughts of things spiritual and heavenly in a due manner. 
But in this case men are apt to suppose, that as they may, so 
they can, think of what they please. Thoughts are their own, 
and therefore be they of what sort they will, they need no 
assistance for them. They cannot think as they ought, they 
can do nothing at all. And nothing will convince them of 
their folly, until they are burdened with an experience of 
the contrary, as unto spiritual things. But the advice given 
is expressly laid down by the apostle, in the instance of 
himself, 2 Cor. iii. 5. 'Not that we are sufficient of our- 
selves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency 
is of God.' He speaks principally of ministers of the gos- 
pel, and that of such as were most eminently furnished with 
spiritual gifts and graces, as he declares, ver. 6. And if it be 
so with them, and that with respect unto the work and du- 
ties of their calling; how much more is it so with others, 
who have not their graces nor their offices ? Wherefore if 
men, without regard unto the present actual grace of God, 
and the supplies of his Spirit, do suppose that they can of 
themselves, exercise their minds in spiritual thouglits, and 
so only fret at themselves when they fall into disappoint- 
ment, not knowing what is the matter with them, they will 
live in a lifeless barren frame all their days. 

By the strength of their natural abilities, men may frame 
thoughts of God, and heavenly things in their minds, accord- 
ing unto the knowledge they have of them. They may 
methodize them by rules of art, and express them elegantly 
unto others. But even while they do so, they may be far 
enough from being spiritually minded. For there may be 
in their thoughts no actings of faith, love, or holy delight 
in God, or any grace at all. But such alone are things 
which we inquire after, they are such only as wherein the 
graces of the Spirit are in their proper exercise. With re- 
spect unto them we have no sufficiency in ourselves, all our 


sufficiency must be of God. There is no truth among per- 
sons of light and knowledge more generally granted in the 
notion of it than this, that of ourselves we can do nothing ; 
and none more neglected in daily practice. Men profess 
they can do nothing of themselves, and yet go about their 
duties as if they could do all things. 

Thirdly, Remember that I have not at present treated of 
solemn stated meditation ; concerning which, other rules and 
instructions ought to be given. By solemn or stated medita- 
tion, I intend the thoughts of some subject spiritual and 
divine, with the fixing, forcing, and ordering our thoughts 
about it, with a design to affect our own hearts and souls 
with the matter of it, or the things contained in it. By this 
design it is distinguished from the study of the word, wherein 
our principal aim is to learn the truth, or to declare it unto 
others. And so also from prayer, whereof God himself is 
the immediate object. But in meditation it is the affecting 
of our own hearts and minds with love, delight, and humili- 
ation. At present I have only shewed what it is to be spi- 
ritually minded, and that in this instance of our thoughts as 
they proceed from the habitual frame of our hearts and affec- 
tions ; or of what sort the constant course of our thoughts 
ought to be, with respect unto all the occasions of the life 
of God. This persons may be in a readiness for, who are 
yet unskilful in, and unable for, stated meditation. For there 
is required thereunto such an exercise of our natural facul- 
ties and abilities, as some through their weakness and igno- 
rance are incapable of. But as unto what we have hitherto 
insisted on, it is not unattainable by any in whom is the spi- 
rit of faith and love ; for it is but the frequent actings of 
them that I intend. Wherefore, do your hearts and affections 
lead you unto many thoughts of God and spiritual things? 
Do they spring up in you, as water in a well of living waters? 
Are you ready on all occasions to entertain such thoughts, 
and to be conversant with them, as opportunity doth offer 
itself? Do you labour to have in a readiness what is useful 
for you with respect unto temptations and duties ? Is God in 
Christ, and the things of the gospel, the ordinary retreat of 
your souls? Though you should not be able to carry on an 
orderly stated meditation in your minds, yet you may be 
spiritually minded. 


A man may not have a capacity and ability to carry on a 
great trade of" merchandise in the world. The knowledge 
of all sorts of commodities, and seasons, of the world and na- 
tions of it, with those contrivances and accounts which be- 
long unto such trade, may be above his comprehension, and 
he may quickly ruin himself in undertaking such an employ- 
ment. Yet may the abilities of this man serve him well 
enough to carry on a retail trade in a private shop, wherein 
perhaps he may thrive as wel), and get as good an estate, as 
any of those whose greater capacities lead them forth unto 
more large and hazardous employments. So it may be with 
some in this case : the natural faculties of their minds are 
not sufficient to enable them unto stated meditation ; they 
cannot cast things into that method and order which is re- 
quired thereunto; nor frame the conceptions of their minds 
izito words significant and expressive; yet, as unto frequency 
of thoughts of God, and a disposition of mind thereunto, 
they may thrive and be skilful beyond most others of greater 
natural abilities. Howbeit, because even stated meditation 
is a necessary duty, yea, the principal way whereby our spi- 
ritual thoughts do profitably act themselves, I shall have 
regard thereunto in the following direction. Wherefore, 

Fourthly, Whatever principle of grace we have in our 
minds, we cannot attain unto a ready exercise of it in a way 
of spiritual meditation or otherwise, without great dili- 
gence, nor without great difficulty. 

It was shewed at the entrance of this discourse, that 
there is a difference in this grace, between the essence, sub- 
stance, or reality of it, which we would not exclude men 
from, under many failings or infirmities ; and the useful de- 
grees of it, wherein it hath its principal exercise. As there 
is a difference in life natural, and its actings, in a weak dis- 
eased sickly body, and in that which is of a good constitu- 
tion and in a vigorous health. Supposing the first, the re- 
ality of this grace, be wrought in us, or implanted in our 
minds by the Holy Ghost, as a ])rincipal part of that new 
nature which is the workmanship of God, created in Christ 
Jesus unto good works; yet, unto the growth and improve- 
ment of it, as of all other graces, our own diligent care, 
watchfulness, and spiritual striving in all holy duties, are re- 
quired. Unless the most fruitful ground be manured, it 


it will not bring forth a useful crop. Let not any think that 
this frame of a spiritual mind, wherein there is a disposition 
unto,and a readiness for, all holy thoughts of God, of Christ, 
of spiritual and heavenly things, at all times and on all oc- 
casions, will befall him and continue with him he knows not 
how. As good it is for a poor man to expect to be rich in 
this world without industry, or a weak man to be strong and 
healthy without food and exercise ; as to be spiritually 
minded without an earnest endeavour after it. It may be 
inquired, what is requisite thereunto ? and we may name 
some of those things without which such a holy frame will 
not be attained. As 

1. A continual watch is to be kept in and on the 
soul, against the incursions of vain thoughts and imagina- 
tions, especially in such seasons wherein they are apt to 
obtain advantage. If they are suffered to make an inroad 
into the mind, if we accustom ourselves to give them enter- 
tainment, if they are wont to lodge within, in vain shall we 
hope or desire to be spiritually minded. Herein consists a 
principal part of that duty which our Saviour so frequently, 
so emphatically chargeth on us all ; namely, to watch, Mark 
iii. 37. Unless we keep a strict watch herein, we shall be 
betrayed into the hands of our spiritual enemies ; for all 
such thoughts are but making provision for the flesh to 
fulfil its desires in the lusts thereof, however they may be 
disappointed as unto actual sin. This is the substance of 
the advice given us in charge, Prov. iv. 23. * Keep thy 
heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.' 

2. Careful avoidance of all societies and businesses 
of this life, which are apt, under various pretences, to draw 
and seduce the mind unto an earthly or sensual frame. If 
men will venture on those things which they have found by 
experience, or may find by their observation, that they 
seduce and draw off their minds from a heavenly frame 
unto that which is contrary thereunto, and will not watch 
unto their avoidance, they will be filled with the fruit of 
their own ways. Indeed, the common converses of pro- 
fessors among themselves and others, walking, talking, and 
behaving themselves like other men, being as full of the 
world as the world is of itself, hath lost the grace of being 
spiritually minded within, and stained the glory of profes- 


sion without. The rule observed by David will manifest 
how careful we ought to be herein, Psal. xxxix. 1 — 3. * I 
said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my 
tongue : I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the 
wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my 
peace even from good ; and my sorrow was stirred. My 
heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burn- 
ed ; then spake I with my tongue.' Which place was spoken 
unto before. 

3. A holy constraint put on the mind to abide in the 
duty of spiritual thoughts and meditations, pressing it con- 
tinually with the consideration of their necessity and useful- 
ness. The mind will be apt of itself to start aside from 
duties purely spiritual, through the mixture of the flesh 
abiding in it. The more inward and purely spiritual any 
duty is, which hath no outward advantages; the more 
prone will the mind be to decline from it. It will be so, 
more from private prayer than public, more from meditation 
than prayer. And other things will be apt to draw it aside 
by objects without, and various stirrings of the affections 
within. A holy constraint is to be put upon it, with a 
sudden rejection of what rises up to its diversion or dis- 
turbance. Wherefore, we are to call in all constraining 
motives, such as the consideration of the love of Christ, 
2 Cor. V. 14. to keep the mind steady unto its duty. 

4. Diligent use of means to furnish the soul with tliat 
light and knowledge of heavenly things, which may admi- 
nister continual matter of holy thoughts and meditations 
from within ourselves. This hath been spoken unto at 
large before. And the want hereof is that which keeps 
many from the least proficiency in these duties. As a man 
may have some skill or ability for a trade, yet if he have no 
materials to work upon, he must sit still and let his trade 
alone. And so must men do as unto the work of holy 
meditation : whatever be the ability of the natural faculties, 
their inventions, or memories, if they are not furnished with 
knowledge of things spiritual and heavenly, which are the 
subject matter of such meditations, they must let their 
work alone. Hence the apostle prays for the Colossians, 
that the word oi' God might ' dwell in ihem richly in all 
wisdom ;' chap. v. l(j. that is, that they might abound in the 


knowledge of the mind of Christ, without which we shall be 
unfit for this duty. 

5. Unvveariedness in our conflict with Satan, who by 
various artifices, and the injection of fiery darts, labours con- 
tinually to divert us from these duties. He is seldom or 
never wanting unto this occasion. He who is furnished in 
any measure with spiritual wisdom and understanding, may 
find him more sensibly at work in his craft and opposition 
with respect unto this duty, than any other way. When 
we stand thus before the Lord, he is always at our right 
hand to resist us ; and ofttimes his strength is great. 
Hence, as was observed, ofttimes men design really to 
exercise themselves in holy thoughts, but end in vain ima- 
ginations, and rather take up with trifles than continue in 
this duty. Steadiness in the resistance of him on these 
occasions, is one great part of our spiritual warfare. And 
we may know that he is at work by his engines and methods. 
For they consist in his suggestions of vain, foolish, or cor- 
rupt imaginations. When they begin to rise in our minds, 
at such times as we would engage them in spiritual medita- 
tion, we may know assuredly from whence they are. 

6. Continual watchful care, that no root of bitterness 
spring up and defile us ; that no lust or corruption be pre- 
dominant in us. When it is so, if persons in compliance 
with their convictions do endeavour sometimes to be exer- 
cised in these duties, they shall labour in the very fire, 
where all their endeavours will be immediately consumed. 

7. Mortifications unto the world in our afiections and 
desires, with moderation in our endeavours after the needful 
things of it, are also necessary hereunto ; yea, to that 
degree, that without them no man can in any sense be said 
to be spiritually minded. For otherwise our afltections 
cannot be so preserved under the power of grace, as that 
spiritual things may be always savoury unto us. 

Some it may be will say, that if all these things are 
required thereunto, it will take up a man's whole life and 
time to be spiritually minded. They hope they may attain 
it at an easier rate, and not forego all other advantages and 
sweetnesses of life, which a strict observation of these 
things would cast them upon. 

I answer; that however it may prove a hard saying 


unto some, yet I must say it, and my heart would reproach 
me if 1 should not say, that if the principal part of our time 
be not spent about these things, whatever we suppose, we 
have indeed neither life nor peace. The first-fruits of all 
were to be offered unto God, and in sacrifices he required 
the blood, and the fat of the inwards. If the best be not 
his, he will have nothing. It is so as to our time. Tell me, 
I pray you, how you can spend your time and your lives 
better, or to better purpose ; and I shall say. Go on and 
prosper. I am sure some spend so much of their time so 
much worse, as it is a shame to see it. Do you think 
you came into this world, to spend your whole time and 
strength in your employments, your trades, your plea- 
sures, unto the satisfaction of the will of the flesh and of 
the mind? Have you time enough to eat, to drink, to sleep, 
to talk unprofitably, it may be corruptly, in all sorts of 
unnecessary societies, but have not enough to live unto 
God, in the very essentials of that life which consists in 
these things? Alas! you came into the world under this 
law ; ' it is appointed to all men once to die, and after that 
is the judgment;' and the end why your life is here granted 
unto you, is that you may be prepared for that judgment. 
If this be neglected, if the principal part of your time be not 
improved with respect unto this end, you will fall under the 
sentence of it unto eternity. 

Bu-t men are apt to mistake in this matter. They may 
think that these things tend to take them off from their law- 
ful employments and recreations, which they are generally 
afraid of, and unwilling to purchase any frame of mind at so 
dear a rate. They may suppose that to have men spiritually 
minded, we would make them mopes, and to disregard all 
the lawful occasions of life. But let not any be mistaken; 
I am not upon a design that will be easily, or, it may be, 
honestly, defeated. Men are able to defend themselves in 
their callings and enjoyments, and to satisfy their con- 
sciences against any persuasions to the contrary. Yet there 
is a season wherein we are obliged to part with all we have, 
and to give up ourselves wholly to follow Christ in all things ; 
Matt. xix. 21. And if we neglect or refuse it in that season, 
it is an evidence that we are hypocrites. And there was a 
time when superstition had so much power on the minds of 


men, that multitudes were persuaded to forsake, to give up, 
all their interest in relations, callings, goods, possessions, 
and betake themselves unto tedious pilgrimages, yea, hard 
services in war, to comply with that superstition ; and it is 
not the glory of our profession, that we have so few instances 
of men parting with all, and giving up themselves unto hea- 
venly retirement. But I am at present on no such design ; 
I aim not to take men out of their lawful earthly occasions, 
but to bring spiritual affections and thoughts into the ma- 
nagement of them all. The things mentioned will deprive 
you of no time you can lay a claim unto ; but sanctify it all. 

I confess he must be a great proficient in spirituality, 
who dares venture on an absolute retirement; and he must 
be well satisfied that he is not called unto a usefulness 
among men inconsistent therewith : unto them it may prove 
a disadvantage. Yet this also is attainable if other circum- 
stances do concur. Men under the due exercise of grace, 
and the improvement of it, may attain unto that fixedness in 
heavenly mindedness, that unconcernment in all things here 
below, as to give themselves up entirely and continually 
unto heavenly meditation, unto a blessed advancement of all 
grace, and a near approach unto glory. And I would hope 
it was so with many of them in ancient times, who renounced 
the world with all circumstances of relations, state, inherit- 
ances, and betook themselves unto retirement in wildernesses, 
to abide always in divine contemplation. But afterward, 
when multitudes whose minds were not so prepared by a 
real growth in all grace and mortification unto the world, as 
they were, betook themselves under the same pretences unto 
a monastical retirement, the devil, the world, sensual lusts, 
superstition, and all manner of evils pursued them, found 
them out, possessed them, unto the unspeakable damage 
and scandal of religion. 

This, therefore, is not that which I invite the common 
sort of believers unto. Let them that are able and free re- 
ceive it. The generality of Christians have lawful callings, 
employments, and businesses, which ordinarily they ought 
to abide in. That they also may live unto God in their oc- 
casions, they may do well to consider two things. 

1. Industry in men's callings is a thing in itself very 
commendable. If in nothing else, it hath an advantage 


lierein, that it is a means to preserve men from those excesses 
in lust and riot, vvliich otherwise they are apt to run into. 
And if you consider the two sorts of men whereinto the ge- 
nerality of mankind are distributed, namely, of them who are 
industrious in their aftairs, and those who spend their time, 
so far as they are able, in idleness and pleasure, the former 
sort are far more amiable and desirable. Howbeit it is ca- 
pable of being greatly abused. Earthly mindedness, covet- 
ousness, devouring things holy as to times and seasons of 
duty, usefulness, and the like pernicious vices do invade and 
possess the minds of men. There is no lawful calling that 
doth absolutely exclude this grace of being spiritually minded 
in them that are engaged in it, nor any that doth include it. 
Men may be in the meanest of lawful callings and be so, and 
men may be in the best and highest and not be so. Consider 
the calling of the ministry: the work and duty of it calls 
on those that are employed in it, to have their minds and 
thoughts conversant about spiritual and heavenly things. 
They are to study about them, to meditate on them, to com- 
mit them to memory, to speak them out unto others. It will 
be said. Surely such men must needs be spiritually minded. If 
they go no farther than what is mentioned, I say they must 
needs be so, as printers must needs be learned, who are continu- 
ally conversant about letters. A man may with great industry 
engage himself in these things, and yet his mind be most 
remote from being spiritual. The event doth declare that it 
may be so, and the reasons of it are manifest. It requires 
as much, if not more watchfulness, more care, more humi- 
lity, for a minister to be spiritually minded in the discharge 
of his calling, than to any sort of men in theirs. And that, 
as for other reasons, so because the commonness of the exer- 
cise of such thoughts, with their design upon others in their 
expression, will take off their power and efficacy. And he will 
have little benefit by his own ministry, who endeavours not in 
the first place, an experience in his own heart of the power of 
the truths which he doth teach unto others. And there is evi- 
dently as great a failing herein among us as among any other 
sortofChristians,asevery occasion of trial doth demonstrate. 
2. Although industry in any honest calling be allow- 
able, yet unless men labour to be spiritually minded in the 
exercise of that industry, they have neither life nor peace. 


Hereunto all the things before-mentioned, are necessary ; I 
know not how any of them can be abated, yea, more is re- 
quired than is expressed in them. If you burn this roll, 
another must be written, and many like things must be 
added unto it. And the objection from the expense of time 
in the observance of them, is of no force. For a man may 
do as much work whilst he is spiritually minded, as whilst 
he is carnal. Spiritual thoughts will no more hinder you in 
your callings than those that are vain and earthly, which all 
sorts of men can find leisure for in the midst of their em- 
ployments. If you have filled a vessel with chaff, yet you 
may pour into it a great deal of water, which will be con- 
tained in the same space and vessel. And if it be necessary 
that you should take in much of the chaff of the world into 
your minds, yet are they capable of such measures of grace 
as shall preserve them sincere unto God. 

Fifthly, This frame will never be preserved, nor the du- 
ties mentioned be ever performed in a due manner, unless 
we dedicate some part of our time peculiarly unto them. I 
speak unto them only concerning whom I suppose that they 
do daily set apart some portion of time unto holy duties, as 
prayer and reading of the word, and they find by experience 
that it succeeds well with them. For the most part, if they 
lose their seasons, they lose their duties. For some have 
complained, that the urgency of business, and multiplicity 
of occasions driving them at first from the fixed time of their 
duties, hath brought them into a course of neglecting duty 
itself. Wherefore it is our wisdom to set apart constantly 
some part of our time, unto the exercise of our thoughts 
about spiritual things in the way of meditation. And I 
shall close this discourse with some directions in this par- 
ticular, unto them who complain of their disability for the 
discharge of this duty. 

1. Choose and separate a fit time or season, a time of 
freedom from other occasions and diversions. And because 
it is our duty to redeem time with respect unto holy duties, 
such a season may be the more useful, the more the purchase 
of it stands us in. We are not at any time to serve God 
with what costs us nought, nor with any time that comes 
within the same rule. If we will allow only the refuse of our 
time unto this duty, when we have nothing else to do, and 


it may be, through weariness of occasions are fit for nothing 
else, we are not to expect any great success in it. This is 
one pregnant reason why men are so cold and formal, so 
lifeless in spiritual duties, namely, the times and seasons 
which they allot unto them. When the body is wearied 
with the labour and occasions of the day, and, it may be, the 
mind in its natural faculties indisposed, even by the means 
of necessary refreshment, men think themselves meet to 
treat with God about the great concernments of his glory, 
and their own souls. This is that which God condemneth 
by his prophet, Mai. i. 8. 'And if you offer the blind for 
sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer the lame and sick, is it 
not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased 
with thee, or accept thy person V Both the law of nature, 
and all the laws of holy institutions, do require that we 
should serve God with the best that we have, as all the fat 
of the inwards was to be offered in sacrifice. And shall we 
think to offer that time unto God, wherein we are unmeet to 
appear before an earthly ruler? Yet such in my account 
are the seasons, especially the evening seasons, that most 
men choose for the duties of their holy worship. And you 
may do well to consider that beyond the day and time 
which he hath taken unto himself by an everlasting law, 
how little of the choice of your time you have offered unto 
God as a free-will offering, that you may be excited to fu- 
ture diligence. If therefore you seriously intend this duty, 
choose the seasons for it wherein you are most fit, when 
even the natural vigour of your spirits is most free and 
active. Possibly some will say, this may be such a time as 
when the occasions of the world do call most earnestly for 
your attendance unto them. I say that is the season I 
would recommend. And if you can conquer your minds to 
redeem it for God at any rate, your endeavours in it will be 
prosperous. However, trust not to times that will offer 
themselves. Take them not up at hazard. Let the time 
itself be a free-will offering to God, taken from the top of 
the heap, or the choicest part of your useful time. 

2. Preparation of mind unto a due reverence of God 
and spiritual things, is required previously hereunto. When 
we go about this duty, if we rush into thoughts of hea- 
venly things without a due reverential preparation, we shall 


quickly find ourselves at a loss. See the rule, Eccles. v. 
1,2. 'Grace to serve God with reverence and godly fear,' 
is required in all things wherein we have to do with him, as 
in this duty we have in an immediate and especial manner. 
Endeavour therefore, in the first place, to get your hearts 
deeply affected with an awful reverence of God, and a holy 
regard unto the heavenly nature of the things you would 
meditate upon. Hereby your minds will be composed, and 
the roots of other thoughts, be they vain or earthly, which 
are apt to arise and divert you from this duty, will be cast 
out. The principles of these contrary thoughts are like 
Jacob and Esau, they struggle in the same womb, and 
oftentimes Esau will come first forth, and for awhile seem 
to carry the birthright. If various thoughts do conflict in 
our minds, .some for this world, and some for another, those 
for this world may carry it for a season. But where a due 
reverence of God hath ' cast out the bond-woman and her 
children,' the workings of the flesh in its vain thoughts and 
imaginations, the mind will be at liberty to exercise itself 
on spiritual things. 

3. Earnest desires after a renewed sense and relish of 
spiritual things are required hereunto. If we engage into 
this duty merely on a conviction of the necessity of it, or 
set ourselves about it because we think we ought to do so, 
and it will not be well done utterly to neglect it, we may 
not expect to be successful in it. But when the soul hath at 
any time tasted that the Lord is gracious, when its medi- 
tations on him have been sweet, when spiritual things have 
had a savour and relish in the mind and affections, and 
hereon it comes unto this duty with earnest desires to have 
the like tastes, the like experience, yea, to have them in- 
creased ; then is it in the way of a hopeful progress. And 
this also will make us persevere in our endeavours to go 
through with what we undertake ; namely, when we do 
know by former experience what is to be attained by it, if 
we dig and search for it as a treasure. 

If you shall think that the right discharge of this duty 
may be otherwise attained ; if you suppose that it deserves 
not all this cost and charge about it; judge by what is past, 
whether it be not advisable to give it over and let it alone. 
As good lie quietly on the ground, as continually attempt 


to rise, and never once effect it. Remember how many suc- 
cessless attempts you have made upon it, and all have come 
to nothing, or that which is as bad as nothing. I cannot say 
that in this way you shall always succeed ; but I fear you 
will never have success in this duty, without such things as 
are of the same nature and use with it. 

When after this preparation, you find yourselves yet 
perplexed and entangled, not able comfortably to persist in 
spiritual thoughts, unto your refreshment, take these two 
directions for your relief. 

1. Cry and sigh to God for help and relief. Bewail the 
darkness, weakness, and instability of your minds, so as to 
groan within yourselves for deliverance. And if your de- 
signed meditations do issue only in a renewed gracious 
sense of your own weakness and insufiiciency, with applica- 
tion unto God for supplies of strength, they are by no means 
lost as unto a spiritual account. The thoughts of Hezekiah 
in his meditations did not seem to have any great order or 
consistency, when he so expressed them : ' Like a crane or 
a swallow so did I chatter ; I did mourn as a dove : mine 
eyes failed with looking upwards : O Lord, I am oppressed, 
undertake for me ;' Isa. xxxviii. 14. When the soul labours 
sincerely for communion with God, but sinks into broken, 
confused thoughts under the weight of its own weakness, 
yet if he looks to God for relief, his chattering and mourn- 
ing will be accepted with God, and profitable unto himself. 

2. Supply the brokenness of your thoughts with ejacu- 
latory prayers, according as either the matter of them, Ov 
your defect in the management of them, doth require. So 
was it with Hezekiah in the instance before-mentioned : 
where his own meditations were weak and broken, he cries 
out in the midst of them, * O Lord, 1 am oppressed ; un- 
dertake for me.* And meditation is properly a mixture 
of spiritual apprehension of God and heavenly things, in 
the thoughts and conceptions of the mind, with desires and 
supplications thereon. 

It is good and profitable to have some special designed 
subject of meditation in our thoughts. I have at large de- 
clared before what things are the proper objects of the 
thoughts of them that are spiritually minded. But they 
may be more peculiarly considered as the matter of designed 
VOL. xni. 2 B 


meditation. And they may be taken out of some especial 
spiritual experience that we have lately had, or some warn- 
ings we have received of God, or something wherewith we 
have been peculiarly affected in the reading or preaching of 
the word, or what we find the present posture and frame of 
our minds and souls to require; or that which supplies all 
most frequently, the person and grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. If any thing of this nature be peculiarly designed, 
antecedently unto this duty, and a season be sought for it 
with respect thereunto, the mind will be fixed and kept 
from wandering after variety of subjects, wherein it is apt 
to lose itself, and brings nothing to perfection. 

Lastly, Be not discouraged with an apprehension, that 
all you can attain unto in the discharge of this duty is so 
little, so contemptible, as that it is to no purpose to persist 
in it: nor be wearied with the difficulties you meet withal 
in its performance. You have to do with him only in this 
matter, who * will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the 
smoking flax ;' whose will it is, that none should despise the 
day of small things. And if there be in this duty a ready 
mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not 
according to what he hath not. He that can bring into this 
treasure only the mites of broken desires and ejaculatory 
prayers, so they be his best, shall not come behind them 
who cast into it out of their greater abundance in ability 
and skill. To faint and give out because we cannot arise 
unto such a height as we aim at, is a fruit of pride and 
unbelief. He who finds himself to gain nothing by conti- 
nual endeavours after holy fixed meditations, but only a 
living active sense of his own vileness and unworthiness, is 
a suflacient gainer by all his pains, cost, and charge. But 
ordinarily it shall not be so ; constancy in the duty will give 
ability for it. Those who conscientiously abide in its per- 
formance, shall increase in light, wisdom, and experience, 
until they are able to manage it with great success. These 
few plain directions may possibly be of some use unto the 
weaker sort of Christians, when they find a disability in 
themselves unto the discharge of this duty, wherein those 
who are spiritually minded ought to be peculiarly exercised. 





The seat of spiritual mindedness in the affections. The nature and use of 
them. The ways and means used by God himself, to call the affections of 
men from the world. 

In the account given at the entrance of this discourse, of * 
what it is to be spiritually minded, it was reduced under/ 
these heads. I 

The first, was the habitual frame, disposition, and incli-\ j 
nation of the mind in its affections. .. 

The second, was the usual exercise of the mind in its 
thoughts, meditations, and desires about heavenly things. 

Whereunto, thirdly, was added, the complacency of mind \ >^ 
in that relish and savour which it finds in spiritual things, 
so thought and meditated on. 

The second of these hath hitherto alone been spoken 
unto, as that which leads the way unto the others, and gives 
the most sensible evidence of the state inquired after. There- 
in consists the stream, which rising in the fountain of our 
affections, runs into a holy rest and complacency of mind. 

The first and last I shall now handle together, and there- 
in comprehend the account of what it is to be spiritually 

Spiritual affections, whereby the soul adheres unto spi- 
ritual things, taking in such a savour and relish of them, as 
wherein it finds rest and satisfaction, is the peculiar spring 
and substance of our being spiritually minded. This is that 
which I shall now farther explain and confirm. 

The great contest of heaven and earth is about the affec- 
tions of the poor worm, which we call man. That the world 
should contend for them, is no wonder. It is the best that 
it can pretend unto. All things here below, are capable of 
no higher ambition, than to be possessed of the affections of 
men. And as they lie under the curse, it can do us no 

2 B 2 


greater mischief, than by prevailing in this design. But that 
the holy God should as it were engage in the contest, and 
strive for the affections of man, is an effect of infinite con- 
descension and grace. This he doth expressly; ' My son,' 
saith he, 'give me thy heart;' Prov. xxiii. 26. It is our 
affections he asketh for, and comparatively nothing else ; to 
be sure he will accept of nothing from us without them. 
The most fat and costly sacritice will not be accepted, if it 
be without a heart. All the ways and methods of the dis- 
pensation of his will, by his word, all the designs of his ef- 
fectual grace, are suited unto, and prepared for this end, 
namely, to recover the affections of man unto himself. So 
he expresseth himself concerning his word ; Deut. x. 12. 
' And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of 
thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, 
and to love, and to serve the Lord thy God, with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul?' And as unto the word of his 
grace, he declares it unto the same purpose, Deut. xxx. 6. 
'And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the 
Leart of thy seed ; to love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul.' 

And on the other side, all the artifices of the world, all 
the paint it puts on its face, all the great promises it makes, 
all the false appearances and attires it clothes itself withal 
by the help of Satan, have no other end but to draw and 
keep the affections of men unto itself. And if the world be 
preferred before God, in this address which is made unto us 
for our affections, we shall justly perish with the world unto 
eternity ; and be rejected by him whom we have rejected ; 
Prov. i. 24, 25. 3 L 

Our affections are upon the matter our all. They are all 
we have to give or bestow ; the only power of our souls, 
whereby, if we may give away ourselves from ourselves, and 
become another's. Other faculties of our souls, even the 
most noble of them, are suited to receive in unto our own 
advantage : by our affections we can give away what we are 
and have. Hereby, we give our hearts unto God, as he re- 
quireth. Wherefore unto him we give our affections, unto 
whom we give our all, ourselves, and all that we have ; and 
to whom we give them not, whatever we give, upon the mat- 
ter, we give nothing at all. 


In what we do unto, or for others ; whatsoever is good, 
valuable, or praiseworthy in it, proceeds from the affections 
wherewith we do it. To do any thing for others without an 
animating affection, is but a contempt of them ; for we judge 
tliem really unworthy, that we should do any thing for them. 
To give to the poor upon their importunity, without pity or 
compassion ; to supply the wants of saints without love or 
kindness ; with other actings and duties of the like nature, are 
things of no value; things that recommend us neither unto 
God nor men. It is so in general with God and the world. 
Whatsoever we do in the service of God, whatever duty we 
perform on his command, whatever we undergo, or suffer for 
liis name's sake, if it proceed not from the cleaving of our 
souls unto him by our affections, it is despised by him ; he 
owns us not. * As if a man would give all the substance of his 
house for love, it would utterly be contemned ;' Cant. viii. 7. 
It is not to be bought nor purchased with riches ; so if a man 
would give to God all the substance of his house without 
love, it would in like manner be despised. And however, 
on the other hand, we may be diligent, industrious, and se- 
dulous in and about the things of this world, yet if it have 
not our affections, we are not of the world, we belong not 
unto it. They are the seat of all sincerity, which is the 
jewel of divine and human conversation, the life and soul 
of every thing that is good and praiseworthy ; whatever men 
pretend, as their affections are, so are they. Hypocrisy is a 
deceitful interposition of the mind, on various reasons and 
pretences, between men's affections and their profession, 
whereby a man appears to be what he is not. Sincerity is 
the open avowment of the reality of men's affections, which 
renders them good and useful. 

Affections are in the soul, as the helm in the ship ; if it be 
laid hold on by a skilful hand, he turneth the whole vessel 
which way he pleaseth. If God hath the powerful hand of 
his grace upon our affections, he turns our souls unto a com- 
pliance with his institutions, instructions, in mercy, affec- 
tions, trials, all sorts of providences, and holds them firm 
against all winds and storms of temptation, that they shall 
not hurry them on pernicious dangers. Such a soul alone 
is tractable and pliable unto all intimations of God's will. 
All others are stubborn and (jbstinate, stout-hearted and 


far from righteousness. And when the world hath the hand 
on our affections, it turns the mind, with the whole industry 
of the soul, unto its interest and concerns. And it is in vain 
to contend with any thing that hath the power of our affec- 
tions in its disposal ; it will prevail at last. 

On all these considerations, it is of the highest import- 
ance to consider aright, how things are stated in our affec- 
tions, and what is the prevailing bent of them. * Iron sharp- 
eneth iron ; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,' 
saith the wise man, Prov. xxvii. 17. Every man hath his 
edge, which may be sharpened by outward helps and advan- 
tages. The predominant inclination of a man's affections, 
is his edge. According as that is set, so he cutteth and 
works ; that way, he is sharp and keen, but blunt unto all 
other things. 

Now because it must be, that our affections are either 
spiritual or earthly in a prevailing degree, that either God 
hath our hearts, or the world ; that our edge is towards 
heaven, or towards things here below ; before I come to give 
an account of the nature and operations of spiritual affec- 
tions, I shall consider and propose some of those arguments 
and motives which God is pleased to make use of to call off 
our affections from the desirable things of this world : for as 
they are weighty and cogent, such as cannot be neglected 
without the greatest contempt of divine wisdom and goodness, 
so they serve to press and enforce those arguments and mo- 
tives that are proposed unto us to set our affections on things 
that are above, which is to be spiritually minded. 

First, He hath in all manner of instances poured con- 
tempt on the things of this world, in comparison of things 
spiritual and heavenly. All things here below were at first 
made beautiful and in order, and were declared by God him- 
self to be exceeding good, and that not only in their being 
and nature, but in the use whereunto they were designed. 
They were then desirable unto men, and the enjoyment of 
them would have been a blessing without danger of temp- 
tation: for they were the ordinance of God to lead us unto 
the knowledge of him, and love unto him. But since the en- 
trance of sin, whereby the world fell under the curse, and into 
the power of Satan, the things of it in his management are 
become effectual means to draw off the heart and affections 


Irom God. For it is the world, and the things of it, as summed 
up by the apostle, 1 John ii. 15, 16. that strive alone for our 
affections to be the object of them. Sin and Satan do but 
woo for the world to take them off from God : by them doth 
the God of this world blind the eyes of them that believe 
not; and the principal way whereby he worketh in them, is by 
promises of satisfaction unto all the lusts of the minds of 
men, with a proposal of whatever is dreadful and terrible in 
the want of them. Being now in this state and condition, 
and used unto this end, through the craft of Satan and the 
folly of the minds of men, God hath shewed, by various 
instances, that they are all vain, empty, unsatisfactory, 
and every way to be despised in comparison of things 

1. He did it most eminently and signally in the life, 
death, and cross of Christ. What can be seen or found in 
this world, after the Son of God hath spent his life in it, not 
having where to lay his head; and after he went out of it on the 
cross? Had there been aught of real worth in things here 
below, certainly he had enjoyed it, if not crowns and empires, 
which were all in his power, yet such goods and possessions as 
men of sober reasonings and moderate affections do esteem 
a competency. But things were quite otherwise disposed, 
to manifest that there is nothing of value or use in these 
things, but only to support nature unto the performance of 
service unto God, wherein they are serviceable unto eternity. 
He never attained, he never enjoyed, more than daily sup- 
plies of bread out of the stores of providence, and which 
alone he hath instructed us to pray for ; Matt. viii. 20. In 
his cross the world proclaimed all its good qualities and all 
its powers, and hath given unto them that believe, its naked 
face to view and contemplate. Nor is it now one jot more 
comely than it was when it had gotten Christ on the cross. 
Hence is that inference and conclusion of the apostle ; Gal. 
vi. 14. ' But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby the world is crucified 
unto me, and I unto the world.' Since I have believed, since 
I have had a sense of the power and virtue of the cross of 
Christ, I have done with all things in this world ; it is a dead 
thing unto me, nor have I any affection for it. This is that 
which made the dilFcrence between the promises of th© old 


covenant and the new. For they were many of them about 
temporal things, the good things of this world, and this life : 
those of the new are mostly of things spiritual and eternal. 
God would not call off the church wholly from a regard unto 
these things, until he had given a sufficient demonstration 
of their emptiness, vanity, and insufficiency, in the cross of 
Christ;2Cor. iv. 16— 18. 

Whither so fast my friend ? What meaneth this rising so 
early and going to bed late, eating the bread of carefulness ? 
Why this diligence, why these contrivances, why these sav- 
ings and hoardings of riches and wealth? To what end is 
all this care and counsel ? Alas! saith one, it is to get that 
which is enough in and of this world, for me and my children, 
to prefer them, to raise an estate for them, which, if not so 
great as others, may yet be a competency; to give them some 
satisfaction in their lives, and some reputation in the world. 
Fair pretences ; neither shall I ever discourage any from the 
exercise of industry in their lawful callings. But yet I know, 
that with many, this is but a pretence and covering for a 
shameful engagement of their affections unto the world. 
Wherefore, in all these things, be persuaded sometimes to 
have an eye to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith : 
behold how he is set before us in the gospel, poor, despised, 
reproached, persecuted, nailed to the cross, and all by this 
world. Whatever be your designs and aims, let his cross 
continually interpose between your affections and this world. 
If you are believers, your hopes are within a few days to be 
with him for evermore. Unto him you must give an account 
of yourselves, and what you have done in this world : will 
it be accepted with him to declare what you have saved of 
this world, what you have gained, what you have preserved, 
and embraced yourselves in, and what you have left behind 
you ? was this any part of his employment and business in 
this world ; hath he left us an example for any such course? 
Wherefore, no man can set his affections on things here be- 
low, who hath any regard unto the pattern of Christ, or is 
any measure influenced with the power and efficacy of his 
cross. * My love is crucified,* said a holy martyr of old : 
he whom his soul loved was so, and in him his love unto all 
things here below. Do you therefore find your affections 
ready to be engaged unto, or too much entangled with, the 


things of this world ? are your desires of increasing them, 
your hopes of keeping them, your fears of losing them, your 
love unto them, and delight in them, operative in your minds, 
possessing your thoughts, and influencing your conversa- 
tions ? Turn aside a little, and by faith contemplate the life 
and death of the Son of God ; a blessed glass will it be, 
where you may see what contemptible things they are which 
you perplex yourselves about. Oh, that any of us should 
love or esteem the things of this world, the power, riches, 
goods, or reputation of it, who have had a spiritual view of 
them in the cross of Christ. 

It may be, it will be said, that the circumstances mentioned 
were necessary unto the Lord Christ, with respect unto the 
especial work he had to do, as the Saviour and Redeemer of 
the church: and therefore it doth not thence follow, that we 
ought to be poor, and want all things as he did. I confess it 
doth not, and therefore do all along make an allowance for 
honest industry in our callings. But this follows unavoid- 
ably hereon ; that what he did forego and trample on for our 
sake, that ought not to be the object of our affections, nor 
can such affections prevail in us, if he dwell in our hearts 
by faith. 

2. He hath done the same in his dealings with the 
apostles, and generally with all that have been most dear 
unto him, and instrumental unto the interest of his glory in 
the world, especially since life and immortality were brought 
to light by the gospel. He had great work to do by the 
apostles, and that of the greatest use unto his interest and 
kingdom. The laying of the foundations of the glorious 
kingdom of Christ in the world was committed unto them. 
Who would not think that he should provide for them, if not 
principalities or popedoms, yet at least archbishopricks and 
bishopricks, with other good ecclesiastical dignities and 
preferments ? Hereby might they have been made meet to 
converse with princes, and had been freed from the contempt 
of the vulgar. But Infinite Wisdom did otherwise dispose of 
them and their concerns in this world. For as God was 
pleased to exercise them with the common afflictions and 
calamities of this life, which he makes use of to take off the 
sweetness of present enjoyments, so tiiey lived and died 


in a condition of poverty, distress, persecution, and reproach. 
God set them forth as examples unto other ends, namely, of 
light, grace, zeal, and holiness in their lives, so to manifest 
of how little concernment unto our own blessedness, or an 
interest in his love, is the abundance of all things here below ; 
as also, that the want of them all may consist with the high- 
est participation of his love and favour; 1 Cor. iv. 9. 11 — 13. 
' For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as 
it were appointed to death. For we are made a spectacle 
unto the world, and unto angels, and to men. Even unto 
this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, 
and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place ; and 
labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless ; 
being persecuted, we suffer it ; being defamed, we entreat : 
we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring 
of all things unto this day.' And if the consideration hereof 
be not of weight with others, undoubtably it ought to be so 
with them who are called to preach the gospel, and are the 
successors to the apostles. There can be nothing more 
uncouth, absurd, and shameful, nothing more opposite unto 
the intimation of the wisdom and will of God in his dealings 
with those first and most honourable dispensers of it, than 
for such persons to seek and follow greedily after secular 
advantages, in worldly powers, riches, wealth, and honour. 
Hence there hath been, in former ages, an endeavour to se- 
parate such persons as were by any means dedicated unto 
the ministry of the gospel, from all secular dignities and 
revenues. Yea, some maintained that they were to enjoy 
nothing of their own, but were to live on alms, or the free 
contributions of the people. But this was quickly con- 
demned as heresy in Wickliffand others. Yet another sort 
set up, that would pretend thereunto as unto themselves, 
though they would not oblige all others unto the same rule. 
This produced some swarms of begging friars, whom they of 
the church, who were in possession of wealth and power, 
thought meet to laugh at and let alone : of late years, this 
contest is at an end. The clergy have happily gotten the 
victory, and esteem all due unto them that they can by any 
ways obtain ; nor is there any greater crime than for a man 
to be otherwise minded. But these things are not our 


present concernment. From the beginning it was not so : 
and it is well if, in such a way, men are able to maintain 
the frame of mind inquired after, which is life and peace. 

3. God continues to cast contempt on these things, by 
giving always incomparably the greatest portion of them 
unto the vilest men, and his own avowed enemies. This 
was a temptation under the old covenant, but is highly 
instructive under the new. None will judge those things 
to be of real value, which a wise man casts out daily unto 
swine, making little or no use of them in his family. Those 
monsters of men, Nero and Heliogabalus, had more interest 
in, and more power over, the things of this world, than ever 
Jiad the best of men. Such villains in nature, so pernicious 
unto human society, that their not being was the interest 
of mankind ; but yet more of the world poured on them, 
than they knew either how to enjoy, possess, use, or abuse. 
Look on all the principal treasures and powers of this world, 
as in the hand of one of these monsters, and there disposed 
of by divine providence, and you may see at what rate God 
values them. 

At this day, the greatest, most noble, wealthy, and fruit- 
ful parts of the earth, are given unto the great Turk, with 
some other eastern potentates, either Mahometans or Pagans, 
who are prepared for eternal destruction. And if we look 
nearer home, we may see in whose hands is the power of 
the chiefest nations of Europe, and unto what end it is used. 
Tlie utmost of what some Christian professors among our- 
selves are intent and designing upon, as that which would 
render them wondrous happy in their own apprehensions, 
put hundreds of them together, and it would not answer 
the waste made by the forementioned beasts every day. 

Doth not God proclaim herein, that the things of this 
world are not to be valued or esteemed? if they were so, 
and had a real worth in themselves, would the holy and 
righteous God make such a distiibution of them ? The 
most of those whom he loves, who enjoy his favour, not 
only comparatively have the meanest share of them, but are 
exercised with all the evils that the destitution and want 
of them can be accompanied withal : his open and avow- 
ed enemies, in the mean time, have more than they know 
what to do withal. Who would set his lieart and afl'ections 


on those things which God poureth into the bosoms of the 
vilest men, to be a snare unto them here, and an aggravation 
of their condemnation for ever? It seems, you may go and 
take the world, and take the curse, death and hell along with 
it, and * what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and 
lose his own soul ?' What can any man do on the considera- 
tion hereof, who will not forego all his hopes and expecta- 
tions from God, but retreat unto the faith of things spiritual 
and eternal, as containing an excellency in them incom- 
parably above all that be enjoyed here below? 

4. He doth continue to give perpetual instances of 
their uncertainty and unsatisfactoriness in the utter dis- 
appointment of men that have had expectations from them. 
The ways hereof are various, and the instances so multi- 
plied, as that most men in the world, unless they are like 
the fool in the gospel, who bade his soul take its ease for 
many years, because his barns were full, live in perpetual 
fears and apprehensions, that they shall speedily lose what- 
ever they enjoy ; or are under the power of stupid security. 
But as unto this consideration of them, there is such an 
account given by the wise man, as unto which nothing 
can be added, or which no reason or experience is able to 
contradict; Eccles. ii. By these and the like ways doth God 
cast contempt on all things here below ; discovering the 
folly and falseness of the promises which the world makes 
use of to allure our affections unto itself. This therefore is 
to be laid as the foundation in all our considerations, unto 
what or whom we shall cleave by our affections, that God 
hath not only declared the insufficiency of these things, 
to give us that rest and happiness which we seek after, but 
also poured contempt upon them, in his holy, wise disposal 
of them in the world. 

Secondly, God hath added unto their vanity, by shorten- 
ing the lives of men, reducing their continuance in this 
world unto so short and uncertain a season, as it is impos- 
sible they should take any solid satisfaction in what they 
enjoy here below. So it is expressed by the psalmist; * Be- 
hold, thou hast made my days as an hand-breadth ; and my 
age is nothing before thee.' Hence he draws two conclu- 

1. That ' every man at his best estate, is but vanity/ 


2. That ' every man walks in a vain show : surely 
they are disquieted in vain ; he heapeth up riches, and 
knoweth not who shall gather them ;' Psal. xxxix. 5, 6. The 
uncertainty and shortness of the lives of men, render all 
their endeavours and contrivances about earthly things 
both vain and foolish. When men lived eight or nine hun- 
dred years, they had opportunity to suck out all the sweet- 
ness that was in creature comforts, to make large provisions 
of them, and to have long projections about them. But 
when they had so, they all issued in that violence, oppres- 
sion, and wickedness, which brought the flood on the world 
of ungodly men. And it still so abides ; the more of, and 
the longer men enjoy these things, the more, without the 
sovereign preservative of grace, will they abound in sin 
and provocations of God. But God hath reduced the life 
of man unto the small pittance of seventy years ; casting 
what may fall out of a longer continuance into travail and 
sorrow. Besides, that space is shortened with the most, by 
various and innumerable incidences and occasions. Where- 
fore in these seventy years, consider how long it is before 
men begin to have a taste or gust of the things of this life ; 
how many things fall in cross, to make us weary of them 
before the end of our days ; how few among us, not one of 
a thousand, attain that age ; what is the uncertainty of all 
men living, as to the continuance of their lives unto the next 
day ; and we shall see that the holy, wise God, hath left no 
such season for their enjoyment, as might put a value upon 
them. And when, on the other hand, it is remembered, that 
this man who is of such short continuance in this world, is 
yet made for eternity, eternal blessedness or misery, which 
state depends wholly on his interest on things above, and 
setting his affections on them, they must forfeit all their 
reason, as well as bid defiance unto the grace of God, who 
give them up unto things below. 

Thirdly, God hath openly and fully declared the danger 
that is in these things, as unto their enjoyment and use; 
and what multitudes of souls miscarry, by an inordinate 
adherence unto them ! For they are the matter of those 
temptations, whereby the souls of men are ruined for ever; 
the fuel that supplies the fire of their lusts, until they are 
consumed by it. 


Men, under the power of spiritual convictions, fall not 
into sin, fail not eternally, but by the means of temptation, 
that is the mire wherein this rush doth grow. For others, 
who live and die in the madness and wildness of nature, 
without any restraint in their minds from the power of con- 
victions, they need no external temptations, but only oppor- 
tunities to exert their lusts. But for those who by any 
means are convinced of sin, righteousness, and judgment, 
so as to design the ordering of their lives, with respect unto 
the sense they have of them, they fall not into actual sin, 
but upon temptations. That, whatever it be, which causeth, 
occasioneth, and prevaileth on a convinced person unto sin, 
that is temptation. Wherefore this is the great means of the 
ruin of the souls of men. 

Now, though there are many principles of temptation, 
many causes that actually concur unto its efficacy, as sin, 
Satan, and other men, yet the matter of almost all ruinous 
temptations is taken out of this world, and the things of it. 
Thence doth Satan take all his darts ; thence do evil men 
derive all the ways and means whereby they corrupt others ; 
and from thence is all the fuel of sin and lust taken. And 
which adds unto this evil, all that is in the world, contributes 
its utmost thereunto. * All that is in the world,' is * the 
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life;' 
1 John ii. 16. It is not a direct formal annumeration of the 
things that are in the world, nor a distribution of them under 
several heads ; but it is so of the principal lusts of the minds 
of men, whereunto all things in the world are subservient. 
Wherefore, not only the matter of all temptations is taken 
out of the world, but every thing that is in the world is apt 
and fit to be abused unto that end. For it were easy to shew 
that there is nothing desirable or valuable in this whole 
world, but it is reducible unto a subserviency unto one or 
other of these lusts, and is applicable unto the interest and 
service of temptations and sins. 

When men hear of these things, they are apt to say, let 
the dream be unto them that are openly wicked, and the in- 
terpretation of it unto them that are profligate in sin. Unto 
unclean persons, drunkards, oppressors, proud ambitious 
persons, it may be, it is so ; but as unto them, they use the 
things of this world with a due moderation, so as they are 


no snare unto them. But to own they are used unto what 
end soever, if the afTections of men are set upon thcni, one 
way or other, there is nothing in the world but is thus a 
snare and temptation. However we should be very careful 
how we adhere unto, or undervalue that which is the cause 
and means of the ruin of multitudes of souls. By the warn- 
ings given us hereof, doth God design, as unto the use of 
means, to teach us the vanity and danger of fixing our 
affections on things below. 

Fourthly, Things are so ordered in the holy, wise dispen- 
sation of God's providence, that it requires much spiritual 
wisdom to distinguish between the use and the abuse of 
these things ; between a lawful care about them, and an in- 
ordinate cleaving unto them. Few distinguish aright here ; 
and therefore in these things will many find their great mis- 
take at the last day. The disappointments that they will 
fall under, as to what concerns their earthly enjoyments, and 
the use of them wherewith they were intrusted, see Matt. 
XXV. 34. to the end of the chapter. 

It is granted that there is a lawful use of these things, a 
lawful care and industry about them. So it is also acknow- 
ledged, it cannot be denied, that there is an abuse of them 
springing from an inordinate love, and cleaving unto them. 
But here men deceive themselves, taking their measures by 
the most crooked uncertain rules. Some make their own 
inclinations the rule and measure of what is lawful and allow- 
able; some the examples of others ; some the course of the 
world ; some their own real or pretended necessities. They 
confess that there is an inordinate love of those things, and 
an abuse of them, in excesses of various sorts, which the 
Scripture plainly affirms, and which experience gives open 
testimony unto. But as unto their state and circumstances, 
their care, love, and industry, are all allowable. That which 
influenceth all these persons, is self-love, which inveterate 
corrupt affections, and false reasonings, do make an appli- 
cation of unto these occasions. 

Hence we have men approving of themselves as just 
stewards of their enjoyments, whilst others judge them 
hard, covetous, earthly minded ; no way laying out what 
they are intrusted withal, inito the glory of God, in any due 
proportion. Otliers also think not amiss u( themselves in 


this kind, who live in palpable excesses, either of pride of 
life, or sensual pleasures, vain apparel, and the like. So in 
particular, most men, in their feastings and entertainments, 
walk-in direct contempt of the rules which our Saviour gives 
in that case, Luke xiv. 12 — 14. and yet approve themselves 

But what if any of us should be mistaken in our rule and 
application of it unto our conditions ? Men at sea may have a 
fair gale of wind wherewith they may sail freely and smoothly 
for a season, and yet, instead of being brought into a port, 
be cast by it at last on destructive shelves or rocks. 

And what if that which we esteem allowable love, care, 
and industry, should prove to be the fruit of earthly affec- 
tions, inordinate and predominant in us ; what if we miss 
in our measures, and that which we approve of in ourselves, 
should be disapproved of God : we are cast for ever ; we 
belong unto the world, and with the world we shall perish. 

It may be said, that if it be so difficult to distinguish 
between these things, namely, the lawful use of things here 
below, and their abuse, the allowable industry about them, 
and the inordinate love of them, on the knowledge whereof 
our eternal conditionsdepends; it is impossible but men must 
spend their time in solicitous anxiety of mind, as not know- 
ing when they have aright discharged their duty. 

A71S. 1. I press these things at present no farther, but 
only to shew how dangerous a thing it is for any to incline 
in his affections unto the things of this world, wherein an 
excess is ruinous, and hardly discoverable. Surely no wise 
man will venture freely and frequently unto the edge of such 
a precipice. He will be jealous of his measures, lest they 
will not hold by the rule of the word. And a due sense 
hereof is the best preservative of the soul from cleaving in- 
ordinately unto these things below. And when God, in any 
instance, by afflictions or otherwise, shews unto believers 
their transgression herein, and how they have exceeded. 
Job xxxviii. 8, 9. it makes them careful for the future. 
They will now or never be diligent, that they fall not under 
that peremptory rule, 1 John ii. 14. 

2. Where the soul is upright and sincere, there is no 
need in this case of any more solicitousness or anxiety of 
mind, than there is unto or about other duties. But when 


it is biassed and acted by self-love, and its more strong incli- 
nations unto things present, it is impossible men should 
enjoy solid peace, or be freed from severe reflections an them 
by their own consciences, in such seasons wherein they are 
awakened unto their duty, and the consideration of their 
state ; nor have I any thing to tender for their relief. With 
others it is not so ; and therefore I shall so far digress in this 
place, as to give some directions unto those who in sin- 
cerity would be satisfied in this lawful use and enjoyment of 
earthly things ; so as not to adhere unto them with inordi- 
nate affections. 

1. Remember always that you are not proprietors, nor 
absolute possessors of these things, but only stewards of 
them. With respect unto men, you are or may be just pro- 
prietors of what you enjoy; with respect unto him who is 
the great Possessor of heaven and earth, you are but ste- 
wards. This stewardship we are to give an account of, as 
we are taught in the parable, Luke xvi. 1, 2. This rule al- 
ways attended unto, will be a blessed guide in all instances 
and occasions of duty. 

But if a man be left in trust with houses and large pos- 
sessions, as a steward for the right lord, owner, and proprie- 
tor of them ; if he fall into a pleasing dream, that they are 
all his own, and use them accordingly ; it will be a woful sur- 
prisal unto him, v^hen he shall be called to account for all 
he hath received and laid out, whether he will or no. And 
when indeed he hath nothing to pay. It will scarce be other- 
wise with them at the great day, who forget the trust which 
is committed to them, and suppose they may do what they 
will with what they call their own. 

2. There is nothing in the ways of getting, enjoy- 
ing, or using of these things, but giveth its own evidence 
unto spiritual wisdom, whether it be within the bounds of 
duty or no. Men are not lightly deceived herein, but when 
they are evidently under the power of corrupt affections, or 
will not at all attend unto themselves and the lanjruaffe of 
their own consciences. It is a man's own fkult alone, if he 
know not wherein he doth exceed. 

A due examination of ourselves in the sight of God, 
with respect unto these things, the frame and actings of 
our minds in them, will greatly give check unto our cor- 
VOL. xiii. 2 c 


nipt inclinations, and discover the folly of those reason- 
ings, whereby we deceive ourselves into the love of earthly 
things, or justify ourselves therein, and bring to light the 
secret principle of self-love, which is the root of all this evil. 

3. If you would be able to make a right judgment 
in this case, be sure that you have another object for your 
affections, which hath a predominant interest in your minds, 
and which will evidence itself so to have on all occasions. 
Let a man be never so observant of himself, as unto all out- 
ward duties required of him, with respect unto these earthly 
things ; let him be liberal in the disposal of them on all oc- 
casions ; let him be watchful against all intemperance and 
excesses in the use of them ; yet, if he hath not another ob- 
ject for his affections, which hath a prevailing influence 
upon them, if they are not set upon the things that are 
above, one way or other, it is the world that hath the pos- 
session of his heart. For the affections of our minds will, 
and must be placed in chief, on things below, or things 
above ; there will be a predominant love in us ; and there- 
fore, although all our actions should testify another frame, 
yet if God, and the things of God, be not the principal ob- 
ject of our affections, by one way or other, unto the world 
we do belong : this is that which is taught us so expressly 
by our Saviour, Luke xvi. 9 — 13. ' And I say unto you. Make 
to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, 
that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting 
habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is 
faithful also in much : and he that is unjust in the least, is 
unjust also in much. If therefore you have not been faith- 
ful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your 
trust the true riches ? And if ye have not been faithful in 
that which is another man's, who shall give you that which 
is your own ? No servant can serve two masters ; for either 
he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will 
hold to the one, and despise the other : ye cannot serve God 
and mammon.' 

4. Labour continually for the mortification of your 
affections unto the things of this world. They are in the state 
of corrupted nature set and fixed on them, nor will any rea- 
sonings or considerations effectually divert them, or take 
them off in a due manner, unless they are mortified unto 


them by the cross of Christ. Whatever change be other- 
Avise wrought in them, it will be of no advantage unto us. 
It is mortification alone that will take them off from earthly 
things unto the glory of God. Hence the apostle, having 
given us that charge, ' Set your affections on things above, 
and not on things below on the earth,' Col. iii. 2. adds this 
as the only way and means we may do so, ' Mortify there- 
fore your members that are on the earth ;' ver. 5. Let no 
man think that his afTections will fall off from earthly things 
of their own accord. The keenness and sharpness of them, 
in many things, may be abated by the decay of their natural 
powers in age, and the like : they may be mated by fre- 
quent disappointments, by sicknesses, pains, and afflictions, 
as we shall see immediately ; or they may be willing unto a 
distribution of earthly enjoyments, to have the reputation 
of it, wherein they still cleave unto the world, but under an- 
other shape and appearance. They may be startled by con- 
victions, so as to do many things gladly, that belong to an- 
other frame : but, on one pretence or other, under one ap- 
pearance or other, they will for ever adhere or cleave unto 
earthly things, unless they are mortified unto them, through 
faith in the blood and cross of Christ; Gal. vi. 14. Whatever 
thoughts you may have of yourselves in this matter, unless 
you have the experience of a work of mortification on your 
affections, you can have no refi'eshing ground of assurance, 
that you are in any thing spiritually minded. 

5. In all instances of duty belonging unto your stew- 
ardship of earthly things, attend diligently unto the rule 
of the word : without this, the grace exhorted unto may be 
abused. So of old, under a pretence of a relinquishment of 
the things of this world, because of the danger in adhering 
unto them ; their own superstition, and the craft of other men, 
prevailed with many to part with all they had unto the 
service of others, not better, it may be, not so good as them- 
selves. This evil wholly arose from want of attendance unto 
the rule of truth, which gives no such direction in ordinary 
cases. But there is not much seen in these days of an ex- 
cess in that kind. But, on the other hand, in all instances 
of duties of this nature, most men's minds are habitually in- 
fluenced with pretences, reasonings, and considerations, that 
turn the scales as unto what they ought to do in proportion 

2 c 2 


in this duty, on the side of the world. If you would be 
safe, you must, in all instances of duty, as in works of 
charity, piety, and compassion, give authority in and over 
your souls, unto the rule of the word. Let neither self nor 
unbelief, nor the custom and example of others, be heard to 
speak ; but let the rule alone be attended unto, and to what 
that speaks, yield obedience. 

Unless these things are found in us, none of us, no man 
living, if it be not so with him, can have any refreshing evi- 
dence or assurance, that he is not under the power of an in- 
ordinate, yea, and predominant love unto this world. 

And indeed to add a little farther on the occasion of this 
digression, it is a sad thing to have this exception made 
against the state of any man, on just grounds ; yea, but he 
loves the world. He is sober and industrious ; he is constant 
in duties of religion, it may be, an earnest preacher of them, 
a man of sound principles, and blameless as unto the excesses 
of life ; but he loves the world. The question is, how doth 
this appear ? it may be, what you say is but one of those 
evil surmises which all things are filled withal. Wherefore 
I speak it not at all to give countenance unto the rash judg- 
ing of others, which none are more prone unto than those 
who one way or other are eminently guilty themselves : but 
I would have every man judge himself, that we be none of 
us condemned of the Lord. If, notwithstanding the things 
mentioned, any of us do centre in self, which is supplied 
and filled with the world : if we prefer self above all other 
things, do aim at the satisfaction of self in what we do. well 
or ill, are useless unto the only good and blessed ends of 
these earthly things, in supplying the wants of others, ac- 
cording unto the proportions wherewith we are intrusted ; 
it is to be feared, that the world, and the things that are in 
it, have the principal interest in our affections. 

And the danger is yet greater with them who divert on 
the other extreme. Such are they, who, in the pride of life, 
vanity in apparel, excess in drinking, pampering the flesh 
every day, tread close on the heels of the world, if they do 
not also fully keep company with it. Altogether in vain is 
it for such persons to countenance themselves with an ap- 
pearance of other graces in them, or the sedulous perform- 
ance of other duties. This one rule will eternally prevail 


against them ; ' If any man love the world, the love of the 
Father is not in him.' And by the w^ay, let men take heed 
how they walk in any instance against the known judg- 
ment and practice of the wiser or more experienced sort of 
Christians, to their regret and sorrow, if not unto their of- 
fence and scandal, or in any way whereunto they win the 
consent of their own light and conscience, by such rea- 
sonings and considerations, as will not hold weight in the 
balance of the sanctuary. Yet thus, and no otherwise, is 
it with all them who, under a profession of religion, do in- 
dulge unto any excesses wherein they are conformed unto 
the world. 

Fifthly, God makes a hedge against the excess of the 
affections of men, rational and any way enlightened, unto 
the things of this world, by suffering the generality of men 
to carry the use of them, and to be carried by the abuse of 
them, into actings so filthy, so abominable, so ridiculous, 
us reason itself cannot but abhor. Men by them transform 
themselves into beasts and monsters, as might be manifested 
by all sorts of instances : hence the wise man prayed against 
riches, lest he should not be able to manage the temptations 
wherewith they are accompanied; Prov. xxx. 8, 9. 

Lastly, To close this matter, and to shew us what we are 
to expect, in case we set our affections on things here below, 
and they have thereby a predominant interest in our hearts, 
God hath positively determined and declared, that if it be 
so, he will have nothing to do with us, nor will accept of 
those affections which we pretend we can, and do spare for 
him, and spiritual things. If we abstain from open sins, if 
we abhor the lewdness and uncleanness of men in the world, 
if we are constant in religious duties, and give ourselves up 
to walk after the most strict sort in religion, like Paul, in 
his Pharisaism, may we not, will some say or think, find 
acceptance with God, though our hearts cleave inordinately 
unto the things of this world ? I say, God hath perempto- 
rily determined the contrary ; and if other arguments will 
not prevail with us, he leaves us at last unto this. Go, love 
the world and the things of it ; but know assuredly you do 
it unto the eternal loss of your souls ; 1 John ii. 15. James iv. 
These few instances have I given of the arguments and mo- 
tives whereby God is pleased to deter us from fixing our 


affections on things here below. And they are most of them 
such only, as he maketh use of in the administration of his 
providence. There are two other heads of things that offer 
themselves unto our consideration. 

1. The ways, means, arguings, and enticements which 
the world makes use of, to draw, keep, and secure the affec- 
tions of men unto itself. 

2. The secret, powerful efficacy of grace, in taking off 
the heart from these things, turning and drawing it unto 
God, with the arguments and motives that the Holy Spirit 
maketh use of, in and by the word unto this end ; and where- 
in we must shew what is the act of conquering grace, wherein 
the heart is finally prevailed on, to choose and adhere unto 
God in love immutable. But these things cannot be handled 
in any measure, according to their nature and importance, 
without such length of discourse, as I cannot here divert 
unto. I shall therefore proceed unto that which is the 
proper and peculiar subject before us. 


What is required in, and unto our affections, that they may he spiritual. 
A threefold work on the affections described. 

To declare the interest of our affections in this frame of 
being spiritually minded, and what they contribute there- 
unto, I shall do these three things : 

First, Declare what is required hereunto, that our affec- 
tions may be spiritual, wherein lies the foundation of the 
whole duty. 

Secondly, What are their actings when they are so spi- 

Thirdly, What are the means whereby they may be kept 
and preserved in that frame, with sundry other things of the 
like nature, how our affections are concerned in, or do be- 
long unto the frame of mind inquired after, hath been before 
declared. Without spiritual affections, we cannot be spi- 
ritually minded. And that they may be of this use, three 
things are required. 


First, Their principle. 

Secondly, Their object. 

Thirdly, The way and manner of their application unto 
their proper object, by virtue of that principle. 

First, As unto the principle acting in them, that our 
affections may be spiritual, and the spring of our being spi- 
ritually minded, it is required that they be changed, renewed, 
and inlaid with grace, spiritual and supernatural. To clear 
the sense hereof, we must a little consider, what is their state 
by nature, and then, by what means they may be wrought 
upon, as unto a change, or a renovation. For they are like 
unto some things, which in themselves, and their own na- 
ture, are poisonous ; but being corrected, and receiving a 
due temperament from a mixture of other ingredients, be- 
come medicinal, and of excellent use. 

1. By nature our affections, all of them, are depraved 
and corrupted. Nothing in the whole nature of man, no 
power or faculty of the soul, is fallen under greater disorder 
and depravation by the entrance of sin, than our affections 
arel In and by them is the heart wholly gone and turned 
off from God ; Titus, iii. 3. It were a long work to set 
forth this depravation of our affections, nor doth it belong 
unto our present design. Some few things I shall briefly 
observe concerning it, to make way unto what is proposed 
concerning their change. 

1. This is the only corruption and depravation of our 
nature, by the fall evident in and unto reason, or the light 
of nature itself. Those who were wise among the heathen, 
both saw it and complained of it. They found a weakness 
in the mind, but saw nothing of its darkness and depra- 
vation as unto things spiritual. But they were sensible 
enough of this disorder and tumult of the affections in 
things moral, which renders the minds of men like a 
troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. This 
greatly aggravates the neglect of them who are not sensible 
of it in themselves, seeing it is discernible in the light of 

2. They are as depraved, the seat and subject of 
all lusts, both of the flesh and of the spirit. Yea, lust or 
evil concupiscence is nothing but the irregular motion and 
acting of our affections, as depraved, defiled, corrupted; 


Rom. vii. 9. Hence, no one sin can be mortified without a 
change wrought in the affections. 

3. They are the spring, root, and cause of all actual 
sin in the world; Matt. xv. 9. The evil heart in the Scrip- 
ture, is the corrupt affections of it, with the imagina- 
tions of the mind whereby they are excited and acted ; 
Gen. vi. 5. These are they which at this time fill the whole 
world with wickedness, darkness, confusion,' and terror : 
and we may learn what is their force and efficacy from these 
effects. So the nature of the plague is most evident, when 
we see thousands dying of it every week. 

4. They are the way and means whereby the soul ap- 
plies itself unto all sinful objects and actings. Hence are 
they called our members, our earthly members ; because, as 
the body applies itself unto its operations by its members, so 
doth the soul apply itself unto what belongs unto it, by its 
affections ; Rom. vi. 13. Col. iii. 5. 

5. They will not be under the conduct of the mind, 
its light, or convictions. Rebellion against the light of the 
mind, is the very form whereby their corruption acts itself; 
Job. xxiv. 13. Let the apprehensions of the mind, and its 
notions of good and evil be what they will, they reject 
them, and lead the soul in pursuit of their inclinations. 
Hence, no natural man whatsoever doth in any measure 
answer the light of his mind, or the convictions of his 
understanding ; but he sees and approves of better things 
following those that are worse. And there is no greater 
spiritual judgment, than for men to be given up unto them- 
selves, and their own evil affections ; Rom. i. 26. 

Many other instances might be given of the greatness of 
that depravation which our affections are fallen under by 
sin ; these may suffice as unto our present purpose. 

In general, this depravation of our affections by nature 
may be reduced unto two heads. 

1. An utter aversation from God and all spiritual 
things. In this lies the spring of all that dislike of God 
and his ways, that the hearts of men are filled withal. Yea, 
they do not only produce an aversation from them, and 
dislike of them, but they fill the mind with an enmity 
against them. Therefore, men say in their hearts unto God, 
' Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy 


ways : what is the Almighty that we should serve him? or 
what profit should we have if we pray unto him V Job. xxi. 
14,15. SeeRom. i. 28. viii. 7, 8. 

2. An inordinate cleaving unto things vain, earthly, 
and sensual; causing the soul to engage into the pursuit of 
them, as the horse rushes into the battle. 

Whilst our affections are in this state and condition, we 
are far enough from being spiritually minded ; nor is it pos- 
sible to engage them into an adherence unto, or delight in, 
spiritual things. 

In this state, they may be two ways wrought upon, and 
yet not so renewed, as to be serviceable unto this end. 

1. There may be various temporary impressions made on 
them; sometimes there is so by the preaching of the word. 
Hereon men may hear it with joy, and do many things gladly. 
Sometimes it is so by judgments, dangers, sicknesses, ap- 
prehensions of the approach of death ; Psal. xxxiv. 78. xxxv. 
37. These things take men off for a season from their 
greedy delight in earthly things, and the pursuit of the in- 
terest of lust in making provision for the tlesh. On many 
other occasions, by great variety of causes, there may be 
temporary impressions made on the affections, that shall 
seem for a season to have turned the stream of them. And 
thereon we have many, who every day will be wholly as it 
were for God, resolved to forsake sin, and all the pleasures 
of it; but the next return unto all their former excesses. 
For this is the effect of those impressions, that whereas men 
ordinarily are predominantly acted by love, desire, and de- 
light, which lead them to act according unto the true natu- 
ral principles of the soul : now they are for a season acted by 
fear, and dread, which put a kind of force on all their incli- 
nations. Hereon they have other thoughts of good and 
evil, of things eternal and temporal, of God and their own 
duty, for a season. And hereon, some of them may, and do 
persuade themselves, that there is a change in their hearts 
and affections, which there is not; like a man who per- 
suades himself that he hath lost his ague, because his pre- 
sent fit is over. The next trial of temptation carries them 
away again unto the world and sin. 

There are sometimes sudden impressions made on spiri- 


tual affections, which are always of great advantage to the 
soul, renewing its engagements unto God and duty. So 
was it with Jacob; Gen. xxviii. 16 — 20. So is it often with 
believers in hearing the word, and other occasions. On all 
of them they renew their cleavings unto God with love and 
delight. But the effect of these impressions on unrenewed 
affections, are neither spiritual nor durable. Yea, for the 
most part, they are but checks given in the providence of 
God, unto the raging of their lusts ; Psal. ix. 20. 

2. They are liable unto an habitual change. This 
the experience of all ages gives testimony to. There may 
be an habitual change wrought in the passions and af- 
fections of the mind, as unto the inordinate and violent 
pursuit of their inclinations, without any gracious reno- 
vation of them. Education, philosophy, or reason, long 
afflictions, spiritual light and gifts, have wrought this change. 
So Saul, upon his call to be king, became another man. 
Hereby, persons naturally passionate and furious have 
been made sedate and moderate ; and those who have been 
Sensual, have become temperate ; yea, and haters of re- 
ligion, to be professors of it. All these things, and many 
more of the like nature, have proceeded from a change 
wrought upon the affections only ; whilst the mind, will, 
and conscience, have been totally unsanctified. 

By this change, where it is alone, no man ever became 
spiritually minded. For whereas there are two parts of the 
depravation of our affections, that whereby they are turned 
off from God, and that whereby they inordinately cleave 
unto other things : their change principally, if not only, 
respects the latter. They are brought into some order with 
respect unto present things. The mind is not continually 
tossed up and down by them, as the waves of the sea, that 
are troubled, and cast up mire and dirt. They do not carry 
those in whom they are into vicious sensual actions, but 
they allow them to make virtue in moderation, sobriety, 
temperance, fidelity, and usefulness in several ways, to be 
their design. And it is admirable to think what degrees 
of eminency in all sorts of moral virtues upon this one 
principle of moderating the affections, even many among 
the heathens attained unto. But as unto their aversation 


from God and spiritual things, in the true spiritual notion 
of them, they are not cured by this change : at least, this 
change may be, and yet this latter not be wrought. 

Again, This alteration doth but turn the course or stream 
of men's affections, it doth not change the nature of them. 
They are the same in their spring and fountain as ever they 
were, only they are habituated unto another course than 
what of themselves they are inclined unto. You may take 
a young whelp of the most fierce and savage creatures, as of 
a tiger, or a wolf, and by custom or usage make it as tame 
and harmless as any domestic creature ; a dog, or the like. 
But although it may be turned unto quite another way or 
course of acting than what it was of itself inclined unto, 
yet its nature is not changed : and therefore, frequently on 
occasion, opportunity, or provocation, it will fall into its 
own savage inclination ; and having tasted of the blood of 
creatures, it will never be reclaimed. So is it with the de- 
praved affections of men, with respect unto their change ; 
their streams are turned, they are habituated unto a new 
course, their nature is not altered, at least not from rational 
unto spiritual, from earthly unto heavenly. Yet this is that 
which was most beautiful and desirable in nature, the glory 
of it, and the utmost of its attainments. He who has by any 
means proceeded unto such a moderation of his affections, as 
to render him kind, benign, patient, useful, preferring public 
good before private, ordinate, and temperate in all things, 
will rise up in judgment against those, who, professing 
themselves to be under the conduct of the light of grace, 
do yet, by being morose, angry, selfish, worldly, manifest 
that their affections are not subdued by the power of that 
grace. Wherefore, that we may be spiritually minded, there 
is yet another work upon our affections required, which is 
their internal renovation, whereby not only the course of 
their actings is changed, but their nature is altered, and 
spiritually renewed. I intend that which is expressed in 
that great evangelical promise; Isa. xi. 6 — 9. 'The wolf 
shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with 
the kid : and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling to- 
gether, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and 
the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together; 
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckino- 


child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child 
shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not 
hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.' A change and 
alteration is promised in the natures, principles, and first 
inclinations of the worst and most savage sinners, who pass 
under the power of gospel grace. 

This is that which is required of us in a way of duty; 
Eph. iv. 13, 'And be ye renewed in the spirit of your 
minds.' There is a renovation of the mind itself, by the 
communication of spiritual saving light and understanding 
thereunto, whereof 1 have treated elsewhere at large ; see 
Horn. xii. 2. Ephes. i. 17, 18. But the spirit of the mind, 
that whereby it is enlivened, lead and disposed unto its 
actings, that is to be renewed also. The spirit of the mind 
is in this place opposed unto the old man, which is corrupt 
according to deceitful lust, or depraved affections ; ver. 22. 
These therefore are that spirit of the mind which incline, 
bend, and lead it to act suitably unto its inclinations, which 
is to be renewed. And when our affections are inclined by 
the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, then are they renewed, 
and not else. No other change will give them a spiritual 
renovation. Hereby those things which are only natural 
affections in themselves, in them that believe, become fruits 
of the Spirit; Gal. v. 22. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, 
peace,' &c. They continue the same as they were in their 
essence, substance, and natural powers, but are changed in 
their properties, qualities, inclinations, whenever a new na- 
ture is given unto them. So the waters at Marah were the 
same waters still, before and after their cure. But of them- 
selves, and in their own nature, they were bitter, so as that 
the people could not drink them ; in the casting of a tree 
into them, they were made sweet and useful ; Exod. xv. 25, 26. 
So was it with the waters of Jericho, which were cured by 
casting salt into them ; 2 Kings xix. 20, 21. Our affections 
continue the same as they were on their nature and essence, 
but they are so cured by grace, as that their properties, 
qualities, and inclinations, are all cleansed or renewed. The 
tree or salt that is cast into these waters whereby the cure 
is wrought, is the love of God above all, proceeding from 
faith in him by Christ Jesus. 



The work of the renovation of our affections. How differenced from amj 
other imprcxsion on, or change ivrought in, them, and how it is evidenced 
so to be. The first instance in the universality accompanying of ajfec- 
tions spiritually renewed. The order of the exercise of our affections 
with respect unto their objects. 

That which is our concernment herein, is to inquire of 
what nature that work is which hath been on our own affec- 
tions, or in them, and how it differs from those, whicli, 
whatever they do or effect, yet will not render us nor them- 
selves spiritual. 

And we ought to use the best of our diligence herein; 
because the great means whereby multitudes delude and 
deceive their own souls, persuading themselves that there 
has been an effectual work of the grace of the gospel in 
them, is the change that they find in their affections, which 
may be, on many occasions, without any spiritual renovation. 

1. As unto the temporary and occasional impressions 
in the affections before mentioned, whether from the word, 
or any other divine warning by afflictions or mercies, they 
are common unto all sorts of persons. Some there are, 
whose ' consciences are seared with a hot iron;' 1 Tim. iv. 2. 
' who' thereon ' being past feeling' (senseless of all calls, warn- 
ings, and rebukes), ' do give themselves over unto lascivious- 
ness, to work all uncleanness with greediness ;' Ephes. iv. 19. 
Such persons having hardened themselves in a long course 
of sin, and being given up unto a reprobate mind, or vile 
affections in a way of judgment, have, it may be, no such 
impressions on their affections, on any occasion, as to move 
them with a sense of things spiritual and eternal. They may 
be terrified with danger, sudden judgments, and other reve- 
lations of the wrath of God from heaven against the ungod- 
liness of men; but they are not drawn to take shelter in 
thoughts of spiritual things. Nothing but hell will awaken 
them unto a due consideration of themselves and things 

It is otherwise with the generality of men who are not 
profligate and impudent in sinning. r\ir although they are 


in a natural condition, and a course of sin, in the neglect of 
known duties, yet by one means or other, most frequently 
by the preaching of the word, their affections are stirred to- 
wards heavenly things. 

Sometimes they are afraid, sometimes they have hopes 
and desires about them. These put them on resolutions, and 
some temporary endeavours to change their lives, to abstain 
from sin, and to perform holy duties. But as the prophet 
complains, ' their goodness is as the morning cloud ; and as 
the early dew, so passeth it away.' Yet by means hereof 
do many poor ignorant souls deceive themselves, and cry 
peace, peace, when there is no peace. And they will some- 
times so express how they are affected with complaints of 
themselves as unto their long neglect of spiritual things, that 
others may entertain good hopes concerning them ; but all 
comes to nothing in the trial. 

There is no difficulty unto spiritual light, to distinguish 
between these occasional impressions on the affections, and 
that spiritual renovation of them which we inquire after. 
This alone is sufficient to do it, that they are all of them 
temporary and evanid. 'They abide for awhile only,' as our 
Saviour speaks, and every occasion defeats all their effi- 
cacy. They may be frequently renewed, but they never 
abide. Some of them immediately pass away, and are utterly 
lost between the place where they hear the word and their 
own habitations ; and in vain shall they inquire after them 
again, they are gone for ever. Some have a larger con- 
tinuance, endure longer in the mind, and produce some out- 
ward effects ; none of them will hold any trial, or shock of 

Yet I have somewhat to say unto those who have such 
impressions on their affections, and warning by them. 

1. Despise them not, for God is in them. Although 
he may not be in them in a way of saving grace, yet he is 
in them in that which may be preparatory thereto. They 
are not common human accidents, but especial divine 

2. Labour to retain them, or a sense of them, upon your 
hearts and consciences. You have got nothing by losing so 
many of them already. And if you proceed in their neglect, 
after awhile you will hear of them no more. 


3. Put no more in the mthan belono-s unto them. Do 
not presently conclude that your state is good, because you 
liave been affected at the hearing of the word, or under a 
sickness, or in a danger. Hereon you may think that now 
all is well with them, wherewith they please themselves, 
until they are wholly immersed in their former security. 

2. We may consider the difference that is between 
the habitual change of the affections before described, 
and that renovation by grace which renders them spiritual. 
And this is of great concernment unto us all to inquire into 
it with diligence. Multitudes are herein deceived, and that 
unto their ruin. For they resolve their present peace into, 
and build their hopes of eternal life on, such a change in 
themselves, as will not abide the trial. This difference, 
therefore, is to be examined by Scripture light, and the ex- 
perience of them that do believe. And, 

1. There is a double universality with respect unto the 
spiritual renovation of our affections. 

1. That which is subjective with respect unto the affec- 
tions themselves ; and, 

2. That which is objective with respect unto spiritual 

1. Sanctification extends itself unto the whole spirit, 
soul, and body ; 1 Thess. v. 23. When we say that we are 
sanctified in part only, we do not say that any part, power, 
or faculty of the soul is unsanctified, but only that the work 
is not absolutely perfect in any of them. All sin may retain 
power in some one affection, as anger, fear, or love, as unto 
actual irruptions and effects, more than in all the rest. As 
one affection may be more eminently sanctified in some than 
in others. For it may have advantages unto this end from 
men's natural tempers, and various outward circumstances. 
Hence some find little difficulty in the mortification of all 
other lusts or corruptions, in comparison of what they meet 
withal in some one inordinate affection or corruption. This, 
it may be, David had regard unto ; Psal. xviii. 23. I have 
known persons shining exemplarily in all other graces, who 
have been scarce free from giving great scandal by the ex- 
cess of their passions, and easy provocations thereunto. And 
yet they have known that the setting themselves unto the 
sincere vicrorous mortification of that disorder, is the most 


eminent pledge of their sincerity in other things. For the 
trial of our self-denial lies in the things that our natural in- 
clinations lie strongest toward. Howbeit, as was said, there 
is no affection where there is this work of renovation, but it 
is sanctified and renewed; none of them is left absolutely 
unto the service of sin and Satan. And therefore, whereas 
by reason of the advantages mentioned, sin doth greatly 
contend to use some of them unto its interest and service 
in a peculiar manner, yet are they enabled unto, and made 
meet for, gracious actings, and do, in their proper seasons, 
put forth themselves accordingly. There is no affection 
of the mind from whence the soul and conscience hath 
received the greatest damage, that was, as it were, the 
field wherein the contest is managed between sin and grace, 
but hath its spiritual use and exercise, when the mind is 

There are some so inordinately subject to anger and 
passion therein, as if they were absolutely under the power 
and dominion of it ; yet do they also know how to be angry, 
and sin not in being angry at sin in themselves and others. 
' Yea, what indignation ; yea, what revenge*,' 2 Cor. vii. 7. 
Yea, God is pleased sometimes to leave somewhat more than 
ordinary of the power of corruption in one affection, that it 
may be an occasion of the continual exercise of grace in the 
other affections. Yet are they all sanctified in their degree, 
that which is relieved, as well as that which doth relieve. 
And therefore as the remainder of sin in them that believe 
is called the old man, which is to be crucified in all the 
members of it, because of its adherence unto the whole 
person in all its powers and faculties ; so the grace im- 
planted in our natures, is called the new man, there being 
nothing in us that is not seasoned and affected with it. As 
nothing in our natures escaped the taint of sin, so nothing 
in our natures is excepted from the renovation that is by 
grace. He in whom any one affection is utterly unrenewed, 
hath no one graciously renewed in him. Let men take heed 
how they indulge to any depraved affection, for it will be an 
unavoidable impeachment of their sincerity. Think not to 
say with Naaman, God be merciful unto me in this thing, 
in all others I will be for him. 

He requires the whole heart, and will have it or none. 


The chief woi-k of a Christian is to make all his affections in 
all their operations subservient unto the life of God; Rom. 
vi. 17. And he who is wise will keep a continual watch over 
those wherein he finds the greatest reluctancy thereunto. 
And every affection is originally sanctified according unto 
the use it is to be of, in the life of holiness and obedience. 

To be entire for God, to follow him wholly, to cleave 
unto him with purpose of heart, to have the heart circumcised 
to love him, is to have all our affections renewed and sanc- 
tified, without which we can do none of them. When it is 
otherwise, there is a double heart, a heart, and a heart which 
he abhors. 'Their heart is divided, now shall they be found 
faulty;' Hosea x. 2. 

So it is in the other change mentioned. Whatever is or 
may be wrought upon our affections when they are not spi- 
ritually renewed, that very change, as unto the degree of it, 
is not universal ; it doth not affect the whole mind in all its 
powers and affections, until a vital prevailing principle and 
habit of grace is implanted in the soul. Sin will not only 
radically adhere unto all the faculties, powers, and affections, 
but it will, under any change that may befall them, refer the 
rule and dominion in some of them unto itself. So was it 
with the young man that came unto our Lord Jesus Christ 
to know what he should do to obtain eternal life ; Mark x. 

Thus there are many, who in other things are reduced 
unto moderation, sobriety, and temperance; yet there re- 
maineth in them the love of money in a predominant degree, 
which to them * is the root of all evil,' as the apostle speaks : 
some seem to be religious, but they bridle not their tongues, 
through anger, envy, hatred, and the like ; their religion is 
in vain. 

The most of men, in their several ways of profession, 
pretend not only unto religion, but unto zeal in it, yet set no 
bounds unto their affections unto earthly enjoyments. Some 
of old, who had most eminently in all other things subdued 
their passions and affections, were the greatest enemies unto, 
and persecutors of, the gospel. 

Some who seem to have had a mighty change wrought 
in them by a superstitious devotion, do yet walk in the spirit 
of Cain towards all the disciples of Christ, as it is with the 



principal devotionists of the church of Rome ; and elsewhere 
we may see some go soberly about the persecution and de- 
struction of other Christians. Some will cherish one secret 
lust or other, which they cannot but know to be pernicious 
unto their souls. Some love the praise of men, which will 
never permit them to be truly spiritually minded : so our 
Saviour testifieth of some, that they could * not believe, be- 
cause they loved the praise of men.' This was the known 
vice of all the ancient philosophers. They had many of 
them, on the principles of reason and by severe exercise, 
subdued their affections unto great moderation about tem- 
porary things ; but, in the mean time, were all of them 
slaves to vain glory and the praise of men, until by the 
public observation of it, and some contradictions in their 
lives unto their pretences unto virtue, they lost that also 
among wise and considerative men. And generally, if men, 
not spiritually renewed, were able to search themselves, 
they would find that some of their affections are so far from 
having any change wrought in them, as that they are a 
quiet habitation for sin, where it exerciseth its rule and 

2. There is a universality that is objective in spiri- 
tual things, with respect unto the renovation of our affec- 
tions ; that is, affections, spiritually renewed, do fix them- 
selves upon, and cleave unto, all spiritual things in their 
proper places, and unto their proper ends. For the ground 
and reason of our adherence unto any one of them, are the 
same with respect unto them all. That is their relation unto 
God in Christ. Wherefore when our affections are renewed, 
we make no choice in spiritual things, cleaving unto some 
and refusing others, making use of Naaman's restraint ; but 
our adherence is the same unto them all in their proper 
places and degrees. And if, by reason of darkness and ig- 
norance, we know not any of them to be from God, as for 
instance, the observation of the Lord's day, it is of unspeak- 
able disadvantage unto us. An equal respect is required in 
us unto all God's commands. Yet there are various dis- 
tinctions in spiritual things. And thereon a man may, and 
ought to, value one above another, as unto the degrees of 
his love and esteem, although they are to be sincere with 
respect unto them alL 


1. God himself, that is, as revealed in and by Christ, 
is, in the first and chiefest place, the proper and adequate 
object of our affections, as they are renewed. He is so for 
himself, or his own sake alone. This is the spring, the 
centre, and chief object of our love. He that loves not God 
for himself, that is, for what he is in himself, and what from 
himself alone he is, and will be, unto us in Christ, which 
considerations are inseparable, he hath no true affection for 
any spiritual thing whatever. And not a few do here deceive 
themselves, or are deceived, which should make us the more 
diligent in the examination of ourselves. They suppose that 
they love heaven and heavenly things, and the duties of di- 
vine worship, which persuasion may befall them on many 
grounds and occasions, which will not endure the trial. But 
as unto God himself, they can give no evidence that they 
have any love to him, either on the account of the glorious 
excellencies of his nature, with their natural relation unto 
him and dependance on him, nor on the account of the ma- 
nifestation of himself in Christ, and the exercise of his grace 
therein. But whatever may be pretended, there is no love 
unto God, whereof these things are not the formal reason, 
that proceeds not from these springs. And because that all 
men pretend that they love God, and defy them that think 
them so vile as not to do so, though they live in open enmity 
against him and hatred of him, it becomes us strictly to exa- 
mine ourselves on what grounds we pretend so to do. Is it 
because indeed we see an excellency, a beauty, a desirable- 
ness, in the glorious properties of his nature, such as our 
souls are refreshed and satisfied with the thoughts of by 
faith, and in whose enjoyment our blessedness will consist, 
so that we always rejoice at the remembrance of his holiness • 
is it our great joy and satisfaction that God is what he is ; 
is it from the glorious manifestation that he hath made of 
himself and all his holy excellencies in Christ, with the com- 
munication of himself unto us in and by him? If it be so 
indeed, then is our love generous and gracious, from the re- 
novation of our affections. But if we say we love God, yet 
truly know not why, or upon principles of education, and 
because it is esteemed the height of wickedness to do other- 
wise, we shall be at a loss when we are called unto our trial. 
This is the first object of our affections. 

2 D 2 


2. In other spiritual things, renewed affections do 
cleave unto them according as God is in them. God alone 
is loved for himself; all other things for him, in the measure 
and degree of his presence in them. This alone gives them 
pre-eminence in renewed affections ; for instance, God is in 
Christ, in the human nature of the man Christ Jesus, in a 
way and manner singular, in concern alike, incomprehensible ; 
so as he is in the same kind in nothing else. Therefore is 
the Lord Christ, even as unto his human nature, the object 
of our affections in such away and degree, as no other thing, 
spiritual or eternal, but God himself, is or ought to be ; all 
other spiritual things become so from the presence of God 
in them, and from the degree of that presence have they 
their nature and use. Accordingly are they, or ought to be, 
the object of our affections as unto the degree of their exer- 
cise. Evidence of the presence of God in things and per- 
sons are the only attractives of renewed affections. 

3. In those things which seem to stand in an equa- 
lity as unto what is of God in them, yet on some espe- 
cial occasions and reasons, our love may go forth emi- 
nently unto one more than another. Some particular truth, 
with the grace communicated by it, may have been the 
means of our conversion unto God, of our edification in an 
especial manner, of our consolation in distress ; it cannot 
be, but that the mind will have a peculiar respect unto, 
and valuation of, such truths, and the grace administered 
by them. And so it is as unto duties. We may have 
found such a lively intercourse and communication with 
God in some of them, as may give us a peculiar delight in 

But notwithstanding these differences, affections spiritu- 
ally renewed do cleave unto all spiritual things as such. 
For the true formal reason of their so doing, is the same in 
them all, namely, God in them ; only they have several 
ways cf acting themselves towards them, whereof I shall 
give one instance. 

Our Saviour distributes spiritual things into those that 
are heavenly, and those that are earthly, that is compara- 
tively so; John iii. 12. 'If I have told you earthly things, 
and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of 
heavenly things V 


The heavenly things are the deep and mysterious coun- 
sels of the will of God, These renewed affections cleave 
unto with holy admiration and satisfactory submission, cap- 
tivating the understanding unto what it cannot comprehend. 
So the apostle declares it, Rom. xi. 33 — 36. ' O the depth 
of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! 
How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past 
finding out ! for who hath known the mind of the Lord, or 
who hath been his counsellor ? Or who hath first given to 
him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of him. 
and through him, and to him, are all things ; to whom be 
glory for ever. Amen.' What the mind cannot comprehend, 
the heart doth admire and adore, delighting in God, and 
giving glory unto him in all. 

The earthly things intended by our Saviour in that place, 
is the work of God upon the souls of men in their regene- 
ration, wrought here in the earth. Toward these the affec- 
tions act themselves with delight, and with great thanks- 
giving. The experience of the grace of God in and upon 
believers is sweet unto their souls. But one way or other 
they cleave unto them all ; they have not a prevailing aver- 
sation unto any of them. They have a regard unto all God's 
precepts, a delight in all his counsels, a love to himself and 
all his ways. 

Whatever other change is wrought on the affections, if 
they be not spiritually renewed, it is not so with them. For 
as they do not cleave unto any spiritual things, in their own 
true proper nature, in a due manner because of the evidences 
of the presence of God in them, so there are always some 
of them, whereunto those whose affections are not renewed, 
do maintain an aversation and an enmity. And although 
this frame doth not instantly discover itself, yet it will do 
so upon any especial trial. So was it with the hearers of 
our Saviour ; John vi. There was a great impression made 
on their aflfections, by what he taught them concerning * the 
bread of God,* that came down from heaven, and gave life 
unto the world. For they cried thereon, ' Lord, evermore 
(Tive us of this bread;' ver. 34. But when the mystery of it 
was farther explained unto them, they liked it not, but 
cried, 'This is a hard saying, who can bear it ?' ver. 60. and 
thereon fell off' both from him and his doctrine, although. 


they had followed him so long as to be esteemed his dis- 
ciples ; ver. 66. 

I say, therefore, whensoever men's affections are not re- 
newed, whatever other change may have been wrought upon 
them, as they have no true delight in any spiritual things, 
or truths, for themselves and in their own nature, so there 
are some instances wherein they will maintain their natural 
enmity and aversation unto them. This is the first difference 
between affections spiritually renewed, and those which from 
any other causes may have some kind of change wrought in 


Tfte second difference between aff'eciions spiritually renewed and those who 
have been only changed by lirjht and conviction. Grounds and reasons of 
men's delight in duties of divine worship, and of their diligence in their 
performance whose minds are not spiritually minded. 

The second difference lieth herein. That there may be a 
change in the affections, wherein men may have delight in 
the duties of religious worship, and diligence in their ob- 
servance ; but it is the spiritual renovation of the affections 
that gives delight in God through Christ, in any duty of re- 
ligious worship whatever. 

Where the truth of the gospel is known and publicly 
professed, there is great variety in the minds, ways, and 
practices of men about the duties of religious worship. 
Many are profane in their minds and lives, who, practically 
at least, despise, or wholly neglect the observance of them. 
These are stout hearted, and far from righteousness ; Tit. i. 16. 
Some attend unto them formally and cursorily, from the prin- 
ciples of their education, and, it may be, out of some con- 
victions they have of their necessity. But many there are 
who, in the way they choose and are pleased withal, are dili- 
gent in their observance, and that with great delight, who 
yet give no evidence of the spiritual renovation of their 
minds. Yea, the way whereby some express their devotion 
in them, being superstitious and idolatrous, is inconsistent 
with that or any other saving grace. This, therefore, we 


must diligently inquire into, or search into the grounds and 
reasons of men's delight in divine worship, according unto 
their convictions of the way of it, and yet continue in their 
minds altogether unrenewed. And, 

1. Men may be greatly affected with the outward part 
of divine worshi|), and the manner of the performance thereof, 
who have no delight in what is internal, real, and spiritual 
therein ; John v. 35. * He was a burning and a shining light; 
and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in this light.' So 
many were delighted in the preaching of Ezekiel, because of 
his eloquence and elegancy of his parables; chap, xxxiii. 31, 
32. This gave them both delight and diligence in hearing, 
whereon they call themselves the people of God, though 
they continued to live in sin ; their hearts went after covet- 
ousness. The same may befall many at present, with refer- 
ence unto the spiritual gifts of those by whom the word of 
God is dispensed. I deny not but that men may be more 
delighted, more satisfied with the gifts, the preaching, of one 
than another, and yet be sincere in their delight in the dis- 
pensation of the word ; for they may find more spiritual ad- 
vantage thereby, than in the gifts of others, and things so 
prepared as to be suited unto their edification more than 
elsewhere. But that which at present we insist on, hath 
respect only unto some outward circumstances pleasing the 
minds of men ; 2 Tim. 2 — 4. 

This was principally evident under the Old Testament, 
whilst they had carnal ordinances and a worldly sanctuary. 
Ofttimes under that dispensation the people were given up 
unto all sorts of idolatry and superstition. And when (hey 
were not so, yet were the body of them carnal and unholy, 
as is evident from the whole tract of God's dealing with them 
by his prophets, and in his providences. Yet had they great 
delight in the outward solemnities of their worship, placing 
all their trust of acceptance with God therein. They who 
did really and truly believe, looked through them all unto 
Christ, whom they did foresignify ; without which, the things 
were a yoke unto them, and a burden almost insupport- 
able; Acts XV. But those who were carnal delighted in the 
things themselves, and for their sakes rejected him who was 
the life and substance of them all. And thiy proved the 
great means of the apostacy of the Christian church also. 


For to maintain some appearance of spiritual affections, men 
introduced carnal incitations of them into evangelical wor- 
ship ; such as singing with music and pompous ceremonies. 
For they find such things needful to reconcile the worship 
of God unto their minds and affections, and through them 
they appear to have great delight therein. Could some men 
but in their thoughts separate divine service from that out- 
ward order, those methods of variety, show, and melody, 
wherewith they are affected, they would have no delight in 
it, but look upon it as a thing that must be endured. How 
can it be otherwise conceived of among the Papists? they 
will with much earnestness, many evidences of devotion, 
sometimes with difficulty and danger, repair unto their solemn 
worship, and when they are present, understand not one 
word whereby their minds might be excited unto the real 
actings of faith, love, and delight in God. Only order, cere- 
mony, music, and other incentives of carnal affections, make 
great impression on them. Affections spiritually renewed 
are not concerned in those things. Yea, if those in whom 
they are should be engaged in the use of them, they would 
find them means of diverting tlieir minds from the proper 
work of divine worship, rather than an advantage therein. 
It will also appear so unto themselves, unless they are con- 
tent to lose their spiritual affections, acting themselves in 
faith and love, embracing in their stead a carnal imaginary 
devotion. Hence, two persons may at the same time attend 
unto the same ordinances of divine worship with equal de- 
light, on very distinct principles; as if two men should come 
into the same garden planted and adorned with a variety of 
herbs and flowers, one ignorant of the nature of them, the 
other a skilful herbalist. Both may be equally delighted ; 
the one with the colours and smell of the flowers, the other 
with the consideration of their various natures, their uses in 
physical remedies, or the like. So may it be in the hearing 
of the word. For instance, one may be delighted with the 
outward administration, another with its spiritual efficacy, 
at the same time. Hence Austin tells us, that singing in the 
church was laid aside by Athanasius at Alexandria; not the 
people's singing of psalms, but a kind of singing in the 
reading of the Scripture and some offices of worship, which 
began then to be introduced in the church. And the reason 


he gave why he did it was, that the modulation of the voice 
and musical tune might not divert the minds of men from 
that spiritual affection which is required of them in sacred 
duties. What there is of real order in the worship of God, 
as there is that order which is an effect of divine wisdom, it 
is suited and useful unto spiritual affections, because pro- 
ceeding from the same Spirit whereby they are internally 
renewed: 'Beholding your order;' Col. ii. 5. Every thing 
of God's appointment is both helpful and delightful unto 
them. None can say with higher raptures of admiration, 
'How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord !' Psal. Ixxxiv. 
1,2. than they whose affections are renewed. Yet is not their 
delight terminated on them, as we shall see immediately. 

2. Men may be delighted in the performance of out- 
ward duties of divine worship, because in them they com- 
ply with, and give some kind of satisfaction unto, their 
convictions. When conscience is awakened unto a sense 
of the necessities of such duties, namely, of those wherein 
divine worship doth consist, it will give the mind no rest or 
peace in the neglect of them. Let them be attended unto in 
the seasons which light, conviction, and custom call for ; it 
will be so far satisfied as that the mind shall find present 
ease and refreshment in it. And when the soul is wonted 
unto this relief, it will not only be diligent in the perform- 
ance of such duties, it will not only not omit them, but it 
will delight in them, as those which bring them in great ad- 
vantage. Hence many will not omit the duty of prayer 
every morning, who upon the matter are resolved to live in 
sin all the day long. And there are but few who sedulously 
endeavour to live and walk in the frame of their hearts and 
ways answerable unto their own prayers ; yet all that is in 
our prayers, beyond our endeavours to answer it in a con- 
formity of lieart and life, is but the exercise of gifts in 
answer to convictions. Others find an allay of troubles in 
them, like that which sick persons may find by drinking 
cold water in a fever, whose flames are assuaged for a season 
by it. They make them as an antidote against the poison 
and sting of sin, which allayeth its rage, but cannot expel 
its venom. 

Or these duties are unto them like the sacrifices for sin 
under the law. They gave a guilty person present ease. But, 


as the apostle speaks, they made not men perfect. They 
took not away utterly a conscience condemning for sin. 
Presently, on the first omission of duty, a sense of sin again 
returned on them, and that not only as the fact, but as the 
person himself was condemned by the law. Then were the 
sacrifices to be repeated for a renewed propitiation. This 
gave that carnal people such delight and satisfaction in those 
sacrifices, that they trusted unto them for righteousness, 
life, and salvation. So it is with persons who are constant 
in spiritual duties merely from conviction. The performance 
of those duties gives them a present relief and ease ; though 
it heal not their wound, it assuageth their pain, and dispel- 
leth their present fears. Hence are they frequent in them, 
and that ofttimes not without delight, because they find 
ease thereby. And their condition is somewhat dangerous, 
who upon the sense of the guilt of any sin, do betake them- 
selves for relief unto their prayers ; which having discharged, 
they are much at ease in their minds and consciences, al- 
though they have obtained no real sense of the pardon of 
sin, nor any strength against it. 

It will be said. Do not all men, the best of men, perform 
all spiritual duties out of a conviction of their necessity ? do 
not they know it would be their sin to omit them, and so 
find satisfaction in their minds upon their performance? I 
say they do : but it is one thing to perform a duty out of 
conviction of a necessity, as it is God's ordinance, which 
conviction respects only the duty itself; another thing to 
perform it to give satisfaction unto convictions of other 
sins, or to quiet conscience under its trouble about them, 
which latter we speak unto. This begins and ends in self; 
self-satisfaction is the sole design of it. By it men aim 
at some rest and quietness in their own minds, which 
otherwise they cannot attain. But in the performance of 
duties in faith, from a conviction of their necessity as 
God's ordinance, and their use in the way of his grace, the 
soul begins and ends in God. It seeks no satisfaction in 
them, nor finds it from them, but in and from God alone by 

3. The principal reason why men whose affections 
are only changed, not spiritually rerlewed, do delight in holy 
duties of divine worship, is, because they place their righ- 


teousness before God in them, whereon they hope to be ac- 
cepted with him. They know not, they seek not, after any 
other righteousness but what is of their own working out. 
Whatever notions they may have of the righteousness of 
faith, of the righteousness of Christ, that which they practi- 
cally trust xuito, is their own ; and it discovers itself so to 
be in their own consciences on every trial that befals them. 
Yea, when they cry unto the Lord, and pretend unto faith in 
Christ, they quickly make it evident that their principal 
trust is resolved into themselves. Now in all that they can 
plead in a way of duties or obedience, nothing carrieth a fairer 
pretence unto a righteousness, than what they do in the wor- 
ship of God, and the exercise of the acts of religion towards 
hira. This is that which he expects at their hands, what is 
due unto him, in the light of their consciences ; the best 
that they can do to please him, which therefore they must 
put their trust in or nothing. They secretly suppose not 
only that there is a righteousness in these things which will 
answer for itself, but such also as will make compensation, 
in some measure, for their sins ; and therefore, whereas they 
cannot but frequently fall into sin, they relieve themselves 
from the reflection of their consciences by a multiplication 
of duties, and renewed diligence in them. 

It is inconceivable what delight and satisfaction men will 
take in any thing that seems to contribute so much unto a 
righteousness of their own. For it is suitable unto, and 
pleaseth all the principles of nature as corrupt, after it is 
brought under the power of a conviction concerning sin, 
righteousness, and judgment. 

This made the Jews of old so pertinaciously adhere unto 
the ceremonies and sacrifices of the law, and to prefer them 
above the gospel, the kingdom of God, and the righteousness 
thereof; Rom. x. 3, 4. They looked and sought for righ- 
teousness by them. Those who for many generations were 
kept up with great difficulty unto any tolerable observance 
of them, when they had learned to place all their hopes of a 
righteousness in them, would, and did, adhere unto them, 
unto their temporal and eternal ruin ; Rom. ix. 31 — 33. And 
when men were persuaded that righteousness was to be at- 
tained by works of munificence and supposed charity, in the 
dedication of their substance unto the use of the church. 


they who otherwise were covetous, and greedy, and oppress- 
ing, would lavish gold out of the bag, and give up their 
whole patrimony, with all their ill-gotten goods, to attain it ; 
so powerful an influence hath the desire of self-righteousness 
upon the minds of men. It is the best fortification of the 
soul against Christ and the gospel, the last reserve whereby 
it maintains the interest of self against the grace of God. 

Hence, I say, those that place their righteousness, or that 
which is the principal part of it, in the duties of religious 
worship, will not only be diligent in them, but ofttimes 
abound in a multiplication of them. Especially will they do 
so, if they may be performed in such a way and manner, as 
pleaseth their affections with a show of humility and devo- 
tion, requiring nothing of the exercise of faith, or sincere 
divine love therein. So is it with many in all kinds of re- 
ligion, whether the way of their worship be true or false, 
whether it be appointed of God, or rejected by him. And 
the declaration hereof is the subject of the discourse of the 
prophet; Isa. i. 11 19. Also, Micah vi. 7, 8. 

4. The reputation of devotion in religious duties, may 
insensibly affect the unrenewed minds of men with great 
diligence and delight in their performance. However men 
are divided in their apprehension and practice about reli- 
gion ; however different from, and contrary unto, each other, 
their ways of divine worship are ; yet it is amongst all sorts 
of men, yea, in the secret thoughts of them who outwardly 
contemn these things, a matter of reputation to be devout, 
to be diligent, to be strict in and about those duties of reli- 
gion, which, according to their own light and persuasion, 
they judge incumbent on them. This greatly affects the 
minds of men, whilst pride is secretly predominant in 
them ; and they love the praise of men more than the praise 
of God. 

Especially will this consideration prevail on them, when- 
they suppose that the credit and honour of the way which 
they profess, in competition with others, depends much on 
their reputation, as to their strictness, in duties of devo- 
tion. For then will they not only be diligent in themselves, 
but zealous in drawing others unto the same observances. 
These two principles, their own reputation, and that of their 
sect, constituted the life and soul of pharisaism of old. 


According as the minds of men are influenced with these 
apprehensions, so will a love unto, and a delight in, those 
duties, whereby their reputation is attained, thrive and grow 
in them. 

I am far from apprehending that any men are (at least 
I speak not of them who are) such vile hypocrites, as to do 
all that they do in religion to be seen and praised of men, 
being influenced in all public duties thereby, which some 
among the Pharisees were given up unto. But I speak of 
them who being under the convictions and motives before 
mentioned, do also yet give admittance unto this corrupt 
end of desire of reputation, or the praise of men. For 
every such end being admitted and prevalent in the mind, 
will universally influence the affections unto a delight in 
those duties, whereby that end may be attained, until the 
person with whom it is so be habituated unto them with 
great satisfaction. 

5. I should, in the last place, insist on superstition. As 
this is an undue fear of the divine nature, will, and opera- 
tions, built on false notions and apprehensions of them, 
it may befall the minds of men in all religions, true and false. 
It is an internal vice of the mind. As it respects the out- 
ward way and means of religious service, and consists in the 
devout performance of such duties as God indeed accepts 
not, but forbids ; so it belongs only to religion as it is false 
and corrupt. How in both respects it will engage the minds 
of men into the performance of religious duties, and for the 
most part with the most scrupulous diligence, and sometimes 
with prodigious attempts to exceed the measures of human 
nature in what they do design, is too long a work here to 
be declared. It may sufl[ice to have mentioned it araono- the 
causes and reasons why men, whose affections are not spi- 
ritually renewed, may yet greatly delight in the dilicrent 
performance of the outward duties of religion. Our design 
in these things is the discovery of the true nature of this 
grace and duty of being spiritually minded. Hereunto we 
have declared that it is necessary that our affections be spi- 
ritually and supernaturally renewed. And because there 
may be a great change wrought on the affections of men, 
with respect unto spiritual things, where there is nothino- of 
this supernatural renovation ; our present inquiry is, what 


are the differences that are between the actings of the affec- 
tions, of the one sort and of the other ; whether spiritually 
renewed, or occasionally changed? And wherein the great 
exercise of them consists in the duties of religious worship, 
I have declared what are the grounds and reasons whence 
men of unrenewed minds do delight ofttimes in the duties 
of divine worship, and are diligent in the performance of 

From these and the like considerations, it may be made 
manifest that the greatest part of the devotion that is in the 
world doth not spring from the spiritual renovation of the 
minds of men, without which it is not accepted with God. 
That which remains to give in instance, farther evidence 
unto the discovery we are in the pursuit of, is what are the 
grounds and reasons whereon those whose minds and affec- 
tions are spiritually renewed, do delight in the institutions 
of divine worship ; and attend unto their observance with 
great heed and diligence. And because this is an inquiry 
of great importance, and is of great use to be stated in other 
cases, as well as that before us, I shall treat of it by itself 
in the ensuing chapter, that the reader may the more dis- 
tinctly comprehend it, both in the nature of the doctrine 
concerning it, and in the place it holds in our present 


Delight of believers iw the holy institutions of divine worship. The 
grounds and reasons thereof. The evidence of being spiritually minded 
thereby, ^c. 

That all true believers whose minds are spiritually renewed 
have a singular delight in all the institutions and ordinances 
of divine worship is fully evident, both in the examples of 
the saints in the Scripture, and their own experience, which 
they will never forego. For this hath been the greatest 
cause of their suffering persecution; and martyrdom itself, in 
all ao-es. If the primitive Christians under the power of the 
pagan emperors, or the witnesses for Christ under the anti- 
christian apostacy, would, or could have omitted the observ- 
ance of them (according to the advice and practice of the 


Gnostics), they might have escaped the rage of their adver- 
saries. But they loved not their lives, in comparison unto 
that delight which they had in the observance of the com- 
mands of Christ, as unto the duties of evangelical worship. 
David gives us frequently an instance hereof in himself, 
Psal. xlii. 1 — 4. 'As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, 
so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth 
for God, for the living God : when shall I come and appear 
before God ? My tears have been my meat day and night, 
while they continually say unto me. Where is thy God ? When 
I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me : for I 
had gone with the multitude; I went with them to the house 
of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude 
that kept holy-day.' Psal. Ixiii. 1 — 5. *0 God, thou art my 
God ; early will I seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, my 
flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no 
water is ; to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen 
thee in thy sanctuary. Because thy loving-kindness is 
better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I 
bless thee while I live : I will lift up my hands in thy name. 
My soul shall be satisfied, as with marrow and fatness ; and 
ray mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.' Psal. Ixxxiv. 
1 — 4. ' How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts ! 
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the 
Lord ; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. 
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a 
nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine 
altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are 
they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising 
thee. Sekh.' 

But a ' greater than David is here.' Our Lord Jesus 
Christ himself did upon all occasions declare his delight in, 
and zeal, for all the ordinances of divine worship, which was 
then in force by virtue of divine institution and command. 
For although he severely repioved and rejected whatever 
men had added thereunto under the pretence of a superero- 
gating strictness or outward order, laying it all under that 
dreadful sentence, ' Every plant which my heavenly Father 
hath not planted shall be plucked up,' and so cast into the 
Are ; yet as unto what was of divine appointment, his de- 
light therein was singular, and exemplary unto all his dis- 


ciples. With respect hereunto was it said of him, 'that the 
zeal of God's house had eaten him up/ by reason of the 
affliction which he had in his Spirit, to see the worship of it 
neglected, polluted, and despised. This caused him to 
cleanse the temple, the seat of divine worship, from the 
pollutors and pollutions of it, not long before his sufFeiings, 
in the face and unto the high provocation of all his adver- 
saries. So with earnest desire he longed for the celebration 
of his last passover. Luke xxii. 15. * With desire have I 
desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.' And 
it is a sufficient evidence of the frame of spirit and practice 
of his disciples afterward, in reference to the duties of 
evangelical worship by his appointment, that the apostle 
crives it as an assured token of an unsound condition, and 
that which tendeth to final cursed apostacy, when any fall 
into a neglect of them; Heb. x. 25 — 27. 

These things are manifest and unquestionable. But our 
present inquiry is only, what it is which believers do so de- 
light in, in the ordinances and institutions of divine gospel 
worship, and what it is that engageth their hearts and minds 
into a diligent observance of them ; as also how and where- 
in they do exercise their love and delight. And I say, in 
general, that their delight in all ordinances of divine wor- 
ship, as is evident in the testimonies before produced, is in 
Christ himself, or God in Christ. This alone is that which 
they seek after, cleave unto, and are satisfied withal. They 
make use of the streams, but only as means of communica- 
tion from the spring. When men are leally renewed in the 
spirit of their minds, it is so. Their regard unto ordinances 
and duties of divine worship is, as they are appointed of 
God, a blessed means of communion and intercourse be- 
tween himself in Christ, and their souls. By them doth 
Christ communicate of his love and grace unto us ; in and 
by them do we act faith and love on him. It is the treasure 
hid in the field, which, when a 'man hath found, he pur- 
chaseth the whole field ;' but it is that he may enjoy the 
treasure which is hid therein ; Matt. xiii. 14. This field is 
the gospel, and all the ordinances of it. This men do pur- 
chase sometimes at a dear rate, even with the loss of all they 
enjoy. But yet, if they obtain nothing but the field, they 
will have little cause to rejoice in their bargain. It is Christ, 


tlie treasure alone, that pearl of price, that will eternally en- 
rich the soul. The field is to be used only, as to find and 
dig up the treasure that is in it. It is, I say, Christ alone 
that, in the preaching of the gospel, renewed affections do 
cleave unto as the treasure, and unto all other things, ac- 
cording as their relation is unto him, or they have a partici- 
pation of him. Wherefore, in all duties of religion, in all 
ordinances of worship, their inquiry is after him whom their 
souls do love ; Cant. i. 7. 

But yet we must treat more particularly and distinctly 
of these things. Those whose affections are spiritually re- 
newed, do love, adhere unto, and delight in ordinances of 
divine service, and duties of worship; on the grounds and 
reasons ensuing. 

1. In general they do so, as they find faith, and love, 
and delight in God through Christ, excited and acted in and 
by them. This is their first and immediate end in their in- 
stitution. It is a pernicious mistake to suppose that any 
external duties of worship, as hearing the word, prayer, or 
the sacraments, are appointed for themselves, or accepted for 

Such thoughts the Jews of old had concerning their 
sacrifices ; namely, that they were appointed for their own 
sakes, and were acceptable service unto God, merely on their 
own account. Wherefore God, to deliver them from this 
pernicious mistake, affirms ofttimes, that he never appointed 
them at all ; that is, for any such end ; Jer. vii. 22, 23. Isa. i. 
12 — 14, &c. And now under the gospel, sundry things, de- 
structive to the souls of men, have proceeded from such a 
supposition. Some hereon have always satisfied and con- 
tented themselves with the external observance of them, 
without desiring or endeavouring any holy communion with 
God in them, or by them. This constitutes the state and 
condition mentioned, Rev. iii. 1. And by following this 
tract, the generality of Christians do wander out of the way; 
they cannot leave them, nor do know how to use them unto 
their advantage, until they come wholly unto that woful 
state, Isa. xxix. 13. And some, to establish this deceit, have 
taught that there is much more in the outward work of these 
duties, than ever God put into them, and that they are sanc- 
tified merely by virtue of the work wrought. 



But all the duties of the second commandment, as are all 
instituted ordinances of worship, are but means to express 
and exercise those of the first, as faith, love, fear, trust, and 
delight in God. The end of them all is, that through them, 
and by them, we may act those graces on God in Christ. 
Where this is not attended unto, when the souls of men do 
not apply themselves unto this exercise of grace in them, 
let them be never so solemn as to their outward performance, 
be attended unto with diligence, be performed with earnest- 
ness and delight, they are neither acceptable unto God, nor 
beneficial unto themselves ; Isa. i. 11. This therefore is the 
first general spring of the love of believers, of them whose 
affections are spiritually renewed, unto the ordinances of 
divine worship, and their delight in them. They have ex- 
perience that in and by them their faith and love are excited 
unto a gracious exercise of themselves on God in Christ. 
And when they find it otherwise with them, they can have 
no rest in their souls. For this end are they ordained, sancti- 
fied and blessed of God, and therefore are effectual means 
of it, when their efficacy is not defeated by unbelief. 

And those who have no experience hereof in their attend- 
ance unto them, do, as hath been said, fall into pernicious 
extremes. Some continue their observance with little regard 
unto God, in cursed formality. So they make them a means 
of their ruin by countenancing of them in their security. 

Others utterly reject them, at least the most solemn of 
them, and therein both the wisdom, and grace, and authority 
of, God by whom they are appointed : because through the 
power of their own unbelief they find nothing in them. 

This being the immediate end of all divine institutions; 
this being the only way whereby we may give glory unto God 
in their observance, which is their ultimate end in this world; 
and this being the design in general of believers in that 
obedience they yield unto the Lord Christ in their diligent 
observation of them; we may consider how, in what way, 
and by what means, those whose affections are spiritually 
renewed, do and ought to apply their minds and souls unto 
their observance. And we may consider herein, first, what 
they do design ; and then what they endeavour to be found 
in the exercise and practice of, in their use and enjoyment. 

1. They come unto them with this desire, design, and 


expectation, namely, to be enabled, directed, and excited by 
them, unto the exercise of divine faith and love. When it is 
not so with any, where there is not this design, they do in 
various degrees take the name of God in vain, in their ob- 
servance. These are 'approxiraationes Dei,' the 'ways of draw- 
ing nigh unto God,' as they are every where called in Scrip- 
ture. To suppose that a drawing nigh unto God may con- 
sist merely in the outward performance of duty, whatever 
be its solemnity, is to reject all due reverence of him. ' For- 
asmuch,' saith the Lord, * as this people draw near me with 
their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have re- 
moved their hearts far from me, therefore I will proceed 
against them ;' Isa. xxix. 13. The mouth and lips are put, 
by a synecdoche, for all the means of outward worship and 
honour. These men may use, diligently attend unto, whilst 
their hearts are from God ; that is, when they do not draw 
nigh to him by faith and love. But all this worship is re- 
jected of God with the highest tokens of his displeasure and 
indignation against it. 

1. Our souls then have no way of approach unto God 
in duties of worship, but by faith ; no way of adherence or 
cleaving unto him, but by love; no way of abiding in him, 
but by fear, reverence, and delight. Whenever these are 
not in exercise, outward duties of worship are so far from 
being a means of such an approach unto him, as that they 
set us at a greater distance from him than we were before, 
at least are utterly useless and fruitless unto us. So indeed 
they are unto the most who come unto them they know 
not why, and behave themselves under them they care not 
how: nor is there any evil in the hearts and ways of men 
whereof God complaineth more in his word, as that which is 
accompanied with the highest contempt of him. And be- 
cause these ordinances of divine worship are means which 
the wisdom and grace of God hath appointed unto this end, 
namely, the exercise and increase of divine faith and love, 
and therefore doth sanctify and bless them thereunto ; I do 
not believe that they have any delight in the exercise of 
these graces, nor do design growth in them, by whom these 
great means of them are despised or neglected. 

And although I have seen those valleys of public worship 
forsaken, either on pretences of higher attainments in faith, 

2e 2 



light, and love, than to stand in need of them any more, or on 
a foolish opinion, that they cease upon the dispensation of 
the Spirit, which is given unto us to make them useful and 
effectual, or on some provocations that have been given unto 
some men, or which they have taken unto themselves, which 
they have thought they could revenge by a neglect of pub- 
lic administrations, or through slavish peace and negligence 
in times of difficulty, as is the manner of some, who forsake 
the assemblies of the saints; Heb. xvi. 25. yet, I never saw 
but it issued in a great decay, if not in an utter loss of all 
exercise of faith and love, and sometimes in open profane- 
ness. For such persons contemn the way and )neans which 
God in his infinite wisdom and goodness hath appointed for 
their exercise and increase; and this shall not prosper. We 
may, therefore, do well to consider, that the principal way 
whereby we may sanctify the name of God, in all duties of 
his worship, and obtain the benefit of them to our own souls, 
is by a conscientious approach unto them with a holy desire 
and design to be found in the exercise of faith and love on 
God in Christ, and to be helped and guided therein by them. 
To be under an efficacious influence from this design, is 
the best preparation for any duty. So David expresseth his 
delight in the worship of God. ' How amiable are thy 
tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth, yea, even 
fainteth for the courts of the Lord : my heart and my flesh 
crieth out for the living God;' PsaL Ixxxiv. 1, 2. He longed 
for the tabernacle, and the courts of it; but it was the enjoy- 
ment of God himself, the living God, that he desired and 
sought after. This was that which made him so fervent in 
his desires after those ordinances of God. So he expresseth 
it, Psal. Ixiii. 2. ' To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have 
seen thee in the sanctuary.' David had had great commu- 
nion with, and delightin, God, by faith and love, in the solemn 
duties of his worship. And this was that which inflamed him 
with desires after renewed opportunities unto the same end. 
2. This design is not general, inactive, useless, and 
slothful. But such persons diligently endeavour, in the use 
of these ordinances, and attendance unto them, to be found 
in the exercise of these graces. They have not only an ante- 
cedent design to be so, but a diligent actual endeavour after 
it, not suffering their minds by any thing to be diverted from 


the pursuit of that design; Eccles. v. 1. Whatever is not 
quickened and enlivened hereby, they esteem utterly lost. 
Neither outward administrations, nor order, will give them 
satisfaction when these things are wantino- in themselves. 
Without the internal actino-s of the life of faith, external 
administrations of ordinances of worship are but dead 
things. Nor can any believer obtain real satisfaction in 
them, or refreshment by them, without an inward experience 
of faith and love in them, and by them. And it is that which, 
if we are wise, we shall continually attend unto the conside- 
ration of. A watchful Christian will be careful lest he lose 
any one duty, by taking up the carcase of it. And the danger 
of so doing is not small. Our affections are renewed but in 
part. And as they are still liable to be diverted, and seduced 
from spirituality in duty, even by things earthly and carnal, 
through the corruption that remaineth in them ; so there is a 
disposition abiding in them, to be pleased with those external 
things and religious duties, which others, as we have shewed 
before, who are no way graciously renewed, do satisfy them- 
selves withal. The grace and oratory of the speaker in 
preaching of the word, especially in these days wherein 
the foppery of fine language, even in sacred things, is so 
much extolled ; the order and circumstance of other duties, 
with inclination and love unto a party, are apt to insinuate 
themselves with great complacency into our affections, so far 
as they are unrenewed. And these things discover the true 
grounds whence it is that the ordinances of divine worship 
are so useless as they are to many who seem to attend unto 
them with diligence. They may be referred unto these 
three heads. 

1. They do not come unto them, as the means appointed 
of God for the exercise of faith and love unto Christ, so as to 
make it their design in their approaches to them, without 
which, all that is spoken of advantage in and by other duties 
is utterly lost. 

2. They do not in and under them labour to stir up faith 
and love unto their due exercise. 

3. They suffer their minds to be diverted from the ex- 
ercise of these graces, partly by occasional temptations, 
partly by attendance unto what is outward only in the ordi- 
nances themselves. 


Spiritual affections find no place of rest in any of these 
things ; such proposals of God in Christ, of his will, and their 
own duty, as may draw out their faith, love, godly fear, and 
delight into their due exercise, is that which they inquire 
after, and acquiesce in. 

Two thingrs alone doth faith regard in all duties of wor- 
ship as unto the outward administration of it. The one ab- 
solutely, the other comparatively; both with respect unto 
the end mentioned, or the exercise, growth, and increase of 
grace in us. The first is, that they may be of divine ap- 
pointment. Where their original and observance is resolved 
into divine authority, there and there alone will they have a 
divine efficacy. In all these things, faith hath regard to no- 
thing but divine precepts and promises. Whatever hath re- 
gard to any thing else, is not faith, but fancy. And there- 
fore these uncommanded duties in religion, which so abound 
in the papal church, as that if not the whole, yet all the prin- 
cipal parts of their worship consist in them^ are such as in 
whose discharge it is impossible faith should be in a due ex- 
ercise. That which it hath comparative respect unto, is the 
spiritual gifts of them unto whom the administration of the 
ordinances of the gospel, in the public worship of the church 
is committed. With respect unto them, believers may have 
more delight and satisfaction in the ministry of one than of 
another, as was touched before. But this is not because one 
is more learned than another, or more elegant than another, 
hath more ability of speech than another, or fervency in ut- 
terance than another, is more fervent or earnest in his de- 
livery ; but because they find the gifts of one more suited, 
and more effectual to stir up faith and love unto a holy ex- 
ercise in their minds and hearts, than what they find in some 
others. Hence they have a peculiar value for, and delight in, 
the ministry of such persons, especially when they can enjoy 
it in due order, and wifhoutthe offence of others. And mi- 
nisters that are wise, will in holy administrations neglect all 
other things, and attend unto this alone, how they may be 
helpful unto the faith, and love, and joy of believers, so far as 
they are the object of their ministry. 

This is the first reason and ground whereon affections 
spiritually renewed cleave unto ordinances of divine wor- 
ship with delight and satisfaction; namely, because they are 


the means appointed and blessed of God, for the exercise 
and increase of faith and love, with an experience of their 
efficacy unto that end. 

The second is, because they are the means of the com- 
munication of a sense of divine love, and supplies of divine 
grace unto the souls of them that do believe. So far as our 
affections are renewed, this is the most principal attractive 
to cleave unto them with delight and complacency. 

They are, as was observed before, the ways of our ap- 
proaching unto God. Now we do not draw nigh to God, as 
himself speaks, as a * dry hearth, or a barren wilderness,' 
where no refreshment is to be obtained. To make a pretence 
of coming unto God, and not with expectation of receiving 
good and great things from him, is to despise God himself, 
to overthrow the nature of the duty, and deprive our own 
souls of all benefit thereby : and want hereof, is that which 
renders the worship of the most, useless and fruitless unto 
themselves. We are always to come unto God, as unto an 
eternal spring of goodness, grace, and mercy, of all that our 
souls do stand in need of, of all we can desire in order unto 
our everlasting blessedness ; and all these things, as unto 
believers, may be reduced unto the two heads before-men- 

1. They come for a communication of a sense of his 
love in Jesus Christ. Hence doth all our peace, consolation, 
and joy, all our encouragement to do, and suffer according 
to the will of God, all our supportments under our suffer- 
ings, solely depend; in these things do our souls live; and 
without them we are of all men the most miserable. 

It is the Holy Spirit who is the immediate efficient cause 
of all these things in us. He sheds abroad the love of God 
in our hearts; Rom. v. 5. He witnesseth our adoption unto 
us; chap. viii. 15, 16. and thereby an interest in the love 
of the Father, in God, as he is love. But the outward way 
and means whereby he communicates these things unto us, 
and effects them in us, is by the dispensation of the gospel, 
or the preaching of it ordinarily. He doth the same work 
also in prayer, and ofttimes in other holy administrations. 
For this end, for a participation of this grace, of these mer- 
cies, do believers come unto God by them. They use them 
as means to draw 'water from the wells of salvation/ and to 


receive in that spiritual sense of divine love, which God by 
them will communicate. 

So Christ, by his word, knocks at the door of the heart; 
if it be open by faith, he cometh in and suppeth with men, 
giving them a gracious refreshment, by the testimony of his 
own love, and the love of the Father; Rev. iii. 20. John xiv. 
23. This believers look for in, and this they do in various 
measures receive by the ordinances of divine worship. And 
although some, through their fears and temptations, are not 
sensible hereof, yet do they secretly receive these blessed 
gracious supplies whereby their souls are held in life, without 
which they would pine away and perish. So he dealeth with 
them ; Cant. iv. 5, 6. These are the gardens and galleries of 
Christ wherein he gives us of his love; Cant. vii. 12. Those 
who are humble and sincere, know how often their souls have 
been refreshed in them, and how long sometimes the impres- 
sions they have received of divine grace and love have con- 
tinued with them unto their unspeakable consolation. They 
remember what they have received in the opening and ap- 
plication of the 'exceeding great and precious promises,' that 
are given unto them, whereby they are gradually more and 
more made 'partakers of the divine nature;' how many a time 
they have received light in darkness, refreshment under 
despondencies, relief in their conflicts with dangers and 
temptations, in and by them. For this cause do affections 
that are spiritually renewed cleave unto them. Who can but 
love and delight in that which he hath found by experience 
• to be the way and means of communicating unto him the 
most invaluable mercy, the most inestimable benefit, whereof 
in this life he can be made partaker? He who hath found a 
hidden treasure, although he should at once take away the 
whole of it, yet will esteem the place where he found it. But 
if it be of that nature, that no more can be found or taken 
of it at once, but what is sufficient for the present occasion, 
yet is so full and boundless, as that whenever he comes again 
to seek for it, he shall he sure to obtain present supply, he 
will always value it, and constantly apply himself unto it. 
And such is the treasure of grace and divine love, that is in 
the ordinances of divine worship. 

If we are strangers unto these things, if we have never 
received efficacious intimations of divine love unto our 


souls, in and by the duties of divine worship, we cannot love 
them and delight in them as we ought. What do men come 
to hear the word of God for? What do they pray for? What 
do they expect to receive from him ? Do they come unto 
God as the eternal fountain of living waters? As the God of 
all grace, peace, and consolation ? Or do they come unto his 
worship without any design, as unto a dry and empty show? 
Do they fight uncertainly with these things as men beating 
the air? Or do they think they bring something imto God, 
but receive nothing from him? that the best of their busi- 
ness is to please him in doing what he commands ; but to 
receive any thing from him they expect not, nor do ever 
examine themselves whether they have done so or no ? It is 
not for persons who walk in such ways, ever to attain a due 
delight in the ordinances of divine worship. 

Believers have other designs herein; and among the rest, 
this in the first place, that they may be afresh made par- 
takers of refreshing, comforting pledges of the love of God 
in Christ; and thereby of their adoption, of the pardon of 
their sins, and acceptance of their persons. According as 
they meet with these things in the duties of holy worship, 
public or private, so will they love, value, and adhere unto 
them. Some men are full of other thoughts and affections, 
so as that these things are not their principal design or de- 
sire, or are contented with that measure of them which they 
suppose themselves to have attained ; or at least are not sen- 
sible of the need they stand in, to have fresh communications 
of them made unto their souls ; supposing that they can do 
well enough without a renewed sense of divine love every 
day; some are so ignorant of what they ought to design, to 
look after, in the duties of gospel worship, as that it is im- 
possible they should have any real design in them. Many 
of the better sort of professors are too negligent in this 
matter. They do not long and pant in the inward man after 
renewed pledges of the love of God ; they do not consider 
how much need they have of them, that they may be en- 
couraged and strengthened unto all other duties of obedi- 
ence; they do not prepare their minds for their reception 
of them, nor come with expectation of their communication 
unto them; they do not rightly fix their faith on this truth, 
namely, that these holy administrations and duties are apr 


pointed of God in the first place, as the ways end means of 
conveying his love and a sense of it unto our souls. From 
hence springs all that luke-warmness, coldness, and indifFe- 
rency in and unto the duties of holy worship, that are grow- 
ing among us. For if men have lost the principal design of 
faith in them, and disesteem the chiefest benefit which is to 
be obtained by them, whence should zeal for them, delight 
in them, or diligence in attendance unto them, arise ? Let not 
any please themselves under the power of such decays ; they 
are indications of their inward franae, and those infallible. 
Such persons will grow cold, careless, and negUgent, as 
unto the duties of public worship ; they will put themselves 
neither to charge nor trouble about them; every occasion of 
life diverts them, and finds ready entertainment in their 
minds; and when they do attend upon them, it is with great 
indifference and unconcernedness. Yet would they have it 
thought, that all is still well within, as ever it was ; they have 
as good a respect unto religion as any. But these things 
openly discover an ulcerous disease in the very souls of men, 
as evidently as if it were written on their foreheads ; what- 
ever they pretend unto the contrary, they are under the 
power of woful decays from all due regard unto spiritual and 
eternal things. And I would avoid the society of such per- 
sons, as those who carry an infectious disease about them, 
unless it were to help on their cure. 

But herein it is that affections spiritually renewed do 
manifest themselves. When we do delight in, and value the 
duties of God's worship, because we find by experience that 
they are, and have been unto us, means of communicating a 
sense and renewed pledges of the love of God in Christ, with 
all the benefits and privileges which depend thereon ; then 
are our affections renewed in and by the Holy Ghost. 

2. They come for supplies of internal, sanctifying, 
strengthening grace. This is the second great design of be- 
lievers in their approaches unto God in his w^orship. The 
want hereof as unto measures and degrees they find in them- 
selves, and are sensible of it. Yea, therein lies the great 
burden of the souls of believers in this world. All that we 
do in the life of God, may be referred unto two heads. 

1. The observance of all duties of obedience. And, 

2. The conflict with, and conquest over, temptations. 


About these things are we continually exercised. Hence 
the great thing which we desire, labour for, and pant after, 
is spiritual strength and ability for the discharge of our- 
selves in a due manner with respect unto these things. This 
is that which every true believer groaneth after in the inward 
man, and which he preferreth infinitely above all earthly 
things. So he may have grace sufficient in any competent 
measure for these ends, let what will befall him, he desireth 
no more in this world. God in Christ is the only fountain 
of all this grace. There is not one drachm of it to be ob- 
tained but from him alone. And as he doth communicate 
it unto us of his own sovereign goodness and pleasure, so the 
ordinary way and means whereby he will do it, are the 
duties of his worship; Isa. xl.28 — 31. ' Hast thou not known? 
Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the 
Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is 
weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He 
giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might he 
increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be 
weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that 
wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength : they shall 
mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be 
weary ; they shall walk, and not faint.' 

All grace and spiritual strength is originally seated in the 
nature of God ; ver. 28. But what relief can that afford unto 
us who are weak, feeble, fainting ? He will act suitably unto 
his nature, in the communication of this grace and power; 
ver. 29. But how shall we have an interest in this grace, in 
these operations ? wait on him in the ordinances of his wor- 
ship, ver. 31. The word as preached is the food of our 
souls, whereby God administereth growth and strength unto 
them ; John xvii. 17. 1 Pet. ii. 2,3. ' Desire,' says he, * the 
sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.' But 
what encouragement have we thereunto ; ' if so be,' saith he, 
*ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.' If in and by 
the dispensation of this word, you have had experience of 
the grace, the goodness, the kindness of God unto your 
souls, you cannot but desire it and delight in it : and other- 
wise, you will not do so. When men have sat some good 
while under the dispensation of the word, and in the enjoy- 
ment of other ordinances, without tasting in them, and by 


them, that the Lord is gracious, they will grow weary of it 
and them. Wherefore, prayer is the way of his appointment 
for the application of our souls unto him, to obtain a parti- 
cipation of all needful grace, which therefore he has pro- 
posed unto us in the promises of the covenant, that we may 
know what to ask, and how to plead for it. In the Sacra- 
ments the same promises are sealed unto us, and the grace 
represented in them effectually exhibited. Meditation con- 
firms our souls in the exercise of faith about it, and is the 
especial opening of the heart unto the reception of it. By 
these means, I say, doth God communicate all supplies of 
renewing, strengthening, and sanctifying grace unto us, that 
we may live unto him in all holy obedience, and be able to 
get the victory over our temptations. Under this apprehen- 
sion do believers approach unto God in the ordinances of 
his worship. They come unto them as the means of God's 
communication unto their souls. Hence they cleave unto 
them with delight, so far as their affections are renewed. 
So the spouse testifieth of herself; 'I sat down under his 
shadow with great delight ;' Cant. ii. 3. In these ordinances 
is the protecting, refreshing presence of Christ. This she 
rested in with great delight. 

3. As they come unto them with these designs and expec- 
tations, so they have experience of the spiritual benefits and 
advantages which they receive by them, which more and 
more engageth them unto them in their affections and de- 
lights. All these things, those who have a change wrought 
in their affections, but not a spiritual renovation, are strangers 
unto. They neither have the design before mentioned in 
coming to them, nor the experience of this efficacy now pro- 
posed in their attendance on them. But these benefits are 
great ; as for instance, when men find the worth and effect 
of the word preached on their souls in its enlightening, re- 
freshing, strengthening, transforming power ; when they 
find their hearts warmed, their graces excited and strength- 
ened, the love of God improved, their desponding spirits 
under trials and temptations relieved, their whole souls gra- 
dually more and more conformed unto Christ ; when they 
find themselves by it extricated out of snares, doubts, fears, 
temptations, and brought unto sanctification and rest ; they 
cannot but delight in the dispensation of it, and rejoice in it 


as the food of their souls. And it is a great hinderance unto 
the increase of spiritual life, and obstruction unto fruitful- 
ness, thankfulness, and consolation, when we are negligent 
in our meditation about the benefits that we receive by the 
word, and the advantages which we have thereby. For 
whilst it is so with us, we can neither value the grace of 
God, in granting this inestimable privilege, nor perform any 
duty with respect unto it, in a right manner. This renders 
it an especial object of our affections as spiritually renewed. 
That secret love unto, and heavenly delight in, the statutes 
and testimonies of God, which David expresseth, Psal.cxix. 
arose from the spiritual benefit and advantage which he re- 
ceived by them, as he constantly declares. And the sole 
reason, on the other hand, why men grow so careless, negli- 
gent, and cold in their attendance unto the preaching of the 
word, is because they have no experience of any spiritual 
benefit, or advantage by it. They have been brought unto it 
by one means or another, mostly by conviction of their duty. 
Their minds have been variously affected with it, unto a joy 
in the hearing of it, and readiness unto sundry duties of 
obedience. But after awhile, when a sense of those tem- 
porary impressions is worn off, finding no real spiritual be- 
nefit by it, they lose all delight in it, and become very in- 
different as unto its enjoyment. The frame which such per- 
sons at length arrive unto is described, Mai. i. 13. and iii. 14 . 
none can give any greater evidence of the decay of all man- 
ner of grace in them, or of their being destitute of all saving 
grace, than when they apostatize from some degree of zeal 
for, and delight in, the dispensation of the word of God, with 
such a cursed indifferency, as many are overtaken withal. 
It cannot be otherwise. For seeing this is a way and means 
of the exercise of all grace, it will not be neglected, but 
where there is a decay of all grace ; however men may please 
themselves with other pretences. And when they are thus 
insnared, every foolish prejudice, every provocation, every 
wanton opinion and imagination, will confirm them in, and 
increase, their gradual backsliding. 

And as it is with believers, as unto the hearing of the 
word in general, so it is as unto the degrees of advantage 
which they find by it. When men have enjoyed the dispen- 
sation of the word in a peculiar manner, spiritual and effec- 


tual, if they can be content to forego it for that which is 
more cold and lifeless, provided it possesseth the same time 
and outward form with the other, it is no great evidence 
that their souls do prosper. It is, therefore, those alone, 
who having a sense of the efficacy of the word on their souls 
and consciences unto all the holy ends of it, who cleave 
unto it with spiritual love and delight. They continually 
remember what holy impressions it hath made on them, what 
encouragements it hath brought their souls into, what en- 
couragements unto faith and obedience it hath furnished 
them withal, and long after renewed sense of its enjoyments. 
When we do not find in ourselves this foundation of spiritual 
delight in the dispensation of the gospel, we can have no 
great evidence that our affections are renewed. 

So also it is in the duties of prayer and meditation. 
When the soul of a believer hath had experience of the com- 
munion which it hath had of God in them, or either of them, 
of the spiritual refreshment which it hath had from them, of 
the benefits and mercies which are obtained by them in re- 
covery from temptations, snares, despondencies, in victory 
over sin and Satan, in spiritual impressions, working it unto 
a holy watchful frame, which hath abode in it in other ways 
and occasions, with the like advantages wherewith fervent 
and effectual prayer and sincere heavenly meditation are ac- 
companied, it cannot but have love unto them and delight in 
them; but if, indeed, we have no experience of these things, 
if we find not these advantages in and by these duties, they 
cannot but be a burden unto us, nor do serve unto any other 
end but to satisfy convictions. He who had thebenefit of a se- 
rene and wholesome air in a recovery from many diseases and 
distempers, with the preservation of his health so obtained, 
will love it and prize it; and so will he these duties, who hath 
been partaker of any of these saving mercies and privileges 
wherewith they are accompanied. Some have been delivered 
from the worst of temptations, and the nearest approach of 
their prevalency (as to destroy themselves), by a sudden re- 
membrance of the frame of their souls, and the intimations 
of God's love in such or such a prayer, at such a time. 
Some have had the same deliverance from temptations unto 
sin, when they have been carried away under the power of 
their corruptions, and all circumstances have concurred 


under the apprehensions of it : a sudden thought of such a 
prayer or meditation, with the engagement they made of 
themselves therein unto God, hath caused all the weapons of 
sin to fall out of its hands, and all the beauties of its allure- 
ments to disappear. 

When others have been under the power of such despon- 
dencies and disconsolations, as that no present tenders of 
relief can approach unto them, they have been suddenly 
raised and refreshed by the remembrance of the intimate love 
and kindness between Christ and their souls, that hath evi- 
denced itself in former duties. Multitudes in fears, dis- 
tresses, and temptations, have found relief unto their spirits, 
and encouragement unto their faith in the remembrance of 
the returns they have had unto former supplications in the 
like distresses. These are grounds of spiritual delight in 
these duties. 

Heartless, lifeless, wordy prayer, the fruit of convictions 
and gifts, or of custom and outward occasions, however mul- 
tiplied, and whatever devotion they seem to be accompanied 
withal, will never engage spiritual affections unto them. 
When these things are absent, when the soul hath not ex- 
perience of them, prayer is but a lifeless form, a dead car- 
cass, which it would be a torment unto a soul spiritually alive 
to be tied unto. There may be a season indeed, when God 
will seem to hide himself from believers in their prayers, so 
as they shall neither find that life in themselves which they 
have done formerly, nor be sensible of any gracious com- 
munications from him : but this is done only for a time, and 
principally to stir them up unto that fervency and perse- 
verance in prayer, as may recover them into their former, or 
a better estate than yet they have attained unto. The like 
may be said concerning all other duties of religion, or ordi- 
nances of divine worship. 

4. Believers, whose affections are spiritually renewed, 
do delight greatly in the duties of divine worship, because 
they are the great instituted way whereby they may give 
glory unto God. This is the first and principal end of 
all duties of religion as they respect divine appointment, 
namely, to ascribe and give unto God the glory that is his 
due. For in them all, acknowledgment is made of all the 
glorious excellencies of the divine nature, our dependance 


on him, and relation unto him. And this is that which, in 
the first place, believers desij2;n in all the duties of divine 
worship. And the pattern set us by our blessed Saviour in 
the prayer he taught his disciples, directs us thereunto. All 
the first requests of it concern immediately the glory of God, 
and the advancement thereof: for therein also all the bless- 
edness and safety of the church is included. Those who 
fail in this design, do err in all that they do ; they never tend 
unto the mark proposed unto them. But this is that which 
principally animates the souls of them that believe in all 
their duties ; this their universal relation unto him, and love 
in that relation, makes necessary. Wherefore that way and 
means whereby they may directly and solemnly ascribe and 
give glory unto God, is precious and delightful unto them. 
And such are all the duties of divine worship. These are 
some of the things wherein the respect of affections spiritu- 
ally renewed, unto ordinances and duties of divine worship, 
doth differ from the actings of affections toward the same 
object which are not so sanctified and renewed. 

There are yet other things accompanied with the same 
evidence of the difference between affections spiritually re- 
newed, and those which have only a general change wrought 
in them, by convictions and some outward occasions, which 
must in one or two instances more be insisted on, with the 
consideration of such cases as derive from them. For my 
design herein, is not only to declare when our minds are 
spiritually renewed, but also what is the nature and opera- 
tion of our affections, whereby we are constituted and de- 
nominated spiritually minded, which is the subject of our. 
whole inquiry. Herein then we shall proceed. 


Assimilation unto things heavenly and spiritval in affections spiritualhj 
renewed. This assimilation the work of faith: hov;, and whereby. 
Reasons of the want of growth in our spiritual affections as unto this 

When affections are spiritually renewed in their exercise, 
or fixing of themselves on spiritual things ; there is an assi- 
milation wrought in them, and in the whole soul unto those 


spiritual and heavenly things by faith. But when there is 
a change in them only, from other causes and occasions, 
and not from renewing grace, there is an assimilation ef- 
fected of spiritual and heavenly things unto themselves, unto 
those affections, by imagination. 

This must somewhat at large be spoken unto, as. that 
which gives the most eminent distinction between the 
frames of mind, whose difference we inquire into. And to 
that end we shall cast our consideration of it into the en- 
suing observations. 

1. Affections spiritually renewed are in all their actings, 
in their whole exercise, under the guidance and conduct 
of faith. It is faith which, in its spiritual light, hath the 
leading of the soul in the whole life of God : we live here by 
faith, as we shall do hereafter by sight. If our affections 
deviate or decline in the least from the guidance of the faith, 
they degenerate from their spirituality, and give up them- 
selves unto the service of superstition. Next unto corrupt 
secular interest in the management of crafty, selfish seducers, 
this hath been the great inlet of all superstition and false 
worship into the world. Blind affection groping in the dark 
after spiritual things, having not the saving light of faith 
to conduct them, have seduced the minds of men into all 
manner of superstitions, imaginations, and practices, con- 
tinuing to do so at this day. And wherever they will lead 
the way, when faith goeth not before them to discover both 
way and end, they that lead, and the mind that is led, must 
fall into one snare and pit or another. 

Wherefore affections that are spiritually renewed, move 
not, act not, but as faith discovers their object, and directs 
them unto it. It is faith that works by love ; we can love 
nothing sincerely with divine love, but \yhat we believe sav- 
ingly with divine faith. Let our affections unto any spi- 
ritual things be never so vehement, if they spring not from 
faith, if they are not guided by it, they are neither accepted 
with God, nor will promote the interest of spirituality and