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Full text of "The works of John Owen"

pi; ! si'irroy. N. J. 
No. Bool\ -J^ _^ 


The John M. Krebs Donation. 
















And sold by J. Parker, Oxford ; Deighlon and Sons, Cambridge ; D. Brown, 
Waugh and Innes, and H. S. Baynes and Co. Edinburgh ; Clialmers and 
Collins, and M. Ogle, Glasgow; M. Keene, and R. M. Tims, Dublin. 






To tbe reader iii 

A paraphrase 7 

General scope of the whole psalm 9 

The state and condition of the soul represented in the psalm. The two first 
verses opened 11 

Gracious souls may be brought into depths on the account of sin. What those 
depths are 13 

Whence it is that believers may be brought into depths on account of sin. 
Nature of the supplies of grace given in the covenant. How far they extend. 
Principles of the power of sin • • • 20 

What sins usually bring believers into great spiritual distresses. Aggravations 
of these sins 27 

The duty and actings of a believer under distresses from a sense of sin. His 
application unto God. To God alone. Earnestness and intention of mind 
therein 33 

Verse 3. — The words of the verse explained ; and their meaning opened • • • • 46 

What first presents itself to a soul in distress on the account of sin. This opened 
in four propositions. Thoughts of God's making sin, according to the tenor 
of the law, full of dread and terror 48 

The first particular actings of a soul towards a recovery out of the depths of 
sin. Sense of sin, wherein it consists. How it is wrought. Acknowledg- 
ment of siu ; its nature and properties. Self-condemnation 57 

Grounds of miscarriages when persons are convinced of sin and humbled. 
Resting in that state. Resting on it 66 

Verse 4. — The words explained, and the design or scope of .the psalmist in them 
discovered 71 

Propojitions or observations from the former exposition of the words. The first 
proposed to confirmation. No encouragement ftir any sinner to approach 
unto God, without a discovery of forgiveness • '6 


Greatness and rareness of the discovery of forgiveness in God Reasons of it. 
Testimonies of conscience, and law against it, &c. 79 

False presumptions of forgiveness discovered. Differences between Ihem and 
failh evangelical 87 

The true nature of gospel forgiveness. Its relation to the goodness, grace, and 
will of God. To the blood of Christ. To the promise of the gospel. The 
considerations of faith about it 93 

Forgiveness discovered, or revealed only to faith. Reasons ihereof 108 

Discovery of forgiveness in God a great supportnient to sin-entangled souls. 
Particular assurance attainable Ill 

Evidences of forgiveness in God. No inbred notions of any free acts of God's 
will. Forgiveness not revealed bj' the works of nature, nor the law 129 

Discovery of forgiveness in the first promise. The evidence of tlie truth that 
lies therein. And by the institution of sacrifices. Their use and end. Also 
by the prescription of repentance unto sinners 136 

Further evidences of forgiveness with God. Testimonies that God was well 
pleased «ith some that were sinners. The patience of God towards the 
world : an evidence of forgiveness. Experience of the saints of God to the 
same purpose i49 

Institution of religious worship an evidence of forgiveness 170 

The giving and establishing of the new covenant another evidence of forgive- 
ness with God. The oath of God engaged in the confirmation thereof • • • • 182 

The name of God confirming the truth and reality of forgiveness withhira. As 
also the same is done by the properties of his nature 191 

Forgiveness manifested in the sending of the Son of God tu die for sin. And 
from the obligation that is on us to forgive one another 202 

Properties of forgiveness. The greatness and freedom of it 216 

Evidences that most men do not believe forgiveness 223 

Exhortation unto tlie belief of the forgiveness that is «ilh God. Reasons for 
it, and the necessity of it 235 

Rules to be observed by them w])o would come to stability in obedience. The 
first rule. Christ the only infallible judge of our si)iritual condition. How 
he judgeth, by his word and Spirit 268 

Self-condemnation and abhorrency for sin consistent with gospel justification 
and peace. The nature c)f gospel assurance ; what is consistent with it. 
What are the eflfects of it 274 

Continuance in waiting necessary unto peace and consolation. The fourth rule. 
Remove the hindcrances of believing by a searching out of sin. Rules and 
directions for thai duty ' '-82 

The fifth rule. Distinction between unbelief and jealousy. The sixth rule. 
Distinction between failh and spiritual sense ^8^ 

The seventh rule. Mix not foundation and building work together. The 
eighth ; spend not time in heartless complaints, &c. 29.t 


The iiiruh rule. Take heed of undue expressions concerning God and his ways 

in distress ,,„^ 


The tenfh rule. Duly improve the least appearances of God in a « ay of grace 

or pardon „ 

oO j 

Second general head of the application of the truth insisted on. Grounds of 
spiritual disqiiietments considered. The first, afflictions. Ways and means 
of the aggravation of afflictions. Rules about them 307 

Objeclions against believing from things internal. The person knows not 
whether he be regenerate or no. State of regeneration asserted. Difference 
of saving and common grace. This difference discernable. Men may know 
themselves to be regenerate. The objection answered 3I8 

Objections from the present state and condition of the soul : weakness and im- 
perfection of duty. Opposition from indwelling sin 337 

God the proper object of the soul's waiting in its distresses and depths 360 

Considerations of God rendering our waiting on him reasonable and necessary. 
His glorious being 

Influences of the promises info the soul's waiting in time of trouble. The 
of them 




To the serious reader 

: 399 


What sin is consistent with the state of grace, and what not. Sin's great de- 
sign in all, to obtain dominion : it hath it in unbelievers, and contends for it 
in believers. The ways by which it acts 4qk 


The inquiries for understanding the text proposed ; the first spoken to : viz. What 
is the dominion of sin, which we are freed from, and discharged of, by grace • • 409 


The second inquiry spoken to; Whether sin hath dominion in us or no? In 
answer to which it is shewed, that some wear sin's livery, and they are the 
professed servants thereof. There are many in wliich the case is dubious 
where sin's service is not so discernable. Several exceptions are put in 
against its dominion, where it seems to prevail. Some certain signs of its 
dominion. Graces and duties to be exercised for its mortification 420 



liardnrss of heart spoken to, as an eminent sign ut' sin'u dominion, <^nd i» 
shewed, that it ought to be considered as total or partial Uw 


Tiietljird inquiry handled, viz. What is the assurance given as, and what are 
the grounds thereof, that sin shall not have dominion over us ? 

The ground of this assurance is, that we are not under the law but grace. The 
force of this reason shewed, viz. How the law doth not destroy the dominion 
of sin, and how grace dethrones sin and gives dominion over it 4.50 


The practical observations drawn from, and application made of, the whole text • 462 










John V. S9. — Search the Scriptures. 



ROB. GROVE. R. P. HUMPH. Doni. Episc. Lond. h Sac. Dom. 

Octob. 12, 1668. 


Christian Reader, 

The ensuing exposition and discourses are intended 
for the benefit of those, whose spiritual state and con- 
dition is represented in the psahnhere explained. That 
these are not a few, that they are many ; yea, that to 
some part or parts of it, they are all who believe, both 
the Scriptures and their own experience will bear tes- 
timony. Some of them it may be will inquire into, and 
after, their own concernments as they are here declared. 
To be serviceable to their faith, peace, and spiritual 
consolation, hath been the whole of my design. If 
tliey meet vi^ith any discovery of truth, any due appli- 
cation of it to their consciences, any declaration of the 
sense and mind of the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures 
suitable unto their condition, and useful to their edifica- 
tion, much of my end and purpose is obtained. I know 
some there are that dislike all discourses of this nature, 
and look upon them with contempt and scorn. But 
why they should so do, I know not, unless the gospel 
itself, and all the mysteries of it be folly unto them. 
Sin and grace in their original causes, various respects, 
consequents, and ends, are the principal subjects of the 
whole Scripture, of the whole revelation of the will of 
God to mankind. In these do our present and eternal 
concernments lie, and from and by them hath God de- 
signed the great and everlasting exaltation of his own 
glory. Upon these do turn all the transactions that are 
between God and the souls of men. That it should be 
an endeavour needless, or superfluous, to inquire into 
the will of God about, and our own interest in, these 
things, who can imagine ? Two ways there are where- 
in. 3- 


by this may be done. First, speculatively, by a due 
investigation of the nature of these things, according as 
their doctrine is declared in the Scripture. An endea- 
vour according to the mind of God herein, is just and 
commendable, and comprehensive of most of the chief 
heads of divinity. But this is not to be engaged in for 
its own sake. The knowledge of God and spiritual 
things have this proportion unto practical sciences, that 
the end of all its notions and doctrines consists in prac- 
tice. Wherefore, secondly, these things are to be con- 
sidered practically, that is, as the souls and consciences 
of men are actually concerned in them, and conversant 
about them. How men contract the guilt of sin, what 
sense they have, and ought to have, thereof, what dan- 
ger they are liable unto thereon, what perplexities and 
distresses their souls and consciences are reduced to 
thereby, what courses they fix upon for their relief; as 
also what is that grace of God whereby alone they may 
be delivered ; wherein it consists, how it was prepared, 
how purchased, how it is proposed, and how it may be 
attained ; what effects and consequents a participation 
of it doth produce; how in these things faith and obe- 
dience unto God, dependance on him, submission to 
him, waiting for him, are to be exercised; is the princi- 
pal work that those who are called unto the dispensa- 
tion of the gospel ought to inquire into themselves, and 
to acquaint others withal. In the right and due manage- 
ment of these things, whether by writing, or oral in- 
struction, with prudence, diligence, and zeal, doth con- 
sist their principal usefulness in reference unto the glory 
of God, and the everlasting welfare of the souls of men. 
And they are under a great mistake, who suppose it an 
2asy and a common matter to treat of these practical 
things usefully, to the edification of them that do be- 
lieve. Because both the nature of the things themselves, 
with the concerns of the souls and consciences of all 


sorts of persons in them, require that they be handled 
plainly, and without those intermixtures of secular 
learning, and additions of ornaments of speech, which 
discourses of other natures may, or ought to be com- 
posed and set off withal ; some judging by mere outward 
appearances, especially if they be of them from whom 
the true nature of the things themselves treated of are 
hid, are ready to despise and scorn the plain manage- 
ment of them, as that which hath nothing of wisdom or 
learning accompanying of it, no effects of any commend- 
able ability of mind for which it should be esteemed. 
But it is not expressible how great a mistake such per- 
sons, through their own darkness and ignorance, do la- 
bour under. In a right spiritual understanding, in a 
due perception and comprehension of these things, the 
things of the sins of men and grace of God, consists the 
greatest part of that wisdom, of that soundness of mind, 
of that knowledge rightly so called, which the gospel 
commands, exhibits, and puts a valuation upon. To 
reveal and declare them unto others in words of truth 
and soberness, fit and meet to express them unto the un- 
derstandings of men opened and enlightened by the same 
spirit, by whom the things themselves are originally re- 
vealed to derive such sacred spiritual truths from the 
word, and by a due preparation to communicate and ap- 
ply them to the souls and consciences of men, contains a 
principal part of that ministerial skill and ability, which 
are required in the dispensers of the gospel ; and wherein 
a severe exercise of sound learning, judgment and care 
[are] necessary to be found, and maybe fully expressed. 
Into this treasury, towards the service of the house of God, 
it is, that I have cast my mite in the ensuing exposition 
and discourses on the hundred and thirtieth psalm. The 
design of the Holy Ghost was therein to express and re- 
present in the person and condition of the psalmist, the 
case of a soul entangled, and ready to be overwhelmed 


with the guilt of sin, relieved by a discovery of grace 
and forgiveness in God, with its deportment upon a par- 
ticipation of that relief. After the exposition of the 
words of the text, my design and endeavour hath been 
only to enlarge the portraiture here given us in the 
psalm, of a believing soul in and under the condition 
mentioned ; to render the lines of it more visible, and 
to make the character given in its description more legi- 
ble : and withal to o;ive unto others in the like condition 
with the psalmist, a light to understand and discern 
themselves in that image and representation, which is 
here made of them in the person of another. To this 
end have I been forced to enlarge on the two great heads 
of sin and grace ; especially on the latter, here called the 
' forgiveness that is with God.' An interest herein, a 
participation hereof, being our principal concernment 
in this world, and the sole foundation of all our expecta- 
tions of a blessed portion in that which is to come; it cer- 
tainly requires the best and utmost of our endeavours, 
as to look into the nature, causes, and effects of it, so 
especially into the ways and means whereby we may 
be made partakers of it ; and how that participation 
may be secured unto us unto our peace and consola- 
tion; as also into that love, that holiness, that obedience, 
that fruitfulness in good works, which, on the account 
of this grace, God expecteth from us, and requireth at 
our hands. An explication of these things is that which 
I have designed to ensue and follow after in these dis- 
courses, and that with a constant eye, as on the one 
hand to the sole rule and standard of truth, the sacred 
Scriptures, especially that part of it which is under pe- 
culiar consideration ; so on the other to the experience 
and service unto the edification of them that do believe, 
whose spiritual benefit and advantage without any other 
consideration in the world, is aimed at in the publishing 
of them. 





Ver. 1. ' Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 

2. ' Lord, hear my voice ; let thine ears be attentive to the 
voice of my supplications. 

3. * If thou. Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who 
shall stand ? 

4. ' But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest 
be feared. 

5. ' I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his 
word do I hope. 

6. ' My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that 
watch for the morning ; I say, more than they that watch for 
the morning. 

7. ' Let Israel hope in the Lord : for with the Lord there 
is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 

8. * And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.' 


Ver. 1,2. — O Lord, through my manifold sins and provoca- 
tions I have brought myself into great distresses. Mine 
iniquities are always before me, and I am ready to be over- 
whelmed with them, as with a flood of waters ; for they have 
brought me into depths, wherein I am ready to be swallowed 
up. But yet, although my distress be great and perplexing, 
I do not, I dare not, utterly despond and cast away all hopes 
of relief or recovery. Nor do I seek unto any other remedy, 
way, or means of relief, but I apply myself to thee, Jehovah, 
to thee alone. And in this my application unto thee, the 
greatness and urgency of my troubles makes my soul urgent. 


earnest, and pressing in my supplications. Whilst I have 
no rest, I can give thee no rest ; oh, therefore, attend and 
hearken unto the voice of my crying and supplications ! 

Ver. 3. — It is true, O Lord, thou God, great and terrible, 
that if thou shouldest deal with me in this condition, with 
any man living, with the best of thy saints, according to 
the strict and exact tenor of the law, which first represents 
itself to my guilty conscience, and troubled soul; if thou 
shouldest take notice of, observe, and keep in remembrance, 
mine, or their, or the iniquity of any one, to the end that 
thou mightest deal with them, and recompense unto them 
according to the sentence thereof; there would be neither 
for me, nor them, any the least expectation of deliverance ; 
all flesh must fail before thee, and the spirits which thou 
hast made, and that to eternity ; for who could stand before 
thee when thou shouldest so execute thy displeasure? 

Ver. 4. — But, O Lord, this is not absolutely and univer- 
sally the state of things between thy majesty and poor sin- 
ners ; thou art in thy nature infinitely good and gracious, 
ready and free in the purposes of thy will to receive them. 
And there is such a blessed way made for the exercise of 
the holy inclinations and purposes of thy heart towards 
them, in the mediation and blood of thy dear Son, that they 
have assured foundations of concluding and believing, that 
there is pardon and forgiveness with thee for them ; and 
which in the way of thine appointments they may be par- 
takers of. This way, therefore, will I, with all that fear 
thee, persist in : I will not give over, leave thee, or turn from 
thee, through my fears, discouragements, and despondencies ; 
but will abide constantly in the observation of the worship 
which thou hast prescribed ; and the performance of the 
obedience which thou dost require ; having great encourage- 
ments so to do. 

Ver. 5. — And herein, upon the account of the forgive- 
ness that is with thee, O Lord, do I wait with all patience, 
quietness, and perseverance. In this work is my whole soul 
engaged ; even in an earnest expectation of thy approach 
unto me, in a way of grace and mercy. And for my en- 
coura<»;ement therein, hast thou oriven out unto me a blessed 
word of grace, a faithful word of promise, wherein my hope 
is fixed. 


Ver. 6, — Yea, in the performance and discharge of this 
duty, my soul is intent upon thee, and in its whole frame 
turned towards thee, and that with such diligence and watch- 
fulness in looking out after every way and means of thy ap- 
pearance, of the manifestation of thyself, and coming unto 
me, that I excel therein those who with longing desire, heed 
fulness, and earnest expectation, do wait and watch for the 
appearance of the morning; and that either that they may 
rest from their night watches, or have light for the duties of 
thy worship in the temple, which they are most delighted in. 

Ver. 7, 8. — Herein have I found that rest, peace, and 
satisfaction unto my own soul, that I cannot but invite and 
encourage others in the like condition to take the same 
course with me. Let then all the Israel of God, all that 
fear him, learn this of me, and from ray experience. Be not 
hasty in your distresses ; despond not, despair not, turn not 
aside unto other remedies; but hope in the Lord; for I can 
now in an especial manner, give testimony unto this, that 
there is mercy with him suited unto your relief. Yea, what- 
ever your distress be, the redemption that is with him is so 
bounteous, plenteous, and unsearchable, that the undoubted 
issue of your performance of this duty will be, that you 
shall be delivered from the guilt of all your sins, and the 
perplexities of all your troubles. 

General scope of the whole psalm. 

The design of the Holy Ghost in this psalm is to express, in 
the experience of the psalmist, and the working of his faith, 
the state and condition of a soul greatly in itself perplexed, 
relieved on the account of grace, and acting itself towards 
God and his saints, suitably to the discovery of that grace 
unto him. A great design, and full of great instruction. 

And this general prospect gives us the parts and scope of 
the whole psalm : for, 1. We have the state and condition of 
the soul therein represented, with his deportment in and 
under that state and condition, in ver. 1, 2. 

' Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 

'Lord hear my voice; let thine ears be attentive to the 
voice of my supplications.' 


2. His inquiry after relief; and therein are two things 
that present themselves unto him ; the one whereof, which 
first offers the consideration of itself to him in his distress, 
he deprecates, ver 3. 

' If thou. Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who 
shall stand V 

The other he closeth withal, and finds relief in it, and 
supportment by it, ver. 4. 

' But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be 

Upon this his discovery and fixing on relief, there is 
the acting of his faith, and the deportment of his whole 

1, Towards God, ver. 5, 6. 

' I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word 
do I hope. 

* My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that 
watch for the morning ; I say, more than they that watch for 
the morning.' 

2. Towards the saints, ver. 7. 8. 

* Let Israel hope in the Lord : for with the Lord there is 
mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 

' And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.' 

All which parts, and the various concernments of them, 
must be opened severally. 

And this also gives an account of what is my design 
from, and upon the wordsof, this psalm; namely, to declare 
the perplexed entanglements which may befall a gracious 
soul, such a one as this psalmist was ; with the nature and 
proper workings of faith in such a condition ; principally 
aiming at what it is that gives a soul relief and support- 
ment in, and afterward deliverance from, such a perplexed 

The Lord in mercy dispose of these meditations in such 
a way and manner, as that both he that writes, and they 
that read, may be made partakers of the benefit, relief, and 
consolation, intended for his saints in this psalm by the 
Holy Ghost. 


The state and condition of the soul represented in the psalm. The two 
first verses opened. 

The state and condition of the soul here represented, as 
the basis on which the process of the psalm is built, with 
its deportment, or the general acting of its faith in that state, 
is expressed in the two first verses. 

' Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 

* Lord, hear my voice : let thine ears be attentive to the 
voice of my supplications.' 

1. The present state of the soul under consideration is 
included in that expression, ' out of the depths.' 

Some of the ancients, as Chrysostom, suppose this ex- 
pression to relate unto the depths of the heart of the psalm- 
ist; ti ioTiv Ik jdaBiwv ; not from the mouth or tongue only, 
aW airo xapSmf /3a0vrarrjc ; ' but from the depth and bottom 
of the heart ;' t ^ avrCov rrig diavoiag twv [iaOpiov, '■ from the 
deepest recesses of the mind,' 

And, indeed, the word is used to express the depths of 
the hearts of men, but utterly in another sense, Psal. Ixiv. 6. 
' The heart is deep.' 

But the obvious sense of the place, and the constant use 
of the word will not admit of this interpretation ; ' e profun- 
dis,' from pD^ ' profundus fuit,' is CD^pD^O in the plural num- 
ber, ' profunditates,' or ' depths.' It is commonly used for val- 
leys, or any deep places whatever, but especially of waters. 
Valleys and deep places, because of their darkness and soli- 
tariness, are accounted places of horror, helplessness and trou- 
ble, Psal. xxiii. 4. ' When I walk in the valley of the shadow 
of death,' that is, in the extremity of danger and trouble. 

The moral use of the word, as expressing the state and 
condition of the souls of men, is metaphorical. These 
depths then are difficulties, or pressures, attended with fear, 
horror, danger, and trouble. 

And they are of two sorts. 

1. Providential; in respect of outward distresses, cala- 
mities, and afflictions ; Psal. Ixix. 1,2.' Save me, O God ; for 
the waters are come in unto my soul. I stick in the mire of 
the deep, and there is no standing : I am come, CD'O'pDyon 
into the depths of waters, and the flood overflows me.' It is 
trouble, and the extremity of it, that the psalmist complains 

12 A\ tXl't)SITlON 

of, and which he thus expresseth. He was brought by it 
into a condition like unto a man ready to be drowned ; be- 
ing cast into the bottom of deep and miry waters ; where he 
had no firm foundation to stand upon, nor ability to come 
out : as he farther explains himself, ver. 15. 

2. There are internal depths. Depths of conscience 
upon the account of sin ; Psal. Ixxxviii. 6. ' Thou hast laid 
me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.' What he 
intends by this expression, the psalmist declares in the next- 
words, ver. 7. 'Thy wrath lieth hard upon me.' Sense of 
God's wrath upon his conscience upon the account of sin, 
was the deep he was cast into. So, ver. 15. speaking of the 
same matter; saith he, ' I suffer thy terrors ;' and ver. 16. 
* Thy fierce wrath goeth over me.' Which he calls water, 
waves, and deeps ; according to the metaphor before 

And these are the deeps that are here principally in- 
tended, ' Clamat sub molibus et fluctibus iniquitatum sua- 
rum,' says Austin on the place. ' He cries out under the 
weight and waves of his sins.' 

This the ensuing psalm makes evident. Desiring to be 
delivered from these depths out of which he cried, he deals 
with God wholly about mercy and forgiveness ; and it is sin 
alone, from which forgiveness is a deliverance. The doc- 
trine also that he preacheth upon his delivery, is that of 
mercy, grace, and redemption, as is manifest from the close 
of the psalm : and what we have deliverance by, is most 
upon our hearts when we are delivered. 

It is true, indeed, that these deeps do oftentimes concur: 
as David speaks, 'Deep calleth upon deep;' Psal. xlii. 7. 
The deeps of affliction, awaken the conscience to a deep 
sense of sin. But sin is the disease ; affliction only a 
symptom of it ; and in attending a cure, the disease itself 
is principally to be heeded, the symptom will follow, or de- 
part of itself. 

Many interpreters think that this was now David's 
condition; by great trouble and distress, he was greatly 
minded of sin, and we must not therefore wholly pass over 
that intendment of the word, though we are chiefly to re- 
spect that wliich he himself, in this address unto God. did 
principally regard. 


This in general is the state and condition of the soul 
managed in this |3salm ; and is as the key to the ensuing 
discourse, or the hinge on which it turns. As to my intend- 
ment from the psalm, that which ariseth from hence may 
be comprised in these two propositions : 

1. Gracious souls, after much communion with God, 
may be brought into inextricable depths and entanglements 
on the account of sin. For such the psalmist here express- 
eth his own condition to have been ; and such he was. 

2. The inward root of outward distresses, is principally 
to be attended in all pressing trials ; sin, in afflictions. 

Gracious souls may be brought into depths on the account of sin. 
What those depths are. 

Before I proceed at all in the farther opening of the 
words, they having all of them respect unto the proposition 
first laid down, 1 shall explain and confirm the truth ob- 
tained in it; that so it maybe understood, what we say, 
and whereof we do affirm in the whole process of our dis- 

It is a sad truth that we have proposed unto considera- 
tion. He that hears it ought to tremble in himself, that he 
may rest in the day of trouble ; it speaks out the apostle's 
advice, Rom. xi. 20. ' Be not highminded but fear :' and 
that also, 1 Cor. x. 12. * Let him that thinketh he standeth, 
take heed lest he fall.' When Peter had learned this truth 
by woful experience, after all his boldness and frowardness, 
he gives this counsel to all saints : ' that they would pass 
the time of their sojourning here in fear;' 1 Pet. i. 14. Know- 
ing how .near, in our greatest peace and serenity, evil and 
danger may lie at the door. 

Some few instances of the many that are left on record, 
wherein this truth is exemplified, may be mentioned : Gen. 
vi. 9. 'Noah was a just man, perfect in his generation, and 
Noah walked with God.' He did so a long season, and that 
in an evil time, amidst all sorts of temptations, ' when all 
flesh had corrupted its w^ay upon earth,' ver. 12. This put 


an eminency upon his obedience ; and doubtless rendered 
the communion which he had with God in walking before 
him, most sweet and precious to nim. He was a gracious 
soul upon the redoubled testimony of God himself. But we 
know what befell this holy person. He that shall read the 
story that is recorded of him, Gen. ix. 21. will easily grant, 
that he was brought into inextricable distress on the ac- 
count of sin. His own drunkenness, ver. 21. with the!con- 
sequent of it, gives scandal unto, and provokes the unnatu- 
ral lust of his son, ver. 22. and this leads him to the devot- 
ing of that son, and his posterity, unto destruction, ver. 
24, 25. all which joined with the sense of God's just indig- 
nation, from whom he had newly received that tremendously 
miraculous deliverance, must needs overwhelm him with 
sorrow and anxiety of spirit. 

The matter is more clear in David. Under the Old Tes- 
tament none loved God more than he ; none was loved of 
God more than he. The paths of faith and love wherein he 
walked, are unto the most of us, like the way of an eagle in 
the air, too high and hard for us. Yet to this very day, do 
the cries of this man after God's own heart sound in our 
ears. Sometimes he complains of broken bones, sometimes 
of drowning depths, sometimes of waves and water-spouts, 
sometimes of wounds and diseases, sometimes of wrath and 
the sorrows of hell, every where of his sins, the burden and 
trouble of them. Some of the occasions of his depths, dark- 
ness, entanglements, and distresses, we all know. As no 
man had more grace than he, so none is a greater instance 
of the power of sin, and the effects of its guilt upon the con- 
science than he. But instances of this kind are obvious, 
and occur to the thoughts of all, so that they need not be 
repeated. I shall then shew. 

First, What in particular is intended by the depths and 
entanglements on the account of sin, whereinto gracious 
souls, after much communion with God, may be cast. 

Secondly, Whence it comes to pass, that so they may be, 
and that oftentimes so they are. 

For the first, some or all of these things following do 
concur to the depths complained of. 

1. Loss of the wonted sense of the love of God which 
the soul did formerly enjoy. There is a twofold sense of 


the love of God, whereof believers in this world may be 
made partakers. There is the transient acting of the heart 
by the Holy Ghost, with ravishing unspeakable joys, in ap- 
prehension of God's love, and our relation unto him in 
Christ. This, or the immediate "effect of it, is called, 'joy 
unspeakable and full of glory ;' 1 Pet. i. 8. The Holy Ghost 
shining into the heart, with a clear evidence of the soul's in- 
terest in all gospel mercies, causeth it to leap for joy, to 
exult, and triumph in the Lord ; as being for a season car- 
ried above all sense and thought of sin, self-temptation, or 
trouble. But as God gives the bread of his house unto all 
his children, so these dainties, and high cordials, he reserv- 
eth only for the seasons, and persons, wherein, and to whom, 
he knows them to be needful and useful. Believers may 
be without this sense of love, and yet be in no depths. A 
man may be strong and healthy, who hath wholesome food, 
though he never drink spirits and cordials. 

Again, There is an abiding, dwelling sense of God's love 
upon the hearts of those of whom we speak, who have had 
long communion with God, consisting in a prevailing gospel 
persuasion, denoting both the opposition that is made unto 
it, by Satan and unbelief, and its efficacy in the conquest 
thereof. This is the root from whence all that peace and 
ordinary consolation, which believers in this world are made 
partakers of, do spring and grow. This is that which 
quickens and enlivens them unto duty, Psal. cxvi. 12, 13. 
and is the salt that renders their sacrifices and performances 
savoury to God, and refreshing to themselves. This sup- 
ports them under their trials, gives them peace, hope, and 
comfort in life and death. Psal. xxiii. 4. ' Though I walk 
in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for 
thou art with me.' A sense of God's presence in love, is 
sufficient to rebuke all anxiety and fears, in the worst and 
most dreadful condition ; and not only so, but to give in 
the midst of them, solid consolation and joy. So the pro- 
phet expresseth it, Hab. iii. 17, 18. ' Although the fig-tree 
shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; the la- 
bour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no 
meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there 
shall be no herd in the stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will joy in the God of my salvation.' And this is that sense 


of love, which the choicest behevers may lose on the ac- 
count of sin. This is one step into their depths. They 
shall not retain any such gospel apprehension of it, as that 
it should give them rest, peace, or consolation ; that it 
should influence their souls with delight in duty, or sup- 
portment in trial ; and the nature hereof w^ill be afterward 
more fully explained. 

2. Perplexed thoughtfulness about their great and 
wretched unkindness towards God, are another part of the 
depths of sin-entangled souls. So David complains, Psal. 
Ixxvii. 3. ' I remembered God,' saith he, ' and was trou- 
bled.' How comes the remembrance of God to be unto 
him a matter of trouble ? In other places he professeth, that 
it was all his relief and supportment. How comes it to be 
an occasion of his trouble ? All had not been well between 
God and him ; and whereas formerly in his remembrance of 
God, his thoughts were chiefly exercised about his love and 
kindness, now they were wholly possessed with his own sin 
and unkindness. This causeth his trouble. Herein lies a 
share of the entanglements occasioned by sin. Saith such a 
soul in itself. Foolish creature, hast thou thus requited the 
Lord? Is this the return that thou hast made unto him for all 
his love, his kindness, his consolations, mercies ? Is this thy 
kindness for him, thy love to him ? Is this thy kindness to thy 
friend ? Is this thy boasting of him, that thou hadst found so 
much goodness and excellency in him and his love, that 
though all men should forsake him, thou never wouldst do so? 
Are all thy promises, all thy engagements which thou madest 
unto God, in times of distress, upon prevailing obligations, 
and mighty impressions of his good Spirit upon thy soul, now 
come to this, that thou shouldstso foolishly forget, neglect, 
despise, cast him off? Well! now he is gone 5 he is withdrawn 
from thee, and what wilt thou do? Art thou not even ashamed 
to desire him to return ? They were thoughts of this nature, 
that cut Peter to the heart upon his fall. The soul finds 
them cruel as death, and strong as the grave. It is bound 
in the chains of them, and cannot be comforted. Psal. 
xxxviii. 3 — 6. And herein consists a great part of the depths 
inquired after. For this consideration excites, and puts an 
edge upon all grieving, straitening, perplexing aflections, 
which are the only means whereby the soul of a man may 


be inwardly troubled, or trouble itself; such are sorrow and 
shame, with that self-displacency and revenge, wherewith 
they are attended. And as their reason and object in this 
case do transcend all other occasions of them, so on no other 
account do they cause such severe and perplexing reflections 
on the soul as on this. 

3. A revived sense of justly deserved wrath belongs 
also to these depths. This is as the opening of old wounds. 
When men have passed through a sense of wrath, and 
have obtained deliverance and rest through the blood of 
Christ, to come to their old thoughts again, to be trading 
afresh with hell, curse, law, and wrath, it is a depth indeed. 
And this often befalls gracious souls on the account of sin 
Psal. Ixxxviii. 7. ' Thy wrath lieth hard upon me,' saith He- 
man. It pressed and crushed him sorely. There is a self- 
judging as to the desert of wrath, which is consistent with 
a comforting persuasion of an interest in Christ. This the 
soul finds sweetness in, as it lies in a subserviency to the 
exaltation of grace. But in this case, the soul is left under 
it without that relief. It plungeth itself into the curse of 
the law, and flames of hell, without any cheering support- 
ment from the blood of Christ. This is walking in ' the 
valley of the shadow of death.' The soul converseth with 
death, and what seems to lie in a tendency thereunto. The 
Lord also, to increase his perplexities, puts new life and spi- 
rit into the law ; gives it a fresh commission, as it were, to 
take such a one into its custody ; and the law will never in 
this world be wanting unto its duty. 

4. Oppressing apprehensions of temporal judgments, 
concur herein also; for God will judge his people. And 
judgment often begins at the house of God. Thouoh 
God, saith such a one, should not cast me off for ever • 
though he should pardon my iniquities ; yet he may so take 
vengeance of my inventions, as to make me feed on gall and 
wormwood all my days. Psal. cxix. 120. saith David, 'My 
flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judo-- 
ments.' He knows not what the great God may bring upon 
him : and being full of a sense of the guilt of sin, which is 
the bottom of this whole condition, every judgment of God 
is full of terror unto him. Sometimes he thinks God may 
VOL. xiv. c 


lay open the filth of his heart, and make him a scandal and 
a reproach in the world. Psal. xxxix. 8. ' Oh/ saith he, 
'make me not a reproach to the foolish.' Sometimes he 
trembles lest God should strike him suddenly with some 
signal judgment, and take him out of the world, in darkness 
and sorrow ; so saith David, ' Take me not away in thy wrath.' 
Sometimes he fears lest he shall be like Jonah, and raise a 
storm in his family, in the church whereof he is a member, 
or in the whole nation ; ' Let them not be ashamed for my 
sake.' These things make his heart soft, as Job speaks, 
and to melt within him. When any affliction or public 
judgment of God, is fastened to a quick living sense of sin 
in the conscience, it overwhelms the soul ; whether it be 
only justly feared, or be actually inflicted, as was the case 
of Joseph's brethren in Egypt. The soul is then rolled from 
one deep to another. Sense of sin casts it on the consi- 
deration of its affliction ; and affliction turns it back on a 
sense of sin. So deep calleth unto deep, and all God's bil- 
lows go over the soul. And they do each of them make the 
soul tender, and sharpen its sense unto the other. Afflic- 
tion softens the soul ; so that the sense of sin cuts the 
deeper, and makes the larger wounds; and the sense of sin 
weakens the soul, and makes affliction sit the heavier, and 
so increasetli its burden. In this case, that affliction which 
a man in his usual state of spiritual peace, could have 
embraced as a sweet pledge of love, is as goads and 
thorns in his side, depriving him of all rest and quietness ; 
God makes it as thorns and briers, wherewith he will teach 
stubborn souls their duty, as Gideon did the man of Succoth. 
5. There may be added hereunto, prevailing fears for 
a season, of being utterly rejected by God, of being 
found a reprobate at the last day. Jonah seems to conclude 
so, chap. iii. 4. ' Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight.' I 
am lost for ever, God will own me no more. And Heman, 
Psal. Ixxxviii. 4, 5. * I am counted with them that go down 
into the pit : free among the dead, like the slain that lie in 
the grave, whom thou rememberest no more : and they are 
cut off from thy hand.' This may reach the soul, until the 
sorrows of hell encompass it, and lay hold upon it ; until it 
be deprived of comfort, peace, rest, until it be a terror to 


itself, and be ready to choose strangling rather than life. 
This may befall a gracious soul on the account of sin. But 
yet because this fights directly against the life of faith, God 
doth not, unless it be in extraordinary cases, suffer any of 
his to lie long in this horrible 'pit, where there is no water,' 
no refreshment. But this often falls out, that even the 
saints themselves are left for a season to a fearful expectation 
of judgment, and fiery indignation, as to the prevailing ap- 
prehension of their minds. And, 

6. God secretly sends his arrows into the soul, that 
wound and gall it, adding pain, trouble, and disquietness to 
its disconsolation. Psal. xxxviii. 2. ' Thine arrows stick fast 
in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.' Ever and anon in 
his walking, God shot a sharp piercing arrow, fixing it on 
his soul, that galled, wounded, and perplexed him, filling 
him with pain and grievous vexation. These arrows are 
God's rebukes ; Psal. xxxix. 11. 'When thou with rebukes 
dost correct man for iniquity.' God speaks in his word, 
and by his Spirit in the conscience, things sharp and bitter 
to the soul, fastening them so as it cannot shake them out. 
These Job so mournfully complains of, chap. vi. 4. The 
Lord speaks words with that efficacy, that they pierce the 
heart quite through ; and what the issue then is, David de- 
clares, Psal. xxxviii. 3. ' There is no soundness,' saith he, 
' in my flesh, because of thine anger ; nor is there any rest in 
my bones, because of my sin.' The whole person is brought 
under the power of them, and all health and rest is taken 
away. And, 

7. Unspiritedness and disability unto duty, in doing 
or suffering, attend such a condition. Psal. xl. 12. 'Mine 
iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not 
able to look up.' His spiritual strength was worn away by 
sin, so that he was notable to address himself unto any com- 
munion with God. The soul now cannot pray with life and 
power; cannot hear with joy and profit; cannot do good, 
and communicate with cheerfulness and freedom ; cannot 
meditate with delight and heavenly-mindedness ; cannot act 
for God with zeal and liberty ; cannot think of suffering 
with boldness and resolution ; but is sick, weak, feeble, and 
bowed down. 

Now, I say, a gracious soul after much communion with 

c 2 


God, may, on the account of sin, by a sense of the guilt of 
it, be brought into a state and condition, wherein some, more, 
or all of these, with other the like perplexities, may be its 
portion. And these make up the depths whereof the psalmist 
here complains. What are the sins, or of what sorts, that 
ordinarily cast the souls of believers into these depths, shall 
be afterward declared. I shall now shew both whence it 
is that believers may fall into such a condition; as also, 
whence it is that oftentimes they actually do so. 

Whence it is that believers may he brougld into depths on account of sm. 
Nature of the supplies of grace given in the covenant. How far they ex- 
tend. - Principles of the power of sin. 

First, The nature of the covenant wherein all believers now 
walk with God, and wherein all their whole provision for 
obedience is enwrapped, leaves it possible for them to fall 
into these depths that have been mentioned. Under the first 
covenant there was no mercy or forgiveness provided for 
any sin. It was necessary then that it should exhibit a 
sufficiency of grace to preserve them from every sin, or it 
could have been of no use at all. This the righteousness of 
God required, and so it was. To have made a covenant 
wherein there was no provision at all of pardon, and not a 
sufficiency of grace to keep the covenanters from need of 
pardon, was not answerable to the goodness and righteous- 
ness of God. But he made man upright who of his own ac- 
cord sought out many inventions. 

It is not so in the covenant of grace ; there is in it par- 
don provided in the blood of Christ ; it is not therefore of 
indispensable necessity that there should be administered in 
it, grace effectually preserving from every sin : yet it is on 
all accounts to be preferred before the other. For, besides 
the relief by pardon which the other knew nothing of, there 
is in it also much provision against sin, which was not in 
the other. 

1. There is provision made in it, against all and every 
sin that would disannul the covenant, and make a final sepa- 
ration between God and a soul that hath been once taken 


into the bond thereof. This provision is absolute ; God hath 
taken upon himself the making of this good, and the esta- 
blishing this law of the covenant, that it shall not by any 
sin be disannulled; Jer. xxxii. 40. ' I vviir(saith God) ' make 
an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away 
from them to do them good ; but I will put my fear into their 
hearts, that they shall not depart from me.' The security 
hereof depends not on any thing in ourselves. All that is 
in us is to be used as a means of the accomplishment of this 
promise ; but the event or issue depends absolutely on the 
faithfulness of God. And the whole certainty and stability 
of the covenant depends on the efficacy of the grace ad- 
ministered in it, to preserve men from all such sins as would 
disannul it. 

2. There is in this covenant provision made for con- 
stant peace and consolation, notwithstanding, and against 
the guilt of such sins, as through their infirmities and tempta- 
tions believers are daily exposed unto. Though they fall 
into sins every day, yet they do not fall into depths every 
day. In the tenor of this covenant, there is a consistency 
between a sense of sin unto humiliation and peace, with 
strong consolation. After the apostle had described the 
whole conflict that believers have with sin, and the frequent 
wounds which they receive thereby, which makes them cry 
out for deliverance ; Rom. vii, 24. he yet concludes, chap, 
viii. 1. that there is no condemnation unto them, which is a 
sufficient and stable foundation of peace. So 1 John ii. 1. 
' These things have I written unto you, that ye sin not. And 
if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous.' Our great business and care ought 
to be, that we sin not ; but yet when we have done our ut- 
most, ' if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves ;' chap, 
i. 8. What then shall poor, sinful, guilty creatures do? why 
let them go to the Father, by their advocate, and they shall 
not fail of pardon and peace. And, saith Paul, Heb. vi. 17, 
18. 'God is abundantly willing that we might have strong 
consolation, who fly for refuge to lay hold on the hope set 
before us.' What was his condition who fled of old to the 
city of refuge for safety, from whence this expression is 
taken ? He was guilty of blood, though shed at unawares ; 
and so, as that he was to die for it, if he escaped not to the 


city of refuge. Though we may have the guilt of sins upon 
us, that the law pronounceth death unto, yet flying to Christ 
for refuge, God hath provided not only safety, but strong 
consolation for us also. Forgiveness in the blood of Christ, 
doth not only take guilt from the soul, but trouble also from 
the conscience. And in this respect doth the apostle at 
large set forth the excellency of his sacrifice, Heb. x. The 
sacrifices of the old law, he tells us, could not make perfect 
the worshippers, ver. 1. which he proves, ver. 2. because 
they did never take away, thoroughly and really, conscience 
of sin; that is, depths or distresses of conscience about sin. 
But now, saith he, Jesus Christ, in the covenant of grace, 
' hath for ever perfected them that were sanctified,' ver. 14. 
providing for them such stable peace and consolation, as 
that they shall not need the renewing of sacrifices every day ; 
ver. 18. This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood 
of Christ ; that those who sin every day, should have peace 
with God all their days. Provided their sins fall within the 
compass of those infirmities, against which this consolation 
is provided. 

3. There is provision made of grace, to prevent and 
preserve the soul from great and enormous sins, such as in 
their own nature are apt to wound conscience, and cast the 
person into such depths and entanglements as wherein he 
shall have neither rest nor peace. Of what sort these sins 
are, shall be afterward declared. There is in this covenant 
'grace for grace;' John i. 16. and abundance of grace, ad- 
ministered from the all-fulness of Christ. Grace reigneth 
in it ; Rom. vi. 6. destroying and crucifying the body of 

But this provision in the covenant of grace against peace 
ruining, soul-perplexing sins, is not, as to the administration 
of it, absolute. There are covenant commands and exhor- 
tations, on the attendance whereunto, the administration of 
much covenant-grace doth depend. To watch, pray, im- 
prove faith, to stand on our guard continually, to mortify 
sin, to fight against temptations, w^ith steadfastness, diligence, 
constancy, are every where prescribed unto us ; and that in 
order unto the insurance of the grace mentioned. These 
things are on our part, the condition of the administration 
of that abundant grace, which is to preserve us from soul- 

UPOX PSALM cxxx. 23 

entangling-sins. So Peter informs us, 2 Ep. i. 3. ' The di- 
vine power of God hath given unto us all things that pertain 
unto life and godliness. We have from it an habitual fur- 
nishment and provision for obedience at all times. Also, 
saith he, ver. 4. * He hath given unto us great and precious 
promises, that by them we might be partakers of the divine 
nature.' What then is in this blessed estate and condition 
required of us, that we may make a due improvement of the 
provision made for us, and enjoy the comforting influence 
of those promises that he prescribes unto us? ver. 5 — 7. 
' Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue 
knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temper- 
ance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness 
brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity ;' that 
is, carefully and diligently attend to the exercise of all the 
graces of the Spirit, and unto a conversation in all things 
becoming the gospel. What then shall be the issue, if 
these things are attended unto ? ver. 8. ' If these things be 
in you, and abound, ye shall be neither barren nor unfruit- 
ful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.' It is not 
enough that these things be in you ; that you have the seed 
and root of them from and by the Holy Ghost; but you are 
to take care that they flourish and abound ; without which, 
though the root of the matter may be in you, and so you be 
not wholly devoid of spiritual life, yet you will be poor, 
barren, sapless, withering creatures, all your days. But 
now suppose that these things do abound, and we be made 
fruitful thereby, why then saith he, ver. 10. 'If ye do these 
things, ye shall never fall.' What, never fall into sin? Nay, 
that is not in the promise ; and he that says, when he hath 
done all, that he hath no sin, he is a liar. Or is it never 
fall totally from God ? No, the preservation of the elect, of 
whom he speaks, from total apostacy, is not suspended on 
such conditions, especially not on any degree of them, such 
as their abounding imports. But it is that they shall not 
fall into their own sins from which they were ptn-ged ;' ver. 9. 
Such conscience-wasting, and defiling sins, as they lived in, 
in the time and state of their unregeneracy. Thus, though 
there be in the covenant of grace through Jesus Christ, pro- 
vision made of abundant supplies for the soul's preservation 
from entangling sins ; yet their administration hath respect 


unto our diligent attendance unto the means of receiving 
them appointed for us to walk in. 

And here lies the latitude of the new covenant; here lies 
the exercise of renewed free-will. This is the field of free 
voluntary obedience under the administration of gospel 
grace. There are extremes which in respect of the event it 
is not concerned in. To be wholly perfect, to be free from 
every sin, all failings, all infirmities, that is not provided for, 
not promised in this covenant. It is a covenant of mercy 
and pardon, which supposeth a continuance of sin. To fall 
utterly and finally from God, that is absolutely provided 
against. Between these two extremes of absolute perfec- 
tion, and total apostacy, lies the large field of believers' 
obedience and walking with God. Many a sweet heavenly 
passage there is, and many a dangerous depth in this field. 
Some walk near to the one side, some to the other, yea, the 
same person may sometimes press hard after perfection, 
sometimes be cast to the very border of destruction. Now 
between these two, lie many a soul-plunging sin, against 
which no absolute provision is made, and which for want of 
giving all diligence to put the means of preservation in prac- 
tice, believers are oftentimes overtaken withal. 

4. There is not in the covenant of grace, provision 
made of ordinary ^and abiding consolation, for any under 
the guilt of great sins, or sins greatly aggravated, which 
they fall into by a neglect of using and abiding in the fore- 
mentioned conditions of abounding actual grace. Sins there 
are, which either because in their own nature they wound 
and waste conscience, or in their effects break forth into 
scandal, causing the name of God and the gospel to be evil 
spoken of, or in some of their circumstances, are full of un- 
kindness against God, do deprive the soul of its wonted 
consolation. How, by what means, on what account such 
sins come to terrify conscience, to break the bones, to darken 
the soul, and to cast it into inextricable depths, notwith- 
standing the relief that is provided of pardon in the blood 
of Christ, I shall not now declare ; that they will do so, and 
that consolation is not of equal extent with safety, we know. 
Hence God assumes it to himself as an act of mere sovereign 
grace, to speak peace and refreshment unto the souls of his 
saints in their depths of sin-entanglements ; Isa. Ivii. 18, 19. 


And indeed if the Lord had not thus provided, that great 
provocation should stand in need of special reliefs, it might 
justly be feared, that the negligence of believers might pos- 
sibly bring much bitter fruit. 

Only this must be observed by the way, that what is 
spoken relates to the sense of sinners in their own souls, 
and not to the nature of the thing itself. There is in the 
gospel, consolation provided against the greatest, as well as 
the least sins. The difference ariseth from God's sovereign 
communication of it, according to their tenor of the cove- 
nant's administration, which we have laid down. Hence 
because under Moses's law there was an exception made of 
some sins, for which there was no sacrifice appointed, so 
that those who were guilty of them could no way be justified 
from them, that is, carnally, as to their interest in the Ju- 
daical church and polity ; Paul tells the Jews, Acts xiii. 
38, 39. ' That through Jesus Christ was preached unto them 
the forgiveness of sins : and that by him all that believe are 
justified from all things, from which they could not be jus- 
tified by the law of Moses.' There is now no exception of 
any particular sins, as to pardon and peace; but what we 
have spoken relates unto the manner and way, wherein God 
is pleased to administer consolation to the souls of sinning 

And this is the evidence which I shall offer to prove, that 
the souls of believers, after much gracious communion with 
God, may yet fall into inextricable depths on the account of 
sin, whence it is that actually they oftentimes do so, shall 
be farther declared. 

The principles of this assertion are known, I shall there- 
fore only touch upon them. 

First, The nature of indwelling sin, as it remains in the 
best of the saints in this life, being a little considered, will 
evidence unto us, from whence it is, that they are some- 
times surprised, and plunged into the depths mentioned. 

1. Though the strength of every sin be weakened by 
grace, yet the root of no sin, is in this life wholly taken 
away. Lust is like the stubborn Canaanites, who, after the 
general conquest of the land, would dwell in it still ; 
Josh. xvii. 12. Indeed, when Israel grew strong they brought 


them under tribute ; but they could not utterly expel them. 
The kingdom and rule belongs to grace ; and when it grows 
strong it brings sin much under ; but it will not wholly be 
driven out. The body of death is not utterly to be done 
away, but in and by the death of the body. In the flesh 
of the best saints there dwelleth no good thing ; Horn. vii. 8. 
but the contrary is there ; that is, the root of all evil. The 
• flesh lusteth against the Spirit, as the Spirit lusteth against 
the flesh;' Gal. v. 17. As then there is a universality in 
the actings of the Spirit in its opposing all evil, so also there 
is a universality in the actings of the flesh for the further- 
ance of it. 

2. Some lusts or branches of original corruption, do 
obtain in some persons such advantages, either from na- 
ture, custom, employment, society, or the like circumstances, 
that they become like the Canaanites that had iron chariots ; 
it is a very difficult thing to subdue them. Well it is, if war 
be maintained constantly against them, for they will almost 
always be in actual rebellion. 

3. Indwelling sin though weakened, retaineth all its 
properties ; the properties of a thing follow its nature. 
Where the nature of any thing is, there are all its natural 
properties. What are these properties of indwelling sin, I 
should here declare, but that I have handled the whole power 
and efficacy, the nature and properties of it, in a treatise to 
that only purpose. In brief they are such, as it is no won- 
der, that some believers are by them cast into depths ; but 
it is indeed, that any do escape them. But thereof the 
reader may see at large my discourse on this particular 

Secondly, Add hereunto, the power and prevalency of 
temptation ; which because also, I have already, in a special 
discourse to that purpose, insisted on, I shall not here far- 
ther lay open. 

Thirdly, The sovereign pleasure of God in dealing with sin- 
ning saints must also be considered. Divine love and wisdom 
work not towards all in the same manner. God is pleased 
to continue peace unto some with a 'non-abstante,' for great 
provocations. Love shall humble them, and rebukes of kind- 
ness shall recover them from their wanderings. Others lie 
is pleased to bring into the depths weliave been speaking of. 


But yet I may say generally, signal provocations meet with 
one of these two events from God. 

First, Those in whom they are, are left into some signal 
barrenness and fruitlessness in their generations ; they shall 
wither, grow barren, worldly, sapless, and be much cast out 
of the hearts of the people of God. Or, secondly. They 
shall be exercised in these depths, from whence their way 
of deliverance is laid down in this psalm. Thus, I say, God 
deals with his saints in great variety : some shall have all 
their bones broken, when others shall have only the gentle 
strokes of the rod. We are in the hand of mercy, and he 
may deal with us as seems good unto him ; but for our parts, 
great sins ought to be attended with expectations of great 
depths and perplexities. 

And this is the state of the soul proposed in this psalm, 
and by us, unto consideration. These are the depths wherein 
it is entangled ; these are the ways and means whereby it is 
brought into these depths. Its deportment in and under 
this state and condition, lies next in our way. But before 
I proceed thereunto, I shall annex some few things unto 
what hath been delivered, tending to the farther opening of 
the whole case before us. And they are, 1. What are, or of 
what sort those sins are, which usually cast the souls of be- 
lievers into these depths ; and then, 2. Insist on some ag- 
gravations of them. 

What sijis usually bring believers into great spiritual distresses. 
Aggravations of these sins. 

First, Sins in their own nature wasting conscience are of 
this sort. Sins that rise in opposition unto all of God that 
is in us ; that is the light of grace and nature also. Such 
are the sins that cast David into his depths. Such are the 
sins enumerated 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. ' Be not deceived,' saith 
the apostle, ' neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulte- 
rers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 
nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor 
extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.' Certain it 

28 AN EXPOS! TI ox 

is, that believers may fall into some of the sins here men- 
tioned. Some have done so, as is left on record. The apo- 
stle says not, those who have committed any of these sins, 
but such sinners shall not inherit the kingdom of God, that 
is, who live in these, or any of these sins, or any like unto 
them. There is no provision of mercy made for such sinners. 
These and the like are sins which in their own nature, with- 
out the consideration of aggravating circumstances (which 
yet indeed really in believers they can never be without), 
are able to plunge a soul into depths. These sins ciit the 
locks of men's spiritual strength ; and it is in vain for them 
to say, we will go, and do as at other times. Bones are 
not broken without pain ; nor great sins brought on the 
conscience without trouble. But I need not insist on 
these. Some say that they deprive even true believers of 
all their interest in the love of God, but unduly; all grant 
that they bereave them of all comforting evidence, and 
well-grounded assurance of it. So they did David and 
Peter, and herein lies no small part of the depths we are 
searching into. 

Secondly, There are sins which though they do not rise 
up in the conscience with such a bloody guilt as those men- 
tioned, yet by reason of some circumstances and aggrava- 
tions, God takes them so unkindly, as to make them a root 
of disquietness and trouble to the soul all its days. He says 
of some sins of ungodly men, ' As I live, this iniquity shall 
not be purged from you until ye die.' If you are come to this 
height, you shall not escape : I will not spare you. And 
there are provocations in his own people, which may be so 
circumstantiated, as that he will not let them pass, before 
he have cast them into depths, and made them cry out for 
deliverance. Let us consider some of them. 

1. Miscarriages under signal enjoyments of love and 
kindness from God, are of this sort. When God hath given 
unto any one expressive manifestations of his love, convinced 
him of it, made him say in the inmost parts of his heart, 
this is Undeserved love and kindness, then for him to be 
negligent in his walking with God, it carrieth an unkindness 
with it, that shall not be forgotten. It is a remark upon the 
miscarriages of Solomon, that he fell into them after God 
had appeared unto him twice. And all sins under or after 


especial mercies, will meet at one time or other especial re- 
bukes. Nothing doth more distress the conscience of a 
sinner, than the remembrance in darkness of abused light; 
in desertions of neglected love. This God will make them 
sensible of. * Though I have redeemed them,' saith God, 
' yet they have spoken lies against me ;' Hos. vii. 15. So 
chap. xiii. 4 — 7. When God hath in his providence dealt 
graciously with a person, it may be delivered him from 
straits and troubles, set him in a large place, prevented 
him with many fruits and effects of his goodness, blessed 
him in his person, relations, and employments, dealt well 
with his soul, in giving him a gracious sense of his love in 
Christ, for such a one to fall under sinful miscarriages, it 
goes to the heart of God, and shall not be passed over. 
Undervaluations of love, are great provocations. Hath Nabal 
thus requited my kindness? saith David. I cannot bear it. 
And the clearer the convictions of any in this kind were, the 
more severe will their reflections be upon themselves. 

2. Sins under or after great afflictions, are of this im- 
portance also. God doth not afflict willingly, or chasten 
us merely for his pleasure. He doth it to make us par- 
takers of his holiness. To take so little notice of his 
hand herein, as under it, or after it, not to watch against 
the workings and surprisals of sin, it hath unkindness in it; 
*I smote him,' saith God, ' and he went on frowardly in the 
ways of his own heart.' These provocations of his sons 
and dauo'liters he cannot bear with. Hath God brought 
thee into the furnace, so that thou hast melted under his 
hand, and in pity and compassion hath given thee enlarge- 
ment ? if thou hast soon forgotten his dealings with thee, is 
it any wonder, if he mind thee again, by troubles in thy 
soul ? 

3. Breaking off from under strong convictions, and 
dawnings of love before conversion, are oftentimes remem- 
bered upon the conscience afterward. When the Lord by 
his Spirit shall mightily convince the heart of sin, and make 
withal some discoveries of his love, and the excellencies of 
Christ unto it, so that it begins to yield, and be overpow- 
ered, being almost persuaded to be a Christian ; if then 
through the strength of lust, or unbelief, it goes back to the 
world, or self-righteousness; its folly hath unkindness with 


it, that sometimes shall not be passed by. God can, and 
often doth put forth the greatness of his power, for the re- 
covery of such a soul ; but yet he will deal with him about 
this contempt of his love, and the excellency of his Son, in 
in the dawnings of them revealed unto him. 

4. Sudden forgetfulness of endearing manifestations 
of special love. This God cautions his people against, 
as knowing their proneness thereunto, Psal. Ixxxv. 8. * God 
the Lord will speak peace to his people and his saints ; but 
let them not turn again to folly.' Let them take heed of 
their aptness to forget endearing manifestations of special 
love. When God at any time draws nigh to a soul by his 
Spirit, in his word, with gracious words of peace and love, 
giving a sense of his kindness upon the heart by the Holy 
Ghost, so that it is filled with joy unspeakable and glorious 
thereon ; for this soul, upon a temptation, a diversion, or by 
mere carelessness and neglect, which oftentimes falls out, 
to suffer this sense of love to be as it were obliterated, and 
so to lose that influencing efficacy unto obedience which it 
is accompanied withal, this also is full of unkindness. An 
account hereof we have. Cant. v. 1 — 6. In the first verse the 
Lord Jesus draws nigh with full provision of gospel mercies 
for his beloved ; ' I am come unto thee,' saith he, * O ray 
sister ;' I have brought myrrh and spice, honey and wine 
with me : whatever is spiritually sweet and delightful ; 
mercy, grace, peace, consolation, joy, assurance, they are 
all here in readiness for thee ; ver. 2. The spouse in her 
drowsy indisposition takes little notice of this gracious visit; 
she is diverted by other matters, and knows not how to at- 
tend fully and wholly to the blessed communion offered unto 
her; but excuseth herself as otherwise engaged. But what 
is the issue ? Christ withdraws, leaves her in the dark, in 
the midst of many disconsolations, and long it is before she 
obtain any recovery. 

5. Great opportunities for service neglected, and great 
gifts not improved, are oftentimes the occasion of plung- 
ing the soul into great depths. Gifts are given to trade 
withal for God. Opportunities are the market-days for 
that trade. To napkin up the one, and to let slip the other, 
will end in trouble and disconsolation. Disquietments 
and perplexities of heart are worms that will certainly breed 


in the rust of unexercised gifts. God loseth a revenue of 
of glory and honour by such slothful souls ; and he will 
make them sensible of it. I know some at this day, whom 
omissions of opportunities for service, are ready to sink into 
the grave. 

6. Sins, after especial warnings, are usually thus is- 
sued. In all that variety of special warnings which God 
is pleased to use towards sinning saints, I shall single out 
one only. When a soul is wrestling with some lust or temp- 
tation, God by his providence causeth some special word, 
in the preaching of the gospel, or the administration of some 
ordinance thereof, peculiarly suited to the state and con- 
dition of the soul, by the ways of rebuke or persuasion, to 
come nigh and enter the inmost parts of the heart. The 
soul cannot but take notice that God is nigh to him, that 
he is dealing with him; and calling on him to look to him 
for assistance. And he seldom gives such warnings to his 
saints, but that he is nigh them in an eminent manner to 
give them relief and help, if, in answer unto his call, they 
apply themselves unto him ; but if his care and kindness 
herein be neglected, his following reproofs are usually more 

7. Sins that bring scandal, seldom suffer the soul to 
escape depths. Even in great sins, God in chastening 
takes more notice ofttimes of the scandal, than the sin ; as, 
2 Sam. xii. 14. Many professors take little notice of their 
worldliness, their pride, their passion, their lavish tongues ; 
but the world doth, and the gospel is disadvantaged by it; 
and no wonder if themselves find from the hand of the Lord 
the bitter fruits of them in the issue. 

And many other such aggravations of sins there are, 
which heighten provocations in their own nature, not of so 
dreadful an aspect as some others, into a guilt plunging a 
soul into depths. Those which have been named, may 
suffice in the way of instance; which is all that we have 
aimed at, and therefore forbear enlargements on the several 
heads of them. 

The consideration of some aggravations of the guilt of 
these sins, which bring the soul usually into the condition 
before laid down, shall close this discourse. 

1. The soul is furnished with a principle of grace. 


which is continually operative and working for its preserva- 
tion from such sins. The new creature is living and active 
for its own growth, increase, and security, according to the 
tenor of the covenant of grace; Gal. v. 17. It ' lusteth 
against the flesh.' It is naturally active for its own preser- 
vation and increase, as new-born children have a natural 
inclination to the food that will keep them alive, and cause 
them to grow ; 1 Pet. ii. 2. The soul then cannot fall into 
these entangling sins, but it must be with a high neglect 
of that very principle which is bestowed upon it for quite 
contrary ends and purposes. The labourings, lustings, de- 
sires, crying of it, are neglected. Now it is from God, and 
is the renovation of his image in us ; that which God owneth 
and careth for; the wounding of its vitals, the stifling its 
operations, the neglect of its endeavours for the soul's pre- 
servation, do always attend sins of the importance spoken 

2. Whereas this new creature, this principle of life 
and obedience is not able of itself to preserve the soul 
from such sins as will bring it into depths ; there is full pro- 
vision for continual supplies made for it, and all its wants 
in Jesus Christ. There are treasures of relief in Christ, 
whereunto the soul may at any time repair and find succour 
against the incursions of sin. He says to the soul, as David 
unto Abiathar ; when he fled from Doeg : ' Abide with me, 
fear not; he that seeketh my life, seeketh thy life; but with 
me thou shalt be in safety.' Sin is my enemy no less than 
thine ; it seeketh the life of thy soul, and it seeketh my life; 
abide with me, for with me thou shalt be in safety. This the 
apostle exhorts us unto, Heb. iv. 16. ' Let us come boldly 
to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find 
grace to help in time of need.' If ever it be a time of need 
with a soul, it is so when it is under the assaults of provoking 
sins. At such a time there is suitable and seasonable help 
in Christ for succour and relief. The new creature begs 
with sighs and groans, that the soul would apply itself unto 
him. To neglect him with all his provision of grace, whilst 
he stands calling unto us, ' open unto me, for my head is 
filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night ;' 
to despise the sighing of the poor prisoner, the new creature 
by sin appointed to die, cannot but be a high provocation. 


May not God complain and say. See these poor creatures ; 
they were once intrusted with a stock of grace in themselves ; 
this they cast away, and themselves into the utmost misery 
thereby. That they might not utterly perish a second time, 
their portion and stock is now laid up in another; a, safe 
treasurer ; in him are their lives and comforts secured. But 
see their wretched negligence ; they venture all, rather than 
they will attend to him for succour. And what think we is 
the heart of Christ, when lie sees his children giving way 
to conscience-wasting sins, without that application unto 
him, which the life and peace of their own souls calls upon 
them for. These are not sins of daily infirmity, which can- 
not be avoided; but their guilt is always attended with a 
neglect more or less, of the relief provided in Christ against 
them. The means of preservation from them is blessed, 
ready, nigh at hand; the concernment of Christ in our pre- 
servation great, of our souls unspeakable ; to neglect and 
despise means, Christ, souls, peace, and life, must needs 
render guilt very guilty. 

3. Much to the same purpose may be spoken about 
that signal provision that is made against such sins as these 
in the covenant of grace, as hath been already declared. 
But I shall not farther carry on this discourse. 

And this may suffice, as to the state and condition of 
the soul in this psalm represented. We have seen what the 
depths are wherein it is entangled, and by what ways and 
means any one may come to be cast into them. The next 
thing that offers itself unto our consideration, is the deport- 
ment of a gracious soul in that state and condition ; or what 
course it steers towards a delivery. 

The duty and actings of a believer under distresses from a sense of sin. 
His application unto God. To God alone. Earnestness and intention 
of mind therein. 

The words of these two first verses declare also the de- 
portment of the soul in the condition that we have de- 
scribed ; that is, what it doth, and what course it steers for 
relief. ' I have cried unto thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice ; 
let thine ears be attentive to the voice of ray supplications.' 


34 AN Exposmox 

There is in the words a general application made in a 
tendency unto relief; wherein is first to be considered, to 
whom the application is made ; and that is, Jehovah. I have 
cried unto thee, Jehovah. God gave out that name to his 
people to confirm their faith in the stability of his promises; 
Exod. iii. He who is Being himself, will assuredly give 
being and subsistence to his promises. Being to deal with 
God about the promises of grace, he makes his application 
to him under this name ; I call upon thee, Jehovah. 

In the application itself may be observed. 

First, The anthropopathy of the expression. He prays that 
God would cause his ears to be attentive ; after the manner 
of men who seriously attend to what is spoken to them, 
when they turn aside from that which they regard not. 

Secondly, The earnestness of the soul in the work it hath 
in hand, which is evident both from the reduplication of his 
request, * Lord, hear my voice ; let thine ears be attentive to 
my voice ;' and the emphaticalness of the words he maketh 
use of. * Let thine ears,' saith he, ' be r\)^W\) diligently atten- 
tive.' The word signifies the most diligent heedfulness and 
close attention; let thine ears be very attentive; and unto 
what? '313nn blpb, ' to the voice of my supplication :' * depre- 
cationum mearum' generally say interpreters ; of my depre- 
cations, or earnest prayers for the averting of evil, or pu- 
nishment. But the word is from pn * Gratiosus fuit ;* to be 
gracious or merciful ; so that it signifies properly supplica- 
tion for grace. ' Be attentive,' saith he, * O Lord, unto my 
supplications for grace and mercy,' which according to my 
extreme necessity, I now address myself to make unto thee. 
And in these words doth the psalmist set forth in general 
the frame and working of a gracious soul, being cast into 
depths and darkness by sin. 

The foundation of what I shall farther thence pursue, lies 
in these two propositions : 

First, The only attempt of a sinful entangled soul for 
relief, lies in an application to God alone. ' To thee, Je- 
hovah, have I cried ; Lord hear.' 

Secondly, Depths of sin entanglements, will put a gra- 
cious soul on intense and earnest applications unto God ; 
' Lord hear. Lord attend.' Dying men do not use to cry 
out sloth fully for relief. 


What may be thought necessary in general for the di- 
rection of a soul in the state and condition described, shall 
briefly be spoken unto from these two propositions : 

First, Trouble, danger, disquietment, arguing not onl}- 
things evil, but a sense in the mind and soul of them, will of 
themselves put those in whom they are upon seeking re- 
lief. Every thing would naturally be at rest : a drowning 
man needs no exhortation to endeavour his own deliverance 
and safety. And spiritual troubles will in like manner put 
men on attempts for relief. To seek for no remedy, is to be 
senselessly obdurate, or wretchedly desperate, as Cain and 
Judas. We may suppose then that the principal business 
of every soul in depths, is to endeavour deliverance. They 
cannot rest in that condition wherein they have no rest. In 
this endeavour what course a gracious soul steers, is laid 
down in the first proposition, negatively and positively. He 
applies himself not to any thing but God, he applies him- 
self unto God. An eminent instance we have of it in both 
parts; or both to the one side and the other; Hos. xiv. 3. 
' Asshur,' says those poor distressed returning sinners, ' shall 
not save us ; we will not ride upon horses : neither will we say 
anymore to the work of our hands. Ye are our gods : for in 
thee the fatherless findeth mercy.' Their application unto 
God, is attended with a renunciation of every other way 
of relief. 

Several things there are that sinners are apt to apply 
themselves unto for relief in their perplexities, which prove 
unto them as waters that fail. How many things have the 
Romanists invented to deceive souls withal? Saints and an- 
gels, the blessed Virgin, the wood of the cross, confessions, 
penances, masses, pilgrimages, dirges, purgatories, papal 
pardons, works of compensation, and the like, are made en- 
trances for innumerable souls into everlasting ruin. Did 
they know the terror of the Lord, the nature of sin, ai d of 
the mediation of Christ, they would be ashamed and con- 
founded in themselves for these abominations ; they would 
not say unto these their idols, Ye are our gods, come and 
save us. How short do all their contrivances come of his, 
that would fain be offering rivers of oil, ' yea, the fruit of 
his body for the sin of his soul, his first-born for his trans- 
gression ;' Micah vi. 7. who yet gains nothing, but an ao-wra- 

u 2 ^ 


vation of his sin and misery thereby. Yea, the heathens 
went beyond them in devotion and expense. It is no new 
inquiry what course sin-jierplexed souls should take for re- 
lief. From the foundation of the world, the minds of far 
the greatest part of mankind have been exercised in it. As 
was their light or darkness, such was the course they took. 
Among those who were ignorant of God, this inquiry brought 
forth all that diabolical superstition which spread itself over 
the face of the whole world. Gentilism being destroyed 
by the power and efficacy of the gospel, the same inquiry 
working in the minds of darkened men in conjunction with 
other lusts, brought forth the papacy. When men had lost 
a spiritual acquaintance with the covenant of grace, and 
mystery of the gospel, the design of eternal love, and efficacy 
of the blood of Christ, they betook themselves in part, or in 
whole, for relief under their entanglements, unto the broken 
cisterns mentioned. They are of two sorts : self, and other 
things. For those other things which belong unto their 
fafse worship, being abominated by all the saints of God, I 
shall not need to make any farther mention of them. That 
which relates unto self, is not confined unto popery, but con- 
fines itself to the limits of human nature, and is predomi- 
nate over all that are under the law ; that is, to seek for re- 
lief in sin-distresses by self-endeavours, self-righteousness. 
Hence many poor souls in straits apply themselves to them- 
selves. They expect their cure from the same hand that 
wounded them. This was the life of Judaism, as the apostle 
informs us, Rom. x. 3. And all men under the law, are still 
animated by the same principle. They return, but not unto 
the Lord. Finding themselves in depths, in distresses about 
sin, what course do they take? This they will do, that they 
will do no more ; this shall be their ordinary course, and 
that they will do in an extraordinary manner ; as they have 
offended, whence their trouble ariseth, so they will amend, 
and look that their peace should spring from thence, as if 
God and they stood on equal terms. In this way some spend 
all their days ; sinning and amending, amending and sinning, 
without once coming to repentance and peace. This the 
souls of believers watch against. They look on themselves 
as fatherless ; 'in thee the fatherless findeth mercy ;' that is, 
helpless ; without the least ground of hopes in themselves. 


or expectation from themselves. They know their repent- 
ance, their amendment, their supplications, their humilia- 
tions, their fastings, their mortifications, will not relieve 
them. Repent they will, and amend they will, and pray, and 
fast, and humble their souls, for they know these things to 
be their duty; but they know that their goodness extends 
not to him with whom they have to do, nor is he profited by 
their righteousness. They will be in the performance of all 
duties, but they expect not deliverance by any duty. It is 
God, say they, with whom we have to do : our business' is 
to hearken what he will say unto us. 

There are also other ways whereby sinful souls destroy 
themselves by false reliefs. Diversions from their perplex- 
ing thoughtfulness pleaseth them. They will fix on some- 
thing or other that cannot cure their disease, but shall only 
make them forget that they are sick. As Cain under the 
terror of his guilt, departed from the presence of the Lord, 
and sought inward rest in outward labour and employment; 
* he went and built a city ;' Gen. iv. 6. Such courses Saul 
fixed on ; first music, then a witch. Nothing more ordi- 
nary than for men thus to deal with their convictions. They 
see their sickness, feel their wound, and go to the Assyrian ; 
Hos. V. 13. And this insensibly leads men into atheism. 
Frequent applications of creature diversions unto convic- 
tions of sin, are a notable means of bringing on final impe- 
nitency. Some drunkards had, it may be, never been so, had 
they not been first convinced of other sins. They strive to 
stifle the guilt of one sin with another. They fly from them- 
selves unto themselves, from their consciences unto their 
lusts ; and seek for relief from sin by sinning. This is so 
far from believers, that they will not allow lawful thino-s to 
be a diversion of their disti'ess. Use lawful things they may 
and will, but not to divert their thoughts from their dis- 
tresses. These they know must be issued between God and 
them. Wear off they will not, but must be taken away. 
These rocks, and the like whereof there are innumerable, I 
say, a gracious soul takes care to avoid. He knows it is God 
alone who is the Lord of his conscience, where his depths 
lie ; God alone, against whom he hath sinned ; God alone, 
who can pardon his sin. From dealing with him he 
will be neither enticed, nor diverted. ' To thee, O Lord/ 


saith he, ' do I coiue ;' thy word concerning nie must stand ; 
upon thee will I wait; if thou hast no delight in me, I must 
perish. Other remedies I know are vain. I intend not to 
spend my strength for that which is not bread. 'Unto thee 
do I cry.' Here a sin^-entangled soul is to fix itself. Trou- 
ble excites it to look for relief. Many things without it 
present themselves as a diversion ; many things within it, 
offer themselves for a remedy. Forget thy sonow, say the 
former ; ease thyself of it by us, say the latter ; the soul re- 
fuseth both, as j)hysicians of no value, and to God alone 
makes its application. He hath wounded, and he alone can 
.heal. And until any one that is sensible of the guilt of sin, 
will come off from all reserves to deal immediately with 
God, it is in vain for him to expect relief. 

Secondly, Herein it is intense, earnest, and urgent, which 
was the second thing observed. It is no time now to be 
slothful. The souls all, its greatest concernments are at the 
stake. Dull, cold, formal, customary applications to God 
will not serve the turn. Ordinary actings of faith, love, fer- 
vency, usual seasons, opportunities, duties, answer not this 
condition. To do no more than ordinary now, is to do no- 
thing at all. He that puts forth no more strength and acti- 
vity for his deliverance when he is in depths, ready to perish, 
than he doth, or hath need to do, when he is at liberty in 
plain and smooth paths, is scarcely like to escape. Some 
(in such conditions) are careless and negligent ; they think, 
in ordinary course, to wear off their distempers ; and that, 
although at present they are sensible of their danger, they 
shall yet have peace at last ; in which frame there is much 
contempt of God. Some despond and languish away under 
their pressures. Spiritual sloth influenceth both these sorts 
of persons. Let us see the frame under consideration exem- 
plified in another. We have an instance in the spouse. 
Cant. iii. 1 — 3. She had lost the presence of Christ, and so 
was in the very state and condition before described ; ver. 1. 
It was night with her, a time of darkness and disconsolation ; 
and she seeks for her beloved. ' By night on my bed I 
sought him whom my soul loveth.' Christ was absent from 
her, and she was left unto depths and darkness upon that ac- 
count. Wherefore she seeks for him ; but as the most are 
apt to do in the like state and condition. She mends not 


her pace, goes not out of, or beyond, her course of ordinary 
duties ; nor the frame she was usually in at other times. 
But what is the issue ? saith she, * I found him not.' This 
is not a way to recover a sense of lost love ; nor to get out 
of her entanglements. And this puts her on another course ; 
she begins to think that if things continue in this estate, she 
shall be undone. I go on indeed with the performance of duties 
still, but I have not the presence of my beloved ; I meet not 
with Christ in them. My darkness and trouble abides still; 
if I take not some other course, I shall be lost. Well, saith 
she, * I will rise now,' ver. 2. i will shake off all that ease 
and sloth, and customariness, that cleave to me. Some 
more lively, vigorous course must be fixed on. Resolutions 
for new, extraordinary, vigorous, constant applications unto 
God, are the first general step and degree of a sin-entangled 
soul acting towards a recovery ; ' I will rise now.' And what 
doth she do when she is thus resolved ? ' I will,' saith she, 
* go about the streets, and in the broad ways, and seek him 
whom my soul loveth.' I will leave no ways or means un- 
attempted, whereby I may possibly come to a fresh enjoy- 
ment of him. If a inan seek for a friend, he can look for 
him only in the streets, and in the broad ways ; that is, either 
in towns, or in the fields. So will I do, saith the spouse; 
in what way, ordinance, or institution soever, in or by what 
duty soever, public or private, of communion with others, or 
solitary retiredness, Christ ever was, or may be found, or 
peace obtained ; * I will seek him,' and not give over until I 
come to an enjoyment of him. And this frame, this reso- 
lution, a soul in depths must come unto, if ever it expect 
deliverance. For the most part, men's * wounds stink, and 
are corrupt, because of their foolishness;' as the psalmist 
complains, Psal. xxxviii. 5. They are wounded by sin; and 
through spiritual sloth they neglect their cure; this weak- 
ens them, and disquiets them day by day ; yet they endure 
all, rather than they will come out of their carnal ease, to 
deal effectually with God in an extraordinary manner. It 
was otherwise with David, Psal. xxii. 1, 2. 'Why,' saith he, 
' art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of ray 
roaring ? O my God, I cry in the day-time, and in the night 
season, and am not silent.' What ails the man? Can he not 


be quiet night nor day? never silent, never hold his peace? 
And if he be somewhat disquieted, can he not contain him- 
self, but that he must roar, and cry out ? Yea, must he roar 
thus all the day long, as he speaks, Psal. xxxii. 3. and groan 
all the night? as Psal. vi. 6. What is the matter with all 
this roaring, sighing, tears, roaring all the day, all night long? 
Ah ! let him alone, his soul is bitter in him ; he is fallen into 
depths ; the Lord is withdrawn from him ; trouble is hard at 
hand ; yea, he is full of anxiety on the account of sin ; there 
is no quietness and soundness in him ; and he must thus 
earnestly and restlessly apply himself for relief. Alas ! what 
strangers for the most part are men now-a-days to this 
frame ! How little of the workings of this spirit is found 
amongst us ! And is not the reason of it, that we value the 
world more, and heaven and heavenly things less than he 
did? that we can live at a better rate without a sense of the 
love of God in Christ, than he could do ? and is it not hence 
that we every day see so many withering professors, that 
have in a manner lost all communion with God, beyond a 
a little lip-labour, or talking ; the filthy savour of whose 
wounds are offensive to all but themselves ? And so will they 
go on ready to die and perish, rather than with this holy 
man thus stir up themselves to meet the Lord. Heman was 
also like imto him; Psal. Ixxxviii. 11, 12. What sense he 
had of his depths, he declares, ver. 3. ' My soul,' saith he, 
'is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.' 
And what course doth he steer in this heavy, sorrowful, and 
disconsolate condition ? Why, saith he, * O Lord God of my 
salvation, I have cried day and night unto thee ; let my prayer 
come before thee, incline thine ear unto my cry;' ver. 1, 2. 
Day and night he cries to the God of his salvation, and that 
with earnestness and importunity. This was his business, 
this was he exercised about all his days. 

This is that which is aimed at; if a gracious soul be 
brought into the depths before-mentioned and described, by 
reason of sin, when the Lord is pleased to lead him forth 
towards a recovery, he causeth him to be vigorous, and rest- 
less in all the duties whereby he may make application to 
him for deliverance. Now wherein this intenseness and 
earnestness of the soul, in its applications unto God, doth 


principally consist, I shall briefly declare, when I have 
touched a little upon some considerations and grounds that 
stir it up thereunto. 

First, The greatest of men's concernments may well put 
them on this earnestness. Men do not use to deal with dull 
and slothful spirits about their greatest concerns. David 
tells us, that he was more concerned in the light of God's 
countenance, than the men of the world could be in their 
corn and wine ; Psal. iv. 6, 7. Suppose a man of the world 
should have his house, wherein all his stock and riches are 
laid up, set on fire, and so the whole be in danger under his 
eye to be consumed ; would he be calm and quiet in the con- 
sideration of it? Would he not bestir Hmself with all his 
might, and call in all the help he could obtain ? and that be- 
cause his portion, his all, his great concernment lies at 
stake ? And shall the soul be slothful, careless, dull, secure, 
when fire is put to its eternal concernments ? v.hen the light 
of God's countenance, which is of more esteem unto him, 
than the greatest increase of corn and wine can be to the men 
of the world, is removed from him ? It was an argument of 
prodigious security in Jonah, that he was fast asleep when the 
ship wherein he was, was ready to be cast away for his sake. 
And will it be thought less in any soul, who, being in a storm 
of wrath and displeasure from God, sent out into the deep 
after him, shall neglect it, and sleep, as Solomon says, on 
the top of a mast in the midst of the sea? How did that 
poor creature, whose heart Vvas mad on his idols, Judges xviii. 
24. cry out, when he was deprived of them ? ' You have taken 
away my gods,' saith he, ' and what have I more ?' And shall 
a gracious soul lose his God through his own folly, the sense 
of his love, the consolation of his presence, and not with all 
his might follow hard after him ? Peace with God, joy in 
believing, such souls have formerly obtained ; can they live 
without them now, in their ordinary walking ? can they 
choose but cry out with Job, * O that it were with us, as in 
former days, when the candle of the Lord was upon our ta- 
bernacle ;' chap. xxix. 2—4. and with David, ' O Lord, re- 
store unto me the joy of salvation ;' Psal. li. 12. for ' O my 
God/ I remember former enjoyments, and 'my soul is cast 
down within me';' Psal. xlii. 6. They cannot live without it. 
But suppose they might make a sorry shift to pass on in 


their pilgrimage, whilst all is smooth about them ; what will 
they do in the time of outward trials and distresses ? when 
deep calleth unto deep, and one trouble excites and sharpens 
another ? Nothing then will support them, they know, but 
that which is wanting to them; as Hab. iii. 17, 18. Psal. 
xxiii. 4. So that the greatness of their concernment provokes 
them to the earnestness mentioned. 

Secondly, They have a deep sense of these their great 
concernments. All men are equally concerned in the love 
of God, and pardon of sin. Everyone hath a soul of the 
same immortal constitution, equally capable of bliss and 
woe. But yet we see most men are so stupidly sottish, that 
they take little notice of these things. Neither the guilt of 
sin nor the wrath of God, nor death, nor hell, are thought 
on, or esteemed by them ; they are their concernments, but 
they are not sensible of them. But gracious souls have a 
quick, living sense of spiritual things. For, 

1. They have a saving spiritual light, whereby they 
are able to discern the true nature of sin, and the terror of 
the Lord. For though they are now supposed to have lost 
the comforting light of the Spirit ; yet they never lose the 
sanctifying light of the Spirit, the light whereby they are 
enabled to discern spiritual things in a spiritual manner; 
this never utterly departs from them. By this they see sin 
to be 'exceeding sinful ;' Rom. vii. 13. By this they know 
• the terror of the Lord ;' 2 Cor. v. 1 1. and that ' it is a fear- 
ful thing to fall into the hands of the living God ;' Heb. 
X. 13. By this tliey discover the excellency of the love of 
God in Christ, which passeth knowledge, the present sense 
whereof they have lost. By this they are enabled to look 
within the veil, and to take a view of the blessed conso- 
lations which the saints enjoy, whose communion with God 
was never interrupted. This represents to them all the 
sweetness, pleasure, joy, peace, which in former days they 
had whilst God was present with them in love. By this are 
they taught to value all the fruits of the blood of Jesus Christ, 
of the enjoyment of many, whereof they are at present cut 
short and deprived. All which, with other things of the like 
nature and importance, make them very sensible of their con- 

'2. They remember what it cost them formerly to deal 


With God about sin ; and hence they know it is no ordi- 
nary matter they have in hand. They must again to their 
old work ; take the old cup into their hands again. A re- 
covery from depths is as a new conversion. 

Ofttiraes in it, the whole w^ork, as to the soul's appre- 
hension, is gone over afresh. This the soul knows to have 
been a work of dread, terror, and trouble, and trembles in 
itself, at its new trials. And, 

3. The Holy Ghost gives unto poor souls, a fresh sense 
of their deep concernments, on purpose that it may be a 
means to stir them u{) unto these earnest applications unto 
God. The whole work is his, and he carries it on by means 
suited to the compassing of the end he aimeth at. And by 
these means is a gracious soul brought into the frame men- 
tioned. Now there are sundry things that concur in and 
unto this frame. 

First, There is a continual thoughtfulness about the sad 
condition wherein the soul is in its depths. Being deeply 
affected with their condition, they are continually ruminating 
upon it, and pondering it in their minds. So David de- 
clares the case to have been with him, Psal. xxxviii. 2 — 8. 
* Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me 
sore. There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine 
anger ; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my 
sins. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head : as a heavy 
burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are 
corruptbecauseof my foolishness. I am troubled,! am bowed 
down greatly, I go mourning all the day long. I am feeble and 
sore broken; I have roared by reason of the disquietness of 
my heart.' Restlessness, deep thoughtfulness, disquietness 
of heart, continual heaviness of soul, sorrow and anxiety of 
mind, lie at the bottom of the applications we speak of. 
From these principles their prayers flow out ; as David adds, 
ver. 9. ' Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning 
is not hid from thee.' This way all his trouble wroucjht. 
He prayed out of the abundance of his meditation and grief. 
Thoughts of their state and condition lie down with such 
persons, and rise with them ; and accompany them all the 
day long. As Reuben cried, ' The child is not, and I, whi- 
ther shall I go?' so doth such a soul; the love of God is 
not, Christ is not, and I, whither shall I cause my sorrow to 


go ? God is provoked, death is nigh at hand, relief is fat 
away, darkness is about me ; I have lost my peace, my joy, 
my song- in the night. What do I think of duties? Can 
tw^o walk together unless they be agreed ? Can 1 walk with 
God in them, whilst I have thus made him mine enemy ? 
What do I think of ordinances ? Will it do me any good to 
be at Jerusalem, and not see the face of the king? to live 
under ordinances, and not to meet in them with the king of 
saints? May I not justly fear, that the Lord will take his 
Holy Spirit from me, until I be left without remedy ? With 
such thoughts as these are sin-entangled souls exercised, 
and they lie rolling in their minds, in all their applications 
unto God. 

Secondly, We see the application itself consists in, and 
is made by, the prayer of faith, or crying unto God. Now 
this is done with intenseness of mind ; which hath a two- 
fold fruit or propriety : 1. Importunity ; and, 2. Constancy. 

It is said of our blessed Saviour, that when he was in his 
depths, about our sins, that he offered up ' prayers and sup- 
plications with strong cries and tears ;' Heb. v. 7. Strong 
cries and tears express the utmost intension of spirit. And 
David expresseth it by roaring, as we have seen before ; as 
also by sighing, groaning, and panting. A soul in such a 
condition lies down before the Lord, with sighs, groans, 
mourning, cries, tears, and roaring, according to the various 
working of his heart, and its being affected with the things 
that it hath to do ; and this produceth, 

1. Importunity. The power of the importunity of faith 
our Saviour hath marvellously set out, Luke xi. 8 — 10. as 
also, chap, xviii. 1. Importunate prayer is certainly pre- 
vailing. And importunity is, as it were, made up of these 
two things: frequency of interposition, and variety of argu- 
ings. You shall have a man that is importunate come unto 
you seven times a day about the same business ; and after 
all, if any new thought come into his mind, though he had 
resolved to the contrary, he will come again. And there is 
nothing: that can be imao-ined to relate unto the business he 
hath in hand, but he will make use of it, and turn it to the 
furtherance of his plea. So is it in this case. IVlen will 
use both frequency of interposition, and variety of arguings ; 
Psal. Ixxxvi. 1. ' I cry unto thee daily,' or rather, all the day. 


He had but that one business, and he attended it to the pur- 
pose. By this means we give God 'no rest;' Isa. Ixii. 7. 
which is the very character of importunity. Such souls go 
to God ; and they are not satisfied with what they have 
done ; and they go again ; and somewhat abideth still with 
them, and they go to him again ; and the heart is not yet 
emptied, they will go again to him; that he may have no 
rest. What variety of arguments are pleaded with God in 
this case, I could manifest in the same David. But it is 
known to all ; there is not any thing almost that he makes 
not a plea of, the faithfulness, righteousness, name, mercy, 
goodness, and kindness of God in Jesus Christ ; the con- 
cernment of others in him, both the friends and foes of God • 
his own weakness and helplessness, yea, the greatness of sin 
itself : ' Be merciful to my sin,' saith he, * for it is great.' 
Sometimes he begins with some arguments of this kind • 
and then, being a little diverted by other considerations, 
some new plea is suggested unto him by the Spirit, and he 
returns immediately to his first employment and design all 
arguing great intension of mind and spirit. 

2. Constancy also flows from intenseness. Such a 
soul will not give over, until it obtain what it aims at 
and looks for : as we shall see in our process in openino- 
this psalm. 

And this is in general the deportment of a gracious soul 
in the condition here represented unto us. As poor crea- 
tures love their peace, as they love their souls, as they tender 
the glory of God, they are not to be wanting in this duty. 
What is the reason that controversies hang so long between 
God and your souls, that it may be you scarce see a good 
day all your lives ? Is it not for the most part from your 
sloth and despondency of spirit? you will not crjrd up ^jje 
loins of your minds, in dealing with God, to put them to a 
speedy issue in the blood of Christ. You go on and off 
begin and cease, try and give over; and for the most part, 
though your case be extraordinary, content yourselves with 
ordinary and customary applications unto God. This makes 
you wither, become useless, and pine away in and under 
your perplexities. David did not so; but after many and 
many a breach made by sin, yet through quick, vigorous, 
restless actings of faith, all was repaired, so that he lived 


peaceably, and died triumphantly. Up then and be doing; 
let not your * wounds cori'upt because of your folly ;' make 
thorough work of that which lies before you; be it long, or 
difficult, it is all one, it must be done, and is attended with 
safety ; what you are like to meet withal in the first place, 
shall nextly be declared. 

Ver. ;5. — TheuorfU of the verse explained ; and their meaning opened. 

The general frame of a gracious soul in its perplexities 
about sin, hath been declared. Its particular actings, what 
it doth, what it meets withal, are nextly represented unto us. 

First, then, in particular, it cries out, * If thou. Lord, 
shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand V 

There is in the words a supposition, and an inference on 
that supposition. In the supposition, there is, first, the 
name of God that is fixed on, as suited unto it. And, se- 
condly, the thing itself supposed. In the inference, there is 
expressed the matter of it, to stand ; and the manner of its 
proposal, wherein two things occur: 1. That it is expressed 
by way of interrogation. 2. The indefiniteness of that in- 
terrogation ; Who shall stand ? 

' If thou, Lord ;' he here fixes on another name of God ; 
which is Jah. A name though from the same root with the 
former, yet seldom used, but to intimate and express the ter- 
rible majesty of God. ' He rideth on the heavens, and is 
extolled by his name Jah;' Psal. Ixviii. 4. He is to deal 
now with God about the guilt of sin ; and God is represented 
to the soul as great and terrible ; that he may know what to 
expect and look for, if the matter must be tried out according 
to the demerit of sin. 

What then saith he to Jah I "iD^'n mJij; CDX ' If thou 
shouldest mark iniquities.' -iDti' is to observe and keep as in 
safe custody ; to keep, preserve, and watch diligently. So 
to remark and observe, as to retain that which is observed, 
to ponder it, and lay it up in the heart; Gen. xxxvii. 11. 
Jacob observed Joseph's dream ; that is, he retained the me- 
mory of it, and pondered it in his heart. 


The marking of iniquities then here intended, is God's so 
far considering and observing of them, as to reserve them 
for punishment and vengeance. In opposition unto this 
marking, he is said not to see sin, to overlook it, to cover it. 
or remember it no more; that is, to forgive it, as the next 
verse declares. 

I need not shew that God so far marks all sins in all per- 
sons, as to see them, know them, disallow them, and to be 
displeased with them. This cannot be denied without taking 
away of all grounds of fear and worship. To deny it, is all 
one as to deny the very being of God ; deny his holiness and 
righteousness, and you deny his existence. But there is a day 
appointed, wherein all the men of the world shall know that 
God knew and took notice of all and every one of their most 
secret sins. There is then a double marking of sin in God, 
neither of which can be denied in reference unto any sins, 
in any persons. The first is physical, consisting in his om- 
niscience, whereunto all things are open and naked. Thus 
no sin is hid from him ; the secretest are before the light of 
his countenance. All are marked by him. Secondly, moral ; 
in a displacency with, or displeasure against, every sin, which 
is inseparable from the nature of God, upon the account of 
his holiness. And this is declared in the sentence of the law, 
and that equally to all men in the world. But the marking 
here intended, is that which is in a tendency to animadver- 
sion and punishment according to the tenor of the law. Not 
only the sentence of the law, but a will of punishing accord- 
ing to it, is included in it. If, saith the psalmist, thou the 
great and dreadful God, who art extolled by the glorious 
name, Jah, shouldest take notice of iniquities, so as to recom- 
pense sinners that come unto thee according to the severity 
and exigence of thy holy law. What then ? It is answered 
by the matter of the proposal. Who can stand ? That is, none 
can so do; to yap rig IvravOtv ovSiXg tWtv, says Chrysostom. 
This who, is none : no man; not one in the world. "TDy> >d 
' quis stabit,' or ' consistet;' who can stand, or abide and 
endure the trial. Everyone on this supposition must perish, 
and that eternally. This the desert of sin, and the curse of 
the law, which is the rule of this marking of their iniquity, 
doth require. And there is a notable emphasis in the inter- 
rogation, which contains the manner of the inference. Who 


can stand? is more than if he had said, none can abide the 
trial, and escape without everlasting ruin. For the interro- 
gation is indefinite; not, how can I? but, who can stand? 
When the Holy Ghost would set out the certainty, and 
dreadfulness of the perishing of ungodly men, he doth it by 
such a kind of expression, wherein there is a deeper sense 
intimated into the minds of men, that any words can well 
clothe or declare. 1 Pet. iy. 17. 'What shall be the end of 
them that obey not the gospel?' and ver. 18. ' Where shall 
the ungodly and the sinner appear?' So here, 'Who can 
stand?' There is a deep insinuation of a dreadful ruin, as unto 
all with whom God shall so deal, as to mark their iniquities. 
See Psal. i. 5. 

The psalmist then addressing himself to deal with God 
about sin, lays down in the first place in the general, how 
things must go, not with himself only, but with all the world, 
upon the supposition he had fixed. This is not my case only ; 
but it is so with all mankind, every one who is partaker of 
flesh and blood ; whether their guilt answer that, which I 
am oppressed withal or no ; all is one ; guilty they are all, 
and all must perish. How much more must that needs be my 
condition, who have contracted so great a guilt as I have 
done. Here then he lays a great argument against himself, 
on the supposition before laid down. If none, the holiest, 
the humblest, the most believing soul, can abide the trial, 
can endure ; how much less can I, who am the chiefest of 
sinners, the least of saints, who come unspeakably behind 
them" in holiness, and have equally gone beyond them in sin ? 

This is the sense and importance of the words ; let us 
now consider how they are expressive of the actings of the 
soul whose state and condition is here represented unto us, 
and what directions they will afford unto us, to give unto 
them who are fallen into the same state. 

What first presents itself to a soul in distress on the account of sin. This 
opened in four propositions. Tiiovghts of God's mulling sin, according- to 
the tenor of the law, full of dread and ttrror. 

What depths the psalmist was in, hath been declared ; in 
them, what resolution he takes upon himself to seek God 


alone for relief and recovery, hath been also shewed; and 
what earnestness in general he useth therein ; addressing 
himself unto God in that frame, with that purpose and reso- 
lution, the first thing he fixeth on in particular is the great- 
ness of his sin and guilt, according to the tenor of the law. 
It appears then, that. 

First, In a sin-perplexed soul's addresses unto God, the 
first thing that presents itself unto him, is God's marking sin 
according to the tenor of the law. The case is the same in 
this matter with all sorts of sinners; whether before conver- 
sion, or in relapses and entanglements after conversion. 
There is a proportion between conversion and recoveries. 
They are both wrought by the same means and ways ; and 
have both the same effects upon the souls of sinners, although 
in sundry things they differ, not now to be spoken unto. 
What then is spoken on this head, maybe applied unto both 
sorts ; to them that are yet unconverted, and to them who are 
really delivered from their state and condition; but especially 
unto those who know not whether state they belong unto, that 
is, to all guilty souls. The law will put in its claim to all. It 
will condemn the sin, and try what it can do against the sinner. 
There is no shaking of it off; it must be fairly answered, or 
it will prevail. The law issues out an arrest for the debt; 
and it is no purpose to bid the serjeant be gone, or to entreat 
him to spare. If payment be not procured, and an acquaint- 
ance produced, the soul must to prison. I am going unto 
God, saith the soul. He is great and terrible, a marker o^ 
sin, and what shall I say unto him ? This makes him tremble, 
and cry out, ' O Lord, who shall stand.?' So that it appears 
hence, that. 

Secondly, Serious thoughts of God's marking sin accord- 
ing to the tenor of the law, is a thing full of dread and terror to 
the soul of a sinner. But this is not all ; he is not swallowed 
up in this amazement, crying out only, who can stand? there 
is included in the words, a thorough sincere acknowledg- 
ment of his own sin, and the guilt thereof. Mentioning the 
desert of sin, in his own case, he acknowledgeth his own. 
So that. 

Thirdly, Sincere sense and acknowledgment for sin, with 
self-condemnation in the justification of God, is the first pe- 
culiar especial working of a gracious soul rising out of its 



entanglements. All this is included in these words. He 
acknovvledgeth both his own guilt, and the righteousness of 
God, if he should deal with him according to the demerit 
of sin. 

And these things lay in the words absolutely considered ; 
but the state of the soul here represented, carries us on far- 
ther. He rests not here, as we shall see in the opening of 
the next verse, the chief thing aimed at in the whole. And 
as a transition from the one to the other, that we may still 
carry on the general design at the entrance laid down j we 
must take along with us this farther observation. 

Fourthly, Though self-condemnation be an eminent pre- 
paration for the discovery of forgiveness in God; yet a poor 
distressed soul is not to rest in it, nor to rest upon it, but to 
pass on to the embracing of forgiveness itself. 

There is yet a general proposition lying in the words, 
that we may make use of in our passage, and it is this ; 
God's marking of iniquities, and man's salvation, are everlast- 
ingly inconsistent. I mean his marking them in the persons 
of sinners, for the ends before-mentioned. 

Of some of these I shall farther treat, according as the 
handling of them conduceth to the purpose in hand. 

That which I shall begin withal, is that which was first 

laid down about the effects of serious thoughts concerning 

God's marking sin according to the tenor of the law ; which, 

as I said, is the first thing that presents itself unto a sin-en- 

%tangled soul in its addresses unto God. 

But this shall not pass alone. I shall draw the two first 
observations into one, and make use of the first only in the 
confirmation of the other ; which will express the sense of 
the words absolutely considered. The third and fourth will 
lead us on in the progress of the soul, towards the relief sought 
after and proposed. That, therefore, which is to be first in- 
sisted on, comes up to this proposition. 

In a sin-perplexed soul's addresses unto God, the first thing 
that presents itself unto him, is, God's marking of sin according 
to the tenor of the law, which of itself is apt to fill the soul 
with dread and terror. 

1 shall first somewhat speak unto it in this ; as considering 
in itself, and then inquire into the concernment of the soul 
in it, whose condition is here described. 


The Lord speaks of some, who when they hear the word 
of the curse, yet bless themselves, and say they shall have 
peace, Deut. xxix. 19. Let men preach and say what they 
will of the terror of the Lord, they will despise it ; which 
God threatens with utter extermination. And he notes it 
again, as an amazing wickedness, and the height of ob- 
durateuess, Jer. xxxvi. 24. Generally it is with sinners, as 
it was with Gaal the son of Ebed, Judg, ix. when he was for- 
tifying of Sichem against Abimelech ; Zebul tells him that 
Abimelech will come and destroy him. Let him come, saith 
Gaal; I shall deal well enough with him : let him bring forth 
his army, I fear him not. But upon the very first appearance 
of Abimelech's army, he trembleth for fear ; ver. 36. Till 
obdurate sinners [tremble for fear] of the wrath of God, and 
that he will come to plead his cause against them ; for the most 
part they take no notice of what you say, nor have any serious 
thoughts about it ; but go on as if they were resolved they 
should deal well enough with him. Notwithstanding all their 
stoutness, a day is coming wherein fearfulness shall surprise 
them, and make them cry out, 'Who amongst us shall dwell 
with devouring fire, who amongst us shall inhabit with ever- 
lasting burnings V Yea, if the Lord be pleased in this life in 
an especial manner to draw nigh to any of them, they quickly 
see, that their ' hearts cannot endure, nor can their hands be 
strong;' Ezek. xxii. 14. Their hands hang down, and their 
stout hearts tremble like an aspen leaf. 

He who first sinned, and had first occasion to have seri- 
ous thoughts about God's marking of sin, gives us a notable 
instance of what we have affirmed. And the first in every 
kind, is the measure of all that follows, in the same kind. 
Gen. iii. 8. ' He heard the voice of God :' so he had done 
before, without the least trouble or consternation of Spirit; 
he was made for communion with God ; and that he might 
hear his voice was part of his blessedness. Bat now, saith 
he, ' I heard thy voice and was afraid, and hid myself.' He 
knew that God was coming in the inquest of sin, and he was 
not able to bear the thoughts of meeting him. Could he 
have gone into the bowels of the earth from whence he was 
taken, and have been there hid from God, he would not have 
failed to have attempted it. Things are now altered with 
him. In that God whom he loved before, as a good, holy, 

E 2 


powerful, righteous creator, preserver, benefactor, and re- 
warder, he saw nothing now, but wrath, indignation, ven- 
geance, and terror. This makes him tremble out those 
dreadful words, *I heard thy voice and was afraid, and hid 

The giving of the law afterward, evinces what effects the 
consideration of God's proceeding with sinners, according 
to the tenor of it, must needs produce, Exod. xx. 18, 19. 
' All the people saw the thundering and the lightnings, and 
the voice of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking ;' as 
the apostle also describes it, Heb. xii. 18, In this manner 
came forth from the Lord that fiery law, Deut. xxxiii. 2. So 
that all who are concerned in it, did exceedingly quake and 
tremble. And yet all this respects but the severity of the 
law in general, without the application of it unto any soul 
in particular. There is a solemnity, that carrieth an awe 
with it, in the preparation of an assize to be kept and held 
by poor worms like ourselves ; but the dread of it is pecu- 
liar to the malefactors, for whose trial and execution all this 
preparation is made. When a soul comes to think, that all 
this dreadful preparation, this appearance of terrible ma- 
jesty, these streams of the fiery law are all pointed towards 
him, it will make him cry out, ' Lord, who can stand ?' And 
this law is still in force towards sinners, even as it was on 
the day wherein it was given on mount Sinai. Though 
Moses grew old, yet his strength never failed. Nor hath his 
law, the law given by him, lost any thing of its strength, 
power, or authority towards sinners. It is still accom- 
panied with thunderiugs and lightnings, as of old. And it 
will not fail to represent the terror of the Lord to a guilty 

Among the saints themselves I could produce instances 
to manifest that they have found it to be thus. The cases 
of Job, David, Heman, are known. I shall only consider it 
in Christ himself. From himself he had no occasion of any 
discouraging thought; being holy, harmless, undefiled. He 
fulfilled all righteousness, did his Father's will in all things, 
and abode in his love. This must needs be attended with 
the highest peace, and most blessed joy. In the very en- 
trance of his trials, he had a full persuasion of a comfort- 
able issue and success; as we may see, Isa. 1. 7, 8. But yet, 


when his soul was exercised with thouohts of God's mark- 
ing our iniquities upon him, it was sorrowful unto the death. 
He was 'amazed and very heavy;' Mark xiv. 33. His agony, 
his blood sweat, his strong cries and supplications, his re- 
iterated prayers, 'if it be possible let this cup pass from me,* 
his last and dreadful cry, ' My God, my God, why hast thou 
forsaken me V all manifest what apprehensions he had of 
what it was for God to mark iniquities. Well may poor 
sinners cry out, * Lord, who shall stand V when the Son of 
God himself so trembled under the weight of it. 

In serious thoughts of God's marking sin, he is repre- 
sented unto the soul under all those glorious, terrible attri- 
butes and excellencies, which are apt to beget a dread and 
terror in the hearts of sinners, when they have no relief from 
any covenant engagements in Christ. The soul looks upon 
him as the great lawgiver, James iv. 12. able to revenge 
the breach of it, by destroying body and soul in hell fire, 
as one terrible in holiness, of purer eyes than to behold ini- 
quity. So also in greatness and in power ; the living God, 
into whose hands it is a fearful thing to fall ; as attended 
with vindictive justice, saying, * Vengeance is mine, and I 
will recompense ;' Heb. x. 30. Now for a soul to consider 
God, clothed with all these dreadful and terrible excel- 
lencies, coming to deal with sinners according to the tenor 
of his fiery law, it cannot but make him cry out with Moses, 
' I exceedingly quake and tremble.' 

These things work on their minds : the conclusion men- 
tioned before, is asserted in these words ; namely, that 
God's marking of sin according to the tenor of the law, and 
man's salvation, are utterly inconsistent; a conclusion, that 
must needs shake a soul, when pressed under a sense of its 
own guilt. 

When a person who is really guilty, and knows himself to 
be guilty, is brought unto his trial, he hath but these four 
grounds of hope that his safety and his trial may be con- 
sistent. He may think that either, 1. The judge will not be 
able to find out, or discover his crimes, or, 2. That some 
one will powerfully intercede for him with the judge ; or, 3. 
That the rule of the law is not so strict as to take notice of 
his miscarriages ; or 4. That the penalty of it is not so se- 


vere, but that there may be a way of escape. Cut him short 
of his expectations from some, one, or all of these, and all 
his hopes must of necessity perish. And how is it in this 

1. Of the judge we have spoken somewhat already. 
The present inquiry is, whether any thing may be hid from 
him or no ; and so a door of escape be opened to a sinner. 
The apostle tells us, ' that all things are open and naked 
unto him ;' Heb. iv. 12. and the psalmist, that ' there is not 
a thought in our hearts, nor a word in our tongue, but he 
understandeth it afar off, and knoweth it altogether;' Psal. 
cxxxix. 2. 4. What the sinner knows of himself, that may 
cause him to fear, that God knows. And what he knows 
not of himself, that deserves his fear, that God knows also ; 
' he is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things ;' 
1 John iii. 20. When God shall not only set in order before 
the sinner, the secret sins, which he retains some remem- 
brance of; but also brings to mind and represents unto 
him, that world of filth and folly, which either he never took 
any real notice of, or hath utterly forgotten, it will trouble 
him, yea, confound him. 

2. But may not this judge be entreated to pass by what 
he knows, and to deal favourably with the sinner ? May 
not an intercessor be obtained to plead in the behalf of 
the guilty soul? Eli determines this matter, 1 Sam. ii, 25. 
* If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him ; 
but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him ?' 
There is not, saith Job, between us n'DiD, one that might 
argue the case, in pleading for me, and so make up the mat- 
ter, 'laying his hand upon us both;' Job ix. 33. We now 
consider a sinner purely under the administration of the 
law; which knows nothing of a mediator. In that case, who 
shall take upon him to intercede for the sinner? Besides, 
that all creatures in heaven and earth are engaged in the 
quarrel of God against sinners ; and besides the greatness 
and terror of his majesty, that will certainly deter all or any 
of them from undertaking any such work ; what is the re- 
quest that in this case must be put up unto God ? Is it not 
that he would cease to be holy, leave off from being righ- 
teous, relinquish his throne, deny himself, and his sove- 


reignty, that a rebel, a traitor, his cursed enemy, may live 
and escape his justice ? Is this request reasonable ? Is he fit 
to intercede for sinners that make it? Would he not by so 
doing prove himself to be the greatest of them ? The sinner 
cannot then expect any door of escape to be opened unto 
him ; all the world is against him ; and the case must be 
tried out nakedly between God and him. But, 

3. It may be the rule of the law whereby the sinner is 
to be tried is not so strict, but that in the case of such 
sins as he is guilty of, it may admit of a favourable in- 
terpretation; or that the good that he hath done, may be 
laid in the balance against his evil, and so some relief be 
obtained that way. But the matter is quite otherwise; there 
is no good action of a sinner, though it were perfectly good, 
that can lie in the balance with, or compensate the evil of, 
the least sin committed. For all good is due on another 
account, though no guilt were incurred. And the payment 
of money that a man owes, that he hath borrowed, makes 
no satisfaction for what he hath stole ; no more will our 
duties compensate for our sins. Nor is there any good ac- 
tion of a sinner, but it hath evil and guilt enough attending 
it, to render itself unacceptable ; so that men may well cease 
from thoughts of their supererogation. Besides, where there 
is any one sin, if all the good in the world might be sup- 
posed to be in the same person, yet in the indispensable order 
of our dependance on God, nothing of that good could come 
into consideration, until the guilt of that sin were answered 
for unto the utmost. Now the penalty of every sin, being 
the eternal ruin of the sinner ; all his supposed good can 
stand him in little stead. And for the law itself, it is an 
issue of the holiness, righteousness, and wisdom of God ; so 
that there is not any evil, so greater small, but is forbidden 
in it, and condemned by it. Hereupon David so states this 
whole matter, Psal. cxliii. 2. 'Enter not into judgment 
with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be 
justified.' That is, if things are to be tried out and deter- 
mined by the law, no sinner can obtain acquitment ; as Paul 
declares the sense of that place to be, Rom. iii. 20. Gal. 
ii. 16. But yet, 

4. It may be the sentence of the law is not so fierce 


and dreadful, but that though guilt be found, there may 
be yet a way of escape. But the law speaks not one word 
on this side death to an offender. There is a greatness, 
and an eternity of wrath in the sentence of it ; and it is 
God himself who hath undertaken to see the vengeance 
of it executed. So that on all these accounts, the conclu- 
sion mentioned, must needs be fixed in the soul of a sinner, 
that entertains thoughts of drawing nigh to God. 

Though what hath been spoken, may be of general use 
unto sinners of all sorts, whether called home to God, or yet 
strangers to him; yet I shall not insist upon any general im- 
provement of it, because it is intended only for one special 
end or purpose. That which is aimed at, is to shew what are 
the first thoughts that arise in the heart of a poor entangled 
soul, when first he begins to endeavour a recovery in a re- 
turnal unto God. The law immediately puts in its claim unto 
him, and against him. God is represented unto him, as angry, 
displeased, provoked; and his terror more or less besets him 
round about. This fills him with fear, shame, and confusion 
of face ; so that he knows not what to do. These troubles 
are greater or lesser, according as God seeth it best for the 
poor creature's present humiliation, and future safety. What 
then doth the sinner ? What are his thoughts hereupon ? 
Doth he think to fly from God, and to give over all endea- 
vours of recovery? Doth he say this God is a holy, and ter- 
rible God; I cannot serve him ; it is to no purpose for me to 
look for any thing but fury and destruction from him ; and 
therefore, 1 had as good give over as persist in my design of 
drawing nigh to him. It cannot be denied but that in this 
case, thoughts of this nature will be suggested by unbelief; 
and that sometimes great perplexities arise to the soul by 
them. But this is not the issue and final product of this 
exercise of the soul; it produceth another effect; it calls 
for that which is the first particular working of a gracious 
soul arising out of its sin-entanglements. This is, as was 
declared, a sincere sense of sin, and acknowledgment of it, 
with self-condemnation in the justification of God: this is 
the first thing that a soul endeavouring a recovery from its 
depths is brought and wrought unto. His general resolu- 
tion to make serious and thorough work, with what he hath 


in haudj was before unfolded. That which in the next place^ 
we are directed unto in these words, is the reflection on it- 
self, upon the consideration of God's marking iniquity, now 
mentioned. This is faith's great and proper use of the law ; 
the nature whereof shall be farther opened in the next dis- 

The first particular actings of a soul tovmrdsa recovery out of the depths of 
sin. Sense of sin, whereinit consists. How it is wrought. Acknowledg' 
mentofsin; its nature and properties. Self-condemnation. 

What is the frame of the soul in general, that is excited by 
grace, and resolves in the strength thereof to attempt a re- 
covery out of the depths of sin-entanglements, hath been 
declared. We have also shewed what entertainments, in 
general, such a soul had need to expect, yea, ordinarily shall 
be sure to meet withal. It may be he goes forth at first like 
Sampson with his locks cut, and thinks he will do as at other 
times ; but he quickly finds his peace lost, his wounds pain- 
ful, his conscience restless, God displeased, and his whole 
condition, as the utmost of his own apprehension, hazardous. 
This fills him with the thoughts expressed in this third verse, 
and fixes the conclusion in his mind, discoursed of before. 
He finds now that he hath the law afresh to deal withal. 
Thence ariseth that sense and acknowledgment of sin, that 
self-condemnation, in the justification of God, whereof we 
now speak. He grows not sullen, stubborn, or displeased; 
for the extenuation of his sin and guilt, he quarrelleth not 
with, he repineth not against, the holiness, severity, and righ- 
teousness of the law of God ; but reflects wholly on himself, 
his own unworthiness, guilt, and desert ; and in a sense of 
them lies down at the foot of God, in expectation of his word 
and sentence. 

Three things in this condition we ascribe unto such a 
soul. First, a sincere sense of sin. There is a twofold sense of 
sin. The one is general and notional ; whereby a man knows 
what sin is, that himself is a sinner ; that he is guilty of this 
or that, these or those sins; only his heart is not affected 


proportionably to that discovery and knowledge which he 
hath of these things. The other is active and efficacious. 
The soul being acquainted with the nature of sin, with its 
own guilt in reference unto sin in general, as also to this or 
that sin, is universally influenced by that apprehension unto 
suitable affections and operations. 

Of both these we have an instance in the same person. 
David, before Nathan's coming to him, had the former ; after- 
ward he had the latter also. It cannot be imao;ined but that 
before the coming of the prophet, he had a general know- 
ledge and sense, not only absolutely of the nature of sin ; 
but also, that himself was a sinner, and guilty of those very 
sins which afterward he was reproved for. To think other- 
wise, is to suppose, not only that he was unsainted, but un- 
manned also, and turned into a beast. But yet this wrought 
not in him any one affection suitable to his condition. And 
the like may be said of most sinners in the world. But now, 
when Nathan comes to him, and gives him the latter efiica- 
cious sense whereof we speak, we know what effects it did 

It is the latter only that is under consideration ; and 
that also is twofold : 1. Legal, orantecedaneous unto con- 
version ; 2. Evangelical, and previous to the recovery 
from depths, whereof we treat. How these two differ, and 
how they may be discerned one from the other, being both 
of them in their kind sincere, is not ray business to declare. 

Now this last, which we assign as the first duty, work, 
or acting of a returning soul, is a deep and practical appre- 
hension wrought in the mind and heart of a believing sinner 
by the Holy Ghost, of sin and its evils, in reference unto the 
law and love of God, the cross and blood of Christ, the 
communion and consolation of the Spirit, and all the fruits 
of love, mercy, or grace, that it hath been made partakers of, 
or on gospel-ground hoped for. 

First, The principal efficient cause of it is the Holy Ghost. 
He it is who convinceth of sin, John xvi. 8. He works indeed 
by means. He wrought it in David by the ministry of Na- 
than, and he wrought it in Peter, by the look of Christ. But 
his work it is ; no man can work it upon his own soul. It 
will not spring out of men's rational considerations. Though 


men may exercise their thoughts about such things, as one 
would think were enough to break the heart of stones, yet 
if the Holy Ghost pnt not forth a peculiar efficacy of his 
own, this sense of sin will not be wrought or produced. As 
the waters at the Pool of Bethesda were not troubled, but 
when an angel descended and moved them, no more will 
the heart for sin, without a saving elapse of the Holy Ghost. 

Secondly, It is deep apprehension of sin, and the evils of 
it. Slight, transient thoughts about them, amount not to the 
sense of which we speak. *My sorrow,' saith David, ' is con- 
tinually before me ;' Psal. xxxviii. 17. It pressed him always 
and greatly. Hence he compares this sense of sin wrought 
by the Holy Ghost, to 'arrows that stick in the flesh,' ver. 2. 
They pain sorely, and are always perplexing. Sin, in this 
sense of it, lays hold on the soul, so that the sinner cannot 
look up ; Psal. xl. 12. And it abides with him, making ' his 
sore run in the night without ceasing ;' Psal. Ixxvii. 2. and 
depriveth the soul of rest. * My soul,' saith he, * refused to be 
comforted.' This apprehension of sin, lies down, and rises 
with him in whom it is. Transient thoughts, attended with 
infrequent signs and ejaculations, little become a returning 
soul. And, 

Thirdly, It is practical. It is not seated only in the spe- 
culative part of the mind, hovering in general notions ; but 
it dwells in the practical understanding, which effectually in- 
fluenceth the will and affections. Such an apprehension as 
from which sorrow and humiliation are inseparable. The 
acts of the practical understanding, do so necessarily pro- 
duce together with them suitable acts of the will and affec- 
tions, that some have concluded that those are indeed pro- 
per acts of his will, which are usually ascribed to the under- 
standing. It is so in the mind, as that the whole soul is 
cast into the mould and likeness of it; humiliation, sorrow, 
self-abhorrency, do live and die with it. 

Fourthly, It hath in the first place, respect unto the law 
of God. There can be no due consideration of sin, wherein 
the law hath not its place. The law calls for the sinner, and 
he willingly gives up his sin to be judged by it. There he 
sees it to be ' exceeding sinful ;' Rom. vii. 17. Though a be- 
liever be less under the power of the law than others, yet he 
knows more of the authority and nature of it than others. 


He sees more of its spirituality and holiness. And the more 
a man sees of the excellency of the law, the more he sees of 
the vileness of sin. This is done by a soul in its first en- 
deavour of a recovery from the entanglements of sin. He 
labours thoroughly to know his disease, that he may be 
cured. It will do him no good, he knows, to be ignorant 
of his distemper, or his danger. He knows that if his 
wounds be not searched to the bottom, they will stink, and 
be corrupt. To the law then he brings himself and his sin. 
By that, he sees the vileness of the one, and the danger of 
the other. Most men lie still in their depths, because they 
would willingly escape the first step of their rising. From 
the bottom of their misery, they would fain at once be at the 
top of their felicity. The soul managed in this work by the 
Holy Ghost,doth not so. He converseth with the law ; brings 
his sin unto it ; and fully hears the sentence of it. When 
the sin is thoroughly condemned, then he farther takes care 
of the sinner. As ever you desire to come to rest, avoid not 
this entrance of your passion unto it. Weigh it well, and 
attend unto what the law speaks of your sin, and its desert, 
or you will never make a due application to God for forgive- 
ness. As ever you would have your souls justified by grace, 
take care to have your sins judged by the law. 

2. There is a respect in it to the love of God. And 
this breaks the hearts of the poor returning sinner. Sorrow 
from the law, shuts itself up in the soul, and strangleth it. 
Sorrow from the thoughts of the love of God opens it, and 
causeth it to flow forth. Thoughts of sinning against the 
love of God, managed by the Holy Ghost; what shall 1 say? 
their effects in the heart are not to be expressed. This made 
Ezra cry out, ' O, my God, I blush, and am ashamed to lift up 
my face to thee ;' chap. ix. 6. and ver. 10. 'What shall we 
say after this V After what? why all the fruits of love and 
kindness they had been made partakers of. Thoughts of love 
and sin laid together, make the sour! blush, mourn, be ashamed 
and confounded in itself. So Ezek. xxxvi. 31. 'Then shall 
you remember your own evil ways, and your doings that 
were not good ;' when shall they do so ? when thoughts and 
apprehensions of love shall be brought home to them ; and 
saith he, then shall you ' lothe yourselves in your own sight.' 
The soul now calls to mind, what love, what kindness, and 


what mercy, what grace, what patience hath been exercised 
towards it, and whereof it hath been made partaker. The 
thoughts of all these now come in upon him as streams of 
water. Such mercy, such communion, such privileges, such 
hopes of glory ; suoh tastes of heaven, such peace, such 
consolation, such joy, such communications of the Spirit, 
all to a poor, wretched, cursed, lost, forlorn sinner; and all 
this despised, neglected, the God of them all provoked, for- 
saken. Ah, saith the soul, ' Whither shall I cause my sor- 
row to go ?' This fills him with shame and confusion of face ; 
makes hira mourn in secret, and sigh to the breaking of the 
loins. And then. 

Thirdly, The blood and cross of Christ is also brought to 
remembrance by the Holy Ghost. Ah, saith the soul, have 
I thus requited the wonderful, astonishing love of my Re- 
deemer? Is this the return, the requital, I have made unto 
him? Are not heaven and earth astonished at the despising 
of that love, at which they are astonished? This brake Pe- 
ter's heart, upon the look of Christ. Such words as these 
from Christ, will, in this condition, sound in the ears of the 
soul ; Did J love thee, and leave my glory to become a 
scorn and reproach for thy sake? Did I think my life, and 
all that was dear unto me, too good for thee, to save thee 
from the wrath to come ? Have I been a wilderness unto 
thee, or a land of darkness ? What could I have done more 
for thee ; when I had nothing left but my life, blood, and soul, 
they went all for thee that thou mightest live by ray death, 
be washed in my blood, and be saved through my soul's 
being made an offering for thee? And hast thou thus re- 
quited my love ? to prefer a lust before me, or by mere sloth 
and folly to be turned away from me ? Go, unkind and un- 
thankful soul, and see if thou canst find another Redeemer. 
This overwhelms the soul, and even drowns it in tears and sor- 
row. And then the bitterness also of the sufferings of Christ 
are brought to mind. 'They look on him whom they have 
pierced, and mourn;' Zech. xii. 10. They remember his gall 
and wormwood ; his cry and tears ; his agony and sweat ; 
his desertion and anguish ; his blood and death ; the sharp- 
ness of the sword that was in his soul, and the bitterness of 
the cup that was put into his hand. Such a soul now looks 
on Christ, bleeding, dying, wrestling with wrath and curse 


for him, and seeth his sin in the streams of blood that issued 
from his side. And all this increaseth that sense of sin 
whereof we speak. Also, 

Fourthly, It relates to the communion and consolations 
of the Holy Ghost, with all the privileges and fruits of love 
we are by him made partakers of. The Spirit is given to 
believers upon the promise of Christ to dwell in them. He 
takes up their hearts to be his dwelling-place ; to what ends 
and purposes ? that he may purify and sanctify them, make 
them holy, and dedicate them to God ; to furnish them with 
grace and gifts, to interest them in privileges ; to guide, 
lead, direct, comfort them ; to seal them unto the day of re- 
demption. Now this Spirit is grieved by sin, Eph. iv. 30. 
and his dwelling-place defiled thereby; 1 Cor. vi. 19. iii. 
17. Thoughts hereof greatly sharpen the spiritual sense 
of sin in a recovering soul. He considers what light, what 
love, what joy, what consolation, what privileges it hath by 
him been made partaker of; what motions, warnings, work- 
ings to keep it from sin, it hath found from him ; and says 
within itself. What have I done, whom have I grieved, whom 
have I provoked? what if the Lord should now for my folly 
and ingratitude utterly take his Holy Spirit from me ? What 
if I should have so grieved him, that he will dwell in me no 
more, delight in me no more ? What dismal darkness and 
disconsolation ; yea, what utter ruin should I be left unto ? 
However, what shame and confusion of face belongs to me 
for my wretched disingenuity, and ingratitude towards him ? 

This is the first thing that appears in the returning soul's 
actinsis and frame ; a sincere sense of sin on the account 
mentioned, wrought in it by the Holy Ghost. And this a 
soul, in the depths described, must come unto, if ever it ex- 
pects or looks for deliverance, and a recovery. Let not such 
persons expect to have a renewed sense of mercy, without a 
revived sense of sin. 

Secondly, From hence proceedeth an ingenuous, free, 
oracious acknowledgment of sin. Men may have a sense of 
sin, and yet sufler it to lie burning as a fire shut up in their 
bones, to their continual disquietment, and not be able to 
come off unto a free soul-opening acknowledgment. Yea, 
confession may be made in general, and mention therein of 
that very sin wherewith the soul is most entangled, and yet 

upoisr PSALM cxxx. 63 

the soul comes short of a due performance of this duty. Con- 
sider how the case stood with David ; Psal. xxxii. 3. * When 
I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all 
the day long.' How could David keep silence, and yet roar 
all the day long ? What is that silence which is consistent 
with roaring ? It is a mere negation of that duty, which is 
expressed, ver. 5. that is intended. * I acknowledge my sins 
unto thee, and mine iniquities I have not hid.' It was not 
a silence of submission and waiting on God that he intends ; 
that would not have produced a wasting of his spiritual 
strength, as he complains this silence did ; * My bones waxed 
old.' Nor yet was it a sullen, stubborn, and contumacious 
frame that was upon him ; but he notes, saith Calvin (and 
he says well), ' Affectum qui medius est inter tolerantiam 
et contumaciam, vitio et virtuti affinis ;' ' An affection be- 
tween patience and stubbornness, bordering on the one and 
other.' That is, he had a deep sense of sin ; this disquieted 
and perplexed him all the day long; which he calls his 
roaring. It weakened and wearied him, making his bones 
wax old, or his strength decay ; yet was he not able to bring 
his heart to that ingenuous, gracious acknowledgment, which, 
like the lancing of a festered wound, would have given at 
least some ease to his soul. God's children are.ofttiraes 
in this matter like ours. Though they are convinced of a 
fault, and are really troubled at it, yet they will hardly ac- 
knowledge it. So do they. They will go up and down^ 
sigh and mourn, roar all the day long ; but an evil and un- 
toward frame of spirit under the power of unbelief and fear, 
keeps them from this duty. 

Now, that this acknowledgment may be acceptable unto 
God, it is required, first, that it be free, then, that it be full. 

1. It must be free and spiritually ingenuous. Cain, 
Pharaoh, Ahab, Judas, came all to an acknowledgment of 
sin ; but it was whether they would or no. It was pressed 
out of them ; it did not flow from them. The confession of 
a person under the convincing terrors of the law, or dread 
of eminent judgments, is like that of malefactors on the rack, 
who speak out that for which themselves and friends must 
die. What they say, though it be the truth, is a fruit of 
force and torture, not of any ingenuity of mind. So is it 
with merely convinced persons. They come not to the ac- 


knovvledgment of sin with any more freedom. And the 
reason is, because all sin hath shame ; and for men to be 
free unto shame, is naturally impossible, shame being na- 
ture's shrinking from itself, and the posture it would appear 
in. But now the returning soul hath never more freedom, 
liberty, and aptitude of spirit, than when he is in the acknow- 
ledoment of those thinos whereof he is most ashamed. And 
this is no small evidence that it proceeds from that spirit 
which is attended with that liberty; for ' where the Spirit of 
God is, there is liberty ;' 2 Cor. iii. 17. When David was 
delivered from his silence, he expresseth this frame in the 
performance of his duty, Psal. xxxii. 5. *I acknowledged 
my sin, and mine iniquities I have not hid : I said, I will con- - 
fess my transgression.' His mouth is now open, and his ' 
heart enlarged. And he multiplies one expression upon 
another, to manifest his enlargement. So doth a soul rising 
out of its depths, in this beginning of this address unto God. 
Having the sense of sin before described, wrought in him 
by the Holy Ghost, his heart is made free and enlarged unto 
an ino-enuous acknowledgment of his sin -before the Lord. 
Herein he pours out his soul unto God ; and hath not more 
freedom in any thing than in dealing about that whereof he 
is most ashamed. 

2. Full also it must be. Reserves ruin confession. 
If the soul have any secret thought of rolling a sweet morsel 
under its tongue, of a bow in the house of Rimmon, it is like 
part of the price kept back, which makes the whole rob- 
iDery, instead of an offering. If there be remaining a bitter 
root of favouring any one lust or sin, of any occasion of, or 
temptation unto, sin, let a man be as open, free, and earnest 
as can be imagined in the acknowledgment of all other sins 
and evils, the whole duty is rendered abominable. Some 
persons, when they are brought into depths and anguish about 
any sin, and are thereon forced to the acknowledgment of it, 
at the same time they are little concerned with their other 
follies and iniquities, that, it may be, are no less provoking 
unto God, than that is from whence their present trouble 
doth arise. 'Let not,' as James speaks in another case, ' such 
a man think that he shall receive any thing from God.' It 
must be full and comprehensive, as well as free and in- 


And of such importance is the right performance of this 
duty, that the promise of pardon is ofttimes peculiarly an- 
nexed unto it, as that which certainly carries along with it 
the other duties which make up a full returnal unto God; 
Prov. xxviii. 13. I John i. 9. and that place in Job is re- 
markable, chap, xxxiii. 27, 28. 'He looketh upon men, and 
if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, 
and it profited me not; he will deliver his soul from going 
into the pit, and his life shall see the light.' He shall not 
only be made partaker of pardon, but of consolation also, 
and joy in the light of God's countenance. 

Thirdly. There yet remains self-condemnation with the 
justification of God, which lies expressly in the words of the 
verse under consideration ; and hereof are two parts. 

1. Self-abhorrency, or dislike. The soul is now wholly 
displeased with itself, and reflects upon itself with all 
affections of regret and trouble. So the apostle declares it 
to have been with the Corinthians, when their godly sorrow 
was working in them; 2 Cor. vii. 11. among other things, it 
wrought in them indignation and revenge ; or a reflection 
on themselves with all manner of dislike and abhorrency. 
In the winding up of the controversy between God and Job, 
this is the point he rests in. As he had come in general to 
a free, full, ingenuous acknowledgment of sin, chap. xl. 4, 5. 
so in particular he gives his whole contest in this abhor- 
rency of himself, chap. xlii. 6. ' I abhor myself, and repent 
in dust and ashes.' What a vile wretched creature have I 
been, saith the soul; I blush and am ashamed to think of my 
folly, baseness, and ingratitude. Is it possible that I should 
deal thus with the Lord ? I abhor, I loathe myself, I would 
fly any where from myself, I am so vile and loathsome ; a 
thing to be despised of God, angels, and men. And 

2. There is self-judging in it also. This the apostle in- 
vites the Corinthians unto, 1 Ep. chap. xi. 31. * If we would 
judge ourselves we should not be judged.' This is a person 
pronouncing sentence on himself according to the tenor of 
the law. The soul brings not only its sin, but itself also to 
the law. It puts itself as to merit and desert under the stroke 
and severity of it. Hence ariseth a full justification of God, 
in what sentences soever he shall be pleased to pronounce 
in the case before him. And these three things which we 

VOL. XIV. r 


have passed through, compose the frame and first actings of 
a gracious soul, rising from its depths. They are all of them 
signally expressed in that place where we have a signal re- 
covery exemplified ; Hos. xiv. 1 — 4. And this makes way 
for the exaltation of grace, the great thing in all this dispen- 
sation aimed at by God ; Eph. i. 6. That which he is now 
doing, is to bring the sotil to glory in him, 1 Cor. i. 31. which 
is all the return he hath from his large and infinitely boun- 
tiful expenses of grace and mercy. Now nothing can render 
grace conspicuous and glorious, until the soul come to this 
frame. Grace will not seem high, until the soul be laid very 
low. And this also suits or prepares the soul for the re- 
ceiving of mercy, in a sense of pardon, the great thing aimed 
at on the part of the sinner. And it prepares it for every 
duty that is incumbent on him in that condition wherein he 
is. This brings the soul to waiting with diligence and pa- 
tience. If things presently answer not our expectation, we 
are ready to think we have done what we can ; if it will be 
no better we must bear it as we are able ; which frame God 
abhors. The soul in this frame is contented to wait the plea- 
sure of God, as weshall see in the close of the psalm. Oh, 
saith such a one, if ever I obtain a sense of love, if ever I 
enjoy one smile of his countenance more, it is of unspeakable 
grace. Let him take his own time, his own season ; it is 
good for me quietly to wait, and to hope for his salvation. 
And it puts the soul on prayer ; yea, a soul always in this 
frame, prays always. And there is nothing more evident, 
than that want of a thorough engagement into the perform- 
ance of these duties, is the great cause why so few come clear 
off" from their entanglement all their days. Men heal their 
wounds slightly ; and therefore, after a new, painful festering, 
they are brought into the same condition of restlessness and 
trouble, which they were in before. 

Grounds of miscarriages when persons are convinced of sin and humbled. 
Resting in that state, Restiny on it. 

Fourth LY, The soul is not to be left in the state before describ- 
ed. There is other work for it to a])ply itself unto, if it intend 
to come unto rest and peace, it hatli obtained an eminent 


advantage for the discovery of forgiveness. But to rest in 
that state wherein it is, or to rest upon it, will not bring it 
into its harbour. Three things we discovered before in the 
soul's first serious address unto God for deliverance ; sense 
of sin, acknowledgment of it, and self-condemnation. Two 
evils there are which attend men oftentimes, when they are 
brought into that state. Some rest in it, and press no far- 
ther; some rest upon it, and suppose that it is all which is 
required of them. The psalmist avoids both these, and not- 
withstanding all his pressures reacheth out towards forgive- 
ness, as we shall see in the next verse. I shall briefly unfold 
these two evils, and shew the necessity of their avoidance. 

First, By resting or staying in it ; I mean the soul's des- 
ponding, through discouraging thoughts that deliverance is 
not to be obtained. Being made deeply sensible of sin, it 
is so overwhelmed with thoughts of its own vileness and 
unworthiness, as to sink under the burden ; such a soul is 
' afflicted and tossed with tempests, and not comforted,' 
Isa. liv. 11. until it is quite weary. As a ship in a storm at 
sea, when all means of contending are gone, men give up 
themselves to be driven and tossed by the winds and seas at 
their pleasure. This brought Israel to that state wherein he 
cried out, 'My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment 
is passed over from my God ;' Isa. xl. 27. and Sion, 'The 
Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me ;* 
chap. xlix. 14. The soul begins secretly to think there is no 
hope, God regardeth it not ; it" shall one day perish, relief 
is far away, and trouble nigh at hand. These thoughts do 
so oppress them, that though they forsake not God utterly to 
their destruction, yet they draw not nigh unto him effectually 
to their consolation. 

This is the first evil that the soul in this condition is en- 
abled to avoid. We know how God rebukes it in Sion. 'Sion, 
said. The Lord hath forsaken me, and ray Lord hath forgotten 
me;' Isa. xlix. 14. But how foolish is Sion, how froward, 
how unbelieving in this matter ! What ground hath she for 
such sinful despondencies, such discouraging conclusions? 
' Can a woman,' saith the Lord, ' forget her sucking child, 
that she should not have compassion on the son of her 
womb? yea, they may forget, but I will not forget thee.' The 
like reproof he gives to Jacob upon the like complaint, 

F 2 


chap. xl. 28—30. There is nothing that is more provoking 
to the Lord, nor more disadvantageous unto the soul, than 
such sinful despondency. For, 

1. It insensibly weakens the soul, and disenables it, both 
for present duties, and future endeavours. Hence, some 
poor creatures mourn, and even pine away in this condition, 
never getting one step beyond a perplexing sense of sin all 
their days. Some have dwelt so long upon it, and have so 
entangled themselves with a multitude of perplexed thoughts, 
that at length their natural faculties have been weakened, 
and rendered utterly useless ; so that they have lost both 
sense of sin and every thing else. Against some, Satan 
hath taken advantage to cast in so many entangling objec- 
tions into their minds, that their whole time hath been taken 
up in proposing doubts and objections against themselves; 
with these they have gone up and down, to one and another, 
and being never able to come unto a consistency in their 
own thoughts, they have spent all their days in a fruitless, 
sapless, withering, comfortless condition. Some, with whom 
things come to a better issue, are yet for a season brought 
to that discomposure of spirit, or are so filled with their own 
apprehensions, that when the things which are most proper 
to their condition are spoken to them, they take no impres- 
sion in the least upon them. Thus the soul is weakened by 
dwelling too long on these considerations ; until some cry 
with those in Ezek. xxxiii. 10. ' Our sins are upon us, we 
pine away in them, and how should we then live?' 

2. This frame, if it abides, by itself, will insensibly 
give countenance unto hard thoughts of God, and so to 
repining, and weariness in waiting on him. At first the soul 
neither apprehends nor fears any such issue. It supposeth 
that it shall condemn and abhor itself, and justify God, and 
that for ever. But when relief comes not in, this resolution 
begins to weaken. Secret thoughts arise in the heart, that 
God is austere, inexorable, and not to be dealt withal. This 
sometimes casts forth such complaints, as will bring the soul 
unto new complaints, before it comes to have an issue of its 
trials. Here, in humiliation antecedaneous to conversion, 
many a convinced person perisheth. They cannot wait 
God's season, and perish under their impatience. And what 
the saints of God themselves have been overtaken withal in 


their depths and trials, we have many examples and in- 
stances. Delight and expectations are the grounds of our 
abiding- with God. Both these are weakened by a conquering, 
prevailing sense of sin, without some relief from the dis- 
covery of forgiveness, though at a distance. And therefore, 
our perplexed soul stays not here, but presseth on towards 
that discovery. 

Secondly, There is a resting on this frame, that is noxious 
and hurtful also. Some finding this sense of sin, with those 
other things that attend it wrought in them, in some measure, 
begin to think that now all is well, this is all that is of them 
required. They will endeavour to make a life, form such 
arguments of comfort, as they can take from their trouble. 
They think this a ground of peace, that they have not peace. 
Here some take up before conversion, and it proves their 
ruin. Because they are convinced of sin, and troubled about 
it, and burdened with it, they think it shall be well with them ; 
but were not Cain, Esau, Saul, Aliab, Judas, convinced of 
sin, and burdened with it ? Did this profit them? Did it in- 
terest them in the promises? Did not the vyrath of God 
overtake them noiwithstanding? So is it with many daily, 
they think their conviction is conversion ; and that their 
sins are pardoned, because they have been troubled. 

This then is that which we reject, which tlie soul in this 
condition doth carefully avoid ; so to satisfy itself with its 
humiliation, as to make that a ground of supportment and 
consolation, being thereby kept off from exercising faith for 
forgiveness. For this is, 

1. A fruit of self-righteousness. For a soul to place 
the spring of its peace or comfort in any thing of its own, is 
to fall short of Christ, and to take up in self. We must not 
only be justified, but glory in him also ; Isa. xlv. 25. Men 
may make use of the evidence of their graces; but only as 
medium to a farther end ; not as the rest of the soul in the 
least. And this deprives men's very humiliations of all 
gospel humility. True humility consists more in believing, 
than in being sensible of sin. That is the soul's great self- 
emptying and abasing ; this may consist with an obstinate 
resolution to scambie for something upon the account of self- 

2. Though evangelical sense of sin be a grace, yet it 


is not the uniting grace ; it is not that which interests us 
in Christ, not that which peculiarly, and in its own nature 
exalts him. There is in this sense of sin, that which is 
natural, and that which is spiritual ; or the matter of it, and 
its spirituality. The former consists in sorrow, trouble, self- 
abasement, dejection, and anxiety of mind, with the like 
passions. Of these 1 may say, as the apostle of afflictions, 
they 'are not joyous but grievous.' They are such as are ac- 
companied with the aversation of the object which they are 
conversant about. In their own nature they are no more but 
the soul's retreat into itself, with an abhorrency of the objects 
of its sorrow and grief. When these affections are spiritu- 
alized, their nature is not changed. The soul in and by them, 
acts according to their nature ; and doth by them as such, 
but retreat into itself with a dislike of that they are exer- 
cised about. To take up here then, must needs be to sit 
down short of Christ ; whether it be for life, or consolation. 

Let there be no mistake. There can be no evangelical 
sense of sin, and humiliation, where there is not union with 
Christ; Zech. xii. 10. Only in itself, and in its own nature, 
it is not availing. Now Christ is the only rest of our souls ; 
in any thing for any end or purpose, to take up short of him, 
is to lose it. It is not enough that w'e be prisoners of 
hope, but we must turn to our strong hold; Zech. ix. 12. 
not enough that we are weary and laden, but we must come 
to him ; Matt. xi. 27, 28. It will not suffice that we are 
weak, and know we are weak, but we must take hold on the 
strength of God; Isa. xxvii. 4, 5. 

3. Indeed pressing after forgiveness, is the very life 
and power of evangelical humiliation. How shall a man 
know that his humiliation is evangelical, that his sorrow is 
according to God ? Is it not from hence he may be resolved, 
that he doth not in it, as Cain did, who cried his sins were 
greater than he could bear, and so departed from the pre- 
sence of God ? nor as Judas did, who repented, and hanged 
himself? nor as Felix did, tremble for awhile, and then re- 
turn to his lusts ? nor as the Jews did in the prophet, pine 
away under his iniquities, because of vexation of heart? 
nor doth he divert his thoughts to other things, thereby to 
to relieve his soul in his trouble ; nor fix upon a righteous- 
ness of his own ; nor slothfuliy lie down under his per- 


plexity ; but in the midst of it, he plies himself to God in 
Christ for pardon and mercy. And it is the soul's applica- 
tion unto God for forgiveness, and not its sense of sin, that 
gives unto God the glory of his grace. 

Thus far then have we accompanied the soul in its 
depths; it is now looking out for forgiveness; which what 
it is, and how we come to have an interest in it, the principal 
matter in this discourse intended, is nextly to be considered. 

Ver. 4. The words explained, and the design or scope of the psalmist 
in them discovered. 

The state and condition of the soul making application unto 
God in this psalm is recounted, ver. 1. It was in the depths ; 
not only providential depths of trouble, affliction, and per- 
plexities thereon ; but also depths of conscience, distress 
on the account of sin, as in the opening of those words have 
been declared. 

The application of this soul unto God, with restless 
fervency and earnestness in that state and condition ; its 
consideration in the first place of the law and the severity of 
God's justice in a procedure thereon ; with the inevitable 
ruin of all sinners, if God insist on that way of dealing with 
them, have also been opened and manifested from the fore- 
o-oino- verses. 

Being in this estate, perplexed in itself, lost in and under 
the consideration of God's marking iniquity according to 
the tenor of the law, that which it fixes on, from whence 
any relief, stay, or supportment might be expected in such a 
condition, is laid down in this verse. 

Ver. 4. — ' But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou 
raayest be feared.' 

I shall first open the words as to their signification and 
importance ; then shew the design of the psalmist in them, 
with reference to the soul whose condition is here repre- 
sented ; and lastly, propose the general truths contained in 
them, wherein all our concernments do lie. 

There is forgiveness, IXaajuoc say the LXX. and Jerome 
accordingly, * propitiatio ;' ' propitiation :' which is somewhat 
more than ' venia' or ' pardon/ as by some it is rendered. 


nn>^Dn ' condonatio ipsa;' 'forgiveness itself.' It is from 
n^D to spare, to pardon, to forgive, to be propitious : and is 
opposed to ^Drr, a word composed of the same letters varied 
(which is common in that language) signifying to cut off, 
and destroy. 

Now it is constantly applied unto sin, and expresseth 
every thing that concurs to its pardon, or forgiveness. As, 

First, It expresseth the mind or will of pardoning, or 
God's gracious readiness to forgive ; Psal. Ixxxvi. 5. ' Thou, 
Lord,artgood, n^DI, and ready to forgive ;' \^r](TToq iccti tTrteticTjc; 
' benign and meek ;' or, ' sparing, propitious.' Of a gracious, 
merciful heart and nature. So Nehem. ix. 17. ' Thou art, O 
God,' mirVo * propitiationum,' of propitiations or pardons; 
or, as we have rendered it, ' ready to forgive ;' a God of for- 
givenesses ; or all plenty of them is in thy gracious heart; 
Isa. Iv. 8. So that thou art always ready to make out pardons 
to sinners. The word is used again, Dan. ix. 9. to the same 

Secondly, It regards the act of pardoning; or actual 
forgiveness itself; Psal. ciii. 3. nbon, * Who forgiveth all thine 
iniquities;' actually dischargeth thee of them: which place 
the apostle respecting, renders the word by j^apiaufxivoq'^ 
Col. iii. 13. * Having freely forgiven you' (for so much the 
word imports) * all your trespasses,' 

And this is the word that God useth in the covenant, in 
that great promise of grace and pardon ; Jer. xxxi. 34. 

It is warrantable for us, yea, necessary to take the word 
in the utmost extent of its signification and use. It is a 
word of favour, and requires an interpretation tending to- 
wards the enlargement of it. We see it may be rendered 
iXiiafiix:, or ' propitiation ;' x"P'^ ^"^ ' g'a^e;' and * venia,' or 
' pardon ;' and may denote these three things. 

1. The gracious, tender, merciful heart and will of God ; 
who is the God of pardons and forgiveness; or ready to 
forgive, to give out mercy, to add to pardon. 

2. A respect unto Jesus Christ, the only JAao-^oc, or 
propitiation for sin, as he is expressly called, Rom. iii. 25. 
1 John ii. 2. And this is that which interposeth between 
the gracious heart of God, and the actual pardon of sinners. 
All forgiveness is founded on propitiation. 

3. It denotes condonation or actual forgiveness itself> 


as we are made partakers of it ; comprising it both actively, 
as it is an act of grace in God; and passively, as terminated in 
our souls, with the deliverance that attends it. In this sense 
as it looks downwards, and in its effects respects us, it is of 
mere grace ; as it looks upwards to its causes and respects 
the Lord Christ, it is from propitiation or atonement. And 
this is that pardon which is administered in the covenant of 

Now as to the place which these words enjoy in this 
psalm, and their relation to the state and condition of the 
soul here mentioned, this seems to be their importance : 

O Lord, although this must be granted, that if thou 
shouldest mark iniquities according to the tenor of the law, 
every man living must perish, and that for ever; yet there 
is hope for my soul ; that even I who am in the depths of sin- 
entanglements, may find acceptance with thee ; for whilst I 
am putting my mouth in the dust, if so be there may be 
hope ; I find that there is an atonement, a propitiation made 
for sin, on the account whereof thou sayest thou hast found 
a ransom, and wilt not deal with them that come unto thee 
according to the severity and exigence of thy justice; but 
art gracious, loving, tender, ready to forgive and pardon, 
and dost so accordingly ; 'there is forgiveness with thee.' 

The following words, ' therefore thou shalt be feared,' or 
' that thou mayest be feared,' though, in the original, free 
from all ambiguity, yet are so signally varied by interpre- 
ters, that it may not be amiss to take notice of it in our 

The Targum hath it, 'that thou mayest be seen.' This an- 
swers not the word, but it doth the sense of the place well 
enough. God in his displeasure is said to hide himself, or 
his face; Tsa. viii. 17. 'The Lord hidetli his face from the 
house of Jacob.' By forgiveness we obtain again the light 
of his countenance. This dispels the darkness and clouds 
that are about him ; and gives us a comfortable prospect of 
his face and favour. 'There is forgiveness with him that he 
may be seen.' Besides, there is but one letter different in 
the original words ; and that which is usually changed for 
the other. 

The LXX. render them, 'ivsKci tov ovojuaroc ffou; 'for thy 
name's sake,' or ' thy own sake ;' that is, freely, without any 



respect unto any thing in us. This also would admit of a 
fair and sound construction, but that there is more than or- 
dinary evidence of the places being corrupted. For the 
Vulgar Latin, which, as to the Psalms, was translated out of 
the LXX. renders these words, 'propter legem tuam;' 'for 
thy law's sake ;' which makes it evident, that that translator 
reads the words tveKu tov vo/liov aov, and not ovojuaroc, as 
now we read. Now, though this hath in itself, no proper 
sense (for forgiveness is not bestowed for the law's sake), 
yet it discovers the original of the whole mistake. miD, 'the 
law/ differs but in one letter fromK-nn, ' that thou mayest be 
feared ;' by a mistake whereof this IVtKa tov vofxov, ' for thy 
law's sake,' crept into the text. Nor doth this any thing 
countenance the corrupt figment of the novelty of the He- 
brew vowels and accents ; as though this difierence might 
arise from the LXX. using a copy that had none, that is be- 
fore their invention, which might occasion mistakes and 
differences ; for this difference is in a letter as well as the 
vowels ; and therefore there can be no colour for this con- 
ceit, unless we say also, that they had copies of old with 
other consonants than those we now enjoy. Bellarmine, in 
his exposition of this place, endeavours to give countenance 
unto the reading of the Vulgar Latin, 'for thy law's sake ;' 
affirming that by the law here, not the law of our obedience, 
is intended ; but the law or order of God's dealing with us ; 
that is, his mercy and faithfulness ; which is a mere new in- 
vention to countenance an old error, which any tolerable 
ingenuity would have confessed, rather than have justified by 
so sorry a pretence. For neither is that expression, or that 
word, ever used in the sense here by him feigned, nor can it 
have any such signification. 

Jerome renders these words, 'ut sis terribilis;' 'that thou 
mayest be dreadful or terrible ;' doubtless not according to 
the intendment of the place. It is for the relieving of the 
soul, and not for the increasing of its dread and terror, that 
this observation is made ; ' there is forgiveness with thee.' 

But the words are clear, and their sense is obvious ; ]]}Db 
«mn ' therefore thou shalt be feared,' or ' that thou mayest 
be feared.' 

By the ' fear of the Lord,' in the Old Testament, the whole 
worship of God, moral and instituted, all the obedience 


which we owe unto him, both for matter and manner, is in- 
tended. Whatever we are to perform unto God, being to be 
carried on and performed with reverence and godly fear, by 
a metonomy of the adjunct, that name is given to the whole. 
'That thou mayest be feared,' then, is, that thou mayest be 
served, worshipped ; that I, who am ready to faint and give 
over on the account of sin, may yet be encouraged unto, 
and yet continue in, that obedience which thou requirest at 
my hands ; and this appears to be the sense of the whole 
verse ; as influenced by, and from, those foregoing: 

Although, O Lord, no man can approach unto thee, stand 
before thee, or walk with thee, if thou shouldest mark their 
sins and follies according to the tenor of the law ; nor could 
they serve so great and holy a God as thou art ; yet because 
I know from thy revelation of it, that there is also with thee, 
on the account of Jesus Christ, the propitiation, pardon, and 
forgiveness ; I am encouraged to continue with thee, waiting 
for thee, worshipping of thee, when, without this discovery, 
I should rather choose to have rocks and mountains fall upon 
me, to hide me from thy presence.' 

' But there is forgiveness with thee, and therefore thou 
shalt be feared.' 

The words being thus opened, we may take a full view in 
them of the state and condition of the soul expressed in this 
psalm ; and that answering the experiences of all who have 
had any thing to do with God, in and about the depths and 
entanglements of sin. 

Having in and from his great depths, ver. 1. addressed 
himself with fervent, redoubled cries, yea, outcries, to God 
and to him alone for relief, ver. 1, 2. having also acknow- 
ledged his iniquities, and considered them according to the 
tenor of the law, ver. 3. he confesseth himself to be lost 
and undone for ever on that account, ver. .3. But he abides 
not in the state of self-condemnation and dejection of soul ; 
he says not there is no hope, God is a jealous God, a holy 
God, I cannot serve him ; his law is a fiery law, which I can- 
not stand before, so that I had as good give over, sit down 
and perish, as contend any longer ! no, but searching by 
faith into the discovery that God makes of himself in Christ 
through the covenant of grace, he finds a stable foundation 
of encouragement, to continue waiting on him, with expecta- 
tion of mercy and pardon. 


Propositions or observations from the former exposition of the words. The 
first proposed to confirmation. No encouragement for anij sinner to ap- 
proach unto God, without a discovery of forgiveness. 

From the words unfolded, as they lie in their contexture, in 
the psalm, the ensuing propositions do arise: 

First, Faith's discovery of forgiveness in God, though it 
have no present sense of its own peculiar interest therein, 
is the great supportment of a sin-perplexed soul. 

Secondly, Gospel-forgiveness, whose discovery is the sole 
supportment of sin-distressed souls, relates to the gracious 
heart, or good will of the Father, the God of forgiveness, the 
propitiation that is made by the blood of the Son, and free 
condonation or pardon according to the tenor of the cove- 
nant of grace. 

Thirdly, Faith's discovery of forgiveness in G od, is the sole 
bottom of adherence to him, in acceptable worship and reve- 
rential obedience. 

The first of these, is that whose confirmation and im- 
provement I principally aim at ; and the other only so far 
as they have coincidence therewith, or may be used in, a sub- 
serviency to the illustration or demonstration thereof. 

In the handling then of this truth, that it may be of the 
more advantage unto them whose good is sought, and in- 
tended in the proposal and management of it, I shall steer 
this course, arid shew. 

First, That there is not the least encouragement to the 
soul of a sinner to deal with God without this discovery. 

Secondly, That this discovery of forgiveness in God is a 
matter great, holy, and mysterious ; and which very few on 
gospel abiding grounds, do attain unto. 

Thirdly, That yet this is a great,sacred, and certain truth, 
as from the manifold evidences of it, may be made to appear. 

Fourthly, That this is a stable supportment unto a sin- 
distressed soul, shall be manifested ; and the whole applied, 
accordinp; to the several concernments of those who shall 


consider it. 

First, There is not the least encouragement for the soul 
of a sinner, to entertain any thoughts of approaching unto 
God without this discovery. All the rest of the world, is 


covered with a deluge of wrath. This is the only ark where- 
unto the soul may repair and find rest. All without it, is 
darkness, curse, and terror. 

We have an instance and example of it, beyond all ex- 
ception, in Adam. When he knew himself to be a sinner, 
and it was impossible for him, as we shall shew afterward, 
to make a discovery of any such thing as forgiveness with 
God, he laid aside all thoughts of treating with him ; the best 
of his foolish contrivance was for an escape; Gen. iii. 10. 
* I heard thy voice,' saith he to God, ' in the garden, and was 
afraid, because I was naked ; and I hid myself.' Nothing 
but ' thou shalt die the death,' sounded in his ears. In the 
morning of that day, he was made by the hand of God : a 
few hours before, he had converse and communion with him, 
with boldness and peace; why, then, doth nothing now but 
fear, flying, and hiding, possess him ? Adam had sinned, the 
promise was not yet given, no revelation made of forgiveness 
in God, and what other course, than that vain and foolish 
one, to fix upon, he knew not. No more can any of his 
posterity without this revelation. What else any of them 
hath fixed on in this case, hath been no less foolish than his 
hiding ; and in most, more pernicious. When Cain had re- 
ceived his sentence from God, it is said ' he went out 'iD^D 
nin> from the presence' or face * of the Lord;' Gen. iv. 16. 
From his providential presence he could never subduct him- 
self: so the psalmist informs us at large, Psal. cxxxix. 7 — 9. 
The very heathen knew by the light of nature, that guilt 
could never drive men out of the reach of God. 

Quo fugis Encelade, quascunque accesseris oras 
Sub Jove semper eris. 

They knew that StKij (the vengeance of God) would not 
spare sinners ; nor could be avoided ; Acts xxviii. 4. From 
God's gracious presence, which he never enjoyed, he could 
not depart. It was then his presence as to his worship ; and 
all outward acts of communion that he forsook, and departed 
from. He had no discovery by faith of forgiveness, and there- 
fore resolved to have no more to do with God, nor those who 
cleaved to him ; for it respects his course, and not any one 
particular action. 

This also is stated, Isa. xxxiii. 14. ' The sinners in Sion 
are afraid, faithfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who 


among us shall dwell with the devouring fire ? Who among 
us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?' The persons spoken 
of are sinners, great sinners and hypocrites ; conviction of 
sin, and the desert of it was fallen upon them ; a light to 
discern forgiveness they had not ; they apprehend God as 
devouring fire and everlasting burnings only; one that would 
not spare, but assuredly inflict punishment according to the 
desert of sin ; and thence is their conclusion couched in 
their interrogation, that there can be no intercourse of peace 
between him and them ; there is no abiding, no enduring of 
his presence. And what condition this consideration brings 
the souls of sinners unto, when conviction grows strong upon 
them, the Holy Ghost declares, Micah vi. 6, 7. ' Wherewith 
shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the 
high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, 
with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with 
thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? 
Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of 
my body for the sin of my soul ?' Sense of sin presseth, for- 
giveness is not discovered (like the Philistines on Saul, Sa- 
muel not coming to his direction) ; and how doth the poor 
creature perplex itself in vain, to find out a way of dealing 
with God? Will a sedulous and diligent observation of his 
own ordinances and institutions relieve me ? * Shall I come 
before him with burnt-offerings and calves of a year old V 
Alas ! thou art a sinner, and these sacrifices cannot make thee 
perfect, or acquit thee; Heb. x. 1. Shall I do more than 
ever he required of any of the sons of men? O that I had 
thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil to offer 
to him ! Alas ! if thou hadst all the bulls and goats in the 
world, it is not possible that their blood should take away 
sins ; ver. 4. But I have heard of them who have snatched 
their own children from their mothers' breasts, and cast them 
into the fire, until they were consumed, so to pacify their 
consciences in expiating the guilt of their iniquities. Shall 
I take this course ? Will it relieve me ? I am ready to part 
with my first-born into the fire, so I may have deliverance 
from my transgressions. Alas ! this never came into the 
heart of God to approve, or accept of. And as it was then, 
whilst that kind of worship was in force, so is it still as to 
any duties, really to be performed, or imaginably. Where 


there is no discovery of forgiveness ; they will yield the 
soul no relief, no supportment ; God is not to be treated 
upon such terms. 

Greatness and rareness of the discover}) of forgiveness in God. Reasons of 
it. Testimonies of conscience, and law against it, ^c. 

Secondly, This discovery of forgiveness in God is great, 
holy, and mysterious, and which very few on gospel-grounds 
do attain unto. 

All men indeed say there is ; most men are persuaded 
that they think so. Only men in great and desperate ex- 
tremities, like Cain, or Spira, seem to call it into question. 
But their thoughts are empty, groundless, yea, for the most 
part wicked and atheistical. Elihu tells us, that to declare 
this aright to a sinful soul, it is the work of a 'messenger, an 
interpreter, one among a thousand ;' Job xxxiii. 23. that is, 
indeed, of Christ himself. The common thoughts of men 
about this thing are slight and foolish ; and maybe resolved 
into those mentioned by the psalmist, Psal. 1. 21. They 
think that ' God is altogether such a one as themselves.' 
That indeed he takes little or no care about these things, 
but passeth them over as slightly as they do themselves ; 
that, notwithstanding all their pretences, the most of men 
never had indeed any real discovery of forgiveness, shall be 
afterward undeniably evinced ; and I shall speedily shew the 
difference that is between their vain credulity, and a gracious 
gospel discovery of forgiveness in God. For it must be ob- 
served, that by this discovery, 1 intend, both the revelation 
of it made by God, and our understanding, and reception of, 
that revelation to our own advantage, as shall be shewed 

Now the grounds of the difficulty intimated, consist partly 
in the hinderances, that lie in the way of this discovery ; and 
partly in the nature of the thing itself, that is discovered ; 
of both which I shall briefly treat. 

But here, before I proceed, somewhat must be premised 
to shew what it is that I particularly intend by a discovery 
of forgiveness. It may then be considered two ways; 1. 


For a doctrinal, objective discovery of it in its truth. 2. An 
experimental subjective discovery of it in its power. In 
the first sense, forgiveness in God hath been discovered 
ever since the giving out of the first promise : God revealed 
it in a word of promise, or it could never have been known, 
as shall be afterward declared. In this sense, after many 
lesser degrees and advancements of the light of it, it was 
fully and gloriously brought forth by the Lord Jesus Christ 
in his own person ; and is now revealed, and preached in 
the gospel, and by them to whom the word of reconciliation 
is committed. And to declare this is the principal w^ork of 
the ministers of the gospel. Herein lie those unsearchable 
treasures and riches of Christ, which the apostle esteemed 
as his chiefest honour and pi'ivilege that he was intrusted 
with the declaration and dispensation of; Eph. iii. 8, 9. I 
know by many it is despised, by many traduced, whose ig- 
norance and blindness is to be lamented. But the day is 
coming which will manifest every man's work of what sort 
it is. In the latter sense how it is made by faith in the soul, 
shall in its proper place be farther opened and made known. 
Here many men mistake and deceive themselves. Because 
it is so in the book, they think it is so in them also. Be- 
cause they have been taught it, they think they believe it. 
But it is not so ; they have not heard this voice of God 
at any time, nor seen his shape ; it hath not been revealed 
unto them in its power ; to have this done is a great work. 

First, The constant voice of conscience lies against it. 
Conscience, if not seared, inexorably condemneth, and pro- 
nounceth wrath and anger upon the soul that hath the least 
guilt cleaving to it. Now it hath this advantage, it lieth 
close to the soul, and by importunity, and loud speaking, it 
will be heard in what it hath to say. It will make the whole 
soul attend, or it will speak like thunder. And its constant 
voice is, that where there is guilt there must be judgment; 
Rom. ii. 14, 15. Conscience naturally knows nothing of 
forgiveness. Yea, it is against its very trust, work, and office, 
to hear any thing of it. If a man of courage and honesty 
be intrusted to keep a garrison against an enemy, let one 
come and tell him, that there is peace made between those 
whom he serves, and their enemies, so that he may leave 


his guard, and set open the gates, and cease his watchful- 
ness ; how wary will he be, lest under this pretence he be 
betrayed? No, saith he, I will keep my hold, until I have 
express order from my superiors. Conscience is intrusted 
with the power of God in the soul of a sinner, with com- 
mand to keep all in subjection with reference unto the judg- 
ment to come; it will not betray its trust in believing every 
report of peace. No, but this it says, and it speaks in the 
name of God ; guilt and punishment are inseparable twins; 
if the soul sin, God will judge. What tell you me of for- 
giveness ? I know what my commission is, and that I will 
abide by. You shall not bring in a superior commander, a 
cross principle into my trust ; for if this be so, it seems I 
must let go my throne ; another lord must come in ; not 
knowing as yet how this whole business is compounded in 
the blood of Christ. Now whom should a man believe if not 
his own conscience, which as it will not flatter him, so it 
intends not to affright him, but to speak the truth as the 
matter requireth? Conscience hath two works in reference 
unto sin ; one to condemn the acts of sin, another to judge 
the person of the sinner; both with reference to the judg- 
ment of God. When forgiveness comes, it would sever and 
part these employments, and take one of them out of the 
hand of conscience. It would divide the spoil with this 
strong one. It shall condemn the fact, or every sin ; but it 
shall no more condemn the sinner, the person of the sinner; 
that shall be freed from its sentence. Here conscience la- 
bours with all its might to keep its whole dominion ; and to 
keep out the power of forgiveness, from being enthroned in 
the soul. It will allow men to talk of forgiveness, to hear it 
preached, though they abuse it every day ; but to receive it 
in its power, that stands up in direct opposition to its do- 
minion ; in the kingdom, saith conscience, I will be greater 
than thou ; and in many, in the most, it keeps its possession, 
and will not be deposed. 

Nor indeed is it an easy work so to deal with it. TJie 
apostle tells us, that all the sacrifices of the law could not 
do it; Heb. x. 2. they could not bring a man into that 
estate, wherein he should 'have no more conscience of sin;' 
that is, conscience condemning the person ; for conscience 
in a sense of sin, and condemnation of it, is never to be taken 



away. And this can be no otherwise done, but by the blood 
of Christ, as the apostle at large there declares. 

It is then no easy thing to make a discovery of forgive- 
ness unto a soul, when the work and employment which 
conscience upon unquestionable grounds challengeth unto it- 
self, lies in opposition unto it. Hence is the soul's great de- 
sire to establish its own righteousness, whereby its natural 
principles may be preserved in their power. Let self-righ- 
teousness be enthroned, and natural conscience desires no 
more ; it is satisfied and pacified. The law it knows, and 
righteousness it knows, but as for forgiveness, it says, 
whence is it ? Unto the utmost, until Christ perfects his con- 
quest, there are on this account secret strugglings in the heart 
against free pardon in the gospel, and fluctuations of mind 
and Spirit about it. Yea, hence are the doubts and fears 
of believers themselves. They are nothing but the strivings 
of conscience to keep its whole dominion; to condemn the 
sinner as well as the sin. More or less it keeps up its pre- 
tensions against the gospel, whilst we live in this world. It 
is a great work that the blood of Christ hath to do upon the 
conscience of a sinner; for whereas, as it hath been declar- 
ed, it hath a power, and claims a right, to condemn both sin 
and sinner, the one part of this its power is to be cleared, 
strengthened, made more active, vigorous, and watchful, the 
other to be taken quite away. It shall now see more sins 
than formerly, more of the vileness of all sins than formerly, 
and condemn them with more abhorrency than ever, upon 
more, and more glorious accounts than formerly ; but it is 
also made to see an interposition between these sins, and the 
person of the sinner, who hath committed them ; which is no 
small or ordinary work. 

Secondly, The law lies against this discovery. The law is a 
beam of the holiness of God himself. What it speaks unto 
us, it speaks in the name and authority of God ; and I shall 
briefly shew concerning it these two things : 

1. That this is the voice of the law ; namely, that there 
is no forgiveness for a sinner. 

2. That a sinner hath great reason to give credit to the 
law in that assertion. 

It is certain that the law knows neither mercy nor for- 
giveness. The very sanction of it lies wholly against them : 


* The soul that sinneth shall die.' * Cursed is he that con- 
tinueth not in all things in the book of the law to do them ;' 
Deut. xxvii. 26. Hence the apostle pronounceth universally 
without exception, that they ' who are under the law, are 
under the curse;' Gal. iii. 10. And, saith he, ver. 12. 'The 
law is not of faith.' There is an inconsistency between the 
law, and believing ; they cannot have their abode in power 
together. * Do this and live;' fail and die : is the constant, 
immutable voice of the law. This it speaks in general to 
all ; and this in particular to every one. 

^2. The sinner seems to have manifold and weighty rea- 
sons to attend to the voice of this law, and to acquiesce in 
its sentence. For, 

1. The law is connatural to him; his domestic, his old 
acquaintance. It came into the world with him, and hath 
grown up with him from his infancy. It was implanted in 
his heart by nature ; is his own reason ; he can never shake 
it off or part with it. It is his familiar, his friend, that 
cleaves to him as the flesh to the bone ; so that they who 
have not the law written, cannot but shew forth the work 
of the law ; Rom. ii. 14, 15. and that because the law itself 
is inbred to them ; and all the faculties of the soul are at 
peace with it, in subjection to it. It is the bond and liga- 
ment of their union, harmony, and correspondency among 
themselves, in all their moral actings. It gives life, order, 
motion to them all. Now the gospel, that comes to con- 
trol this sentence of the law, and to relieve the sinner from 
it, is foreign to his nature, a strange thing to him, a thing 
he hath no acquaintance or familiarity with ; it hath not 
been bred up with him ; nor is there any thing in him, to 
side with it, to make a party for it, or to plead in its behalf. 
Now shall not'a man rather believe a domestic, a friend, in- 
deed himself; than a foreigner, a stranger, that comes with 
uncouth principles, and such as suit not its reason at all? 
1 Cor. i. 18. 

2. The law speaks nothing to a sinner, but what his con- 
science assures him to be true. There is a constant con- 
currence in the testimony of the law and conscience. When 
the law says, this or that is a sin, worthy of death, con- 
science says, it is even so ; Rom. i. 42. And where the law 
of itself, as being a general rule, rests, conscience helps it on^ 

G 2 


and says, this and that sin, so worthy of death, is the sou! 
guilty of; then die, saith the law, as thou hast deserved. 
Now this must needs have a mighty efficacy to prevail with 
the soul to give credit to the report and testimony of the 
law ; it speaks not one word but what he hath a witness 
within himself to the truth of it. These witnesses always 
agree; and so it seems to be established for a truth, that 
there is no forgiveness. 

3. The law, though it speak against the soul's interest, 
yet it speaks nothing but what is so just, righteous, and equal, 
that it even forceth the soul's consent. So Paul tells us, 
that men know this voice of the law to be the judgment of 
God ; Rom. i. 32. They know it, and cannot but consent 
unto it, that it is the judgment of God ; that is, good, righ- 
teous, equal, not to be controlled. And indeed what can 
be more righteous than its sentence? It commands obe- 
dience to the God of life and death : promiseth a reward, 
and declares that for non-performance of duty, death will be 
inflicted. On these terms the sinner cometh into the world ; 
they are good, righteous, holy ; the soul accepts of them, 
and knows not what it can desire better or more equal. This 
the apostle insists upon, Rom. vii. 12, 13. * Wherefore the 
law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 
Was then that which was good 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 exceeding sinful.' Wherever the blame falls, 
the soul cannot but acquit the law, and confess that what 
it says, is righteous and uncontrollably equal. And it is 
meet things should be so. Now though the authority and 
credit of a witness may go very far in a doubtful matter; 
when there is a concurrence of more witnesses it strength- 
ens the testimony ; but nothing is so prevalent to beget be- 
lief, as when the things themselves that are spoken are just 
and good, not liable to any reasonable exception ; and so is 
it in this case, unto the authority of the law, and concur- 
rence of conscience, this also is added, the reasonableness 
and equity of the thing itself proposed, even in the judgment 
of the sinner; namely, that every sin shall be punished, and 
every transgression receive a meet recompense of reward. 

4. But yet farther. What the law says, it speaks in the 



name and authority of God. What it says, then, must be 
believed, or we make God a liar. It comes not in its own 
name, but in the name of him who appointed it. You will 
say then, is it so indeed? Is there no forgiveness with God? 
For this is the constant voice of the law, which you say 
speaks in the name and authority of God, and is therefore 
to be believed. I answer briefly with the apostle ; what the 
law speaks, it speaks to them that are under the law. It 
doth not speak to them that are in Christ, whom the ' law of 
the Spirit of life, hath set free from the law of sin and death ;* 
but to them that are under the law it speaks, and it speaks 
the very truth; and it speaks in the name of God, and its tes- 
timony is to be received. It says there is no forgiveness in 
God, namely, to them that are under the law ; and they that 
shall flatter themselves with a contrary persuasion, will find 
themselves wofully mistaken at the great day. 

On these and the like considerations, I say, there seems 
to be a great deal of reason, why a soul should conclude 
that it will be according to the testimony of the law; and 
that he shall not find forgiveness. Law and conscience 
close together, and insinuate themselves into the thoughts, 
mind, and judgment of a sinner. They strengthen the testi- 
mony of one another, and greatly prevail. If any are other- 
wise minded, I leave them to the trial. If ever God awaken 
their consciences to a thorough performance of their duty ; 
if ever he open their souls, and let in the light and power of 
the law upon them, they will find it no small work to grapple 
with them. I am sure that eventually they prevail so far, 
that in the preaching of the gospel, we have great cause to 
say, ' Lord, who hath believed our report?' we come with our 
report of forgiveness, but who believes it? by whom is it 
received ? neither doth the light, nor conscience, nor con- 
versation of the most, allow us to suppose it is embraced. 

Thirdly, The ingrafted notions that are in the minds of 
men, concerning the nature and justice of God, lie against 
this discovery also. There are in all men by nature indelible 
characters of the holiness and purity of God ; of his justice 
and hatred of sin, of his invariable righteousness in the 
government of the world, that they can neither depose nor 
lay aside. For notions of God, whatever they are, will bear 
sway and rule in the heart, when things are put to the trial. 


They were in the heathens of old ; they abode with them in 
all their darkness; as might be manifested by innumerable 
instances. But so it is in all men by nature ; their inward 
thought is, that God is an avenger of sin; that it belongs 
to his rule and government of the world, his holiness and 
righteousness, to take care that every sin be punished ; this 
is his judgment, which all men know, as was observed before ; 
Rom. i. 32. They know that it is a righteous thing with 
God to render tribulation unto sinners. From thence is that 
dread and fear which surpriseth men at an apprehension of 
the presence of God; or of any thing under him, above 
them, that may seem to come on his errand. This notion 
of God's avenging all sin, exerts itself secretly, but effectu- 
ally. So Adam trembled, and hid himself. And it was the 
saying of old, * I have seen God, and shall die.' When men 
are under any dreadful providence ; thunderings, lightnings, 
tempests, in darkness, they tremble, not so much at what 
they see, or hear, or feel, as from their secret thoughts that 
God is nigh, and that he is a consuming fire. 

Now these inbred notions lie universally against all ap- 
prehensions of forgiveness ; which must be brought into the 
soul from without doors; having no principle of nature to 
promote them. 

It is true, men by nature have presumptions and com- 
mon ingrafted notions, of other properties of God, besides 
his holiness and justice ; as of his goodness, benignity, love 
of his creatures, and the like: but all these have this sup- 
position inlaid with them in the souls of men; namely, that 
all things stand between God and his creatures, as they did 
at their first creation ; and as they have no natural notion 
of forgiveness, so the interposition of sin weakens, disturbs, 
darkens them, as to any improvement of those apprehensions 
of goodness and benignity which they have. If they have 
any notion of forgiveness, it is from some corrupt tradition, 
and not at all from any universal principle, that is inbred 
in nature; such as are those, which they have of God's holi- 
ness and vindictive justice. 

And this is the first ground ; from whence it appears, that 
a real, solid discovery of forgiveness, is indeed a great work ; 
many difficulties and hinderances lie in the way of its ac- 


False presumptions of forgiveness discovered. Differences between them 
and faith evangelical. 

Before I proceed to produce and manage the remaining 
evidences of this truth, because what hath been spoken, lies 
obnoxious and open to an objection, which must needs rise 
in the minds of many, that it may not thereby be rendered 
useless unto them, I shall remove it out of the way, that we 
may pass on to what remains. 

It will then be said. Doth not all this lie directly con- 
trary to our daily experience? Do ye not find all men full 
enough, most too full of apprehensions of forgiveness with 
God? What so common as God is merciful? Are not the 
consciences and convictions of the most, stifled by this ap- 
prehension? Can you find a man that is otherwise minded? 
Is it not a common complaint that men presume on it, unto 
their eternal ruin? Certainly then, that which all men do, 
which every man can so easily do, and which you cannot 
keep men off from doing, though it be to their hurt, hath no 
such difficulty izi it as is pretended. And on this very ac- 
count hath this weak endeavour to demonstrate this truth 
been by some laughed to scorn; men who have taken upon 
them the teaching of others, but, as it seems, had need be 
taught themselves the very first principles of the oracles 
of God. 

Ans. All this then, I say, is so, and much more to this 
purpose may be spoken. The folly and presumption of 
poor souls herein, can never be enough lamented. But it is 
one thing to embrace a cloud, a shadow, another to have the 
truth in reality. I shall hereafter shew the true nature of 
forgiveness, and wherein it doth consist, whereby the vanity 
of this self-deceiving will be discovered and laid open. It 
will appear in the issue, that notwithstanding all their pre- 
tensions, that the most of men know nothing at all, or not 
any thing to the purpose, of that which is under considera- 
tion. I shall, therefore, for the present, in some few ob- 
servations, shew how far this delusion of many differs from 
a true gospel discovery of forgiveness, such as that we are 
inquiring after. 

First, The common notion of forgiveness that men have 


in the world is twofold : 1. An atheistical presumption on 
God, that he is not so just and holy, or not just and holy in 
such a way and manner as he is by some represented, is the 
ground of their persuasion of forgiveness. Men think that 
some declarations of God, are fitted only to make them mad. 
That he takes little notice of these things, and that what he 
doth, he will easily pass by, as they suppose better becomes 
him. Come, ' let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall 
die.' This is their inward thought, * the Lord will not do 
good, nor will he do evil ;' which, says the psalmist, is men's 
thinking that God is such a one as themselves; Psal. 1. 21. 
They have no deep nor serious thoughts of his greatness, 
holiness, purity, severity, but think that he is like them- 
selves ; so far as not to be much moved with what they 
do. What thoughts they have of sin, the same they think 
God hath. If with them a slight ejaculation be enough to 
expiate sin, that their consciences be no more troubled, they 
think it is enough with God that it be not punished. The 
generality of men make light work of sin ; and yet in nothing 
doth it more appear what thoughts they have of God. He 
that hath slight thoughts of sin had never great thoughts 
of God. Indeed men's undervaluing of sin, ariseth merely 
from their contempt of God. All sins concernments flow 
from its relation unto God. And as men's apprehensions 
are of God, so will they be of sin, which is an opposition 
to him. This is the frame of the most of men ; they know 
little of God, and are little troubled about any thing that 
relates unto him. God is not reverenced, sin is but a trifle, 
forgiveness a matter of nothing ; whoso will may have it 
for asking. But shall this atheistical wickedness of the 
heart of man be called a discovery of forgiveness ? Is not 
this to make God an idol ? He who is not acquainted with 
God's holiness and purity, who knows not sin's desert and 
sinfulness, knows nothing of forgiveness. 

Secondly, From the doctrine of the gos)>el commonly 
preached and made known, there is a general notion begotten 
in the minds of men that God is ready to forgive. Men, I say, 
from hence, have a doctrinal apprehension of this truth, 
without any real satisfactory foundation of that appre- 
hension, as to themselves. This they have heard, this tiiey 
have been often told, so they think, and so they resolved to 


do. A general persuasion hereof, spreads itself over all to 
whom the sound of the gospel doth come. It is not fidu- 
cially resolved into the gospel, but is an opinion growing 
out of the report of it. 

Some relief men find by it, in the common course of 
their conversation, in the duties of worship which they do 
perform, as also in their troubles and distresses, whether 
internal and of conscience, or external and of providence, 
so that they resolve to retain it. 

And this is that which I shall briefly speak unto; and 
therein manifest the differences between this common pre- 
vailing apprehension of forgiveness, and faith's discovery of 
it to the soul in its power. 

1. That which we reject is loose and general, nor 
fixed, ingrafted, or planted on the mind. So is it always, 
where the minds of men receive things, only in their notion, 
and not in their power. It wants fixedness and foundation : 
which defects accompany all notions of the mind that are 
only retained in the memory, not implanted in the judgment. 
They have general thoughts of it, which they use as occasion 
serves. They hear that God is a merciful God, and as such 
they intend to deal with him. For the true bottom, rise, 
and foundation of it, whence or on what account, the pure 
and holy God, who will do no iniquity, the righteous God, 
whose judgment it is, that they that commit sin are worthy 
of death, should yet pardon iniquity, transgression, and sin ; 
they weigh it not, they consider it not ; or, if they do, it is 
in a slight and notional way, as they consider the thing itself. 
They take it for granted so it is ; and are never put seriously 
upon the inquiry, how it comes to be so ; and that because 
indeed they have no real concernment in it. How many 
thousands may we meet withal, who take it for granted, that 
forgiveness is to be had with God, that never yet had any 
serious exercise in their souls about the grounds of it, and 
its consistency with his holiness and justice. But those that 
know it by faith, have a sense of it fixed particularly and dis- 
tinctly on their minds. They have been put upon an inquiry 
into the rise and grounds of it in Christ; so that on a good 
and unquestionable foundation they can go to God, and say, 
' there is forgiveness with thee.' They see how, and by 
what means, more glory comes unto God by forgiveness, 


than by punishing of sin ; which is a matter that the other 
sort of men are not at all solicitous about. If they may 
escape punishment, whether God have any glory or no, for 
the most part they are indifferent. 

2. The first apprehension ariseth without any trial, 
upon inquiry in the consciences of them in whom it is. 
They have not by the power of their convictions, and dis- 
tresses of conscience, been put to make inquiry whether this 
thing be so or no. It is not a persuasion that they have 
arrived unto, in a way of seeking satisfaction to their own 
souls. It is not the result of a deep inquiry after peace and 
rest. It is antecedent unto trial and experience, and so is 
not faith, but opinion. For although faith be not experience, 
yet it is inseparable from it, as is every practical habit. 
Distresses in their consciences have been prevented by this 
opinion, not removed. The reason why the most of men 
are not troubled about their sins to any purpose, is from a 
persuasion that God is merciful and will pardon; when in- 
deed none can really, on a gospel account, ordinarily, have 
that persuasion, but those who have been troubled for sin, 
and that to the purpose. So is it with them that make this 
discovery by faith. They have had conflicts in their own 
spirits, and being deprived of peace, have accomplished a 
diligent search, whether forgiveness were to be obtained or 
no. The persuasion they have of it, be it more or less, is 
the issue of a trial they have had in their own souls, of an 
inquiry how things stood between God and them, as to 
peace, and acceptation of their persons. This is a vast 
difference ; the one sort might possibly have had trouble in 
their consciences about sin, had it not been for their opinion 
of forgiveness ; this hath prevented, or stifled their con- 
victions, not healed their wounds, which is the work of the 
gospel ; but kept them from being wounded, which is the 
work of security. Yea, here lies the ruin of the most of 
them who perish under the preaching of the gospel. They 
have received the general notion of pardon ; it floats in their 
minds, and presently presents itself to their relief on all 
occasions. Doth God at any time, in the dispensation of 
the word, under an affliction, upon some great sin against 
their ruling light, begin to deal with their consciences ? be- 
fore their conviction can ripen, or come to any perfection; 


before it draw nigh to its perfect work they choke it, and 
heal their consciences with this notion of pardon. Many a 
man, between the assembly and his dwelling-house, is thus 
cured. You may see them go away shaking their heads, 
and striking on their breasts, and before they come home, 
be as whole as ever. Well ! God is merciful, there is par- 
don, hath wrought the cure. The other sort have obtained 
their persuasion, as a result of the discovery of Christ in 
the gospel, upon a full conviction. Trials they have had, 
and this is the issue. 

3. The one, which we reject, worketh no love to God, 
no delight in him, no reverence of him, but rather a con- 
tempt and commonness of spirit in dealing with him. There 
are none in the world that deal worse with God, than those 
who have an ungrounded persuasion of forgiveness. And 
if they do fear him, or love him, or obey him in any thing, 
more or less, it is on other motives and considerations, 
which will not render any thing they do acceptable, and not 
at all on this. As he is good to the creation they may love, 
as he is great and powerful they may fear him ; but sense of 
pardon, as to any such ends or purposes, hath no power upon 
them. Carnal boldness, formality, and despising of God, 
are the common issues of such a notion and persuasion. 
Indeed this is the generation of great sinners in the world ; 
men who have a general apprehension, but not a sense of 
the special power of pardon, openly or secretly, in fleshly 
or spiritual sins, are the great sinners among men. Where 
faith makes a discovery of forgiveness, all things are other- 
wise. Great love, fear, and reverence of God, are its at- 
tendants. Mary Magdalene loved much, because much was 
forgiven. Great love will spring out of great forgiveness. 
* There is forgiveness with thee,' saith the psalmist, ' that thou 
mayest be feared,' No unbeliever doth truly and experi- 
mentally know the truth of this inference. But so it is 
when men ' fear the Lord, and his goodness ;' Hos. iii. 5. 
I say, then, where pardoning mercy is truly apprehended, 
where faith makes a discovery of it to the soul, it is en- 
deared unto God, and possessed of the great springs of 
love, delight, fear, and reverence; Psal. cxvi. 1. 5 — 7. 

4. This notional apprehension of the pardon of sin, 
begets no serious, thorough hatred and detestation of sinj 



nor is prevalent to a relinquishment of it; nay, it rather 
secretly insinuates into the soul encouragements unto a con- 
tinuance in it. It is the nature of it to lessen and extenuate 
sin, and to support the soul against its convictions. So Jude 
tells us, that some turn ' the grace of God into lascivious- 
ness ;' ver. 4. and, says he, they are 'ungodly men;' let them 
profess what they will, they are ungodly men. But how 
can they turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness? 
Is grace capable of a conversion into lust or sin? Will 
what was once grace, ever become wantonness ? It is objec- 
tive, not subjective grace; the doctrine, not the real sub- 
stance of grace, that is intended. The doctrine of forgive- 
ness is this grace of God, which may be thus abused. From 
hence do men who have only a general notion of it, habitually 
draw secret encouragements to sin and folly. Paul also lets 
us know, that carnal men coming to a doctrinal acquaintance 
with gospel grace, are very apt to make such conclusions, 
Rom. vi. 1. And it will appear at the last day, how un- 
speakably this glorious grace hath been perverted in the 
world. It would be well for many if they had never heard 
the name of forgiveness. It is otherwise where this revela- 
tion is received indeed in the soul by believing ; Rom. vi. 14. 
Our being under grace, under the power of the belief of for- 
giveness, is our great preservative from our being under the 
power of sin. 

Faith of forgiveness is the principle of gospel obedience ; 
Titus ii. 11, 12. 

5. The general notion of forgiveness brings with it 
no sweetness, no rest to the soul. Flashes of joy it may, 
abiding rest it doth not. The truth of the doctrine fluctuates 
to and fro in the minds of those that have it, but their wills 
and affections have no solid delight nor rest by it. Hence, 
notwithstanding all that profession that is made in the world 
of forgiveness, the most of men ultimately resolve their peace 
and comfort unto themselves. As their apprehensions are 
of their own doing, good or evil, according to their ruling 
light whatever it be, so as to peace and rest are they secretly 
tossed up and down. Every one in his several way pleaseth 
himself with what he doth in answer unto his own convic- 
tions, and is disquieted as to his state and condition, accord- 
ing as he seems to himself to come short thereof. To make 


a full life of contentation upon pardon, they know not how 
to do it. One duty yields them more true repose than many 
thouo-hts of forgiveness. But faith finds sweetness and rest 
in it ; being thereby apprehended, it is the only harbour of 
the soul. It leads a man to God as good, to Christ as rest. 
Fading evanid joys, do ofttimes attend the one; but solid 
delight, with constant obedience, are the fruits only of the 

6. Those who have the former only, take up their per- 
suasion on false grounds, though the thing itself be true ; 
and they cannot but use it unto false ends and purposes, be- 
sides its natural and genuine tendency. For their grounds 
they will be discovered when I come to treat of the true na- 
ture of gospel forgiveness. For the end, it is used generally 
only to fill up what is wanting. Self-righteousness is their 
bottom ; and when that is too short, or narrow to cover them, 
thev piece it out by forgiveness. Where conscience accuses, 
this must supply the defect. Faith lays it on its proper 
foundation ; of which afterward also ; and it useth it to its 
proper end ; namely, to be the sole and only ground of our 
acceptation with God. That is the proper use of forgive- 
ness, that all may be of grace ; for when the foundation is 
pardon, the whole superstructure must needs be grace. From 
what hath been spoken it is evident, that notwithstanding the 
pretences to the contrary, insinuated in the objection now 
removed, it is a great thing to have gospel forgiveness dis- 
covered unto a soul in a saving manner. 

The true nature of gospel forgiveness. Its relation to the goodness, grace, 
and will of God. To the blood of Christ. To the promise of the gospel. 
The considerations of faith about it. 

The difficulties that lie in the way of faith's discovery of 
forgiveness, whence it appears to be a matter of greater 
weight and importance, than it is commonly apprehended to 
be, have been insisted on in the foregoing discourse. There 
is yet remaining another ground of the same truth. Now 
this is taken from the nature and greatness of the thing it- 
self discovered, that is, of forgiveness. To this end I shall 


shew, what it is, wherein it doth consist, what it comprises 
and relates unto, according to the importance of the second 
proposition before laid down. 

I do not in this place take forgiveness, strictly and pre- 
cisely, for the act of pardoning ; nor shall I dispute what that 
is, and wherein it doth consist. Consciences that come 
with sin-entanglements unto God, know nothing of such dis- 
putes. Nor will this expression, ' there is forgiveness with 
God,' bear any such restriction, as that it should regard only 
actual condonation or pardon. That which I have to do, is 
to inquire into the nature of that pardon, which poor con- 
vinced, troubled souls seek after; and which the Scripture 
proposeth to them, for their relief and rest. And I shall not 
handle this absolutely neither, but in relation to the truth 
under consideration ; namely, that it is a great thing, to at- 
tain unto a true gospel discovery of forgiveness. 

First, As was shewed in the opening of the words, the 
forgiveness inquired after, hath relation unto the gracious 
heart of the Father. Two things I understand hereby. 

1. The infinite goodness and graciousness of his nature. 

2. The sovereign purpose of his will and grace. 

There is considerable in it, the infinite goodness of his 
nature. Sin stands in a contrariety unto God. It is a re- 
bellion against his sovereignty, an opposition to his holiness, 
a provocation to his justice, a rejection of his yoke, a casting 
off, what lies in the sinner, of that dependence which a crea- 
ture hath on its Creator. That God then should have pity 
and compassion on sinners, in every one of whose sins there 
is all this evil, and inconceivably more than we can compre- 
hend, it argues an infinitely gracious, good, and loving heart 
and nature in him. For God doth nothing but suitably to 
the properties of his nature, and from them. All the acts of 
his will, are the effects of his nature. 

Now whatever God proposeth as an encouragement for 
sinners to come to him ; that is of, or hath a special influence 
into, the forgiveness that is with him. For nothing can en- 
courage a sinner as such, but under this consideration, that 
it is, or it respects, forgiveness. That this graciousness of 
God's nature lies at the head or spring, and is the root 
from whence forgiveness doth grow, is manifest from 
that solemn proclamation which he made of old of his 


name, and the revelation of his nature therein (for God as- 
suredly is, what by himself he is called), Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. 
' The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suf- 
fering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy 
for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.' 
His forgiving of iniquity flows from hence; that in his na- 
ture he is merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in 
goodness. Were he not so, infinite in all these, it was in 
vain to look for forgiveness from him. Having made this 
known to be his name, and thereby declared his nature, he 
in many places proposeth it as a relief, a refuge for sinners, 
an encouragement to come unto him, and to wait for mercy 
from him. Psal. ix. 10. * They that know thy name, will put 
their trust in thee.' It will encourage them so to do ; others 
have no foundation of their confidence ; but if this name of 
God be indeed made known unto us by the Holy Ghost, what 
can hinder why we should not repair unto him, and rest upon 
him? So Isa. 1. 10. * Who is among you that feareth the 
Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in 
darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the 
Lord, and stay upon his God.' Not only sinners, but sinners 
in great distress are here spoken unto. Darkness of state 
or condition, in the Scripture denotes everything of discon- 
solation and trouble. To be then in darkness, where yet 
there is some light, some relief, though darkness be pre- 
dominant, is sad and disconsolate ; but now not only to be, 
but also to walk, that is, to continue a course in darkness, and 
that with no light, no discovery of help or relief; this seems 
an overwhelming condition ; yet sinners in this estate are 
called ' to trust in the name of the Lord.' I have shewed 
before, that nothing but forgiveness, or that which in- 
fluenceth it, and encourageth to an expectation of it, is of 
any use unto a sinner, much more one in so great distress 
upon the account of sin : yet is such a one here sent only to 
the name of the Lord, wherein his gracious heart and nature 
is revealed. That then is the very fountain and spring of 
forgiveness. And this is that which John would work a 
sense of upon our souls, where he tells us, that * God is love ;' 
1 Epist. iv. 8. or one of an infinitely gracious, tender, good, 
compassionate, loving nature. Infinite goodness and grace 
is the soil wherein forgiveness grows. It is impossible this 



flower should spring from any other root. Unless this be 
revealed to the soul, forgiveness is not revealed. To con- 
sider pardon merely as it is terminated on ourselves, not as 
it flows from God, will bring neither profit to us, nor glory 
to God. 

And this also, wliich is our design in hand, will make it 
appear, that this discovery of forgiveness whereof we speak, 
is indeed no common thing, is a great discovery. Let men 
come with a sense of the guilt of sin, to have deep and serious 
thoughts of God, they will find it no such easy and light 
matter, to have their hearts truly and thoroughly apprehen- 
sive of this loving and gracious nature of God, in reference 
unto pardon. It is an easy matter to say so in common, but 
the soul will not find it so easy to believe it for itself. What 
hath been spoken before concerning the ingrafted notions 
that are in the minds of men about the justice, holiness, and 
severity of God, will here take place. Though men profess 
that God is gracious, yet that aversation which they have 
unto him, and communion with him, doth abundantly mani- 
fest that they do not believe what they say and profess ; if 
they did, they could not but delight and trust in him, which 
they do not ; for ' they that know his name will put their 
trust in him.' So said the slothful servant in the gospel, 1 
knew that thou wast austere, and not for me to deal withal ; 
it may be he professed otherwise before, but that lay in his 
heart when it came to the trial. But this, I say, is necessary 
to them unto whom this discovery is to be made ; even a 
spiritual apprehension of the gracious, loving heart and na- 
ture of God. This is the spring of all that follows ; and the 
fountain must needs be infinitely sweet from whence such 
streams do flow. He that considers the glorious fabric of 
heaven and earth, with the things in them contained, must 
needs conclude that they were the product of infinite wisdom 
and power ; nothing less or under them could have brought 
forth such an effect. And he that really considereth for- 
giveness, and looks on it with a spiritual eye, must conclude 
that it comes from infinite goodness and grace. And this 
is that which the hearts of sinners are exercised about, when 
they come to deal for pardon. Psal. Ixxxvi. 5. ' Thou, Lord, 
art good, and ready to forgive.' Nehem. ix. 17. ' Thou art a 
a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger. 


and of great kindness.' And Micah vii. 19. ' Who is a God 

like unto thee, thatpardoneth iniquity because he de- 

lighteth in mercy.' And God encourageth them hereunto, 
wherever he says that he forgives sins and blots out iniqui- 
ties for his own sake, or his name's sake ; that is, he will deal 
with sinners according to the goodness of his own gracious 
nature. So Hos. xi. 9. 'I will not execute the fierceness of 
mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I arn 
God, and not man.' Were there no more mercy, grace, com- 
passion, to be shewed in this case, than it is possible should 
be treasured up in the heart of a man, it would be impossible 
that Ephraim should be spared. But, saith he, * I am God, 
and not man.' Consider the infinite largeness, bounty, and 
goodness of the heart of God, and there is yet hope. When 
a sinner is in good earnest seeking after forgiveness, there is 
nothing he is more solicitous about than the heart, of God 
towards him ; nothing that he more labours to have a dis- 
covery of; there is nothing that sin and Satan labour more 
to hide from him; this he rolls in his mind, and exercises 
his thoughts about ; and if ever that voice of God, Isa. xxvii. 
4. 'fury is not in me,' sound in his heart, he is relieved from 
his great distresses. And the fear of our hearts in this mat- 
ter, our Saviour seems to intend the prevention or a removal 
of; John xvi. 26, 27. ' I say not that I will pray the Father 
for you, for the Father himself loveth you.' They had good 
thoughts of the tender heart and care of Christ himself, the 
Mediator, towards them ; but what is the heart of the Father, 
what acceptance shall they find with him? Will Christ pray 
that they may find favour with him ? Why, saith he, as to 
the love of his heart, there is no need of it ; ' for the Father 
himself loveth you.' If this then belongeth to forgiveness, 
as whoever hath sought for it, knoweth that it doth, it is 
certainly no common discovery to have it revealed unto us. 
•r To have all the clouds and darkness that are raised by 
sin, between us and the throne of God, dispelled ; to have 
the fire, and storms, and tempests, that are kindled and 
stirred up about him by the law, removed ; to have his glo- 
rious face unveiled, and his holy heart laid open, and a view 
given of those infinite treasures and stores of goodness, 
mercy, love and kindness, which have had an unchangeable 
habitation therein from all eternity ; to have a discovery of 



these eternal springs of forbearance and forgiveness, is that 
which none but Christ can accomplish and bring about ; 
John xvii. 6. 

2. This is not all. This eternal ocean that is infi- 
nitely satisfied with its own fulness and perfection, doth 
not naturally yield forth streams for our refreshment. Mercy 
and pardon do not come forth from God, as light doth from 
the sun, or water from the sea, by a necessary consequence 
of their natures, whether they will or no. It doth not ne- 
cessarily follow that any one must be made partaker of for- 
giveness, because God is infinitely gracious. For may he 
not do what he will with his own ? ' Who hath given first 
unto him that it should be recompensed unto him again V 
Rom. xi. 35. All the fruits of God's goodness and grace, are 
in the sole keeping of his own sovereign will and pleasure. 
This is bis great glory; Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19. 'Shew me thy 
glory,' saith Moses. ' And he said, I will make all my good- 
ness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the 
Lord before thee; and 1 will be gracious to whom I will be 
gracious.' Upon that proclamation of the name of God, that 
he is merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in good- 
ness, some might conclude that it could not be otherwise 
with any but well ; he is such a one, as that men need scarce 
be beholding to him for mercy ; nay, saith he, but this is my 
great glory, that ' I will be gracious to whom I will be gra- 
cious.' There must be an interposition of a free act of the will 
of God, to deal with us according to this his abundant good- 
ness, or we can have no interest therein. This I call the 
purpose of his grace ; or ' the good pleasure that he hath 
purposed in himself;' Eph. i. 9. or, as it is termed, ver. 6, 6. 
'The good pleasure of his will, that he hath purposed to the 
praise of his glorious grace.' This free and gracious plea- 
sure of God, or purpose of his will to act towards sinners 
according to his own abundant goodness, is another thing that 
influences the forgiveness of which we treat. Pardon flows 
immediately from a sovereign act of free grace. This free 
purpose of God's will and grace, for the pardoning of sin- 
ners, is indeed that which is principally intended, when we 
say, * there is forgiveness with him.' That is, he is pleased 
to forgive; and so to do is agreeable unto his nature. Now, 
the mystery of this grace is deep ; it is eternal, and therefore 


incomprehensible. Few there are whose hearts are raised 
to a contemplation of it. Men rest and content themselves 
in a general notion of mercy, which will not be advantageous 
to their souls ; freed they would be from punishment, but what 
it is to be forgiven they inquire not. So what they know of it, 
they come easily by ; but will find in the issue, it will stand 
them in little stead. But these fountains of God's actings 
are revealed that they may be the fountains of our comforts. 

Now of this purpose of God's grace, there are several 
acts, all of them relating unto gospel forgiveness. 

1, There is his purpose of sending his Son to be the 
great means of procuring, of purchasing forgiveness. Though 
God be infinitely and incomprehensibly gracious, though he 
purpose to exert his grace and goodness toward sinners, yet 
he will so do it, do it in such a way, as shall not be preju- 
dicial to his own holiness and righteousness. His justice 
must be satisfied, and his holy indignation against sin made 
known. Wherefore he purposeth to send his Son, and hath 
sent him, to make way for the exercise of mercy ; so as nc 
way to eclipse the glory of his justice, holiness, and hatred 
of sin. Better we should all eternally come short of for- 
giveness, than that God should lose any thing of his glory. 
This we have, Rom. iii. 25. ' God set him forth to be a pro- 
pitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righte- 
ousness for the remission of sins that are past.' The remis- 
sion of sins is the thing aimed at ; but this must be so 
brought about, as that therein, not only the mercy, but the 
righteousness of God may be declared ; and therefore must 
it be brought forth by a propitiation, or making of an atone- 
ment in the blood of Christ. So John iii. 16. 1 John iv. 9. 
Rom. V. 8. This, I say, also lies in the mystery of that for- 
giveness that is administed in the gospel ; it comes forth^ 
from this eternal purpose of making way by the blood of 
Christ to the dispensation of pardon. And this greatly 
heightens the excellency of this discovery. Men who have 
slight thoughts of God, whose hearts were never awed with 
his dread or greatness, who never seriqusly considered his 
purity and holiness, may think it no great matter that God 
should pardon sin. But do they consider the way whereby 
it is to be brought about; even by the sending of his only 
Son, and that to die ? as we shall see afterward. Neither was 

H 2 


there any other way whereby it might be done. Let us now 
lay aside common thoughts, assent upon reports and tradi- 
tion, and rightly weigh this matter. Doubtless we shall 
find it to be a great thing, that forgiveness should be so 
with God, as to be made out unto us (we know somewhat 
what we are), by sending his only Son to die. Oh, how 
little is this really believed, even by them who make a pro- 
fession of it ! and what mean thoughts are entertained about 
it, when men seek for pardon ! Immunity from punishment 
is the utmost that lies in the aims and desires of most, and 
is all that they are exercised in the consideration of, when 
they deal with God about sin. Such men think, and will do 
so, that we have an easy task in hand ; namely, to prove 
that there is forgiveness in God; but this ease lies in their 
own ignorance and darkness ; if ever they come to search 
after it indeed, to inquire into the nature, reasons, causes, 
fountain, and springs, of it, they will be able to give another 
account of these things. Christ is the centre of the mystery 
of the gospel, and forgiveness is laid up in the heart of 
Christ, from the love of the Father ; in him are all the trea- 
sures of it hid. And surely it is no small thing to have the 
heart of Christ revealed unto us. When believers deal about 
pardon, their faith exercises itself about this, that God with 
whom the soul hath to do, hath sent the Lord Christ to die, 
for this end, that it may be freely given out. General no- 
tions of impunity they dwell not on, they pass not for : they 
have a closer converse with God than to be satisfied with 
such thoughts. They inquire into the graciousness of his 
his nature, and the good pleasure of his will, the purpose of 
his grace ; they ponder, and look into the mystery of his 
wisdom and love in sending his Son. If these springs be 
not clear unto them, the streams will yield them but little 
refreshment. It is not enough that we seek after salvation, 
but we are to inquire and search diligently, into the nature 
and manner of it. These are the things that the 'angels 
desire to bow down and look into;' 1 Pet. i. 11 — 13. And 
some think, if they have got a form of words about them, 
they have gotten a sufficient comprehension of them. It is 
doubtless one reason why many who truly believe, do yet so 
fluctuate about forgiveness all their days ; that they never 
exercised faith to look into the springs of it, its eternal 


fountains ; but have merely dwelt on actual condonation. 
However, I say, these things lie utterly out of the conside- 
ration of the common pretenders to an acquaintance with 
the truth we have in hand. 

2. There is another sovereign act of God's will to be 
considered in this matter ; and that is his eternal desig- 
nation of the persons who shall be made partakers of this 
mercy. He hath not left this thing to hazard and uncer- 
tainties, that it should as it were be unknown to him who 
should be pardoned, and who not. Nay, none ever are 
made partakers of forgiveness, but those whom he hath 
eternally and graciously designed thereunto. So the apo- 
stle declares it, Eph. i. 5 — 7. The rise is his eternal predes- 
tination ; the end, the glory of his grace, the means, re- 
demption in the blood of Christ ; the thing itself, forgive- 
ness of sins. None ever are, or can be made partakers 
thereof, but by virtue of this act of God's will and grace ; 
which thereupon hath a peculiar influence into it, and is to 
be respected in the consideration of it. I know this may 
be abused by pride, profaneness, and unbelief; and so may 
the whole work of God's grace ; and so it is, even the blood 
of Christ in an especial manner ; but in its proper place and 
use, it hath a signal influence into the glory of God, and 
the consolation of the souls of men. 

There are also other acts of this purpose of God's grace, 
as of giving sinners unto Christ, and giving sinners an in- 
terest in Christ, which I shall not insist upon, because the 
nature of them is sufficiently discovered in thai one ex- 
plained already. 

Secondly, Forgiveness hath respect unto the propitia- 
tion made in and by the blood of Christ the Son of God. 
This was declared in the opening of the words. Indeed 
here lies the knot and centre of gospel forgiveness. It flows 
from the cross, and springs out of the grave of Christ. 

Thus Elihu describes it. Job xxxiii. 24. God ' is gracious 
unto him, and saith. Deliver him from going down to the 
pit, I have found a ransom.' The whole of what is aimed 
at, lies in these words. 1. There is God's gracious and 
merciful heart towards a sinner; he is gracious unto him, 
2. There is actual condonation itself, of which we shall 
treat afterward: 'He saith, Deliver him from going down to 


the pit.' And, 3. There is the centre of the whole, wherein 
•God's gracious heart and actual pardon do meet ; and that 
is the ransom, the propitiation or atonement that is in the 
blood of Christ, of which we speak, 'I have found a ransom/ 
The same is expressed, Isa. liii. 11. ' My righteous ser- 
vant shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.' 
Of the justification of sinners, absolution or pardon is the 
first part. This ariseth fiom Christ's bearing their iniqui- 
ties. Therein he ' finished the transgression, made an end 
of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity ;' Dan. ix. 24. 
Even all the sacrifices, and so consequently the whole wor- 
ship of the Old Testament, evinced this relation between 
forgiveness and bloodshedding; whence the apostle con- 
cludes, that without ' shedding of blood there is no remis- 
sion;' Heb. ix. 22. that is, all pardon ariseth from blood- 
shedding, even of the blood of the Son of God. So that 
we are said in him to have redemption, ' even the forgiveness 
of sins;' Eph. i. 17. Our redemption in his blood is our 
forgiveness, not that we are all actually pardoned in the 
blood of his cross, for thereunto must be added gospel con- 
donation, of which afterward ; but thereby it is procured, 
the grant of pardon is therein sealed, and security given, 
that it shall in due time be made out unto us. To which 
purpose is that discourse of the apostle, Horn. iii. 24 — 26. 
The work there mentioned, proceeds from grace, is ma- 
naged to the interest of righteousness, is carried on by the 
blood of Christ, and issues in forgiveness. Now the blood 
of Christ relates variously to the pardon of sin. 

1. Pardon is purchased and procured by it. Our re- 
demption is our forgiveness ; as the cause contains the 
effect. No soul is pardoned but with respect unto the blood 
of Christ, as the procuring cause of that pardon. Hence he 
is said to have 'washed us in his blood ;' Rev. i. 5. * in him- 
self, to have purged our sins ;' Heb. i. 3. 'by one offering 
to have taken away sin,' and for ever to have perfected them 
that are sanctified;' Heb. x. 14. to be the ransom and propitia- 
tion of our sins ; 1 John ii. 2. to have made * an end of sin ;' 
Dan. ix. 24. and to have ' made reconciliation for the sins 
of his people;' Heb. ii. 17. God hath enclosed his rich stores 
of pardon and mercy in the blood of Jesus. 

2. Because in his blood the promise of pardon is rati- 


fied and confirmed, so that nothing is wanting to our com- 
plete forgiveness, but our pleading the promise by faith 
in him. 2 Cor. i. 20. ' All the promises of God, are in him, 
yea, and in him Amen ;' that is, faithfully, and irrevocably, 
and immutably established. And therefore the apostle hav- 
ing told us, that this is the covenant of God, that he would 
be merciful to our sins and iniquities; Heb. viii. 12. he 
informs us, that in the undertaking of Christ, this covenant 
is become a testament, chap. ix. 15 — 17. So ratified in his 
blood, that mercy and forgiveness of sin is irrevocably con- 
firmed unto us therein. 

3. Because he hath in his own person, as the head of the 
church, received an acquitment for the whole body ; his 
personal discharge upon the accomplishment of his work, 
was a pledge of the discharge which was in due time to be 
given to his whole mystical body. Peter tells us, Acts ii. 
24. that it was impossible he should be detained by death. 
And why so? Because death being penally inflicted on him, 
when he had paid the debt, he was legally to be acquitted. 
Now for whom, and in whose name and stead he suffered ; 
for them, and in their name and stead, he received this ac- 

4. Because upon his death, ' God the Father hath com- 
mitted unto him the whole management of the business 
of forgiveness ; Acts v. 31. ' He' (now) 'gives repentance and 
the forgiveness of sins.' It is Christ that forgives us. Col. 
iii. 13. All forgiveness is now at his disposal, and he par- 
doneth whom he will ; even all that are given unto him of 
the Father, not casting out any that come to God by him. 
He is intrusted with all the stores of his Father's purpose, 
and his own purchase ; and thence tells us, that * all things 
that the Father hath are his ;' John xvi. 15. 

In all these respects doth forgiveness relate to the blood 
of Christ. Mercy, pardon, and grace, could find no other 
way to issue forth from the heart of the Father, but by the 
heart blood -of the Son, and so do they stream unto the 
heart of the sinner. 

Two things are principally to be considered in the re- 
spect that forgiveness hath to the blood of Christ. 1. The 
way of its procurement ; 2. The way of its administration 
by him. The first is deep, mysterious, dreadful. It was by 


his blood, the blood of the cross, the travail of his soul ; his 
undergoing wrath and curse. The other is gracious, mer- 
ciful, and tender ; whence so many things are spoken of his 
mercifulness, and faithfulness, to encourage us to expect for- 
giveness from him. 

This also adds to the mysterious depths of forgiveness, 
and makes its discovery a great matter. The soul that looks 
after it in earnest, must consider what it cost. How light 
do most men make of pardon ! What an easy thing is it to 
be acquainted with it ! and no very hard matter to obtain 
it. But to hold communion with God, in the blood of his 
Son, is a thing of another nature than is once dreamed of 
by many, who think they know well enough what it is to be 
pardoned. God be merciful, is a common saying; and as 
common, to desire he would be so for Christ's sake. Poor 
creatures are cast into the mould of such expressions, who 
know neither God, nor mercy, nor Christ, nor any thing of 
the mystery of the gospel. Others look on the outside of 
the cross ; to see into the mystery of the love of the Father, 
working in the blood of the Mediator, to consider by faith 
the great transaction of divine wisdom, justice, and mercy 
therein, how few attain unto it. To come unto God by 
Christ for forgiveness, and therein to behold the law issuing 
all its threats and curses in his blood, and losing its sting, 
putting an end to its obligation unto punishment in the 
cross, to see all sins gathered up in the hands of God's jus- 
tice, and made to meet on the Mediator ; and eternal love 
springing forth triumphantly from his blood, flourishing 
into pardon, grace, mercy, forgiveness ; this the heart of a 
sinner can be enlarged unto only by the Spirit of God. 

Thirdly, There is in forgiveness, free condonation, dis- 
charge, or pardon, according to the tenor of the gospel ; 
and this may be considered two ways. 

1. As it lies in the promise itself; and so it is God's 
gracious declaration of pardon to sinners, in and by the 
blood of Christ ; his covenant to that end and purpose ; which 
is variously proposed, according as he knew [to be] needful 
for all the ends and purposes of ingenerating faith, and com- 
municating that consolation which he intends therein. 

This is the law of his grace; the declaration of the mys- 
tery of his love, before insisted on. 


2. There is the bringing home, and application of all 
this mercy to the soul of a sinner by the Holy Ghost; where- 
in we are freely forgiven all our trespasses; Col. ii. 13. 

Gospel forgiveness, I say, respects all these things, these 
principles, they have all an influence into it. And that which 
makes this more evident, wherewith I shall close this con- 
sideration of the nature of it, is, that faith in its application 
of itself unto God about, and for, forgiveness, doth distinctly 
apply itself unto, and close with, sometimes one of these 
severally and singly, sometimes another ; and sometimes 
jointly takes in the consideration of them all expressly. Not 
that at any time it fixes on any or either of them exclusively 
to the others ; but that eminently it finds some special en- 
couragement at some season, and some peculiar attractive 
from some one of them, more than from the rest; and then 
that proves an inlet, a door of entrance unto the treasures 
that are laid up in the rest of them. Let us go over the se- 
verals by instances. 

1. Sometimes faith fixes upon the name and infinite 
goodness of the nature of God, and draws out forgiveness 
from thence. So doth the psalmist, Psal. Ixxxvi. 6. 'Thou, 
Lord, art good and ready to forgive.' He rolls himself, in 
the pursuit and expectation of pardon, on the infinite good- 
ness of the nature of God. So Nehem.ix. 17. 'Thou art a God 
of pardons,' or ready to forgive ; of an infinite, gracious, lov- 
ing nature; not severe and wrathful ; and this is that which 
we are encouraged unto, Isa. 1. x. to stay on the name of 
God, as in innumerable other places. 

And thus faith oftentimes finds a peculiar sweetness and 
encouragement in and from the consideration of God's gra- 
cious nature. Sometimes this is the first thing it fixes on, 
and sometimes the last that it rests in ; and ofttimes it makes 
a stay here, when it is driven from all other holds; it can 
say, however it be, * yet God is gracious;' and at least make 
that conclusion which we have from it, Joel ii. 13, 14. ' God 
is gracious and merciful, who knoweth but he will return?' 
And when faith hath well laid hold on this consideration, it 
will not easily be driven from its expectation of relief and 
forgiveness, even from hence. 

2. Sometimes the soul by faith addresseth itself in 


a peculiar manner to the sovereignty of God's will ; where- 
by he is gracious to whom he will be gracious, and mer- 
ciful to whom he will be merciful ; which, as was shewed, 
is another considerable spring or principle of forgiveness. 
This way David's faith steered him in his great strait and 
perplexity, 2 Sara. xv. 25, 26. * If I shall find favour in the 
eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again; but if he thus say, 
I have no delight in thee ; behold, here am I, let him do unto 
me as seemeth good unto him,' That which he hath in con- 
sideration is, whether God hath any delight in him or no ; 
that is, whether God w^ould graciously remit and pardon the 
great sin against which at that time he manifesteth his in- 
dignation. Here he lays himself down before the sovereign 
grace of God, and awaits patiently the discovery of the free 
act of his will concerning him; and at this door, as it were, 
enters into the consideration of those other springs of par- 
don, which faith inquires after and closeth withal. This 
sometimes is all the cloud that appears to a distressed soul, 
which after awhile fills the heavens by the addition of the 
other considerations mentioned, and yields plentifully re- 
freshing showers. And this condition is a sin-entangled 
soul ofttimes reduced unto in looking out for relief; it can dis- 
cover nothing but this, that God is able, and can, if he gra- 
ciously please, relieve and acquit him. All other support- 
ments, all springs of relief, are shut up, or hid from him. 
The springs indeed may be nigh, as that was to Hagar, but 
their eyes are withheld, that they cannot see them. Where- 
fore they cast themselves on God's sovereign pleasure, and 
say with Job, 'Though he slay us, we will put our trust in 
him;' we will not let him go. In ourselves we are lost, that 
is unquestionable ; how the Lord will deal with us we know 
not; w-e see not our signs and tokens any more; evidences 
of God's grace in us, or of his love and favour unto us, are 
all out of sight. To a present special interest in Christ we 
are strangers ; and we lie every moment at the door of eter- 
nity ; what course shall we take, what way shall we proceed? 
If we abide at a distance from God, we shall assuredly pe- 
rish: 'Whoever hardened himself against him and pros- 
pered ?' Nor is there the least relief to be had but from and 
by him ; * for who can forgive sins but God V We will then 



bring our guilty souls into his presence, and attend the plea- 
sure of his grace ; what he speaks concerning us, we will 
willingly submit unto. And this sometimes proves an an- 
chor to a tossed soul ; which though it gives it not rest 
and peace, yet it saves it from the rock of despair. 
Here it abides until light do more and more break forth 
upon it. 

3. Faith deahng about forgiveness, doth commonly eye 
in a particular manner its relation to the mediation and 
blood of Christ. So the apostle directs, 1 John ii. 2. ' If 
any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus 
Christ the righteous ; and he is the propitiation for our sins.' 
If any one hath sinned, and is in depths and entanglements 
about it; what course shall he take, how shall he proceed to 
obtain deliverance? Why, he must [go] unto God for pardon. 
But what shall he rely upon to encourage him in his so do- 
ing? Saith the apostle, consider by faith the atonement and 
propitiation made for sin by the blood of Christ; and that 
he is still pursuing the work of love to the suing out of par- 
don for us ; and rest thy soul thereon. This, I say, most 
commonly is that which faith in the first place immediately 
fixes on. 

4. Faith eyes actual pardon or condemnation. So God 
proposeth it as a motive to farther believing ; Isa. xliv. 
22. ' I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, 
and as a cloud thy sins ; return unto me, for I have redeem- 
ed thee.' Actual pardon of sin is proposed to faith, as an 
encouragement unto a full returning unto God in all things; 
2 Sam. xxiii. 5. And the like may be said of all the other 
particulars which we have insisted on. There is not any of 
them, but will yield peculiar relief unto a soul dealing with God 
about forgiveness, as having some one special concernment 
or other of forgiveness inwrapped in them. Only, as I said, 
they do it not exclusively, but are the special doors, whereby 
believing enters into the whole. And these things must be 
spoken unto afterward. 

Let us now take along with us, the end for which all these 
considerations have been insisted on. It is to manifest, that 
a real discovery of gospel forgiveness, is a matter of greater 
consequence and importance than at first proposal, it may 
be, it appeared unto some to be. Who is not in hopes, in 


expectation of pardon ? Who thinks not that they know well 
enough at least what it is, if they might but obtain it ? But 
men may have general thoughts of impunity, and yet be 
far enough from any saving acquaintance with gospel 

Forgiveness discovered, or revealed only to faith. Reasons thereof. 

For a close of this discourse, I shall only add, what is in- 
cluded in that proposition which is the foundation of the 
whole ; namely, that this discovery of forgiveness is, and 
can be, made to faith alone. The nature of it is such, as that 
nothing else can discover it, or receive it. No reasonings, 
no inquiries of the heart of man can reach unto it. That 
guess or glimpse which the heathens had of old of some- 
what so called, and which false worshippers have at present, 
is not the forgiveness we insist upon, but a mere imagina- 
tion of their own hearts. 

This the apostle informs us; Rom. i. 17. * The righte- 
ousness of God, is' (in the gospel) 'revealed from faith to 
faith.' Nothing but faith hath any thing to do with it. It 
is that righteousness of God whereof he speaks, that con- 
sists in the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Christ, de- 
clared in the gospel. And this is revealed from the faith 
of God in the promise, to the faith of the believer ; to him 
that mixes the promise with faith. And again more fully, 
1 Cor. ii. 9. 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have 
entered into the heart of man the things which God hath 
prepared for them that love him.' The ways whereby we 
may come to the knowledge of any thing, are by the seeing 
of the eye, or hearing of the ear, or the reasonings and, me- 
ditations of the heart ; but now none of these will reach to 
the matter in hand ; by none of these ways can we come to 
an acquaintance with the things of the gospel that are pre- 
pared for us in Christ. How then shall we obtain the know- 
ledge of them ? That he declares, ver. 10. * God hath revealed 
them unto us by his Spirit. Now it is faith only that re- 
ceives the revelations of the Spirit ; nothing else hath to do 
with them. 


To give evidence hereunto, we may consider, that this 
great mystery, 

1. Is too deep. 

2. Is too great for ought else to discover : and, 

3. That nothing else but faith is suited to the making of 
this discovery. 

1 . It is too deep and mysterious to be fathomed and 
reached by any thing else. Reason's line is too short to fa- 
thom the depths of the Father's love, of the blood of the Son, 
and the promises of the gospel built thereon, wherein for- 
giveness dwells. Men cannot by their rational considerations 
launch out into these deeps, nor draw water by them from 
these ' wells of salvation.' Reason stands by amazed, and 
cries 'how can these things be?' It can but gather cockle 
shells, like him of old, at the shore of this ocean ; a few cri- 
ticisms upon the outward letter ; and so bring an evil report 
upon the land, as did the spies. All it can do, is but to hin- 
der faith from venturing into it ; crying. Spare thyself, this 
attempt is vain, these things are impossible. It is among 
the things that faith puts off, and lays aside, when it en- 
gageth the soul into this great work. This, then, that it may 
come to a discovery of forgiveness, causeth the soul to deny 
itself, and all its own reasonings, and to give up itself to an 
infinite fulness of goodness and truth. Though it cannot go 
into the bottom of these depths, yet it enters into them, and 
finds rest in them. Nothing but faith is suited to rest, to 
satiate, and content itself, in mysterious, bottomless, un- 
searchable depths. Being a soul-emptying, a reason-deny- 
ing grace, the more it meets withal beyond its search and 
reach, the more satisfaction it finds. This is that which I 
looked for, saith faith, even for that which is infinite and un- 
searchable : when I know that there is abundantly more be- 
yond me that I do not comprehend, than what I have at- 
tained unto ; for I know that nothing else will do good to 
the soul. Now this it that which really puzzles and over- 
whelms reason, rendering it useless. What it cannot com- 
pass, it will neglect or despise. It is either amazed and 
confounded, and dazzled like weak eyes at too great a light; 
or fortifying of itself by inbred pride and obstinacy, it con- 
cludes, that this preaching of the cross of forgiveness from 
the love of God, by the blood of Christ, is plain folly, a thing 


not for a wise man to take notice of, or to trouble himself 
about; so it appeared to the wise Greeks of old; 1 Cor. i. 
24. Hence when a soul is brought under the power of a real 
conviction of sin, so as that it would desirously be freed 
from the galling entanglements of it, it is then the hardest 
thing in the world to persuade such a soul of this forgive- 
ness. Any thing appears more rational unto it ; any self- 
righteousness, in this world, any purgatory hereafter. 

The greatest part of the world of convinced persons have 
forsaken forgiveness on this account; masses, penances, 
merits, have appeared more eligible. Yea, men who have 
no other desire but to be forgiven, do choose to close with 
any thing rather than forgiveness. If men do escape these 
rocks, and resolve that nothing but pardon will relieve them, 
yet it is impossible for them to receive it in the truth and 
power of it, if not enabled by faith thereunto. I speak not 
of men that take it up by hearsay, as a common report, but 
of those souls who find themselves really concerned to look 
after it ; when they know it is their sole concernment, all 
their hope and relief; when they know that they must perish 
everlastingly without it, and when it is declared unto them 
in the words of truth and soberness, yet they cannot receive 
it. What is the reason of it ; what staves off these hungry 
creatures from their proper food? Why, they have nothing 
to lead them into the mysterious depths of eternal love, of 
the blood of Christ, and promises of the gospel. How may 
we see poor deserted souls standing every day at the side of 
this pool, and yet not once venture themselves into it all 
their days. 

2. It is too great for any thing else to discover. For- 
giveness is a thing chosen out of God from all eternity, 
to exalt and magnify the glory of his grace ; and it will be 
made appear to all the world at the day of judgment to have 
been a great thing. When the soul comes in any measure 
to be made sensible of it, it finds it so great, so excellent, 
and astonishable, that it sinks under the thoughts of it. It 
hath dimensions, a length, breadth, depth, and height, that 
no line of the rational soul can take or measure. There is 
exceeding greatness in it; Eph. i. 19. That is a great work 
which we have prescribed, Eph. iii. 19. even * to know the 
love of Christ, that passeth knowledge.' Here I suppose. 


reason will confess itself at a stand, and an issue ; to know- 
that which passeth knowledge, is none of its work. It can- 
not be known, saith reason ; and so ends the matter. But 
this is faith's proper work ; even to know that which passeth 
knowledge. To know that in its power, virtue, sweetness, 
and efficacy, which cannot be thoroughly known in its na- 
ture and excellency ; to have by believing all the ends of a 
full comprehension of that which cannot be fully compre- 
hended. Hence, Heb. xi. 1. it is said to be the viroaTaaig of 
things not seen : their subsistence, though in themselves 
absent, yet faith gives them a present subsistence in the 
soul. So it knows things that pass knowledge, by mixing 
itself with them, it draws out, and communicates their benefit 
to the soul. From all which is evident, what in the third 
place was proposed ; of faith's being only suited to be the 
means of this discovery, so that I shall not need farther to 
insist thereon. 

Discovery of forgiveness in God a great supportment to sin-entangled souls. 
Particular assurance attainable. 

There yet remains a brief confirmation of the position at 
first laid down, and thus cleared, before I come to the im- 
provement of the words especially aimed at. I say, then, 
this discovery of forgiveness in God, is a great supportment 
for a sin-entangled soul, although it hath no special persua- 
sion of its own particular interest therein. Somewhat is 
supposed in this assertion, and somewhat affirmed. 

First, It is supposed that there may be a gracious per- 
suasion and assurance of faith, in a man, concerning his own 
particular interest in forgiveness. A man may, many do, be- 
lieve it for themselves ; so as not only to have the benefit of 
it, but the comfort also. Generally all the saints mentioned 
in Scripture had this assurance, unless it were in the case 
of depths, distresses, and desertions, such as that in this 
psalm. David expresseth his confidence of the love and 
favour of God unto his own soul hundreds of times, Paul 
doth the same for himself; Gal. ii. 20. ' Christ loved me and 


gave himself for me ;' 2 Tim. iv. 8. ' There is laid up for me 
a crown of righteousness, which God the righteous judge 
shall give me at that day.' And that this boasting in the 
Lord and his grace, was not an enclosure to himself, he 
shews, Rom. viii. 38, 39. 

Nothing can be more vain, than what is usually pleaded, 
to remove this sheet anchor of the saint's consolation; namely, 
that no man's particular name is in the promise. It is not 
said to this or that man by name, that his sins are forgiven 
him, but the matter is far otherwise. To think that it is 
necessary, that the names whereby we are known among our- 
selves, and are distinguished here one from another, should 
be written in the promise, that we may believe in particular 
every child of God is in the promise. And believing makes 
it very legible to him. Yea, we find by experience that 
there is no need of argumentation in this case. The soul by 
a direct act of faith believes its own forgiveness, without 
making inferences or gathering conclusions ; and may do 
so, upon the proposition of it to be believed in the promise. 
But I will not digress from my work in hand ; and therefore 
shall only observe one or two things upon the supposition 
laid down. 

1. It is the duty of every believer, to labour after an as- 
surance of a personal interest in forgiveness ; and to be dili- 
gent in the cherishing and preservation of it when it is at- 
tained. The apostle exhorts us all unto it, Heb. x. 22. ' Let 
us draw near in full assurance of faith ;' that is, of our ac- 
ceptance with God through forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. 
This he plainly discourseth of. And this principle of our 
faith and confidence, he would have us to hold fast unto the 
end; chap. iii. 14. It is no small evil in believers not to 
be pressing after perfection in believing and obedience, 
Ofttimes some sinful indulgence to self, or the world, or 
sloth is the cause of it. Hence few come up to gospel as- 
surance. But yet most of our privileges, and upon the 
matter, all our comforts depend on this one thing. A little 
by the way, to encourage unto this duty, I shall desire you 
to consider both whence this assurance is produced, and 
what it doth produce ; what it is the fruit of, and what fruit 
it bears. 

1. It is in general the product of a more plentiful com- 


munication of the Spirit than ordinary, as to a sense and 
participation of the choice fruits of the death of Christ, pro- 
cured for those who are justified by their acceptance of the 

It flourisheth not without his sealing, witnessing, esta- 
blishing, and shedding abroad, the love of God in our hearts. 
See Rom. v. 2 — 5. And what believer ought not to long 
for, and press after, the enjoyment of these things? Nay, to 
read of these things in the gospel, not experiencing them in 
our own hearts, and yet to sit down quietly on this side of 
them, without continual pressing after them, is to despise 
the blood of Christ, the Spirit of grace, and the whole work 
of God's love. If there are no such things, the gospel is 
not true ; if there are, if we press not after them, we are de- 
spisers of the gospel. Surely he hath not the Spirit, who 
would not have more of him, all of him that is promised by 
Christ. These things are the hundred-fold that Christ hath 
left us in the world, to counterpoise our sorrows, troubles, 
and losses : and shall we be so foolish as to neglect our only 
abiding riches and treasures ? In particular, as is the product 
of an exercised, vigorous, active faith. That our faith should 
be such, always, in every state and condition, I suppose it 
our duty to endeavour. Not only our comforts, but our obe- 
dience also depends upon it. The more faith that is true, 
and of the right kind, the more obedience. For all our obe- 
dience is the obedience of faith. 

2. For its own fruit, and what it produceth, they are the 
choicest actings of our souls towards God; as love, delight, 
rejoicing in the Lord, peace, joy, and consolation in our- 
selves, readiness to do or suffer, cheerfulness in so doing. 
If they grow not from this root, yet their flourishing wholly 
depends upon it. So that surely it is the duty of every 
believer to break through all difficulties in pressing after 
this particular assurance. The objections that persons raise 
against themselves, in this case, may be afterward consi- 

2. In ordinary dispensation of God towards us, and deal- 
ings with us, it is mostly our own negligence and sloth that 
we come short of this assurance. It is true, it depends in a 
peculiar manner on the sovereignty of God. He is as ab- 
solute in giving peace to believers, as in giving grace to sin- 



ners. This takes place, and may be proposed as a relief, in 
times of trials and distress. He createth light, and causeth 
darkness, as he pleaseth. But yet considering what pro- 
mises are made unto us ; what encouragements are given 
us, what love and tenderness there is in God to receive us, 
I cannot but conclude, that ordinarily the cause of our 
coming short of this assurance is where I have fixed it. And 
this is the first thing that is supposed, in the foregoing as- 

Secondly, It is supposed, that there is, or may be, a saving 
persuasion or discovery of forgiveness in God, where there 
is no assurance of any particular interest therein ; or that 
our own sins in particular are pardoned. This is that which 
hath a promise of gracious acceptance with God, and is 
therefore saving ; Isa. 1. 10. * Who is among you that feareth 
the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, thatwalketh 
in darkness and hath no light? let him trust in the name of 
the Lord, and stay upon his God.' Here is the fear of the 
Lord and obedience, with a blessed encouragement to rest 
in God, and his all-sufficiency, yet no assurance, nor light, 
but darkness, and that walked in, or continued in for a long 
season. For he cannot walk in darkness, meet with no- 
thing but darkness, without any beam or ray of light, as 
the words signify, who is persuaded of the love of God in 
the pardon of his sins. And yet the faith of such a one, and 
his obedience springing from it, have this gracious promise 
of acceptance with God. And innumerable testimonies to 
this purpose might be produced, and instances in great 
plenty. I shall only tender a little evidence unto it, in one 
observation concerning the nature of faith, and one more, 
about the proposal of the thing to be believed, or forgive- 
ness. And, 

1. Faith is called, and is a cleaving unto the Lord; 
Deut. iv. 4. * Ye that did cleave,' or adhere 'unto the Lord ;' 
that is, who did believe. Josh.xxiii. 8. 'Cleave,' or adhere 
' unto the Lord your God.' The same word is used also in 
the New Testament, Acts xi. 23. 'He exhorted them that 
with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord,' or 
continue steadfast in believing. It is also often expressed 
by trusting in the Lord, rolling our burden, or casting our 
care upon him, by committing ourselves, or our ways unto 


him. Now all this goes no farther than the soul's resignation 
of itself unto God to be dealt withal by him according to 
the tenor of the covenant of grace, ratified in the blood of 
Christ. This a soul cannot do without a discovery of forgive- 
ness in God. But this a soul may do, without a special as- 
surance of his own interest therein. This faith, that thus 
adheres to God, that cleaves to him, will carry men to con- 
clude, that it is their duty, and their wisdom, to give up the 
disposal of their souls unto God, and to cleave and adhere 
unto him as revealed in Christ, waiting the pleasure of his 
will ; it enables them to make Christ their choice ; and will 
carry men to heaven safely, though it may be at some sea- 
sons not very comfortably. 

2. The revelation and discovery of forgiveness that is 
made in the gospel, evidenceth the same truth. The first 
proposal of it, or concerning it, is not to any man, that his 
sins are forgiven. No, but it is only that there is redemp- 
tion and forgiveness of sins in Christ. So the apostle lays 
it down. Acts xiii. 38, 39. ' Be it known unto you therefore, 
men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto 
you the forgiveness of sins : and by him all that believe are 
justified from all things, from which they could not be jus- 
tified by the law of Moses.' All this may be believed, with- 
out a man's assurance of his own personal interest in the 
things mentioned. Now where they are believed with the 
faith the gospel requires, that faith is saving, and the root 
of gospel acceptable obedience. The ransom, I say, the 
atonement by Christ, the fulness of the redemption that is in 
him, and so forgiveness in his blood for believers, from the 
good will, grace, and love of the Father, is the first gospel- 
discovery that a sinner in a saving manner closeth withal. 
Particular assurance ariseth, or may arise, afterward, and 
this also is supposed in the assertion. 

Secondly, That which is affirmed in it is, that a discovery 
of forgiveness in God, without any particular assurance of 
personal interest therein, is a great supportment to a sin- 
entangled soul. And let no man despise the day of this 
small thing, small in the eyes of some, and those good men 
also, as if it did not deserve the name of faith. Now, as hath 
been made to appear, this discovery of forgiveness, is the 
soul's persuasion, on gospel grounds, that however it be with 

I 2 



him, and whatever his state and condition be, or is like to 
be, yet that God in his own nature is infinitely gracious^ 
and that he hath determined in a sovereign act of his will 
from eternity, to be gracious to sinners ; and that he hath 
made way for the administration of forgiveness by the blood 
of his Son, according as he hath abundantly manifested, and 
declared in the promises of the gospel. However it be with 
me, yet thus it is with God ; there is forgiveness with him. 
This is the first thing that a soul in its depths riseth up unto : 
and it is a supportment for it ; enabling it unto all present 
duties until consolation come from above. 

Thus hath it been to, and with, the saints of old ; Hos. 
xiv.S.'Asshur shall not save us; we will notride upon horses: 
neither will we say any more to the work of our hands. Ye 
are our gods : for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.' A 
solemn renunciation we have of all other helps, reliefs, or 
assistances, civil or religious, that are not God's. Therein a 
solemn resolution in their great distress of cleaving unto 
God alone. Both which are great and blessed effects of 
faith. What is the bottom and foundation of this blessed 
resolution ? namely, that proposition, ' in thee the fatherless 
findeth mercy ;' that is, there is forgiveness with thee, for 
helpless sinners. This lifted up their hearts in their depths, 
and supported them in waiting, unto the receiving of the 
blessed promises, of mercy, pardon, grace, and holiness, 
which ensue in the next verses. Until they came home unto 
them in their efficacy and effects, they made a life on this, 
' in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.' 

The state and condition of things seem to lie yet lower 
in that proposal we have, Joel ii. 13, 14. ' Rend your hearts, 
and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God : 
for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great 
kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he 
will return and repent, and leave a blessing ?' That which 
is proposed to the faith of those here spoken unto is, that 
the Lord is gracious and merciful ; that there is forgiveness 
in him. The duty they are provoked unto hereupon, is 
gospel-repentance. The assent unto the proposition de- 
manded, as to their own interest, amounts but unto this, 'Who 
knows but that the Lord may return and leave a blessing V or 
deal with us according to the manifestation he hath made of 


himself, that he is merciful and gracious. This is far enough 
from any comfortable persuasion of a particular interest in 
that grace, mercy, or pardon. But yet, saith the prophet, 
come but thus far, and here is a firm foundation of dealing 
with God about farther discoveries of himself, in a way of 
grace and mercy. When a soul sees but so much in God, 
as to conclude ; well, * Who knoweth but that he may return, 
and have mercy upon me also?' it will support him and give 
him an entrance into farther light. 

The church in the Lamentations gives a sad account of her 
state and condition in this matter. For she maketh that 
hard conclusion against herself, chap. iii. 8. * My strength 
and my hope is perished from the Lord.' ' And when I cry 
and shout, he shuts out my prayer;' ver. 18. So far is she 
from a comfortable persuasion of a particular interest in 
mercy and acceptance ; that under her pressures, and in her 
temptations, she is ready positively to determine on the other 
side ; namely, that she is rejected and cast oif for ever. 
What course then shall we take? Shall she give over wait- 
ing on God, and say there is no hope? No, saith she, I will 
not take that way ; for, ver. 26. ' It is good that a man should 
both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of God.' But 
yet there seems small encouragement for her so to do, if 
things be with her as was expressed. Things, indeed, saith 
she, are very sad with me, ' My soul hath them still in re- 
membrance, and is bowed down to me ;' ver. 20. but yet, 
somewhat ' I recall to mind, and therefore have I hope ;' 
ver. 21. ' It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not con- 
sumed, because his compassion fails not.' There is mercy 
and never-failing compassion in God ; so that though my 
own present condition be full of darkness, and I see no de- 
liverance, yet I purpose still to abide waiting on him. Who 
knows what those infinite stores and treasures of mercy and 
relief that are with him, may at length afford unto me? and 
many instances of the like kind may be added. 

We may observe by the way, how far this relief extends 
itself; and what it enables the soul unto. As, 

1. The soul is enabled thereby to resign itself unto the 
disposal of sovereign grace, in self-abhorrency, and a renun- 
ciation of all other ways of relief: Lam. iii. 29. 'He putteth 
his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.' W^hat 


God will, is his language. Here he lies at his disposal, 
humble, broken, but abiding his pleasure. ' Though he slay 
me,' saith Job, * yet I will trust in him ;' chap. xiii. 15. It is 
all one, how he deals with me ; whatever be the event I will 
abide cleaving unto him. I will not think of any other way of 
extricating myself from my distress. I will neither fly like 
Jonah, nor hide like Adam, nor take any other course for de- 
liverance. Saith the soul, ' God is a God that hideth him- 
self from me ;' Isa. xlv. 15. * I walk in darkness and have no 
light;' chap. 1. 10. ' My flesh faileth, and my heart faileth;' 
Psal. Ixxiii. 26. So that I am overwhelmed with trouble. 
* Mine iniquities have taken such hold on me, that I cannot 
look up ;' Psal. xl. 12. ' The Lord hath forsaken me, and my 
God hath forgotten me ;' every day am 1 in dread and terror, 
and am ready utterly to faint, and no relief can I obtain. 
What then shall I do? Shall I ' curse God and die?' or cry 
' This evil is of the Lord, why should I wait for him any 
longer?' Shall I take the course of the world, and seeing it 
will be no better, be wholly regardless of my latter end? No ; 
I know whatever my lot and portion be, that there is for- 
giveness with God. This and that poor man trusted in him, 
they cried unto him, and were delivered. So did David in 
his greatest distress, he encouraged his heart in the Lord 
his God ; 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26. It is good for me to cast my- 
self into his arms ; it may be he will frown ; it may be he is 
wroth still ; but all is one, this way I will go ; as it seems 
good unto him to deal with me, so let it be. And un- 
speakable are the advantages which a soul obtains by this 
self-resignation, which the faith treated of> will infallibly 

2. It extends itself unto a resolution of waitino- in the 
condition wherein the soul is. This the church comes unto. 
Lam. iii. 26. * It is good that a man should both hope, and 
quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.' I will not give 
over my expectation, I will not make haste, nor limit God ; 
but I will lie at his feet, until his own appointed time of 
mercy shall come. Expectation and quietness make up 
waiting. These the soul attains unto with this supportment. 
It looks upwards, * as a servant that looks to the hands of 
his master,' still fixed on God to see what he will do, to hear 
what he will speak concerning him ; missing no season, no 


opportunity wherein any discovery of the will of God may 
be made to him. And this he doth in quietness, without 
repining or murmuring, turning all his complaints against 
himself and his own vileness, that hath cut him short from 
a participation of that fulness of love and grace which is with 
God. That this effect also attends this faith will fully ap- 
pear in the close of the psalm. 

3. It supports unto waiting in the use of all means for the 
attainment of a sense of forgiveness, and so hath its eifect in 
the whole course of our obedience. ' There is forgiveness 
with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' To fear the Lord, 
is an expression comprehensive of his whole worship ; and 
all our duty. This I am encouraged, saith the psalmist, unto 
in mjr depths ; because there is forgiveness with thee. I will 
abide in all duties, in all the ways of thy worship, wherein 
thou mayest be found. And however it be for awhile, the 
latter end of that soul who thus abideth with God, will be 
peace. Let us then nextly see by what ways and means it 
yields this supportment. 

1. It begets a liking of God in the soul; and conse- 
quently some love unto him. The soul apprehends God as 
one infinitely to be desired and delighted in by those who 
have a share in forgiveness. It cannot but consider him as 
good and gracious, however its own estate be hazardous. 
Psal. Ixxiii. 1, 2. Yet ' God is good to Israel, to such as are 
of a clean heart. As for me, my feet were almost gone ; my 
steps had well nigh slipped.' However the state stands with 
me, yet I know that God is good, good to Israel ; and there- 
with shall I support myself. When once this ground is got 
upon the soul, that it considers God in Christ as one to be 
delighted in, and loved, great and blessed effects will ensue. 

1. Self-abhorrency and condemnation, with resignation of all 
to God, and permanency therein, do certainly attend it. 

2. Still somewhat or other in God will be brought to mind 
to relieve it under faintings, some new springs of hope will 
be every day opened. 3. And the soul will be insensibly 
wrought upon to delight itself in dealing with God. Though 
in its own particular, it meets with frowning, chidings, and 
repulses, yet this still relieves him, that God is so as hath 
been declared ; so that he says, however it be, yet God is 
good ; and it is good for me to wait upon him. Without thiii 


discovery the soul likes not God, and whatever it doth with 
respect unto him, it is because it dares do no otherwise, be- 
ing over-awed with his terror and greatness. And such 
obedience God may have from devils. 

2. It removes sundry overwhelming diflBculties, that lie 
in the soul's way before it close with this discovery of for- 
giveness. As, 

1. It takes away all those hinderances that were formerly 
insisted on, from the greatness, holiness, and severity of 
God, the inexorableness and strictness of the law, and the 
natural actings of conscience, rising up against all hopes of 
forgiveness. All these are by this faith removed, and taken 
out of the way. Where this faith is, it discovers not only 
forgiveness, as hath been shewed, but also the true nature 
of gospel forgiveness. It reveals it as flowing from the gra- 
cious heart of the Father, through the blood of the Son. 
Now this propitiation in the blood of the Son, removeth all 
these difiiculties, even antecedently unto our special sense 
of an interest therein. It shews how all the properties of 
God may be exalted, and the law fulfilled, and yet forgive- 
ness given out to sinners. And herein lies no small advan- 
tage unto a soul in its approaches unto God. All those 
dreadful apprehensions ^f God, which were wont to beset 
him in the first thoughts of coming to him, are now taken 
out of the way; so that he can quietly apply himself unto 
his own particular concernments before him. 

2. In particular it removes the overwhelming considera- 
tion of the unspeakable greatness of sin ; this presseth the 
soul to death when once the heart is possessed with it. 
Were not their sins so great, such as no heart can imagine, 
or tongue declare, it might possibly be well with them, say 
distressed sinners. They are not so troubled that they are 
sinners, as that they are great sinners ; not that these and 
those sins they are guilty of, but that they are great sins, at- 
tended with fearful aggravations. Otherwise they could deal 
well enough with them. Now though this discovery free men 
not from the entanglement of their sins as theirs; yet it doth 
from the whole entanglement of their sins, as great and many. 
This consideration may be abstracted. The soul sees enough 
in God to forgive great sins, though it doth not as yet, to for- 
give his sins. That great sins shall be pardoned, this dis- 


covery puts out of question. Whether his sins shall be par- 
doned, is now all the inquiry. Whatever any faith can do, 
that this faith will do, unless it be the making of particular 
application of the things believed unto itself. The soul then 
can no longer justly be troubled about the greatness of sin; 
the infiniteness of forgiveness that he sees in God will relieve 
him against it. All that remains is, that it is his own sin, 
about which he hath to deal ; whereof afterward. These, and 
the like difficulties are removed by it. 

3. It gives some life in, and encouragement unto, duty. 
And that, first, unto duty as duty, eyeing God by faith 
in such a fulness of grace, the soul cannot but be en- 
couraged to meet him in every way of duty, and to lay hold 
upon him thereby. Every way leading to him, as leading to 
him, must be well liked and approved of; and, secondly, to 
all duties ; and herein lies no small advantage. God is of- 
tentimes found in duties, but in what, or of what kind, he 
will be found of any one in particular, is uncertain. This 
faith puts the soul on all: so it did the spouse in the parallel 
to that in hand ; Cant. iii. 2 — 4. Now what supportment 
may be hence obtained, is easily apprehended ; supportment 
not from them, or by them, but in them, as the means of in- 
tercourse between God and the soul. 

From these effects of this discovery of forgiveness in 
God, three things will ensue, which are sufficient to maintain 
the spiritual life of the soul, 

1. A resolution to abide with God, and to commit all 
unto him. This the word, as was observed, teaches us; 
' There is forgiveness with thee, and therefore thou shalt be 
feared.' Because this I found, this I am persuaded of, 
therefore I will abide with him in the way of his fear and 
worship. This our Saviour calls unto, John xv. 4. ' Abide 
in me;' except you do so, ' ye can bear no fruit.' So the 
Lord, representing his taking of the church unto himself, 
under the type of the prophet's taking an adulteress in vision, 
doth it on these terms, Hos. iii. 3. * Thou shalt abide for me 
many days ; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt 
not be for another man : so will I also be for thee.' Now 
this abiding with God, intimates two things: 1. Oppositions, 
solicitations, and temptations unto the contrary. 2. For- 


bearing to make any other choice, as unto that end for which 
we abide with God. 

1. It argues oppositions. To abide, to be stable, and 
permanent, is to be so, against oppositions. Many discou- 
ragements are ready to rise up in the soul against it. In 
fears especially that it shall not hold out, that it shall be 
rejected at last, that all is nought and hypocritical with it; 
that it shall not be forgiven, that God indeed regards it not, 
and therefore it may well enough give over its hopes, which 
seems often as the giving up of the ghost, will assault it. 
Again, oppositions arise from corruptions and temptations 
unto sin, contrary to the life of faith. And these often pro- 
ceed to a high degree of prevalency, so that the guilt con- 
tracted upon them is ready to cast the soul quite out of all 
expectation of mercy. 1 shall one day perish, by these 
means, saith the soul, if I am not already lost. 

But now where faith hath made this discovery of forgive- 
ness, the soul will abide with God against all these discou- 
ragements and oppositions. It will not leave him, it will not 
give over waiting for him. So David expresseth the matter 
in the instance of himself, Psal.lxxiii.2. ' But as for me, my 
feet were almost gone, my steps had well nigh slipped ;' and 
ver. 13. ' Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain ;' but yet 
after all his conflicts, this at last he comes unto, ver. 26. 
Though 'my flesh and my heart faileth,' yet, ver. 28. ' It is 
good for me to draw near unto God.' I will yet abide with 
God, I will not let go his fear, nor my profession. Although 
I walk weakly, lamely, unevenly, yet I will still follow after 
him. As it was with the disciples, when many upon a strong 
temptation went back from Christ, and walked no more with 
him ; ' Jesus said unto them, Will ye go away also V to which 
Peter replies, in the name of the rest of them, * Lord, to whom 
shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life;' John vi. 
66 — 68. It is thus and thus with me, saith the soul, I am 
tossed and afflicted, and not comforted; little life, little 
strength, real guilt, many sins, and much disconsolation. 
What then, saith God by his word, ' Wilt thou go away 
also?' No, saith the soul, there is forgiveness with thee, thou 
hast the words of eternal life, and therefore I will abide 
with thee. 


2. This abiding with God argues a forbearance of any- 
other choice. Whilst the soul is in this condition, having 
not attained any evidences of its own special interest in for- 
giveness ; many lovers will be soliciting of it to play the 
harlot by taking them into its embraces. Both self-righte- 
ousness and sin will be very importunate in this matter. The 
former tenders itself as exceeding useful to give the soul 
some help, assistance, and supportment in its condition. 
Samuel doth not come, saith Saul, and the Philistines invade 
me, I will venture and offer sacrifice myself contrary to the 
law. The promise doth not come to the soul for its parti- 
cular relief, it hath no evidence as to an especial interest in 
forgiveness : temptation invades the mind ; try thyself, says 
it, to take relief in somewhat of thine own providing. And 
this is to play the harlot from God. To this purpose self- 
righteousness variously disguises itself, like the wife of Je- 
roboam when she went to the prophet. Sometimes it ap- 
pears as duty, sometimes as signs and tokens ; but its end 
is to get somewhat of the faith and trust of the soul to be 
fixed upon it. But when the soul hath indeed a discovery 
of forgiveness, it will not give ear to these solicitations. No, 
saith it, I see such a beauty, such an excellency, such a 
desirableness and suitableness unto my wants and condi- 
tion, in that forgiveness that is with God, that I am re- 
solved to abide in the gospel desire and expectation of it, 
all the days of my life ; 'here my choice is fixed ; and I will 
not alter. And this resolution gives glory to the grace of 
God. When the soul, without an evidence of an interest in 
it, yet prefers it above that which with many reasonings and 
pretences offers itself as a present relief unto it, hereby is 
God glorified, and Christ exalted, and the spiritual life of 
the soul secured. 

2. This discovery of forgiveness in God, with the effects 
of it before-mentioned, will produce a resolution of waiting 
on God for peace and consolation, in his own time and way. 
' He that believeth will not make haste;' Isa. xxviii. 16. Not 
make haste, to what? not to the enjoyment of the thing- 
believed. Haste argues precipitation and impatience ; this 
the soul that hath this discovery is freed from, resolving to 
wait the time of God's appointment, for peace and consola- 
tion. God speaking of his accomplishment of his promises. 



says, ' I the Lord will hasten it;' Isa. Ix. 22. Well, then, if 
God will hasten it, may not we hasten to it? Nay, saith he, 
I will hasten it, but in its time. All oppositions and impe- 
diments considered it shall be hastened, but in its time, its 
due time, its appointed time. And this the soul is to wait 
for, and so it will. 

As when Jacob had seen the beauty of Rachel and loved 
her, he was contented to wait seven years for the enjoy- 
ment of her to be his wife; and thought no time long, no 
toil too hard that he might obtain her; so the soul having 
discovered the beauty and excellency of forgiveness, as it is 
with God, as it is in his gracious heart, in his eternal pur- 
pose, in the blood of Christ, in the promise of the gospel, is 
resolved to wait quietly and patiently for the time wherein 
God will clear up unto it its own personal interest therein; 
even one experimental embracement of it, even at the hour 
of death, doth well deserve the waiting, and obedience of 
the whole course of a man's life. 

And this the psalmist manifests to have been the effect 
produced in his heart and spirit ; for upon this discovery of 
forgiveness in God, he resolved both to wait upon him him- 
self, and encourageth others so to do. 

3. This prepares the soul, for the receiving of that con- 
solation and deliverance out of its pressures, by an evidence 
of a special interest in forgiveness, which it waiteth for. 

1. For this makes men to hearken after it ; it makes the 
soul like the merchant who hath great riches, all his wealth 
in a far country, which he is endeavouring to bring home 
safe unto him. If they come he is well provided for ; if 
they miscarry he is lost and undone. This makes him heark- 
en after tidings that they are safe there ; and, as Solomon 
says, 'Good news,' in this case, ' from a far country, is as cold 
water to a thirsty soul ;' Prov. xxv. 25. full of refreshment. 
Though he cannot look upon them as his own yet absolutely, 
because he hath them not in possession, he is glad they are 
safe there. So is it with the soul ; these riches that it so 
values are as to its apprehensions in a far country : so is the 
promise, that ' he shall behold the land that is very far off;' 
Isa. xxxiii. 17. He is glad to hear news that they are safe; 
to hear forgiveness preached, and the promises insisted on, 
though he cannot as yet look upon thera as his own. 


The merchant rests not here, but he hearkeneth with 
much sohcitousness after the things that should bring home 
his riches, especially if they have in them his all. Hence 
such ships are called ships of desire, Job ix. 26. Such a 
man greatly desires the speeding of them to their port. He 
considers the wind and the weather, all the occasions, and 
inconveniences, and danger of the way ; and blame him not; 
his all is at stake. The soul doth so in like manner ; it heark- 
eneth after all the ways and means whereby this forgiveness 
may be particularly brought home unto it ; is afraid of sin, 
and of temptation, glad to find a fresh gale of the spirit of 
grace, hoping that it may bring in his return from the land 
of promise. This prepares the heart for a spiritual sense of 
it, when it is revealed. 

2. It so prepares the soul, by giving it a due valua- 
tion of the grace and mercy desired. The merchantman 
in the gospel was not prepared to enjoy the pearl himself, 
until it was discovered to him to be of great price; then he 
knew how to purchase it, procure it, and keep it. The soul 
having by this acting of faith upon the discovery of forgive- 
ness insisted on, come to find that the pearl hid in the field 
is indeed precious, is both stirred up to seek after possession 
of it, and to give it its due. Saith such a soul. How ex- 
cellent, how precious is this forgiveness that is with God ! 
Blessed, yea, ever blessed are they who are made partakers 
of it! What a life of joy, rest, peace, and consolation do 
they lead ! Had I but their evidence of an interest in it, 
and the spiritual consolation thatensuesthereon, how would 
I despise the world, and all the temptations of Satan, and 
rejoice in the Lord in every condition ! And this apprehen- 
sion of grace, also exceedingly prepares and fits the soul 
for a receiving of a blessed sense of it, so as that God may 
have glory thereby. 

3. It fits the soul, by giving a right understanding of it ; 
of its nature, its causes, and effects. At the first, the soul 
goes no farther, but to look after impunity, or freedom from 
punishment, any way. 'What shall I do to be saved?' is 
the utmost it aims at. 'Who shall deliver me; how shall I 
escape?' And it would be contented to escape anyway; 
by the law, or the gospel, all is one, so it may escape. But 
upon this discovery of forgiveness treated of, which is made 


by faith of adherence unto God, a man plainly sees the na- 
ture of it, and that it is so excellent that it is to be desired 
for its own sake. Indeed when a soul is brought under 
trouble for sin, it knows not well what it would have. It 
hath an uneasiness, or disquietment that it would be freed 
from ; a dread of some evil condition that it would avoid. 
But now the soul can tell what it desires, what it aims at, 
as well as what it would be freed from. It would have an 
interest in eternal love, have the gracious kindness of the 
heart of God turned towards itself; a sense of the everlast- 
ing purpose of his will shed abroad in his heart; have an 
especial interest in the precious blood of the Son of God, 
whereby atonement is made for him, and that all these things 
be testified unto his conscience in a word of promise mixed 
with faith. These things he came for, this way alone he 
would be saved and no other. It sees such a glory of wis- 
dom, love, and grace in forgiveness, such an exaltation of 
the love of Christ in all his offices, in all his undertaking, 
especially in his death, sacrifice, and blood-shedding, where- 
by he procured or made reconciliation for us, that it exceed- 
ingly longs after the participation of them. 

All these things in their several degrees, will this disco- 
very of forgiveness in God, without an evidence of an espe- 
cial interest therein, produce. And these will assuredly 
maintain the spiritual life of the soul, and keep it up unto 
such an obedience as shall be accepted of God in Christ. 
Darkness, sorrow, storms, they in whom it is may meet 
withal, but their internal condition is secured in the cove- 
nant of God ; their souls are bound up in the bundle of life. 

From what hath been spoken, we may make some infer- 
ences in our passage concerning the true notion of believ- 
ing. For, 

1. These effects ascribed to this faith of forgiveness in 
God, and always produced by it,make it evident that the most 
of them who pretend unto it, who pretend to believe that 
there is forgiveness with God, do indeed believe no such thing. 
Although I shall on set purpose afterward evince this, yet I 
cannot here utterly pass it by. I shall then only demand of 
them who are so forward in the profession of this faith, that 
they think italmost impossible that any one should not believe 
it ; what effects it hath produced in them, and whether they 


have been by it enabled to the performance of the duties be- 
fore-mentioned ? I fear with many, things on the account of 
their pretended faith are quite otherwise. They love sin the 
more for it, and God never the better ; supposing that a few 
barren words will issue the controversy about their sins, 
they become insensibly to have slight thoughts of sin, and 
of God also. This persuasion is not of him that calls us. 
Poor souls, your faith is the devil's greatest engine for your 
ruin ; the highest contempt of God, and Christ, and forgive- 
ness also, that you can be guilty of; a means to let you down 
quietly into hell ; the Pharisees' Moses, trusted in, and will 
condemn you. As none is saved but by faith, so you, if it 
were not for your faith (as you call it), might possibly be 
saved. If a man's gold prove counterfeit, his jewels painted 
glass, his silver lead or dross, he will not only be found poor 
when he comes to be tried, and want the benefit of riches, 
but have withal a fearful aggravation of his poverty by his 
disappointment and surprisal. If a man's faith, which should 
be more precious than gold, be found rotten and corrupt, 
if his light be darkness, how vile is that faith, how great is 
that darkness ? Such, it is evident, will the faith of too many 
be found in this business. 

2. The work we are carrying on, is the rising of a sin- 
entangled soul out of its depths ; and this we have spoken 
unto, is that which must give him his first relief. Com- 
monly when souls are in distress, that which they look after 
is consolation. What is it that they intend thereby? That 
they may have assurance that their sins are forgiven them, 
and so be freed from their present perplexities. What is the 
issue? Some of them continue complaining all their days, 
and never come to rest or peace ; so far do they fall short 
of consolation and joy. And some are utterly discouraged 
from attempting any progress in the ways of God. What is 
the reason hereof? Is it not, that they would fain be finish- 
ing their building, when they have not laid the foundation? 
They have not yet made thorough work in believing forgive- 
ness with God, and they would immediately be at assurance 
in themselves. Now God delights not in such a frame of 
spirit. For, 

1. It is selfish. The great design of faith is to ' give glory 
unto God ;' Rom. iv. 20. The end of God's giving out for- 


giveness, is the praise of' his glorious grace ;' Eph. i. 6. But 
let a soul in this frame have peace in itself, it is very little 
solicitous about giving glory unto God. He cries like Ra- 
chel, ' Give me children or 1 die ;' give me peace, or I pe- 
rish. That God may be honoured, and the forgiveness he 
seeks after be rendered glorious, it is cared for in the se- 
cond place, if at all. This selfish earnestness, at first to be 
thrusting our hand in the side of Christ, is that which he 
will pardon in many, but accepts in none. 

2. It is impatient. Men do thus deport themselves, be- 
cause they will not wait. They do not care for standing 
afar off for any season with the publican. They love not to 
submit their souls to lie at the foot of God, to give him the 
glory of his goodness, mercy, wisdom, and love, in the dis- 
posal of them, and their concernments. This waiting com- 
priseth the universal subjection of the soul unto God, with 
a resolved judgment that it is meet and right that we, and 
all we desire and aim at, should be at his sovereign disposal. 
This gives glory to God ; a duty which the impatience of 
these poor souls will not admit them to the performance of; 
and both these arise, 

3. From weakness. It is weak ; it is weakness in any 
condition that makes men restless and weary. The state of 
adherence is as safe a condition, as the state of assurance; 
only it hath more combats and wrestling attending it. It is 
not then fear of the event, but weakness and weariness of 
the combat that makes men anxiously solicitous about a 
deliverance from that state, before they are well entered 
into it. 

Let then the sin-entangled soul remember always, this 
way, method, and order of the gospel, that we have under 
consideration. First, exercise faith on forgiveness in God, 
and when the soul is fixed therein, it will have a ground and 
foundation whereon it may stand securely, in making appli- 
cation of it unto itself. Drive this principle in the first 
place unto a stable issue upon gospel evidences; an- 
swer the objections that lie against it, and then you may 
proceed. In believing, the soul makes a conquest upon Sa- 
tan's territories. Do then as they do, who are entering on 
an enemy's country; secure the passages, fortify the strong 
holds as you go on, that you be not cut off in your progress. 


Be not as a ship at sea which passeth on, and is no more 
possessed or master of the water it hath gone through, than 
of that whereunto it is not yet arrived. But so it is with a 
soul, that fixeth not on these foundation principles ; he 
presseth forwards and tlie ground crumbles away under his 
feet, and so he wilders away all his days in uncertainties. 
Would men but lay this principle well in their souls, and se- 
cure it against assaults, they might proceed, though not 
with so much speed as some do, yet with more safety. Some 
pretend at once to fall into full assurance, I wish it prove 
not a broad presumption in the most. It is to no purpose 
for him to strive to fly, who cannot yet go ; to labour to 
come to assurance in himself who never well believed for- 
giveness in God. Now that we may be enabled to fix this 
persuasion against all opposition, that which in the next 
place 1 shall do, is to give out such unquestionable evi- 
dences of this gospel truth, as the soul may safely build and 
rest upon : and these contain the confirmation of the prin- 
cipal proposition before laid down. 

Evidences of forgiveness in God. JSo inhred yiotions of any free acts of 
God's will. Forgiveness not revealed by the works of nature, nor the law. 

First, The things that are spoken, or to be known of God are 
of two sorts: 1. Natural and necessary; such as are his 
essential properties, or the attributes of his nature, his good- 
ness, holiness, righteousness, omnipotency, eternity, and the 
like. These are called, to yvtoarov rod Oeov, Rom. i. 19. ' That 
which may be known of God.' And there are two ways, as 
the apostle there declares, whereby that which he there in- 
timates of God may be known, 1. By the inbred light of 
nature ; (f)avtpbv lariv ev avrotg, ver. 19. * It is manifest in 
themselves ;' in their own hearts ; they are taught it by the 
common conceptions and presumptions which they have of 
God by the light of nature. From hence do all mankind 
know concerning God, that he is, that he is eternal, infinitely 
powerful, good, righteous, holy, omnipotent. There needs 
no special revelation of these things that men may know 
them. That indeed they may be known savingly, there is; 



and therefore they that know these things by nature, do also 
believe them on revelation. Heb. xi. 6. ' He that cometh 
unto God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder.' 
Though men know God by the light of nature, yet they 
cannot come to God by that knowledge. 

2. These essential properties of the nature of God are re- 
vealed by his works. So the apostle in the same place, 
ver. 20. 'The invisible things of God from the creation of 
the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things 
that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' See 
also Psalm xix. 1 — 3. And this is the first sort of things 
that may be known of God. 

2. There are the free acts of his will and power ; or his 
free eternal purposes, with the temporal dispensations that 
flow from them. Now of this sort, is the forgiveness that 
we are inquiring after; it is not a property of the nature of 
God, but an act of his will, and a work of his grace. Al- 
though it hath its rise and spring in the infinite goodness 
of his nature, yet it proceeds from him, and is not exercised 
but by an absolute free and sovereign act of his will. 
Now there is nothing of God, or with him of this sort, 
that can be any ways known, but only by especial revela- 
tion. For, 

1. There is no inbred notion of the acts of God's will in 
the heart of man, which is the first way whereby we come to 
the knowledge of any thing of God. Forgiveness is not re- 
vealed by the light of nature. Flesh and blood, which na- 
ture is, declares it not ; by that means, ' no man hath seen 
God at any time ;' John i. 8. that is, as a God of mercy and 
pardon, as the Son reveals him. Adam had an intimate ac- 
quaintance, according to the limited capacity of a creature, 
with the properties and excellencies of the nature of God. 
It was implanted in his heart, as indispensably necessary 
unto that natural worship, which by the law of his creation 
he was to perform. But when he had sinned, it is evident 
that he had not the least apprehension that there was for- 
giveness with God. Such a thought would have laid a 
foundation of some farther treaty with God about his con- 
dition. But he had no other design but of flying and hiding 
himself; Gen. iii. 10. so declaring that he was utterly igno- 
rant of any such thing as pardoning mercy. Such, and no 


Other, are all the first, or purely natural conceptions of sin- 
ners; namely, that it is St/caiWjua tow Oeov, "the judgment of 
God ;' Rom. i. 32. that sin is to be punished with death. It 
is true, these conceptions in many are stifled by rumours, 
reports, traditions, that it may be otherwise; but all these 
are far enough from that revelation of forgiveness, which we 
are inquiring after, 

2. The consideration of the works of God's creation will 
not help a man to this knowledge ; that there is forgiveness 
with God. The apostle tells us, Rom. i. 20. what it is of 
God that his works reveal ; ' even his eternal power and God- 
head,' or the essential properties of his nature ; but no more ; 
not any of the purposes of his grace, not any of the free acts 
of his will ; not pardon and forgiveness. Besides God made 
all things in such an estate and condition, namely, of recti- 
tude, integrity, and uprightness ; Eccles. vii. 29. that it 
was impossible they should have any respect unto sin, 
which is the corruption of all, or to the pardon of it, which 
is their restitution, whereof they stood in no need. There 
being no such thing in the world as a sin, nor any such 
thing supposed to be, when all things were made of nothing, 
how could any thing declare or reveal the forgiveness of it? 

3. No works of God's providence can make this disco- 
very. God hath indeed borne testimony to himself and his 
goodness in all ages from the foundation of the world in the 
works of his providence: so Acts xiv. 15 — 17. * We preach 
unto you, that ye should turn from these vanities, unto the 
living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and 
all things that are therein : who in times past, suffered all 
nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left nol 
himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us 
rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with 
food and gladness.' Ouk a/mapTv^ov eavruv a^fjKc, ' He left not 
himself without witness ;' that is, by the work of his provi- 
dence there recounted, he thus far bare testimony to himself, 
that he is, and is good, and doth good, and ruleth the world, 
so that they were utterly inexcusable, who taking no notice 
of these works of his, nor the fruits of his goodness, which 
they lived upon, turned away after to. fiaTaia, ' vain things/ 
as the apostle there calls the idols of the Gentiles. But yeJ 
these things did not discover pardon and forgiveness. For 



still God suffered them to go on in their own ways, and 
winked at their ig-norance. So ae:ain, Acts xvii. 23 — 27. 
' Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 
God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that 
he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples 
made with hands ; neither is worshipped witli men's hands, 
as though he needed any thing; seeing he giveth unto all 
life, and breath, and ail things ; and hath made of one blood 
all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth' 
(where by the way there is an allusion to that of Gen. xi. 8. 
' the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth'), 
'and hath determined the times before appointed, and the 
bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, 
if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though 
he be not far from every one of us.' By arguments taken 
from the works of God, both of creation and providence, the 
apostle proves the being, and the properties of God. Yea, he 
lets them know with whom he had to do, that God designed 
by his works so far to reveal himself unto them, as the true 
and living God, the maker and governor of all things, as 
that they ought to have inquired more diligently after him, 
and not to look on him alone as the unknown God, who 
alone might be known : all their idols being vain and no- 
thing. But of the discovery of pardon and forgiveness in 
God by these ways and means, he speaks not ; yea, he plainly 
shews that this was not done thereby. For the great call 
to saving repentance, is by the revelation of forgiveness. 
But now by these works of his providence, God called not 
the Gentiles to saving repentance. No, saith he, he 'suf- 
fered them to walk still in their own ways ;' chap. xiv. 1 6. 
* and winked at the times of their ignorance ; but now,' that 
is, by the word of the gospel, ' commandeth them to repent ;' 
chap. xvii. 30. 

Secondly, Whereas there had been one signal act of God's 
providence about sin, when man first fell into the snares of it; 
it was so far from the revealing forgiveness in God, that it 
rather severely intimated the contrary. This was God's 
dealing with sinning angels. The angels were the first sin- 
ners ; and God dealt first with them about sin. And what 
was his dealing with them, the Holy Ghost tells us, 2 Pot. 
ii. 4. ajyiXMv afxapTnaavrwv ouk t^ttcjaTo, ' he spared not the 


sinning angels.' He spared them not; it is the same word 
which he useth where he speaks of laying all our iniquities 
on Christ, he undergoing the punishment due unto them ; 
Rom. viii. 32. ouk t(pd(TaTO, ' he spared him not;' that is, he 
laid on him the full punishment that by the curse and sanc- 
tion of the law was due unto sin. So he dealt with the 
angels that sinned; 'he spared them not,' but inflicted on 
them the punishment due unto sin, shutting them up under 
chains of darkness for the judgment of the great day. Hi- 
tlierto then God keeps all thoughts of forgiveness in his 
own eternal bosom ; there is not so much as the least dawn- 
ing of it upon the world. And this was at first no small 
prejudice against any thoughts of forgiveness. The world 
is made, sin enters by the most glorious part of the crea- 
tion, whose recovery by pardon might seem to be more de- 
sirable; but not the least appearance of it is discovered. 
Thus it was ' hid in God from the foundation of the world ;' 
Eph. iii. 9. 

Thirdly, God gave unto man a law of 6l)edience immediately 
upon his creation. Yea, for the main of it, he implanted it 
in him, by and in his creation. This law it was supposed 
that man might transgress. The very nature of a law pre- 
scribed unto free agents, attended with threatenings and 
promises of reward, requires that supposition. Now there 
was not annexed unto this law, or revealed with it, the least 
intimation of pardon to be obtained, if transgression should 
ensue. Gen. ii. 17. we have this law, ' In the day thou eat- 
est thou shalt surely die ;' dying thou shalt die : or bring 
upon thyself assuredly the guilt of death temporal and eter- 
nal. There God leaves the sinner under the power of that 
commination. Of forgiveness or pardoning mercy there is 
not the least intimation. To this very day, that law which 
was then the whole rule of life and acceptance with God, 
knows no such thing. Dying thou shalt die, O sinner, 
is the precise and final voice of it. From these previous 
considerations, added to what was forrxicrly spoken, some 
things preparatory to the ensuing discourse may be in- 
ferred. As, 

1. That it is a great and rare thing to have forgiveness in 
God discovered unto a sinful soul. A thing it is, that as 
hath been shewed, conscience and law, with the inbred no- 


tions that are in the heart of man about God's holiness and 
vindictive justice do lie against. A matter whereof we have 
no natural presumption ; whereof there is no common no- 
tion in the mind of man. A thing which no consideration 
of the works of God, either of creation or providence will 
reveal, and which the great instance of God's dealing with 
sinning angels renders deep, admirable, and mysterious. 
Men who have common and slight thoughts of God, of 
themselves, of sin, of obedience, of the judgment to come, 
of eternity, that feed upon the ashes of rumours, reports, 
hearsays, traditions, without looking into the reality of 
things, may, and do take this to be an ordinary and acknow- 
ledged truth, easy to be entertained, which upon the matter 
no man disbelieves. But convinced sinners, who make a 
trial of these things, as running into eternity, have other 
thoughts of them. And as to that which it is pretended 
every one believes, we have great cause to cry out, ' Lord, 
who hath believed our report? to whom hath this arm of the 
Lord been revealed V 

2. That the discovery of forgiveness in God, being a 
matter of so great difficulty, is a thing precious and excel- 
lent, as being the foundation of all our communion with God 
here, and of all undeceiving expectation of our enjoyment 
of him hereafter. It is a pure gospel truth that hath neither 
shadow, footstep, nor intimation elsewhere ; the whole crea- 
tion hath not the least obscure impression of it left thereon. 
So that, 

3. It is undoubtedly greatly incumbent on us to inquire 
diligently, as the prophets did of old, into this salvation ; to 
consider what sure evidences faith hath of it, such as will 
not, as cannot fail us. To be slight and common in this 
matter, to take it up at random, is an argument of an un- 
sound, rotten heart. He that is not serious in his inquiry 
into the revelation of this matter, is serious in nothing 
wherein God or his soul is concerned. The Holy Ghost 
knows what our frame of heart is, and how slow we are to 
receive this blessed truth in a gracious saving manner. 
Therefore doth he confirm it unto us with such weighty con- 
siderations, as Heb. vi. 17, 18. 'God, willing more abun- 
dantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability 
of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath ; that by two immu- 


table things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we 
might have strong consolation.' It is of forgiveness of sin 
that the apostle treats, as hath been made evident by the 
description of it before given. Now to give evidence here- 
unto, and to beget a belief of it in us, he first engages a pro- 
perty of God's nature in that business. He with whom we 

deal, is a\pevdrig as Tit. i. 2. The God that cannot lie, 

that cannot deceive, or be deceived. It is impossible it 
should be so with him. Now as this extends itself in ge- 
neral, to all the words and works of God, so there is pecu- 
liarly in this whereof he treats to a/uLara^sTov rijc jSouXf/c, 
an especial 'immutability of his counsel.' Men may think 
that although there be words spoken about forgiveness, yet 
it is possible it may be otherwise. No, saith the apostle, it 
is spoken by God, and it is impossible he should lie. Yea, 
but upon the manifold provocations of sinners, he may change 
his mind and thoughts therein. No, saith the apostle, there 
is a peculiar immutability in his counsel concerning the ex- 
ecution of this thing, there can be no change in it. But how 
doth this appear that indeed this is the counsel of his will ? 
Why, saith he, he hath declared it by his word; and that 
given in a way of promise ; which, as in its own nature it is 
suited to raise an expectation in him or them to whom it is 
made or given, so it requires exact faithfulness in the dis- 
charge and performance of it, which God on his part will as- 
suredly answer. But neither is this all ; but that no place 
might be left for any cavilling objection in this matter, 
efxi(TiTBV(Tev opKt^, 'he interposed himself by an oath.' Thus we 
have this truth deduced from the veracity of God's nature, 
one of his essential excellencies, established in the immu- 
table purpose of his will, brought forth by a word of pro- 
mise, and confirmed by God's interposing himself against 
all occasions of exception (so to put an end unto all strife 
about it) by an oath, swearing by himself that so it should 
be. I have mentioned this only to shew what weight the 
Holy Ghost lays upon the delivery of this great truth, and 
thence how deeply it concerns us to inquire diligently into 
it, and after the grounds and evidences which may be ten- 
dered of it, which among others are these that follow. 


Discovery of forgiveness in the first promise. The evidence of the truth 
that lies therein. A7id by the institution of sacrifices. Their use and 
end. Also by the prescription of repentance unto sinners. 

The first discovery of forgiveness in God (and which I place 
as the first evidence of it), vv^as made in his dealing with 
our first parents after their shameful sin and fall. Now to 
make it appear, that this is an evidence that carries along 
with it a great conviction, and is such as faith may securely 
rest upon and close withal, the ensuing observations are to 
be considered. 

The first sin in the world, was on many accounts the 
greatest sin that ever was in the world. It was the sin, as 
it were, of human nature, wherein there was a conspiracy of 
all individuals; ' omnes eramus unus ille homo;' in that 
one man, or that one sin, 'we all sinned;' Rom. v. 12. It 
left not God one subject as to moral obedience on the earth, 
nor the least ground for any such to be unto eternity. When 
the angels sinned, the whole race or kind did not prevaricate. 
Thousand thousands of them, and ten thousand times ten 
thousands continued in their obedience ; Dan. vii. 10. But 
here, all and every individual of mankind (he only excepted 
which was not then in Adam) were embarked in the same 
crime and guilt. Besides it disturbed the government of 
God in and over the whole creation. God had made all 
things in number, weight, and measure, in order and beauty: 
pronouncing himself concerning his whole work that it was 
IND DIED exceeding beautiful and good ; Gen. i. 31. Much 
of this beauty lay in the subordination of one thing to an- 
other, and of all to himself by the mediation and interpo- 
sition of man, through whose praises and obedience the rest 
of the creation being made subject unto him, was to return 
their tribute of honour and glory unto God. But all this 
order was destroyed by this sin ; and the very ' creation 
made subject to vanity ;' Rom. viii. 20. On which, and the 
like accounts, it might be easily made to appear that it was 
the Pieatest sin that ever was in the world. 

2. Man who had sinned, subscjibed in his heart and con- 
science unto the righteous sentence of the law. He knew 


what he had deserved, and looked for nothing but the im- 
mediate execution of the sentence of death upon him. Hence 
he meditates not a defence, expects no pardon, stays not for 
a trial, but flies and hides, and attempts an escape ; Gen. 
iii. 10. '1 was afraid,' saith he, 'and hid myself;' than 
which never were there words of greater horror in the world, 
nor shall be until the day of judgment. Poor creature, he 
was full of expectation of the vengeance due for a broken 

3. God hath newly declared in the sinning angels what 
his justice required, and how he could deal with sinning 
man without the least impeachment of his government, ho- 
liness, or goodness. See 2 Pet. ii. 4. 

4. There was nothing without God himself that should 
move him in the least, so much as to suspend the execution 
of his wrath for one moment ; he had not done so with the 
angels. All things lay now under wrath, curse, confusion, 
and disorder ; nothing was left good, lovely, or desirable, in 
his eye. As in the first creation, that which was first 
brought forth from nothing was liiQl "inn ' without form and 
void,' empty of all order and beauty ; nothing was in it to 
induce or move God to bring forth all things in the glory 
that ensued, but the whole design of it, proceeded from his 
own infinite goodness and wisdom ; so was it now again. 
There was an emptiness and vanity brought by sin upon the 
whole creation. Nothing remained that might be a motive 
unto a merciful restoration, but all is again devolved on his 
sovereignty. All things being in this state and condition 
wherein all doors stood open to the glory of God's justice 
in the punishing of sin, nothing remaining without him to 
hold his hand in the least ; the whole creation, and espe- 
cially the sinner himself lying trembling in expectation of a 
dreadful doom ; what now cometh forth from him ? the bles- 
sed word which we have. Gen. iii. 15. * The seed of the wo- 
man shall break the serpent's head.' It is full well known 
that the whole mystery of forgiveness is wrapt up in this 
one word of promise. And the great way of its coming 
forth from God by the blood of the Messiah, whose heel 
was to be bruised, is also intimated. And this was the first 
discovery that ever was made, of forgiveness in God. By 
a word of pure revelation it was made, and so faith must 


take it up and receive it. Now this revelation of forgiveness 
with God in this one promise, was the bottom of all that 
worship that was yielded unto him by sinners for many 
ages. For we have shewed before, that without this no sin- 
ner can have the least encouragement to approach unto 
him ; and this will continue to the end of the world, as a 
notable evidence of the truth in hand, a firm foundation for 
faith to rest and build upon. Let a sinner seriously consi- 
der the state of things as they were then in the world laid 
down before, and then view God coming forth with a word 
of pardon and forgiveness, merely from his own love, and 
those counsels of peace that were between the Father and 
the Son, and he cannot but conclude, under his greatest 
difficulties, that yet 'there is forgiveness with God that he 
may be feared.' Let now the law. and conscience, let sin 
and Satan stand forth and except against his evidence ; 
enough may be spoken from it whatever the particular case 
be, about which the soul hath a contest with them, to put 
them all to silence. 

Secondly, God revealed this sacred truth by his institution 
of sacrifices. Sacrifices by blood, do all of them respect 
atonement, expiation, and consequently forgiveness. It is 
true indeed, they could not themselves take away sin, nor 
make them perfect who came unto God by them; Heb. x. 1. 
but yet they undeniably evince the taking away of sin, or 
the forgiveness of it, by what they did denote and typify. I 
shall, therefore, look back into their rise and intendment. 

1. The original and first spring of sacrifices is not in the 
Scripture expressly mentioned ; only the practice of the saints 
is recorded. But it is certain, from infallible Scripture evi- 
dences, that they were of God's immediate institution and 
appointment. God never allowed that the will or wisdom of 
man, should be the spring and rule of his worship. That 
solemn word wherewith he fronts the command that is the 
rule of his worship, i^b nw^D N") ' Thou shalt not make to 
thyself,' which is the life of the command (that which fol- 
lows being an explanation and confirmation of the law itself 
by instances), cuts oft all such pretences, and is as a flaming 
sword turning every way to prevent men's arbitrary ap- 
proaches to God's institutions. God will not part with his 
glory of being the only lawgiver as to the whole concern- 



ment of his worship, or any part of it, unto any of the sons 
of men. 

2. Neither is the time of their institution mentioned. 
Some of the Papists dispute (as there are a generation of 
philosophical disputers amongst them, by whom their tot- 
tering cause is supported) that there should have been sacri- 
fices in paradise, if a man had not sinned. But as in all 
their opinions, our first inquiry ought to be, what do they 
get by this or that, their whole religion being pointed 
unto their carnal interest ; so we may in particular do it, 
upon this uncouth assertion, which is perfectly contradic- 
tious to the very nature and end of most sacrifices ; namely, 
that they should be offered where there is no sin. Why, 
they hope to establish hence a general rule, that there can 
be no true worship of God in any state or condition without 
a sacrifice. What then I pray? Why then it is evident, that 
the continual sacrifice of the mass is necessary in the church, 
and that without it there is no true worship of God ; and so 
they are quickly come home to their advantage and profit ; 
the mass being that inexhaustible spring of revenue which 
feeds their pride and lust throughout the world. But there 
is in the church of Christ an altar still, and a sacrifice still, 
which they have rejected for the abominable figmentof their 
mass ; namely, Christ himself, as the apostle informs us, 
Heb. xiii. 10. But as the sacrifices of beasts could not have 
been before the entrance of sin, so it may be evidenced that 
they were instituted from the foundation of the world, that 
is, presently after the entrance of sin. Christ is called the 
' Lamb of God ;' John i. 29. which he was in reference unto 
the sacrifices of old, as 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19. whence he is repre- 
sented in the church, as a * Lamb slain ;' Rev. v. 6. or giving 
out the efficacy of all sacrifices to his church. Now he is 
said to be a ' Lamb slain from the foundation of the world ;' 
Rev. xiii. 8. which could not be, unless some sacrifice, pre- 
fiscurino- his' beins; slain, had been then offered. For it de- 
notes not only the efficacy of his mediation, but the way. 
Besides the apostle tells us, that ' without shedding of blood 
there was no remission ;' Heb. ix. 22. that is, God, to de- 
monstrate that all pardon and forgiveness related to the 
blood of Christ from the foundation of the world, gave out 
no word of pardon, but by and with blood. Now I have 


shewed before, that he revealed pardon in the first pronuse, 
and therefore there ensued thereon the sheddin<x of blood 
and sacrifices; and thereby that testament or covenant 'was 
dedicated with blood' also; ver. 18. Some think that the 
beasts, of whose skins God made garments for Adam, were 
offered in sacrifices. Nor is the conjecture vain. Yea, it 
.seems not to want a shadow of a gospel mystery ; that their 
nakedness, which became their shame upon their sin (whence 
the pollution and shame of sin is frequently so termed), 
should be covered with the skins of their sacrifices. For in 
the true sacrifice, there is somewhat answerable thereunto. 
And the righteousness of him whose sacrifices takes away 
the guilt of our sin, is called our clothing, that hides our 
pollution and shame. 

3. That after the giving of the law, the greatest, most 
noble, and solemn part of the worship of God consisted in 
sacrifices. And this kind of worship continued with the ap- 
probation of God in the world about four thousand years ; 
that is, from the entrance of sin until the death of the Mes- 
siah, the true sacrifice, which put an end unto all that was 

These things being premised, w'e may consider what was 
the mind and aim of God in the institution of this worship. 
One instance, and that of the most solemn of the whole kind, 
will resolve us in this inquiry ; Lev. xvi. 5. Two kids of the 
goats are taken for an offering for sin. Consider only (that 
we do not enlarge on particulars) how one of them was dealt 
withal, ver. 20 — 22. ' He shall bring the live goat, and 
Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, 
and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of 
Israel, and all their transgression in all their sins, putting 
them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by 
the hand of a fit man into the wilderness : and the goat shall 
bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.' 
Let us see to what end is all this solemnity, and what is 
declared thereby. Wherefore should God appoint poor sin- 
ful men to come together, to take a goat or a lamb, and to 
confess over his head all their sins and transgressions, and 
to devote him to destruction under -that confession ? Had 
men invented this tliemselves, it had been a matter of no 
mument. But it was an institution of God which he bound 


his church to the observation of upon the penalty of his high-- 
est displeasure. Certainly this was a solemn declaration 
that there is forgiveness with him. Would that God, who is 
infinitely good, and so will not, who is infinitely true, holy, 
and faithful, and so cannot, deceive, call men out whom he 
loved, to a solemn representation of a thing wherein their 
chiefest, their eternal concernment did lie, and suffer them 
to feed upon ashes ? Let men take heed that they mock not 
God ; for of a truth God mocketh not man, until he be finally 
rejected by him. For four thousand years together then, did 
God declare by sacrifices, that there is forgiveness with 
him, and led his people by them to make a public repre- 
sentation of it in the face of the world. This is a second 
uncontrollable evidence of the truth asserted, which may 
possibly be of use to souls that come indeed deeply and se- 
riously to deal with God ; for though the practice be ceased, 
yet the instruction intended in them continues. 

Thirdly, God's appointment of repentance unto sinners, 
doth reveal that there is forgiveness in himself. I say the pre- 
scription of repentance is a revelation of forgiveness. After 
the angels had sinned, God never once called them to re- 
pentance. He would not deceive them, but let them know- 
what they were to look for at his hands ; he hath no foroive- 
ness for them, and therefore would require no repentance of 
them. It is not, nor ever was, a duty incumbent on them to 
repent. Nor is it so unto the damned in hell. God requires 
it not of them, nor is it their duty. There being no foro-ive- 
ness for them, what should move them to repent ? Why 
should it be their duty so to do ? Their eternal anguish about 
sin committed hath nothing of repentance in it. Assigna- 
tion then, of repentance, is a revelation of forgiveness. God 
would not call upon a sinful creature to humble itself and 
bewail its sin, if there were no way of recovery, or relief, 
and the only way of recovery from the guilt of sin, is pardon. 
So Job XXX. 27, 28. 'He looketh on men, and if any say, I 
have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it pro- 
fited me not ; he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, 
and his life shall see the light.' In the foregoing verses he 
declares the vorious ways that God used to bring men unto 
repentance. He did it by dreams, ver. 15, 16. by afflictions 
ver. 19. by the preaching of the word, ver. 23. What then 


doth God aim at in and by all these various ways of teach- 
ings ? It is to cause man to say, * 1 liave sinned and perverted 
that which was right.' It is to bring him to repentance. 
What now, if he obtain his end, and cometh to that wliich is 
aimed at? Why then there is forgiveness for him, as is de- 
clared, ver. 28. To improve this evidence, I shall confirm, 
by some few obvious considerations, these two things: 

1. That the prescription of repentance doth indeed 
evince that there is forgiveness with God. 

2. That every one in whom there is repentance wrought 
towards God, may certainly conclude that there is forgive- 
ness with God for him. 

1. No repentance is acceptable with God but what is 
built or leans on the faith of forgiveness. We have a cloud 
of witnesses unto this truth in the Scripture. Many ther^ 
have been, many are recorded who have been convinced of 
sin, perplexed about it, sorry for it, that have made open 
confession and acknowledgment of it, that under the press- 
ing sense of it, have cried out even to God for deliverance, 
and yet have come short of mercy, pardon, and acceptance 
with God. The cases of Cain, Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, Judas, 
and others, might be insisted on. What was wanting that 
made all that they did abominable ? Consider one instance 
for all : it is said of Judas that he repented; Matt, xxvii. 3. 
jufrajufXjjSac* ' he repented himself;' but wherein did this 
repentance consist? he was convinced of his sin in general ; 
i^fxaprov, saith he, ' I have sinned,' ver. 4. 2. He was sensi- 
ble of the particular sin whereof he stood charged in con- 
science before God. * I have,' saith he, ' betrayed innocent 
blood :' I am guilty of blood, innocent blood, and that in 
the vilest manner, by treachery; so that he comes, 3. To a 
full and open confession of his sin. 4. He makes restitution 
of what he was advantaged by his sin ; ' he brought again 
the thirty pieces of silver,' ver. 3. all testifying a hearty 
sorrow that spirited the whole. Methinks now Judas's re- 
pentance looks like the young man's obedience, who cried 
out, 'AH these things have I done; is there any thing yet 
lacking?' Yea, one thing was wanting to that young man, 
he had no true faith nor love to God all this while, which 
vitiated and spoiled all the rest of his performances. One 
thing also is wanting to this repentance of Judas ; he had no 

UPON PSALJI cxxx. 143 

faith of forgiveness in God; that he could not believe; and, 
therefore, after all this sorrow, instead of coming to him, he 
bids him the utmost defiance, and goes away and hangs himself. 

Indeed faith of forgiveness, as hath been shewed, hath 
many degrees. There is of them, that which is indispen- 
sably necessary to render repentance acceptable. What it 
is in particular, I do not dispute. It is not an assurance 
of the acceptance of our persons in general. It is not 
that the particular sin wherewith it may be, the soul is 
perplexed, is forgiven. A general, so it be a gospel dis- 
covery that there is forgiveness in God, will suffice. The 
church expresseth it, Hos. xiv. 3. * In thee the fatherless 
findeth mercy;' and Joel ii. 14. 'Who knows but he will 
return and repent?' I have this ground, saith the soul; God 
is in himself gracious and merciful ; the fatherless, the desti- 
tute and helpless that come to him by Christ, find mercy in 
him. None in heaven and earth can evince but that he may 
return to me also. Now let a man's convictions be never so 
great, sharp, wounding ; his sorrow never so abundant, over- 
flowing, abiding ; his confession never so full, free or open ; 
if this one thing be wanting, all is nothing but what tends 
to death. 

2. To prescribe repentance as a duty unto sinners, with- 
out a foundation of pardon and forgiveness in himself; is 
inconsistent with the wisdom, lioliness, goodness, faithful- 
ness, and all other glorious excellencies and perfections of 
the nature of God. For, 

1. The apostle lays this as the great foundation of all 
consolation; tliat God cannot lie or deceive; Heb. vi. 18. 
And again, he engageth the faithfulness and veracity of God 
to the same purpose; Tit. i. 2. ' God, who cannot lie, hath 
promised it.' Now there is a lie, a deceit in things as well 
as in words. He that doth a thing, which in its own nature 
is apt to deceive them that consider it, with an intention of 
deceiving them, is no less a liar, than he which affirms that 
to be true, which he knows to be false. There is a lie in 
actions as well as in words. The whole life of a hypocrite 
is a lie ; so saith the prophet of idolaters, there is a ' lie in 
their right hand ;' Isa. xliv. 20. 

2. The proposal of repentance, is a thing fitted and suited 


in its own nature, to beget thou^lits in the mind of a sinner 
that there is forgiveness with God. Repenting is for sinners 
only. ' I come not/ saith our Saviour, ' to call the righte- 
ous, but sinners to repentance.' It is for them, and them 
only. It was no duty for Adam in Eden ; it is none for the 
angels in heaven, nor for the damned in hell. What then 
may be the language of this appointment? O sinners, come 
and deal with God by repentance ; doth it not openly speak 
forgiveness in God? and if it were otherwise, could men 
possibly be more frustrated or deceived ? would not the in- 
stitution of repentance be a lie ? Such a delusion may pro- 
ceed from Satan, but not from him who is the fountain of 
goodness, holiness, and truth. His call to repentance, is a 
full demonstration of his readiness to forgive; Acts xvii. 
30 — 32. It is true, many do thus deceive themselves; they 
raise themselves unto an expectation of immunity, not on 
gospel grounds ; and their disappointment is a great part of 
their punishment. But God deceives none : whoever comes 
to him on his proposal of repentance, shall find forgiveness. 
It is said of some, indeed, that he ' will laugh at their ca- 
lamity, and mock when their fear coraeth;' Prov. i. 26. He 
will aggravate their misery, by giving them to see what their 
pride and folly hath brought them unto. But who are they? 
only such as refuse his call to repentance, with the promises 
of the acceptation annexed. 

3. There is then no cause, why those who are imder a 
call to repentance, should question whether there be forgive- 
ness in God or no. This concerns my second proposition. 
Come, saith the Lord, unto the souls of men, leave your 
sinful ways, turn unto me, humble yourselves with broken 
and contrite heart.' Alas ! say poor convinced sinners, we 
are poor, dark, and ignorant creatures ; or we are old in 
sin, or greater sinners, or backsliders, or have fallen often into 
the same sins ; can we expect there should be forgiveness 
for us ? Why, you are under God's invitation to repentance; 
and to disbelieve forgiveness, is to call the truth, holiness, 
and faithfulness of God into question. If you Avill not be- 
lieve forgiveness, pretend what you please, it is in truth be- 
cause you hate repentance. You do but deceive your souls 
when you pretend you come not up to repentance, because 


you cannot believe forgiveness. For in the very institution 
of this duty God engageth all his properties to make it good 
that he hath pardon and mercy for sinners. 

4. Much less cause is there to doubt of forgiveness, 
where sincere repentance is in any measure wrought. No 
soul comes to repentance but upon God's call. God calls 
none but whom he hath mercy for upon their coming. And 
as for those who sin against the Holy Ghost, as they shut 
themselves out from forgiveness, so they are not called to 

5. God expressly declares in the Scripture, that the for- 
giveness that is with him, is the foundation of his prescrib- 
ing repentance unto man. One instance may suffice; Isa. 
Iv. 7. ' Let the wicked forsake his way,' (]fW) a perverse 
wicked one; ps ::;'Xl)/and the'man of iniquity his thoughts: 
and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy : 
and to our God, for m'PD'? HD")' he will multiply to pardon.' 
You see to whom he speaks ; to men perversely wicked, and 
such as make a trade of sinning. What doth he call them 
unto ? plainly to repentance, to the duty we have insisted 
on. But what is the ground of such an invitation, unto 
such profligate sinners ? Why, the abundant forgiveness and 
pardon that is with him, superabounding unto what the 
worst of them can stand in need of; as Rom. v. 20. 

And this is another way whereby God hath revealed 
that there is forgiveness with him, and an infallible bottom 
for faith to build upon in its approaches unto God it is. 
Nor pan the certainty of this evidence be called into ques- 
tion, but on such grounds as are derogatory to the glory 
and honour of God. And this connexion of repentance 
and forgiveness is that principle from whence God convinces 
a stubborn unbelieving people, that all his ways and deal- 
ings with sinners are just and equal; Ezek. xviii. 25. And 
should there be any failure in it, they could not be sk). Every 
soul then that is under a call to repentance, whether out of 
his natural condition, or from any backsliding into folly 
after conversion, hath a sufficient foundation to rest on, as 
to the pardon he inquires after. God is ready to deal with 
him on terms of mercy ; if out of love to sin, or the power 
of unbelief, he refuse to close with him on these terms, his 
condemnation is just. And it will be well that this con- 



sicleration be well imprinted on the minds of men. I say, 
notwithstanding the general presumptions that men seem to 
have of this matter, yet these principles of it ought to be 
inculcated. For, 

1. Such is the atheism that lies lurking in the hearts of 
men by nature, that notwithstanding their pretences and 
professions, we have need to be pressing upon them evi- 
dences of the very being and essential properties of God. 
In so doing we have the assistance of inbred notions in their 
own minds which they cannot eject, to help to carry on the 
work. How much more is this necessary in reference unto 
the free acts of the will of God, which are to be known only 
by mere revelation? Our word had need to be 'line upon 
line :' and yet when we have done, have cause enough to 
cry out, as was said, 'Lord, who hath believed our report? 
and to whom bath this arm of the Lord been revealed V 

2. What was spoken before of the obstacles that lie in 
the way, hindering souls from a saving reception of this truth, 
ought to be remembered. Those who have no experience 
of them between God and their souls, seem to be ignorant 
of the true nature of conscience, law, gospel, grace, sin, and 

3. Many who are come to a saving persuasion of it, yet 
havingnot received it upon clear and unquestionable grounds, 
and so not knowing how to resolve their faith of it into its 
proper principles, are not able to answer the objections that 
lie against it in their own consciences, and do so miserably 
fluctuate about it all their days. These had need to have 
these principles inculcated on them. Were they pondered 
aright, some might have cause to say with the Samaritans, 
who first gave credit to the report of the woman, John iv. 
they had but a report before, but now they find all things 
to be according unto it, yea, to exceed it. A little experi- 
ence of a man's own unbelief, with the observation that may 
easily be made of the uncertain progresses and fluctuations 
of the spirits of others, will be a sufficient conviction of the 
necessity of the work we are engaged in. 

But it will yet be said, that it is needless to multiply ar- 
guments and evidences in this case ; the truth insisted on 
being granted as one of the fundamental principles of reli- 
gion. As it is not then by any called in question, so it doth 

UPO^' FSALM cxxx. 147 

not appear that so much time and pains is needful for the 
confirmation of it ; for what is granted and plain, needs 
little confirmation. But several things may be returned in 
answer hereunto : all whi.-b may at once be here pleaded for 
the multiplication of our arguments in this matter. 

1. That it is generally granted by all, is no argument that 
it is efTectually believed by many. Sundry things are taken 
for granted in point of opinion, that are not so believed as 
to be improved in practice. We have in part shewed before, 
and shall afterward undeniably evince, that there are very 
few that believe this truth, with that faith that will interest 
them in it, and give them the benefit of it. And what will 
it avail any of us, that ' there is forgiveness of sin with God,' 
if our sins be not forgiven ? no more than that such or such 
a king is rich, whilst we are poor and starving. My aim is 
not to prove it as an opinion, or a mere speculative truth ; 
but so to evidence it in the principles of its being and reve- 
lation, as that it may be believed, whereon all our blessed- 
ness depends. 

2. It needs never the less confirmation because it is a 
plain fundamental truth, but rather the more ; and that be- 
cause both of the worth and weight of it. * This is a faith- 
ful saying,' saith the apostle, * worthy of all acceptation, that 
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.' So I say 
of this, which for the substance of it, is the same with that. 
It is worthy of all acceptation, namely, that there is forgive- 
ness with God ; and therefore ought it to be fully con- 
firmed : especially whilst we make use of no other demon- 
strations of it, but those only which God hath furnished us 
withal to that purpose ; and this he would not have done, 
but that he knew them needful for us. And for the plain- 
ness of this truth, it is well if it be so unto us. This I know, 
nothing but the Spirit of God can make it so. Men may 
please themselves and others sometimes with curious no- 
tions, and make them seem to be things of great search and 
attainment : which, when they are well examined, it may be 
they are not true; or if they are, are yet of a very little con- 
sequence or importance. It is these fundamental truths 
that have the mysteries of the wisdom and grace of God in- 
wrapped in them \ which who so can unfold aright, will shew 
himself 'a workman that needs not be ashamed.' These still 

L 2 


waters are deep ; and the farther we dive into them, the 
greater discovery shall we make of their depths. And many 
other sacred truths there are, whose mention is common, 
but whose depths are little searched, and whose efficacy is 
little known. 

3. We multiply these evidences, because they are mul- 
titudes that are concerned in them. All that do believe, 
and all that do not believe, are so. Those that do believe, 
that they may be established; and those that do not believe, 
that they may be encouraged so to do. Among both these 
sorts some evidences may be more profitable and useful, one 
to one, some to another. It may be amongst all, all will be 
gathered up, that no fragments be lost. They are all, I hope, 
instruments provided by the Holy Ghost for this end; and 
by this ordinance do we endeavour to put them into his 
hand, to be made effectual as he will. One may reach one 
soul, another another, according to his pleasure. One may 
be of use to establishment, another to consolation, a third of 
encouragement, according as the necessities of poor souls 
do require. However, God who hath provided them, knows 
them all to be needful. 

4. They are so also upon the account of the various con- 
ditions wherein the spirits of believers themselves may be. 
One may give help to the same soul at one season, another 
at another ; one may secure the soul against a temptation, 
another stir it up to thankfulness and obedience. 

These things have I spoken, that you may not think we 
dwell too long on this consideration. And I pray God that 
your consolation and establishment may abound in the read- 
ing of these meditations, as I hope they have not been alto- 
gether without their fruit in their preparation. 


Pnrther evidences of forgiveness with God- Testimonies that God was well 
pleased with some that were sinners. The patience of God towards the 
world ; an evidence of forgiveness. Experience of the saints of God to 
the same purpose. 

Fourthly. Let us then in the fourth place, as a fourth evi- 
dence of this truth, consider those, both under the Old Testa- 
ment and the New, concerning whom we have the greatest as- 
surance that God was well pleased with them, and that they are 
now in the enjoyment of him. And this argument unto this 
purpose the apostle insists upon, and presseth from sundry 
instances, Heb. xi. How many doth he there reckon up who 
of old * obtained a good report, and this testimony, that they 
pleased God V ver. 23. ' All these inherited the promises 
through believing;' that is, obtained the ' forgiveness of sin.' 
For whereas by ' nature they were children of wrath,' and 
under the curse as well as others, obtaining an infallible in- 
terest in the favour of God, and this testimony, ' that they 
pleased him,' it could no otherwise be. For without this, on 
a just account, every one of them would have continued in 
the state wherein Adam was, when ' he heard the voice of 
God and was afraid.' Wherefore, it being evident that some 
persons in all generations, have enjoyed the friendship, love, 
and favour of God in this world, and at their departure out 
of it have entered into glory; it makes it evident that there 
is forgiveness of sin with him, without which these things 
could not be. 

Let us, after the example of the apostle, mention some 
particular instances in this matter. Look unto Abraham : 
he was the friend of God, and walked with God ; God made 
a solemn covenant with him, and takes it for his memorial 
throughout all generations, that he is ' the God of Abraham.' 
And he is doubtless now at rest with God. Our Saviour 
calls the place or condition whereinto blessed souls are ga- 
thered, 'Abraham's bosom ;' he is at rest with whom others 
are at rest. 

The condition was the same with Isaac and Jacob. They 
also are in heaven, being alive unto and with God. Our 
Saviour proves it from the tenor of the covenant, ' I am the 


God of Abraham, the God of" Isaac, the God of Jacob. 
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living ;' Matt, 
xxii. 32. They are yet alive, alive unto God, and with him 
by virtue of the covenant ; or after their death, God would 
not be said to be their God. This is the force of our Sa- 
viour's argument in that place ; that after their death, God 
was still their God. Tlien death had not reached their 
whole persons. They were still alive with God in heaven ; 
and their bodies, by virtue of the same covenant, were to be 
recovered out of the dust. 

The same is the state with David. He was a man after 
God's own heart, that did his will, and fulfilled all his plea- 
sure. And although he died, and his body saw corruption, 
yet he is not lost, he is with God in heaven. Hence he 
ended his days triumphantly in a full apprehension of eter- 
nal rest, beyond what could in this world be attained, and 
that by virtue of the covenant. For these are the last words 
of David, ' Although my house be not so with God, yet he 
hath made with me an everlasting covenant ;' ascertaining 
unto him sure and eternal mercies, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. 

Peter also is in heaven. Christ prayed for him that his 
faith should not fail; and in his death he glorified God; 
John xxi. 19. 

So is Paul. He also is in heaven. He knew that when 
he was dissolved he should be with Christ. Here then ' we 
are encompassed about with a cloud of witnesses.' For, 

1. It is most certain, that they were all sinners; they 
were all so by nature ; for therein there is no difiference be- 
tween any of the children of men. And personally they 
were sinners also. They confessed so of themselves, and 
some of the sins of all of them stand upon record. Yea, some 
of them were great sinners, or guilty of great and signal 
miscarriages. Some before their conversion, as Abraham, 
who was an idolater '> Josh. xxiv. 2, 3. and Paul who was a 
persecutor and a blasphemer ; some after their conversion ; 
some in sins of the flesh against their obedience, as David; 
and some in sins of profession against faith, as Peter. 
Nothing then is more evident, tlum that no one of them 
came to rest with God but by forgiveness. Had they never 
been guilty of any one sin, but only what is left upon record 


concerning them in holy writ, yet they could be saved no 
other way. For he that transgresseth the law in any one 
point, is guilty of the breach of the whole ; James ii. 10. 

What shall we now say ? Do we think that God hath 
forgiveness only for this or that individual person ? No man 
questions but that all these were pardoned. Was it by vir- 
tue of any especial personal privilege that was peculiar unto 
them ? Whence should any such privilege arise, seeing by 
nature they were no better than others, nor would have been 
so personally, had not they been delivered from sin, and 
prepared for obedience by grace, mercy, and pardon? 
Wherefore they all obtained forgiveness by virtue of the 
covenant from the forgiveness which is with God. And 
this is equally ready for others, who come to God the same 
way that they did ; that is, by faith and repentance. 

2. Many of those concerning whom we have the assur- 
ance mentioned, were not only sinners, but great sinners, as 
was said, which must be also insisted on, to obviate another 
objection. For some may say, that although they were sin- 
ners, yet they were not such sinners as we are. And al- 
though they obtained forgiveness, yet this is no argument 
that we shall do so also, who are guilty of other sins than 
they were, and those attended with other aggravations than 
theirs were. To which I say, that I delight not in aggra- 
vating, no nor yet in repeating the sins and faults of the 
saints of God of old. Not only the grace of God, but the 
sins of men have by some been turned into lasciviousness ; 
or been made a cloak for their lusts. But yet for the ends 
and purposes for which they are recorded by the Holy 
Ghost, we may make mention of them. That they may 
warn us of our duty, that we take heed lest we also fall, that 
they may yield us a relief under our surprisals, are they 
written. So, then, where the mention of them tends to the 
advancement of sovereign grace and mercy, which is the 
case in hand, we may insist on them. I think, then, that 
without mention of particulars, I may safely say, that there 
is no sin, no degree of sin, no aggravating circumstance of 
sin, no kind of continuance in sin (the only sin excepted), 
but that there are those in heaven who have been guilty of 

It may be yet, some will say that they have considered 


the sins and falls of Lot, David, Peter, Paul, and the thief 
himself on the cross, and yet they find not their own con- 
dition exemplified, so as to conclude, that they shall have 
the same success with them. 

Ans. 1. I am not shewing that this or that man shall be 
pardoned, but only demonstrating that there is forgiveness 
with God, and that for all sorts of sins and sinners, which 
these instances do assuredly confirm. And moreover they 
manifest, that if other men are not pardoned it is merely 
because they make not that application for forgiveness 
which they did. 

2. Yet by the way to take off this objection also, consi- 
der what the apostle says in particular concerning the se- 
veral sorts of sinners that obtained mercy, 1 Cor. vi. 9 — 11. 
' Be not deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor 
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with 
mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor re- 
vilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
And such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are 
sanctified, but ye are justified.' Hell can scarce in no 
more words yield us a sadder catalogue. Yet some of all 
these sorts were justified and pardoned. 

3. Suppose this enumeration of sins doth not reach the 
condition of the soul, because of some especial aggravation 
of its sin, not expressed. Let such a one add that of our 
Saviour's, Matt. xii. 31. ' I say unto you, all manner of sin 
and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blas- 
phemy against the Holy Ghost.' They are not, they shall 
not, be all actually remitted and pardoned unto all men ; 
but they are all pardonable, unto those that seek to obtain 
pardon for them according unto the gospel. There is with 
God forgiveness for them all. Now certainly there is no 
sin, but only that excepted, but it comes within the compass 
of all manner of sins and blasphemy ; and so consequently 
some that have been guilty of it are now in heaven. 

We take it for a good token and evidence of a virtuous 
healing water, when without fraud or pretence, we see the 
crutches of cured cripples, and impotent persons hung about 
it, as a memorial of its efficacy. And it is a great demon- 
stration of the skill and ability of a physician, when many 
come to a sick person and tell him, that we had the same 


distemper with you, it had the same symptoms, the same 
effects, and by his skill and care we are cured. Oh, saith the 
sick man, bring- him unto me, I will venture my life in his 
hand. Now all the saints of heaven stand about a sin-sick 
soul ; for in this matter * we are compassed with a cloud of 
witnesses;' Heb. xii. 1. And what do they bear witness 
unto? What say they unto a poor guilty sinner? As thou 
art, so were we ; so guilty, so perplexed, so obnoxious to 
wrath, so fearing destruction from God. And what way 
did you steer, what course did you take to obtain the blessed 
condition wherein now you are? Say they. We went all to 
God through Christ for forgiveness, and found plenty of 
grace, mercy, and pardon in him for us all. The rich man 
in the parable thought it would be a great means of con- 
version, if one should ' rise from the dead' and preach. But 
here we see that all the saints departed, and now in glory, 
do jointly preach this fundamental truth, that 'there is for- 
giveness with God.' 

Poor souls are apt to think that all those whom they 
read or hear of to be gone to heaven, went thither because 
they were so good and so holy. It is true, many of them 
were eminently and exemplarily so in their generations. All 
of them were so according to their degrees and measures : 
for ' without holiness no man can see God.' And it is our 
duty to labour to be like unto them in holiness, if ever we 
intend to be so in happiness and glory. But yet not one 
of them, not any one that is now in heaven, Jesus Christ 
alone excepted, did ever come thither any other way but by 
forgiveness of sin ; and that will also bring us thither, 
though we come short of many of them in holiness and 

And this evidence of forgiveness I the rather urge, be- 
cause I find the apostle Paul doing of it eminently in his 
own person, 1 Tim. i. 12 — 16. ' I thank Christ Jesus our 
Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, 
putting me into the ministry ; who was before a blasphemer, 
and a persecutor, and injurious : but I obtained mercy, 
because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. This is a faithful 
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ 
came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first 


Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pat- 
tern to tliem that should hereafter believe on him to life 
everlasting.' A great sinner, saith he, the chiefest of sin- 
ners I was, which he manifests by some notable instances of 
his sin. I was, saith he, ' a blasphemer,' the highest sin 
against God ; ' a persecutor,' the highest sin against the 
saints ; * injurious/ the highest wickedness towards mankind. 
But, saith he, ' I obtained mercy ;' I am pardoned ; and that 
with a blessed effect. First, that he should after all this 
be so accounted faithful as to be put into the ministry ; and 
then that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in him and 
towards him was exceeding abundant. And what was the 
reason, what was the cause, that he was thus dealt withal ? 
AVhy, it was that he might be a pattern, an evidence, an ar- 
gument, that there was grace, mercy, forgiveness, to be had 
for all sorts of sinners that would believe to life everlasting. 

To conclude then this evidence. Every one who is now 
in heaven hath his pardon sealed in the blood of Christ. All 
these pardons are, as it were, hanged up in the gospel ; they 
are all enrolled in the promises thereof, for the encourage- 
ment of them that stand in need of forgiveness to come and 
sue out theirs also. Fear not then the guilt of sin, but the 
love of it, and the power of it. If we love and like sin better 
than forgiveness, we shall assuredly go without it. If we 
had but rather be pardoned in God's way, than perish, our 
condition is secure. 

Fifthly, The same is evident from the patience of God to- 
wards the world, and the end of it. For the clearing hereof 
we may observe, 

1 . That [on] the first entrance of sin and breach of that co- 
venant which God had made with mankind in Adam, he might 
immediately have executed the threatened curse, and have 
brought eternal death upon them that sinned. Justice re- 
quired that it should be so, and there was nothing in the 
whole creation to interpose so much as for a reprieve or a 
respite of vengeance. And had God then sent sinning man, 
with the apostate angels that induced him into sin, imme- 
diately into eternal destruction, he would have been glorified 
in his righteousness and severity, by auvl among the angels 
that sinned not; or he could have created a new race of in- 
nocent creature-s to have worshipped him and glorified him 


for his righteous judgment ; even as the elect at the last day 
shall do, for the destruction of ungodly men. 

2. God hath not taken this course. He hath continued 
the race of mankind for a long season on the earth; he hath 
watched over them with his providence, and exercised ex- 
ceeding patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards 
them. Thus the apostle Paul at large discourseth on. Acts 
xiv. 15 — 17. xvii. 24 — 30. as also Rom. ii. 4. And it is open 
and manifest in their event. The whole world is every day 
filled with tokens of the power and patience of God. Every 
nation, every city, every family is filled with them. 

3. That there is a common abuse of this patience of God 
visible in the world in all generations. So it was of old ; 
God saw it to be so, and complained of it. Gen. vi. 5, 6. All 
the evil, sin, wickedness, that hath been in the world, which 
no heart can conceive, no tongue can express, hath been all 
an abuse of this patience of God. This with the most is the 
consequent of God's patience and forbearance. Men count 
it a season to fulfil all the abominations that their evil hearts 
can suggest unto them, or Satan draw them into a combina- 
tion with himself in. This the state of things in the world 
proclaims, and every one's experience confirms. 

4. Let us, therefore, consider what is the true and proper 
end of this patience of God towards the world, enduring it 
in sin and wickedness, for so long a season, and suffering one 
generation to be multiplied after another. Shall we think 
that God hath no other design, in all this patience towards 
mankind in all generations, but merely to suffer them all and 
every one, without exception, to sin against him, dishonour 
him, provoke him, that so he may at length everlastingly 
destroy them all? It is confessed that this is the consequent, 
the event of it with the most, through their perverse wicked- 
ness, with their love of sin and pleasure. But is this the de- 
sign of God? his only design? hath he no other purpose but 
merely to forbear them awhile in their folly, and then to 
avenge himself upon them? Is this his intendment not only 
towards those who are obstinate in their darkness, ignorance, 
and rebellion against him, whose ' damnation is just, and 
sleepeth not;' but also towards those whom he stirs up by 
his grace to seek after a remedy and deliverance from the 
state of sin and death ? God forbid ; yea, such an apprehen- 


sion would be contrary to all those notions of the infinite 
wisdom and goodness of God which are ingrafted upon our 
hearts by nature, and which all his works manifest and de- 
clare. Whatever therefore it be, this cannot be the design 
of God, in his patience towards the world. It cannot be, but 
that he must long since have cut off the whole race of man- 
kind, if he had no other thoughts and purposes towards them. 

5. If this patience of God hath any other intention to- 
wards any, any other effect upon some, upon any, that is to 
be reckoned the principal end of it, and for the sake where- 
of it is evidently extended unto some others, consequentially 
unto all. For those concerning whom God hath an especial 
design in his patience, being to be brcnight forth in the world 
after the ordinary way of mankind, and that in all ages during 
the continuance of the world from the beginning unto the 
end thereof, the patience which is extended unto them must 
also of necessity reach unto all, in that variety wherein God 
is pleased to exercise it. The whole world therefore is con- 
tinued under the patience of God, and the fruits of it, for the 
sake of some that are in it. 

6. Let us therefore see what is the end of this patience, 
and what it teacheth us. Now it can have no end possible 
but only that before rejected, unless there be forgiveness of 
sins with God. Unless God be ready and willing to forgive 
the sins of them that come to him according unto his ap- 
pointment, his patience is merely subservient unto a design 
of wrath, anger, severity, and a resolution to destroy. Now 
this is an abomination once to suppose, and would reflect 
unspeakable dishonour upon the Holy God. Let a man but 
deal thus, and it is a token of as evil an habit of mind, and 
perverse, as any can befall him. Let him bear with those 
that are in his power in their faults, for no other end, or 
with no other design, but that he may take advantage to 
bring a greater punishment and revenge upon them : and 
what more vile affection, what more wretched corruption of 
heart and mind, can he manifest? And shall we think that 
this is the whole design of the patience of God ? God forbid. 

It may be objected that this argument is not cogent, be- 
cause of the instance that lies against it in God's dealing 
with the angels that sinned. It is evident that they fell into 
their transgression and apostacy before mankind did so; 


for they led and seduced our first parents into sin. And 
yet God bears with them, and exerciseth patience towards 
them to this very day ; and will do so unto the consummation 
of all things, when they shall be cast into the fire ' prepared 
for the devil and his angels.' And yet it is granted, that 
there is no forgiveness in God for them ; so that it doth not 
necessarily follow, that there is so for man, because of his 
patience towards them. 

I answer. That this must be more fully spoken unto when 
we come to remove that great objection against this whole 
truth which was mentioned before, taken from God's deal- 
ing with the sinning angels, whom he spared not. At pre- 
sent two or three observations will remove it out of our 
way. For, 

1. That the case is not the same with the sinning angels, 
and the race of mankind in all generations. There are no 
other angels in this condition, but only those individuals 
who first sinned in their own persons. They are not in the 
providence and patience of God, multiplied and increased in 
ensuing times and seasons ; but they continue the same in- 
dividual persons who first sinned, and no more. So that im- 
mediate execution of the whole punishment due unto their 
fiin, would not have prevented any increase of them. But 
now with man it is otherwise ; for God continues his pa- 
tience towards them to the production of millions of other 
persons, who were not actually in the first sin. Had not God 
so continued his forbearance, their being, and consequently 
their sin and misery, had been prevented ; so that the case is 
not the same with sinning angels and men. 

2. Indeed God exerciseth no patience toward the angels 
that sinned ; and that because he had no forgiveness for 
them. So Peter tells us, 2 Epist. ii. 6. ' God spared not 
the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell, and 
delivered them into chains of darkness.' Immediately upon 
their sin they were cast out of the presence of God, whose 
vision and enjoyment they were made for, and which they 
received some experience of. And they were cast into hell, 
as the place of their ordinary retention, and of their present 
anguish under the sense of God's curse and displeasure. 
And although they may some of them be permitted to com- 
pass the earth, and to walk to and fro therein to serve the 



ends of God's holy, wise providence, and so to be out of their 
prison ; yet they are still in their chains : for they were deli- 
vered unto chains of darkness to be kept unto the last judg- 
ment. And in these things they lie actually under the 
execution of the curse of God; so that there is indeed no 
patience exercised towards them. If a notorious malefactor, 
or murderer, be committed unto a dungeon, and kept bound 
with iron chains to prevent his escape, until the appointed 
day of his solemn judgment and execution, without the 
least intention to spare him ; none will say, there is pa- 
tience exercised towards him ; things being disposed only 
so, as that his punishment may be secure and severe. And 
such is the case, such is the condition of the angels that 
sinned, who are not therefore to be esteemed objects of God's 

3. The reason why the full and final punishment of these 
angels is reserved and respited unto the appointed season, 
is not for their own sakes, their good, benefit, or advantage 
at all ; but merely that the end of God's patience towards 
mankind might be accomplished. When this is once brought 
about, they shall not be spared a day, an hour, a moment. 
So that God's dispensation towards them, is nothing but a 
mere withholding the infliction of the utmost of their pu- 
nishment, until he hath accomplished the blessed ends of his 
patience towards mankind. 

But~ you Avill say (secondly). Is it not said, that God, 
' willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, 
endures with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted 
for destruction V Rom. ix. 22. So that it seems that the end 
of God's endurance and long-suffering, to some at least, is 
only their fitting unto destruction. 

Ans. 1. It is one thing to endure with much long-suffer- 
ing, another thing to exercise and declare patience. The 
former only intimates God's withholding for a season of that 
destruction which he might justly inflict, which we speak 
not of; the other denotes an acting in a way of goodness and 
kindness for some especial end. 

2. The next verse declares the great end of God's pa- 
tience, and answers this objection : ' That he might make 
known the riches of his glory in the vessels of mercy which 
he had prepared for glory ;' ver. 23. This is the great end 


of God's patience, which, whilst he is in the pursuit of to- 
wards the vessels of mercy, he endureth others with much 
longsufFering, and forbearance. This then is fully evident, 
that there could be no sufficient reason assigned of the pa- 
tience of God towards sinners, but that there is forgiveness 
prepared for them that come to him by Christ. 

And this the Scripture clearly testifies unto, 2 Pet. iii. 9. 
The question is. What is the reason why God forbears the 
execution of his judgment upon wicked and ungodly men? 
Some would have it, that God is slack ; that is, regardless 
of the sins of men ; and takes no notice of them. No, 
saith the apostle, God hath another design in his patience 
and long-suffering. What is this? It is to manifest, that 
he is not willing we should perish. That is it which we 
have proved. For our freedom from destruction is by re- 
pentance, which necessarily infers the forgiveness of sin. So 
Paul tells us, that in the gospel is declared what is the end 
of God's patience and forbearance ; it is, saith he, 'the re- 
mission of sins ;' Rom. iii. 35. 

Let us therefore also mind this evidence in the application 
of ourselves to God for pardon. It is certain that God might 
have taken us from the womb, and have cast us into utter 
darkness. And in the course of our lives we have been 
guilty of such provocations, as God might justly have taken 
the advantage of, to glorify his justice and severity in our 
ruin. But yet we have lived thus long in the patience and 
forbearance of God. And to what end hath he thus spared 
us, and let pass those advantages for our destruction, that 
we have put into his hand ? Is it not that he might by his 
patience, give us leave and space to get an interest in that 
forgiveness which he thus testifies to be in himself? let us 
then be encouraged by it, to use it unto the end and purpose 
for which it is exercised towards us. You that are yet in 
doubt of your condition, consider that the patience of God 
was extended unto you this day, this very day, that you 
might use it for the obtaining of the remission of your sins. 
Lose not this day, nor one day more, as you love your souls. 
For ^voful will be their condition, who shall perish for de- 
spising or abusing the patience of God. 

Sixthly, The faith and experience of the saints in this'world, 
give in testimony unto this truth 5 and we know that their 


record in this matter is true. Let us then ask of them what 
they believe, what they have found, what they have experi- 
ence of, as to the forgiveness of sin. This God himself di- 
rects and leads us unto, by appealing unto our own experi- 
ence, whence he shews us that we may take relief and sup- 
portment in our distresses ; Isa. xl. 28. ' Hast thou not 
heard ? hast thou not known V Hast not thou thyself, who 
now criest out that thou art lost and undone, because God 
hath forsaken thee, found and known by experience, the 
contrary from his former dealings with thee ? And if our own 
experiences may confirm us against the workings of our un- 
belief, so may those of others also. And this is that which 
Eliphaz directs Job unto, chap. v. 1. 'Call now, if there be 
any that will answer thee ; and to which of the saints wilt 
thou look?' It is not a supplication to them for help, that 
is intended, but an inquiry after the experience in the case 
in hand, wherein he wrongfully thought they could not jus- 
tify Job. niDD CD'Znpn 'D ^X1 ' to wliich of the saints,' on 
the right hand or left, wilt thou have regard in this matter? 
Some would foolishly hence seek to confirm the invocation 
of the saints departed ; when indeed if they were intended, 
it is rather forbidden and discountenanced, than directed 
unto. But the CD'iDip here, are the j;-iN3 ~\W^ CD>\Dlp Psal. 
xvi. 2. 'The saints that are in the earth,' whose experiences 
Job is directed to inquire into and after. David makes it a 
great encouragement unto waiting upon God, as a God hear- 
ing prayers, that others had done so, and found success ; 
Psal. xxxiv. 6. ' This poor man cried unto the Lord, and the 
Lord heard him, and saved him out of his troubles.' If he 
did so, and had that blessed issue, why should not we do so 
also ? The experiences of one, are often proposed for the con- 
firmation and establishment of others. So the same David, 
* Come,' saith he, ' and hear all ye that fear God, and I will 
declare what he hath done for my soul.' He contents not 
himself to mind them of the word, promises, and providence 
of God, which he doth most frequently ; but he will give 
them the encouragement and suppoitment also of his own 
experience. So Paul tells us, that he ' was comforted of 
God in all his tribulation, that he might be able to comfort 
them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith he 
himself was comforted of God ;' 2 Cor. i . 4. That is, that he 

UPOTsr PSALM cxxx. - 16 1 

might be able to communicate unto them his own experience 
of God's dealing with him, and the satisfaction and assurance 
that he found therein. So also he proposeth the example of 
■God's dealing with him in the pardon of his sins, as a great 
motive unto others to believe; 1 Tim. i. 13 — 16. And this 
mutual communication of satisfying experiences in the 
things of God, or of our spiritual sense and evidence of the 
power, efficacy, and reality of gospel truths, being rightly 
managed, is of singular use to all sorts of believers. So the 
same great apostle acquaints us in his own example, Rom. 
i. 11, 12. 'I long to see you, that I may impart unto you 
some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established ; that 
is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual 
faith both of you and me.' He longed not only to be in- 
structing of them in the pursuit of the work of the ministry 
committed unto him, but to confer akvD with them about 
their mutual faith, and what experiences of the peace of God 
in believing, they had attained. 

We have in our case called in the testimony of the saints 
in heaven, with whom these on earth do make up one family, 
even that one family in heaven and earth which is called 
after the name of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; Eph. 
iii. 14, 15. And they all agree in their testimony, as be- 
comes the family and children of God. But these below we 
may deal personally with; whereas we gather the witness of 
the other, only from what is left upon record concerning 
them. And for the clearing of this evidence, sundry things 
are to be observed. As, 

1. Men living under the profession of religion, and not 
experiencing the power, virtue, and efficacy of it in their 
hearts, are, whatever they profess, very near to Atheism, or 
at least exposed to great temptations thereunto. If they 
profess they know God, ' but in works deny him, they are 
abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work re- 
probate ;' Tit. i. 16. Let such men lay aside tradition and 
custom, let them give up themselves to a free and a rational 
consideration of things, and they will quickly find that all 
their profession is but a miserable self-deceiving; and that 
indeed they believe not one word of the religion which they 
profess. For of what their religion affirms to be in them- 
selves, they find not any thing true or real. And what rea.? 



son have they then to believe that the things which it speaks 
of, that are without them, are one jot better ? If they have no 
experience of what it affirms to be within them, what con- 
fidence can they have of the reality of what it reveals to be 
without them ? John tells us, that ' he who saith he loves 
God whom he hath not seen, and doth not love his brother 
whom he hath seen, is a liar.' Men who do not thino;s of an 
equal concernment unto them wherein they may be tried, are 
not to be believed in what they profess about greater things, 
whereof no trial can be had. So he that believes not, who 
experienceth not, the power of that which the religion he 
professeth affirms to be in him, if he says that he doth be- 
lieve other things which he can have no experience of, he is 
a liar. For instance, he that professeth the gospel, avows 
that the death of Christ doth crucify sin, that faith purifieth 
the heart, that the Koly Ghost quickens and enables the soul 
unto duty, that God is good and gracious unto all that come 
unto him, that there is precious communion to be obtained 
with liim by Christ, that there is great joy in believing. 
These things are plainly, openly, frequently insisted on in 
the gospel. Hence the apostle presseth men unto obedience 
on the account of them ; and, as it were, leaves them at li- 
berty from it, if they were not so ; Phil. ii. 11. Now if men 
have lived long in the profession of these things, saying that 
they are so, but indeed find nothing of truth, reality, or 
power in them ; have no experience of the effects of them 
in their own hearts or souls; what stable ground have they 
of believing any thing else in the gospel whereof they can- 
not have experience? A man professeth that the death of 
Christ will mortify sin, and subdue corruption ; why doth 
he believe it? Because it is so affirmed in the gospel. How 
then, doth he find it to be so ? Hath it this effect upon his 
soul, in his own heart? Not at all; he finds no such thing 
in him. How then can this man believe that Jesus Christ 
is the Son of God, because it is affirmed in the gospel ; 
seeing that he finds no real truth of that which it affirms to 
be in himself? So our Saviour argues, John iii. 12. ' If I 
have told you earthly things, and ye believe not ; how will 
ye believe, if I tell you heavenly things?' If you believe 
not the doctrine of regeneration, which you ought to have 
experience of, as a thing that is wrought in the hearts of 


men on the earth ; how can you assent unto tliose heavenly 
mysteries of the gospel, which at first are to be received 
by a pure act of faith, without any present sense or expe- 

Of all dangers therefore in profession, let professors take 
heed of this ; namely, of a customary, traditional, or doctri- 
nal owning such truths, as ought to have their effects and 
accomplishment in themselves, whilst they have no expe- 
rience of the reality and efficacy of them. This is plainly 
to have a form of godliness, and to deny the power thereof. 
And of this sort of men do we see many turning Atheists, 
scoffers, and open apostates. They find in themselves that 
their profession was a lie; and that in truth they had none 
of those things which they talked of; and to what end should 
they continue longer in, the avowing of that which is not ? 
Besides, finding these things which they have professed to 
be in them, not to be so ; they think that what they have 
believed of the things that are without them, are of no other 
nature, and so reject them altogether. 

You will say then. What shall a man do, who cannot find 
or obtain an experience in himself of what is affirmed in the 
world ? He cannot find the death of Christ crucifying sin in 
him, and he cannot find the Holy Ghost sanctifying his na- 
ture, or obtain joy in believing. What shall he then do ? 
Shall he not believe, or profess those things to be so, be- 
cause he cannot obtain a blessed experience of them? I an- 
swer, our Saviour hath perfectly given direction in this 
case, John vii. 17. ' If any man will do his will, he shall know 
of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of 
myself.' Continue in following after the things revealed in 
the doctrine of the gospel, and you shall have a satisfactory 
experience that they are true, and that they are of God; 
cease not to act faith on them and you shall find their ef- 
fects ; * for then shall we know, if we follow on to know the 
Lord ;' Hoseavi. 3. Experience will ensue upon permanency 
in faith and obedience. Yea, the first act of sincere believ- 
ing will be accompanied with such a taste, will give the soul 
so much experience, as to produce a firm adherence unto the 
things believed. And this is the way to prove ' what is that 
good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,' which is re- 
vealed unto us ; Rom. xii. 2. 

M 2 


Where there is an inward spiritual experience of the 
power, reality, and efficacy of any supernatural truth, it gives 
great satisfaction, stability, and assurance unto the soul. It 
puts the soul out of danger, or suspicion of being deceived ; 
and gives it to have the testimony of God in itself. So the 
apostle tells us, ' he that believeth on the Son of God hath 
the witness in himself ;' 1 John v. 10. He had discoursed of 
the manifold testimony that is given in heaven by all the 
holy persons of the Trinity, and on earth by grace and or- 
dinances, unto the forgiveness of sin, and eternal life to be 
obtained by Jesus Christ. And this record is true, firm, and 
stable, an abiding foundation for souls to rest upon, that will 
never deceive them. But yet all this while it is without us; 
it is that which we have no experience of in ourselves: 
only we rest upon it, because of the authority and faithful- 
ness of them that gave it. But now he that actually be- 
lieveth, he hath the testimony in himself; he hath by expe- 
rience a real evidence and assurance of the things testified 
unto, namely, ' that God hath given us eternal life, and that 
this life is in the Son;' ver. 12. Let us then a little con- 
sider wherein this evidence consisteth, and from whence 
this assurance ariseth. To this end some few things must 
be considered. As, 

1. That there is a great answerableness and correspon- 
dency between the heart of a believer, and the truth that he 
doth believe. As the word is in the gospel, so is grace in 
the heart ; yea, they are the same thing variously expressed; 
Rom. vi. 17. * You have obeyed from the heart,' ng ov irape- 
^69t]Ti TVTtov StSa^fjc* ' the form of doctrine delivered unto 
you.' As our translation doth not, so I know not how in so few 
words to express that which is emphatically here insinuated 
by the Holy Ghost. The meaning is, that the doctrine of 
the gospel begets the form, figure, image, or likeness of it- 
self in the hearts of them that believe : so they are cast into 
the mould of it. As is the one, so is the other. The prin- 
ciple of grace in the heart, and that in the word, are as chil- 
dren of the same parent, completely resembling and repre- 
senting one another. Grace is a living word, and the word 
is figured, limned grace : as is regeneration, so is a regene- 
rate heart : as is the doctrine of faith, so is a believer. And 
this gives great evidence unto, and assurance of, the things 


that are believed. As we have beard, so we have seen and 
found it ; such a soul can produce the duplicate of the word, 
and so adjust all things thereby. 

2. That the first original expression of divine truth is not 
in the word, no not as given out from the infinite abyss of 
divine wisdom and veracity, but it is first hid, laid up, and 
expressed in the person of Christ. He is the avx^trvTrog, the 
first pattern of truth, which from him is expressed in the 
word, and from and by the word, impressed on the hearts 
of believers; so that as it hath pleased God that all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge should be in him, dwell 
in him, have their principal residence in him; Col. ii. 3. so 
the whole word is but a revelation of the truth in Christ, or 
an expression of his image and likeness to the sons of men. 
Thus we are said to 'learn the truth as it is in Jesus;' Eph. 
iv. 21. It is in Jesus originally and really, and from him it is 
communicated unto us by the word. We are thereby taught, 
and do learn it; for thereby, as the apostle proceeds, ' we are 
renewed in the spirit of our mind, and do put on the new man, 
which after God is created in righteousness, and true holi- 
ness;' ver. 23, 24. First, the truth is in Jesus ; then it is ex- 
pressed in the word; this word learned and believed, be- 
comes grace in the heart, every way answering unto the 
Lord Christ his image, from whom this transforming truth 
did thus proceed. Nay, this is carried by the apostle yet 
higher, namely, unto God the Father himself, whose image 
Christ is, and believers his, through the word ; 2 Cor. iii. 18. 
* We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of 
the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to 
glory, by the Spirit of the Lord;' whereunto add, chap.iv. 6. 
' God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath 
shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of 
God in the face of Jesus Christ.' The first pattern or ex- 
ample of all truth and holiness is God himself; hereof Christ 
is the image, ver. 4. Christ is the image of God, * the bright- 
ness of his glory, and the express image of his person ;' 
Heb. i. 3. 'The image of the invisible God;' Col. i. 15. 
Hence we are said to see the glory of God in the face of 
Jesus Christ; because he being his image, the love, grace, 
and truth of the Father are represented and made conspicu- 
ous in him. For we are said to behold it in his face, because 


of the open and illustrious manifestation of the glory of God 
in him. And how do we behold this glory ? In a glass (as 
in a glass), that is, in the gospel, which hath the image and 
likeness of Christ, who is the image of God, reflected upon 
it, and communicated unto it. So have we traced truth 
and grace from the person of the Father, unto the Son as a 
raediato/, and thence transfused into the word. In the 
Father it is essentially; in Jesus Christ originally and ex- 
emplarily; and in the word as in a transcript or copy. But 
doth it abide there ? No, God by the word of the gospel 
shines into our hearts, chap. iv. 6. He irradiates our minds 
with a saving light into it, and apprehension of it. And what 
thence ensues? The soul of a believer is changed into the 
same image by the effectual working of the Holy Ghost, chap, 
iii. 18. that is, the likeness of Christ implanted on the word, 
is impressed on the soul itself, whereby it is renewed into the 
image of God, whereunto it was at first created. This brings 
all into a perfect harmony. There is not where gospel truth 
is effectually received, and experienced in the soul, only a 
consonancy merely between the soul and the word, but be- 
tween the soul and Christ by the word, and the soul and 
God by Christ. And this gives assured establishment unto 
the soul in the things that it doth believe. Divine truth 
so conveyed unto us, is firm, stable, and immoveable. And 
we can say of it in a spiritual sense, ' that which we have 
heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, which we have 
looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life,' 
we knov/ to be true. Yea, a believer is a testimony to the 
certainty of truth in what he is, much beyond what he is in 
all that he saith. Words may be pretended; real effects 
have their testimony inseparably annexed unto them. 

3. Hence it appears, that there must needs be great as- 
surance of those truths which are thus received and be- 
lieved. For hereby are ' the senses exercised to discern good 
and evil;' Heb. v. 14. Where there is a spiritual sense of 
truth, of the good and evil that is in doctrines, from an in- 
ward experience of what is so good, and from thence an 
aversation unto the contrary; and this obtained Sia rriv c^tv, 
by reason of a habit, or an habitual frame of heart, there is 
strength, there is steadfastness and assurance. This is the 
teaching of the unction, which will not, which cannot, de- 


ceive. Hence many of old and of late, that could not dis- 
pute, could yet die for the truth. He that came to another, 
and went about to prove by sophistical reasonings that there 
was no such thing as motion ; had only this return from 
him, who either was not able to answer his cavilling, or un- 
willing to put himself to trouble about it, he arose, and walk- 
ing up and down gave him a real confutation of his sophis- 
try. It is so in this case ; when a soul hath a real experi- 
ence of the grace of God, of the pardon ofsins, of the virtue 
and efficacy of the death of Christ, of justification by his 
blood, and peace with God by believing ; let men, or devils, 
or angels from heaven oppose these things, if it cannot an- 
swer their sophisms, yet he can rise up and walk : he can 
with all holy confidence and assurance oppose his own sa- 
tisfying experience unto all their arguings and suggestions. 
A man will not be disputed out of what he sees and feels. 
And a believer will abide as firmly by his spiritual sense, as 
any man can by his natural. 

This is the meaning of that prayer of the apostle, Col. 
ii. 2. 'That your hearts might be comforted, being knit to- 
gether in love, unto all riches of the full assurance of un- 
derstanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, 
and of the Father, and of Christ.' Understanding in the 
mysteries of the gospel they had ; but he prays that by a 
farther experience of it, they might come to the assurance 
of understanding. To be true, is the property of the doc- 
trine itself; to be certain or assured, is the property of our 
minds. Now this experience doth so unite the mind and 
truth, that we say, such a truth is most certain, whereas 
certainty is indeed the property of our minds or their know- 
ledge, and not of the truth known. It is certain unto us, 
that is, we have an assured knowledge of it, by the experi- 
ence we have of it. This is the assurance of understand- 
ing here mentioned. And he farther prays, that we may 
come to the riches of this assurance ; that is, to an abundant, 
plentiful assurance. And that ac liri'^vwaiv, ' to the acknow- 
ledgment of the mystery of God,' owning it from a sense 
and experience of its excellency and worth. 

And this is in the nature of all gospel truths ; they 
are fitted and suited to be experienced by a believing soul. 
There is nothing in them so sublime and high, nothing so 



mysterious, nothing so seemingly low and outwardly con^' 
temptible, but that a gracious soul hath experience of an 
excellency, reality, power, and efficacy in it all. For in- 
stance ; look on that which concerns the order and worship 
of the gospt'l : this seems to many to be a mere external 
thing, whereof a soul can have no inward sense or relish. 
Notions there are many about it, and endless contentions, 
but_what more? why let a gracious soul, in simplicity and 
sincerity of spirit, give up himself to walk with Christ ac-' 
cording to his appointment, and he shall quickly find such 
a taste and relish in the fellowship of the gospel, in the 
communion of saints, and of Christ amongst them, as that 
he shall come up to such riches of assurance in the under- 
standing and acknowledgment of the ways of the Lord, as 
others by their disputing can never attain unto. What is 
so high, glorious, and mysterious as the doctrine of the 
ever blessed Trinity ? Some wise men have thought meet to 
keep it veiled from ordinary Christians ; and some have de- 
livered it in such terms, as that they can understand nothino- 
by them. But take a believer who hath tasted how graci- 
ous the Lord is, in the eternal love of the Father, the sreat 
undertaking of the Son in the work of mediation and re- 
demption, with the almighty work of the Spirit creating 
grace and comfort in the soul, and hath had an experience 
of the love, holiness, and power of God in them all, and he 
will with more firm confidence adhere to this mysterious 
truth ; being led into it and confirmed in it, by some few 
plain testimonies of the word, than a thousand disputers 
shall do, who only have the notion of it in their minds. Let 
a real trial come, and this will appear. Few will be found 
to sacrifice their lives on bare speculations. Experience 
will give assurance and stability. 

We have thus cleared the credit of the testimony, nOw 
to be improved. It is evident on these grounds, that there 
is a great certainty in those truths, whereof believers have 
experience. Where they communicate their power unto the 
heart, they give an unquestionable assurance of their truths. 
And when that is once realized in the soul, all disputes 
about it are put to silence. 

These things being so, let us inquire into the faith and 
experience of the saints on the earth, as to what they know 


of the truth proposed unto confirmation, namely, that there 
is forgiveness with God. Let us go to some poor soul that 
now walks comfortably under the light of God's counte- 
nance, and say unto him. Did we not know you some while 
since to be full of sadness; and great anxiety of spirit; yea, 
sorrowful almost to death, and bitter in soul? 

Ans. Yes, saith he, so it was indeed ; my days were con- 
sumed with mourning, and my life with sorrow ; and I 
walked heavily in fear and bitterness of spirit all the day 

Why, what ailed you, what was the matter with you ; see- 
ing as to the outward things you were in peace? 

A71S. The law of God had laid hold upon me, and slain 
me ; I found myself thereby a woful sinner, yea, overwhelmed 
with the guilt of sin. Every moment I expected tribulation 
and wrath from the hand of God ; ' my sore ran in the night 
and ceased not, and my soul refused comfort.' 

How is it then that you are thus delivered, that you are 
no more sad? Where have you found ease and peace? have 
you been by any means delivered, or did your trouble wear 
off, and depart of its own accord ? 

» Ans. Alas no ! had I not met with an effectual remedy, I 
had sunk and everlastingly perished. 

What course did you take ? 

A71S. I went unto him by Jesus Christ against whom I 
have sinned, and have found him better unto me than I 
could expect, or ever should have believed, had not he over- 
powered my heart by his Spirit. Instead of wrath, which I 
feared, and that justly, because I had deserved it, he said unto 
me in Christ, 'fury is not in me.' For a long time I thought 
it impossible that there should be mercy and pardon for 
me, or such a one as I. But he still supported me, some- 
times by one means, sometimes by another ; until taking 
my soul near to himself, he caused me to see the folly of my 
unbelieving heart, and the vileness of the hard thoughts I 
had of him, and that indeed there is with him forgiveness 
and plenteous redemption. This hath taken away all my 
sorrows, and given me quietness with rest and assurance. 

But are you sure now that this is so ? may you not pos- 
sibly be deceived ? 

Atis. Says the soul ; I have not the least suspicion of any 


such matter ; and if at any time aught doth arise to that pur- 
pose, it is quickly overcome. 

But how are you confirmed in this persuasion? 

Ans. That sense of it wliich I have in my heart, that 
sw^eetness and rest which I have experience of, that influ- 
ence it hath upon my soul, that obligation I find laid upon 
me by it unto all thankful obedience ; that relief, support- 
ment, and consolation that it hath afforded me in trials and 
troubles, in the mouth of the grave, and entrances of eter- 
nity, all answering what is declared concerning these things 
in the word, will not suffer me to be deceived. I could not 
indeed receive it, until God was pleased to speak it unto 
me. But now let Satan do his utmost, I shall never cease to 
bear this testimony, that there is mercy and forgiveness 
with him. 

How many thousands may we find of these in the world, 
who have had such a seal of this truth in their hearts, as 
they cannot only securely lay down their lives in the con- 
firmation of it, if called thereunto, but also do cheerfully 
and triumphantly venture their eternal concernments upon 
it. Yea, this is the rise of all that peace, serenity of mind, 
and strong consolation which in this world they are made 
partakers of. 

Now this is to me, on the principles before laid down, 
an evidence great and important. God hath not manifested 
this truth unto the saints, thus copied it out of his word, 
and exemplified it in their souls, to leave them under any 
possibility of being deceived. 

Institution of religious ivorskip an evidence of forgiveness. 

Seventhly, God's institution of religious worship and 
honour therein to be rendered unto him by sinners, is another 
evidence, that there is forgiveness with him. I have instanced 
before in one particular of worship to this purpose ; namely, 
in that of sacrifices. But therein we intended only their 
particular nature and signification, how they decbred and 
manifested reconciliation, atonement, and pardon. That 
now aimed at, is to shew, how all the worship that God hath 
appointed unto us, and all the honour which we give unto 


his holy majesty thereby, is built upon the same foundation, 
namely, a supposition of forgiveness ; and is appointed to 
teach it, and to ascertain us of it, which shall briefly be de- 
clared. To this end observe, 

1. That the general end of all divine and religious wor- 
ship is to raise unto God a revenue of glory out of the cre- 
ation. Such is God's infinite natural self-sufficiency, that 
he stands in need of no such glory and honour. He was in 
himself no less infinitely and eternally glorious, before the 
creation of all or any thing whatever, than he will be, when 
he shall be encompassed about with the praises of all the 
works of his hands. And such is his absolute perfection, 
that no honour given unto him, no admiration of him, no as- 
cription of glory and praise, can add any thing unto him. 
Hence, saith the psalmist, * My goodness extends not unto 
thee ;' Psal. xvi.2. It doth not so reach thee as to add unto 
thee, to profit thee, as it may do the saints that are on earth. 
As he in Job, chap. xxii. 23. ' Can a man be profitable unto 
God, as a man that is wise may be profitable unto himself?' 
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art righteous, 
or is it gain unto him that thou makest thy ways perfect ? 
There is no doubt, but that it is well-pleasing unto God, 
that we should be righteous and upright. But we do him 
not a pleasure therein, as though he stood in need of it, or 
it were advantage or gain unto him. And again, chap, 
XXXV. 7. 'If thou be righteous, what givest thou him, or what 
receiveth he at thine hand V And the reason of all this 
the apostle gives us, Rora. xi. 36. 'Of him, and through 
him, and to him are all things.' Being the first sovereign 
cause, and last absolute end of all things, every way perfect 
and self-sufficient, nothing can be added unto him. Or, as 
the same apostle speaks, ' God that made the world and all 
things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, 
is not worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed 
any thing, seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath, and all 
things;' Acts xvii. 24, 25. As he himself pleads at large, 
Psal. I. 7—13. 

2. Wherefore, all the revenue of glory that God will receive 
by his worship depends merely on his own voluntary choice 
and appointment. All worship, I say, depends now on the 
sovereign will and pleasure of God. It is true, there is a 



natural worship due from rational creatures, by the law of 
their creation. This was indispensably and absolutely ne- 
cessary at first. The very being of God, and order of things 
required that it should be so. Supposing that God had made 
such creatures as we are, it could not be, but that moral 
obedience was due unto him; namely, that he should be be- 
lieved in, trusted and obeyed as the first cause, last end, and 
sovereign Lord of all. But the entrance of sin, laying the 
sinner absolutely under the curse of God, utterly put an end 
to this order of things. Man was now to have perished im- 
mediately, and an end to be put unto the law of this obedi- 
ence. But here, in the sovereign will of God, an interposi- 
tion was made between sin and the sentence ; and man was 
respited from destruction. All worship following hereon, 
even that which was before natural by the law of creation, is 
now resolved into an arbitrary act of God's will. 

And unto this end is all worship designed, namely, to 
give glory unto God. For as God hath said, that ' he will 
be'sanctified in all that draw nigh unto him,' that is, in his 
worship, and that therein 'he will be glorified,' Lev. x. 3. 
and, that ' he that offereth him praise/ that is, performeth any 
part of his worship and service, ' glorifieth him,' Psal. 1. 23. 
so the nature of the thing itself declareth that it can have no 
other end. By this he hath all Lis glory even from the in- 
animate creation. 

Consider, that God hath not prescribed any worship 
of himself, unto the angels that sinned. They are indeed 
under his power, and he useth them as he pleaseth to serve 
the ends of his holy providence. Bounds he prescribes 
unto them by his power, and keeps them in dread of the full 
execution of his wrath. But he requires not of them that 
they should believe in him. They believe indeed, and trem- 
ble. They have a natural apprehension of the being, power, 
providence, holiness, and righteousness of God, which is 
inseparable from their natures, and they have an expectation 
from thence of that punishment and vengeance which is 
due unto them, which is inseparable from them as sinners. 
And this is their faith. But to believe in God, that is, to 
put their trust in him, to resign up themselves unto him, 
God requires it not of them. The same is the case with 
them also, as to love, and fear, and delight, all inward atfec- 


tions which are the proper worship of God. These they have 
not, nor doth God any longer require them in them. They 
eternally cast them off in their first sin. And where these 
are not, where they are not required, where they cannot be, 
there no outward worship can be prescribed or appointed. 
For external instituted worship is nothing but the way that 
God assigns, and chooseth to express and exercise the in- 
ward affections of our minds towards him. He rules the 
fallen angels 'per nutum providentise,' not ' verbum prse- 
cepti.' Now as God dealt with the angels, so also would 
he have dealt with mankind, had he left them all under the 
curse, without remedy or hope of relief. As he doth with 
them, he eternally satisfies himself in that revenue of glory 
which ariseth unto him in their punishment; so also he would 
have done with these, had there been no forgiveness with 
him for them. He would not have required them to fear, 
love, or obey him, or have appointed unto them any way of 
worship, whereby to express such affections towards him. 
For to what end should he have done it ? What righteous- 
ness would admit, that service, duty, and obedience should 
be prescribed unto them, who could not, ought not to have 
any expectation or hope of acceptance or reward ? This is 
contrary to the very first notion which God requires in us of 
his nature. ' For he that cometh unto God must believe 
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of all them that dili- 
gently seek him;' Heb. xi, 6. which would not be so, should 
he appoint a voluntary worship, and not propose a reward 
to the worshippers. Wherefore, 

3. It is evident that God. by the prescription of a wor- 
ship unto sinners, doth fully declare that there is forgiveness 
with him for them. For, 

1. He manifests thereby that he is willing to receive a 
new revenue of glory from them. This, as we have proved, 
is the end of worship. This he would never have done, but 
with a design of accepting and rewarding to his creatures. 
For do we think that he will be beholden unto them? That 
he will take and admit of their voluntary reasonable service 
according to his will and command, without giving them 
a reward, yea, and such a one as their obedience holds no 
proportion unto? no such thing would become his infinite 
self-sufficiency, goodness, and bounty. This the wife of 


Manoah well pleads, Judg. xiii. 23. * If,' saith she, ' the 
Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received 
a meat-ofFering, and a burnt-offering, at our hands.' His 
acceptance of worship from us, is an infallible demonstra- 
tion, that he will not execute against us the severity of the 
first curse. And this is clearly evidenced in the first re- 
cord of solemn instituted worship performed by sinners. 
Gen. iv. 4. * God had respect unto Abel and his offering.' 
Some think that God gave a visible pledge of his acceptance 
of Abel and his offering; it may be it was by fire from hea- 
ven. For how else should Cain so instantly know, that his 
brother and his offering were accepted, but that he and his 
vv^ere refused ? However it were, it is evident that what tes- 
timony God gave of the acceptance of his offering, the same 
he gave concerning his person ; and that in the first place 
he had respect unto Abel, and then to his offering. And 
therefore the apostle saith, that thereby he obtained * wit- 
ness that he was righteous ;' Heb. xi. 4. that is, the witness 
or testimony of God himself. Now this was in the forgive- 
ness of his sins ; without which he could neither be righteous 
nor accepted, for he was a sinner. This God declared by 
acceptance of his worship. And thus we also, if we have 
any testimony of God's acceptance of us in any part of his 
worship, should employ it to the same end. Hath God en- 
larged our hearts in prayer? Hath he given us an answer 
unto any of our supplications? Hath he refreshed our hearts 
in the preaching and dispensation of the word, or any other 
ordinance ? We are not to rest in the particular, about which 
our communion with him hath been. Our doing so is the 
cause why we lose our experiences. They lie scattered up 
and down, separated from their proper root, and so are easily 
lost. But this is that which we should first improve such 
particular experiences in the worship of God unto; namely, 
that God hath pardoned our sins, and accepted our persons 
thereon ; for without that, none of our worship or service 
would please him, or be accepted with him. 

2. Hereby God lets us know, that he deals with us upon 
new terms, so that, notwithstanding sin, we may enjoy his 
love and favour. For this we have the engagement of his 
truth and veracity, and he cannot deceive us; but yet by 
this command of his for his worship, we should be deceived 


if there were not forgiveness with him. For it gives us en- 
couragement to expect, and assurance of finding acceptance 
with him, which without it cannot be obtained. This then 
God declares by his institution of, and command for, his wor- 
ship, namely, that there is nothing that shall indispensably 
binder those who give up themselves unto obedience of 
God's commands, from enjoying his love and favour, and 
communion with him. 

4. For matter of fact ; it is knowm and confessed that 
God hath appointed a worship for sinners to perform. All 
the institutions of the Old and New Testament bear witness 
hereunto. God was the author of them. And men know 
not what they do, when either they neglect them, or would 
be intermixing their own imaginations with them. What can 
the mind of man conceive or invent that may have any in- 
fluence into this matter, to secure the souls of believers of 
their acceptance with God ? Is there any need of their tes- 
timony to the truth, faithfulness, and goodness of God? 
These things he hath taken upon himself. This then is that 
which is to be fixed on our souls, upon our first invitation 
unto religious worship ; namely, that God intends a new 
revenue of glory from us, and therefore declares that there is 
a way for the taking away of our sins, without which we can 
give no glory to him by our obedience, and this is done only 
by forgiveness. 

5. There are some ordinances of worship appointed for 
this very end and purpose to confirm unto us the forgiveness 
of sin. Especially in that worship which is instituted by 
the Lord Jesus under the New Testament. I shall instance 
in one or two. 

1. The ordinance of baptism. This was accompanied 
with the dawning of the gospel, in the ministry of John the 
Baptist. And he expressly declared in his sermons upon 
it, that it was instituted of God to declare the ' remission of 
sins ;' Mark i. 4. 

It is true, the Lord Christ submitted unto that ordinance 
(and was baptized by John), who had no sin. But this be- 
longed unto the obedience which God required of him, as for 
our sakes he was made under the law. He was to observe 
all ordinances and institulions of the worship of God ; not 
for any need he had in his own person of the especial ends 


and significations of some of them ; yet, as he was our spon- 
sor, surety, and mediator, standing in our stead in all that 
he so did, he was to yield obedience unto them, that so he 
might 'fulfil all righteousness;' Matt. iii. 13. So was he 
circumcised, so he was baptized, both which had respect 
unto sin, though absolutely free from all sin in his own 
person ; and that because he was free from no obedience 
unto any command of God. 

But as was said, baptism itself, as appointed to be an or- 
dinance of worship for sinners to observe, was a declaration 
of that forgiveness that is with God. It was so in its first 
institution. God calls a man in a marvellous and miraculous 
manner; gives him a ministry from heaven ; commands him 
to go and baptize all those, who, confessing their sins, and 
professing repentance of them, should come to him, to have 
a testimony of forgiveness. And as to the especial nature 
of this ordinance, he appoints it to be such, as to represent 
the certainty and truth of his grace in pardon, unto their 
senses by a visible pledge. He lets them know that he 
would take away their sin, wherein their spiritual defilement 
doth consist, even as water takes away the outward filth of 
the body ; and that hereby they shall be saved, as surely as 
Noah and his family were saved in the ark swimming upon 
the waters ; 1 Pet. iii. 21. Now how great a deceit must 
needs in this whole matter have been put upon poor sinners, 
if it were not infallibly certain, that they might obtain for- 
giveness with God. 

After the entrance of this ordinance in the ministry of 
John, the Lord Christ takes it into his own hand, and com- 
mands the observation of it unto all his disciples. I dispute 
not now, who are the proper immediate objects of it; whe- 
ther they only who actually can make profession of their 
faith, or believers with their infant seed. For my part, I be- 
lieve that all whom Christ loves and pardons, are to be made 
partakers of the pledge thereof. And the sole reason which 
they of old insisted on, why the infants of believing parents 
should not be baptized, was, because they thought they had 
no sin, and therein we know their mistake. But I treat not 
now of these things ; only this I say is certain, that in the 
prescription of this ordinance unto his church, the great in- 
tention of the Lord Christ was to ascertain unto us the for- 


giveness of sins. And sinners are invited to a participation 
of this ordinance for that end, that they may receive the par- 
don of their sins; that is, an infallible pledge and assurance 
of it; Acts ii. 38. And the very nature of it declareth this 
to be its end, as was before intimated. This is another en- 
gagement of the truth, and faithfulness, and holiness of God, 
so that we cannot be deceived in this matter. 'There is,' 
saith God, * forgiveness with me ;' saith the soul. How Lord 
shall I know, how shall I come to be assured of it? for by 
reason of the perpetual accusations of conscience, and the 
curse of the law upon the guilt of my sin, I find it a very hard 
matter for me to believe. Like Gideon, I would have a token 
of it. Why, behold, saith God, 1 will give thee a pledge 
and a token of it which cannot deceive thee. When the 
world of old had been overwhelmed with a deluge of waters 
by reason of their sins, and those who remained, though they 
had just cause to fear that the same judgment would again 
befall them or their posterity, because they saw there was 
like to be the same cause of it, the thoughts and imaginations 
of the hearts of men being evil still, and that continually ; 
to secure them against these fears, I told them that I would 
destroy the earth no more with water ; and I gave them a 
token of my faithfulness therein, by placing my bow in the 
cloud. And have I failed them ? though the sin and wick- 
edness of the world hath been since that day unspeakably 
great, yet mankind is not drowned again, nor ever shall be: 
I will not deceive their expectation from the token I have 
given them. Wherever then there is a word of promise con- 
firmed with a token, never fear a disappointment. But so is 
this matter. I have declared that there is forgiveness with 
me, and to give you assurance thereof, I have ordained this 
pledge and sign, as a seal of my word, to take away all doubts 
and suspicion of your being deceived. As the world shall 
be drowned no more, so neither shall they who believe, come 
short of forgiveness. 

And this is the use which we ought to make of this or- 
dinance. It is God's security of the pardon of our sins, 
which we may safely rest in. 

2. The same is the end of that other great ordinance of 
the church, the supper of the Lord. The same thing is 
therein confirmed unto us by another sign, plfedge, token, 


178 AN Exposriiox 

or seal. We have shewn before, what respect gospel for- 
giveness hath unto the death or blood of Jesus Christ. That 
is the means whereby for us it is procured, the way whereby 
it comes forth from God, unto the glory of his righteous- 
ness and grace, which afterward must be more distinctly 
insisted on. This ordinance, therefore, designed and ap- 
pointed on purpose for the representation and calling to 
remembrance of the death of Christ, with the communi- 
cation of the benefits thereof unto them that believe, doth 
principally intend our faith and comfort in the truth under 
consideration. And therefore, in the very institution of it, 
besides the jreneral end before mentioned, which had been 
sufficient for our security, there is moreover added an es- 
pecial mention of the forgiveness of sin ; for so speaks our 
Saviour, in the institution of it for the use of the church unto 
the end of the world ; Matt. xxvi. 28. 'This is my blood of 
the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission 
of sins.' As if he had said, the end for which I have ap- 
pointed the observance of this duty and service unto you, is 
that I may testify thereby unto you, that by my blood, the 
sacrifice of myself, and the atonement made thereby, I have 
purchased for you the remission of your sins, which you 
shall assuredly be made partakers of. And more I shall not 
add unto this consideration, because the death of Christ 
respected in this ordinance will again occur unto us. 

3. What is the end of all church order, assemblies, and 
worship ? What is a church? Is it not a company of sinners 
gathered together according unto God's appointment, to give 
glory and praise to him for pardoning grace, for the forgive- 
ness of sins, and to yield him that obedience which he re- 
quires from us, on the account of his having so dealt with 
us ? This is the nature, this is the end of a church. He that 
understandeth it not, he that useth it not unto that end, doth 
but abuse that great institution. And such abuse the world 
is full of. Some endeavour to make their own secular ad- 
vantages by the pretence of the church. Some discharge 
the duty required in it, with some secret hopes that it shall 
be their righteousness before God. Some answer only tlieir 
light and convictions in an empty profession. This alone is 
the true end, the true use of it. We assemble ourselves to 
learn that there is forgiveness with God through Christ; to 


pray that we may be made partakers of it ; to bless and 
praise God for our interest in it; to engage ourselves unto 
that obedience which he requires upon the account of it. 
And were this constantly upon our minds, and in our designs, 
we might be more established in the faith of it, than it may 
be the most of us are. 

4. One particular instance more of this nature shall con- 
clude this evidence: God hath commanded us, the Lord 
Christ hath taught us to pray for the pardon of sin, which 
gives us unquestionable security that it may be attained, that 
it is to be found in God. For the clearing whereof observe, 

1. That the Lord Christ, in the revelation of the will of 
God unto us, as unto the duty that he required at our hands, 
hath taught and instructed us to pray for the forgiveness 
of sin. It is one of the petitions which he hath left on 
record for our use and imitation in that summary of all 
prayer which he hath given us. Matt. vi. 12. ' Forgive us 
our debts,' our trespasses, our sins: some contend that this 
is a form of prayer to be used in the prescript limited words 
of it. All grant that it is a rule for prayer, comprising the 
heads of all necessary things, that we are to pray for, and 
obliging us to make supplications for them. So then, upon 
the authority of God revealed unto us by Jesus Christ, we 
are bound in duty to pray for pardon of sins, or forgiveness. 

2. On this supposition, it is the highest blasphemy and 
reproach of God imaginable, to conceive that there is not 
forgiveness with him for us. hideed, if we should go upon 
our own heads without his warranty and authority, to ask 
any thing at his hand, we might well expect to meet with 
disappointment. For what should encourage us unto any 
such boldness? But now, when God himself shall command 
us to come, and ask any thing from him, so making it 
thereby our duty, and that the neglect thereof should be 
our great sin and rebellion against him ; to suppose he hath 
not the thing in his power to bestow on us, or that his will 
is wholly averse from so doing, is to reproach him with want 
of truth, faithfulness, and holiness, and not to be God. For 
what sincerity can be in such proceedings ? Is it consistent 
with any divine excellency ? Could it have any other end, 
but to deceive poor creatures? either to delude them if they 
do pray according to his command, or to involve them in 

N 2 


farther guilt, if they do not? God forbid any such thoughts 
should enter into our hearts. But, 

3. To put this whole matter out of question, God hath 
promised to hear our prayers, and in particular those which 
we make unto him for the forgiveness of sin. So our Saviour 
hath assured us, that what we ask in his name, it shall be 
done for us. And he hath, as we have shewed, taught us 
to ask this very thing of God as our heavenly Father; that 
is, in his name. For in and through him alone is he a Fa- 
ther unto us. 1 need not insist on particular promises to 
this purpose, they are, as you know, multiplied in the Scrip- 

What hath been spoken may suffice to establish our pre- 
sent argument, namely, that God's prescription of religious 
worship unto sinners, doth undeniably prove that with him 
there is forgiveness ; especially considering that the prin- 
cipal parts of the worship so prescribed and appointed by 
him, are peculiarly designed to confirm us in the faith 

And this is the design of the words that we do insist 
upon ; ' there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be 
feared.' The fear of God, as we have shewed in the Old Tes- 
tament, doth frequently express, not that gracious affection 
of our minds, which is distinctly so called 5 but that whole 
worship of God, wherein that and all other gracious affec- 
tions towards God are to be exercised. Now the psalmist 
tells us, that the foundation of this fear or worship, and the 
only motive and encouragement for sinners to engaoe in it 
and give up themselves unto it is this, that there is foro-ive- 
ness with God. Without this no sinner could fear, serve, 
or worship him. This therefore is undeniably proved by the 
institution of this worship, which was proposed unto con- 

The end of all these things, as we shall afterward at large 
declare, is to encourage poor sinners to believe, and to evi- 
dence how inexcusable they will be left, who notwithstand- 
standing all this, do through the power of their lusts and 
unbelief, refuse to come to God in Christ that they may be 
pardoned. Yea, the laying open of the certainty and ful- 
ness of the evidence given unto this truth, makes it plain 
and conspicuous, whence it is tliat men perish in and for 


their sins. Is it for want of mercy, goodness, grace, or pa- 
tience in God ? Is it through any defect in the mediation of 
the Lord Christ ? Is it for want of the mightiest encourage- 
ments and most infallible assurances, that with God there 
is forgiveness ? Not at all, but merely on the account of their 
own obstinacy, stubbornness, and perverseness. They will 
not come unto this light, yea, they hate it, because their deeds 
are evil. They will not come to Christ, that they may have 
life. It is merely darkness, blindness, and love of sin, that 
brings men to destruction. And this is laid open, and all 
pretences and excuses are removed, and the shame of men's 
lusts made naked by the full confirmation of this truth, which 
God hath furnished us withal. 

Take heed you that hear or read these things ; if they 
are not mixed with faith, they will add greatly to your 
misery. Every argument will be your torment. But these 
considerations must be insisted on afterward. 

Moreover, if you will take into your minds what hath 
been delivered in particular, concerning the nature and end 
of the worship of God which you attend unto, you may be 
instructed in the use and due observation of it. When you 
address yourselves unto it, remember that this is that which 
God requires of you who are sinners; that this he would not 
have done, but with thoughts and intention of mercy for sin- 
ners. Bless him with all your souls, that this is laid as the 
foundation of all that you have to do with him. You are 
not utterly cast off, because you are sinners. Let this sup- 
port and warm your hearts, when you go to hear, to pray, or 
any duty of worship. Consider what is your principal work 
in the whole. You are going to deal with God about for- 
giveness, in the being, causes, consequents, and effects of 
it. Hearken what he speaks, declares, or reveals about it ; 
mix his revelation and promises with faith. Inquire dili- 
gently into all the obedience and thankfulness, all those 
duties of holiness and righteousness, which he justly ex- 
pects from them who are made partakes of it ; so shall you 
observe the worship of God unto his glory, and your own 


The giving and establishing of tkt new covenant another evidence of forgive- 
ness with God. The oath of God engaged in the confirmation thereof. 

Eighthly, Another evidence hereof may be taken from 
the making, establishing and ratifying of the new covenant. 
That God would make a new covenant with his people is often 
promised, often declared. See, among other places, Jer. 
xxxi. 31, 32. and that he hath done so accordingly, the apo- 
stle at large doth manifest, Heb. viii. 8 — 12. Now herein 
sundry things unto our present purpose may be considered. 

First, It is supposed that God had before made another 
covenant with mankind. With reference hereunto is this said 
to be a new one. It is opposed unto another that was be- 
fore it, and in comparison whereof that is called old, and 
this said to be new, as the apostle speaks expressly in the 
place before mentioned. Now a covenant between God and 
man is a thing great and marvellous ; whether we consider 
the nature of it, or the ends of it; in its own nature it is a 
convention, compact, and agreement, for some certain ends 
and purposes between the holy Creator and his poor crea- 
tures. How infinite, how unspeakable must needs the grace 
and condescension of God in this matter be ? For what is 
poor miserable man, that God should set his heart upon 
him, that heshould,asit were, give bounds to his sovereignty 
over him, and enter into terms of agreement with him? For 
whereas before he was a mere object of his absolute do- 
minion, made at his will, and for his pleasure, and on the 
same reasons to be crushed at any time into nothing; now 
he hath a bottom, and ground given him to stand upon, 
whereon to expect good things from God, upon the account 
of his faithfulness and righteousness. God, in a covenant, 
gives those holy properties of his nature unto his creatures, 
as his hand or arm for him to lay hold upon, and by them 
to plead and argue with him. And without this a man 
could have no foundation for any intercourse or communion 
with God, or of any expectation from him, nor any direction 
how to deal with him in any of his concernments. Great 
and signal then was the condescension of God, to take his 


poor creature into covenant with himself. And especially 
will this be manifest, if we consider the ends of it, and why 
it is that God thus deals with man. Now these are no other 
than that man might serve him aright, be blessed by him, 
and be brought unto the everlasting enjoyment of him, all 
unto his glory. These are the ends of every covenant that 
God takes us into with himself. And these are the whole 
of man. No more is required of us in a way of duty ; no 
more can be required by us to make us blessed and happy, 
but what is contained in them. That we might live to God, 
be accepted with him, and come to the eternal fruition of 
him, is the whole of man, all that we were made for, or are 
capable of; and these are the ends of every covenant that 
God makes with men ; being all comprised in that solemn 
word, that ' he will be their God, and they shall be his 

Secondly, This being the nature, this the end of a cove- 
nant, there must be some great and important cause, to 
change, alter, and abrogate a covenant once made and esta- 
blished, to lay aside one covenant, and to enter into another. 
And yet this tiie apostle says expressly that God had done, 
Heb. viii. 13. and proves it, because himself calls that which 
he promised a new covenant, which undeniably confirms 
two things. First, That the other was become old ; and 
secondly, That being become so, it was changed, altered, 
and removed, I know the apostle speaks immediately of 
the old administration of the covenant under the Old Tes- 
tament of Mosaical institutions : but he doth so with refer- 
ence unto that revival which in it was given to the first co- 
venant made with Adam. For in the giving of the law, and 
the curse wherewith it was accompanied, which were im- 
mixed with that administration of the covenant, there was a 
solemn revival and representation of the first covenant, and 
its sanction, whereby it had life and power given it to keep 
the people in bondage all their days. And the end of the 
abolition or taking away of the legal administration of the 
covenant, was merely to take out of God's dealing with his 
people, all use and remembrance of the first covenant. As 
was said therefore, to take away, disannul, and change a 
covenant so Made, ratified, and established betwixt God and 
man, is a matter that must he resolved into some cogent. 


important, and indispensable cause. And this will the more 
evidently appear, if we consider, 

1. In general, that the first covenant was good, holy, 
righteous, and equal. It was such as became God to make, 
and was every way the happiness of the creature to ac- 
cept of. We need no other argument to prove it holy and 
good, than this, that God made it. It was the effect of in- 
finite holiness, wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and grace. 
And therefore in itself was it every way perfect ; for so are 
all the works of God. Besides, it was such as man, when 
through his own fault he cannot obtain any good by it, and 
must perish everlastingly by virtue of the curse of it; yet 
cannot but subscribe unto its righteousness and holiness. 
The law was the rule of it, therein is the tenor of it contained. 
Now, saith the apostle, whatever becomes of the sin, and 
the sinner, * the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, 
and just, and good;' Rom. vii. 12. Holy in itself, and its 
own nature, as being the order and constitution of the most 
holy God. Just and equal with reference unto us; such as 
we have no reason to complain of, or repine against the au- 
thority of it, and the terms of it are most righteous. And 
not only so, but it is good also, that which notwithstanding 
the appearance of rigour and severity which it is accompanied 
withal, had in it an exceeding mixture of goodness and grace, 
both in the obedience constituted in it, and the reward an- 
nexed unto it ; as might be more fully manifested, were that 
our present work. 

2. In particular it was good, holy, and righteous, in all 
the commands of it, in the obedience which it required. And 
two things there were that rendered it exceeding righ- 
teous, in reference unto its precepts or commands. First, 
That they were all suited unto the principles of the nature of 
man created by God, and in the regular acting whereof con- 
sisted his perfection. God in the first covenant required 
nothing of man, prescribed nothing unto him, but what there 
was a principle for the doing and accomplishing of it in- 
grafted and implanted on his nature ; which rendered all 
those commands equal, holy, and good. For what need ^ly 
man complain of that which requires nothing of him, but 
what he is from his own frame and principles inclined unto? 
Secondly, All the commands of it were proportionate unto 


the strength and ability of them to whom they were given. 
God in that covenant required nothing of any man, but what 
he had before enabled him to perform ; nothing above his 
strength, or beyond his power: and thence was it also righ- 
teous. Secondly, It was exceeding good, holy, and righ- 
teous, upon the account of its promises and rewards. ' Do 
this,' saith the covenant ; this which thou art able to do, 
which the principles of thy nature are fitted for, and in- 
clined unto. Well, what shall be the issue thereof? Why, 
* do this and live ;' life is promised unto obedience, and that 
such a life, as both for the present and future condition of the 
creature, was accompanied with every thing that was need- 
ful to make it blessed and happy. Yea, this life having in 
it the eternal enjoyment of God, God himself as a reward, 
was exceedingly above whatever the obedience of man could 
require as due, or have any reason, on any other account, but 
merely of the goodness of God to expect. 

Thirdly, There was provision in that covenant for the 
preservation and manifestation of the gloiy of God, what- 
ever was the event on the part of man. This was provided 
for in the wisdom and righteousness of God. Did man con- 
tinue in his obedience, and fulfil the terms of the covenant; 
all things were laid in subserviency to the eternal glory of 
God in his reward. Herein would he for ever have manifested 
and exalted the glory of his holiness, power, faithfulness, 
righteousness, and goodness. As an almighty creator and 
preserver, as a faithful God, and righteous reward er would 
he have been glorified. On supposition on the other side, 
that man by sin and rebellion should trangress the terras and 
tenor of this covenant, yet God had made provision that no 
detriment unto his glory should ensue thereon. For by the 
constitution of a punishment proportionable in his justice 
unto that sin and demerit, he had provided that the glory of 
his holiness, righteousness, and veracity in his threatenings 
should be exalted, and that to all eternity. God would have 
lost no more glory and honour by the sin of man, than by the 
sin of angels, which in his infinite wisdom and righteousness 
is become a great theatre of his eternal glory. For he is no 
less excellent in his greatness and severity, than in his good- 
ness and power. 


Wherefore we may now return urrto our former inquiry. 
All things being thus excellently and admirably disposed in 
infinite wisdom and holiness in this covenant, the whole duty 
and blessedness of man being fully provided for, and the 
glory of God absolutely secured upon all events, what was 
the reason that God left not all things to stand or fall ac- 
cording to the terms of it? Wherefore doth he reject and lay 
aside this covenant, and promise to make another, and do so 
accordingly? Certain it is, that he might have continued it 
with a blessed security to his own glory; and he makes 'all 
things for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil,' 

God himself shews what was the only and sole reason of 
this dispensation, Heb. viii. 7 — 13. The sum of it is this. 
Notwithstanding the blessed constitution of the first cove- 
nant, yet there was no provision for the pardon of sin, no 
room or place for forgiveness in it ; but on supposition that 
man sinned, he was in that covenant left remediless. God 
had not in it revealed that there was any such thing as for- 
giveness with him; nor had any sinner the least hope or 
grounds of expectation from thence of any such thing in him. 
Die he must and perish, and that without remedy or re- 
covery. Now, saith God, this must not be. Mercy, good- 
ness, grace, require another state of things. This covenant 
will not manifest them ; their effects will not be communi- 
cated to poor sinners by it. Hence, saith he, it is faulty ; 
that is, defective, I will not lose the glory of them, nor shall 
sinners be unrelieved by them. And, therefore, although I 
may strictly tie up all mankind unto the terms of this ; yet, 
I will make another covenant with them, wherein they shall 
know and find, that there is forgiveness with me, that they 
may fear me. 

Now next to the blood of Christ, whereby this covenant 
was ratified and confirmed, this is the greatest evidence that 
can possibly be given, that there is forgiveness with God. 
To what end else doth God make this great alteration in the 
eflfects of his will, in his way of dealing with mankind? As 
forgiveness of sin is expressly contained in the tenor and 
words of the covenant, so set it aside, and it will be of no 
more use or advantaoe than the former. For as this covenant 
is made directly with sinners, nor was there any one in the 


world, when God made it that was not a sinner, nor is it of 
use unto any but sinners, so is forgiveness of sins the very- 
life of it. 

Hence we may see two things : first, The greatness of 
forgiveness, that we may learn to value it; and, secondly. 
The certainty of it, that we may learn to believe it. 

First, The greatness of it. God would not do so great a 
thing as that mentioned, but for a great, the greatest end. 
Had it not been a matter of the greatest importance unto the 
glory of God, and the good of the souls of men, God would 
not for the sake of it, have laid aside one covenant, and made 
another. We may evidently see how the heart of God was 
set upon it, how his nature and will were engaged in it. All 
this was done that we might be pardoned. The old glorious 
fabric of obedience and rewards shall be taken down to the 
ground, that a new one may be erected for the honour and 
glory of forgiveness. God forbid that we should have slight 
thoughts of that which was so strangely and wonderfully 
brought forth, wherein God had as it were embarked his great 
glory. Shall all this be done for oursakes, and shall we under- 
value it, or disesteem it? God forbid. God could, if I may 
so say, more easily have made a new world of innocent crea- 
tures, and have governed them by the old covenant, than 
have established this new one for the salvation of poor sin- 
ners ; but then where had been the glory of forgiveness? It 
could never have been known, that there was forgiveness 
with him. The old covenant could not have been preserved, 
and sinners pardoned. Wherefore God chose rather to leave 
the covenant, than sinners unrelieved, than grace unexalted, 
and pardon unexercised. Prize it, as you prize your souls, 
and give glory unto God for it, as all those that believe will 
do unto eternity. 

Secondly, For the security of it, that we may believe it. 
What greater can be given? God deceiveth no man, no 
more than he is deceived. And what could God, that cannot 
lie, do more to give us satisfaction herein than he hath done? 
Would you be made partakers of this forgiveness ? Go unto 
God, spread before him this whole matter; plead with him 
that he himself hath so far laid aside the first covenant, of 
his own gracious will as to make a new one ; and that merely 
because it had no forgiveness in it. This he hath made on 


purpose that it might be known, that there is forgiveness in 
him. And shall not we now be made partakers of it? Will 
he now deny that unto us, which he hath given such as- 
surance of, and raised such expectations concerning it? No- 
thing can here wrong us, nothing can ruin us but unbelief. 
Lay hold on this covenant, and we shall have pardon. This 
God expresseth, Isa. xxvii. 4, 5. Will we continue on the 
old bottom of the first covenant? All that we can do there- 
on, is but to set thorns and briers in the way of God, to 
secure ourselves from his coming against us and upon us 
with his indignation and fury. Our sins are so, and our 
righteousness is no better. And what will be the issue ? 
Both they and we shall be trodden down, consumed, and 
burnt up. What way then, what remedy is left unto us ? 
only this of laying hold on the arm and strength of God in 
that covenant, wherein forgiveness of sin is provided. There- 
in alone he saith, * fury is not in me ;' and the end will be that 
we shall have peace with him, both here and for ever. 

Ninthly, The oath of God engaged and interposed in this 
matter is another evidence of the truth insisted on. Now, be- 
cause this is annexed unto the covenant before-mentioned, 
and is its establishment, I shall pass it over the more briefly. 
And in it we may consider, 

First, The nature of the oath of God. The apostle tells 
us that ' he sware by himself.' And he gives this reason of it, 
' because he had no greater to swear by ;* Heb. vi. 13. An 
oath for the confirmation of any thing, is an invocation of a 
supreme power that can judge of the truth that is spoken, 
and vindicate the breach of the engagement. This God hath 
none other but himself; ' Because he could swear by no 
greater, he sware by himself.' Now this God doth, first. By 
express aflSrmation that he hath so sworn by himself, which 
was the form of the first solemn oath of God, Gen. xxii. 16. 
* By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.' The meaning 
whereof is, I have taken it upon myself as I am God, or let 
me not be so, if I perform not this thing. And this is ex- 
pressed by his soul, Jer. li. 14. ' The Lord of hosts hath 
sworn by his soul,' that is, by himself, as we render the 
words. Secondly, God doth it by the especial interposition 
of some such property of his nature, as is suited to give 
credit and confirmation to the word spoken ; as of his ho- 


liness, Psal. Ixxxix. 35. ' I have sworn by my holiness.' So 
also Amos iv. 2. Sometimes by his life ; ' As I live/ saith 
the Lord. >3X >n ' I live saith God,' it shall be so. And 
sometimes by his name ; Jer. xliv. 26. God as it were en- 
gageth the honour and glory of the properties of his nature 
for the certain accomplishment of the things mentioned. 
And this is evident from the manner of the expression, as in 
that place of Psal. Ixxxix. 35. ' Once have I sworn by my 
holiness, that I will not lie unto David ;' so we ; in the 
original the words are elliptical : ' If I lie unto David/ that is, 
let me not be so, nor be esteemed to be so, if 1 lie unto 

Secondly, For the end of his oath. God doth not give 
it to make his word or promise sure and steadfast, but to 
give assurance and security unto us of their accomplishment. 
Every word of God is sure and certain, truth itself, because 
it is his ; and he might justly require of us the belief of it 
without any farther attestation. But yet, knowing what great 
objections Satan and our own unbelieving hearts will raise 
against his promises, at least as to our own concernment in 
them, to confirm our minds, and to take away all pretences 
of unbelief, he interposeth his oath in this matter. What 
can remain of distrust in such a case ? If there be a matter 
in doubt between men, and an oath be interposed in the con- 
firmation of that which is called in question, it is *an end,' 
as the apostle tells us, * unto them of all strife / Heb. vi, 16. 
How much more ought it to be so on the part of God, when 
his oath is engaged ? And the apostle declares this end of 
his oath, it is ' to shew the immutability of his counsel / 
Heb. vi. 17. His counsel was declared before in the promise ; 
but now some doubt or strife may arise whether on one oc- 
casion or other, God may not change his counsel ; or whe- 
ther he hath not changed it with such conditions as to ren- 
der it useless unto us ? In what case soever it be, to remove 
all doubts and suspicions of this nature, God adds his oath, 
manifesting the unquestionable immutability of his counsel 
and promises. What therefore is thus confirmed, is ascer- 
tained unto the height of what any thing is capable of. And 
not to believe it, is the height of impiety. 

Thirdly, In this interposition of God by an oath, there 
is unspeakable condescension of grace, which is both an 


exceeding great motive unto laitii, and a great aggravation of 
unbelief. For what are we, that the holy and blessed God 
should thus condescend unto us, as for our satisfaction and 
surety, to engage himself by an oath ? One said well of old; 
* Fcelices nos quorum causa Deus jurat ; O infoelices, si nee 
juranti Deo credimus.' It is an inestimable advantage that 
God should for our sakes engage himself by his oath. So it 
will be our miser), if we believe him not when he swears unto 
us. What can we now object against what is thus con- 
firmed? What pretence, colour, or excuse can we have for 
our unbelief? How just, how righteous, how holy must their 
destruction be, who upon this strange, wonderful, and unex- 
pected warranty, refuse to set their seal that God is true. 

These things being premised, we may consider how va- 
riously God hath engaged his oath that there is forgiveness 
with him. First, He sweareth that he hath no pleasure in 
the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live ; 
Ezek. xxxiii. 11. ' As I live, saith the Lord, 1 have no plea- 
sure in the death of a sinner.' Now without forgiveness in 
him, every sinner must die, and that without remedy. Con- 
firming therefore with his oath, that it is his will the sinner 
should return, repent, and live, he doth in the first place 
swear by himself, that there is forgiveness with him for 
these sinners that shall so repent and turn unto him. 

Again, whereas the great means he hath appointed for 
the forgiveness of sins, is by the mediation of the Lord 
Christ, as we shall afterward shew, he hath on several oc- 
casions confirmed his purpose in him, and the counsel of his 
will by his oath. By this oath he promised him unto Abra- 
ham and David of old, which proved the foundation of the 
church's stability in all generations; and also of their se- 
curity and assurance of acceptance with him; see Luke i. 
73 — 75. And in his taking upon him that office, whereby in 
an especial manner the forgiveness of sins was to be pro- 
cured, namely, of his being a priest to offer sacrifice, to 
make an atonement for sinners, he confirmed it unto him, 
and him in it by his oath ; Heb. vii. 20. ' He was not made 
J, priest without an oath.' And to what end ? Namely, that 
he might be ' a surety of a better testament;' ver. 22. And 
what was that better testament? Why, that which brought 
along with it' the forgiveness of sin ;' chap. viii. 12, 13. So 


that it was forgiveness which was so confirmed by the oath 
of God. Farther, the apostle shews, that the great original 
promise made unto Abraham, being confirmed by the oath 
of God, all his other promises were in like manner confirmed. 
Whence he draws that blessed conclusion which we have, Heb. 
vi. 17,18. As to every one, saith]he, 'that flies for refuge to the 
hope that is set before him;' that is, who seeks to escape the 
guilt of sin, the curse and the sentence of the law, by an ap- 
plication of himself unto God in Christ for pardon, he hath 
the oath of God to secure him that he shall not fail thereof. 
And thus are all the concernments of the forgiveness of sin 
testified unto by the oath of God ; which we have manifested 
to be the highest security in this matter, that God can give, 
or that we are capable of. 

The name of God confirming the truth and reality of forgiveness tvith him. 
As also the same is done by the properties of his nature. 

Tenthly, Another foundation of this truth, and infallible 
evidence of it, maybe taken from that especial name and title 
which God takes unto himself in this matter. For he owns 
the name of the God of pardons, or the God of forgiveness. 
So is he called, Nehem. ix. 17. nsnbon m^K we have ren- 
dered the words, ' Thou art a God ready to forgive ;' but they 
are as was said, ' And thou art the God of pardons, forgive- 
ness, or propitiations.' That is his name, which he owneth, 
which he accepteth of the ascription of unto himself. The 
name whereby he will be known. And to clear this evidence 
we must take in some considerations of the name of God, and 
the use thereof. As, 

First, The name of God is that whereby he reveals himself 
unto us, whereby he would have us know him, and own him. 
It is something expressive of his nature or properties, which 
he hath appropriated unto himself. Whatever therefore any 
name of God expresseth him to be, that he is, that we may 
expect to find him ; for he will not deceive us by giving him- 
self a wrong, or a false name. And on this account he re- 
quires us to trust in his name, because he will assuredly be 
found unto us, what his name imports. Resting on his 


name, flying unto his name, calling upon his name, )Draising 
his name, things so often mentioned in the Scripture, con- 
firm the same unto us. These things could not be our duty, 
if\ve might be deceived in so doing. God is tlien, and will 
be to us what his name declareth. 

Secondly, On this ground and reason God is said then 
first to be known by any name, when those to whom he reveals 
himself, do in an especial manner rest on that name by faith, 
and have that accomplished towards them which that name 
imports, signifies, or declares. And therefore God did not, 
under the Old Testament, reveal himself to any by the name 
of the Father of Jesus Christ, or the Son incarnate, because 
the grace of it unto them was not to be accomplished ; ' God 
having provided some better thing for us, that they without 
us should not be made perfect;' they were not intrusted 
with the full revelation of God, by all his blessed names. 
Neither doth God call us to trust in any name of his however 
declared or revealed, unless he gives it us in an especial 
manner, by way of covenant to rest upon. So he speaks, 
Exod. vi. 3. * I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and to 
Jacob (nti^ ')K2) in the name of God Almighty, but by my 
name Jehovah was I not known unto them.' It is certain that 
both these names of God, Elshaddai and Jehovah, were 
known among his people before. In the first mention we 
have of Abraham's addressing himself unto the worship of 
God, he makes use of the name Jehovah; Gen. xii. 7. 'He 
built an altar unto Jehovah ;' and so afterward not only 
doth Moses make use of that name in the repetition of the 
story, but it was also of frequent use amongst them. Whence 
then is it said, that God appeared unto them by the name of 
Elshaddai, but not by the name of Jehovah? The reason is, 
because that was the name which God gave himself in the 
solemn confirmation of the covenant with Abraham, Gen. 
xvii. 1. nU! ^S OX ' I am Elshaddai, God almighty,' God all- 
sufficient. And when Isaac would pray for the blessing of 
the covenant on Jacob, he makes use of that name ; Gen. 
xxviii. 3. 'God Almighty bless thee.' He invocates that 
name of God which was engaged in the covenant made with 
his father Abraham, and himself. That therefore we may 
with full assurance rest on the name of God, it is not only 
necessary that God reveal that name to be his, but also that 


"he give it out unto us for that end and purpose, that we 
might know him (hereby, and place our trust and confidence 
in him according unto what that name of his imports. And 
this was the case wherever he revealed himself unto any in 
a peculiar manner, by an especial name. So he did unto 
Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 13. ' I am the God of Abraham and 
Isaac;' assuring him, that as he dealt faithfully in his co- 
venant with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, so also he 
would deal with him. And, Gen.xxxi. 13. ' I am the God 
of Bethel,' he who appeared unto thee there, and blessed 
thee, and will continue so to do. But when the same Jacob 
-comes to ask after another name of God, he answers him 
not, as it were commanding him to live by faith on what he 
was pleased to reveal. Now then, God had not made him- 
self known to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, by his name 
Jehovah, because he had not peculiarly called himself unto 
them by that name ; nor had engaged it in his covenant with 
them, although it were otherwise known unto them. They 
lived and rested on the name of God Almighty, as suited 
to their supportment and consolation in their wandering, 
helpless condition, before the promise was to be accom- 
plished. But now, when God came to fulfil his promises, 
and to bring the people by virtue, of his covenant into the 
land of Canaan, he reveals himself unto them by, and renews 
his covenant with them in, the name of Jehovah. And hereby 
did God declare, that he came to give stability and accom- 
plishment unto his promises. To which end they were now 
to live upon this name of Jehovah, in an expectation of the 
fulfilling of the promises ; as their fathers did on that of God 
Almighty, in an expectation of protection from him in their 
wandering state and condition. Hence this name became 
the foundation of the Judaical church, and ground of the 
faith of them who did sincerely believe in God therein. And 
it is strangely fallen out in the providence of God, that since 
the Jews have rejected the covenant of their fathers, and 
are cast out of the covenant for their unbelief, they have ijt- 
terly forgot that name of God. No Jew in the world knows 
what it is, nor how to pronounce it, or make mention of it. 
I know themselves, and others pretend strange mysteries in 
the letters and vowels of that name which make it ineffable. 
But the truth is, being cast out of that covenant which was 
>OL. \iv. o 


built and established on that name, in the just judgment of 
God, through their own blindness and superstition, they are 
no more able to make mention of it, or to take it into their 
mouths. It is required then that the name of God be given 
unto us as engaged in covenant, to secure our expectation 
that he vi^ill be unto us according to his name. 

Thirdly, All the whole gracious name of God, every title 
that he hath given himself, every ascription of honour unto 
himself that he hath owned, is confirmed unto us (unto as 
many as believe), in Jesus Christ. For as he hath declared unto 
us the whole name of God, John xvii. 6. so not this, or that 
promise of God, but all the promises of God are in him, yea 
and amen. So that as of old, every particular promise that 
God made unto the people, served especially for the parti- 
cular occasion on which it was given, and each name of God 
was to be rested on, as to that dispensation whereunto it was 
suited to give relief and confidence ; as the name of El- 
shaddai to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the name Jehovah 
to Moses and the people ; so now, by Jesus Christ and in 
him, every particular promise belongs unto all believers 
in all their occasions ; and every name of God whatever, is 
theirs also, at all times, to rest upon and put their trust 
in. Thus the particular promise made unto Joshua 
at his entrance into Canaan, to encourage and strengthen 
him in that great enterprise of conquering the land, is by the 
apostle applied unto all believers in all their occasions what- 
ever. *I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;' Heb. xiii. 
5. So likewise doth every name of God belong now unto us, 
as if it had in a particular manner been engaged in covenant 
unto us ; and that because the whole covenant is ratified 
and confirmed unto us by Jesus Christ; 2 Cor. vi. 18. vii. 1. 
This then absolutely secures unto us an interest in the name 
of God insisted on, the God of forgiveness, as if it had been 
given unto every one of us to assure us thereof. 

Fourthly, God takes this name, * the God of forgiveness,' 
to be his in a peculiar manner, as that whereby he will be 
distinguished and known. He appropriates it to himself, as 
expressing that which the power and goodness of no other 
can extend unto. 'There are lords many, and gods many,' 
saith the apostle ; Xe70jUEvoi Otoi, some that are called so ; 
such as some account so to be. How is the true God dis- 


tinguished from these gods by reputation? He is so by this 
name, he is the God of pardons ; Micah vii. 18. 'Who is a 
God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?' This is his 
prerogative ; herein none is equal to hiui, like him, or a 
sharer with him. Who is a God like unto thee, that may 
be called a God of pardons? The vanities of the nations 
cannot give them this rain ; they have no refreshing showers 
of mercy and pardon in their power. Neither angels, nor 
saints, nor images, nor popes, can pardon sin. By this 
name doth he distinguish himself from them all. 

Fifthly, To be known by this name is the great glory of 
God in this world. When Moses desired to see the glory of 
God, the Lord tells him, that ' he could not see his face ;' 
Exod. xxxiii. 18, 20. The face of God or the gracious ma- 
jesty of his Being, his essential glory, is not to be seen of 
any in this life ; we cannot see him as he is. But the glo- 
rious manifestation of himself we may behold and contem- 
plate. This we may see as the back-parts of God ; that sha- 
dow of his excellencies which he casteth forth in the pass- 
ing by us in his works and dispensations. This Moses shall 
see. And wherein did it consist? Why, in the revelation and 
declaration of this name of God, chap, xxxiv. 6, 7. 'The 
Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed. The Lord, the 
Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abun- 
dant in goodness and in truth, keeping mercy for thousands, 
forgiving iniquity, transgressions, and sin.' To be known 
by this name, to be honoured, feared, believed as that de- 
clares him, is the great glory of God. And shall this fail 
us? Can we be deceived trusting in it, or expecting that 
we shall find him to be what his name declares ? God 

Let us lay together these considerations, and we shall find 
that they will give us another stable foundation of the truth 
insisted on ; and a great encouragement to poor sinful souls 
to draw nigh to God in Christ for pardon. God hath no 
name but what he gives unto himself. Nor is it lawful to 
know him, or call him otherwise ; as he caUs himself, so is 
he. What his name imports, so is his nature. Every name 
also of God is engaged in Jesus Christ in the covenant, and 
is proposed unto us to place our trust and confidence in. 
Now this is his name and his memorial, even the God of 

o 2 


forgiveness. By this he distinguisheth himself from all 
others, and expresseth it as the principal title of his honour, 
or his peculiar glory. According to this name, therefore, 
all that believe shall assuredly find, * there is forgiveness 
with him,' 

Eleventhly, The consideration of the essential properties of 
the nature of God, and vphat is required to the manifestation 
of them, will afford us farther assurance hereof. Let us to 
this end take in the ensuing observations. 

First, God being absolutely perfect, and absolutely self- 
sufficient, was eternally glorious, and satisfied with, and in his 
own holy excellencies and perfections, before, and without, 
the creation of all or any thing, by the putting forth or the 
exercise of his almighty power. The making therefore of 
all things depends on a mere sovereign act of the will and 
pleasure of God. So the whole creation makes its acknow- 
ledgment. Rev. iv. 11. V. 12. 'Thou art worthy, O Lord, 
to receive glory, honour, and power, for thou hast created 
all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.' 
God could have omitted all this great work, without the 
least impeachment of his glory. Not one holy property of 
his nature would have been diminished, or abated in its 
eternal glory, by that omission. This then depended on a 
pure act of his will and choice. 

Secondly, On supposition that God would work ' ad extra,' 
by his power produce any thing without himself, it was abso- 
lutely necessary thathimself should be the end of his so doing. 
For as before the production of all things, there was nothing 
that could be the end why any of them should be brought 
forth out of nothing, or towards which they should be dis- 
posed ; so God, being an infinite agent in wisdom, and un- 
derstanding, and power, he could have no end in his actings, 
but that also which is infinite. It is therefore natural and ne- 
cessary unto God to do all things for himself. It is impos- 
sible he should have any other end ; and he hath done so 
accordingly. Prov. xvi. 4. 'The Lord hath made all thiiigs 
for himself.' He aimed at himself in all that he did ; there 
being no other infinite good for him to make his object, and 
his end, but himself alone. 

Thirdly, This doing things,* all things for himself,' cannot 
intend an addition or accruement thereby of any new real good 


unto himself. His absolute, eternal perfection and all-suffici- 
ency render this impossible. God doth not become more 
powerful, great, wise, just, holy, good, or gracious, by any of 
his works, by any thing that he doth. He can add nothing to 
liimself. It must therefore be the manifestation and decla- 
ration of the holy properties of his nature that he doth in- 
tend and design in his works. And there are two things re- 
quired hereunto. 

1. That he make them known; that by ways suited to 
his infinite wisdom, he doth declare that such properties do 
belong unto him; as also what is the nature of them accord- 
ing as the creature is able to apprehend. 

So he doth things * to make his power known,' to shew his 
power, and to declare his name through the earth ; Rom.ix. 
17. 22. So it was said, that by the works of creation, to 
yvtjjcTTov Tov Oeov, that which may be made known of God is 
made manifest; Rom. i. 19,20. And what is that? even 
the natural, essential properties of his Being; 'his eternal 
power and Godhead.' To this head are referred all those 
promises of God that he would glorify himself, and the 
prayers of his saints that he would do so ; and the attes- 
tations given unto it in the Scripture that he hath done so. 
He hath made known his wisdom, holiness, power, good- 
ness, self-sufficiency, and the like perfections of his nature. 

2. That he attain an ascription, an attribution of praise 
and glory to himself upon their account. His design is *to 
be admired in all them that believe ;' 2 Thess. i. 10. that is, 
that upon an apprehension of his excellencies, which he 
hath revealed, and as he hath revealed them, they should 
admire, adore, applaud, glorify, and praise him ; worship, 
believe in, and trust him in all things, and endeavour the 
enjoyment of him as an eternal reward. And this is also? 

1. Interpretative. So the inanimate and brute creatures 
ascribe unto God the glory of his properties, even by what 
they are and do. By what they are in their beings, and 
their observation of the law and inclination of their nature, 
they give unto God the glory of that wisdom and power 
whereby they are made ; and of that sovereignty whereon 
they depend. Hence nothing more frequent in the praises 
of God of old, than the calling of the inanimate creatures,. 


heaven and earth, winds, storms, thunder, and the beasts 
of the field, to give praise and glory to God. That is, by 
ivhat they are, they do so, inasmuch as from the impression 
of God's glorious excellencies in their effects upon them, 
they are made known and manifest, 

2. Involuntary in some rational creatures. Sinning men 
and angels have no design, no will, no desire to give glory 
to God. They do their utmost endeavour to the contrary, 
to hate him, reproach, and blaspheme him. But they can- 
not yet cast off the yoke of God. In their minds and con- 
sciences they are forced, and shall be for ever, to acknowledge 
that God is infinitely holy, infinitely wise, powerful, and 
righteous. And he hath the glory of all these properties 
from them, in their very desires that he were otherwise. 
When they would that God were not just to punish them, 
powerful to torment them, wise to find them out, holy to be 
displeased with their lusts and sins, they do at the same 
time, in the same thing, own, acknowledge, and give unto 
God the glory of his Being, justice, wisdom, power, and ho- 
liness. When, therefore, God hath made known his proper- 
ties, the ascription of glory unto him on their account, is to 
rational creatures, natural and unavoidable. 

3. It is voluntary in the reasonable service, worship, 
fear, trust, obedience, of angels and men. God having re- 
vealed unto them the properties of his nature, they acknow- 
ledge, adore them, and place their confidence in them, and 
thereby glorify them as God. And this glorifying of God 
consisteth in three things. 

1. In making the excellencies of God revealed unto us, 
the principle and chief object of all the moral actings of our 
souls, and of all the actings of our affections. To fear the 
Lord and his goodness, and to fear him for his goodness ; to 
trust in his power and faithfulness, to obey his authority, to 
delight in his will and grace, to love him above all, because 
of his excellencies and beauty; this is to glorify him. 

2. To pray for, and to rejoice in, the ways and means 
whereby he will, or hath promised farther to, manifest or de- 
clare these properties of his nature and his glory in them. 
What is the reason why we pray for, long for, the accom- 
plishment of the promises of God towards his saints, of his 
threatenings towards his enemies, of the fulfilling of the glo- 


rious works of his power and grace that yet remain to be 
done, of the coming of the kingdom of Christ, of the ap- 
proach of glory ? Is it not chiefly and principally, that the 
glorious excellencies of God's nature may be made more 
manifest, be more known, more exalted ; that God may ap- 
pear more as he is, and as he hath declared himself to be ? 
This is to give glory to God. So likewise our joy, rejoicing, 
and satisfaction in any of the ways and works of God ; it is 
solely on this account, that in them, God in his properties, 
that is, his power, wisdom, holiness, and the like, is revealed, 
declared, and made known. 

3. In their joint actual celebration of his praises ; which, 
as it is a duty of the greatest importance, and which we are 
indeed of all others most frequently exhorted unto, and most 
earnestly called upon for; so in the nature of it, it consists 
in our believing rejoicing expression of what God is, and 
what he doth; that is, our admiring, adoring, and blessing 
him, because of his holiness, goodness, and the rest of his 
properties, and his works of grace and power, suitable unto 
them. This it is to praise God ; Rev. v. 

Fourthly, Observe that none of these properties of God 
can be thus manifested and known, nor himself be glorified for 
them, but by his declaration of them, and by their effects. We 
know no more of God than he is pleased to reveal unto us. 
I mean not mere revelation by his word, but any ways or 
means, whether by his word, or by his works, or by impres- 
sions from the law of nature upon our hearts and minds. And 
whatever God thus declares of himself, he doth it by exer- 
cising, putting forth, and manifesting the effects of it. So 
we know his power, wisdom, goodness, and grace ; namely, 
by the effects of them, or the works of God that proceed 
from them, and are suited unto them. And whatever is in 
God that is not thus made known, we cannot apprehend nor 
glorify God on the account of it. God therefore doing all 
things, as hath been shewed, for the glory of these his pro- 
perties, he doth so reveal them and make them known. 

Fifthly, Upon this design of God, it is necessary that he 
should reveal,and make known all the attributes and properties 
of his nature, in works and effects peculiarly proceeding from 
them, and answering unto them, that he might be glorified in 

200 AX txposinoN 

them, and which, as the event manifests, that he hath done 
accordiuorly. For what reason can be imagined, why God 
will be glorified in one essential excellency of his nature, and 
not in another? Especially must this be aflSrmed of those 
properties of the nature of God, which the event manifesteth 
his principal glory to consist in, and arise from, and the 
knowledge whereof is of the greatest use, behoof, and be- 
nefit unto the children of men, in reference unto his design 
towards them. 

Sixthly, These things being so, let us consider how it 
stands in reference unto that which is under consideration. 
God in the creation of all things, glorified or manifested his 
greatness, power, wisdom, and goodness, with many other 
properties of the like kind. But his sovereignty, righteous- 
ness, and holiness, how are they declared hereby ? either 
not at all, or not in so evident a manner as is necessary, that 
he might be fully glorified in them, or for them. What then 
doth he do? leave them in darkness, veiled, undiscovered, 
satisfying himself in the glory of those properties which his 
work of creation had made known ? Was there any reason 
why he should do so, designing to do all things for himself 
and for his own glory ? Wherefore he gives his holy law as 
a rule of obedience unto men and angels. This plainly re- 
veals his sovereignty or authority over them, his holiness 
and righteousness in the equity and purity of things he re- 
quired of them: so that in and by these properties also he 
may be glorified. As he made all things for himself, that is, 
the manifestation of his greatness, power, wisdom, and good- 
ness, so he gave the law for himself, that is, the manifestation 
of his authority, holiness, and righteousness. But is this all ? 
Is there not remunerative j ustice in God, in a way of bounty ? 
Is there not vindictive justice in him, in a way of severity? 
There is so, and in the pursuit of the design mentioned, they 
also are to be manifested, or God will not be glorified in 
them. This therefore he did also in the rewards and punish- 
ments that he annexed unto the law of obedience that he 
had prescribed. To manifest his remunerative justice, he 
promised a reward in a way of bounty, which the angels that 
Ginned not were made partakers of; and in the penalty 
threatened, which sinning angels and men incurred, he rt- 

^ UPON' P8ALM CXXX. 201 

vealed his vindictive justice in a way of severity. So are all 
these properties of God made known by their effects, and so 
is God glorified in them, or on their account. 

But after all this, are there no other properties of his na- 
ture, divine excellencies that cannot be separated from his 
being, which by none of these means, are so much as once 
intimated to be in him ? It is evident that there are ; such are 
mercy, grace, patience, long-suffering, compassion, and the 
like : concerning which observe, 

1. That where there are no objects of them, they cannot 
be declared, or manifested, or exercised. As God's power 
or wisdom could not be manifest, if there were no objects of 
them, no more can his grace or mercy. If never any stand 
in need of them, they can never be exercised, and conse- 
quently never be known. Therefore were they not revealed, 
neither by the creation of all things, nor by the law or its 
sanction, nor by the law written in our hearts. For all these 
suppose no objects of grace and mercy. For it is sinners 
only, and such as have made themselves miserable by sin, 
that they can be exercised about. 

2. There are no excellencies of God's nature, that are 
more expressive of divine goodness, loveliness, and beauty, 
than these are, of mercy, grace, long-suffering, and patience : 
and therefore there is nothing that God so requireth our like- 
ness unto him, in our conformity unto his image, as in these ; 
namely, mercy, grace, and readiness to forgive. And the 
contrary frame in any, he doth of all things most abhor. 
'They shall have judgment without mercy, who shewed no 
mercy.' And therefore it is certain, that God will be glo- 
rified in the manifestation of these properties of his nature. 

3. These properties can be no otherwise exercised, and 
consequently no other ways known, but only in and by the 
pardon of sin ; which puts it beyond all question, that there 
is forgiveness with God. God will not lose the glory of 
these his excellencies; he will be revealed in them, he will 
be known by them, he will be glorified for them ; which he 
could not be, if there were not forgiveness with him : so that 
here comes in not only the truth, but the necessity of for- 
giveness also. 


Forgiveness manifested in the sending of the Son of God to die for sin. A nd 
from the obligation that is on us to forgive one another. 

Twelfth LY, In the next place, we shall proceed unto that evi- 
dence which is the centre wherein all the lines of those fore- 
going do meet and rest : the fountain of all those streams of 
refreshment that are in them, that which animates and gives 
life and eflScacy unto them. This lies in God's sending of 
his Son. The consideration hereof will leave no pretence or 
excuse unto unbelief in this matter. 

To make this evidence more clear and legible, as to what 
is intended in it, we must consider. 

First, What was the rise of this sending we speak of. 

Secondly, Who it was that was sent. 

Thirdly, How, or in what manner he was sent. 

Fourthly, Unto what end and purpose. 

First, The rise and spring of it is to be considered. It 
came forth from the eternal, mutual consent and counsel of the 
Father and the Son; Zech. vi. 13. 'The counsel of peace 
shall be between them both.' It is of Christ the branch, of 
whom he speaks. ' He shall build the temple of the Lord ; 
and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon 
his throne ; and shall be a priest upon his throne : and the 
counsel of peace shall be between them both.' That is, be- 
tween God the Father, who sends him, and himself: there 
lay the counsel of peace-making between God and man, in 
due time accomplished by him ' who is our peace;' Eph. ii. 
16. So he speaks, Prov. viii. 30, 31. * Then I was by him, as 
one brought up with him : and I was daily his delight, re- 
joicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable parts 
of the earth ; and my delights were with the sons of men.' 
They are the words of the Wisdom, that is, of the Son of 
God. When was this done ? ' Then 1 was with him.' Why, 
* before the mountains were settled, whilst as yet he had not 
made the earth nor the fields ;' that is, before the creation of 
the world, or from eternity; ver. 25, 20. But how then 
could he rejoice in the habitable parts of the earth? And 
how could his delights be with the sons of men, seeing as 


yet they were not ? I answer, it was the counsel of peace 
towards them before-mentioned, in the pursuit whereof he 
was to be sent to converse amongst them on the earth. He 
rejoiced in the fore-thoughts of his being sent to them, and 
the work he had to do for them. Then, with his own con- 
sent and delight was he fore-ordained unto his work, even 
* before the foundation of the world,' 1 Pet. i. 20. and re- 
ceived of the Father * the promise of eternal life, even before 
the world began ;' Tit. i. 2. that is, to be given unto sinners, 
by way of forgiveness through his blood. So is this whole 
counsel expressed, Psal. xl. 7, 8. Whence it is made use of 
by the apostle, Heb. x. 5 — 7. ' Then said I, lo I come, in the 
volume of thy book it is written of me, I delight to do thy 
will, O God. Thy law is in the midst of my heart.' There 
is the will of the Father in this matter, and the law of its 
performance. And there is the will of the Son in answer 
thereunto ; and his delight in fulfilling that law which was 
prescribed unto him. 

Letus now consider to what purpose was this eternal coun- 
sel of peace, this agreement of the Father and Son from eter- 
nity,about the state and condition of mankind? If God would 
have left them all to perish under the guilt of their sins, there 
had been no need at all of any such thoughts, design, or coun- 
sel. God had given unto them a law, righteous and holy, 
which if they transgressed, he had threatened them with 
eternal destruction. Under the rule, disposal, and power of 
this law, he might have righteously left them to stand or fall 
according to the verdict and sentence thereof. But now he 
assures us, he reveals unto us that he had other thoughts in 
this matter ; that there were other counsels between the 
Father and the Son concerning us. And these such as the 
Son was delighted in the prospect of his accomplishment of 
them. What can these thoughts and counsels be, but about 
a way for their deliverance, which could no otherwise be, 
but by the forgiveness of sins? For whatever else be 
done, yet if God mark iniquities there is none can stand. 
Hearken therefore poor sinner, and have hope. God is con- 
sulting about thy deliverance and freedom. And what can- 
not the wisdom and grace of the Father and Son effect and 
accomplish? And to this end was the Son sent into the 
world, which is the second thing proposed to consideration. 


Secondly, Whom did God send about this business? The 
Scripture lays great weight and emphasis on this consi- 
deration, faith must do so also. Johniii. 16. ' God so loved the 
world, that he gave his only-begotten Son :' so 1 Johniv. 9. 

* In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because 
that God sent his ' only-begotten Son into the world, that 
we might live through him.' And again, ver. 10. ' Herein is 
love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us ; and sent 
his Son to be the propitiation of our sins.' And who is this 
that is thus sent and called the only-begotten Son of God? 
Take a double description of him, one out of the Old Testa- 
ment, and another from the New. The first from Isa. ix. 6. 

* To us a child is born, to us a Son is given : and the govern- 
ment shall be upon his shoulders : and his name shall be 
called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlast- 
ing Father, the Prince of Peace :' the other from Heb. i. 2, 3. 
' God hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath ap- 
pointed heir of all, by whom also he made the worlds ; who 
being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of 
his person, upholding all things by the word of his power, 
when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the 
right hand of the Majesty on high.' This is he who was 
sent; in nature he was glorious ; even over all God blessed 
for ever. In answerableness unto the Father ; ' the brightness 
of his glory, and the express image of his person :' possessed 
of all the same essential properties with him. So that what 
we find in him, we may be assured of in the Father also; for 
he that hath seen him, hath seen the Father, who is in him. 
In power omnipotent, for he made all things, and ' upholding 
all things,' with an unspeakable facility, ' l<y the word of his 
power.' In ofl&ce exalted over all, sitting * at the right hand 
of the Majesty on high.' In name, ' the mighty God, the 
everlasting Father;' so that whatever he came about, he will 
assuredly accomplish and fidfil; for what should hinder or 
let this mighty One from perfecting his design ? 

Now this consideration raisethour evidence to that height, 
as to give an unquestionable assurance in this matter. Here 
is a near and a particular object for faith to be exercised 
about, and to rest in. Wherefore did this glorious Son of 
God come and tabernacle amongst poor sinners ? We be- 
held the glory of the eternal Word, ' the glory of the only-be- 


gotten of the Father, and he was made flesh, koX IcTKevtoae, 
and pitched his tabernacle amongst us ;' John i. 14. To what 
end? It was no other but to work out and accomplish the 
eternal counsel of peace towards sinners before-mentioned, 
to procure for them, and to declare unto them, the forgiveness 
of sin. And what greater evidence, what greater assurance 
can we have, that there is forgiveness with God for us ? he 
himself hath given it as a rule, that what is done by giving an 
only-begotten, or an only-beloved Son, gives assured testi- 
mony of reality and sincerity in the thing that is confirmed 
by it. So he says unto Abraham, Gen. xxii. 12. ' IVow I 
know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not with- 
held thy son, thy only son, from me.' This way it may be 
known, or no way. And they are blessed conclusions that 
faith may make from this consideration ; Now I know that 
there is forgiveness with God, seeing he hath not withheld 
his Son, his only Son, that he might accomplish it. To this 
purpose the apostle teacheth us to reason, Kom. viii. 32. 
' He that spared not his owu Son, but delivered him up for 
us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?' 

What farther can any soul desire ? What ground re- 
mains for unbelief to stand upon in this matter? Is there 
any thing more to be done herein? It was to manifest that 
there is forgiveness with him, and to make way for the exer- 
cise of it, that God sent his Son ; that the Son of God came 
into the world, as will afterward more fully appear. 

Thirdly, To this sending of the Son of God to this purpose, 
there is evidence and security added from the manner wherein 
he was sent. How was this ? Not in glory, not in power, 
not in an open discovery of his eternal power and Godhead. 
Had it been so, we might have thought, that he had come 
merely to manifest and glorify himself in the world. And 
this he might have done without thoughts of mercy or par- 
don towards us. But he came quite in another manner : 
he was seen in the 'likeness of sinful flesh ;' Rom. viii. 3. ' In 
the form of a servant;' Phil. ii. 10. Being 'made of a 
woman, made under the law ;' Gal. iv. 4, What he endured, 
suff"ered, underwent in that state and condition, is in some 
measure known unto us all. All this could not be merely 
and firstly for himself. All that he expected at the close of 
it, was ' to be glorified with that glory which he had with the 


Father before the world was;' John xvii. 5. It must then 
be for our sakes ; and for what ? to save and deliver us from 
that condition of wrath at present, and future expectation of 
vengeance, which we had cast ourselves into by sin; that 
is, to procure for us the forgiveness of sin. Had not God 
designed pardon for sin, he would never have sent his Son 
in this manner, to testify it : and he did it, because it could 
no other way be brought about, as hath been declared. 
Do we doubt whether there be forgiveness with God or no ? 
or whether we shall obtain it, if we address ourselves unto 
him for to be made partakers of it ? Consider the condition of 
his Son in the world ; review his afflictions, poverty, tempta- 
tion, sorrows, sufferings; then ask our souls, to what end 
was all this ? And if we can find any other design in it, any 
other reason, cause, or necessity of it, but only and merely 
to testify and declare, that there is forgiveness with God, 
and to purchase and procure the communication of it unto 
us, let us abide in, and perish under, our fears. But if this 
be so, we have sufficient warranty to assure our souls in the 
expectation of it. 

Fourthly, Besides all this, there ensues upon what went 
before, that great and wonderful issue, in the death of the Son 
of God. This thing was great and marvellous, and we may a 
little inquire into what it was that was designed therein. 
And hereof the Scripture gives us a full account. As, 

1. That he died to make ' atonement for sin, or reconci- 
liation for iniquity ;' Dan. ix. 24. He gave his life a ransom 
for the * sins of many ;' Matt. xx. 28. 1 Tim. ii. 6. He was 
in it made sin, that others * might become the righteousness 
of God in him ;' 2 Cor. v. 20. Rom. viii. 3. Therein he ' bare 
our sins in his body on the tree ;' 1 Peter ii. 24. This was 
the state of this matter. Notwithstanding all the love, 
grace, and condescension before-mentioned, yet our sins were 
of that nature, and so directly opposite unto the justice and 
holiness of God, that unless atonement were made, and a 
price of redemption paid, there could be no pardon, no for- 
giveness obtained. This therefore he undertook to do, and 
that by the sacrifice of himself ; answering all that was pre- 
figured by, and represented in, the sacrifices of old ; as 
the apostle largely declares, Heb. x. 5—9. And herein is 
the forgiveness that is in God, cojjied out and exempli- 


fied so clearly and evidently, that he that cannot read it, 
will be cursed unto eternity. Yea, and let him be accursed ; 
for what can be more required to justify God in his eternal 
destruction ? He that will not believe his grace as testified 
and exemplified in the blood of his Son, let him perish with- 
out remedy. Yea, but 

2. The curse and sentence of the law lies on record 
against sinners. It puts in its demands against our acquit- 
tance, and lays an obligation upon us unto punishment. 
And God will not reject nor destroy his law, unless it be 
answered there is no acceptance for sinners. This therefore, 
in the next place, his death was designed unto. As he satis- 
fied and made atonement by it unto justice (that was the 
fountain, spring, and cause of the law), so he fulfilled and 
answered the demands of the law, as it was an effect of the 
justice of God : so Rom. viii. 13. He suffered ' in the like- 
ness of sinful flesh, that the righteousness of the law might 
be fulfilled,' and answered. He answered * the curse of the 
law,' when he was 'made a curse for us ;' Gal. iii. 13. and 
so became, as to the obedience of the law, * the end of the 
law for righteousness unto them that do believe ;' Rom. x. 
3, 4. And as to the penalty that it threatened, he bore it, 
removed it, and took it out of the way. So hath he made 
way for forgiveness through the very heart of the law; it 
hath not one word to speak against the pardon of them that 
do believe. But, 

3. Sinners are under the power of Satan; he lays a claim 
unto them, and by what means shall they be rescued from 
his interest and dominion ? This also his death was desio-ned 
to accomplish. For as he was ' manifest to destroy the 
works of the Devil,' 1 John iii. 8. so by ' death he destroyed 
him that had the power of death ;' Heb. ii. 14. That is, to 
despoil him of his power, to destroy his dominion, to take 
away his plea unto sinners that believe ; as we have at large 
elsewhere declared. 

And by all these things, with many other concernments of 
his death that might be instanced in, we are abundantly se- 
cured of the forgiveness that is with God, and of his wil- 
lingness that we should be made partakers thereof. 

5.1s this all? Did his work cease in his death? Did he no 
more for the securing of the forgiveness of sins unto us, but 


only that he died for them? Yes, he lives also after death 
for the same end and purpose. This Son of God in that 
nature which he assumed to expiate sin by death, lives again 
after death to secure unto us, and to complete, the forgive- 
ness of sins. And this he doth two ways. 

1. Being raised from that death which he underwent, to 
make atonement for sin by the power and good will of God, 
he evidenceth and testifieth unto us, that he hath fully per- 
formed the work he undertook ; and that in our behalf, and 
for us, he hath received a discharge. Had he not answered 
the guilt of sin by his death, he had never been raised from it. 

2- He lives after death, a mediatory life to make interces- 
sion for us, that we may receive the forgiveness of sin, as 
also himself to give it out unto us : which things are fre- 
quently made use of, to encourage the souls of men to be- 
lieve, and therefore shall not at present be farther insist- 
ed on. 

Thus then stands this matter, that mercy might have a 
way to exercise itself in forgiveness, with a consistency unto 
the honour of the righteousness and law of God, was the 
Son of God so sent for the ends and purposes mentioned. 
Now herein consisteth the greatest work that God did ever 
perform, or ever will. It was the most eminent product of 
infinite wisdom, goodness, grace, and power. And herein do 
all the excellencies of God shine forth more gloriously than 
in all the works of his hands. Let us then wisely ponder 
and consider this matter ; let us bring our own souls with 
their objections unto this evidence, and see what exception 
we have to lay against it. I know nothing will satisfy un- 
belief: the design of it is to make the soul find that to be 
so hereafter, which it would persuade it of here ; namely, 
that there is no forgiveness in God. And Satan, who makes 
use of this engine, knows full well, that there is none for 
them who believe there is none ; or rather will not believe 
that there is any. For it will at the last day be unto men 
according unto their faith or unbelief. He that believeth 
aright, and he that believeth not, that forgiveness is with 
God, as to their own particulars shall neither of them be de- 
ceived. But what is it that can be reasonably excepted 
against this evidence, this foundation of our faith in this 
matter? God hath not sent his Son in vain, which vet he 


must have done, as we have shewed, had he not designed to 
manifest and exercise forgiveness towards sinners. Where- 
fore, to confirm cm' faith from hence, let us make a little 
search into these things, in some particular inquiries. 

1. Seeing the Son of God died in that way and manrter 
that he did according to the determinate counsel and will of 
God, wherefore did he do so, and what aimed he at therein? 

Ans. It is plain that he ' died for our sins/ Rom. iv. 25, 
that is, ' to make reconciliation for the sins of his people;' 
Heb. ii. 17, 18. This Moses and the prophets, this the 
whole Scripture testifieth unto ; and without a supposal of it, 
not one word of it can be aright believed. Nor can we yield 
any due obedience unto God without it. 

2. What then did God do unto him? What was in trans- 
action between God as the judge of all, and him that was 
the Mediator of the church ? 

Ans. God indeed • laid on him the iniquities of us all,' 
Isa. liii. 6. all the sins of all the elect ; yea, he made him 
' a curse for us ;' Gal. iii. 13. And making him a sin-offer- 
ing, or an offering for sin, he ' condemned sin in the flesh;' 
Rom. viii. 3. 2 Cor. v. 21. So that, all that which the justice 
or law of God had to require about the punishment due unto 
sin, was all laid and executed on him. 

3. What then did Christ do in his death ? What did he 
aim at and design ? What was his intention in submitting 
unto and undergoing the will of God in these things ? 

Ans. ' He bare our sins in his own body upon the tree ;' 
1 Pet. ii. 24. ' He took our sins upon him,' undertook to 
answer for them, to pay our debts, to make an end of the 
difference about them between God and sinners ; Dan. ix. 24. 
His aim undoubtedly was by all that he underwent and suf- 
fered, so to make atonement for sin, as that no more could on 
that account be expected. 

4. Had God any more to require of sinners on the account 
of sin, that his justice*might be satisfied, his holiness vindi- 
cated, his glory exalted, his honour be repaired, than what 
he charged on Christ? Did he lay somewhat of the penalty 
due to sin on him, execute some part of the curse of the law 
against him, and yet reserve some wrath for sinners thera' 

Ans. No, doubtless: he came to do the whole will of 

VOT.. XIV. p 


God; Heb. X. 7, 8. And God spared him not any thing 
that in his holy will he had appointed to be done unto sin ; 
Rom. viii. 32. He would never have so dealt with his Son, 
to have made a half work of it ; nor is the work of making- 
satisfaction for sin such, as that any, the least part of it, 
should ever be undertaken by another. Nothing is more in- 
jurious, or blasphemous against God and Christ, than the 
foolish imagination among the Papists, of works satisfactory 
for the punishment due to sin, or any part of it : as also is 
their purgatory pains to expiate any remaining guilt after this 
life. This work of making satisfaction for sin is such, as no 
creature in heaven or earth can put forth a hand unto. It 
was wholly committed to the Son of God, who alone was 
able to undertake it, and who hath perfectly accomplished 
it. So that God now says, * fury is not in me,' he that will 
lay hold on my strength that he may have peace, he shall 
have peace ; Isa. xxvii. 4, 5. 

5. What then became of the Lord Christ in his under- 
taking? Did he go through with it? or did he faint under 
it? Did he only testify his love, and shew his good will for 
our deliverance ? or did also effectually pursue it, and not 
faint, until he had made a way for the exercise of forgiveness ? 
Ans. ' It was not possible that he should be detained by 
the pains of death ;' Acts ii. 24. He knew before-hand, that 
he should be ' carried through his work, that he should not 
be forsaken in it, nor faint under it ; Isa. 1. 6 — 8. And God 
hath given this unquestionable evidence of his discharge of 
the debt of sin to the utmost, in that he was acquitted from 
the whole account, when he was raised from the dead. For 
he that is given up to prison upon the sentence of the law 
for the debt of sin, shall not be freed, until he have paid the 
utmost farthing. This therefore he manifested himself to 
have done, by his resurrection from the dead. 

6. What then is now become of him ? Where is he, and 
what doth he ? Hath he so done his'work and laid it aside, 
or doth he still continue to carry it on until it be brought 
unto its ])erfeotion? 

Jtis. It is true, ' he was dead, but he is alive, and lives for 
ever;' and hath told us, that' because he liveth we shall live 
also;' and that, because this is the end of his mediatory life 
in heaven: 'he lives forever to make intercession for us;' 


Heb. vii. 26, 27. And to this end, that the forgiveness of 
sin which he hath procured for us, may be communicated 
unto us, that we might be partakers of it, and live for ever. 

What ground is left of questioning the truth in hand? 
What link of this chain can unbelief break in, or upon? If 
men resolve, notwithstanding all this evidence and assurance 
that is tendered unto them thereof, that they will not yet 
believe that there is forgiveness with God, or will not be en- 
couraged to attempt the securing of it unto themselves, or 
also despise it as a thing not worth the looking after; it is 
enough for them that declare it, that preach these things, 
that they are a sweet savour unto God in them that perish, 
as well as in them that are saved. And I bless God that I 
have had this opportunity to bear testimony to the grace of 
God in Christ, which if it be not received, it is because * the 
God of this world hath blinded the eyes of men, that the 
light of the gospel of the glory of God should not shine into 
their minds.' But Christ will be glorified in them that be- 
lieve on these principles and foundations. 

Thirteenthly, Another evidence of the same truth may be 
taken from hence, that God requires forgiveness in us ; that we 
should forgive one another; and therefore, doubtless, there is 
forgiveness with him for us. The sense of this consideration 
unto our present purpose will be manifest in the ensuing ob- 

First, It is certain, that God hath required this of us: 
the testimonies hereof are many, and known, so that they 
need not particularly to be repeated or insisted on. See 
Luke xvii. 3,4. Ephes. iv. 32. Matt, xviii. 24. unto the end. 
Only there are some things that put a singular emphasis upon 
this command, manifesting the great importance of this duty 
in us, which may be marked. As, 

1. That our Saviour requires us to carry a sense of our 
integrity and sincerity in the discharge of this duty, along 
with us, in our addresses unto God in prayer. Hence he 
teacheth and enjoins us to pray, or plead for the forgiveness 
of our debts to God (that is, our sins or trespasses against 
him, which make us debtors to his law and justice), even as 
we ' forgive them that so trespass against us,' as to stand 
in need of our forgiveness ; Matt. vi. 12. Many are ready to 
devour such as are not satisfied, that the words of that rule of 



prayer, whicli he hath prescribed unto us, are to be precisely 
read or repeated every day; I wish they would as heedfuliy 
mind that prescription which is given us herein, for that 
frame of heart and spirit which ought to be in all our sup- 
plications. It might possibly abate of their wrath in that 
and other things. But here is a rule for all prayer, as all 
acknowledge, as also of the things that are requisite to make 
it acceptable. This in particular is required, that before the 
searcher of all hearts, and in our addresses unto him, in our 
greatest concernments, we profess our sincerity in the dis- 
charge of this duty, and do put our obtaining of what we 
desire upon that issue. This is a great crown that is put 
upon the head of this duty, that which makes it very emi- 
nent, and evidenceth the great concern of the glory of God, 
and our own souls therein. 

2. We may observe, that no other duty whatever is ex- 
pressly placed in the same series, order, or rank Avith it ; 
which makes it evident, that it is singled out to be professed 
as a token and pledge of our sincerity in all other parts of 
our obedience unto God. It is by Christ himself made the 
instance, for the trial of our sincerity in our universal obe- 
dience, which gives no small honour unto it. The apostle 
puts great weight on the fifth commandment, * Honour thy 
father and mother,' because it ' is the first commandment with 
promise ;' Eph. vi. 2. All the commandments indeed had 
a promise,' do this and live;' life was promised to the observ- 
ance of them all : but this is the first that had a peculiar 
promise annexed unto it, and accompanying of it. And it 
was such a promise, as had a peculiar foundation through 
God's ordinance in the thing itself. It is, that the parents 
should prolong the lives of their children that were obedient. 
"I'D' ]1D1K' Exod. XX. 12. 'They shall prolong thy days ;' that 
is, by praying for their prosperity, blessing them in the name 
of God, and directing them in those ways of obedience, 
whereby they might live and possess the land. And this 
promise is now translated from the covenant of Canaan, into 
the covenant of grace. The blessing of parents going far 
towards the interesting their children in thepromise tliereof, 
and so prolonging their days unto eternity, though their days 
in this world should be of little continuance. So it is said 
of our Saviour, that ' he should see his seed, and prolong his 


days;' Isa. liii. 10. Which hath carried over that word, and 
that which is signified by it, unto eternal things. But this 
by the way. As the singular promise made to that command 
renders it singular, so doth this especial instancing in this 
duty in our prayer, render it also. For though as all the 
commandments had a promise, so we are to carry a testimony 
with us of our sincerity in universal obedience in our ad- 
dresses unto God : yet the singling out of this instance ren- 
ders it exceeding remarkable ; and shews what a value God 
puts upon it, and how well he is pleased with it. 

3. That God requires this forgiveness in us, upon the ac- 
count of the forgiveness we receive from him; which is to 
put the greatest obligation upon us unto it, that we are ca- 
pable of, and to give the strongest and most powerful motive 
possible unto its performance. See Eph. iv. 32. 

4. That this duty is more directly and expressly required 
in the New Testament than in the Old. Required then it 
was, but not so openly, so plainly, so expressly as now. 
Hence we find a different frame of spirit between them under 
that dispensation, and those under that of the New Testa- 
ment. There are found amongst them some such reflections 
upon their enemies, their oppressors, persecutors, and the 
like, as although they were warranted by some actings of the 
Spirit of God in them, yet being suited unto the dispensa- 
tion they were under, do no way become us now, who by 
Jesus Christ receive ' grace for grace.' So Zechariah, when 
he died, cried, ' The Lord look on, and require ;' but Stephen, 
dying in the same cause and manner said, ' Lord, lay not this 
sin to their charge.' Elijah called for fire from heaven: 
but our Saviour reproves the least inclination in his disci- 
ples, to imitate him therein. And the reason of this differ- 
ence is, because forgiveness in God is under the New Tes- 
tament far more clearly, especially in the nature and cause 
of it, discovered in the gospel, which hath brought life and 
immortality to light, than it was under the law. For all our 
obedience, both in matter and manner, is to be suited unto 
the discoveries and revelation of God unto us. 

5. This forgiveness of others, is made an express condi- 
tion of our obtaining pardon and forgiveness from God, 
Matt. vi. 14, 15. and the nature hereof is expressly declared, 
chap, xviii. 24. Such evangelical conditions we have not 


many. I confess they have no causal influence into the accom- 
plishment of the promise ; but the non-performance of them 
is a sufficient bar against our pretending to the promise, a 
sufficient evidence that we have no pleadable interest in it. 
Our forgiving of others will not procure forgiveness for our- 
selves; but our not forgiving of others proves, that we our- 
selves are not forgiven. And all these things do shew what 
weight God himself lays on this duty. 

Secondly, Observe, that this duty is such, as that there 
is nothing more comely, useful, or honourable unto, or 
praiseworthy in, any, than a due performance of it. To be 
morose, implacable, inexorable, revengeful, is one of the 
greatest degeneracies of human nature. And no men are 
commonly, even in this world, more branded with real in- 
famy and dishonour, amongst wise and good men, than those 
who are of such a frame, and do act accordingly. To remem- 
ber injuries, to retain a sense of wrongs, to watch for oppor- 
tunities of revenge, to hate and be maliciously perverse, is 
to represent the image of the devil unto the world in its pro- 
per colours; he is the great enemy and self-avenger; on the 
other side, no grace, no virtue, no duty, no ornament of the 
mind, or conversation of man, is in itself so lovely, so 
comely, so praiseworthy, or so useful unto mankind, as are 
meekness, readiness to forgive, and pardon. This is that 
principally which renders a man a good man, for whom one 
would even dare to die ; and I am sorry to add, that this 
grace or duty is recommended by its rarity. It is little 
found amongst the children of men. The consideration of 
the defect of men herein, as in those other fundamental du- 
ties of the gospel, in self-denial, readiness for the cross, and 
forsaking the world, is an evidence, if not how little since- 
rity there is in the world ; yet at least it is, of how little 
growing, and thriving there is amongst professors. 

Thirdly, That there is no grace, virtue, or perfection in any 
man, but what is as an emanation from the divine goodness 
and bounty, so expressive of some divine excellencies or 
perfection ; somewhat that is in God, in a way and manner 
infinitely more excellent. We were created in the image of 
God. Whatever was good or comely in us, was a part of 
that image ; especially the ornaments of our minds, tJie per- 
fections of our souls. These things had in them a resem- 

UPON rsALsi cxxx. 215 

blance of, and a correspondency unto, some excellencies in 
God, whereunto by the way of analogy they may be reduced. 
This being for the most part lost by sin, a shadow of it only 
remaining in the faculties of our souls ; and that dominion 
over the creatures, which is permitted unto men in the pa- 
tience of God. The recovery that we have by grace, is no- 
thing but an initial renovation of the image of God in us; 
Eph. iv. 22. It is the implanting upon our natures those 
graces, which may render us again like unto him. And no- 
thing is grace or virtue, but what so answers to somewhat 
in God. So then, whatever is in us of this kind, is in God 
absolutely, perfectly, in a way and manner infinitely more 

Let us now therefore put these things together. God re- 
quires of us, that there should be forgiveness in us for those 
that do offend us ; forgiveness without limitation and bounds ; 
the grace hereof he bestoweth on his saints, sets a high price 
upon it, and manifests many ways, that he accounts it among 
the most excellent of our endowments; oneof the most lovely 
and praiseworthy qualifications of any person. What then 
shall we now say ? Is there forgiveness with him orno ? * He 
that hath made the eye, shall he not see ? He that planted 
the ear, shall he not hear?' He that thus prescribes forgive- 
ness to us, that bestows the grace of it upon us, is there not 
forgiveness with him ? It is all one as to say, though we are 
good, yet God is not; though we are benign and bountiful, 
yet he is not. He that finds this grace wrought in him in any 
measure, and yet fears that he shall not find it in God for 
himself, doth therein, and so far, prefer himself above God ; 
which is the natural effect of cursed unbelief. 

But the truth is, where there not forgiveness with God, 
forgiveness in man would be no virtue, with all those qua- 
lities that incline thereto; such are meekness, pity, patience, 
compassion, and the like. Which what were it, but to set 
loose human nature to rage and madness? For as every 
truth consists in its answerableness to the prime and eternal 
verity ; so virtue consists not absolutely nor primarily in a 
conformity to a rule of command, but in a correspondency 
unto the first absolute perfect being and its perfections. 



Properties of forgiveness. The greatness and freedom of it. 

The arguments and demonstrations foregoing have, we hope, 
undeniably evinced the great truth we have insisted on, 
which is the life and soul of all our hope, profession, religion, 
and worship. The end of all this discourse is, to lay a firm 
foundation for faith to rest upon, in its addresses unto God 
for the forgiveness of sins; as also to give encouragements 
unto all sorts of persons so to do. This end remains now 
to be explained and pressed; which work yet before we di- 
rectly close withal, two things are farther to be premised. 
And the first is, to propose some of those adjuncts of, and 
considerations about, this forgiveness, as may both encourage 
and necessitate us to seek out after it, and to mix the testi- 
monies given unto it, and the promises of it with faith unto 
our benefit and advantage. The other is to shew, how need- 
ful all this endeavour is, upon the account of that great un- 
belief which is in the most in this matter. Asto the firstof 
these then we may consider. 

First, That this forgiveness that is with God, is such as 
becomes him, such as is suitable to his greatness, goodness, 
and all other excellencies of his nature, such as that therein 
he will be known to be God. What he says concerning 
some of the works of his providence, 'Be still and know that 
I am God ;' may be much more said concerning this great 
effect of his grace. Still your souls, and know that he is 
God. It is not like that narrow, difficult, halving, and ma- 
nacled forgiveness that is found amongst men, when any 
such thing is found amongst them. But it is full, free, 
boundless, bottomless, absolute, such as becomes his nature 
and excellencies. It is, in a word, forgiveness that is with 
God, and by the exercise whereof he will be known so to 
be. And hence, 

1. God himself doth really separate and distinguish his 
forgiveness from any thing that our thoughts and imaginations 
can reach unto, and that because it is his, and like himself. 
It is an object for faith alone ; which can rest in that which 
it cannot comprehend. It is never safer than when it is, as 
itwere, overwhelmed with infiniteness. But set mere rational 


thoughts, or the imaginations of our minds at work about 
such things, and they fall inconceivably short of them. They 
can neither conceive of them aright, nor use them unto their 
proper end and purpose. Were not forgiveness in God some- 
what beyond what men could imagine, no flesh could be 
saved. This himself expresseth, Isa. Iv. 7 — 9- * Let the wick- 
ed forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: 
and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy 
upon him ; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your 
ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher 
than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and 
my thoughts than your thoughts.' They are, as is plain in 
the context, thoughts of forgiveness and ways of pardon, 
whereof he speaks. These, our apprehensions come short of; 
we know little or nothing of the infinite largeness of his 
heart in this matter. He that he speaks of, is };wi an ' im- 
piously wicked man,' and pK ii^'N ' a man of deceit,' and per- 
verse wickedness. He whose design and course is nothing 
but a lie, sin, and iniquity. Such a one as we would have 
little or no hopes of; that we would scarce think it worth 
our while to deal withal about a hopeless conversion; or 
can scarce find in our hearts to pray for him, but are ready 
to give him up, as one profligate and desperate. But let him 
turn to the Lord, and he shall obtain forgiveness. But how 
can this be ? Is it possible there should be mercy for such a 
one? Yes ; for the Lord m^D^ nUT 'will multiply to pardon.' 
He hath forgiveness with him to outdo all the multiplied 
sins of any that turn unto him, and seek for it. But this is 
very hard, very difficult for us to apprehend. This is not 
the way and manner of men. We deal not thus with pro- 
fligate offenders against us. True, saith God ; ' But your 
ways are not my ways.' 1 do not act in this matter like unto 
you, nor as you are accustomed to do. How then shall we 
apprehend it? how shall we conceive of it? You can never 
do it by your reason or imaginations ; * For as the heavens 
is above the earth, so are my thoughts' in this matter * above 
your thoughts.' This is an expression to set out the largest 
and most inconceivable distance that may be. The creation 
will aff'ord no more significant expression or representation 
of it. The heavens are inconceivably distant from the earth, 


and inconceivably glorious above it. So are the thoughts 
of God ; they are not only distant from ours, but have a 
glory in them also that we cannot rise up unto. For the 
most part, when we come to deal with God about forgive- 
ness, we hang in every brier of disputing, quarrelsome un- 
belief. This or that circumstance or aggravation, this or 
that unparalleled particular, bereaves us of our confidence. 
Want of a due consideration of him with whom we have to do, 
measuring him by that line of our own imaginations, bringing 
him down unto our thoughts and our ways, is the cause of all 
our disquietments. Because we find it hard to forgive our 
pence, we think he cannot forgive talents. But he hath pro- 
vided to obviate such thoughts in us ; Hos. xi. 9. * I will not 
execute the fierceness of my wrath, I will not return to de- 
stroy Ephraim, for I am God and not man.' Our satisfaction 
in this matter is to be taken from his nature ; were he a man, 
or as the sons of men, it were impossible that upon such, and 
so many provocations, he should turn away from the fierce- 
ness of his anger. But he is God. This gives an infinite- 
ness, and an inconceivable boundlessness to the forgiveness 
that is with hira ; and exalts it above all our thoughts and 
ways. This is to be lamented ; presumption, which turns 
God into an idol, ascribes unto that idol a greater largeness 
in forgiveness than faith is able to rise up unto, when it deals 
with him as a God of infinite excellencies and perfections. The 
reasons of it I confess are obvious. But this is certain, no 
presumption can falsely imagine that forgiveness to itself 
from the idol of its heart, as faith may in the way of God, 
find in him, and obtain from him. For, 

2. God engageth his infinite excellencies to demon- 
strate the greatness and boundlessness of his forgive- 
ness. He proposeth them unto our considerations to con- 
vince us that we shall find pardon with him suitable and an- 
swerable unto them. See Isa. xl. 27 — 31. 'Why sayest thou, 
O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the 
Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 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 thathave nomight, 
he iucreuseth strength. Even the yoi4hs 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 be faint.' The matter in 
question is, whether acceptance with God, which is only by 
forgiveness, is to be obtained or no. This, sinful Jacob either 
despairs of, or at least desponds about. But, saith God, 
' My thoughts are not as your thoughts' in this matter. And 
what course doth he take to convince them of their mistake 
therein ? What argument doth he make use of to free them 
from their unbelief, and to rebuke their fears? Plainly, he 
calls them to the consideration of himself, both who, and 
what he is, with whom they had to do. That they might 
expect acceptance and forgiveness, such as did become him. 
Minding them of his power, his immensity, his infinite wis- 
dom, his unchangeableness, all the excellencies and pro- 
perties of his nature, he demands of them whether they have 
not just ground to expect forgiveness and grace, above all 
their thoughts and apprehensions, because answering the in- 
finite largeness of his heart from whence it doth proceed. 

And Moses manageth this plea for the forgiveness of that 
people under a high provocation, and a most severe threat- 
ening of their destruction thereon; Numb. xiv. 17, 18. He 
pleads for pardon in such a way and manner as may answer 
the great and glorious properties of the nature of God, and 
which would manifest an infiniteness of power and all-suffi- 
ciency to be in him. 

This, I say, is an encouragement in general unto believers. 
We have, as I hope, upon unquestionable grounds evinced, 
that there is forgiveness with God, vs^hich is the hinge on 
which turneth the issue of our eternal condition. Now this 
is like himself; such as becomes him ; that answers the in- 
finite perfections of his nature ; that is exercised and given 
forth by him as God. We are apt to narrow and straiten 
it by our unbelief, and to render it unbecoming of him. He 
less dishonours God (or as little), who being wholly under 
the power of the law, believes that there is no forgiveness 
with him, none to be obtained from him, or doth not believe 
it, that so it is, or is so to be obtained, for which he hath the 
voice and sentence of the law to countenance him, than 
those, who being convinced of the principles and grounds 


of it before-mentioned, and of the truth of the testimony 
given unto it, do yet by straitening and narrowing of it, 
render it unworthy of him, whose excellencies are all infinite, 
and whose ways on that account are incomprehensible. If 
then we resolve to treat with God about this matter, which 
is the business now in hand, let us do it as it becomes his 
greatness, that is indeed, as the wants of our souls do require. 
Let us not entangle our own spirits, by limiting his grace. 
The father of the child possessed with a devil, being in a 
great agony when he came to our Saviour, cries out, * If thou 
canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us;' 
Mark ix. 22. He would fain be delivered, but the matter was 
so great, that he questioned whether the Lord Christ had 
either compassion or power enough for his relief. And what 
did he obtain hereby ? nothing but the retarding of the cure 
of his child for a season. For our Saviour holds him off 
until he had instructed him in this matter. Saith he, ver. 23. 
* If thou canst believe, all things are possible unto him that 
believeth.' Mistake not, if thy child be not cured, it is not 
for want of power or pity in me, but of faith in thee. My 
power is such as renders all things possible, so that they be 
believed. So it is with many who would desirously be made 
partakers of forgiveness. If it be possible they would be 
pardoned, but they do not see it possible. Why, where is 
the defect? God hath no pardon for them, or such as they 
are, and so it may be they come finally short of pardon. 
What, because God cannot pardon them, it is not possible 
with him ? Not at all ; but because they cannot, they will 
not, believe, that the forgiveness that is with him is such, 
as that it would answer all the wants of their souls, because 
it answers the infinite largeness of his heart. And if this 
doth not wholly deprive them of pardon, yet it greatly re- 
tards their peace and comfort. God doth not take it well 
to be limited by us in any thing, least of all in his grace. 
This he calls a tempting of him, a provoking temptation, 
Psal. Ixxviii. 41. 'They turned back and tempted God, they 
limited the Holy One of Israel.' This he could not bear 
with. If there be any pardon with God, it is such as be- 
comes him to give. When he pardons, he will abundantly 
pardon. Go with your half-forgiveness, limited, conditional 
])ardons, with reserves and limitations unto the sons of men ; 

" UPON rSALM cxxx. 221 

it may be, it may become them, it is like themselves. That 
of God is absolute and perfect, before which our sins are as 
a cloud before the east wind, and the rising sun. Hence he 
is said to do this work with his whole heart, and his whole 
soul; (7xapt^£o-S-at, ' freely,' bountifully, largely to indulge and 
forgive unto us our sins, and * to cast them into the bottom 
of the sea,' Micah vii. 19. into a bottomless ocean; an 
emblem of infinite mercy. Remember this, poor souls, when 
you are to deal with God in this matter, * all things are 
possible unto them that do believe.' 

Secondly, This forgiveness is in or with God, not only so, 
as that we may apply ourselves unto it if we will, for which 
he will not be offended with us, but so also, as that he hatli 
placed his great glory in the declaration and communication 
of it ; nor can we honour him more than by coming to him 
to be made partakers of it, and so to receive it from him. 
For the most part, we are, as it were, ready rather to steal 
forgiveness from God, than to receive from him as one that 
gives it freely and largely. We take it up, and lay it down, 
as though we would be glad to have it, so God did not, as it 
were, see us take it ; for we are afraid he is not willing we 
should have it indeed. We would steal this fire from hea- 
ven, and have a share in God's treasures and riches almost 
without his consent. At least we think that we have it 
from him 'aegre,' with much difficulty, that it is rarely given 
and scarcely obtained. That he gives it out, skovt asKovrire 
OvjuKj^ with a kind of unwilling willingness ; as we sometimes 
give alms without cheerfulness ; and that he loseth so much 
by us, as he giveth out in pardon. We are apt to think that 
we are very willing to have forgiveness, but that God is 
unwilling to bestow it, and that because he seems to be a 
loser by it, and to forego the glory of inflicting punishment 
for our sins, which of all things we suppose he is most loath 
to part withal. And this is the very nature of unbelief. But 
indeed things are quite otherwise. He hath in this matter, 
through the Lord Christ, ordered all things in his dealings 
with sinners, ' to the praise of the glory ol'his grace ;' Eph. 
i. 6. His design in the whole mystery of the gospel is to make 
his grace glorious, or to exalt pardoning mercy. The great 
fruit and product of his grace is forgiveness of sinners. This 
God will render himself glorious in and by. All the praise, 


glory, and worship, that he designs from any in this world, is 
to redound unto him by the way of this grace, as we have 
proved at large before. For this cause spared he the world, 
when sin first entered into it; for this cause did he provide a 
new covenant, when the old was become unprofitable ; for 
this cause did he send his Son into the world. This hath he 
testified by all the evidences insisted on. Would he have 
lost the praise of his grace, nothing hereof would have been 
done or brought about. We can then no way so eminently 
bring or ascribe the glory unto God, as by our receiving 
forgiveness from him, he being willing thereunto, upon the 
account of its tendency unto his own glory, in that way, 
which he hath peculiarly fixed on for its manifestation. 
Hence the apostle exhorts us to ' come boldly to the throne 
of grace;' Heb. iv. 16. that is, with the confidence of faith, 
as heexpounds ' boldness,' chap. X. 19,20. We come about a 
business wherewith he is well pleased; such as he delights in 
the doing of, as he expresseth himself, Zeph. iii. 17. 'The 
Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty ; he will save, he 
will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in hislove, he will 
joy over thee with singing.' This is the way of God's par- 
doning ; he doth it in a rejoicing triumphant manner, satisfy- 
ing abundantly his own holy soul therein, and resting in his 
love. We have then abundant encouragement to draw nigh 
to the throne of grace, to be made partakers of what God is 
so willing to give out unto us. And to this end serves also 
the oath of God before insisted on, namely, to root out all 
the secret reserves of unbelief, concerning God's unwilling- 
ness to give mercy, grace, and pardon unto sinners. See 
Heb. vi. 17, 18. where it is expressed. Therefore the ten- 
dency of our former argument, is not merely to prove that 
there is forgiveness with God, which we may believe and 
not be mistaken, but which we ought to believe ; it is our 
duty so to do. We think it our duty to pray, to hear the 
word, to give alms, to love the brethren, and to abstain from 
sin ; and if we fail in any of these, we find the guilt of them 
reflected upon our conscience unto our disquietment. But 
we scarce think it our duty to believe the forgiveness of our 
sins. It is well, it may be, we think, with them that can do 
it, but we think it not their fault who do not. Such per- 
sons may be pitied, but, as we suppose, not justly blamed. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 223 

no not by God himself, whose conscience almost is bur- 
dened with this as a sin, that he doth not as he ought, 
believe the forgiveness of his sins. And this is merely 
because men judge it not their duty so to do. For a non- 
performance of a duty apprehended to be such, will reflect 
on the conscience a sense of the guilt of sin. But now what 
can be required to make any thing a duty unto us, that is 
wanting in this matter? For, 

1. There is forgiveness with God, and this manifested, 
revealed, declared. This manifestation of it is that which 
makes it the object of our faith. We believe things to be 
in God, and with him, not merely and formally because they 
are so, but because he hath manifested and revealed them so 
to be, 1 John i. 2. What he so declares, it is our duty to 
believe, or we frustrate the end of his revelation. 

2. We are expressly commanded to believe, and that upon 
the highest promises, and under the greatest penalties. This 
command is that which makes believing formally a duty. 
Faith is a grace as it is freely wrought in us by the Holy 
Ghost, the root of all obedience and duties, as it is radi- 
cally fixed in the heart. But as it is commanded, it is a 
duty; and these commands, you know, are several ways ex- 
pressed, by invitations, exhortations, propositions, which 
all have in them the nature of commands, which take up a 
great part of the books of the New Testament. 

3. It is a duty, as we have shewed, of the greatest con- 
cernment unto the glory of God. 

4. Of the greatest importance unto our souls, here and 
hereafter. And these things were necessary to be added, to 
bottom our ensuing exhortations upon. 

Evidences that most men do not believe forgiveness. 

That which should now ensue, is the peculiar improve- 
ment of this truth all along aimed at; namely, to give ex- 
hortations and encouragements unto believing. But I can 
take few steps in this work, wherein methinks I do hear some 
saying. Surely all this is needless ; who is there that doth 
not believe all that you go about to prove? And so these 



pains are spent to little or no purpose. I shall therefore 
before I persuade any unto it, endeavour to shew that they 
do it not already. Many, I say, the most of men who live 
under the dispensation of the gospel, do wofully deceive 
their own souls in this matter. They do not believe what 
they profess themselves to believe, and w^hat they think they 
believe. Men talk of fundamental errors ; this is to me the 
most fundamental error that any can fall into, and the most 
pernicious. It is made up of these two parts. 1. They do 
not indeed believe forgiveness. 2. They suppose they do 
believe it, which keeps them from seeking after the only re- 
medy. Both these mistakes are in the foundation, and do 
ruin the souls of them that live and die in them. I shall 
then, by a brief inquiry, put this matter to a trial. By some 
plain rules and principles may this important question, whe- 
ther we do indeed believe forgiveness or no, be answered and 
decided. But to the resolution intended, I shall premise 
two observations. 

1. Men in this case, are very apt to deceive themselves. 
Self love, vain hopes, liking of lust, common false principles, 
sloth, unwillingness unto self-examination, reputation with 
the world, and it may be in the church, all vigorously con- 
cur unto men's self-deceivings in this matter. It is no easy 
thing for a soul to break through all these, and all self- 
reasonings that rise from them, to come unto a clear judg- 
ment of its own acting in dealing with God about forgiveness. 
Men also find a common presumption of this truth, and its 
being an easy relief against gripings of conscience, and dis- 
turbing thoughts about sin ; which they daily meet withal. 
Aiming therefore only at the removal of trouble, and finding 
their present imagination of it, sufficient thereunto, they 
never bring their persuasion to the trial. 

As men are apt to do thus, so they actually do so, they 
do deceive themselves, and know not that they do so. The 
last day will make this evident, if men will no sooner be con- 
vinced of their folly. When our Saviour told his disciples, 
that one of them twelve should betray him ; though it were 
but one of twelve that was in danger, yet every one of the 
twelve made a particular inquiry about himself. I will not 
say, that one in each twelve is here mistaken ; but I am 
sure the truth tells us, that ' many are called, and but few are 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 225 

chosen ; they are but few, who do really believe forgiveness. 
Is it not then incumbent on every one to be inquiring in 
what number he is likely to be found at the last day ? Whilst 
men put this inquiry off from themselves, and think or say. 
It may be the concernment of others, it is not mine; they 
perish, and that without remedy. Remember what poor 
Jacob said, when he had lost one child, and was afraid of 
the loss of another, Gen. xliii. 14. ' If I be bereaved of 
my children, I am bereaved.' As if he should have said, If 
I lose my children, I have no more to lose, they are my all. 
Nothing worse can befall me in this world. Comfort, joy, 
yea, life and all go with them. How much more may men 
say in this case. If we are deceived here, we are deceived ; 
all is lost; hope, and life, and soul, all must perish, and that 
for ever. There is no help or relief for them who deceive 
themselves in this matter. They have found out a way to 
go quietly down into the pit. 

Now these things are premised, only that they may be 
incentives unto self-examination in this matter, and so render 
the ensuing considerations useful. Let us then address our- 
selves unto them. 

1. In general. This is a gospel truth ; yea, the great fun- 
damental, and most important truth of the gospel. It is the 
turning point of the two covenants, as God himself declares, 
Heb. vii. 7 — 13. Now a very easy consideration of the ways 
and walkings of men will satisfy us as to this inquiry, whe- 
ther they do indeed believe the gospel, the covenant of grace, 
and the fundamental principles of it. Certainly their igno- 
rance, darkness, blindness, their corrupt affections, and 
worldly conversations, their earthly-mindedness, and open 
disavowing of the spirit, ways, and yoke of Christ, speak no 
such language. Shall we think, that proud, heady, worldly, 
self-seekers, haters of the people of God, and his ways, de- 
spisers of the Spirit of grace and his work, sacrificers to their 
own lusts, and such-like, do believe the covenant of grace, 
or remission of sins ? God forbid we should entertain any 
one thought of so great dishonour to the gospel. Wherever 
that is received or believed, it produceth other effects ; Tit. 
ii. 11, 12. Isa. xi. 6 — 9. It teacheth men to deny all 'un- 
godliness and worldly lusts.' It ^changeth their hearts, 
natures, and ways. It is not such a barren, impotent, 



and fruitless thing, as such an apprehension would repre- 
sent it. 

2. They that really believe forgiveness in G od, do thereby 
obtain forgiveness. Believing gives an interest in it; it 
brings it home to the soul concerned. This is the inviolable 
law of the gospel. Believing and forgiveness are inseparably 
conjoined. Among the evidences that we may have of any 
one being interested in forgiveness, I shall only name one. 
They prize and value it above all the world. Let us inquire 
what esteem and valuation many of those have of forgiveness, 
who put it out of all question that they do believe it. Do 
they look upon it as their treasure, their jewel, their pearl of 
price ? Are they solicitous about it ? Do they often look and 
examine whether it continues safe in their possession or no? 
Suppose a man have a precious jewel, laid up in some place 
in his house; suppose it be unto him as the poor widow's 
two mites, all her substance or living; will he not carefully 
ponder on it? Will he not frequently satisfy himself that it 
is safe? We may know that such a house, such fields or 
lands do not belong unto a man when he passeth by them 
daily, and taketh little or no notice of them. Now how do 
most men look upon forgiveness ? What is their common de- 
portment in reference unto it? Are their hearts continually 
filled with thoughts about it ? Are they solicitous con- 
cerning their interest in it? Do they reckon, that whilst that 
is safe, all is safe with them ? When it is, as it were, laid out 
of the way by sin and unbelief, do they give themselves no 
rest, until it be afresh discovered unto them ? Is this the 
frame of the most of men ? The Lord knows it is not. They 
talk of forgiveness, but esteem it not, prize it not, make no 
particular inquiries after it. They put it to an ungrounded 
venture, whether ever they be partakers of it or no ; for a re- 
lief against some pangs of conscience it is called upon, or 
else scarce thought of at all. 

Let not any so minded flatter themselves that they have 
any acquaintance with the mystery of gospel forgiveness. 

3. Let it be inquired of them who pretend unto this per- 
suasion, how they came by it; that we may know whether it 
be of him who calleth us, or no ; that we may try whether they 
have broken through the difficulties in the entertaining of it, 
which we have manifested abundantly to lie in the way of it. 

UPOiV PSALM cxxx. 227 

When Peter confessed our Saviour to * be the Christ the 
Son of the living God;' he told him that * flesh and blood 
did not reveal that unto him, but his Father who his in 
heaven ;' Matt. xvi. 17. It is so with them who indeed be- 
lieve forgiveness in God : ' flesh and blood hath not revealed 
it unto them.' It hath not been furthered by any thing 
within them or without them, but all lies in opposition unto 
it. ' This is the work of God that we believe ;' John vi. 29. 
A great work, the greatest work that God requireth of us. 
It is not only a great thing in itself (the grace of believing 
is a great thing), but it is great in respect of its object, or 
what we have to believe, or forgiveness itself. The great 
honour of Abraham's faith lay in this, that deaths and difficul- 
ties lay in the way of it; Rom. iv. 18 — 20. But what is 
a dead body, and a dead womb, to an accusing conscience, 
a killing law, and apprehensions of a God terrible as a con- 
suming fire? all which as was shewed, oppose themselves 
unto a soul called to believe forg^iveness. 

What now have the most of men, who are confident in 
the profession of this faith, to say unto this thing? let them 
speak clearly, and they must say, that indeed they never 
found the least difficulty in this matter ; they never doubted 
of it; they never questioned it, nor do know any reason 
why they should do so. It is a thing which they have so 
taken for granted, as that it never cost them an hour's labour, 
prayer or meditation about it. Have they had secret reason- 
ings, and contendings in their hearts about it ? No. Have 
they considered how the objections that lie against it may 
be removed ? Not at all. But is it so indeed, that this per- 
suasion is thus bred in you, you know not how? Are the 
corrupted natures of men, and the gospel so suited, so com- 
plying? Is the new covenant grown so connatural to flesh 
and blood ? Is the greatest secret that ever was revealed 
from the bosom of the Father, become so familiar and easy 
to the wisdom of the flesh ? Is that which was folly to the 
wise Greeks, and a stumbling-block to the wonder-o^azing 
Jews, become on a sudden wisdom, and a plain path to the 
same principles that were in them ? But the truth of this 
matter is, that such men have a general, useless, barren no- 
tion of pardon, which Satan, presumption, tradition, common 
reports, and the customary hearing of the word have fur- 



nished them withal; but for that gospel discovery of for- 
giveness whereof we have been speaking, they are utterly 
ignorant of it, and unacquainted with it- To convince such 
poor creatures of the folly of their presumption, I would but 
desire them to go to some real believers, that are or may be 
known unto them ; let them be asked whether they came so 
easily by their faith, and apprehensions of forgiveness, or 
no ? Alas ! saith one, these twenty years have I been follow- 
ing after God, and yet I have not arrived unto an abiding, 
cheering persuasion of it. I know what it cost me, what 
trials, difficulties, temptations, I wrestled with, and went 
through withal before I obtained it, saith another. What I 
have attained tinto, hath been of unspeakable mercy. And 
it is my daily prayer, that I may be preserved in it, by the 
exceeding greatness of the power of God; for I continually 
wrestle with storms that are ready to drive me from my 
anchor. A little of this discourse may be suflficient to con- 
vince poor, dark, carnal creatures of the folly and vanity of 
their confidence. 

4. There are certain means whereby the revelation and 
discovery of this mystery is made unto the souls of men. 
By these they do obtain it, or they obtain it not. The mys- 
tery itself was a secret, hidden in the counsel of God from 
eternity; nor was there any way whereby it might be re- 
vealed, but by the Son of God. And that is done in the 
word of the gospel. If then you say you know it; let us 
inquire how you came so to do? and by what means it hath 
been declared unto you ? Hath this been done by a word of 
truth? by the promise of the gospel? Was it by preaching 
of the word unto you, or by reading of it, or meditating upon 
it? Or did you receive it from and by some reasonable word, 
of, or from, the Scriptures spoken unto you ? Or hath it in- 
sensibly gotten ground upon your hearts and minds, upon 
the strivings and conflicts of your souls about sin, from the 
truth where you had been instructed in general ? Or by what 
other ways or means have you come to that acquaintance 
with it, whereof you boast? You can tell how you came by 
your wealth, your gold, and silver; you know how you 
became learned, or obtained the knowledge of the mystery 
of your trade, who taught you in it, and how you came by 
it. There is not any thino- wherein you are concerned, but 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 229 

you can answer these inquiries in a reference unto it. Think 
it then no great matter, if you are put to answer this ques- 
tion also ; by what way or means came you to the know- 
ledge of forgiveness which you boast of? VV'as it by any of 
those before-mentioned, or some other? If you cannot an- 
swer distinctly to these things, only you say, you have heard 
it, and believed it ever since you can remember ; so those 
said that went before you, so they say with whom you do 
converse, you never met with any one that called it into 
question, nor heard of any, unless it were one or two de- 
spairing wretches ; it will be justly questioned, whether you 
have any portion in this matter or no. If uncertain rumours, 
reports, general notions, lie at the bottom of your persua- 
sion, do not suppose that you have any communion with 
Christ therein. 

5. Of them who profess to believe forgiveness, how few 
are there who indeed know what it is. They believe, they 
say, but, as the Samaritans worshipped, they know not what. 
With some, a bold presumption, and crying peace, peace, 
goes for the belief of forgiveness. 

A general apprehension of impunity from God, and that 
they are sinners, yet they shall not be punished, passeth 
with others at the same rate. 

Some think they shall prevail with God by their prayers 
and desires to let them alone, and not cast them into hell. 
One way or other to escape the vengeance of hell, not to be 
punished in another world, is that which men fix their minds 

But is this that forgiveness, which is revealed in the 
gospel? that which we have been treating about? The rise 
and spring of our forgiveness is in the heart and gracious 
nature of God, declared by his name. Have you inquired 
seriously into this? Have you stood at the shore of that 
infinite ocean of goodness and love? Have your souls found 
supportment and relief from that consideration ? And have 
your hearts leaped within you with the thoughts of it? Or if 
you have never been affected in an especial manner herewithal, 
have you bowed down your souls under the considerations 
of that sovereign act of the will of God, that is the next 
sp ing of forgiveness ; that glorious acting of free grace, that 
when all might justly have perished, all having sinned and 


come short of his glory, God would yet have mercy on some ? 
Have you given up yourselves to this grace? Is this any 
thing of that you do believe? Suppose you are strangers to 
this also : what communion with God have you had about 
it in the blood of Christ? We have shewed how forgive- 
ness relates thereunto ; how way is made thereby for the 
exercise of mercy, in a consistency with the glory and 
honour of the justice of God, and of his law; how pardon 
is procured and purchased thereby; with the mysterious 
reconciliation of love and law ; and the new disposal of 
conscience in its work and duty by it. What have you to 
say to these things ? Have you seen pardon flowing from the 
heart of the Father through the blood of the Son? Have 
you looked upon it as the price of his life, and the pur- 
chase of his blood ? Or have you general thoughts that Christ 
died for sinners ? and that on one account or other forgive- 
ness relates unto him, but are strangers to the mystery 
of this great work? Suppose this also; let us go a little 
farther and inquire whether you know any thing that yet 
remains of the like importance in this matter? Forgiveness, 
as we have shewed, is manifested, tendered, exhibited in the 
covenant of grace and promises of the gospel. The rule of 
the efficacy of these is, that they be ' mixed with faith ;' Heb. 
iv. 2. It is well if you are grown up hereunto ; but you that are 
strangers to the things before-mentioned, are no less to this 
also. Upon the matter you know not then what forgiveness 
is, nor wherein it consists, nor whence it comes, nor how 
it is procured, nor by what means given out unto sinners. 
It is to no purpose for such persons to pretend that they 
believe that whereunto either notionally, or practically, or 
both, they are such utter strangers. 

6. Another inquiry into this matter regards the state and 
condition wherein souls must be, before it be possible for 
them to believe forgiveness. If there be such an estate and 
it can be evinced that very many of the pretenders concern- 
ing whom we deal, were never brought into it, it is then 
evident that they neither do nor can believe forgiveness, 
however they do and may delude their own souls. 

It hath been shewed that the first discovery that was 
made of pardoning grace was unto Adam, presently after the 
fall. What was then his state and condition ? How was he 


prepared for the reception of this great mystery in its first 
discovery ? That seems to be a considerable rule of proceed- 
ing in the same matter. That which is first in any kind, is 
a rule to all that follows. Now what was Adam's condition 
when the revelation of forgiveness was first made to him ? 
It is known from the story; convinced of sin, afraid of 
punishment, he lay trembling at the foot of God. Then 
was forgiveness revealed unto him ; so the psalmist states 
it. Psalm CXXX. 3. * If thou. Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, 
O Lord, who shall stand V Full of thoughts he is of the desert 
of sin, and of inevitable and eternal ruin, in case God should 
deal with him according to the exigence of the law. In that 
state is the great support of forgiveness with God, suggested 
unto him by the Holy Ghost. We know what work our 
Sjaviour had with the Pharisees on this account. ' Are we,' 
say they, ' blind also V No, saith he, * you say you see, there- 
fore your sin remaineth ;' John ix. 40, 41. It is to no pur- 
pose to talk of forgiveness to such persons as you are, you 
must of necessity abide in your sins. I came not to call such 
righteous persons as you are, but sinners to repentance, 
who not only are so, as you are also, and that to the pur- 
pose, but are sensible of their being so, and of their undone 
condition thereby. ' The whole have no need of the physician 
but the sick.' Whilst you are seeming righteous and whole, 
it is to no end to tell you of forgiveness, you cannot under- 
stand it, nor receive it. It is impossible then that any one 
should in a due manner believe forgiveness in God, unless 
in a due manner he be convinced of sin in himself. If the 
fallow ground be not broken up, it is to no purpose to sow 
the seed of the gospel. There is neither life, power, nor 
sweetness in this truth, unless a door be opened for its 
entrance by conviction of sin. 

Let us then on this ground also, continue our inquiry 
upon the ordinary boasters of their skill in this mystery. 
You believe there is forgiveness with God? Yes. But have 
you been convinced of sin ? Yes ; you know that you are 
sinners well enough. Answer then but once more as to the 
nature of this conviction of sin, which you have ; is it not 
made up of these two ingredients. 1. A general notion 
that you are sinners as all men also are. 2. Particular 
troublesome reflections upon yourselves, when on any erup- 


tion of sin, conscience accuses, rebukes, condemns. You 
will say, yes, what would you require more? This is not the 
conviction we are inquiring after; that is a work of the 
Spirit by the word ; this you speak of, a mere natural work, 
which you can no more be without than you can cease to be 
men. This will give no assistance unto the receiving of 
forgiveness. But it may be you will say, you have pro- 
ceeded farther than so ; and these things have had an im- 
provement in you. Let us then a little try whether your 
process have been according to the mind of God; and so 
whether this invincible bar in your way be removed or no. 
For although every convinced person do not believe forgive- 
ness ; yet no one who is not convinced doth so. Have you 
then been made sensible of your condition of nature; what 
it is to be alienated from the life of God, and to be ob- 
noxious to his wrath ? Have you been convinced of the uni- 
versal enmity that is in your hearts to the mind of God ; and 
what it is to be at enmity against God ? Hath the un- 
speakable multitude of the sins of your lives been set in order 
by the law before you ? and have you considered what it is 
for sinners as you are, to have to deal with a righteous and 
a holy God ? Hath the Holy Ghost wrought a serious recog- 
nition in your hearts of all these things, and caused them 
to abide with you and upon you? If you will answer truly, 
you must say, many of you, that indeed you have not been 
so exercised. You have heard of these things many times, 
but to say that you have gone through with this work, and 
have had experience of them, that you cannot do. Then I 
say you are strangers to forgiveness, because you are stran- 
gers unto sin : but and if you shall say that you have had 
thoughts to this purpose, and are persuaded that you have 
been thoroughly convinced of sin, I shall yet ask you one ques- 
tion more ; what effects hath your conviction produced in 
your hearts and lives ? Have you been filled with perplexities 
and consternation of spirit thereupon? Have you had fears, 
dreads, or terrors to wrestle withal? It may be you will say, 
no ; nor will I insist upon that inquiry ; but this I deal with 
you in. Hath it filled you with self-loathing and abhorrency, 
with self-condemnation and abasement? If it will do any 
thing this it will do. If you come short here, it is justly to 
be feared that all your other pretences are of no value ; now 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 233 

where there is no work of conviction, there is no faith of 
forgiveness, whatever is pretended. And how many vain 
boasters this sword will cut off, is evident. 

7. We have yet a greater evidence than all these. Men 
live in sin, and therefore they do not believe forgiveness of 
sin. Faith in general * purifies the heart ;' Acts xv. 19. Our 
souls are purified 'in obeying the truth;' 1 Pet. i. 22. and 
the life is made fruitful by it, James ii. 22. * Faith worketh 
by works,' and makes itself perfect by them. And the doc- 
trine concerning forgiveness hath a special influence into all 
holiness. Tit. ii. 11, 12. ' The grace of God which bringeth 
salvation, teacheth us to deny all unrighteousness and 
worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this 
present world.' And that is the grace whereof we speak. No 
man can then believe forgiveness of sin, without a detesta- 
tion and relinquishment of it. The ground of this might be 
farther manifested, and the way of the eJEEcacy of faith of 
forgiveness unto a forsaking of sin, if need were. But all 
that own the gospel must acknowledge this principle. The 
real belief of the pardon of sin, is prevalent with men not to 
live longer in sin. 

But now what are the greatest number of those who pre- 
tend to receive this truth ? Are their hearts purified by it? 
Are their consciences purged? Are their lives changed? 
Do they deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts? Doth for- 
giveness teach them so to do ? Have they found it effectual 
to these purposes? Whence is it then that there is such a 
bleating and bellowing to the contrary amongst them? 

Some of you are drunkards, some of you swearers, some 
of you unclean persons, some of you liars, some of you 
worldly, some of you haters of all the ways of Christ, and all 
his concernments upon the earth ; proud, covetous, boasters, 
self-seekers, envious, wrathful, backbiters, malicious, pra- 
ters, slanderers, and the like. And shall we think that such 
as these believe forgiveness of sin ? God forbid. Again, 
some of you are dark, ignorant, blind, utterly unacquainted 
with the mystery of the gospel, nor do at all make it your 
business to inquire into it. Either you hear it not at all, or 
negligently, slothfully, customarily, to no purpose. Let not 
such persons deceive their own souls; to live in sin and yet 
to believe the forgiveness of sin, is utterly impossible. 


Christ will not be a minister of sin, nor give his gospel to be 
a doctrine of licentiousness for your sakes. Nor shall you 
be forgiven that you may be delivered to do more abomina- 
tions. God forbid. 

If any shall say, that they thank God, they are no such 
publicans as those mentioned ; they are no drunkards, no 
swearers, no unclean persons, nor the like, so that they are not 
concerned in this consideration ; their lives and their duties 
give another account of them; then yet consider farther. 

That the Pharisees were all that you say of yourselves, 
and yet the greatest despisers of forgiveness that ever were 
in the world, and that because they hated the light, on this 
account, that their deeds were evil. And for your duties you 
mention, what I pray is the root and spring of them? are 
they influenced from this faith of forgiveness you boast of 
or no? May it not be feared that it is utterly otherwise? 
you do not perform them because you love the gospel, but 
because you fear the law. If the truth were known, I doubt 
it would appear, that you get nothing by your believing of 
pardon, but an encouragement unto sin. Your goodness, 
such as it is, springs from another root. It may be also that 
you ward yourselves by it against the strokes of conscience, 
or the guilt of particular sins ; this is as bad as the other. It 
is as good be encouraged unto sin, to commit it, as be en- 
couraged under sin, so as to be kept from humiliation for it. 
None under heaven are more remote from the belief of grace 
and pardon, than such persons are : all their righteousness 
is from the law, and their sin in a great measure from the 

8. They that believe forgiveness in a due manner, believe 
it for the ends and purposes for which it is revealed of God. 
This will farther improve and carry on the former conside- 
ration. If God reveals any thing for one end and purpose, 
and men use it quite unto another; they do not receive the 
word of God, nor believe the thing revealed, but steal the 
word and delude their own souls. 

Let us then weigh to what ends and purposes this forgive- 
ness was first revealed by God ; for which also its manifesta- 
tion is still continued in the gospel. We have shewed be- 
fore who it was to whom this revelation was first made, and 
what condition he was in when it was so made unto him. A 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 235 

lost, wretched creature, without hope or help he was ; how 
he should come to obtain acceptance with God, he knew 
not. God reveals forgiveness unto hirn by Christ to be his 
all. The intention of God in it was, that a sinner's all 
should be of grace, Rom. xi. 6. If any thing be added unto 
it for the same end and purpose, then ' grace is no more 
grace.' Again, God intended it as a new foundation of obe- 
dience, of love, and thankfulness. That men should love 
because forgiven, and be holy because pardoned ; as I have 
shewed before, that it might be the righteousness of a sinner, 
and a spring of new obedience in him, all to the praise of 
grace, were God's ends in its revelation. 

Our inquiry then is, whether men do receive this reve- 
lation as unto these ends, and use it for these purposes, and 
these only. I might evince the contrary, by passing through 
the general abuses of the doctrine of grace, which are men- 
tioned in the Scripture, and common in the world ; but it 
will not be needful. Instead of believing, the most of men 
seem to put a studied despite on the gospel. They either 
proclaim it to be an unholy and polluted way, by turning its 
grace into lasciviousness, or a weak and insufficient way, by 
striving to twist it in with their own righteousness, both 
which are an abomination unto the Lord. 

From these and such other considerations of the like im- 
portance as might be added, it is evident that our word is not 
in vain ; nor the exhortation which is to be built upon it. 
It appears, that notwithstanding the great noise and pre- 
tences to this purpose that are in the world, they are but few 
who seriously receive this fundamental truth of the gospel ; 
namely, that there is forgiveness with God. Poor creatures 
sport themselves with their own deceivings, and perish by 
their own delusions. 

Exhortation unto the belief of the forgiveness that is with God. Reasons 
for it, and the necessity of it. 

We shall now proceed unto the direct uses of this great 
truth. For having laid our foundation in the word that will 
not fail, and having given, as we hope, sufficient evidence un- 
to the truth of it, our last work is to make that improvement 


of it unto the good of the souls of men, which all along was 
aimed at. The jDersons concerned in this truth are all sin- 
ners whatever. Ts^o sort of sinners are unconcerned in it, 
none are excluded from it. And we may cast them all under 
two heads. 

First, Such as never yet sincerely closed with the pro- 
mise of grace, nor have ever yet received forgiveness from 
God, in a way of believing. These we have already endea- 
voured to undeceive, and to discover those false presump- 
tions whereby they are apt to ruin and destroy their own 
souls. These we would guide now into safe and pleasant 
paths, wherein they may find assured rest and peace. 

Secondly, Others there are, who have received it, but 
being again entangled by sin, or clouded by darkness and 
temptations, or weakened by unbelief, know not how to im- 
prove it to their peace and comfort. This is the condition 
of the soul represented in this psalm; and which we shall 
therefore apply ourselves unto in an especial manner, in its 
proper place. 

Our exhortation then is unto both ; to the first, that they 
would receive it, that they may have life ; to the latter, that 
they would improve it, that they may have peace. To the 
former, that they would not overlook, disregard, or neglect so 
great salvation as is tendered unto them; to the latter, that 
they would stir up the grace of God that is in them, to mix 
with the grace of God that is declared unto them. 

I shall begin with the first sort, those who are yet utter 
strangers from the covenant of grace; who never yet upon 
saving grounds believed this forgiveness ; who never yet 
once tasted of gospel pardon. Poor sinners ! this word is 
unto you. 

Be it that you have heard or read the same word before, 
or others like unto it, to the same purpose : it may be often, 
it may be a hundred times. It is your concernment to hear 
it again. God would have it so ; the testimony of Jesus 
Christ is thus to be accomplished. This counsel of God 
we must declare that we may be free from the blood of all 
men ; Acts xx. 26, 27. And that not once or twice, but in 
preaching the word, we must be ' instant in season, out of 
season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting with all long-suffer- 
ing and doctrine ;' 2 Tim. iv. 2. And for you, woe unto you, 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 237 

when God leaves thus speaking unto you ; when he refuseth 
to exhort you any more, woe unto you. This is God's de- 
parture from any person or people, when he will deal with 
them no more about forgiveness : and saith he, * Woe unto 
them- when I depart from them;' Hos. ix. 12. O that God, 
therefore, would give unto such persons, seeing eyes, and 
hearing ears, that the word of grace may never more be 
spoken unto them in vain. Now in our exhortation to such 
persons, we shall proceed gradually, according as the mat- 
ter will bear, and the nature of it doth require. Consider 

First, That notwithstanding all your sins, all the evil that 
your own hearts know you to be guilty of, and that hidden 
mass or evil treasure of sin which is in you, which you are 
not able to look into ; notwithstanding that charge that lies 
upon you from your own consciences, and that dreadful sen- 
tence and curse of the law which you are obnoxious unto ; 
notwithstanding all the just grounds that you have to ap- 
prehend that God is your enemy, and will be so unto eter- 
nity ; yet there are terms of peace and reconciliation, pro- 
vided and proposed between him and your souls. This in 
the first place is spoken out by the word we have insisted 
on. Whatever else it informs us of, this it positively as- 
serts ; namely, that there is a way whereby sinners may 
come to be accepted with God : for ' there is forgiveness with 
him that he may be feared.' And we hope that we have not 
confirmed it by so many testimonies, by so many evidences 
in vain. Now that you may see how great a privilege this 
is, and how much your concernment lies in it ; consider, 

1. That this belongs unto you in an especial manner, it 
is your peculiar advantage. 

It is not so with the angels that sinned. There were 
never any terms of peace or reconciliation proposed unto 
them, nor ever shall be unto eternity. There is no way of 
escape provided for them. Having once sinned, as you 
have done a thousand times, God spared them not, ' but cast 
them down to hell, and delivered them unto chains of dark- 
ness, to be reserved unto judgment ;' 2 Pet. ii. 4. 

It is not so with them that are dead in their sins, if but 
one moment past. Ah how would many souls who are de- 
parted it may be not an hour since out of this world, rejoice 


for an interest in this privilege, the hearing of terms of peace 
once more between God and them. But their time is past, 
their house is left unto them desolate. As the tree falleth, 
so it must lie : * It is appointed unto all men once to die, 
and after that is the judgment ;' Heb. ix. 27. After death 
there are no terms of peace, nothing but judgment. The 
living, the living, he alone is capable of this advantage. 

It is not so with them to whom the gospel is not 
preached. God suffers them to walk in their own ways, 
and calls them not thus to repentance. The terms of re- 
conciliation which some fancy to be offered in the shining 
of the sun, and falling of the rain, never brought souls to 
peace with God. Life and immortality are brought to light 
only by the gospel. This is your privilege who yet live, 
and yet have the word sounding in your ears. 

It is not thus with them who have sinned against the 
Holy Ghost, though yet alive, and living where the word of 
forgiveness is preached. God proposeth unto them no 
terms of reconciliation. Blasphemy against him, saith 
Christ, 'shall not be forgiven ;' Matt. xii. 31. There is no 
forgiveness for such sinners. And we, if we knew them, 
ought not to pray for them; 1 John v. 16. Their sin is 
unto death. And what numbers may be in this condition 
God knows. 

This word then is unto you : these terms of peace are 
proposed unto you. This is that which in an especial man- 
ner you are to apply yourselves unto. And woe unto you, 
if you should be found to have neglected it at the last day. 
Wherefore consider, 

2. By whom these terms are proposed unto you, and by 
whom they were procured for you. By whom are they pro- 
posed ? Who shall undertake to umpire the business, the 
controversy between God and sinners ? No creature doubt- 
less is either meet or worthy to interpose in this matter, I 
mean originally on his own account. For ' who hath known 
the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor?' 
Wherefore it is God himself who proposeth these terms ; 
and not only proposeth them, but invites, exhorts, and per- 
suades you to accept of them. This the whole Scriptures 
testify unto. It is fully expressed, 2 Cor. v. 18 — 20. He 
hath provided them, he hath proposed them, and makes use 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 239 

only of men, of ministers to act in his name. And excuse 
,us if we are a little earnest with you in this matter. Alas, 
pur utmost that we can by zeal for his glory, or compassion 
unto your souls, raise our thoughts, minds, spirits, words 
unto, comes infinitely short of his own pressing earnestness 
herein. See Isa. Iv. 1 — 4. Oh infinite condescension ! O 
blessed grace ! Who is this that thus bespeaks you ? He, 
against whom you have sinned, of whom you are justly 
afraid. He whose laws you have broken, and whose name 
you have dishonoured ; he who needs not you, nor your 
love, nor your friendship, nor your salvation. It is he who 
proposeth unto you these terms of reconciliation and peace. 
Consider the exhortation of the apostle upon this conside- 
ration, Heb. xii. 25. ' See that you refuse not him that 
speaketh from heaven.' It is God that speaks unto you in 
this matter : and he speaks unto you from heaven. And he 
doth therein forego all the advantage that he hath against 
you for your destruction. Woe would be unto your souls, 
and that for ever, if you should refuse him. 

3. By whom were these terms procured for you ? and by 
what means? Do not think that this matter was brought 
about by chance, or by an ordinary undertaking. Remember 
that the proposal made unto you this day cost no less than 
the price of the blood of the Son of God. It is the fruit of 
the travail of his soul. For this he prayed, he wept, he 
suffered, he died. And shall it now be neglected or de- 
spised by you ? Will you yet account the blood of the co- 
venant to be a common thing? Will you exclude yourselves 
from all benefit of the purchase of these terms, and only 
leave your souls to answer for the contempt of the price 
whereby they were purchased ? 

4. Consider, that you are sinners, great sinners, cursed 
sinners ; some of you, it may be, worse than innumerable of 
your fellow-sinners were, who are now in hell. God might 
long since have cast you off everlastingly, from all expecta- 
tion of mercy, and have caused all your hopes to perish. Or 
he might have left you alive, and yet have refused to deal 
with you any more. He could have caused your sun to go 
down at noon-day, and have given you darkness instead of 
vision. He could respite your lives for a season, and yet 
' swear in his wrath, that you should never enter into his 


rest.' It is now otherwise. How long it may be so, nor 
you, nor I know any thing at all. God only knows what 
will be vour time, what your continuance. We are to speak 
* whilst it is called to-day.' And this is that for the present 
which I have to offer unto you. God declares that there 
is forgiveness with him ; that your condition is not despe- 
rate nor helpless. There are yet terms of peace proposed 
unto you. Methinks it cannot but seem strange, that poor 
sinners should not at the least stir up themselves to in- 
quire after them. When a poor man had sold himself of old, 
and his children to be servants, and parted with the land of 
his inheritance unto another because of his poverty ; with 
what heart do you think did he hear the sound of the trum- 
pet, when it began to proclaim the year of jubilee, wherein 
he and all his were to go out at liberty, and to return unto 
his possession and inheritance? And shall not poor servants 
of sin, slaves unto Satan, that have forfeited all their inhe- 
ritance in this world, and that which is to come, attend unto 
any proclamation of the year of rest, of the acceptable year 
of the Lord ? And this is done in the tender of terms of 
peace with God in this matter. Do not put it off; this be- 
longs unto you ; the great concernment of your souls lies 
in it. And it is a great matter ; for consider, 

5. That when the angels came to bring the news of the 
birth of our Lord Jesus, they say, 'We bring tidings of great 
joy to the whole people;' Luke ii. 10. What are these joy- 
ful tidinos ? What was the matter of this report ? Why, ' this 
day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord ;' ver. 11. It is only 
this ; a Saviour is born ; a way of escape is provided, and 
farther they do not proceed. Yet this they say is a matter 
' of o-reat joy,' as it was indeed. It is so to every burdened 
convinced sinner, a matter of unspeakable joy and rejoicing. 
Oh blessed words ! 'a Saviour is born.' This gives life to 
a sinner, and opens ' a door of hope in the valley of Achor.* 
The first rescue of a sin-distressed soul. Upon the matter, 
it was all that the saints for many ages had to live upon ; 
and that not in the enjoyment, but only the expectation. 
They lived on that word, ' the seed of the woman shall break 
the serpents head ;' that is, a way of deliverance is pro- 
vided for sinners. This with all ' diligence they inquired 
into;' 1 Pet. i. 10 — 12. and improved it to their eternal ad- 


vantage. As of old, Jacob, when he saw the waggons that 
his son Joseph had sent to bring him unto him, it is said 
his spirit revived : so did they upon their obscure discovery 
of a way of forgiveness. They looked upon the promise of 
it as that which God had sent to bring them unto him ; and 
they saw the day of the coming of Christ in it, and rejoiced. 
How much more have sinners now reason so to do, when 
the substance of the promise is exhibited, and the news of 
his coming proclaimed unto them ? This then is a great 
matter; namely, that terms of peace and reconciliation are 
proposed ; in that it is made known, that there is forgive- 
ness with God. Upon these considerations then we pur- 
sue that exhortation which we have in hand. 

If any of you were justly condemned to a cruel and shame- 
ful death, and lay trembling in the expectation of the exe- 
cution of it, and a man desi-gned for that purpose should 
come unto him, and tell him that there were terms pro- 
pounded on which his life might be spared, only he came 
away like Ahimaaz before he heard the particulars ; would 
it not be a reviving unto him ? would he not cry out. Pray 
inquire what they are, for there is not any thing so difficult 
which I will not undergo to free myself from this miserable 
condition : would it not change the whole frame of the spirit 
of such a man, and, as it were, put new life into him ? But 
now if instead hereof, he should be froward, stubborn, and 
obstinate, take no notice of the messenger, or say. Let the 
judge keep his terms to himself, without inquiring what they 
are ; that he would have nothing to do with them ; would 
not such a person be deemed to perish deservedly? doth he 
not bring a double destruction upon himself; first of de- 
serving death by his crimes, and then by refusing the honest 
and good way of delivery tendered unto him ? I confess it 
oftentimes falls out, that men may come to inquire after 
these terms of peace, which when they are revealed, they 
like them not, but with the young man in the gospel they go 
away sorrowful. The cursed wickedness and misery of which 
condition, which befalls many convinced persons, shall be 
spoken unto afterward. At present I speak unto them who 
never yet attended in sincerity unto these terms, nor se- 
riously inquired after them. Think you what you please of 
your condition, and of yourselves; or choose whether you 



will think of it or no, pass your time in a fall regardlessness, 
of your present and future estate. Yet indeed thus it is 
with you, as to your eternal concerns ; you lie under the 
sentence of a bitter, shameful, and everlasting deatli ; you 
have done so in the midst of all your jollity, ever since you 
came into this world : and you are in the hand of him, who 
can in the twinkling of an eye destroy both body and soul 
in hell fire. In this state and condition, men are sent on 
purpose, to let you know that there are terms of peace, 
there is yet a way of escape for you : and that you may not 
avoid the issue aimed at, they tell you, that God that cannot 
lie hath commanded them to tell you so ; if you question the 
truth of what they say, they are ready to produce their war- 
rant under God's own hand and seal ; here then is no room 
for tergiversation or excuses. Certainly, if you have any care 
of your eternal estate, if you have any drop of tender blood 
running in your veins towards your own souls, if you have 
any rational considerations dwelling in your minds, if all 
be not defaced and obliterated through the power of lust, 
and love of sin, you cannot but take yourselves to be un- 
speakably concerned in this proposal; but now if instead 
hereof, you give up yourselves unto the power of unbelief, 
the will of Satan, the love of your lusts, and this present 
world, so as to take no notice of this errand or message 
from God, nor once seriously to inquire after the nature and 
importance of the terms proposed, can you escape? shall 
you be delivered ? will your latter end be peace ? The Lord 
knows it will be otherwise with you, and that unto eternity. 
So the apostle asures us, 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. ' If our gospel 
be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the God of 
this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, 
lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine into them.' If you receive not 
this word, if it be hid from you, it is from the power and 
efficacy of Satan upon your minds. And what will be the 
end? Perish you must, and shall, and that for ever. 

Remember the parable of our Saviour, Luke xiv. 31, 32. 
' What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth 
not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten 
thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty 
thousand? or else while the other is yet a great way off, he 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 243 

sendeth an ambassage and desireth conditions of peace. 
That which he teacheth in this parable is, the necessity that 
lies on us, of making peace with God, whom we have pro- 
voked, and justly made to be our enemy ; as also our utte"^ 
impotency to resist and withstand him, when he shall come 
forth in a way of judgment and vengeance against us. But 
here lies a difference in this matter, such as is allowed in all 
similitudes ; amongst men at variance, it is not his part who 
is the stronger, and secure of success, to send to the weaker, 
whom he hath in his power, to accept of terms of peace. 
Here it is otherwise; God, who is infinitely powerful, justly 
provoked, and able to destroy poor sinners in a moment ; 
when now he is not very far off, but at the very door, sends 
himself an ambassage with conditions of peace. And shall 
he be refused by you? will you yet neglect his offers ? How 
great then Avill be your destruction ? 

Hear then once more poor sin-hardened, senseless souls, 
ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness. Is it no- 
thing unto you, that the great and holy God whom ye have 
provoked all your days, and whom you yet continue to pro- 
voke, who hath not the least need of you or your salvation, 
who can when he pleaseth eternally glorify himself in your 
destruction, should of his own accord send unto you, to 
let you know that he is willing to be at peace with you, 
on the terms he had prepared ? The enmity began on your 
part, the danger is on your part only; and he might justly 
expect that the message for peace should begin on your part 
also ; but he begins with you ; and shall he be rejected? The 
prophet well expresseth this, Isa. xxx. 15. * Thus saith the 
Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest 
shall ye be saved ; in quietness and in confidence shall be your 
strength: and ye would not.' The love and condescension 
that is in these words, on the one hand, on the part of God, 
and the folly and ingratitude mentioned in them on the 
other hand, is inexpressible. They are fearful words ; * but 
ye would not.' Remember this against another day. As our 
Saviour says in the like manner to the Jews ; * Ye will 
not come unto me, that ye may have life.' Whatever is 
pretended, it is will and stubboTnness that lie at the bot- 
tom of this refusal. 

Wherefore, that either you may obtain advantage by it, 

R 2 


or that the way of the Lord may be prepared for the glorify- 
ing of himself upon you, I shall leave this word before all 
them that hear, or read it, as the testimony which God re- 
quires to be given unto his grace. There are terms of peace 
with God provided for, and tendered unto you ; it is yet 
called to-day, harden not your hearts, like them of old, who 
could not enter into the rest of God, by reason of unbelief, 
Heb. iii. 19. Some of you, it may be, are old in sins, and 
unacquainted with God ; some of you, it may be, have been 
great sinners, scandalous sinners ; and some of you, it may 
be, have reason to apprehend yourselves near the grave, and 
so also to hell ; some of you, it may be, have your consciences 
disquieted and galled; and it may be some of you are under 
some outward troubles and perplexities, that cause you a 
little to look about you ; and some of you, it may be, are in 
the madness of your natural strength and lusts ; ' your breasts 
are full of milk, and your bones of marrow,' and your hearts 
of sin, pride, and contempt of the ways of God; all is one; 
this word is unto you all ; and I shall only mind you, that 
'it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God/ 
You hear the voice, or read the words of a poor worm, but 
the message is the message, and the word is the word of him 
who shaketh heaven and earth. Consider then well what 
you have to do ; and what answer you will return unto him 
who will not be mocked. 

But you will say. Why, what great matter is there that 
you have in hand? why is it urged with so much earnest- 
ness ? We have heard the same words a hundred times over. 
The last Lord's day, such a one, or such a one preached to 
the same purpose; and what need it be insisted on now 
again, with so much importunity ? 

But is it so indeed, that you have thus frequently been 
dealt withal, and do yet continue in an estate of irreconci- 
liation? my heart is pained for you, to think of your woful 
and almost remediless condition. If ' he that being often 
reproved, and yet stiffeneth his neck, shall perish suddenly, 
and that without remedy,' Prov. xxix. 1. how much, more 
will he do so, who being often invited unto peace with God, 
yet hardeneth his heart, and refuseth to treat with him ? 
Methinks I hear his voice concerning you; those mine ene- 
mies, they shall not taste of the supper that I have prepared. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 245 

Be it then that the word in hand is a common word unto 
you, you set no value upon it; then take your way and 
course in sin ; stumble, fall, and perish ; it is not so slight 
a matter to poor convinced sinners, that tremble at the word 
of God. These will prize it, and improve it. We shall fol- 
low then that counsel, Prov. xxxi. 6. ' Give strong drink 
unto him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that be 
of a heavy heart.' We shall tender this new wine of the 
gospel to poor sad-hearted, conscience-distressed sinners ; 
sinners that are ready to perish ; to them it will be pleasant, 
they will drink of it, and forget their poverty, and re- 
member their misery no more. It shall take away all their 
sorrow and sadness ; when you shall be drunk with the 
fruit of your lusts, and spue, and lie down and not rise 

But now if any of you shall begin to say in your hearts, 
that you would willingly treat with God ; oh that the day 
were come wherein we might approach unto him ! let him 
speak what he pleaseth, and propose what terms he pleaseth, 
we are ready to hear. Then consider. 

Secondly, That the terms provided for you, and pro- 
posed unto you, are equal, holy, righteous, yea, pleasant and 
easy. This being another general head of our work in hand, 
before I proceed to the farther explication and confirmation 
of it, I shall educe one or two observations from what hath 
been delivered on the first. As, 

1. See here on what foundation we preach the gospel. 
Many disputes there are, whether Christ died for all indivi- 
duals of mankind or no ; if we say no, but only for the elect, 
who are some of all sorts ; some then tell us, we cannot in- 
vite all men promiscuously to believe. But why so ? we 
invite not men, as all men ; no man, as one of all men, but 
all men as sinners : and we know that Christ died for sin- 
ners. But is this the first thing, that we are in the dispen- 
sation of the gospel to propose to the soul of a sinner, under 
the law ; that Christ died for him in particular ? Is that the 
beginning of our message unto him ? were not this a ready 
way to induce him to conclude. Let me then continue in sin 
that grace may abound? No ; but this is in order of nature 
our first work ; even that which we have had in hand. This 
is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the 


* voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way 
of the Lord.' There is a way of reconciliation provided. 
'God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself.' There is 
a way of acceptance ; there is forgiveness with him to be 
obtained. At this threshold of the Lord's house, doth the 
greatest part of men to whom the gospel is preached fall and 
perish, never looking in to see the treasures that are in the 
house itself, never coming into any such state and condition 
wherein they have any ground or bottom to inquire, whe- 
ther Christ died for them in particular or no. They believe 
not this report, nor take any serious notice of it. This was 
the ministry of the Baptist, and they who received it not, 
rejected the counsel of God concerning their salvation ; 
Luke vii. 10. and so perished in their sins. This is the 
sum of the blessed invitation given by wisdom, Prov. ix. 
1 — 5. And here men stumble, fall, and perish, Prov. i. 
29, 30. 

2. You that have found grace and favour to accept of 
these terms, and thereby to obtain peace with God ; learn 
to live in a holy admiration of his condescension and love 
therein. That he would provide such terms ; that he would 
reveal them unto you ; that he would enable you to receive 
them. Unspeakable love and grace lies in it all. Many 
have not these terms revealed unto them ; few find favour 
to accept of them ; and of whom is it that you have obtained 
this peculiar mercy ? 

Do you aright consider the nature of this matter ? The 
Scripture proposeth it as an object of eternal admiration, 
' So God loved the world ;' 'herein is love, not that we loved 
God, but he loved us' first. Live in this admiration, and do 
your utmost in your several capacities to prevail with your 
friends, relations, acquaintance, to hearken after this great 
treaty of peace with God, whose terms we shall nextly con- 
sider, as before in general they were expressed. 

Secondly, The terms provided for you, and proposed unto 
you, are equal, holy, righteous, yea, pleasant and easy ; Hos. 
ii. 18, 19. They are not such, as a cursed guilty sinner might 
justly expect, but such as are meet for an infinitely good 
and gracious God to propose ; not suited to the wisdom of 
man, but full of the wisdom of God ; 2 Cor. ii. 6, 7. The 
poor convinced wretch, thinking of dealing with God, 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 247 

Micah vi. 6, 7. rolls in his mind what terms he is like to 
meet withal ; and fixes on the most dreadful, difficult, and 
impossible that can be imagined. If, saith he, any thing 
be done with this great and most high God, it must be by 
rivers, thousands, and ten thousands, children, first-born ; 
whatever is dreadful and terrible to nature, whatever is im- 
possible for me to perform, that is it which he looks for. 
But the matter is quite otherwise. The terms are wholly of 
another nature : it is a way of mere mercy, a way of free for- 
giveness. The apostle lays it down, Rom. iii. 23 — 25. it is 
a way of propitiation, of pardon, of forgiveness in the blood 
of Christ; the terms are the acceptance of the forgiveness 
that we have described. Who would not think now that 
the whole world would run in to be made partakers of these 
terms, willingly accepting of them ? But it proves for the 
most part quite otherwise. Men like not this way of all 
others. It had been something, says Naaman, if the pro- 
phet had come and done so and so ; but this, ' Go, wash 
and be clean,' I do not like it, I am but deluded. Men 
think within themselves, that had it been some great thing 
that was required of them that they might be saved, they 
would with all speed address themselves thereunto; but to 
come to God by Christ, to be freely forgiven without more 
ado, they like it not. Some rigid austere penances, some 
compensatory obedience, some satisfactory mortification, 
or purgatory, had been a more likely way. This of mere 
pardon in and by the cross, it is but folly, 1 Cor. i. 18. 20. 
I had rather, saith the Jew, have it ' as it were by the works 
of the law ;' Rom. ix. 32. x. 3. This way of grace and for- 
giveness, I like not. So say others also. So practice others 
every day ; either this way is wholly rejected, or it is 
mended by some additions; which with God, is all one with 
the rejection of it. 

Here multitudes of souls deceive themselves and perish. 
I know not whether it be more difficult, to persuade an 
unconvinced person to think of any terms, or a convinced 
person to accept of these. Let men say what they will, and 
pretend what they please; yet practically they like not 
this way of forgiveness. I shall therefore offer some sub- 
servient considerations, tending to the furtherance of your 
souls, in the acceptance of the terms proposed. 


1 . This is the way, these are the terms of God's own 
choosing ; he found out this way, he established it himself. 
He did it when all was lost and undone. He did it not 
upon our desire, request, or proposal, but merely of his own 
accord, and why should we contend with him about it ? If 
God will have us saved in a vvay of mere mercy and forgive- 
ness ; if his wisdom and sovereignty be in it, shall we op- 
pose him, and say we like it not ? Yet this is the language of 
unbelief; Rom. x.3, 4. Many poor creatures have disputed 
it with God, until at length being overpowered as it were by 
the Spirit, have said, If it must be so, and God will save us 
by mercy and grace, let it be so, we yield ourselves to 
his will: and yet throughout their disputes dreamed of no- 
thing but that their own unworthiness only kept them from 
closing with the promise of the gospel. 

Of this nature was that way of Satan whereby he deceived 
our first parents of their interest in the covenant of works ; 
the terms of it, saith he, as apprehended by you, are un- 
equal. ' Yea, hath God said. Ye shall eat of every tree of 
the garden? But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, 
ye shall not eat, lest ye die ;' come, ' you shall not die : for 
God doth know, in the day you eat thereof your eyes shall 
be opened.' There is no proportion between the disobe- 
dience and the threatening ; the issue cannot be such as 
is feared : and by these means he ruined them. Thus also 
he proceeds to deprive souls of their interest in the covenant 
of grace, whereunto they are invited. The terms of it are 
unequal, how can any man believe them ? There is no pro- 
portion between the obedience and the promise. To have 
pardon, forgiveness, life, and blessed eternity, on believing, 
who can rest in it? And here lies a conspiracy between Sa- 
tan and unbelief, against the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, 
and sovereignty of God. The poison of this deceit lies in 
this, that neither the righteousness, nor the mercy of God 
is of that infiniteness, as indeed they are. The apostle, to 
remove this fond imagination, calls us to the pleasure of 
God ; 1 Cor. i. 21. * It pleased God by the foolishness of 
preaching,' that is, by the gospel preached, which they es- 
teemed foolishness, ' to save believers, He suffered men 
indeed to make trial of other ways ; and when their insuffi- 
ciency for the ends men proposed to themselves was sufli- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 249 

ciently manifested, it pleased him to reveal his way. And 
what are we, that we should contend about it with him ? 
This rejection of the way of personal righteousness, and 
choosing the way of grace and forgiveness, God asserts, 
Jer. xxxi. 31 — 34. 'Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, 
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel 
and the house of Judah. Not according to the covenant 
which I made with their fathers' (in which administration 
of the covenant, as far as it had respect unto typical mercies, 
much depended on their personal obedience) : ' but this shall 
be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel ; 
After these days, saith the Lord, I will put my' laws, 8cc. 
and I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins 
no more.' Let then this way stand, and the way of man's 
wisdom and self-righteousness perish for ever. 

2. This is the way that above all others tends directly 
and immediately to the glory of God. God hath managed 
and ordered all things in this way of forgiveness, so as *no 
flesh should glory in his presence, but that he that glorieth 
should glory in the Lord ;' 1 Cor. i. 29. 31. * Where then is 
boasting? It is excluded. By what law? by the law of works? 
Nay; but by the law of faith;' Rom. iii. 27. It might be 
easily manifested, that God hath so laid the design of saving 
sinners by forgiveness according to the law of faith, that it 
is utterly impossible that any soul should, on any account 
whatever, have the least ground of glorying or boasting in 
itself, either absolutely, or in comparison with them that 
perish. 'If Abraham,' saith the same apostle, ' were justified 
by works, he had whereof to glory, but not before God ;' 
chap. iv. 2. The obedience of works would have been so 
infinitely 'disproportionate to the reward, which was God 
himself, that there had been no glorying before God ; but 
therein his goodness and grace must be acknowledged ; yet 
in comparison with others who yielded not the obedience 
required, he would have had wherein to glory ; but now this 
also is cast off by the way of forgiveness, and no pretence is 
left for any to claim the least share in the glory of it but 
God alone ; and herein lies the excellency of faith, that it 
'gives glory unto God;' Rom. iv. 20. the denial whereof, 
under various pretences, is the issue of proud unbelief. And 
this is that which God will bring all unto, or they shall pe- 



rish ; namely, that shame be ours, and the whole glory of 
our salvation be his alone. So he expresseth his design, 
Isa. xlv. 22 — 25. Ver. 22. heproposeth himself as the only 
relief for sinners; ' Look unto me,' saith he, ' and be saved, 
all ye ends of the earth.' But what if men take some other 
course, and look well to themselves, and so decline this way 
of mere mercy and grace? Why, saith he, ver. 23. ' I have 
sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righte- 
ousness, and shall not return, that unto me, every knee shall 
bow, and every tongue shall swear.' Look you unto that ; 
but I have sworn that you shall either do so, or answer 
your disobedience at the day of judgment ; whereunto Paul 
applies those words, Rom. xiv. 11. What do the saints here- 
upon? ver. 24, 25. ' Surely shall one say, in the Lord have 
I righteousness and strength. In the Lord shall all the seed 
of Israel be justified, and shall glory.' They bring their 
hearts to accept of all righteousness from him, and to give 
all glory unto him. 

God at first placed man in a blessed state and condition, 
in such a dependance on himself, as that he might have 
wrought out his eternal happiness with a great reputation of 
glory unto himself. ' Man being in this honour,' saith the 
psalmist, ' abode not.' God now fixes on another way, as I 
said, wherein all the glory shall be his own, as the apostle 
at large sets it forth, Rom. iii. 23 — 26. Now neither the 
way from which Adam fell, nor that wherein some of the 
angels continued, which for the substance were the same, is 
to be compared with this of forgiveness, as to the bringing 
glory unto God. I hate curiosities and conjectures in the 
things of God ; yet upon the account of the interposition 
of the blood of Christ, I think I may boldly say, there 
comes more glory to God, by saving one sinner in this way 
of forgiveness, than in giving the reward of blessedness to 
all the angels in heaven ; so seems it to appear, from that 
solemn representation we have of the ascription of glory to 
God by the whole creation, Rev. v. 9 — 13. All centres in 
the bringing forth forgiveness by the blood of the Lamb. 

I insist the more on this, because it lies so directly against 
that cursed principle of unbelief, which reigns in the hearts 
of the most, and often disquiets the best. That a poor un- 
godly sinner, going to God with the guilt of all his sins 

UPON rSALM cxxx. 251 

upon him, to receive forgiveness at his hand, doth bring more 
glory unto him, than the obedience of an angel, men are not 
over ready to think, nor can be prepared for it, but by itself. 
And the formal nature of that unbelief which w^orketh in 
convinced sinners, lies in a refusal to give unto God the 
whole glory of salvation. There are many hurtful contro- 
versies in religion that are managed in the world with great 
noise and clamour ; but this is the greatest and most perni- 
cious of them all, and it is for the most part silently trans- 
acted in the souls of men ; although under various forms and 
pretences. It hath also broken forth in writings and dis- 
putations, that is, whether God or man shall have the glory 
of salvation ; or whether it shall wholly be ascribed unto 
God, or that man also on one account or other, may come 
in for a share. Now if this be the state and condition with 
any of you, that you will rather perish, than God should 
have his glory, what shall we say, but. Go ye cursed souls, 
perish for ever, without the least compassion from God, or 
any that love him, angels or men. 

If you shall say, for your parts you are contented with this 
course, let God have the glory, so you may be forgiven and 
saved; there is yet just cause to suspect, lest this be a selfish 
contempt of God. It is a great thing to give glory unto God 
by believing in a due manner. Such slight returns seem not 
to have the least relation unto it. Take heed that instead 
of believing, you be not found mockers, and so your bands 
be made strong. 

But a poor convinced sinner may here find encourage- 
ment; thou wouldest willingly come to acceptance with 
God, and so attain salvation. Oh ! my soul longeth for it. 
Wouldest thou willingly take that course for the obtaining 
those ends which will bring most glory unto God ? Surely 
it is meet and most equal that I should do so. What now 
if one should come and tell thee from the Lord of a way, 
whereby thou poor, sinful, self-condemned creature, might- 
est bring as much glory unto God, as any angel in heaven 
is able to do ? O, if I might bring the least glory unto God, 
I should rejoice in it. Behold then the way which himself 
hath fixed on for the exaltation of his glory : even that thou 
shouldest come to him merely upon the account of grace in 


the blood of Christ, for pardon and forgiveness, and the Lord 
strengthen thee to give up thyself thereunto. 

3. Consider, that if this way of salvation be refused, 
there is no other way for you. We do not propose this way 
of forgiveness as the best and most pleasant, but as the only 
way. There is no other name given but that of Christ; no 
other way but this of forgiveness. Here lies your choice; 
take this path, or perish for ever. It is a shame indeed unto 
our cursed nature that there should be any need to use this 
argument, that we will neither submit to God's sovereignty, 
nor delight in his glory. But seeing it must be used, let it 
be so. I intend neither to flatter man, nor to frighten them ; 
but to tell them the truth as it is. If you co^itinue in your 
present state and condition, if you rest on what you do, or 
what you hope to do, if you support yourselves with general 
hopes of mercy,, mixed with your own endeavours and obe- 
dience, if you come not up to a thorough gospel closure with 
this way of God, if you make it not your all, giving glory to 
God therein ; perish you will, you must, and that to eter- 
nity. There remains no sacrifice for your sins, nor way of 
escape for your souls. You have not then only the excel- 
lency of this way to invite you, but the absolute indispen- 
sable necessity of this .'way to enforce you. And now let 
me add, that I am glad this word is spoken, is written unto 
you. You and I must one day be accountable for this dis- 
course. That word that hath already been spoken, if neg- 
lected, will prove a sore testimony against you. It will not 
fare with you, as with other men who have not heard the 
joyful sound. All these words that shall be found conso- 
nant to the gospel, if they are not turned to grace in your 
hearts here, will turn into torment unto your souls hereafter. 
Choose not any other way, it will be in vain for you ; it 
will not profit you ; and take heed lest you suppose you em- 
brace this way, when indeed you do not, about which I have 
given caution before. 

4. This way is free and open for and unto sinners. He 
that fled to the city of refuge, might well have many per- 
plexed thoughts, whether he should find the gates of it 
opened unto him or no, and whether the avenger of blood 
might not overtake and slay him, whilst he was calling for 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 253 

entrance. Or if the gates were always open, yet some crimes 
excluded men thence. Numb. xxxv. 24. It is not so here. 
Acts xiii. 38, 39. 

This is the voice of God even the Father ; ' Come,' saith 
he, ' to the marriage, for all things are prepared/ no fear of 
want of entertainment. Matt. xxii. 4. Whence the preachers 
of the gospel are said in his stead to beseech men to be re- 
conciled, 2 Cor. V. 18. And 

It is the voice of the Son ; ' Whosoever,' saith he, * cometh 
to God by me, I will in no wise cast out ;' John vi. 37. Who- 
ever he be that comes shall assuredly find entertainment; the 
same is his call and invitation in other places, as Matt. xi. 
28. John vii. 37. And 

This is the voice of the Spirit, and of the church, and of 
all believers. Rev. xxii. 17. * The Spirit and the bride say. 
Come. And let him thatheareth say, come. And let him that 
is athirstcome. And whosoever will, let him take of the water 
of life freely.' All centre in this, that sinners may come freely 
to the grace of the gospel. And 

It is the known voice of the gospel itself, as Isa. Iv. 
1 — 3. Prov. ix. 1 — 5. And it is the voice of all the saints 
in heaven and earth, who have been made partakers of for- 
giveness ; they all testify, that they received it freely. 

Some indeed endeavour to abuse this concurrent testi- 
mony of God and man. What is spoken of the freedom of 
the grace of God, they would wrest to the power of the will of 
man : but the riches and freedom of God's mercy do not in 
the least interfere with the efficacy of his grace. Though he 
proclaim pardon in the blood of Christ indefinitely, accord- 
ing to the fulness and excellency of it, yet he giveth out his 
quickening grace to enable men to receive it, as he pleaseth, 
for he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy : but this lies 
in the thing itself, the way is opened and prepared, and it is 
not because men cannot enter, but because they will not, 
that they do not enter. As our Saviour Christ tells the 
Pharisees, ' Ye therefore hear not God's word, because ye 
are not of God;' John viii. 47. vi. 44. So he doth, 'Ye 
will not come unto me that ye might have life ;' John v. 40. 
In the neglect and inadvertency of the most excusable, 
there is a positive act of their will put forth in the refusing 
of Christ and grace by him. And this is done by men under 


the preaching of the gospel every day. There is nothing that 
at the last day will tend more immediately to the advance- 
ment of the glory of God, in the inexcusableness of them 
who obey not the gospel, than this, that terms of peace in the 
blessed way of forgiveness were freely tendered unto them. 
Some that hear or read this word, may perhaps have lived 
long under the dispensation of the word of grace, and yet it 
may be have never once seriously pondered on this way of 
coming to God by forgiveness through the blood of Christ; 
but think, that going to heaven is a thing of course, that men 
need not much trouble themselves about ; do they know what 
they have done ? hitherto all their days they have positively 
refused the salvation, that hath been freely tendered unto 
them in Jesus Christ. Not they, they will say, they never 
had such a thought, nor would for all this world. But be it 
known unto you, inasmuch as you have not effectually re- 
ceived him, you have refused him, and whether your day and 
season be past or no, the Lord only knows. 

5. This way is safe. No soul ever miscarried in it. 
There is none in heaven but will say it is a safe way; there 
is none in hell can say otherwise. It is safe to all that ven- 
ture on it, so as to enter into it. In the old way we were to 
preserve ourselves and the way. This preserves itself and 
us ; this will be made evident by the ensuing considerations. 

1. This is the way which in the v/isdom, care, and love of 
God in Christ, was provided in the room of another, removed 
and taken out of the way for this cause and reason, because 
it was not safe, nor could bring us unto God : Heb. viii. 7, 8. 
' For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no 
place have been sought for the second. But finding fault 
with them, he saith.' And, 

1. He tells us, that the first covenant was not faultless, 
for if it had, there would have been no need of a second. 
The commandment indeed, which was the matter of that 
covenant, the same apostle informs us to be * holy, just, and 
good;' Rom. vii. 12. But this was faulty as to all ends of a 
covenant, considering our state and condition as sinners; it 
could not bring us unto God . So he acquaints us, Rom. viii. 3. 
' It was made weak through the fiesh ;' that is, by the en- 
trance of sin, and so became unuseful as to the saving of 
souls. Be it so then ; through our sin and default this good 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 255 

and holy law, this covenant was made unprofitable unto us; 
but what was that unto God? was he bound to desert his own 
institution and appointment, because through our own de- 
fault it ceased to be profitable unto us ? Not at all ; he 
might righteously have tied us all unto the terras of that 
covenant, to stand or fall by them unto eternity. But he 
would not do so. But 

2. In his love and grace, he * finds fault with it,' ver. 8. 
not in itself and absolutely, but only so far as that he would 
provide another way, which should supply all its defects 
and wants in reference to the end aimed at. What way that 
is, the apostle declares in the following verses to the end of 
that chapter. The sum is, ver. 12. ' I will be merciful to their 
unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I re- 
member no more.' It is the way of pardon and forgiveness. 
This is substituted in the room of that insufiicient way that 
was removed. 

Let us consider then, whether the infinitely wise and holy 
God, pursuing his purpose of bringing souls unto himself, 
laying aside one way of his own appointment as useless and 
infirm, because of the coming in of sin, against which there 
was no relief found in it, and substituting another way in the 
room of it ; would not provide such a one, as should be 
absolutely free from the faults and inconveniencies which he 
charged upon that, which he did remove. That which alone 
rendered the former way faulty was sin; it could do any 
thing but save a sinner ; this then was to be, and is, princi- 
pally provided against in this way of forgiveness. And we 
see here, how clearly God hath severed, yea, and in this mat- 
ter, opposed, these two things ; 1. Namely, the way of per- 
sonal righteousness, and the way of forgiveness. He finds 
fault with the first ; what then doth he do ? what course doth 
he take ? doth he mend it, take from it what seems to be re- 
dundant, mitigate its severity, and supply it where it was 
wanting, by forgiveness, and so set it up anew ? This indeed 
is the way that many proceed in in their notions, and the 
most in their practice. But this is not the way of God. He 
takes the one utterly away, and establishes the other in its 
place. And men's endeavours to mix them will be found of 
little use to them at the last. I can have no great expecta- 
tion from that which God pronounced faulty. 



2. The unchangeable principles and foundations that 
this way is built upon, render it secure and safe for sinners ; 

1. It is founded on the purpose of God, Gal. iii. 8. ' The 
Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen 
through faith.' God would do so, he had purposed and de- 
termined to proceed this way ; and all the purposes of God 
are attended with immutability. And 

2. His promise also is engaged in it, and that given out 
in the way of a covenant, as hath been already declared. And 

3. This promise is confirmed by an oath ; and it may be 
observed, that God doth not in any thing interpose with an 
oath, but what relates to this way of coming to himself by 
forgiveness. For the oath of God, wherever it is used, re- 
specteth either Christ typically, or personally, or the cove- 
nant established in him. For, 

4. This way is confirmed and ratified in his blood ; from 
whence the apostle at large evinceth its absolute security 
and safety, Heb. ix. Whatever soul, on the invitation under 
consideration, shall give up himself to come to God, by the 
way proposed ; he shall assuredly find absolute peace, and 
security in it. Neither our own weakness or folly from 
within, nor the opposition of any of all our enemies from 
without, shall be able to turn us out of this way. See Isa. 
XXXV. 4 — 10. 

In the other way, every individual person stands upon 
his own bottom, and must do so, to the last, and utmost of 
his continuance in this world. You are desirous to go unto 
God, to obtain his favour, and come to an enjoyment of him. 
What will you do? what course will you fix upon, for the 
obtaining of these ends? if you were so holy, so perfect, so 
righteous, so free from sin as you could desire, you should 
have some boldness in going unto God ; why if this be 
the way you fix upon, take this along with you: you stand 
upon your own personal account all your days. And if you 
fail in the least you are gone for ever. ' For whosoever shall 
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty 
of all ;' James ii. 10. And what peace can you possibly ob- 
tain, were you as holy as ever you aimed or desired to be, 
whilst this is your condition? But in this way of forgiveness 
we all shall stand upon the account of one common Media- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 257 

torin whom we are complete ; Col.iii.lO. And a want of a due 
improvement of this truth, is a great principle of disconsola- 
tion to many souls. Suppose a man look upon himself as 
loosed from the covenant of works, wherein exact and per- 
fect righteousness is rigidly required ; and to be called unto 
gospel, evangelical obedience to be performed in the rooin 
thereof, in sincerity and integrity; yet if he be not cleared 
in this also, that he stands not in this way purely on his 
own account, he will never be able to make his comforts 
hold out to the end of his journey. There will be found in 
the best of men so many particular failings, as will seem in 
difficult seasons to impeach their integrity; and so many 
questionings will after arise, through the darkness of their 
minds, and power of their temptations, as will give but little 
rest unto their souls. Here lies the great security of this 
way; we abide in it on the account of the faithfulness and 
ability of our common Mediator Jesus Christ. 

And this is another consideration, strengthening our invi- 
tation to a closure with the way of coming unto God, under 
proposal. There is nothing wanting that is needful to give 
infallible security to any soul that shall venture himself intoit 
and upon it. There are terms of peace proposed as you have 
heard. These terms are excellent and holy, and chosen of 
God, tending to the interest of his glory, free, safe and se- 
cure unto sinners. What hath any soul in the world to ob- 
ject against them? or wherein do men repose their trust and 
confidence in the neglect of this so great salvation? Is it 
in their lusts, and sins, that they will yield them as much 
satisfaction and contentment as they shall need to desire ? 
Alas ! they will ruin them, and bring forth nothing but death. 
Is it in the world? It will deceive them; the figure of it 
passeth away. Is it in their duties, and righteousness? They 
will not relieve them ; for did they follow the law of righ- 
teousness, they could not obtain the righteousness of the 
law. Is it in the continuance of their lives? Alas! it is but 
a shadow, 'a vapour that appeareth for a little while.' Is it 
in a future amendment and repentance ? Hell is full of souls 
perishing under such resolutions. Only this way of pardon 
remains, and yet of all others is most despised. But yei 
I have one consideration more to add before I farther en^ 
force the exhortation. 

VOL. xiv. s 


6. Consider, that this is the only way and means to enable 
you unto obedience, and to render what you do therein 
acceptable unto God. It may be that some of you are under 
the power of convictions, and have made engagements unto 
God to live unto him, to keep yourselves from sin, and to 
follow after holiness. It may be you have done so in afflic- 
tions, dangers, sicknesses, or upon receipt of mercies; but 
yet you find that you cannot come unto stability or con- 
stancy in your course ; you break with God and your own 
souls, which fills you with new disquietments, or else har- 
dens you and makes you secure and negligent; so that 
you return unto your purposes no oftener than your convic- 
tions or afflictions befall you anew. This condition is ruinous 
and pernicious, which nothing can deliver you from, but this 
closing with forgiveness. For, 

1. All that you do without this, however it may please 
your minds or ease your consciences, is not at all accepted 
with God. Unless this foundation be laid, all that you do 
is lost. All your prayers, all your duties all your amend- 
ments are an abomination unto the Lord. Until peace is 
made with him, they are but the acts of enemies, which he 
despiseth and abhorreth. You run it may be earnestly, but 
you run out of the way : you strive, but not lawfully, and 
shall never receive the crown. True gospel obedience is the 
fruit of the faith of forgiveness. Whatever you do without 
it, is but a building without a foundation, a castle in the air. 
You may see the order of gospel obedience, Eph. ii. 7 — 
10. The foundation must be laid in grace; riches of grace 
by Christ, in the free pardon and forgiveness of sin. From 
hence must the works of obedience proceed, if you would 
have them to be of God's appointment, or find acceptance 
with him. ^^ ithout this God will say of all your services, 
worship, obedience, as he did to the Israelies of old, Amos 
v. 21 — 25. I despise all, reject it all; it is not to him, 
nor to his glory. Now if you are under convictions of any 
sort, there is nothing you more value, nothing you more 
place your confidence in, than your duties ; your repent- 
ance, your amendment, what you do, and what in good time 
you will be. Is it nothing unto you to lose all your hopes, 
and all your expectations which you have from hence? To 
have no other reception with God, than if iJl this while you 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 259 

liad been wallowing in your sins and lusts? Yet thus it is 
with you, if you have not begun with God on his own terras, 
if you have not received the atonement in the blood of his 
Son, if you are not made partakers ot forgiveness, if your 
persons are not pardoned, all your duties are accursed. 

2. This alone will give you such motives and encourage- 
ments unto obedience, as will give you life, alacrity, and de- 
light in it. You perform duties, abstain from sins, but with 
heaviness, fear, and in bondage. Could you do as well with- 
out them as with them, would conscience be quiet, and hope 
ofeternity hold out, you would omit them forever. Thismakes 
all your obedience burdensome, and you cry out in your 
thoughts with him in the prophet, ' behold what a weariness 
it is !' the service of God is the only drudgery of your lives, 
which you dare not omit, and delight not to perform. From 
this wretched and cursed frame^ there is nothing can deliver 
you, but this closing with forgiveness. This will give you 
such motives, such encouragements, as will greatly influence 
your hearts and souls. It will give you freedom, liberty, 
delight, and cheerfulness, in all duties of gospel obedience. 
You will find a constraining power in the love of Christ 
therein ; a freedom from bondage, when the Son truly hath 
made you free. Faith and love will work genuinely and na- 
turally in your spirits ; and that which was your greatest 
burden,willbecome your chiefest joy : 2Cor.vii.l. Thoughts 
of the love of God, of the blood of Christ, or the covenant 
of grace, and sense of pardon in them, will enlarge your 
hearts and sweeten all your duties. You will find a new life, 
a new pleasure, a new satisfaction, in all that you do. Have 
you yet ever understood that of the wise man, Prov. iii. 17. 
' The ways of wisdom are pleasantness, and her paths are 
peace?' Have the ways of holiness, of obedience, of duties 
been so unto you ? Whatever you pretend, they are not, they 
cannot be so, whilst you are strangers urito that which alone 
can render them so unto you. I speak unto them that are 
under the law; would you be free from that bondage, that 
galling yoke in duties of obedience ? Would you have all 
that you do towards God, a delight and pleasantness unto 
you ? This, and this alone, will effect it for you. 

3. This will place all your obedience upon a sure foot of 
accoimt in your own souls and consciences ; even the sAmg 

s 2 


that is fixed on in the gospel. For the present, all that you 
do is indeed but to compound with God for your sin; you 
hope by what you do for him, and to him, to buy off what 
you have done against him ; that you may not fall into the 
hands of his wrath and vengeance. This makes all you do 
to be irksome. As a man that labours all his days to pay 
an old debt, and brings in nothing to lay up for himself, how 
tedious and wearisome is his work and labour to him. It is 
odds but that at one time or other, he will give over, and 
and run away from his creditor. So it is in this case ; men 
who have secret reserves of recompensing God by their 
obedience, every day find their debt growing upon them ; 
and have every day less hopes of making a satisfactory 
payment. This makes them weary, and for the most part 
they faint under their discouragements, and at length they 
fly wholly from God. This way alone will state things 
otherwise in your consciences ; it will give you to see, that 
all your debts are paid by Christ, and freely forgiven unto 
you by God. So that what you do is of gratitude or thank- 
fulness, hath an influence into eternity, leads to the glory of 
God, the honour of Christ in the gospel, and your own com- 
fortable account at the last day. This encourageth the soul 
to labour, to trade, to endeavour ; all things now looking 
forward, and unto his advantage. 

4. Find you not in yourselves an impotency, a disability 
unto the duties of obedience, as to their performance unto 
God in an acceptable manner? it may be you are not so 
sensible hereof as you ought to be. For respecting only or 
principally the outward part and performance of duties, you 
have not experience of your own weakness. How to enliven 
and fill up duties with faith, love, and delight, you know not ; 
and are therefore unacquainted with your own insufficiency 
in this matter; yet if you have any light, any convictions 
(and to such I speak at present), you cannot but perceive and 
understand, that you are not able in your obedience to an- 
swer what you aim at; you have not strength or power for 
it. Now it is this faith of foroiveness alone thai will furnish 
you with the ability, whereof you stand in need. Pardon 
comes not to the soul alone; or rather, Christ comes not to the 
soul with pardon only ; it is that which he opens the door 
and enters by ; but he comes with a Spirit of life and power. 


And as ' without him we can do nothing,' so through his 
enabling us, we may * do all things.' Receiving of gospel 
forgiveness engageth all the grace of the gospel unto our 

This is the sum of what hath been spoken; the obedience 
that you perform under your convictions is burdensome and 
unpleasant unto you ; it is altogether unacceptable to God. 
You lose all you do, and all that you hope to do hereafter, 
if the foundation be not laid in the receiving of pardon in 
the blood of Christ. It is high time to cast down all that vain 
and imaginary fabric which you have been erecting, and to go 
about the laying of a new foundation, which you may safely 
and cheerfully build upon ; a building that will abide for ever. 

Again, It is such a way, so excellent, so precious, so near 
the heart of God, so relating to the blood of Christ, that the 
neglect of it will assuredly be sorely revenged of the Lord. 
Let not men think that they shall despise the wisdom and 
love of the Father, the blood of the Son, and the promises 
of the gospel, at an easy rate. Let us in a very few words 
take a view of what the Holy Ghost speaks to this purpose. 
There are three ways whereby the vengeance due to the neg- 
lect of closing with forgiveness or gospel grace is expressed. 

L That is done positively: 'he that believeth not shall 
be damned ;' Mark xvi. 16. That is a hard word ; many men 
cannot endure to hear of it. They would not have it named 
by their good wills, and are ready to fly in the face of him 
from whose mouth it proceeds. But let not men deceive 
themselves ; this is the softest word that mercy and love it- 
self, that Christ, that the gospel speaks to despisers of for- 
giveness. It is Christ who is this legal terrifying preacher; 
it is he that cries out. If you believe not, you shall be damn- 
ed ; and will come himself * in flaming fire to take vengeance 
of them that obey not the gospel;' 2 Thess. ii. 8. This is 
the end of the disobedient; if God, if Christ, if the gospel 
may be believed. 

2. Comparatively, in reference unto the vengeance due 
to the breach of the law ; 2 Cor. ii. 16. We are in the preach- 
ing of forgiveness by Christ, unto them that perish, ' a savour 
of death unto death,' a deep death, a sore condemnation; so 
Heb. x. 29. ' Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall 
he be thought worthy :' sorer than ever was threatened by 



the law, or inflicted for the breach of it ; not as to the kind 
of punishment, but as to the degrees of it ; hence ariseth 
the addition of 'many stripes.' 

3. By the way of admiration at the inexpressibleness, 
and unavoidableness of the punishment due unto such sin- 
ners. Heb. ii. 3. ' How shall we escape if we neglect so 
^reat salvation ?' Surely there is no way for men to escape, 
they shall unavoidably perish who neglect so great salva- 
tion. So the Holy Ghost says, 1 Pet. iv. 11. 'What shall 
be the end of them that obey not the gospel?' What under- 
standing can reach to an apprehension of their miserable 
and woful condition ? None can, saith the Holy Ghost; nor 
can it be spoken to their capacity ; ah ! what shall their end 
be ? There remains nothing, but a * certain fearful looking 
for of judgment, and fiery indignation that shaU consume 
the adversaries ;' Heb. x. 27. A certain fearful expectation 
of astonishable things that cannot be comprehended. 

And these are the enforcements of the exhortation in 
hand, which I shall insist upon. On these foundations, on 
the consideration of these principles, let us now a little con- 
fer together with the words of truth and sobriety. I speak 
to such poor souls, as having deceived themselves, or neg- 
lected utterly their eternal condition, are not as yet really 
and in truth, made partakers of this forgiveness. Your pre- 
sent state is sad and deplorable. There is nothing but the 
woful uncertainty of a dying life between you and eternal 
ruin. That persuasion you have of forgiveness, is good for 
nothing but to harden you, and destroy you. It is not the 
forgiveness that is with God. Nor have you taken it up on 
gospel grounds or evidences. You have stolen painted beads, 
and take yourselves to be lawful possessors of pearls and 
jewels, As you are then any way concerned in your own 
eternal condition, which you are entering into (and how soon 
you shall be engaged in it you know not), prevail with your- 
selves to attend a little unto the exhortation that lies before 
you ; it is your own business that you are entreated to have 
regard unto- 

1. Consider seriously what it is you bottom your hopes 
and expectation upon as to eternity. Great men, and in 
other things wise, are here very apt to deceive themselves. 
They suppose they think and believe much otherwise than 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 263 

indeed they think and believe, as their cry at the last day 
will manifest. Put your souls a little unto it. Do you at 
all seriously think of these things ? Or, are you so under the 
power of your lusts, ignorance, and darkness, that you neg- 
lect and despise them ? Or, do you rise up and lie down, and 
perform some duties, or neglect them with a great coldness, 
remissness, and indifferency of spirit, like Gallic, not much 
caring for these things ? Or, do you relieve yourselves with 
hopes of future amendment, purposing that if you live, you 
will be other persons than you are, when such and such 
things are brought about and accomplished 1 Or, do you not 
hope well in general upon the account of what you have 
done, and will do ? If any of these express your condition, 
it is unspeakably miserable. You lie down and rise up under 
the wrath of the great God, who will prevail at last upon you, 
and there shall be none to deliver. If you shall say, Nay, 
this is not our state ; we rely on mercy and forgiveness : 
then let me in the fear of the great God entreat a few things 
yet farther of you. 

1. That you would seriously consider whether the for- 
giveness you rest on, and hope in, be that gospel forgiveness 
which we have before described ? or is it only a general ap- 
prehension of impunity, though you are sinners ; that God 
is merciful, and you hope in him, that you shall escape the 
vengeance of hell-fire ? If it be thus with you, forgiveness it- 
self will not relieve you. This is that of the presumptuous man, 
Deut. xxix. 19. Gospel-pardon is a thing of another nature ; 
it hath its spring in the gracious heart of the Father, is made 
out by a sovereign act of his will, rendered consistent with 
the glory of his justice and holiness by the blood of Christ, 
by which it is purchased in a covenant of grace, as hath been 
shewed. If you shall say, Yea, this is the forgiveness we 
rely upon, it is that which you have described ; then I de- 
sire farther that you would 

1. Examine your own hearts, how you came to have an 
interest in this forgiveness, to close with it, and to have a 
right unto it. A man may deceive himself as effectually by 
supposing that true riches are his, when they are not, as by 
supposing his false and counterfeit ware to be good and cur- 
rent ; how then come you to be interested in this gospel-for- 
giveness ? If it hath befallen you you know not how; if a 



lifeless, barren, inoperative persuasion of it hath crept upon 
your minds ; be not mistaken, God will come and require his 
forgiveness at your hands, and it shall appear that you have 
had no part nor portion in it. If you shall say. Nay, but 
we were convinced of sin, and rendered exceeding unquiet 
in our consciences, and on that account looked out after for- 
giveness, which hath given us rest ; then I desire, 

2. That you would diligently consider to what ends and 
purposes you have received, and do make use of, this gospel- 
forgiveness. Hath it been to make up what was wanting, 
and to piece up a peace inyour own consciences? that whereas 
you could not answer your convictions with your duties, you 
would seek for relief from forgiveness? This, and innume- 
rable other ways there are, whereby men may lose their souls 
when they think all is well with them, even on the account 
of pardon and mercy. Whence is that caution of the apostle, 
* Looking diligently lest any one should seem to fail,' or come 
short • of the grace of God ; ' Heb. xii. 15. Men miss it and 
come short of it, when they pretend themselves to be in the 
pursuit of it; yea, to have overtaken and possessed it. Now 
if any of these should prove to be your condition, I desire, 

3. That you would consider seriously, whether it be not 
high time for you to look out for a way of deliverance and 
escape, that you may save yourselves from this evil world, 
and fly from the wrath to come. The judge stands at the 
door. Before he deal with you as a judge, he knocks with 
a tender of mercy. Who knows, but that this may be the 
last time of his dealing thus with you. Be you old or young 
you have but your season, but your day ; it may perhaps be 
night with you, when it is day with the rest of the world. 
Your sun may go down at noon ; and God may swear that 
you shall not enter into his rest. If you are then resolved to 
continue in your present condition, I have no more to say 
Unto you. I am pure from your blood, in that I have de- 
clared unto you the counsel of God in this thing, and so I 
must leave you to a naked trial between the great God and 
your souls at the last day. Poor creatures, I even tremble to 
think, how he will tear you in pieces, when there shall be 
none to deliver. Methinks I see your poor destitute for- 
lorn souls, forsaken of lusts, sins, world, friends, angels, 
rnen, trembling before the throne of God, full of horror, and 

trpoN psaLjVI cxxx. 265 

fearful expectation of the dreadful sentence. Oh that 
I could mourn over you, whilst you are joined to all the 
living, whilst there is but hope ! oh that in this your day^ 
you knew the things of your peace ! 

But now if you shall say, Nay, but we will 'seek the Lord 
whilst he may be found,' we will draw nigh unto him before 
he cause darkness ; then consider I pray, 

4. What Joshua told the children of Israel, when they put 
themselves upon such a resolution, and cried out, ' we will 
serve the Lord our God;' chap. xxiv. 19. 'Ye cannot 
serve the Lord, for he is an holy God, ajealous God, he will 
not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.' Go to 
him upon your own account, and in your own strength, 
with your own best endeavours and duties, you will find him 
too great and too holy for you to deal withal. You will 
obtain neither acceptance of your persons, nor pardon of 
your sins. But you will say, this is heavy tidings. If you 
sit still you perish, and if you rise to be doing, it will not 
be better ; is there no hope left for our souls ? must we pine 
away under our sins and the wrath of God forever? God 
forbid. There are yet other directions remaining to guide 
you out of these entanglements. Wherefore, 

5. Ponder seriously on what hath been spoken of this way 
of approaching unto God. Consider it in its own nature, as 
to all the ends and purposes for which it is proposed of God : 
consider whether you approve of it or no. Do you judge it 
a way suited and fitted to bring glory unto God ? Doth it 
answer all the wants and distresses of your souls ? Do you 
think it excellent, safe, and glorious unto them who are en- 
tered into it? or have you any thing to object against it? 
Return your answer to him in whose name, and by whose 
appointment these words are spoken unto you. If you 
shall say, we are convinced that this way of forgiveness 
is the only way for the relief and deliverance of souls ; 

6. Abhor yourselves for all your blindness and obstinacy 
whereby you have hitherto despised the love of God, the 
blood of Christ, and the tenders of pardon in the gospel. 
Be abased and humbled to the dust, in a sense of your 
vileness, pollutions, and abominations ; which things are 
every day spoken unto, and need not here be repeated. And;, 


7. Labour to exercise your hearts greatly with thoughts 
of that abundant grace that is manifested in this way of 
sinners coming unto God; as also of the excellency of 
the gospel wherein it is unfolded. Consider the eternal 
love of the Father, which is the fountain and spring of this 
whole dispensation; the inexpressible love of the Son, in 
establishing and confirming it, in removing all hinderances 
and obstructions by his own blood, bringing forth unto 
beauty and glory this redemption or forgiveness of sin, as 
the price of it. And let the glory of the gospel, which alone 
makes this discovery of forgiveness in God, dwell in your 
hearts. Let your minds be exercised about these things. 
You will find effects from them, above all that hath as yet 
been brought forth in your souls. What for the most part 
have you hitherto been conversant about? when you have 
risen above the turmoiling of lusts and corruptions in your 
hearts, the entanglements of your callings, business, and 
affairs, what have you been able to raise your hearts unto? 
Perplexing fears about your condition, general hopes with- 
out savour or relish, yielding you no refreshment, legal com- 
mands, bondage-duties, distracted consciences, broken pur- 
poses and promises which you have been tossed up and down 
withal, without any certain rest. And what eflects have these 
thoughts produced ? have they made you more holy, and 
more humble? have they given you delight in God, and 
strength unto new obedience? Not at all. Where you were, 
there you still are, without the least progress. But now bring 
your souls unto these springs ; and try the Lord if from that 
day you be not blessed with spiritual stores. 

8. If the Lord be pleased to carry on your souls thus far, 
then stir up yourselves to choose and close with the way of 
forgiveness that hath been revealed. Choose it only, choose 
it in comparison with, and opposition unto, all others. Say 
you will be for Christ, and not for another, and be so accord- 
ingly. Here venture, here repose, here rest your souls. It 
is away of peace, safety, holiness, beauty, strength, power, 
liberty, and glory; you have the nature, the name, the 
love, the purposes, the promises, the covenant, the path of 
God ; the love, life, death, or blood, the mediation, or ob- 
lation and intercession of Jesus Christ. The power and 
efficacy of the Spirit, and gospel grace by him administered. 


to give you assurance of the excellency, the oneness, the 
safety of the way, whereunto you are engaging. 

If now the Lord shall be pleased to persuade your hearts 
and souls to enter upon the path marked out before you, and 
shall carry you on through the various exercises of it, unto 
this closure of faith, God will have the glory, the gospel 
will be exalted, and your own souls shall reap the eternal 
benefit of this exhortation. 

But now if notwithstanding all that hath been spoken, 
all the invitations you have had, and encouragements that 
have been held out unto you, you shall continue to despise 
this so great salvation, you will live and die in the state and 
condition wherein you are ; why then, as the prophet said to 
the wife of Jeroboam, come near, for I am sent unto you 
with heavy tidings. I say then, 

9. If you resolve to continue in the neglect of this salva- 
tion, and shall do so accordingly, then cursed be you of the 
Lord, with all the curses that are written in the law, and all 
the cursers that are denounced against despisers of the gos- 
pel. Yea, be you Anathema, Maranatha ; cursed in this 
world always, until the coming of the Lord ; and when the 
Lord comes, be ye cursed from his presence into everlasting 
destruction. Yea, curse them all ye holy angels of God, 
as the obstinate enemies of your king and head the Lord 
Jesus Christ. Curse them all ye churches of Christ, as 
despisers of that love and mercy which is your portion, your 
life, your inheritance; let all the saints of God, all that love 
the Lord, curse them, and rejoice to see the Lord coming 
forth mightily, and prevailing against them to their ever- 
lasting ruin. Why should any one have a thought of com- 
passion towards them, who despise the compassion of God? 
or of mercy towards them who trample on the blood of 
Christ? Whilst there is yet hope, we desire to have conti- 
nual sorrow for you ; and to travail in soul for your conver- 
sion to God ; but if you be hardened in your way, shall we 
join with you against him? shall we prefer you above his 
glory? shall we desire your salvation with the despoiling 
God of his honour? Nay, God forbid; we hope to rejoice 
in seeing all that vengeance and indignation, that is in the 
right hand of God, poured out unto eternity upon your 
souls : Prov. i. 21 — 33. 


Rules to be observed by them who would come to stability in obedience. The 
first rule. Christ the only infallible judge of our spirittial condition. 
How hejudgeth, by his word and Spirit- 

That which remaineth to be farther carried on, upon the 
principles laid down, is to persuade with souls mare or less 
entangled in the depths of sin, to close with this forgiveness 
by believing, unto their peace and consolation. And be- 
cause such persons are full of pleas and objections against 
themselves, I shall chiefly in what I have to say, endeavour 
to obviate these objections, so to encourage them unto be- 
lievinar. and bring; them unto settlement. And herein what- 
ever I have to offer flows naturally from the doctrine at 
large laid down and asserted. Yet I shall not in all parti- 
culars apply myself thereunto, but in general fix on those 
things that may tend to the establishment and consolation 
of both distressed and doubting souls. And 1 shall do what 
I purpose these two ways. 

First, I shall lay down such general rules as are necessary 
to be observed by all those who intend to come to gospel 
peace and comfort. And then, secondly, shall consider some 
such objections as seem to be most comprehensive of those 
special reasonings wherewith distressed persons do usually 
entangle themselves. 

I shall begin with general rules, which through the grace 
of Christ, and supples of his Spirit, may be of use unto 
believers in the condition under consideration. 


Be not judges of your own condition, but let Christ 
judge. You are invited to take the comfort of this gospel 
truth, that ' there is forgiveness with God.' You say not for 
you ; so said Jacob, ' My way is hid from the Lord ;' Isa. xl. 
47. and Sion said so too, chap. xlix. 14. 'The Lord hath 
forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.' But did 
they make a right judgment of themselves ? We find in those 
places that God was otherwise minded. This false judg- 
ment made by souls in their entanglements, of their own 
condition, is ofttimes a most unconquerable hinderance unto 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 269 

the bettering of it. They fill themselves with thoughts of their 
own about it, and on them they dwell, instead of looking 
out after a remedy. Misgiving thoughts of their distempers, 
are commonly a great part of some men's sickness. Many 
diseases are apt to cloud the thoughts, and to cause mis- 
apprehensions concerning their own nature and danger. 
And these delusions are a real part of the person's sickness. 
Nature is no less impaired and weakened by them, the 
efficacy of remedies no less obstructed, than by any other 
real distemper. In such cases we persuade men to acquiesce 
in the judgment of their skilful physician, not always to be 
wasting themselves in and by their own tainted imaginations, 
and so despond upon their own mistakes ; but to rest in what 
is informed them by him, who is acquainted with the causes 
and tendency of their indisposition better than themselves. 
It is ofttimes one part of the soul's depths to have false ap- 
prehensions of its condition. Sin is a madness, Eccles. 
ix. 3. so far as any one is under the power of it, he is under 
the power of madness. Madness doth not sooner, nor more 
effectually discover itself in any way or thing, than in pos- 
sessing them in whom it is, with strange conceits and ap- 
prehensions of themselves. So doth this madness of sin, 
according unto its degrees and prevalency. Hence some 
cry * Peace, peace, when sudden destruction is at hand ;' 
1 Thess. V. 3. It is that madness, under whose power they 
are, which gives them such groundless imaginations of them- 
selves and their own condition. And some say they are lost 
for ever, when God is with them. 

Do you then your duty, and let Christ judge of your state. 
Your concernment is too great to make it a reasonable de- 
mand, to commit the judgment of your condition to any 
other. When eternal welfare or woe are at the stake, for a 
man to renounce his own thoughts, to give up himself im- 
plicitly to the judgment of men fallible and liars like himself, 
is stupidity ; but there is no danger of being deceived by 
the sentence of Christ. The truth is, whether we will or no, 
he will judge ; and according as he determines so shall things 
be found at the last day. John v. 22. ' The Father judgeth 
no man' (that is, immediately and in his own person) ' but 
hath committed alljudgmentunto the Son.' All judgment that 
respects eternity, whether it be to be passed in this world or 


in that to come, is committed unto him. Accordingly in 
that place he judgeth both of things and persons ; things he 
determines upon, ver. 24. ' He that heareth my word, and 
believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and 
shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death 
unto life.' Let men say what they please, this sentence 
shall stand ; faith and eternal life are inseparably con- 
joined. And so of persons, ver. 38. ' You have not' (saith 
he to the Pharisees, who were much otherwise minded) 
' the word of God abiding in you.' 

Take not then the office and prerogative of Christ out of 
his hand, by making a judgment upon your own reasonings 
and conclusions, and deductions of your estate and condi- 
tion. You will find that he oftentimes, both on the one 
hand and on the other, determines quite contrary to what 
men judge of themselves; as also to what others judge 
of them. Some he judgeth to be in an evil condition, who 
are very confident that it is well with them, and who please 
themselves in the thoughts of many to the same purpose. 
And he judgeth the state of some to be good, who are diffi- 
dent in themselves, and it may be despised by others. We 
may single out an example or two in each kind. 

1. Laodicea's judgment of herself, and her spiritual state, 
we have. Rev. iii. 17. 'I am rich, and increased with 
goods, and have need of nothing.' A fair state it seems, a 
blessed condition. She wants nothing that may contribute 
to her rest, peace, and reputation ; she is orthodox, and nu- 
merous, and flourishing; makes a fair profession, and all is 
well within. So she believes, so she reports of herself; 
wherein there is a secret reflection also upon others whom 
she despiseth. Let them shift as they list, 1 am thus as I 
say. But was it so with her indeed ? was that her true 
condition whereof she was so persuaded, as to profess it 
unto all ? Let Jesus Christ be heard to speak in this cause, 
let him come and judge- I will do so, saith he, ver. 14. 
* Thus saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness.' Com- 
ing to give sentence in a case of this importance, he gives 
himself this title, that we may know his word is to be ac- 
quiesced in. Every man, saith he, is a liar ; their testimony 
is of no value, let them pronounce what they will of them- 
selves, or of one another; ' I am the Amen,' and T. will see 


whose word shall stand, mine or theirs. What then saith 
he of Laodicea ? ' Thou art wretched, and miserable, and 
poor, and blind, and naked.' O woful and sad disappoint- 
ment! O dreadful surprisal ! Ah, how many Laodicean 
churches have we in the world! How many professors are 
members of these churches ! Not to mention the generality 
of men that live under the means of grace, all which have 
good hopes of their eternal condition, whilst they are de- 
spised and abhorred by the only judge. Among professors 
themselves it is dreadful to think how many will be found 
light when they come to be weighed in this balance. 

2. Again, he judgeth some to be in a good condition, be 
they themselves never so diffident ; Rev. ii. 9. saith he to 
the church of Smyrna, ' I know thy poverty.' Smyrna was 
complaining that she was a poor, contemptible congregation, 
not fit for him to take any notice of. Well, saith he, fear 
not ; I know thy poverty, whereof thou complainest ; but 
thou art rich; that is my judgment, testimony, and sentence, 
concerning thee and thy condition. Such will be his judg- 
ment at the last day, when both those, on the one hand and 
the other, shall be surprised with his sentence : the one 
with joy at the riches of his grace; the other with terror 
at the severity of his justice. Matt. xxv. 37 — 39. 44, 45. 
This case is directly stated in both the places mentioned in 
the entrance of this discourse ; as in that, for instance, Isa. 
xlix. 14, ' Zion said. The Lord hath forsaken me.' That is 
Zion's judgment of herself, and her state and condition; a 
sad report and conclusion. But doth Christ agree with 
Zion in this sentence ? The next verse gives us his resolu- 
tion of this matter : * Can,' saith he, * a woman forget her 
sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the 
son of her womb? yea, she may forget, yet will not I forget 
thee.' The state of things, in truth, is as much otherwise 
as can possibly be thought or imagined. 

To what purpose is it for men to be passing a judoment 
upon themselves, when there is no manner of certainty in 
their determinations ; and when their proceeding thereon, 
will probably lead them to farther entanglements, if not to 
eternal ruin ? The judging of souls, as to their spiritual state 
and condition, is the work of Jesus Christ ; especially as to 
the end now under inquiry. Men may, men do, take many 


ways to make a judgment of themselves. Some do it on 
slight and trivial conjectures ; some on bold and wicked 
presumptions ; some on desperate atheistical notions, as 
Deut. xxix. 17. some, with more sobriety and sense of 
eternity, lay down principles that may be good and true in 
themselves, from thera they draw conclusions, arguing from 
one thing unto another, and in the end ofttimes either 
deceive themselves, or sit down no less in the dark, than 
they were at the entrance of their self-debate and examina- 
tion. A man's judgment upon his own reasonings is sel- 
dom true, more seldom permanent. I speak not of self- 
examination, with a due discussion of graces and actions, 
but of the final sentence as to state and condition, wherein 
the soul is to acquiesce. This belongs unto Christ. 

Now, there are two ways whereby the Lord Jesus Christ 
gives forth his decretory sentence in this matter. 

1. By his word. He determines, in the word of the 
gospel, of the state and condition of all men indefiuitely. 
Each individual coming to that word, receives his own sen- 
tence and doom. He told the Jews that Moses accused 
them, John v. 45. His law accused and condemned the 
transgressors of it. And so doth he acquit every one that 
is discharged by the word of the gospel. And our self- 
judging is but our receiving by faith his sentence in the 
word. His process herein we have recorded, Job xxxiii. 22, 
23. ' His soul' (that is of the sinner) ' draweth near to the 
grave, and his life to the destroyers.' This seems to be his 
state ; it is so indeed, he is at the very brink of the grave 
and hell. What then? why, if there be with him or stand 
over him, 2^'^D "j^^bo the angel interpreting, or the angel 
of the covenant, who alone is D'^x'^iO nnn the ' one of a 
thousand,' what shall he do ? ' He shall shew unto him his 
uprightness.' He shall give unto him a right determination 
of his interest in God, and of the state and frame of his 
heart towards God ; whereupon God shall speak peace unto 
his soul, and deliver him from his entanglements, ver. 24. 
Jesus Christ hath in the word of the gospel stated the con- 
dition of every man. He tells us, that sinners, of what sort 
soever they are, that believe, are accepted with him, and 
shall receive forgiveness from God, that none shall be re- 
fused or cast off that come unto God by him. The soul of 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 273 

whom we are treating is now upon the work of coming unto 
God for forgiveness by Jesus Christ. Many and weighty 
objections it hath in and against itself, why it should not 
come, why it shall not be accepted. Our Lord Jesus, the 
wisdom of God, foresaw all these objections ; he foreknew 
what could be said in the case, and yet he hath determined 
the matter, as hath been declared. In general, men's argu- 
ings against themselves arises from sin and the law. Christ 
knows what is in them both. He tried them to the utter- 
most as to their penalties ; and yet he hath so determined as 
we have shewed. Their particular objections are from par- 
ticular considerations of sin ; their greatness, their number, 
their aggravations. Christ knows all these also ; and yet 
stands to his former determination. Upon the whole mat- 
ter then, it is meet his word should stand. I know when a 
soul brings itself to be judged by the word of the gospel, it 
doth not always in a like manner receive and rest in the 
sentence given. But when Christ is pleased to speak the 
word with power to men, they shall ' hear the voice of the 
Son of God,' and be concluded by it. Let the soul then 
that is rising out of depths, and pressing towards a sense of 
forgiveness, lay itself down before the word of Christ in the 
gospel. Let him attend to what he speaks, and if for awhile 
it hath not power upon him to quiet his heart, let him wait 
a season, and light shall arise unto him out of darkness. 
Christ will give in his sentence into his conscience with 
that power and efficacy, as he shall find rest and peace 
in it. 

2. Christ also judgeth by his spirit; not only in making 
this sentence of the gospel to be received effectually in the 
soul, but in and by peculiar actings of his upon the heart 
and soul of a believer : 1 Cor. ii. 12, ' We have received the 
Spirit of God, that we may know the things that are freely 
given us of God.' The Spirit of Christ acquaints the soul, 
that this and that grace is from him, that this or that duty 
was performed in his strength. He brings to mind, what at 
such and such times was wrought in men by himself, to give 
them supportment and relief in the times of depths and 
darkness. And when it hath been clearly discovered unto 
the soul at any time by the Holy Ghost, that any thing 
wrought in it, or done by it, hath been truly saving; the 



comfort of it will abide in the midst of many shakings and 

2. He also by his Spirit bears witness with our spirits, 
as to our state and condition. Of this I have spoken large- 
ly elsewhere, and therefore shall now pass it by. 

This then is our first general rule and direction. Self- 
determinations concerning men's spiritual state and condi- 
tion, because their minds are usually influenced by their dis- 
tempers, are seldom right and according to rule. Mistakes 
in such determinations are exceedingly prejudicial to a soul 
seeking out after relief, and sense of forgiveness ; let Christ 
then be the judge in this case by his word and Spirit, as 
hath been directed. 


Self-condemnation and abhorrency for sin consistent with gospel justifi- 
cation and peace. The nature of gospel assurance ; what is consistent with 
it. What are the effects of it. 

Self-condemnation and abhorrency do very well consist 
with gospel justification and peace. Some men have no 
peace, because they have that, without which it is impos- 
sible they should have peace. Because they cannot but 
condemn themselves, they cannot entertain a sense, that God 
doth acquit them. But this is the mystery of the gospel, 
which unbelief is a stranger unto ; nothing but faith can 
give a real subsistence unto these things, in the same soul, 
at the same time. It is easy to learn the notion of it, but it 
is not easy to experience the power of it. For a man to 
have a sight of that within him, which would condemn him, 
for which he is troubled, and at the same time to have a dis- 
covery of that without him, which will justify him, and to 
rejoice therein, is that which he is not led unto, but by faith 
in the mystery of the gospel. We are now under a law 
for justification, which excludes all boasting; Rom. iii. 27. 
so that though we have joy enough in another, yet we may 
have, we always have, sufficient cause of humiliation in our- 
selves. The gospel will teach a man to feel sin, and believe 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 275 

righteousness at the same time. Faith will carry heaven in 
one hand, and hell in the other; shewing the one deserved, the 
other purchased. A man may see enough of his own sin and 
folly to bring ' Gehennam e Coelo,' a hell of wrath out of hea- 
ven ; and yet see Christ bring * Ccelum ex inferno,' a heaven 
of blessedness out of a hell of punishment. And these 
must needs produce very diverse, yea, contrary effects and 
operations in the soul. And he who knows not how to as- 
sign them their proper duties and seasons, must needs be 
perplexed. The work of self-condemnation, then, which men 
in these depths cannot but abound with, is in the disposi- 
tion of the covenant of grace, no way inconsistent with, nor 
unsuited unto, justification, and the enjoyment of peace in 
the sense of it. There may be a deep sense of sin on other 
considerations besides hell. David was never more humbled 
for sin, than when Nathan told him it was forgiven. And 
there may be a view of hell as deserved, which yet the soul 
may know itself freed from, as to the issue. 

To evidence our intendment in this discourse, I shall 
briefly consider what we intend by gospel assurance of for- 
giveness, that the soul may not be solicitous and perplexed, 
about the utter want of that, which perhaps it is already in 
some enjoyment of. 

Some men seem to place gospel assurance in a high 
unassaulted confidence of acceptance with God. They think 
it is in none but such, as if a man should go to them, and 
ask them. Are you certain you shall be saved? haveboldness, 
and confidence, and ostentation to answer presently. Yea, 
they are certain they shall be saved. But as the blessed 
truth of assurance hath been reproached in the world under 
such a notion of it, so such expressions become not them 
who know what it is to have to do with the holy God who 
is *a consuming fire.' Hence some conclude, that there are 
very few believers who have any assurance, because they 
have not this confidence, or are more free to mention the 
opposition they meet with, than the supportraent they en- 
joy. And thus it is rendered a matter not greatly to be de- 
sired, because it is so rarely to be obtained ; most of the 
saints serving God, and going to heaven well enough with- 
out it ; but the matter is otherwise. The importance of it, 
not only as it is our life of comfort and joy, but also as it is 



the principal means of the flourishing of our life of holiness, 
hath been declared before, and might be farther manifested, 
were that our present business, yea, and in times of trial, 
which are the proper seasons for the effectual working and 
manifestation of assurance, it will and doth appear, that 
many, yea, that most of the saints of God, are made par- 
takers of this grace and privilege. 

I shall then in the pursuit of the rule laid down, do these 
two things. 1. Shew what things they are which are not 
only consistent with assurance, but are even necessary con- 
comitants of it, which yet if not duly weighed and consi- 
dered, may seem so far to impeach a man's comfortable per- 
suasion of his condition before God, as to leave liim beneath 
the. assurance sought after. And, 

2. I shall speak somewhat of its nature : especially as 
manifesting itself by its effects. 

1. A deep sense of the evil of sin, of the guilt of man's 
own sin, is no way inconsistent with gospel assurance of ac- 
ceptance with God through Christ, and of forgiveness in 
him. By a sense of the guilt of sin, I understand two things. 
1. A clear conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost saying unto 
the soul, ' Thou art the man ;' and, 2. A sense of the dis- 
pleasure of God, or the wrath due to sin, according to the 
sentence of the law. Both these David expresseth in that 
complaint, Psal. xxxi. 10. ' My life is spent with grief, and 
my years with sighing : my strength faileth because of mine 
iniquity, and my bones are consumed.' His iniquity was 
before him, and a sense of it pressed him sore. But yet not- 
withstanding all this, he had a comfortable persuasion that 
God was his God in covenant, ver. 14. ' I trusted in thee, 

Lord : I said. Thou art my God.' And the tenor of the 
covenant, wherein alone God is the God of any person is, 
that he will be merciful unto their sin and iniquity. To whom 
he is a G^d, he is so according to the tenor of that cove- 
nant; so that here these two are conjoined. Saith he, Lord, 

1 am pressed with the sense of the guilt of mine iniquities, 
and thou art ray God who forgivest them. And the ground 
hereof is, that God by the gospel hath divided the work of 
the law, and taken part of it out of its hand. Its whole work 
and duty is to condemn the sin and the sinner. The sinner 
is freed by the gospel, but its right lies against the sin still, 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 277 

that it condemns, and that justly. Now though the sinner 
himself be freed, yet finding his sin laid hold of and con- 
demned, it fills him with a deep sense of its guilt, and of the 
displeasure of God against it ; which yet hinders not, but 
that at the same time, he may have such an insight as faith 
gives into his personal interest in a gospel acquitment. A 
man then may have a deep sense of sin all his days, walk 
under the sense of it continually, abhor himself for his in- 
gratitude, unbelief, and rebellion against God, without any 
impeachment of his assurance. 

2. Deep sorrow for sin is consistent with assurance of 
forgiveness. Yea it is a great means of preservation of it. 
Godly sorrow, mourning, humiliation, contriteness of spirit, 
are no less gospel graces, and fruits of the Holy Ghost, than 
faith itself; and so are consistent with the highest flourish- 
ings of faith whatever. It is the work of heaven itself, and 
not of the assurance of it, to wipe all tears from our eyes. 
Yea, these graces have the most eminent promises annexed 
to them, as Isa. Ivii. 15. Ixvi. 2. with blessedness itself. 
Matt. v. 4. yea, they are themselves the matter of many 
gracious gospel promises, Zech. xii. 10. so that they are as- 
suredly consistent with any other grace or privilege that v/e 
may be made partakers of; or are promised unto us. Some 
finding the weight and burden of their sins, and being called 
to mourning and humiliation on that account, are so taken 
up with it, as to lose the sense of forgiveness, which rightly 
improved, would promote their sorrow, as their sorrow seems 
directly to sweeten their sense of forgiveness. Sorrow ab- 
solutely exclusive of the faith of forgiveness, is legal, and 
tendetli unto death. Assurance, absolutely exclusive of 
godly sorrow, is presumption, and not a persuasion from 
him that calleth us. But gospel-sorrow and gospel-assur- 
ance may well dwell in the same breast at the same time. In- 
deed, as in all worldly joys there is a secret wound ; so in all 
godly sorrow and mom'ning considered in itself, there is a 
secret joy and refreshment ; hence it doth not wither and dry 
up, but rather enlarge, open, and sweeten the heart. I am 
persuaded that generally they mourn most, who have most 
assurance. And all true gospel mourners, will be found to 
have the root of assurance so grafted in them, that in ils 
proper season (a time of trouble) it will undoubtedly flourish. 


3. A deep sense of the indwelling power of sin, is con- 
sistent with gospel assurance. Sense of indwelling sin will 
cause manifold perplexities in the soul. Trouble, disquiet- 
ments, sorrow, and anguish of heart, expressing themselves 
in sighs, mourning, groaning for deliverance, always attend 
it. To what purpose do you speak to a soul highly sensible 
of the restless power of indwelling sin concerning assurance? 
Alas, saith he, I am ready to perish every moment, my lusts 
are strong, active, restless, yea, outrageous ; they give me 
no rest, no liberty, and but little success do I obtain. As- 
surance is for conquerors ; for them that live at rest and 
peace. I lie grovelling on the ground all my days, and must 
needs be uncertain what will be the issue. But when such 
a one hath done all he can, he will not be able to make 
more woful complaints of this matter than Paul hath done 
before him, Rom. vii. and yet he closeth the discourse of it 
with as high an expression of assurance as any person needs 
to seek after, ver. 25. and chap. viii. 1. It is not assurance, 
but enjoyment that excludes this sense and trouble. But if 
men will think they can have no assurance, because they 
have that, without which it is impossible they should have 
any, it is hard to give them relief. A little cruse of salt of 
the gospel cast into these bitter waters will make them sweet 
and wholesome. Sense of the guilt of sin may consist with 
faith of its pardon and forgiveness in the blood of Christ. 
Godly sorrow may dwell in the same heart at the same time, 
with joy in the Holy Ghost; and groaning after deliverance 
from the power of sin, with a gracious persuasion that * sin 
shall not have dominion over us, because we are not under 
the law but grace.' 

4. Doubtings, fears, temptations, if not ordinarily prevail- 
ing are consistent with gospel assurance. Though the devil's 
power be limited in reference unto the saints, yet his hands 
are not tied. Though he cannot prevail against them, yet he 
can assault them. And although there be not ' an evil heart 
of unbelief in believers, yet there will still be unbelief in 
their hearts. Such an evidence, conviction, and persuasion 
of acceptance with God as are exclusive of all contrary rea- 
sonings, that suffer the soul to hear nothing of objections, 
that free and quiet it from all assaults, are neither mentioned 
in the Scripture, nor consistent with that state wherein we 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 279 

walk before God, nor possible on the account of Satan's will 
and ability to tempt, or of our own remaining unbelief. As- 
surance encourageth us in our combat, it delivereth us not 
from it. We may have peace with God, when we have none 
from the assaults of Satan. 

Now unless a man do duly consider the tenor of the co- 
venant wherein we walk with God, and the nature of that 
gospel obedience which he requires at our hands, with the 
state and condition which is our lot and portion whilst we 
live in this world, the daily sense of these things, with the 
trouble that must be undergone on their account, may keep 
him in the dark unto himself, and hinder him from that esta- 
blishment in believing which otherwise he might attain unto 
On this account some as holy persons as any in this world, 
being wholly taken up with the consideration of these home- 
bred perplexities, and not clearly acquainted with the way 
and tenor of assuring their souls before God according to 
the rule of the covenant of grace, have passed away their 
days in a bondage frame of spirit, and unacquaintance with 
that strong consolation which God is abundantly willing that 
ail the heirs of promise should receive. 

5. Evangelical assurance is not a thing that consisteth in 
any point, and so incapable of variation. It may be higher 
or lower, greater or less, obscure or attended with more evi- 
dence. It is not quite lost, when it is not quite at its high- 
est. God sometimes marvellously raiseth the souls of his 
saints with some close and near approaches unto them ; gives 
them a sense of his eternal love; a taste of the embraces of 
his Son and the inhabitation of the Spirit, without the least 
intervening disturbance ; then this is their assurance. But 
this life is not a season to be always taking wages in; our 
work is not yet done, we are not always to abide in this 
mount; we must down again into the battle, fight again, cry 
again, complain again ; shall the soul be thought now to have 
lost its assurance ? Not at all. It had before assurance with 
joy, triumph, and exultation; it hath it now, or may have, 
with wrestling, cries, tears, and supplications. And a man's 
assurance may be as good as true, when he lies on the earth 
with a sense of sin, as when he is carried up to the third 
heaven with a sense of love, and foretaste of glory. In brief, 
this assurance of salvation is such a gracious, evangelical 


persuasion of acceptance with God in Christ, and of an in- 
terest in the promises of preservation unto the end, wrought 
in believers by the Holy Ghost, in and through the exercise 
of faith, as for the most part produceth these effects fol- 

1. It gives delight in obedience, and draws out love in the 
duties that unto God we do perform. So much assurance of 
a comfortable issue of their obedience, of a blessed end of 
their labours and duties, of their purifying their hearts, and 
pressing after universal renovation of mind and life, as may 
make them cheerful in them, as may give love and delight 
in the pursuit of what they are engaged in, is needful for the 
saints, and they do not often go without it; and where this 
is, there is gospel assurance. To run as men uncertain, to 
fight as those that beat the air, to travel as not any way per- 
suaded of a comfortable entertainment or refreshment at the 
journey's end, is a state and condition that God doth not fre- 
quently leave his people unto. And when he doth, it is a 
season wherein he receives very little of glory from them, and 
they verj little increase of grace in themselves. Many things, 
as hath been shewed, do interpose, many doubts arise and 
entangling perplexities, but still there is a comfortable per- 
suasion kept alive, that there is a rest provided, which makes 
them willing unto, and clieerful in, their most difficult duties. 
This prevaileth in them, that their labour in the Lord, their 
watchings, praying, suffering, alms, mortification, fighting 
against temptation, crucifying the flesh with the lusts there- 
of, shall not be in vain. This gives them such a delight in 
their most difficult duties, as men have in a hard journey to- 
wards a desirable home, or a place of rest. 

2. It casts out fear, tormenting fear, such as fills the soul 
with perplexing uncertainties, hard thoughts of God, and 
dreadful apprehensions of wrath to come. There are three 
things spoken concerning that fear, which is consistent with 
the assurance of forgiveness. First, With respect unto its 
principle, it is from a ' spirit of bondage;' Rom. viii. 15. 
• We have not again received the spirit of bondage unto fear.' 
It is not such a fear as makes an occasional incursion upon 
the mind or soul ; such as is excited and occasioned by in- 
cident darkness and temptation, such as the best, and per- 
sons of the highest'assurance are liable and obnoxious unto ; 

UPOiV PSALM cxxx. 281 

but It is such as hath a complete abiding principle in the 
soul, even a * spirit of bondage,' a prevailing frame con- 
stantly inclining it to fear, or dreadful apprehensions of God 
and its own condition. Secondly, That it tends to bondage, 
it brings the soul into bondage. Heb. ii. 14, 15. He died ' to 
deliver them who by fear of death were in bondage all their 
days.' Fear of death as penal, as it lies in the curse, which 
is that fear that proceeds from a ' spirit of bondage/ brings 
the persons in whom it is into bondage ; that is, it adds 
weariness, trouble, and anxiety of mind unto fear, and puts 
them upon all ways and means imaginable, unduly and dis- 
orderly to seek for a remedy or relief. Thirdly, It hath tor- 
ment; *Fear hath torment;' 1 John iv. LS. It gives no rest, 
no quietness unto the mind ; now this is so cast out by gos- 
pel assurance of forgiveness, that though it may assault the 
soul, it shall not possess it ; though it make incursions upon 
it, it shall not dwell, abide, and prevail in it. 

3. It gives the soul a hope and expectation of ' the glory 
that shall be revealed,' and secretly stirs it up and enlivens 
it unto a supportment in sufferings, trials, and temptations. 
This is the * hope which makes not ashamed ;' Rom. v. 5. 
and tliat, because it will never expose the soul unto disap- 
pointment. Wherever there is the root of assurance, there 
will be this fruit of hope. The proper object of it, is things 
absent, invisible, eternal ; the promised reward in all the no- 
tions, respects, and concernments of it. This hope goes out 
unto, in distresses, temptations, failings ; and under a sense 
of the guilt and power of sin. Hence ariseth a spring of se- 
cret relief in the soul, something that calms the heart, and 
quiets the spirit in the midst of many a storm. Now, as 
wherever assurance is, there will be this hope; so, wherever 
this secret relieving hope is, it grows on no other root, 
but a living persuasion of a personal interest in the things 
hoped for. 

4. As it will do many other things ; so that I may give 
one comprehensive instance, it will carry them out in whom it 
is, to die for Christ. Death unto men who saw not one step 
beyond it, was esteemed of all things most terrible. The 
way and means of its approach add unto its terror. But 
this is nothing iii comparison of what it is unto them who 
look tiirough it as a passage into ensuing eternity. For a' 

282 AX EXPOS III ox 

man then to choose death rather than life, in the most ter- 
rible manner of its approach, expecting an eternity to ensue, 
it argues a comfortable persuasion of a good state and con- 
dition after death. Now I am persuaded that there are hun- 
dreds, who upon gospel saving accounts would embrace a 
stake for the testimony of Jesus, who yet know not at all 
that they have the assurance we speak of, and yet nothing 
else would enable them thereunto. But these things being 
besides the main of my intendment, I shall pursue them no 
farther, only the rule is of use. Let the soul be sure to be 
well acquainted with the nature of that which it seeks after 
and confesseth a sense of the want of. 


Continuance in waiting necessary unto peace and consolation. The fourth 
rule. Remove the hinderances of believing hy a searching out of sin. 
Rules ami directions for that duly. 

Whatever your condition be, and your apprehension of 
it, yet continue waiting for a better issue, and give not over 
through weariness or impatience. This rule contains the 
sumof the great example given us in this psalm. Forgiveness 
in God being discovered, though no sense of a particular 
interest therein as yet obtained ; that which the soul applies 
itself unto, is diligent, careful, constant, persevering wailing; 
which is variously expressed in the fifth and sixth verses. 
The Holy Ghost tells us, that ' light is sown for the righ- 
teous, and gladness for the upright in heart ;' Psal. xcvii. 11. 
Light and gladness are the things now inquired after. De- 
liverance from darkness, misapprehensions of God, hard and 
misorivinor thoughts of his own condition, is that which a 
soul in its depths reacheth towards. Now saith the Holy 
Ghost, 'these things are sown for the righteous.' Doth the 
husbandman, after he casts his seed into the earth, imme- 
diately the next day, the next week, expect that it will be 
harvest? doth he think to reap so soon as he hath sown ? or 
doth he immediately say, I have laboured in vain, here is 
no return, I will pull up the edge of this field and lay it 
waste ? or I see a little grass in the blade, but no corn, I will 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 283 

give it to the beasts to devour it ? No ; his God, as the pro- 
phet speaks, instructs him unto discretion and teacheth 
him; namely, what he must do, and how he must look for 
things in their season. And shall not we be instructed by 
him ? ' Behold the husbandman,' saith James, 'waiteth for 
the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, 
until he receive the early and the latter rain ;' Jam. v. 7. And 
is light sown for them that are in darkness, and shall they 
stifle the seed under the clods, or spoil the tender blade that 
is springing up, or refuse to wait for the watering of the 
Spirit, that may bring it forth to perfection? Waiting is the 
only way to establishment and assurance; we cannot speed 
by our haste ; yea, nothing puts the end so far away, as 
making too much haste and speed in our journey. The 
ground hereof is, that a sense of a special interest in for- 
giveness and acceptance, is given in to the soul by a mere 
act of sovereignty. It is not, it will not, be obtained by or 
upon any rational conclusions or deductions that we can 
make : all that we can do is but to apply ourselves to the 
removal of hinderances. For the peace and rest souoht for 
come from mere prerogative. When he giveth quietness, 
who can give trouble ? and when he hideth his face, who 
can behold him?' Job xxxiv. 29. Now what is the way to 
receive that which comes from mere sovereignty and prero 
gative? doth not the nature of the thing require humble 
waiting ? If then either impatience cast the soul into froward 
ness, or weariness make it slothful, which are the two ways 
'whereby waiting is ruined ; let not such a one expect any com 
fortable issue of his contending for deliverance out of his 
depths. And let not any think to make out their difficulties 
any other way : their own reasonings will not bring them to 
any establishing conclusions ; for they may lay down propo- 
sitions, and have no considerable objections to lie against 
either of them, and yet be far enough from that sweet con- 
solation, joy, and assurance which is the product of the con 
elusion, when God is not pleased to give it in ; yea, a man 
may sometimes gather up consolation to himself upon such 
terms, but it will not abide. So did David, Psal. xxx. 6, 7. 
He thus argues with himself. He whose mountain is made 
strong, to whom God is a defence, he shall never be moved 
nor be shaken ; but I am thus settled of God, therefore I 


shall not be moved : and therein he rejoiceth. It is an ex- 
pression of exultation that he useth ; but what is the issue 
of it? in the midst of these pleasing thoughts of his, God 
hides his face, and he is troubled ; he cannot any longer 
draw out the sweetness of the conclusion mentioned. It 
was in him before from the shinings of God's countenance, 
and not from any arguings of his own. 

No disappointment then, no tediousness or weariness, 
should make the soul leave waiting on God, if it intend to 
attain consolation and establishment. So dealeth the church. 
Lam. iii. 21. ' This I recall to mind, therefore have I hope.' 
What is that she calls to mind ? This, that * it is of the 
Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, because his compas- 
sions fail not;' ver. 22. I will yet hope, I will yet continue 
in my expectation upon the account of never-failing compas- 
sion ; of endless mercies in him, whatever my present condi- 
tion be. And thence she makes a blessed conclusion, ver. 26. 
* It is good that a man should botli hope and quietly wait for 
the salvation of the Lord.' And this is our third rule. It is 
good to hope and wait, whatever our present condition be, 
and not to give over, if we would not be sure to fail : where- 
unto I speak no more, because the close of this psalm insists 
wholly on this duty, which must be farther spoken unto. 


Seeing, in the course of our believing and obedience, 
that which is chiefly incumbent on us, for our coming u]) to 
establishment and consolation, is spiritual diligence in the 
removal of the hinderances thereof; let the soul that would 
attain thereunto, make thorough work in the search of sin, 
even to the sins of youth ; that all scores on that account 
may clearly be wiped out. If there be much rubbish left in 
the foundation of the building, no wonder if it always shake 
and totter. Men's leaving of any sin unscarched to the bot- 
tom, will poison all their consolation. David knew this, 
when in dealing with God in his distresses, he prays that he 
would not 'remember the sins and transgressions of his 
youth ;' Psal. v. 7. Youth is oftentimes a time of great va- 
nity and unmindfulness of God ; many stains and spots are 
therein usually brought upon the consciences of men. 
• Childhood and youth are vanity ;' Eccles. xi. 10. Not be- 

UPON PSATM cxxx. 285 

cause they soon pass away, but because they are usually 
spent in vanity, as the following advice of chap. xii. 1. to 
remember God in those days, doth manifest. The way of 
many is to wear such things out of mind, and not to walk 
in a sense of their folly and madness, never to make thorough 
work with God about them. I speak of the saints them- 
selves ; for with others that live under the means of grace, 
whom God intends any way to make useful and industrious 
in their generation, this is the usual course ; by convic- 
tions, restraining grace, afflictions, love of employment and 
repute, God gives them another heart than they had for a 
season. Another heart, but not a new heart. Hence, an- 
other course of life, another profession, other actions than 
formerly do flow ; with this change they do content them- 
selves ; they look on what is past perhaps with delight, or 
as things fit enough for those days, but not for those they 
have attained unto ; here they rest, and therefore never 
come to rest. 

But I speak of the saints themselves, who make not such 
thorough, full, close work in this kind as they ought. An 
after-reckoning may come in on this hand to their own dis- 
turbance, and an unconquerable hinderance of their peace and 
settlement be brought in, on this account. So'was it with 
Job, cliap. xiii. 26. ' He makes me possess the sins of my 
youth.' God filled his heart, his thoughts, his mind with 
these sins j made them abide with him, so that he possessed 
them; they were always present with him. He made the 
sins of his youth the sufferings of his age. And it is a sad 
thing, as one speaks, when young sins and old bones meet 
together; as Zophar, chap. xx. 11. 'His bones are filled 
with the sins of his youth.' The joyous frame of some men's 
youth, makes way for sad work in their age. Take heed 
young ones, you are doing that vv'hich will abide with you 
to age, if not to eternity. This possessing of the sins of 
youth. Job calls, the ' writing of bitter things against him.' 
As indeed it is impossible but that sin should be bitter one 
time or other. God calls it a ' root that beareth gall and 
wormwood;' Deut. xxix. 18. 'A root of bitterness spring- 
ing up ivito defilement;' Heb. xii. 15. This then is to be 
searched out to tlie bottom. Israel will not have success 
nor peace whilst there is an Achan in the camp. Neither 

286 AX f'xposniox 

success in temptation, nor consolation in believing is to be 
expected, whilst any Achan, any sin unreckoned for, lies in 
the conscience. 

Now for them who would seriously accomplish a diligent 
search in this matter, which is of such importance unto 
them, let them take these two directions. 

1. Let them go over the consideration of those sins, and 
others of the like nature, which may be reduced unto the 
same general heads with them which we laid down before, 
as the sins which generally cast men into depths and en- 
tanglements. And if they find they have contrasted the 
guilt of any of them, let them not think strange that they 
are yet bewildered in their condition, and do come short of 
a refreshing sense of peace with God, or an interest in for- 
giveness. Rather let them admire the riches of patience, 
grace, and forbearance, that they are not cast utterly out of 
all hopes of a recovery. This will speed an end unto their 
trouble, according to the direction given. 

2. Let them cast the course of their times under such 
heads and seasons as may give them the more clear and dis- 
tinct view and apprehension of the passages in them be- 
tween God and their souls, which may have been provoking 
unto him. As, 

First, For the state of their inward man, let them con- 

First, The unregenerate part of their lives, that which 
was confessedly so, before they had any real work of God 
upon their hearts, and therein inquire after two things. 

1. If there were then any great and signal eruptions of 
sins against God; for of such God requires that a deep 
sense be kept on our souls all our days. How often do we 
find Paul calling over the sins of his life and ways before 
his conversion ? ' I was,' saith he, ' injurious, and a blasphe- 
mer.' Such reflections ought persons to have on any great 
provoking occasions of sin, that may keep them humble, 
and necessitate them constantly to look for a fresh sense of 
pardon through the blood of Christ. If such sins lie neg- 
lected, and not considered according to their importance, 
they will weaken the soul in its comforts whilst it lives in 
this world. 

2. If there were any signal intimations made of the good 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 287 

will and love of God to the soul, which it broke off from 
through the power of its corruption and temptation, they re- 
quire a due humbling consideration all our days ; but this 
hath been before spoken unto. 

Secondly, In that part of our lives, which upon the call 
of God we have given up unto him. There are two sorts of 
sins that do effectually impeach our future peace and com- 
fort, which ought therefore to be frequently renewed and is- 
sued in the blood of Christ. 1. Such as by reason of any 
aggravating circumstances have been accompanied with 
some especial unkindness towards God. Such are sins after 
warnings, communications of a sense of love, after particular 
engagements against them, relapses, omissions of great oppor- 
tunities and advantages for the furtherance of the glory of God 
in the world. These kinds of sins have much unkindness 
attending them, and will be searched out if we cover them. 
2. Sins attended with scandal towards fewer, or more, or any 
one single person who is or may be concerned in us. The 
aggravations of these kind of sins are commonly known. 

Thirdly, The various outward states and conditions 
which we have passed through, as of prosperity and afflic- 
tions, should in like manner fall under this search and con- 
sideration. It is but seldom that we fill up our duty, or an- 
swer the mind of God in any dispensation of providence. 
And if our neglect herein be not managed aright, they will 
undoubtedly hinder and interrupt our peace. 

R U L E V. 

The fifth rule. Dislinction between unbelief and jealous)/. The sixth rule. 
Distinction between faith and spiritual sense. 

Learn to distinguish between unbelief and jealousy. There 
is a twofold unbelief. l.That which is universal and privative, 
such as is in all unregenerate persons; they have no faith at 
all, that is, they are dead men and have no principles of 
spiritual life. This I speak not of, it is easily distinguished 
from any grace, being the utter enemy and privation as it 
were of them all. 2. There is an unbelief partial and negative, 
consisting in a staggering at, or questioning of, the promises. 


This is displeasing to God, a sin which is attended with un- 
known aggiavations, though men usually indulge it in them- 
selves. It is well expressed, Psal. Ixxviii. 19, 20. God had 
promised his presence to the people in the wilderness to 
feed, sustain, and preserve them. How did they entertain 
these promises of God? ' Can he,' say they, ' give bread? 
can he give flesh unto his people?' ver. 20. What great sin, 
crime, or offence is in this inquiry ? Why, ver. 19. this is call- 
ed speaking against God ; * they spake against God; they 
said. Can he furnish a table in the wilderness?' Unbelief 
in question of the promises is a speaking against God, a 
* limiting of the Holy One of Israel,' as it is called, ver. 41. 
An assigning of bounds to his goodness, power, kindness, and 
srace, according; to what we find in ourselves, which he ab- 
hors. By this unbelief we make God like ourselves; that is, 
our limiting of him, expecting no more from him, than either 
we can do, or see how it may be done. This you will say 
was a great sin in the Israelites, because they had no reason 
to doubt or question the promises of God. It is well we 
think so now ; but when they were so many thousand families, 
that had not one bit of bread, nor drop of water aforehaiid 
for tliemselves and their little ones, there is no doubt but 
they thought themselves to have as good reason to question 
the promises, as anyone of you can think that you have. 
We are ready to suppose that we have all the reasons in the 
world; eveiy onesupposeth he hath those that are more co- 
gent than any other hath to question the promises of grace, 
pardon, and forgiveness : and therefore the questioning of 
tliem is not their sin, but their duty. But pretend what we 
will, this is speaking against God, limiting of him, and that 
which is our keeping oflfrom steadfastness and comfort. 

But now there may be a jealousy in a gracious heart 
concerning the love of Christ, which is acceptable unto him, 
at least which he is tender towards, that may be mistaken for 
this questioning of the promises by unbelief, and so help to 
keep the soul in darkness and disconsolation : this the spouse 
expresseth in herself. Cant. viii. 6. ' Love is strong as death j 
jealousy is hard as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, 
which hath a most vehement flame.' Love is the foundation ; 
the root; but yet it bears that fruit which is bitter, although it 
be wholesome; that which fills the soul with great perplexi- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 289 

ties, and makes it cry out for a nearer and more secure ad- 
mission into the presence of Christ. ' Set me/ saith the 
spouse, ' as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arms, 
for jealousy is cruel as the grave.' I cannot bear this dis- 
tance from thee, these fears of my being disregarded by thee. 
' Set me as a seal on thy heart.' 

Now this spiritual jealousy is the solicitousness of the 
mind of a believer who hath a sincere love for Christ, about 
the heart, affection, and good will of Christ towards it, arising 
from a consciousness of its own unworthiness to be beloved 
by him, or accepted with him. All causeless jealousy ariseth 
from a secret sense and conviction of unworthiness in the 
person in whom it is, and a high esteem of him that is the 
object of it; or concerning whose love and affection any one 
is jealous. So it is with this spiritual jealousy; the root 
of it is love, sincere love, that cannot be quenched by waters, 
nor drowned by floods, ver. 7. which nothing can utterly pre- 
vail against, or overcome. This gives the soul high thoughts 
of the glorious excellencies of Christ, fills it with admiration 
of him; these are mixed with a due sense of its own base- 
ness, vileness, and unworthiness to be owned by him, or ac- 
cepted with him. Now if these thoughts on the one hand 
and on the other be not directed, guided, and managed aright 
by faith, which alone can shew the soul how the glory of 
Christ consisteth principally in this, that he being so excel- 
lent and glorious, is pleased to love us with love inexpres- 
sible who are vile and sinful; questionings about the love of 
Christ, and those attended with much anxiety and trouble of 
mind, will arise. Now this frame may sometimes be taken 
for a questioning of the promises of God, and that to be a 
defect in faith which is an excess of love; or at most such 
an irregular acting of it, as the Lord Christ will be very ten- 
der towards, and which is consistent with peace and a due 
sense of the forgiveness of sins. Mistake not then these one 
for another, lest much causeless unquietness ensue in the 
judgment which you are to make of yourselves. 

But you will say, how shall we distinguish between these 
two, so as not causelessly to be disquieted and perplexed; I 
answer briefly, 

1. Unbelief working in and by the questioning of the 
promises of God, is a weakening, disheartening, dispiriting 



thing, ft takes off the edge of the soul from spiritual 
duties, and weakens it both as unto delight and strength. 
The more any one questions the promises of God ; the less 
life, power, joy, and delight in obedience he hath. For faith 
is the spring and root of all other graces; and according as 
that thriveth or goeth backwards so do they all. Men 
think sometimes, that their uncertainty of the love of God 
and of acceptance with him by the forgiveness of sin, doth 
put them upon the performance of many duties, and they 
can have no rest or peace in the omission of them. It may 
be it is so; yea, this is the state and condition with many. 
But what are these duties? And how are they performed? 
And what is their acceptance with God? The duties them- 
selves are legal, which denomination ariseth not from the 
nature, substance, or matter of them, for they may be the 
same that are required and enjoined in the gospel, but from 
the principle from whence they proceed, and the end to 
which they are used. Now these in this case are both legal, 
their principle is legal fear, and their end is legal righteous- 
ness, the wliole attendance unto them a seeking ' of righ- 
teousness, as it were by the works of the law :' and how are 
they performed? Plainly, with a bondage frame of spirit; 
without love, joy, liberty, or delight; to quiet conscience, to 
pacify God, are the things in them aimed at; all in opposi- 
tion to the blood and righteousness of Christ. And are 
they accepted with God? Let them be multiplied never so 
riiuch, he every where testifieth that they are abhorred by 
him. This then unbelief mixed with convictions will do. It 
is the proper way of venting and exercising itself where the 
soul is brought under the power of conviction. But as unto 
gospel obedience in all the duties of it, to be carried on 
in communion with God by Christ, and delight in him, 
all question of the promises weakens and discourageth 
the soul, and makes them all wearisome and burdensome 
unto it. 

But the jealousy that is exercised about the person and 
love of Christ unto the soul, is quite of another nature, and 
produceth other effects. It cheers, enlivens, and enlargeth 
the soul, stirs up to activity, earnestness, and industry in 
its inquiries and desires after Christ. ' Jealousy,' saith the 
spouse, 'is hard as the grave; 'therefore 'set me as a seal upon 


thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm.' It makes the soul rest- 
lessly pant after nearer, more sensible, and more assured com- 
munion with Christ ; it stirs up vigorous and active spirits 
in all duties. Every doubt and fear that it ingenerates con- 
cerning the love of Christ, stirs up the soul unto more ear- 
nestness after him, delight in him, and sedulous vv'atching 
against every thing that may keep it at a distance from 
him, or occasion him to hide, withdraw, or absent himself 
from it. 

2. Unbelief that works by questioning of the promises, 
is universally selfish; it begins and ends in self. Self-love 
in desires after freedom from guilt, danger, and punish- 
ment, are the life and soul of it. May this end be attained, 
it hath no delight in God. Nor doth it care what way it 
be attained so it may be attained. May such persons 
have any persuasions that they shall be freed from death and 
hell, be it by the works of the law, or by the observance 
of any inventions of their own, whether any glory ariseth 
unto God from his grace and faithfulness or no, they are not 

The jealousy we speak of hath the person of Christ and 
his excellency for its constant object. These it fills the 
mind with in many and various thoughts, still representing 
him more and more amiable and more desirable unto the 
soul. So doth the spouse upon the like occasion, as you 
may see at large. Cant. v. 9 — 16. Being at some loss for his 
presence, for he had withdrawn himself, not finding her 
wonted communion and intercourse with him, fearing that 
upon her provocation she might forfeit her interest in his 
love, she falls upon the consideration of all his excellencies, 
and thereby the more inflames herself into desires after his 
company and enjoyment. All these divers things may be 
thus distinguished and discerned. 


Learn to distinguish between faith and spiritual sense. 
This rule the apostle gives us, 2 Cor. v. 7. * We walk by 
faith and not by sight.' It is the sight of glory that is 
especially here intended. But faith and sense in any kind 
are clearly distinguished. That may be believed, which is 



not felt. Yea, it is the will and command of God, that faith 
should stand and do its work, where all sense fails, Isa. 1. 10. 
And it is with spiritual sense in this matter, as it is with 
natural. Thomas would not believe, unless he saw the object 
of his faith with his eyes, or felt it with his hand : but saith 
our saviour, * Blessed are they who believe, and have not 
seen;' who believe upon the testimony of God, without the 
help of their own sense or reason. And, if we will believe 
no more of God, of his love, of grace, of our acceptance with 
him, than we have a spiritual affecting sense of, we shall be 
many times at a loss. Sensible impressions from God's 
love, are great springs of joy, but they are not absolutely 
necessary unto peace; nor unto an evidence that we do 

We will deal thus with the vilest person living. We will 
believe him whilst we have the certainty of our sense to 
secure us. And if we deal so with God, what is there in our 
so doing, praiseworthy? the prophet tells us what it is to 
believe, in respect of providence, Hab. iii. 17. When there 
is nothing left outward and visible to support us, then to rest 
quietly on God, that is to believe. So Psal. Ixxiii. 26. And 
the apostle, in the example of Abraham, shews us what it is 
to believe with respect unto a special promise, Rora. iv. 18. 
* Against hope, he believed in hope.' When he saw not any 
outward ordinary means for the accomplishment of the pro- 
mise, when innumerable objections arose against any such 
hope as might have respect unto such means, yet he resolved 
all his thoughts into the faithfulness of God in the promise, 
and therein raised a new hope in its accomplishment; so 'in 
hope believing against hope.' 

To clear this matter you must observe what I intend by 
this spiritual sense, which you must learn to distinguish faith 
from ; and to know that true faith interesting the soul in 
forgiveness may be without it, that so you may not conclude 
unto a real want of pardon, from the want of the refreshing 
sense of it. 

Grace in general may be referred unto two heads. 1. Our 
acceptation with God through Christ; the same upon the 
matter with the forgiveness of sin that we are treating of. 
And 2. Grace of sanctification from God in Christ. Of each 
of these there is a spiritual sense, or experience to be ob- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 293 

tained; in both distinguished from faith that gives us a real 
interest in forgiveness. 

Of the first, or the spiritual sense that we have of ac- 
ceptance with God, there are sundry parts or degrees ; as first, 
hereunto belongs peace with God ; Rom. v. 1. * Beingjusti- 
fied by faith, we have peace with God.' This peace is the 
rest and composure of the soul emerging out of troubles, 
upon the account of the reconciliation and friendship made 
for it by the blood of Christ. And it hath, as all peace hath, 
two parts; first,a freedom from war, trouble, and distress; 
and secondly, rest, satisfaction, and contentment in the con- 
dition attained. And this, at least the second part of it, be- 
longs unto the spiritual sense that we inquire after. Again, 
there is in it 'joy in the holy ghost,' called 'joy unspeakable, 
and full of glory,' 1 Pet. i. 8. as also glorying in the Lord, 
upon the account of his grace, Isa. xlv. 25. with many the 
like effects, proceeding from a 'shedding abroad of the love 
of God in our hearts;' Rom. v, 5. 

Yea, you say these are the things you aim at; these are 
the things you would attain, and be filled withal. It is this 
peace, this joy, this glorying in the Lord, that you would 
always be in the possession of. I say you do well to desire 
them, to seek and labour after them ; they are purchased 
by Christ for believers ; but you will do well to consider 
under what notion you do desire them. If you look on these 
things as belonging to the essence of faith, without which 
you can have no real interest in forgiveness or acceptance 
with God, you greatly deceive your own souls, and put your- 
selves out of the way of obtaining of them. These things are 
not believing, nor adequate effects of it so as immediately to 
be produced wherever faith is. But they are such conse- 
quents of it, as may or may not ensue upon it, according to 
the will of God. Faith is a seed that contains them virtually; 
and out of which they may be in due time educed by the 
working of the word and Spirit. And the way for any soul 
to be made partaker of them, is to wait on the sovereignty of 
God's grace, who createth peace in the exercise of faith upon 
the promises. He then that would place believing in these 
things, and will not be persuaded that he doth believe, 
until he is possessed of them ; he doth both lose the benefit, 
advantage, and comfort of what he hath, and neglecting 


the due acting of faith, puts himself out of the way of at- 
taining what he aimeth at. 

These things therefore are not needful to give you a real, 
saving interest in forgiveness, as it is tendered in the pro- 
mise of the gospel by the blood of Christ. And it may be 
it is not the will of God, that ever you should be intrusted 
with them. It may be, it would not be for your good and 
advantage so to be. Some servants that are ill husbands, 
must have their wages kept for them to the year's end, or it 
will do them no good. It may be some would be such spend- 
thrifts of satisfying peace and joy, and be so diverted by 
them from attending unto some necessary duties, as of humi- 
liation, mortification, and self-abasement, without which 
their souls cannot live, that it would not be much to their 
advantage to be intrusted with them. It is from the same 
care and love, that peace and joy are detained from some 
believers, and granted unto others. 

You are therefore to receive forgiveness by a pure act of 
believing, in the way and manner before at large described. 
And do not think that it is not in you, unless you have con- 
stantly a spiritual sense of it in your hearts. See in the mean 
time that your faith bringeth forth obedience, and God in 
due time will cause it to bring forth peace. 

The like may be said concerning the other head of grace ; 
though it be not so direct unto our purpose, yet tending also 
to the relief of the soul in its depths. This is the grace that 
we have from God in Christ for our sanctification. When 
the soul cannot find this in himself, when he hath not a spi- 
ritual sense and experience of its in-being and power, when 
it cannot evidently distinguish it from that which is not right 
or genuine ; it is filled with fears and perplexities, and thinks 
it is yet in its sin. He is so indeed who hath no grace in him ; 
but not he always who can find none in him. But these are 
different things. A man may have grace, and yet not have it 
at sometimes much acting; he may have grace'for life, when he 
hath it not for fruitfulness and comfort, though it be his duty 
so to have it. Rev. iii. 2. 2 Tim. i. 6. And a man may have 
grace acting in him, and yet not know, not be sensible that 
he hath acting grace. We see persons frequently under 
great temptations of apprehension that tiiey have no gi-ace 
at all, and yet at the same time to the clearest conviction of 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 295 

all who are able to discern spiritual things, sweetly and ge- 
nuinely to act faith, love, submission unto God, and that in 
a high and eminent manner, Psal. Ixxxviii. Heman com- 
plains that he was ' free among the dead ;' ' a man of no 
strength,' ver. 4, 5. as one that had no spiritual life, no grace. 
This afflicted his mind, and almost distracted him, ver. 15. 
and yet there can be no greater expressions of faith and love 
to God, than are mixed with his complaints. 

These things, I say then, are not to be judged of by spiri- 
tual sense, but we are to live by faith about them. And no 
soul ought to conclude, that because it hath not the one, it 
hath not the other ; that because it hath not joy and peace, it 
hath no interest in pardon and forgiveness. 


The seventh rule. Mix not foundation and building work together. The 
eighth ; spend not time in heartless complaints, ^-c. 

Mix not too much foundation and building work together. 
Our foundation in dealing with God is Christ alone, mere 
grace and pardon in him. 

Our building is in and by holiness and obedience, a« the 
fruits of that faith by which we have received the atonement. 
And great mistakes there are in this matter which bring great 
entanglements on the souls of men. Some are all their days 
laying of the foundation, and are never able to build upon 
it unto any comfort to themselves, or usefulness unto others. 
And the reason is, because they will be mixing with the 
foundation, stones that are fit only for the following build- 
ing. They will be bringing their obedience, duties, morti- 
fication of sin, and the like, unto the foundation. These 
are precious stones to build with, but unmeet to be first laid 
to bear upon them the whole weight of the building. The 
foundation is to be laid, as was said, in mere grace, mercy, 
pardon in the blood of Christ. This the soul is to accept of 
and to rest in merely as it is grace, without the considera- 
tion of any thing in itself, but that it is sinful and obnoxi- 
ous unto ruin : this it finds a difficulty in, and would gladly 
have something of its own to mix with it. It cannot tell 



how to fix these foundation stones without some cement of 
Its own endeavours and duty. And because these things 
will not mix, they spend a fruitless labour about it all their 
days. But if the foundation be of grace, it is not at all of 
works ; for * otherwise grace is no more grace.' If any thing 
of our own be mixed with grace in this matter, it utterly de- 
stroys the nature of grace ; which if it be not alone, it is 
not at all. But doth this not tend to licentiousness ? doth 
not this render obedience, holiness, duties, mortification 
of sin, and good works, needless? God forbid; yea, this 
is the only way to order them aright unto the glory of God. 
Have we nothing to do but to lay the foundation ? Yes, all 
our days we are to build upon it, when it is surely and 
firmly laid. And these are the means and ways of our edifi- 
cation. This then is the soul to do who would come to 
peace and settlement. Let it let go all former endeavours 
if it have been engaged unto any of that kind ; and let it 
alone receive, admit of, and adhere to, mere grace, mercy, 
and pardon, with a full sense that in itself it hath nothing 
for which it should have an interest in them, but that all is 
of mere grace through Jesus Christ. 'Other foundation can 
no man lay.' Depart not hence until this work be well over. 
Surcease not an earnest endeavour with your own hearts to 
acquiesce in this righteousness of God, and to bring your 
souls unto a comfortable persuasion that ' God for Christ's 
sake hath freely forgiven you all your sins.' Stir not hence 
until this be effected. If you have been engaged in another 
way, that is, to seek for an interest in the pardon of sin by 
some endeavours of your own, it is not unlikely but that 
you are filled with the fruit of your own doings ; that is, 
that you go on with all kind of uncertainties, and without 
any kind of constant peace. Return then again hither; 
bring this foundation work to a blessed issue in the blood 
of Christ, and when that is done, up and be doing. 

You know how fatal and ruinous it is for souls to aljuse 
the grace of God, and the apprehension of the pardon of 
sins in the course of their obedience ; to countenance them- 
selves in sin, or the negligence of any duty; this is to turn 
the grace of God into wantonness, as we have elsewhere at 
large declared. And it is no less pernicious to bring the 
duties of our obedience, any reserves for them, any hopes 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 297 

about them, into the matter of pardon and forgiveness, as 
we are to receive them from God. But these things, as 
they are distinct in themselves, so they must be distinctly 
managed in the soul ; and the confounding of them, is that 
which disturbs the peace and weakens the obedience of 
many. In a confused manner they labour to keep up a life 
of grace and duty, which will be in their places conjoined, 
but not mixed or compounded. 

First, to take up mercy, pardon, and forgiveness abso- 
lutely on the account of Christ, and then to yield all obe- 
dience in the strength of Christ, and for the love of Christ, 
is the life of a believer; Eph. ii. 8 — 10. 


Take heed of spending time in complaints, when vigor- 
ous actings of grace are your duty. Fruitless and heartless 
complaints, bemoanings of themselves and their condition, 
is the substance of the profession that some make. If they 
can object against themselves, and form complaints out of 
their conditions, they suppose they have done their duty. 
I have known some who have spent a good part of their time 
in going up and down from one to another with their ob- 
jections and complaints. These things are contrary to the 
life of faith. It is good indeed, in our spiritual distresses, 
to apply ourselves unto them who are furnished with the 
tongue of the learned, to know how to speak a word in 
season unto him that is weary. But for persons to fill their 
minds and imaginations with their own objections and com- 
plaints, not endeavouring to mix the words that are spoken 
for their relief and direction with faith, but going on still 
in their own way, this is of no use or advantage. And yet 
some, I fear, may please themselves in such course, as if it 
had somewhat of eminency in religion in it. 

Others, it may be, drive the same trade in their thoughts, 
although they make not outwardly such complaints. They 
are conversant for the most part with heartless despondings. 
And in some they are multiplied by their natural constitutions 
or distempers. Examples of this kind occur unto us every 
day. Now what is the advantage of these things ? what 
did Sion get when she cried, * The Lord hath forsaken me. 


and ray God hath forgotten me V or Jacob, when he said, 
* My vray is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed 
over from my God?' Doubtless they did prejudice them- 
selves. How doth David rouse up himself when he found 
his mind inclinable unto such a frame ? For having; said. 
' Why dost thou cast me off, O God? why go I mourning 
because of the oppression of mine enemy?' He quickly re- 
bukes and recollects himself, saying, ' Why art thou cast 
down O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me ? 
hope in God ;' Psal. xliii. 2. 5. 

We must say then unto such heartless complainers, as 
God did to Joshua, Get you up, why lie you thus upon your 
faces ? Do you think to mend your condition by wishing 
it better, or complaining it is so bad ? Are your complaints 
of want of an interest in forgiveness, a sanctified means to 
obtain it ? Not at all ; you will not deal so with yourselves 
in things natural or civil. In such things you will take an 
industrious course for a remedy, or for relief. In things of 
the smallest importance in this world, and unto this life, 
you will not content yourselves with wishing and complain- 
ing. As though industry in the use of natural means for 
the attaining of natural ends, were the ordinance of God, 
and diligence in the use of spiritual means for the obtaining 
of spiritual ends were not. 

Do not consult your Own hearts only. What is it that 
the Scripture calls for in your condition ? Is it not industry 
and activity of spirit ? And what doth the nature of the 
thing require? Distress that is yet hoped to be conquered, 
evidently calls for industry and diligence in the use of means 
for deliverance. If you are past hope, it avails not to com- 
plain ; if you are not, why do you give up yourselves to 
despondencies ? Our Saviour tells us, that 'the kingdom of 
heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force ;' 
Matt. xi. 12. It is not of the outward violence of its enemies 
seeking to destroy it, that our Saviour speaks ; but of that 
spiritual fervency and ardency of mind, that is in those who 
intend to be partakers of it : for ^laZerai, ' is taken by force,' 
Luke xvi. 16. is no more but evavyeXiKtrai, 'is preached', the 
kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it ; 
pressing into it, and taking it by force, are the same thing. 
There is then a violence, a restless activity and vigour of spirit 


to be used and exercised for an interest in this kingdom. Ap- 
ply this to your condition. Are you in depths and doubts, 
staggering and uncertain, not knowing what is your condi- 
tion, nor whether you have any interest in the forgiveness that 
is with God? Are you tossed up and down between hopes 
and fears, want peace, consolation, and establishment ; why 
lie you upon your faces ? get up, watch, pray, fast, medi- 
tate, offer violence to your lusts and corruptions; fear not, 
startle not at their crying or importunities to be spared ; 
press unto the throne of grace by prayers, supplications, 
importunities, restless requests. This is the way to take the 
kingdom of heaven. These things are not peace, they are 
not assurance, but they are part of the means that God hath 
appointed for the attainment of them. 

What then is the peculiar instruction that is proper for 
souls in this condition ? That plainly of the apostle, 2 Pet. 
i. 10. ' Give all diligence to make your calling and election 
sure.' Alas ! saith the soul, I am at no certainty, but rather am 
afflicted and tossed, and not comforted; my heart will come 
to no stability ; I have no assurance, know not whether I am 
chosen or called ; yea, fear that my latter end will be darkness 
and sorrow. There is I confess forgiveness with God, but 
justly fear I shall never be made partaker of it. What is the 
usual course that is taken in such complaints by them to whom 
they are made ? Mostly they have a good opinion of them 
that come with these complaints: they judge them to be 
godly and holy, though much in the dark ; if they knew 
them not before, yet upon these complaints they begin to 
be well pursuaded of them. Hereupon they are moved with 
pity and compassion, and troubled to see them in their per- 
plexities, and set themselves to tender relief unto them : 
they mind them of the gracious promises of the gospel ; it 
may be fix upon some one or more of them in particular, 
which they explain to them: thence they mind them of the 
abundant grace and tender love of the Father, of the merci- 
ful care of our High Priest, his readiness and ability to save, 
his communications of such favours unto them as they 
perceive not. By such ways and means, by such applica- 
tions, do they seek to relieve them in the state and condition 
wherein they are. But what is the issue ? Doth not this 
relief prove, for the most part, like the morning cloud and as 



the early dew ? A little refreshment it may be it yields for a 
season, but is quickly again dried up, and the soul left in 
its heartless, withering condition. 

You will say then. Do you condemn this manner of pro- 
ceeding with the souls of men in their doubts, fears, and 
distresses? or would you have them pine away under the 
sense of their condition, or abide in this uncertainty all their 
days ? I answer, no ; I condemn not the way, I would not 
have any left comfortless in their depths. But yet I would 
give these two cautions. 

1. That spiritual wisdom and prudence is greatly required 
in this matter, in the administration of consolation to dis- 
tressed souls. If in any thing, the tongue of the spiritually 
learned is required herein ; namely, in speaking a word in sea- 
son to them that are weary, A promiscuous drawing out of 
gospel consolations, without a previous right judgment con- 
cerning the true state and condition of the souls applied unto, 
is seldom useful, ofttimes pernicious. And let men take 
care, how they commit their souls and consciences unto such 
who have good words in readmess for all comers. 

2. If counsel and consolation of this kind be given, special 
and distinct from the advice we are upon of watchfulness, 
diligence, spiritual violence in a way of duty ; it is exceed- 
ing dangerous, and will assuredly prove useless. For let us 
see what counsel the Holy Ghost gives in this condition, unto 
them who would make their 'calling and election sure,' who 
would be freed from their present fears and uncertainties, 
who complain of their darkness and dangers ; why, saith he, 
* Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue ;' and so on, ver. 
5. * For' saith he, ' if you do these things, an entrance shall be 
administered unto you abundantly, into the everlasting king- 
dom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;' ver. 11. You 
who are now in the skirts of it, who know not whether you 
belong to it or no, you shall have an entrance into the king- 
dom of Christ, and all the joy, comforts, consolations, and 
glory of it, shall be richly administered unto you. This is 
the advice that the Holy Ghost gives in this case ; and this is 
the blessed promise annexed unto the following of this ad- 
vice. And this the farmer compassionate course of ad- 
ministering consolation, is not to be separated from. 

But you will it may be here say. We are so dead and dull. 


SO chained under the power of corruptions and temptations, 
that we are not able thus to put forth the fruit of a spiritual 
life in adding one grace unto another. But do you use di- 
ligence, study, endeavours, all diligence, diligence at all times, 
in all ways by God appointed, all manner of diligence with- 
in and without, in private and public, to this end and 
purpose? Do you study, meditate, pray, watch, fast, neglect 
no opportunity, keep your hearts, search, try, examine your- 
selves, fly temptations, and occasions of cooling, deadening, 
and stifling grace? Do these things abound in you? Alas, 
you cannot do thus, you are so weak, so indisposed ; but 
alas you will not, you will not part with your ease, you will 
not crucify your lusts, you will not use all diligence; but 
must come to it, or be contented to spend all your days in 
darkness, and to lie down in sorrow. 

Thus do men frequently miscarry. Is it any news for per- 
sons to bewail the folly of their nature and ways in the morn- 
ing and evening, and yet scarce stand upon their watch any 
part of the day, or in any occasion of the day ? Is this * giving 
all diligence?' Is this 'working out our salvation with fear 
and trembling ?' And may we not see professors, even in- 
dulging to themselves in ways of vanity, folly, wrath, envy, 
sloth, and the like, and yet complain at what a loss they are 
how unquiet, how uncertain ? God forbid it should be other- 
wise with you ; that we should endeavour to speak peace unto 
you in such a frame. To hear of a person, that he walks 
slothfully, carelessly, or indulgeth his corruptions, and to 
find him complaining that he is at a loss whether he have 
any interest in pardon or no, to give or tender comfort 
to such mourners without a due admonition of their duty to 
use diligence in the use of means, for to help on their deli- 
very out of the condition wherein they are, is to tender 
poison unto them. 

To this then the soul must come that is in depths, if it 
intend to be delivered. Heartless complaints, with excuses 
to keep it from vigorous, spiritual diligence must be laid 
aside ; if not, ordinarily, peace, rest, and stability will not 
be obtained. A great example hereof we have in the spouse, 
Cant. V. 2 — 8. She is drowsy and indisposed unto commu- 
nion with Christ, whereunto she is invited, ver. 2. this puts 
her upon making excuses from the unfitness of the time. 


and her present indisposition and unpreparedness as to the 
duty whereunto she was called, ver 3. Hereupon Christ 
withdraws his presence from her, and leaves her at a loss as 
to her former comforts, ver. 6. What course doth she now 
take? doth she now lie down again in her former slumber? 
doth she make use of her former excuses and pretences, why 
she should not engage into the duties she was called unto? 
No such thing; but now with all earnestness, deligence, 
sedulity, and importunity, she engageth in all manner of 
duties, whereby she may recover her former comforts, as you 
may see in the text. And this must be the course of others, 
who would obtain the same success. Spiritual peace and 
sloth, will never dwell together in the same soul and con- 


' Tlie ninth rule. Take heed of undue expressions concerning God 
and his ways in distress. 

Take heed in doubts, distresses, and perplexities of hard 
thoughts of God ; hasty unweighed expressions concern- 
ing him or his ways, or of secret resolves, that it were as 
good give over waiting as continue in the state wherein 
you are, seeing your condition is remediless. 

On three occasions are such thoughts and resolves apt to 
befall the minds of men, which somestimes breakforth into 
unwarantable expressions concerning God himself and his 

1. In deep perplexities of mind, by reason of some pres- 
sing terror from the Lord. 

2. On the long wearisome continuance of some tempting 
distress, and hereof we have many examples, some whereof 
shall be mentioned. 

3. In spiritual disappointments through the strength of 
lust or temptation. When a person hath it may be reco- 
vered himself through grace, from a perplexing sense of the 
guilt of some sin, or it may be from a course shorter or 
longer, lesser or greater of backsliding and negligent walk- 
ing with God, and therein goes on cheerfully for a season 
in the course of his obedience; if this person, through the 


power of temptation, subtilty of lusts, neglect of watchful- 
ness, by one means or other, is surprised in the sins, or ways 
that he had relinquished, or is turned aside from the vigour 
of that course wherein he was engaged, he may be exposed 
not only to great despondencies, but also be overtaken with 
secret resolves to give over contending, seeing it is to no 
more purpose, nay, to no purpose, and that God regards him 
not at all. 

Take an instance or two in each kind. 

The first we have in Job in the extremity of his trials 
and terrors from the Lord. See among other places, chap. 
X. 3. * Is it,' saith he to God, 'good for thee that thou 
shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thy 
hands ?' Ah poor worms, with whom have we to do ? who shall 
say unto a king, Thou art wicked, and to princes, ye are un- 
godly? And will ye speak to him, who respecteth not the 
person of princes, nor regardeth them more than the poorest 
in the earth ? And see what conclusions from such thoughts 
as these he doth infer, chap. xiv. 15 — 17. * Thou num- 
berest ray steps: dost thou not watch over ray sin? My 
transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up my 
iniquity,' He chargeth God to be his enemy, one that 
watched for all opportunities and advantages against him, 
that seemed to be glad at his halting, and take care that none 
of his sins should be missing when he intended to deal with 
him. Had this indeed been the case with him, he had pe- 
rished unto eternity, as elsewhere he acknowledged. 

Of the other, we have an instance in the church. Lam. 
iii. 18. * I said. My strength and my hope is perished from 
the Lord.' Present grace in spiritual strength, and future 
expectation of mercy are all gone. And what is got by 
this? Secret hard thoughts of God himself are hereby inge- 
nerated, as ver. 8. ' When I cry and shout, he shutteth out ray 
prayers :' ver. 44. * Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, 
that our prayers should not pass through.' These things 
are grievous unto God to bear, and no way useful to the soul 
in its condition. Yea, they more and more unfit it for every 
duty that may lie in a tendency to its relief and deliverance. 

So was it with Jonah, chap. ii. 4. ' I said, I am cast out 
of thy sight;' all is lost and gone with me, as good give over 
as contend, I do but labour in vain; perish I must as one 


cast out of the sight of God. The like complaints fell also 
from Heman in his distress; Psal. Ixxxviii. 

The general who heard one of his soldiers cry out upon 
a fresh onset of the enemy, Now we are undone, now we are 
ruined; called him a traitor, and told him it was not so, 
whilst he could wield his sword. It is not for every private 
soldier on every danger to make judgment of the battle. 
That is the work of the general. Jesus Christ is * the captain 
of our salvation,' he hath undertaken the leading and con- 
duct of our souls through all our difficulties. Our duty is 
to fight and contend ; his work is to take care of the event ; 
and to him it is to be committed. 

That then you make a due use of this rule, keep always 
in your minds these two considerations. 

1. That it is not for you to take the judgment of Christ out 
of his hand, and to be passing sentence upon your own souls. 
Judgment as to the state and condition of men is committed 
unto Christ, and to him it is to be left. This we were directed 
unto in our first rule, and it is of special use in the case un- 
der consideration. Self-judging in reference unto sin, and 
the demerit of it, is our duty. The judging of our state and 
condition in relation unto the remedy provided, is the office 
and work of Jesus Christ, with whom it is to be left. 

2. Consider that hard thoughts of what God will do with 
you, and harsh desponding sentences pronounced against 
yourselves, will insensibly alienate your hearts from God. 
It may be when men's perplexities are at the height, and the 
most sad expressions are as it were wrested from them, they 
yet think they must justify God, and that they do so accord- 
ingly. But yet such thoughts as those mentioned, are very apt 
to infect the mind with other inclinations. For after awhile 
they will prevail with the soul to look on God as an enemy, 
as one that hath no delight in it; and what will be the con- 
sequence thereof is easily discernable. None will continue 
to love long, where they expect no returns. Suffer not then 
your minds to be tainted with such thoughts; and let not 
God be dishonoured by any such expressions as reflect on 
that infinite grace and compassion which he is exercising 
towards you. 



The tenth rule. Duly improve the least appearances of God in a 
way of grace or pardon. 

If you would come to stability, and a comforting persua- 
sion of an interest in forgiveness by the blood of Christ, im- 
prove the least appearances of him unto your souls, and the 
least intimations of his love in pardon, that are made unto 
you in the way of God. The spouse takes notice of her hus- 
band, and rejoiceth in him, when he stands behind the wall, 
when he doth but look forth at the window, and shew him- 
self at the lattice, when she could have no clear sight of him ; 
Cant. ii. 9. She lays hold on the least appearance of him 
to support her heart withal, and to stir up her affections to- 
wards him. Men in dangers do not sit still to wait until 
something presents itself unto them that will give assured 
deliverance ; but they close with that which first presents it- 
self unto them, that is of the same kind and nature with 
what they look after. And thus God doth in many places 
express such supportments as give the soul little more than 
a possibility of attaining the end aimed at. As Zeph. ii. 3. 
* It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger :' 
and Joel ii. 14. ' Who knoweth but he will return and leave 
a blessing V It may be we shall be hid ; it may be we shall 
have a blessing. And this was the best ground that Jona- 
than had for the great undertaking against the enemies of 
God ; 1 Sam. xiv. 6. * It may be God will go along with us.' 
And to what end doth God at any time make these seem- 
ingly dubious intimations of grace and mercy? is it that we 
should by the difficulty included in them, be discouraged 
and kept from him ? Not at all ; he speaks nothing to de- 
ter sinners, especially distressed sinners, from trusting in 
him. But his end is that we should close with, and lay 
hold upon, and improve, the least appearances of grace, 
which this kind of expressions do give unto us. When men 
are in a voyage at sea, and meet with a storm or a tempest 
which abides upon them, and they fear will at last prevail 
against them ; if they make so far a discovery of land, as 
that they can say, It may be there is land, it may be it is 



such a place where there is a safe harbour ; none can posi- 
tively say, it is not; there lies no demonstration against it. 
In this condition, especially if there be no other way of es- 
cape, delivery, or safety proposed to them, this is enough to 
make them to followon that discovery, and with all diligence 
to steer their course that way, until they have made a trial of 
it unto the utmost. The soul of which we speak is afflicted 
and tossed, and not comforted. There is in the intimation 
of grace and pardon intended, a remote discovery made of 
some relief. This may be Christ; it may be forgiveness. 
This it is convinced of; it cannot deny but at such or such 
a time, under such ordinances, or in such duties, it was per- 
suaded that yet there might be mercy and pardon for it. 
This is enough to carry it to steer its course constantly that 
way; to press forward unto that harbour which will give it 
rest. How little was it that David had to bring his soul 
unto a composure in his great distress, 2 Sam. xv. 25, 2b'. 
* If,' saith he, ' I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he 
will bring me again, and shew me the ark, and tlie place of 
his habitation ; but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, 
behold here am I, let him do unto me as seemeth good unto 
him.' He hath nothing but sovereign grace to rest upon, 
and that he gives himself up unto. 

Faith is indeed the soul's venture for eternity. Some- 
thins: it is to venture on, as to its eternal condition. It 
must either adhere unto itself, or its own vain hopes of a 
righteousness of its own ; or it must give over all expecta- 
tion and lay down in darkness ; or it must shut out all dread- 
ful apprehensions of eternity, by the power and activity of 
its lusts and carnal affections ; or it must, whatever its dis- 
couragements be, cast itself upon pardon in the blood of 
Jesus Christ. Now if all the former ways be detestable and 
pernicious, if the best of them be a direct opposition unto 
the gospel, what hath the soul that inquires after these 
things to do, but to adhere unto the last, and to improve 
every encouragement, even the least to that purpose ? 

As a close unto these general rules, I shall only add this 
last direction : consider in particular where the stress and 
hinderance lies, that keeps you oft' from peace, through an 
established persuasion of an interest in evangelical pardon. 
Do not always fluctuate up and down in generals and uncer- 


tainties ; but drive things unto a particular issue, that it may 
be tried whether it be of sufficient efficacy to keep you in 
your present entanglements and despondencies. Search 
out your wound, that it may be tried whether it be curable 
or no. 

Now in this case we cannot expect that persons should 
suggest their own particular concerns, that so they might be 
considered and be brought unto the rule ; but we must our- 
selves reduce such distresses, as may, or do, in this matter 
befall the minds of men, unto some general heads, and give 
a judgment concerning them according to the word of truth. 
Indeed particular cases, as varied by circumstances, are end- 
less ; nor can they be spoken unto in this way of instruction 
and direction; but they must be left to occasional considera- 
tions of them, as they are represented unto them who are 
intrusted to dispense the mysteries of God. Besides, many 
have laboured already in this matter, and their endeavours 
are in, and of, general use; although it must be said, as was 
before observed, that special cases are so varied by their cir- 
cumstances, that it is very rare that any resolutions of them 
are everyway adequate and suited unto the apprehensions of 
them that are exercised with them. 1 shall therefore call 
things unto some general heads, whereunto most of the ob- 
jections that distressed sinners make against their own peace, 
may be reduced ; and leave the light of them to be applied 
in particular, unto the relief of the souls of men, as God 
shall be pleased to make them effectual. 

Second general head of the application of the truth insisted on- Grounds 
of spiritual disquietmeuts considered. The first, afflictions. Ways and 
means of the aggravation of afflictions. Rules about them. 

That which now lieth before us, is the second part of the 
second general use educed from the truth insisted on. Our 
aim is to lead on souls towards peace with God, through 
a gracious persuasion of their interest in that forgiveness 
which is with him. And it consists, as was declared, in a 
consideration of some of those disquietraents which befall 
the minds of men, and keep them off from establishment in 
this matter. 



And first, such disquietments and objections against the 
peace of the soul, and its acceptance with God, will arise 
from afflictions ; they have done so of old, they do so in 
many at this day. Afflictions, I say, greatened unto the 
mind from their nature, or by their concomitants, do oft- 
times variously affect it, and sometimes prevail to darken it 
so far as to ingenerate thoughts, that they are all messen- 
gers of wrath, all tokens of displeasure, and so consequently 
evidences that we are not pardoned or accepted with God. 

Now this is a time of great afflictions unto many, and 
those some of them such as have innumerable aggravating- 
circumstances accompanying of them. Some have come 
with a dreadful surprisal in things not looked for ; such as 
falls not out in the providence of God in many generations. 
Such is the condition of them who are reduced to the utmost 
extremity by the late consuming fire ; some have had their 
whole families, all their posterity taken from them ; in a few 
days they have been suddenly bereaved, as in the plague. 
Some in their own persons, or in their relations, have had sore, 
long, and grievous trials from oppressions and persecutions ; 
and these things have various effects on the minds of men. 
Some we find crying with that wicked king, ' This evil is of 
the Lord, why should we wait any longer for him V and give 
up themselves to seek relief from their own lusts. Some 
bear up under their troubles with a natural stoutness of 
spirit ; some have received a sanctified use and improve- 
ment of their trials, with joy in the Lord. But many we find 
to go heavily under their burdens, having their minds dark- 
ened with many misapprehensions of the love of God, and of 
their own personal interest in his grace. It is not, therefore, 
unseasonable to speak a little to this head of trouble in our 
entrance. Outward troubles, I say, are oftentimes occasions, 
if not the causes, of great inward distresses. You know how 
the saints of old expressed their sense of them, and conflicts 
with them. The complaints of David are familiar to all who 
attend unto any communion with God in these things ; so 
are those of Job, Heman, Jonah, Jeremiah, and others; nei- 
ther do they complain only of their troubles, but of the sense 
which they had of God's displeasure in and under them, and 
of his hiding of his face from them wliilst they were so 


It is not otherwise at present, as is known unto such as 
converse with many, who are either surprised with unex- 
pected troubles, or worn out with trials and disappointments 
of an expected end. They consider themselves both abso- 
lutely, and with respect unto others, and upon both accounts 
are filled with dark thoughts and despondencies. Saith one, 
I am rolled from one trial unto another ; the clouds with 
me return still after the rain. All the billows and water- 
spouts of God go over me. In my person, it may be, pressed 
with sickness, pains, troubles ; in my relations, with their 
sins, miscarriages, or death ; in my outward state, in want, 
losses, disreputation, I am even as a withered branch. Surely 
if God had any especial regard unto my soul, it would not 
be thus with me; or some timely end would have been put 
unto these dispensations. On the other hand, they take a 
view of some other professors; they see that their tables are 
spread day by day, that the candle of the Lord shines conti- 
nually on their tabernacle, and that in all things they have 
their hearts' desire. Setting aside the common attenden- 
cies of human nature, and nothing befalls them grievous in 
the world. Thus it is with them. And surely, had I an in- 
terest in his grace, in pardon, the God of Israel would not 
thus pursue a flea in the mountains, nor set himself in battle 
array against a leaf driven to and fro with the wind ; he 
would spare me a little, and let me alone for a moment ; but 
as things are with me, I fear ' my way his hidden from the 
Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God.' These 
kind of thoughts do perplex the minds of men, and keep them 
off from partaking of that strong consolation which God is 
abundantly willing they should receive, by a comfortable 
persuasion of a blessed interest in that forgiveness that is 
with him. 

And this was the very case of David ; or at least these 
outward troubles were a special part of those depths, out of 
which he cried for relief, by a sense of pardon, grace, and 
redemption with God. 

I answer to these complaints, first. That there are so 
many excellent things spoken concerning afflictions; their 
necessity, their usefulness, and the like ; such blessed ends 
are assigned unto them, and in many have been compassed 
and fulfilled by them ; that a man, unacquainted with the ex- 



ercise wherewith they are attended, would think it impossi- 
ble that any one should be shaken in mind, as to the love 
and favour of God on their account. But as the apostle tells 
us, that ' no afflictions are joyous at present, but grievous;' 
so he who made in the close of his trials that solemn pro- 
fession, that ' it was good for him that he had been afflict- 
ed,' yet we know, as hath been declared, how he was dis- 
tressed under them. There are, therefore, sundry accidental 
things which accompany great afflictions, that seem to exempt 
them from the common rule, and the promise of love and 
grace : as, 

1. The remembrance of past and buried miscarriages and 
sins, lies in the bosom of many afflictions. It was so with 
Job ; ' Thou makest me,' saith he, ' to possess the sins of 
my youth.' See his plea to that purpose, chap. xiii. 23 
— 27. In the midst of his troubles and distresses, God 
revived upon his spirit a sense of former sins, even the sins 
of his youth, and made him to possess them ; he filled his 
soul and mind with thoughts of them, and anxiety about 
them. This made him fear lest God was his enemy, and 
would continue to deal with him in all severity. So was it 
with Joseph's brethren, in their distresses. Gen. xlii. 21. 

* They said one to another. We are verily guilty concerning 
our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he 
besought us, and we would not hear ; therefore is this distress 
come upon us.' And ver. 22. * Behold his blood is re- 
quired.' Their distress revives a deep, perplexing sense of 
the guilt of sin many years past before, and that under all its 
aggravating circumstances, which spoiled them of all their 
reliefs and comforts, filling them with confusion and trouble, 
though absolutely innocent as to what was come on them. 
And the like appeared in the widow of Zareptha, with whom 
Elijah sojourned during the famine. Upon the death of her 
son, which it seems was somewhat extraordinary, she cried 
out unto the prophet, ' What have I to do with thee, thou 
man of God ? art thou come to call my sins to remembrance, 
and to slay my son?' 1 Kings xvii. 18. It seems some great 
sin she had formerly contracted the guilt of, and now upon 
her sore affliction in the death of her only child, the remem- 
brance of it was recalled and revived upon her soul. Tlius 

* deep calleth unto deep at the noise of God's waterspouts,' 


and then all his ' waves and billows go over' a person ; Psal. 
xlii. 7. The deep of afflictions calleth up the deep of the 
guilt of sin, and both in conjunction become as billows and 
waves passing over the soul. We see only the outside of 
men's afflictions ; they usually complain only of what doth 
appear : and an easy thing it is supposed to be, to apply 
relief and comfort unto those that are distressed. The rule 
in this matter is so clear, so often repeated and inculcated, 
the promises annexed unto this condition so many and pre- 
cious, that every one hath in readiness what to apply unto 
them who are so exercised. But oftentimes we know no- 
thing of the gall and wormwood that is in men's affliction ; 
they keep that to themselves, and their souls feed upon them 
in secret; Lam.iii. 12. God hath stirred up the I'eraem- 
brance of some great sin or sins, and they look upon their 
afflictions as that wherein he is come or beginning to enter 
into judgment with them. And is it any wonder if they be 
in darkness, and filled with disconsolation? 

2. There is in many afflictions something that seems new 
and peculiar, wherewith the soul is surprised, and cannot 
readily reduce its condition unto what is taught about afflic- 
tions in general. This perplexeth and entangleth it. It is 
not affliction it is troubled withal, but some one thing or 
other in it that appears vy^ith an especial dread unto the soul, 
so that he questioneth whether ever it were so with any other 
or no, and is thereby deprived of the supportment which 
from former examples it might receive. And indeed when 
God intendeth that which shall be a deep affliction, he will 
put an edge upon it in matter, or manner, or circumstances, 
that shall make the soul feel its sharpness. He will not take 
up with our bounds and measures, and with which we think 
we could be contented. But he will put the impress of his 
own greatness and terror upon it, that he may be acknow- 
ledged and submitted unto. Such was the state with Naomi ; 
when from a full and plentiful condition, she went into a 
strange country with a husband and two sons, where they 
all died, leaving her destitute and poor. Hence in her ac- 
count of God's dealing with her, she says, ' Call me not 
Naomi' (that is, pleasant), ' ])ut call me Mara' (that is, bitter) ; 
' for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went 
out full, and the Lord brought me again empty ; why then 


call ye me Naomi, since the Lord hath testified against me ; 
and the Almighty hath afflicted me V Ruth i. 20, 21 . So was 
it with Job, with the widow of Zareptha; and with her at 
Nain who was burying her only child. And still in many 
afflictions God is pleased to put in an entangling specialty, 
which perplexeth the soul, and darkens it in all its reasonings 
about the love of God towards it, and its interest in pardon 
and grace. 

3. In some, affections are very strong and importunate 
as fixed on lawful things ; whereby their nature is made 
sensible and tender, and apt to receive very deep impres- 
sions from urgent afflictions. Now although this in itself be 
a good natural frame, and helps to preserve the soul from 
that stout hardness which God abhors, yet if it be not 
watched over, it is apt to perplex the soul with many en- 
tangling temptations. The apostle intimates a double evil 
that we are obnoxious unto under trials and afflictions, Heb. 
, xii. 5. * My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, 
nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.' Men may either 
through a natural stoutness despise and contemn their suf- 
ferings, and be obstinate under them, or faint and despond, 
and so come short of the end which God aims at for them, 
to be attained in a way of duty. Now though the frame 
spoken of, be not obnoxious unto the first extreme, yet it is 
greatly to the latter, which if not watched against, is no less 
pernicious than the former. Affections in such persons be- 
ing greatly moved, they cloud and darken the mind, and fill 
it with strange apprehensions concerning God and them- 
selves. Every thing is presented unto them through a glass 
composed of fear, dread, terror, sorrow, and all sorts of dis- 
consolations. This makes them faint and despond, unto 
very sad apprehensions of themselves and their conditions. 

4. Afflictions find some entangled with very strong cor- 
ruptions, as love of the world, or the pleasure of it, of name 
or reputation, of great contrivances for posterity, and the 
like ; or it may be in things carnal or sensual. Now when 
these unexpectedly meet together, great afflictions and strong 
corruptions, it is not conceivable what a combustion they 
will make in the soul. As a strong medicine or potion meet- 
ing with a strong or tough distemper in the body ; there is 
a violent contention in nature between them and about them. 


SO that oftentimes the very life of the patient is endangered. 
So it is where a great trial, a smart stroke of the hand of 
God, falls upon a person in the midst of his pursuit of the 
effects of some corruptions ; the soul is amazed even to dis- 
traction, and can scarce have any thought, but that God is 
come to cut the person off in the midst of his sin. Every 
unmortified corruption fills the very fear and expectation of 
affliction with horror. And there is good reason that so it 
should do ; for although God should be merciful unto men's 
iniquities, yet if he should come to take vengeance of their 
inventions, their condition would be dark and sorrowful. 

5. Satan is never wanting in such occasions to attempt 
the compassing of his ends, upon persons that are exer- 
cised under the hand of God. In the time of suffering it 
was, that he fell upon the head of the church, turning it 
into the very hour of the power of darkness. And he will 
not omit any appearing opportunities of advantage against 
his members. And this is that which he principally, in such 
seasons, attacks them withal ; namely, that God regards 
them not, that they are fallen under his judgment and seve- 
rity, as those who have no share in mercy, pardon, or for- 

From these and the like reasons, I say, it is, that whereas 
afflictions in general are so testified unto, to be such pledges 
and tokens of God's love and care to be designed unto 
blessed ends, as conformity unto Christ, and a participation 
of the holiness of God ; yet, by reason of these circumstances, 
they often prove means of casting the soul into depths, and 
of hindering it from a refreshing interest in the forgiveness 
that is with God. That this may prove no real or abiding 
ground of inward spiritual trouble unto the soul, the follow- 
ing rules and directions may be observed. 

1. Not only afflictions in general, but great and mani- 
fold afflictions, and those attended with all sorts of aggra- 
vating circumstances, are always consistent with the pardon 
of sin, after signal tokens and pledges of it, and of the love 
of God therein; Job vii. 17, 18. 'What is man, that 
thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set 
thine heart upon him, and that thou shouldest visit him 
every morning, and try him every moment?' What were the 
considerations that cast him into this admiration of the 


care and love of God, is exjDiessed, ver. 12 — 16. There 
are no words of a more dismal import in the whole book, 
than those here expressed ; yet when he recollected himself 
from his overwhelming distress, he acknowledgeth that all 
this proceeded from the love and care of God ; yea, his fix- 
ing his heart upon a man to magnify him, to set him up, 
and do him good ; for this end doth he chasten a man every 
morning, and try him every moment ; and that with such 
afflictions as are for the present so far from being joyous, as 
that they give no rest, but even weary the soul of life, as he 
expresseth their effects on himself; ver. 15, 16. And hence 
it is observed of this Job, that when none in the earth was 
like to him in trouble, God gave him three testimonies from 
heaven, that there was none in the earth like unto him in 
grace. And although it may not be laid down as a general 
rule, yet for the most part in the providence of God, from 
the foundation of the world, those who have had most of 
afflictions, have had most of grace, and the most eminent 
testimonies of acceptance with God. Christ Jesus the Son 
of God, the head of the church, had all afflictions gathered 
into a head in him ; and yet the Father always loved him, 
and was always well pleased with him. 

When God solemnly renewed his covenant with Abra- 
ham, and he had prepared the sacrifice whereby it was to 
be ratified and confirmed, God made a smoking furnace to 
pass between the pieces of the sacrifice, Gen. xv. 17. It 
was to let him know that there was a furnace of affliction, 
attending the covenant of grace and peace. And so he 
tells Sion, that he cliose her in the furnace of affliction 
Isa. xlviii. 10. that is, in Egyptian affliction, burning, flam- 
ing afflictions,' fiery trials,' as Peter calls them, 1 Pet. iv. 12. 
There can then no argument be drawn from affliction, from 
any kind of it, from any aggravating circumstance where- 
with it may be attended, that should any way discouiage the 
soul in the comforting, supporting persuasion of an interest 
in the love of God and forgiveness thereby. 

2. No length or continuance of afflictions ought to be 
any impeachment of our spiritual consolation. Take for 
the confirmation hereof, the great example of the Son of 
Ciod, How long did his afflictions continue ? what end . 
ur issue was put to them ( No longer did they abide than 


until ' he cried with aloud voice and gave up the ghost.' To 
the moment of his death, from his manger to his cross, his 
afflictions still increased, and he ended his days in the midst 
of them. Now he was the head of the church, and the 
great representative of it ; unto a conformity with whom we 
are predestinated. And if God will have it so with us, even 
in this particular, so as that we shall have no rest, no peace 
from our trials, until we lie down in the grave, that what- 
ever condition we pass through, they shall be shut out of 
none, but only from immortality and glory, what have we 
herein to complain of? 

3. Where the remembrance and perplexing sense of 
past sins is revived by present afflictions ; separate them in 
your minds, and deal distinctly about them. So long as you 
carry on the consideration of them jointly, you will be rolled 
from one to another, and never obtain rest unto your souls. 
They will mutually aggravate each other. The sharpness 
of affliction will add to the bitterness of the sense of sin ; 
and the sense of sin will give an edge to affliction, and cause 
it to pierce deeply into the soul, as we shewed in the former 
instances. Deal therefore distinctly about them, and in 
their proper order. So doth the psalmist here. He had at 
present both upon him, and together they brought him into 
these depths, concerning which he so cries out for deliver- 
ance from them. See Psal. xxxii. 3 — 5. And what course 
doth he take ? He applies himself in the first place to his sin 
and the guilt of it, and that distinctly and separately. And 
when he hath got a discharge of sin, which he waited so 
earnestly for, his faith quickly arose above his outward trials, 
as appears in his blessed close of all ; * He shall redeem Is- 
rael out of all his trouble ;' the whole Israel of God, and 
myself amongst them. This do then; single out the sin or 
sins that are revived in the sense of their guilt upon the con- 
science ; use all diligence to come to an issue about them 
in the blood of Christ. This God by your affliction calls 
you unto. This is the disease whereof your trouble is but 
the symptom. This, therefore, in the cure you seek after, is 
first and principally to be attended unto ; when that is once 
removed, the other, as to any prejudice unto your soul, will 
depart of itself. The root being once digged up, you shall 
not long feed on the bitter fruit that it hath brought forth • 


or if you do, the wormwood shall be taken out of it, and it 
shall be very pleasant unto you, as well as wholesome. How 
this is to be done by an application unto God for forgive- 
ness, hath been at large declared. But if men will deal with 
confused thoughts about their sins and their troubles, their 
wound will be incurable, and their sorrow endless. 

4. Remember that a time of affliction is a time of 
temptation. Satan, as we have shewed, will not be wanting 
unto any appearing opportunity or advantage of setting 
upon the soul. When Pharaoh heard that the people were 
entangled in the wilderness, he pursued them. And when 
Satan sees a soul entangled with its distresses and troubles, 
he thinks it his time and hour to assault it. He seeks to 
winnow, and comes when the corn is under the flail. Reckon 
therefore that when trouble cometh, the prince of the world 
cometh also, that you may be provided for him. Now is the 
time to take the shield of faith, that we may be able to 
quench his fiery darts. If they be neglected, they will in- 
flame the soul. Watch therefore and pray, that you enter 
not into temptation ; that Satan do not represent God falsely 
unto you. He that durst represent Job falsely to the all- 
seeing God, will with much boldness represent God falsely 
unto us, who see and know so little. Be not then ignorant 
of his devices ; but every way set yourselves against his in- 
terposing between God and your souls, in a matter which he 
hath nothing to do withal. Let not this make-bate by any 
means inflame the diflference. 

5. Learn to distinguish the effect of natural distempers 
from spiritual distresses. Some have sad, dark, and tena- 
cious thoughts fixed on their minds from their natural dis- 
tempers. These will not be cured by reasonings, nor utterly 
quelled by faith. Our design must be to abate their efficacy 
and consequents, by considering their occasions. And if men 
cannot do this in themselves, it is highly incumbent on those 
who make application of relief unto them, to be careful to 
discern what is from such principles, whereof they are not 
to expect a speedy cure. And, 

6. Take heed in times of peace and ease, that you lay 
not up, by your negligence or careless walking, sad jirovi- 
sion for a day of darkness, a time of afflictions. It is sin 
that imbitters troubles ; the sins of peace are revived in time 


of distress. Fear of future affliction, of impendent troubles, 
should make us careful not to bring that into them, which 
will make them bitter and sorrowful. 

7. Labour to grow better under all your afflictions, lest 
your afflictions grow worse ; lest God mingle them with 
more darkness, bitterness, and terror. As Joab said unto 
David, if he ceased not his scandalous lamentation on the 
death of Absalom, all the people would leave him, and he 
then should find himself in a far worse condition than that 
which he bemoaned, or any thing that befell him from his 
youth. The same may be said unto persons under their af- 
flictions. If they are not managed and improved in a due 
manner, that which is worse may, nay, in all probability will, 
befall them. Wherever God takes this way, and engageth 
in afflicting, he doth commonly pursue his work until he 
hath prevailed, and his design towards the afflicted party be 
accomplished. He will not cease to thrash and break the 
bread-corn until it be meet for his use. Lay down, then, the 
weapons of thy warfare against him ; give up yourselves to 
his will ; let go every thing about which he contends with 
you ; follow after that which he calls you unto, and you will 
find light arising unto you in the midst of darkness. Hath 
he a cup of affliction in one hand? lift up your eyes and you 
will see a cup of consolation in another. And if all stars 
withdraw their light, whilst you are in the way of God, assure 
yourselves that the sun is ready to rise. 

8. According to the tenor of the covenant of grace, a 
man may be sensible of the respect of affliction unto sin ; 
yea, unto this or that sin in particular, and yet have a com- 
fortable persuasion of the forgiveness of sin. Thus it was 
in general in God's dealing with his people. He forgave 
them, but he took vengeance on their inventions ; Psal. xcix. 
8. Whatever they suffered under the vengeance that fell 
upon their inventions (and that is as hard a word as is ap- 
plied any where unto God's dealing with his people), yet at 
the same time he assured them of the pardon of their sin. 
So, you know, was the case of David. His greatest trial and 
affliction, and that which befell him on the account of a par- 
ticular sin, and wherein God took vengeance on his inven- 
tion, was ushered in with a word of grace, that God had 
done away, or pardoned his sins, and that he should not die. 


This is expressed in the tenor of the covenant with the seed 
of Christ; Psal. Ixxxix. 31—34. 

Objections against believing from things internal. The person knows not 
whether he be regenerate or no. State of regeneration asserted. Difference 
of saving and common grace. This difference discernablc. Men may 
know themselves to be regenerate. The objection answered. 

Another head of objections and despondencies ariseth 
from things internal, things that are required in the soul, 
that it may have an interest in the forgiveness that is with 
God. Some whereof we shall speak unto ; and these re- 
spect, first, the state of the soul; and secondly, some actings 
in the soul. 

First, As to the state, say some, unless a man be regene- 
rate, and born again, he is not, he cannot be made partaker 
of mercy and pardon. Now all things here are in the dark 
unto us. For first, we know not well what this regenera- 
tion is, and it is variously disputed amongst men. Some 
would place it only in the outward signs of our initiation 
unto Christ, and some otherwise express it. Again, it is 
uncertain, whether those that are regenerate do or may 
know that they are so ; or whether this may be in any mea- 
sure known unto others, with whom they may treat about it. 
And if it may not be known, we must be uncertain in this 
also. And then it may be, for their parts, they neither know 
the time when, nor the manner how, any such work was 
wrought in them; and yet without this, seeing it is wrought 
by means, and springs from certain causes, they can have no 
establishment in a not-failing persuasion of their acceptance 
witli God, by the pardon of their sins in the blood of Christ. 
This is the head and sum of most of the objections which 
perplexed souls do manage against themselves as to their 
state and condition. Hence, indeed, they draw forth reason- 
ings with great variety, according as they are suggested by 
their particular occasions and temptations. And many 
proofs taken from their sins, miscarriages, and fears, do 
they enforce their objections withal. My purpose is to lay 
down some general rules and principles, which may be ap- 
plied unto particular occasions and emergencies. And this 


shall be done in answer to the several parts of the general 
objection mentioned before. I say, then, 

1. It is most certain that there are two estates and con- 
ditions that divide all mankind ; and every one that lives in 
the world, doth completely and absolutely belong unto one 
of them. These are the state of nature, and the state of 
grace; of sin, and of righteousness by Christ ; every man in 
the world belongs unto one of these states or conditions. 
This the Scripture so abounds in, that it seems to be the first 
principal thing that we are taught in it. It is as clear that 
there are two different states in this world, as that there are 
so in that to come. Yea, all our faith and obedience depend 
©n this truth. And not only so, but the covenant of God, 
the mediation of Christ, and all the promises and threats of 
the law and gospel, are built on this supposition. And this 
lays naked unto a spiritual eye that abounding atheism that 
is in the world. Men are not only, like Nicodemus, ignorant 
of these things, and wonder how they can be, but they scorn 
them, despise them, scoff at them. To make mention of 
being regenerate, is exposed to reproach in the world. But 
whether men will or no, unto one of these conditions 
they must belong. 

2. As these two estates differ morally in themselves, and 
physically in the causes constitutive of that difference ; so 
there is a specifical difference between the things that place 
men in the one condition and in the other. Whatever there is 
of goodness, virtue, duty, grace, in an unregenerate person, 
there is in him that is regenerate somewhat of another 
kind that is not in the other at all. For the difference of 
these states themselves it is plain in Scripture. The one is 
a state of death, the other of life ; the one of darkness, the 
other of light; the one of enmity against God, the other of 
reconciliation with him. And that the one state is consti- 
tuted by that of grace, which is of a peculiar kind, and which 
is not in the other, I shall briefly declare. 

1. The grace of regeneration proceedeth from an especial 
spring and fountain, which emptieth much of its living waters 
into it, no one drop whereof falls on them that are not reo-e- 
nerate. This is electing love ; it is given out in the pursuit 
of the decree of election ; * God hath chosen us that we 
should be holy;' Eph. i. 4. Our holiness, whose only spring 


is our regeneration, is an effect of our election ; that which 
God works in our souls, in the pursuit of his eternal pur- 
pose of love and good will towards us. So again, saith the 
apostle, 2 Thess. ii. 13. * God hath from the beginning chosen 
you to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit.' 
God having designed us unto salvation as the end, hath also 
appointed the sanctification of the Spirit to be the means to 
bring us orderly unto the attainment of that end. But the 
best of common grace or gifts that may be in men unrege- 
rate, are but products of the providence of God, ordering 
all things in general unto his own glory, and the good of 
them that shall he heirs of salvation. They are not fruits of 
electing eternal love, nor designed means for the infallible 
attaining of eternal salvation. 

2. The graces of those that are regenerate have a mani- 
fold respect or relation to the Lord Christ that the common 
graces of others have not. I shall name one or two of these 
respects. 1. They have an especial moral relation to the 
mediatory acts of Christ in his oblation and intercession. 
Especial grace is an especial part of the purchase of Christ 
by his death and blood-shedding. He made a double pur- 
chase of his elect; of their persons to be his ; of especial 
grace to be theirs. ' He gave himself for his church, that 
he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water 
■by the word, that he might present it unto himself a glori- 
ous church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; 
but that it should be holy, and without blemish;' Eph. v.26, 
27. The design of Christ in giving himself for his church, 
was to procure for it that especial grace whereby, through 
the use of means, it might be regenerate, sanctified, and puri- 
fied. So Titus ii. 14. ' He gave himself that he might re- 
deem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar 
people, zealous of good works.' Real purification in grace and 
holiness hath this especial relation unto the death of Christ, 
that he designed therein to procure it for them for whom he 
died. And in the pursuit of his purchase or acquisition of it, 
his purpose was really to bestow it upon them, or effectually 
to work it in them. Moreover, it hath an especial relation unto 
his intercession ; and that in a distinguishing manner from 
any other gifts or common graces that other men may re- 
ceive. Giving us the rule and pattern of his intercession. 


John xvii. he tells u«i that he so prays not for the world, 
but for his elect; those which the Father had given him, 
because they were his, ver. 9. And what is it that he prays 
for them, in distinction from all other men whatever? 
Amongst others this is one principal thing that he insists 
on, ver. 17. ' Sanctify them through thy truth.' Their sancti- 
fication and holiness is granted upon that prayer and inter- 
cession of Christ, which is peculiar unto them, with an ex- 
clusion of all others; * I pray for them, I pray not for the 
world.' Now the common grace of unregenerate persons, 
whereby they are distinguished from other men, whatever it 
be, it hath not this especial relation to the oblation and in- 
tercession of Christ. Common grace is not the procurement 
of especial intercession. 

2. They have a real relation unto Christ as he is the 
living quickening head of the church ; for he is so, even the 
living spiritual fountain of the spiritual life of it, and of 
all vital acts whatever. ' Christ is our life, and our life is 
hid with him in God;' Col. iii. 2, 3. That eternal life which 
consists in the knowledge of the Father and the Son, John 
xvii. 3. is in him as the cause, head, spring, and fountain of 
it. In him it is in its fulness, and from thence it is derived 
unto all that believe, who receive from his fulness ' grace for 
grace ;' John i. 16. All true saving sanctifying grace, all 
spiritual life, and every thing that belongs thereunto, is de- 
rived directly from Christ as the living head of his church, 
and fountain of all spiritual life unto them. This the apo- 
stle expresseth, Eph. iv. 15, 16. * Speaking the truth in love, 
grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; 
from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and com- 
pacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the 
effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh in- 
crease of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.' To 
the same purpose he again expresseth the same matter. Col. 
ii. 19. All grace in the whole body comes from the head 
Christ Jesus ; and there is no growth or furtherance of it, 
but by his effectual working in every part to bring it unto 
the measure designed unto it. Nothing then, no not the least 
of this grace, can be obtained but by virtue of our union un- 
to Christ as our head, because it consists in a vital effectual 



influence from him and his fulness. And this kind of relation 
unto Christ, all grace that is ov may be in unregenerate men, 
is incapable of. 

3. The grace of regeneration, and the fruits of it, are 
administered in and by the covenant. This is the promise of 
the covenant, that God will write his law in our hearts, and 
put his fear in our inward parts, that we shall not depart from 
him ; Jer. xxxii. This is that grace whereof we speak,whatever 
it be, or of what kind soever. It is bestowed on none but 
those who are taken into covenant with God ; for unto them 
alone it is promised, and by virtue thereof is it wrought in and 
upon their souls. Now all unregenerate men are strangers 
from the covenant, and are not made partakers of that grace 
which is peculiarly and only promised thereby, and exhibited 

4. The least spark of saving regenerating grace is wrought 
in the soul by the Holy Ghost, as given unto men to dwell 
in them, and to abide with them. He is the water given 
by Jesus Christ unto believers, which is in them * a well 
of water springing up to everlasting life ;' John iv. 14. First 
they receive the water, the spring itself, that is, the Holy 
Spirit ; and from thence living waters do arise up in them ', 
they are wrought, effected, produced by the Spirit, which is 
given unto them. Now altliough the common gifts and 
graces of men unregenerate are effects of the power of the 
Holy Ghost wrought in them, and bestowed on them, as 
are all other works of God's providence ; yet it doth not 
work in them, as received by them, to dwell in them, and 
abide witlithem,as a never-failing spring of spiritual life. For 
our Saviour says expressly, that the world, or unbelievers, do 
not know the Spirit, nor can receive him, or have him abiding 
in them. All which, in a contradistinction unto all unre- 
generate persons, are affirmed of all them that do believe. 

5. The least of saving grace, such as is peculiar unto them 
that are regenerate, is spirit, John iii. 6. 'That which is 
born of the Spirit, is spirit.' Whatever it is that is so born, it is 
spirit, it hath a spiritual being, and it is not educible by any 
means out of the principles of nature. So it is said to be a 
' new creature,' 2 Cor. v. 1 7. Be it never so little or so great, 
however it may differ in degrees in one and in another, yet the 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 323 

nature of it is the same in all; it is a 'new creature.' As 
the least worm of the earth in the order of the old creation, 
is no less a creature than the sun, yea, or the most glorious 
angel in heaven; so, in the order of the new creation, the 
least spark or dram of true grace that is from the sanctify- 
ing Spirit, is a new creature, no less than the highest faith or 
love that ever were in the chiefest of the apostles. Now 
that which is spirit, and that which is not spirit ; that which 
hath a new spiritual being, and that which hath none, what- 
ever appearance of agreement there may be among them, do 
yet differ specifically from one another. And thus it is with 
the saving grace that is in a regenerate, and those common 
graces that are in others which are not so. So that as these 
are divers states, so they are eminently different and distinct 
the one from the other; and this answers the second thing- 
laid down in the objections, taken from the uncertainty of 
these states, and of regeneration itself, and the real differ- 
ence of it from the contrary state, which is exclusive of an 
interest in forgiveness. 

Thirdly, This is laid down in the inquiry, v/hether this 
state may be known unto him who is really partaker of it, 
or translated into it, or unto others that may be concerned 
therein ; to which I say, the difference that is between these 
two states, and the constitutive causes of them, as it is real, 
so it is discernable ; it may be known by themselves who 
are in those states, and others. It may be known who are 
born of God, and who are yet children of the devil ; who are 
quickened by Christ, and who are yet ' dead in trespasses and 
sin.' But here also observe, 

1. That, 1 do not say, this is always known to the per- 
sons themselves concerned in this distribution. Many cry 
Peace, peace, when sudden destruction is at hand. These 
either think themselves regenerate when they are not, or else 
wilfully despise the consideration of what is required in them, 
that they may have peace, and so delude their own souls 
unto their ruin. And many that are truly born of God, yet 
know it not. They may for a season walk in darkness and 
have no light. Nor, 

2. That this is always known to others. It is not known 
unto unregenerate men in respect of them that are so. For 
they know not really and substantially what it is to be so. 

Y 2 


Natural men perceive not the things of God ; that is, spiri- 
tually, in their own light and nature. Cor. ii. And as they can- 
not aright discern the things which put men into that condi- 
tion (for they are foolishness unto them), so they cannot judge 
aright of their persons in whom they are. And if they do at 
any time judge aright notionally concerning any things or 
persons, yet they do not judge so upon right grounds, nor 
with any evidence in or unto themselvesof what they do judge. 
Wherefore generally they judge amiss of such persons ; and 
because they make profession of somewhat which they find 
not in themselves, they judge them hypocrites, and false pre- 
tenders unto what is not. For those things which evince their 
union with Christ, and which evidence their being born of 
God, they savour them not, nor can receive them. Nor is this 
always known unto, or discerned by, them that are regenerate. 
They may sometime with Peter think Simon Magus to be 
a true believer ; or with Eli an Hannah to be a daughter of 
Belial. Many hypocrites are set forth with gifts, common 
graces, light, and profession, that they pass amongst all be- 
lievers for such as are born of God. And many poor saints 
may be so disguised under darkness, temptation, sin, as to 
be looked on as strangers from that family whereunto indeed 
they do belong. The judgment of man may fail, but the 
judgment of God is according unto righteousness; where- 

3. This is that we say; it may be known in the sedulous use 
of means appointed for that end, to a man's self and others, 
which of the conditions mentioned he doth belong unto ; 
that is", whether he be regenerate or no, so far as his or their 
concernment lies therein. This I say may be known, and that 
infallibly and assuredly, with reference unto any duty where- 
in from hence we are concerned. The discharge of some duties 
in our selves and towards others, depends on this knowledge, 
and therefore we may attain it, so far as it is necessary for the 
discharge of such duties unto the glory of God. Now be- 
cause it is not directly in our way, yet having been men- 
tioned I shall briefly in our passage touch upon the latter, or 
what duties do depend upon our judging of others to be re- 
generate, and the way or principles whereby such a judgment 
may be made. 

1. There are many duties incumbent on us to be performed 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 325 

with and towards professors ; which, without admitting a 
judgment to be made of their state and condition, cannot be 
performed in faith. And in reference unto these duties alore 
it is that we are called to judge the state of others. For we 
are not giving countenance unto a rash uncharitable censur- 
ing of men's spiritual conditions, nor unto any judging of any 
men, any other than what our own duty towards them, doth 
indispensably require. Thus if we are to 'lay down our lives 
for the brethren,' it is very meet we should so far know 
them, so to be, as that we may hazard our lives in faith when 
we are called thereunto. We are also to join with them in 
those ordinances wherein we make a solemn profession that 
we are members of the same body with them, that we have the 
same head, the same Spirit, faith, and love. We must love 
them because they are begotten of God, children of our hea- 
venly Father; and therefore must on some good ground be- 
lieve them so to be. In a word, the due performance of all 
principal mutual gospel duties, to the glory of God and our 
own edification, depends on this supposition, that we may 
have such a satisfying persuasion concerning the' spiritual 
condition of others, as that from thence we may take our 
aim, in what we do. 

2. For the grounds hereof, I shall mention one only ; 
which all others do lean upon. This is pressed, 1 Cor. xii. 
12, 13. 'As the body is one, and hath many members, and 
all the members of that one body being many, are one body : 
so is Christ. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one 
body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond 
or free ; and have been all made to drink into one-Spirit.' 
They are all united unto, and hold of, one head. For as are 
the members of the body natural under one head, so is 
Christ mystical, that is, all believers under Christ their 
head. And this union they have by the inhabitation of 
the same quickening Spirit, which is in Christ their head, 
and by him they are brought all into the same spiritual 
state and frame ; they are made to drink into one and the 
same Spirit ; for this same Spirit produceth the same 
effects in them all, the same in kind, though differing 
in degrees, as the apostle fully declares, Eph. iv. 3 — 6. 
And this Spirit is in them, and not in the world, John xvi. 
And as this gives them a naturalness in their duties one to- 


wards another ; or in mutual caring for, rejoicing, or sorrow- 
ing with one another, as members one of another; 1 Cor. xii. 
25, 26. so it reveals and discovers them to each other, so 
far as is necessary for the performance of the duties men- 
tioned, in such a manner as becomes members of the same 
body. There is on this account a spiritually natural answer- 
ing of one to another, as face answereth face in the water. 
They can see and discern that in others whereof they have ex- 
perience in themselves ; they can taste and relish that in others, 
which they feed upon in themselves, and wherein the lives 
of theirsouls doconsist; the same Spirit of life being in them, 
they have the same spiritual taste and savour. And unless 
their palates are distempered by temptations or false opinions, 
or prejudices, they can in their communion, taste of that 
spirit in each other, which they are all made to drink into. 
This gives them the same likeness and image in the inward 
man, the same heavenly light in their minds, the same affec- 
tions ; and being thus prepared and enabled to judge and 
discern of the state of each other, in reference unto their 
mutual duties, they have moreover the true rule of the word 
to judge of all spirits and spiritual effects by. And this is 
the ground ofall that love without dissimulation and real com- 
munion that is among the saints of God in this world. But 
here two cautions must be allowed. 

1. That we would not judge the state and condition 
of any men in the world, no farther than we are called there- 
unto in a way of duty ; and we are so called only with refer- 
ence unto the duties that we are to perform towards them. 
What have we to do to judge them that are without; that is, 
any one that we have not a call to consider in reference 
unto our own duty? Herein that great rule takes place, 
'judge not that ye be not judged.' Let us leave all men, 
the worst of men, unless where evident duty requires other 
actings, to the judgment-seat of God. They are the servants 
of another, and they stand or fall unto their own master. 
There have been great miscarriages amongst us in this mat- 
ter; some have been ready to condemn all that go not along 
with them in every principle, yea, opinion or practice. And 
every day slight occasions and provocations, are made the 
grounds and reasons of severe censures. But nothing is more 
contrary to the conduct of the meek and holy spirit of Christ. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 327 

This is our rule ; Are we called to act towards any as saints, as 
living members of the body of Christ, and that in such duties 
as we cannot perform in faith, unless we are persuaded that 
so they are ? then are we, on the grounds and by the ways 
before-mentioned, to satisfy ourselves in one another. 

2. Do we endeavour mutually to discern the condi- 
tion of one another, in reference unto such ends? let us be 
sure to look unto, and pursue those ends, when we have at- 
tained our satisfaction. What these ends are hath been 
shewed. It is that we may love them without dissimulation, 
as members of the same mystical body with us ; that we 
may naturally take care of them, and for them ; that we 
may delight sincerely in them, that we may minister unto 
their wants, temporal and spiritual ; that we may watch 
over them with pity and compassion. These and the like 
are the only ends for which we are at any time called to the 
consideration of the spiritual condition of one another ; if 
these be neglected the other is useless. And here lies a 
great aggravation of that neglect, in that such a way is 
made for the avoidance of it. Here lies the life or death of 
all church society. All church society and relation is built 
on this supposition, that the members of it are all regene- 
rate ; some lay this foundation in baptism only, professing 
that all that are baptized are regenerate. Others require a 
farther satisfaction in the real work itself. But all build on 
the same foundation ; that all church members are to be rege- 
nerate. And to what end is this? Namely, that they may all 
mutually perform those duties one towards another, which 
are incumbent mutually on regenerate persons. If these 
are omitted, there is an end of all profitable use of church 
society. Churches without this are but mere husks and shells 
of churches, carcases without souls. For as there is no 
real union unto Christ without faith, so there is no real union 
among the members of any church without love, and that 
acting itself in all the duties mentioned. Let not this ordi- 
nance be in vain. 

But we must return from this digression, to that which 
lies before us, which is concerning what a man may discern 
concerning his own being regenerate or born again. I say, 

Secondly, Men may come to an assured satisfactory 


persuasion that themselves are regenerate, and that such, as 
is so far infallible, as that it will not deceive them, when it 
is brought to the trial. For there are many duties whose 
performance in faith unto the glory of God, and the edifica- 
tion of our own souls, doth depend on this persuasion and 
conviction. As, 

1. A due sense of our relation unto God, and an answer- 
able comportment of our spirits and hearts towards him. 
He that is born again, is born of God. He is begotten of 
God by the immortal seed of the word. Without a persua- 
sion hereof, how can a man on grounds of faith carry him- 
self towards God as his Father? And how greatapart of our 
obedience towards him, and communion with him depends 
hereon, we all know. If men fluctuate all their days in this 
matter, if they come to no settlement in it, no comfortable 
persuasion of it, they scarce ever act any genuine child-like 
acts of love or delight towards God, which exceedingly im- 
peacheth their whole obedience. 

2. Thankfulness for grace received is one of the princi- 
pal duties that is incumbent on believers in this world. 
Now how can a man in faith bless God, for that which he is 
utterly uncertain whether he have received it from him or 
no. I know some men run on in a road in this matter. 
They will bless God in a formal way, for their regeneration, 
sanctification, justification, and the like. But if you ask 
them whether themselves are regenerate or no, they will be 
ready to scoff nt it, or at least to profess that they know no 
such thing. What is this but to mock God, and in a pre- 
sumptuous manner to take his name in vain. But if we will 
praise God, as we ought for his grace, as we are guided and 
directed in the Scripture, as the nature of the matter re- 
quires, with such a frame of heart as may influence our whole 
obedience, surely it cannot but be our duty to know the 
grace that we have received. 

3. Again, the main of our spiritual watch and diligence, 
consisteth in the cherishing, improving, and increasing of 
the grace that we have received; the strengthening of the 
new creature that is wrought in us. Herein consists princi- 
pally the life of faith, and the exercise of that spiritual wis- 
dom which faith furnisheth the soul withal. Now how can 
any man apply himself hereunto, whilst he is altogether un- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 329 

certaia whether he hath received any principle of living, sav- 
ing grace, or no ? Whereas therefore God requires our utmost 
diligence, watchfulness, and care in this matter, it is cer- 
tain that he requires also of us, and grants unto us, that 
which is the foundation of all these duties, which lies in an 
acquaintance with that state and condition whereunto we do 
belong. In brief, there is nothing we have to do in refer- 
ence unto eternity, but one way or other it hath a respect 
unto our light and convictions, as to our state and condition 
in this world. And those who are negligent in the trial and 
examination thereof, do leave all things between God and 
their souls at absolute uncertainties, and dubious hazards ; 
which is not to lead the life of faith. 

We shall now upon these premises return unto that part 
of the objection which is under consideration. Say some. 
We know not whether we are regenerate or no, and are 
therefore altogether uncertain whether we have an interest 
in that forgiveness that is with God ; nor dare we on that 
account admit of the consolation that is tendered on the truth 
insisted on. 

Supposing what hath been spoken in general, I shall lay 
down the grounds of resolving this perplexing doubt in the 
ensuing rules. 


See that the persuasion and assurance hereof which you 
look after and desire, be regular, and not such as is suited 
merely unto your own imaginations. Our second and third 
general rules about the nature of all spiritual assurance, and 
what is consistent therewithal, are here to be taken into 
consideration. If you look to have such an evidence, lio-ht 
into, and absolute conviction of, this matter, as shall admit 
of no doubts, fears, questionings, just occasions and causes 
of new trials, teachings, and self-examinations, you will be 
greatly deceived. Regeneration induceth a new principle 
into the soul, but it doth not utterly expel the old ; some 
would have security, not assurance. The principle of sin 
and unbelief will still abide in us, and still work in us. Their 
abiding and their acting must needs put the soul upon a 
severe inquiry, whether they are not prevalent in it beyond 


what the condition of regeneration will admit. The constant 
conflicts we must have with sin, will not suffer us to have 
always so clear an evidence of our condition as we would 
desire. Such a persuasion as is prevalent against strong ob- 
jections to the contrary, keeping up the heart to a due per- 
formance of those duties in faith which belong unto the 
state of regeneration, is the substance of what in this kind 
you are to look after. 


If you are doubtful concerning your state and condition, 
do not expect an extraordinary determination of it by an 
immediate testimony of the Spirit of God. I do grant that 
God doth sometimes by this means bring in peace and satis- 
faction unto the soul ; he gives his own Spirit immediately 
' to bear witness with ours, that we are the children of God,' 
both upon the account of regeneration and adoption. He 
doth so, but as far as we can observe in a way of sovereignty, 
when and to whom he pleaseth. Besides, that men may 
content and satisfy themselves with his ordinary teachings, 
consolations, and communications of his grace, he hath left 
the nature of that peculiar testimony of the Spirit very dark 
and difficult to be found out, few agreeing wherein it doth 
consist, or what is the nature of it. No one man's experience 
is a rule unto others; and an undue apprehension of it, is a 
matter of great danger. Yet it is certain that humble souls 
in extraordinary cases may have recourse unto it with benefit 
and relief thereby. This then you may desire, you may pray 
for, but not with such a frame of spirit as to refuse that other 
satisfaction, which in the ways of truth and peace you may 
find. This is the putting of the hand into the side of Christ, 
but ' blessed are they who believe, and yet have not seen.' 


If you have at any time formerly received any especial or 
immediate pledge or testimony of God given unto your souls 
as unto their sincerity, and consequently their regeneration, 
labour to recover it, and to revive a sense of it upon your 
spirits now in your darkness and trouble. I am persuaded 


there are but few believers, but that God doth at one time or 
other, in one duty or other, entering into, or coming out of, 
one temptation or another, give some singular testimony, 
unto their own souls and consciences concerning their sin- 
cerity, and his acceptance of them. Sometimes he doth this 
in a duty wherein he hath enabled the soul to make so near 
an approach unto him, as that it hath been warmed, enli- 
vened, sweetened, satisfied with the presence, the gracious 
presence of God, and which God hath made unto him as a 
token of his uprightness. Sometimes, when a man is enter- 
ing into any great temptation, trial, difficult or dangerous 
duty, that death itself is feared in it, God comes in by one 
means or other, by a secret intimation of his love, which he 
gives him to take along with him for his furniture and pro- 
vision in his way, and thereby testifies to him his sincerity. 
And this serves like the food of Elijah for forty days in a 
wilderness condition. Sometimes he is pleased to shine im- 
mediately into the soul, in the midst of its darkness ^nd sor- 
row wherewith it is surprised, as not looking for any such 
expression of kindness, and is thereby relieved against its 
own pressing self-condemnation. And sometimes the Lord 
is pleased to give these tokens of love unto the soul as its 
refreshment, when it is coming off from the storm of tempta- 
tions wherewith it has been tossed. And many other times 
and seasons there are wherein God is pleased to give unto 
believers some especial testimony in their consciences unto 
their own integrity. But now these are all wrought by a 
transient operation of the Spirit exciting and enabling the 
heart unto a spiritual sensible apprehension and receiving 
of God's expressing kindness towards it. These things 
abide not in their sense, and in their power which they have 
upon our affections, but immediately pass away. They are 
therefore to be treasured up in the mind and judgment, to 
be improved and made use of by faith, as occasion shall re- 
quire ; but we are apt to lose them. Most know no other 
use of them, but whilst they feel them ; yea, through igno- 
rance in our duty to improve them, they prove like a sudden 
light brought into a dark place, and again removed, which 
seems to increase and really aggravates our sense of the 
darkness. The true use of them is to lay them up, and 


ponder them in our hearts, that they may be supportments 
and testimonies unto us in a time of need. Have you then, 
who are now in the dark as to your state or condition, 
whether you are regenerate or no, ever received any such 
refreshing and cheering testimony from God given unto your 
integrity, and your acceptance with him thereupon; call it 
over again, and make use of it against those discourage- 
,ments which arise from your present darkness in this mat- 
ter, and which keeps you oft' from sharing in the consola- 
tion tendered unto you in this word of grace. 


A due spiritual consideration of the causes and effects of 
regeneration, is the ordinary way and means whereby the 
souls of believers come to be satisfied concerning that work 
of God, in them and upon them. The principle or causes of 
this work, are the Spirit and the word. He that is born again, 
' is born of the Spirit,' John iii. 6. and of the word; ' Of his 
own will begat he us by the word of his truth ;' James i. 18. 
'We are born again by the word of God that abideth for ever;' 
1 Pet. i. 23. VVherever then a man is regenerate, there hath 
been an effectual work of the Spirit and of the word upon the 
soul. This is to be inquired into, and after. Ordinarily it 
will discover itself. Such impressions will be made in it 
upon the soul, such a change will be wrought and produced 
in it, as will not escape a spiritual diligent search and in- 
quiry. And this is much of the duty of such as are in the 
dark, and uncertain concerning the accomplishment of this 
work in themselves. Let them call to mind what have been 
the actings of the Spirit by the word upon their souls. What 
light thereby hath been communicated unto their minds ; 
what discoveries of the Lord Christ and way of salvation have 
been made to them ; what sense and detestation of sin have 
been wrought in them ; what satisfaction hath been given 
unto the soul, to choose, accept, and acquiesce in the 
righteousness of Christ; what resignation of the heart unto 
God according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, it hath 
been wrought unto. Call to mind what transactions there 
have been between God and your souls about these things ; 


how far they have been carried on ; whether you have broken 
off the treaty with God, and refused his terms; or if not, 
where the stay is between you ; and what is the reason since 
God hath graciously begun to deal thus with you, that you 
are not yet come to a thorough close with him in the work 
and design of his grace; the defect must of necessity lie on 
your parts. God doth nothing in vain. Had he not been 
willing to receive you, he would not have dealt with you so 
far as he hath done. There is nothing then remains to firm 
your condition but a resolved act of your own wills in an- 
swering the mind and will of God. And by this search may 
the soul come to satisfaction in this matter; or at least find 
out and discover where the stick is whence their uncertainty 
doth arise, and what is wanting to complete their desire. 

Again, this work may be discovered by its effects. There 
is something that is produced by it in the soul, which may 
also be considered either with respect unto its being and ex- 
istence, or unto its actings and operations ; in the first re- 
gai'd it is spirit, John iii. 6. 'That which is born of the Spi- 
rit,' which is produced by the effectual operation of the Spi- 
rit of God, it 'is spirit;' ' a new creature,' 2Cor. xv. 17. He 
that is in Christ Jesus, who is born again, is a new creature, 
a new life, a spiritual life. Gal. ii. 20. Eph. ii. 1. In brief, it 
is an habitual furnishment of all the faculties of the soul 
with new spiritual vital principles, enabling a person in all 
instances of obedience to lead a spiritual life unto God. This 
principle is by this work produced in the soul ; and in re- 
spect of its actings, it consists in all the gracious operations 
of the mind, will, heart, or affections, in the duties of obedi- 
ence which God hath required of us. This is that which 
gives life unto our duties (without which the best of our 
works are but dead works) and renders them acceptable unto 
the living God. It is not my business at large to pursue 
and declare these things ; I only mention them, that persons 
who are kept back from a participation of the consolation 
tendered from the forgiveness that is with God, because 
they cannot comfortably conclude that they are born again, 
as knowing that it is unto such persons alone unto whom 
these consolations do truly and really belong, may know 
how to make a right judgment of themselves. Let such 
persons then not fluctuate up and down in generals and un- 


•certainties, with heartless complaints, which is the ruin of 
the peace of their souls; but let them really put things to 
the trial, by the examination of the causes and effects of the 
work they inquire after. It is by the use of such means 
whereby God will be pleased to give them all the assurance 
and establishment concerning their state and condition 
which is needful for them, and which may give them en- 
couragement in their course of obedience. But supposing 
all that hath been spoken; what if a man by the utmost search 
and inquiry that he is able to make, cannot attain any satis- 
factory persuasion that indeed this great work of God's grace 
hath passed upon his soul; is this a sufficient ground to 
keep him off from accepting of supportment and consola- 
tion from this truth, that there is forgiveness with God, which 
is the design of the objection laid down before ? I say there- 
fore farther, that 

1. Regeneration doth not in order of time precede the 
soul's interest in the forgiveness that is with God, or its be- 
ing made partaker of the pardon of sin; I say no more but 
that it doth not precede it in order of time, not determining 
which hath precedency in order of nature. That, I confess, 
which the method of the gospel leads unto, is that absolu- 
tion, acquitment, or the pardon, is the foundation of the 
communication of all saving grace unto the soul, and so pre- 
cedeth all grace in the sinner whatever. But because this 
absolution or pardon of sin is to be received by faith, where- 
by the soul is really made partaker of it, and all the bene- 
fits belonging thereunto ; and that faith is the radical grace 
which we receive in our regeneration ; for it is by faith that 
our hearts are purified, as an instrument in the hand of the 
great purifier, the Spirit of God ; I place these two together, 
and shall not dispute as to their priority in nature; but in 
time the one doth not precede the other. 

2. It is hence evident, that an assurance of being rege- 
nerate, is no way previously necessary unto the believing of 
an interest in forgiveness ; so that although a man have not 
the former, it is, or may be, his duty to endeavour the latter. 
When convinced persons cried out, ' What shall we do to be 
saved V the answer was, ' Believe and you shall be so.' Be- 
lieve in Christ, and in the remission of sin by his blood, is 
the first thing that convinced sinners are called unto. They 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 335 

are not directed first to secure their souls they are born again, 
and then afterward to believe. But they are first to believe 
that the remission of sin is tendered unto them in the blood 
of Christ, and that 'by him they may be justified from all 
things from which they could not be justified by the law.' 
Nor upon this proposition is it the duty of men to question 
whether they have faith or no, but actually to believe. And 
faith in its operation will evidence itself. See Acts xiii. 38, 
39. Suppose then that you do not know that you are rege- 
nerate, that you are born of God ; that you have no prevail- 
ing, refreshing, constant evidence or persuasion thereof; 
should this hinder you ? should this discourage you from 
believing forgiveness, from closing with the promises, and 
thereby obtaining in yourselves an interest in that forgive- 
ness that is with God ? Not at all; nay, this ought exceed- 
ingly to excite and stir you up unto your duty herein. For, 

1. Suppose that it is otherwise ; that indeed you are 
yet in the state of sin, and are only brought under the power 
of light and conviction ; this is the way for a translation into 
an estate of spiritual life and grace. If you will forbear the 
acting of faith upon, and for, forgiveness, until you are re- 
generate, you may, and probably you will, come short both 
of forgiveness and regeneration also. Here lay your foun- 
dation, and then your building will go on. This will open 
the door unto you, and give you an entrance into the kino-- 
dom of God. Christ is the door ; do not think to climb up 
over the wall ; enter by him, or you will be kept out. 

2. Suppose that you are born again, but yet know it 
not, as is the condition of many. This is a way whereby 
you may receive an evidence thereof. It is good the embrac- 
ing of all signs, tokens, and pledges of our spiritual condi- 
tion; and it is so to improve them. But the best course is 
to follow the genuine natural actings of faith, which will 
lead us into the most settled apprehensions concernino- our 
relation unto God, and acceptance with him. Believe first 
the forgiveness of sin as the effect of mere grace and mercy 
in Christ. Let the faith hereof be nourished and strength- 
ened in your souls. This will insensibly influence your 
hearts into a comforting gospel persuasion of your state and 
condition towards God, which will be accompanied with as- 
sured rest and peace. 


To wind up this discourse ; remember, that that which 
hath been spoken with reference unto the state of regenera- 
tion in general, may be applied unto every particular objec- 
tion or cause of fear and discouragement that may be reduced 
to that head. Such are all objections that arise from par- 
ticular sins, from aggravations of sin by their greatness or 
circumstances, or relapses into them. The way that the 
consideration of these things prevail upon the mind unto 
fears, is by begetting an apprehension in men that they are 
not regenerate ; for if they were, they suppose they could 
not be so overtaken or entangled. The rules thereof laid 
down are suited to the straits of the souls of sinners in all 
such particular cases. 

Lastly, There was somewhat in particular added in the 
close of the objection, which although it be not directly in 
our way, nor of any great importance in itself, yet having 
been mentioned, it is not unmeet to remove it out of the 
way, that it may not leave entanglement upon the minds of 
any. Now this is, that some know not, nor can give an ac- 
count of the time of their conversion unto God, and there- 
fore cannot be satisfied that the saving work of his grace 
hath passed upon them. This is usually and ordinarily 
spoken unto. And I shall thei'efore briefly give an account 
concerning it. 

1. It hath been shewed that in this matter, there are 
many things whereon we may regularly found a judgment 
concerning ourselves ; and it is great folly to wave them all, 
and put the issue of the matter upon one circumstance. If 
a man have a trial at law, wherein he hath many evidences 
speaking for him, only one circumstance is dubious and in 
question ; he will not cast the weight of his cause on that 
disputed circumstance, but will plead those evidences that 
are more clear, and testify more fully in his behalf. I will 
not deny but that this matter of the time of conversion is 
ofttimes an important circumstance ; in the affirmative, 
when it is known it is of great use tending to stability and 
consolation; but yet it is still but a circumstance, such as 
that the being of the thing itself doth not depend upon. 
He that is alive may know that he was born, though he know 
neither the place where, nor the time when he was so. And 
so may he that is spiritually alive, and hath ground of evi- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 337 

dence that he is so, that he was born again, though he knew 
neither when, nor where, nor how. And this case is usual 
in persons of quiet natural tempers, who have had the ad- 
vantage of education under means of light and grace. God 
ofttimes in such persons begins and carries on the work of 
his grace insensibly, so that they come to good growth and 
maturity before they know that they are alive. Such per- 
sons come at length to be satisfied in saying with the blind 
man in the gospel, ' How our eyes were opened we know not, 
only one thing we know, whereas we were blind by nature, 
now we see.' 

2. Even in this matter also, we must, it may be, be con- 
tent to live by faitli, and to believe as well what God hath 
done in us, if it be the matter and subject of his promises, 
as what he hath done for us ; the ground whereof also is the 
promise, and nothing else. 

Objeclionsfrom the present state and condition of the soul: weakness and 
imperfection of drity. Opposition from indweUiny sin. 

Thirdly, There is another head of objections against the 
soul's receiving consolation from an interest in forgiveness, 
arising from the consideration of its present state and con- 
dition, as to actual holiness, duties, and sins. Souls com- 
plain when in darkness, and under temptations, that they 
cannot find that holiness, nor those fruits of it in themselves, 
which they suppose an interest in pardoning mercy will pro- 
duce. Their hearts they find are weak, and all their duties 
worthless. If they were weighed in the balance they would 
be all found too light. In the best of them there is such a 
mixture of self, hypocrisy, unbelief, vain glory, that they are 
even ashamed and confounded with the remembrance of 
them. These things fill them with discouragements, so that 
they refuse to be comforted, or to entertain any refreshing 
persuasion from the truth insisted on ; but rather conclude 
that they are utter strangers from that forgiveness that is 
with God, and so continue helpless in their depths. 

According unto the method proposed, and hitherto pur- 
sued, I shall only lay down some such general rules, as may 
support a soul under the despondencies that are apt in such 

VOL. XIV. z 


a condition to befall it, that none of these things may weaken 
it in its endeavour to lay hold of forgiveness. And, 

First, This is the proper place to put in execution our 
seventh rule, to take heed of heartless complaints, when vi- 
gorous actings of grace are expected at our hands. If it be 
thus indeed, why lay you on your faces, why do you not 
rise, and put out yourselves to the utmost, giving all dili- 
gence to add one grace to another, until you find yourselves 
in a better frame? Supposing then the putting of that rule 
into practice, I add, 

1 . That known holiness i s apt to degenerate into self-righte- 
ousness. What God gives us onthe account of sanctification, 
we are ready enough to reckon on the score of justification. 
It is a hard thing to feel grace, and to believe as if there 
were none. We have so much of the Pharisee in us by na- 
ture, that it is sometimes well that our good is hid from us. 
We are ready to take our corn and wine and bestow them 
on other lovers. Were there not in our hearts a spiritually 
sensible principle of corruption; and in our duties adiscern- 
able mixture of self, it would be impossible we should walk 
so humbly, as is required of them who hold communion with 
God in a covenant of grace and pardoning mercy. It is a 
good life, which is attended with a faith of righteousness, 
and a sense of corruption. Whilst I know Christ's righte- 
ousness, 1 shall the less care to know my own holiness. To 
be holy is necessary, to know it sometimes a temptation. 

2. Even duties of God's appointment, when turned into 
self-righteousness, are God's great abhorrency, Isa. xlvi. 2, 3. 
What hath a good original may be vitiated by a bad end. 

3. Oftentimes holiness in the heart, is more known by the 
opposition that is made there to it, than by its own preva- 
lent working. The Spirit's operation is known by the 
flesh's opposition. We find a man's strength by the burdens 
he carries, and not the pace that he goes. ' O wretciied 
man that I am ! who shall deliver rae from the body of this 
death V is a better evidence of grace and holiness, than 
* God, I thank thee, I am not as other men.' A heart pressed, 
grieved, burdened, not by the guilt of sin only, which re- 
flects with trouble on an awakened conscience, but by the 
close adhering power of indwelling sin, tempting, seducing, 
soliciting, hindering, captivating, conceiving, restlessly dis- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 339 

quieting, may from thence have as clear an evidence of holi- 
ness, as from a delightful fruit-bearing. What is it that is 
troubled and grieved in thee ? What is it that seems to be 
almost killed and destroyed ; that cries out, complains, 
longs for deliverance? is it not the new creature? is it not 
the principle of spiritual life, vi^hereof thou art partaker? I 
speak not of troubles and disquietments for sin committed, 
nor of fears and perturbations of mind, lest sin should break 
forth to loss, shame, ruin, dishonou r;uor of the contending 
of a convinced conscience lest damnation should ensue ; 
but of the striving of the Spirit against sin, out of a hatred 
and a loathing of it, upon all the mixed considerations of love, 
grace, mercy, fear, the beauty of holiness, excellency of 
communion with God, that are proposed in the gospel. 
If thou seemest to thyself to be only passive in these things, 
to do nothing, but to endure the assaults of sin ; yet if thou 
art sensible, and standest under the stroke of it, as under the 
stroke of an enemy, there is the root of the matter. And 
as it is thus, as to the substance and being of holiness, so 
it is also as to the deorees of it. Degrees of holiness are to 
be measured more by opposition than self operation. He 
may have more grace than another, who brings not forth so 
much fruit as the other ; because he hath more opposition, 
more temptation, Isa. xli. 17. And sense of the want of all, 
is a great sign of somewhat in the soul. 

2. As to what was alleged to the nothingness, the selfish- 
ness of duty ; I say, 

1. It is certain whilst we are in the flesh, our duties will 
taste of the vessel whence they proceed. Weakness, defile- 
ments, treachery, hypocrisy, will attend them. To this pur- 
pose, whatever some pretend to the contrary, is the com- 
plaint of the church, Isa. Ixiv. 6. The chaff oftentimes is 
so mixed with the wheat that corn can scarce be discerned. 
And this know, that the more spiritual any man is, the more 
he sees of his unspiritualnes^ in his spiritual duties. An out- 
side performance will satisfy an outside Christian. Job ab- 
horred himself most when he knew himself best. The clearer 
discoveries we have had of God, the viler will every thing 
of self appear. Nay, farther, duties and performances are 
oftentimes very ill measured by us ; and those seem to be 
■first, which indeed are last, aiid those to be last, which in- 

"■ z2 



deed are first. 1 do not doubt but a man when he hath had 
distractions to wrestle withal, no outward advantage to far- 
ther him, no extraordinary provocation of hope, fear, or sor- 
row, on a natural account in his duty, may rise from his 
knees with thoughts that he hath done nothing in his duty 
but provoked God ; when there hath been more workings 
of grace in contending with the deadness cast on the soul 
by the condition that it is in, than when by a concurrence 
of moved natural affections, and outward provocations, a 
frame hath been raised, that hath to the party himself seemed 
to reach to heaven; so that it may be this perplexity about 
duties, is nothing but what is common to the people of God, 
and which ought to be no obstruction to peace and settlement. 
2. As to the pretence of hypocrisy you know what is 
usually answered ; it is one thing to do a thing in hypocrisy, 
another not to do it without a mixture of hypocrisy. Hy- 
pocrisy, in its long extent, is every thing that for matter or 
manner. comes short of sincerity. Now our sincerity is no 
more perfect than our other graces ; so that in its measure 
it abides with us, and adheres to all we do. In like man- 
ner, it is one thing to do a thing for vain glory, and to be 
seen of men, another not to be able wholly to keep off 
the subtle insinuations of self and vain glory. He that doth 
a thing in hypocrisy, and for vain glory, is satisfied with 
some corrupt end obtained, though he be sensible that he 
sought such an end. He that doth a thing with a mixture 
of hypocrisy, that is, with some breaches upon the degrees 
of his sincerity, with some insensible advancements in per- 
formance on outward considerations, is not satisfied with a 
self-end obtained, and is dissatisfied with the defect of his 
sincerity. In a word, wouldst thou yet be sincere, and dost 
endeavour so to be in private duties, and in public perform- 
ances ; in praying, hearing, giving alms, zealous actings for 
God's glory, and the love of the saints, though these duties 
are not, it may be, sometimes done without sensible hypo- 
crisy, I mean as traced to its most subtle insinuations of 
self and vain glory ; yet are they not done in hypocrisy, 
nor do not denominate the persons by whom they are per- 
formed hypocrites ; yet I say of this, as of all that is spoken 
before, it is of use to relieve us under a troubled condition, 
of none to support us or encourage us unto an abode in it. 


3. Know that God despiseth not small things ; he 
takes notice of the least breathings of our hearts after him, 
when we ourselves can see nor perceive no such thing. He 
knows the mind of the Spirit in those workings which are 
never formed to that height, that we can reflect upon them 
with our observation. Every thing that is of him, is noted 
in his book, though not in ours. He took notice that when 
Sarah was acting unbelief towards him, yet that she shewed 
respect and regard to her husband, calling him lord, Gen. 
xviii. 12. 1 Pet. iii. 6. And even whilst his people are sin- 
ning, he can find something in their hearts, words, or ways, 
that pleaseth him, much more in their duties. He is a skil- 
ful refiner, that can find much gold in that ore where we see 
nothing but lead or clay. He remembers the duties which 
we forget, and forgets the sins which we remember. He 
justifies our persons though ungodly, and will also our du' 
ties, though not perfectly godly. 

4. To give a little farther support in reference unto our 
wretched miserable duties, and to them that are in perplex- 
ities on that account, know that Jesus Christ takes what- 
erver is evil and unsavoury out of them, and makes them ac- 
ceptable. When an unskilful servant gathers many herbs, 
flowers, and weeds in a garden, you gather them out that are 
useful, and cast the rest out of sight. Christ deals so with 
our performances. All the ingredients of self that are in 
them on any account, he takes away, and adds incense to 
what remains, and presents it to God, Exod. xxviii. 36. This 
is the cause that the saints at the last day, when they meet 
their own duties and performances, they know them not, they 
are so changed from what they were when they went out of 
their hand. ' Lord, when saw we thee naked or hungry?' so that 
God accepts a little, and Christ makes our little a great deal. 

5. Is this an argument to keep thee from believing? The 
reason why thou art no more holy is because thou hast no 
more faith. If thou hast no holiness, it is because thou hast 
no faith; holiness is the purifying of the heart by faith, or 
our obedience unto the truth. And the reason why thou art 
no more in duty, is because thou art no more in believing; 
the reason why thy duties are weak and imperfect, is because 
thy faith is weak and imperfect. Hast thou no holiness, 
believe that thou mayest have ; hast thou but a little, or that 


which is imperceptible, be steadfast in believing that thou 
mayest abound in obedience. Do not resolve not to eat thy 
meat until thou art strong, when thou hast no means of 
being strong, but by eating thy bread, which strengthens 
the heart of man. 

Object. 4. The powerful tumultuating of indwelling sin 
or corruption, is another cause of the same kind of trouble 
and despondency. 'They that are Christ's have crucified the 
flesh with the lusts thereof.' But we find, say some, several 
corruptions working effectually in our hearts, carrying us 
captive to the law of sin. They disquiet with their power, 
as well as with their guilt. Had we been made partakers of 
the law of the Spirit of life, we had ere this been more set 
free from the law of sin and death. Had sin been pardoned 
fully, it would have been subdued more effectually. 

There are three considerations which make the actings 
of indwelling sin to be so perplexing to the soul. 

1. Because they are unexpected. The soul looks not 
for them upon the first great conquest made of sin, and 
universal engagement of the heart unto God. When it first 
says, 1 have sworn, and am steadfastly purposed to keep 
thy righteous judgments, commonly there is peace, at least 
for a season, from the disturbing vigorous actings of sin. 
There are many reasons why so it should be. ' Old things 
are then passed away, all things are become new ;' and the 
soul, under the power of that universal change, is utterly 
turned away from those things that should foment, stir up, 
provoke, or cherish, any lust or temptation. Now when some 
of these advantages are past, and sin begins to stir and act 
again, the soul is surprised, and thinks the work that he 
hath passed through was not true and effectual, but tempo- 
rary only. Yea, he thinks perhaps that sin hath more 
strength than it had -before, because he is more sensible than 
he was before. As one that hath a dead arm or limb, whilst 
it is mortified endures deep cuts and lancings, and feels 
them not ; when spirits and sense are brought into the place 
again, he feels the least cut, and may think the instruments 
sharper than they were before, when all the difference is, 
that he hath got a quickness of sense, which before he had 
not. It may be so with a person in this case; he may think 
lust more powerful than it was before, because he is more 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 343 

sensible than he was before. Yea, sin in the heart, is like a 
snake or serpent ; you may pull out the sting of it, and cut 
it into many pieces; though it can sting mortally no more, 
nor move his whole body at once, yet it will move in all its 
parts, and make an appearance of a greater motion than 
formerly. So it is with lust, when it hath received its death's 
wound, and is cut in pieces, yet it moves in so many parts 
as it were in the soul, that it amazes him that hath to do 
with it; and thus coming unexpectedly, fills the spirit 
oftentimes with disconsolation. 

2. It hath also in its actings a universality. This also 
surpriseth ; there is a universality in the actings of sin, 
even in believers. There is no evil that it will not move to; 
there is no good that it will not attempt to hinder; no duty 
that it will not defile. And the reason of this is, because 
we are sanctified but in part; not in any part wholly, though 
savingly and truly in every part. There is sin remaining in 
every faculty, in all the affections, and so may be acting in 
and towards any sin, that the nature of man is liable unto. 
Degrees of sin there are that all regenerate persons are ex- 
empted from ; but unto solicitations to all kinds of sin they 
are exposed, and this helps on the temptation, 

3. It is endless and restless ; never quiet, conquering nor 
conquered ; it gives not over, but rebels being overcome, or 
assaults afresh having prevailed. Ofttimes after a victory 
obtained, and an opposition subdued, the soul is in expecta- 
tion of rest and peace from its enemies. But this holds not; 
it works and rebels again and again, and will do so whilst 
we live in this world; so that no issue will be put to our 
conflict but by death. This is at large handled elsewhere, in 
a treatise lately published on this peculiar subject. 

These and the like considerations attending the actings 
of indwelling sin, do oftentimes entangle the soul in making 
a judgment of itself, and leave it in the dark as to its state 
and condition. 

A few things shall be offered unto this objection also. 

1. The sensible powerful actings of indwelling sin, are 
not inconsistent with a state of grace, Gal. v. 17. There 
are in the same person contrary principles, ' the flesh and the 
Spirit;' these are contrary: and there are contrary actings 
from these principles ; * the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, 


and the Spirit against the flesh;' and these actings are de- 
scribed to be greatly vigorovis in other places. Lust wars 
against our souls, James iv. 1. 1 Pet. ii. 11. Now to war is 
not to make faint or gentle opposition, to be slighted and 
contemned; but it is to go out with great strength, to use 
craft, subtlety, and force, so as to put the whole issue to a 
hazard. So these lusts war; such are their actings in and 
against the soul. And therefore, saith the apostle, ' you cannot 
do the things that you would.' See Rom. vii. 14 — 17. In 
this conflict indeed the understanding is left unconquered; 
it condemns and disapproves of the evil led unto; and the will 
is not subdued ; it would not do the evil that is pressed upon 
it, and there is a hatred or aversion remaining in the af- 
fections unto sin; but yet notwithstanding sin rebels, fights, 
tumultuates, and leads captive. This objection then may 
receive this speedy answer. Powerful actings and work- 
ings, universal endlessstrugglingsof indwelling sin, seducing 
to all that is evil, putting itself forth to the disturbance and 
dissettlement of all that is good, is not suflicient ground to 
conclude a state of alienation from God. See for this the 
other treatise before-mentioned at large. 

2. Your state is not at all to be measured by the opposi- 
tion that sin makes to you, but by the opposition you make 
to it; be that never so great, if this be good; be that never 
so restless and powerful, if this be sincere, you may be dis- 
quieted, you can have no reason to despond. 

I have mentioned these things only to give a specimen 
of the objections which men usually raise up against an 
actual closing with the truth insisted on to their consolation. 
And we have also given in upon them some rules of truth 
for their relief, not intending in them absolute satisfaction 
as to the whole of the cases mentioned, but only to remove 
the darkness raised by them so out of the way, as that it 
might not hinder any from mixing the word with faith that 
hath been dispensed from this blessed testimony, 'that there 
is forgiveness with God that he may be feared.' 

Ver. 5, 6. Proceed we now to i^^he second part of this 
psalm, which contains the deportment of a sin-perplexed 
soul ; when by I'aith it hath discovered where its rest doth 
lie, and from whom its relief is to be expected ; even from 
the forgiveness which is with God, whereof we have spoken. 

UPON' PSALM cxxx. 345 

There are two things in general, as was before-mentioned, 
that the soul in that condition applies itself unto ; whereof 
the first respects itself, and the other the whole Israel of God. 

That which respects itself, is the description of that 
frame of heart and spirit that he was brought into, upon 
faith's discovery of forgiveness in God ; with the duties that 
he applied himself unto, the grounds of it, and the manner 
of its performance; ver. 5, 6. 

' I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word 
do I hope. 

• My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that 
watch for the morning : I say, more than they that watch 
for the morning.' 

Herein, I say, he describes both his frame of spirit, and 
the duty he applied himself to, both as to matter and 

I shall, as in the method hitherto observed, first con- 
sider the reading of the words, then their sense and import- 
ance, with the suitableness of the things mentioned in them, 
to the condition of the soul under consideration ; all which 
yield us a foundation of the observations that are to be 
drawn from them. 

The words rendered strictly, or word for word, lay thus : 

' I have earnestly expected Jehovah ; my soul hath ex- 
pected, and in his word have I tarried,' or waited. 

* My soul to the Lord, more than (or before) the watch- 
men in the morning ; the watchmen in the morning ;' or ' unto 
the morning.' 

' I have waited' or ' expected ;' >n'1p from nip 'to expect,' 
*tohope,'*to wait.' 'Verbumhoc est, magno animi desiderio, 
in aliquem intentum esse, et respicere adeum, ex eo pendere.' 
The word denotes to be intent on any one with great desire ; 
to behold or regard him, and to depend upon him; and it 
also expresseth the earnest inclination and intention of the 
will and mind. 

Paul seems to have expressed this word to the full, Rom. 
viii. 19. by cnroKitpadoKia ; an intent or earnest expectation, 
expressing itself by putting forth the head, and lookino- 
round about with earnestness and diligence. And this is 
also signified expressly by this word, Psal.lxix.20. Ti3^ mpNI 
' and I looked for some to take pity ;' ' hue illuc anxie cir- 


cumspexi, siqui forte me commiseraturus esset.' I looked 
roundabout this way and that way diligently and solicit- 
ously, to see if any would pity me or lament with me. 

Thus • I have waited,' is as much as, I have diligently, 
with intention of soul, mind, will, and affections, looked unto 
God, in earnest expectation of that from him that I stand in 
need of, and which must come forth from the forgiveness 
that is with him. 

2. I have, saith he, waited for, or expected Jehovah ; he 
uses the same name of God in his expectation, that he first 
tixed on in his application to him. 

And it is not this or that means, not this or that assist- 
ance, but it is Jehovah himself that he expects and waits 
for. It is Jehovah Himself that must satisfy the soul ; his 
favour and loving-kindness, and what flows from them ; if 
he come not himself, if he gives not himself, nothing else 
will relieve. 

3. * My soul doth wait,' or expect; it is no outward duty 
that I am at, no lip-labour, no bodily work, no formal, cold, 
careless performance of a duty ; no, ' my soul doth wait :' it is 
soul-work, heart-work I am at; 1 wait, I wait with my 
whole :<oul. 

4. ' In his word do I hope,' or 'wait.' There is not any 
thing of difficulty in these words ; the word used >nbn)n is 
irom bn> ' sunt qui quod affine sit verbo' ^'pn ' velint anxie- 
tatem et nisum includere, ut signifi9et anxie, seu enixe ex- 
pectare, sustinere, et sperare;' it signifies to hope, expect, 
endure, and sustain with care, solicitousness, and endea- 
vours. Hence the LXX. have rendered the word hy vTrifieivev, 
and the Vulgar Latin * sustinui.' I have sustained and 
waited with patience. 

And this on the word ; or he sustained his soul with the 
word of promise that it should not utterly faint. Seeing he 
had made a discovery of grace and forgiveness, though yet 
at a great distance ; he had a sight of land, though he was 
yet in a storm at sea; and therefore encourageth himself, or 
his soul, that it doth not despond. 

But yet all this that we have spoken reaches not the in- 
tenseness of the soul of the psalmist, in this his expectation 
of Jehovah. The earnest engagement of his soul in thi;-> duty 
riseth up above what he can express. Tiierefore he proceeds. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 347 

ver. 6. * My soul' saith he, * for the Lord,' (that is, expects 
him, looks for him, waits for him, waits for his coming to me 
in love and with forgiveness) ' more than the watchers for 
the morning, the watchers for the morning.' 

These latter words are variously rendered, and variously 
expounded. The LXX. and Vulgar Latin render them * from 
the morning watch, until night ;' others, ' from those that 
keep the morning watch, unto those that keep the evening 
watch.' ' More than the watchers in the morning, more than 
the watchers in the morning.' 

The words also are variously expounded. Austin would 
have it to signify, the placing of our hopes on the morning 
of Christ's resurrection, and continuing in them until the 
night of our own death. 

Jerome, who renders the words, 'from the morning watch 
to the morning watch,' expounds them of continuing our 
hopes and expectations from the morning that we are called 
into the Lord's vineyard, to the morning when we shall re- 
ceive our reward, as much to the sense of the place as the 
former : and so Chrysostom interprets it of our whole life. 

It cannot be denied but that they were led into these 
mistakes by the translation of the LXX. and that of the 
Vulgar Latin, who both of them have divided these words, 
quite contrary to their proper dependance ; and read them 
thus, 'My soul expected the Lord. From the morning watch 
to the night watch, let Israel trust in the Lord ;' so making 
the words to belong to the following exhortation unto others, 
which are plainly a part of the expression of his own duty. 

The words then are a comparison, and an allusion unto 
watchmen, and may be taken in one of these two senses : 

1. In things civil; as those who keep the watch of the 
night, do look, and long for, and expect, the morning, when 
being dismissed from their guard they may take that sleep 
that they need and desire ; which expresses a very earnest 
expectation, inquiry, and desire: or, 

2. In things sacred; with the Chaldee paraphrast, which 
renders the words, * more than they that look for the morn- 
ing watch,' which they carefully observe, that they may 
offer the morning-sacrifice. In this sense, as saith he, the 
warders and watchers in the temple, do look diligently after 
the appearance of the morning, that they may with joy offer 


tlie morning-sacrifice in the appointed season ; so, and with 
more diligence, doth my soul wait for Jehovah. 

You see the reading of the words ; and how far the sense 
of them opens itself unto us by that consideration. 

Let us then next see briefly the several parts of them, as 
they stand in relation one to another. We have then, 

1. The expression of the duty wherein he was exercised, 
and that is, earnest waiting for Jehovah. 

2. The bottom and foundation of that his waiting and 
expectation, that is, the word of God, the word of promise ; 
he diligently hoped in the word. 

3. The frame of his spirit in, and the manner of his per- 
formance of, this duty ; expressed, 

1. In the words themselves that he uses, according as we 
opened them before. 

2. In the emphatical reduplication, yea triplication, of his 
expression of it; ' I wait' for God; my ' soul waiteth' for 
God ; my soul ' for the Lord.' 

3. In the comparison instituted between his discharge of 
his duty, and others' performances of a corporal watch, with 
the greatest care and diligence ; * more than they that watch 
for the morning ;' so that we have, 

1. The duty he performed ; earnest waiting and expecta- 

2. The object of his waiting; Jehovah himself. 

3. His supportraent in that duty, the word of promise. 
' 4. The manner of his performance of it. 

(1.) With earnestness and diligence. 

(2.) With perseverance. 

Let us then now consider the words, as they contain the 
frame and working of a sin-entangled soul. 

Having been raised out of his depths by the discovery of 
forgiveness in God, as was before declared, yet not being 
immediately made partaker of that forgiveness, as to a com- 
forting sense of it, he gathers up his soul from wandering 
from God, and supports it from sinking under his present 

It is, saith he, Jehovah alone with whom is forgive- 
ness that can relieve and do me good ; his favour, liis lov- 
ing-kindness, his communication of mercy and grace from 
thence, is that which I stand in need of; on liini therefore do 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 349 

I with all heedfulness attend ; on him do I wait, my soul is 
filled with expectation from him ; surely he will come to me, 
he will come and refresh me ; though he seem as yet to be 
afar off, and to leave me in these depths, yet I have his 
word of promise to support and stay my soul, on which I 
will lean until I obtain the enjoyment of him, and his kind- 
ness which is better than life. 

And this is the frame of a sin-entangled soul, who hath 
really by faith discovered forgiveness in God, but is not yet 
made partaker of a comforting refreshing sense of it. And 
we may represent it in the ensuing observations. 

Obs. 1. The first proper fruit of faith's discovery of for- 
giveness in God, unto a sin-distressed soul, is waiting in pa- 
tience and expectation. 

Obs. 2. The proper object of a sin-distressed soul's 
waiting and expecting is God himself, as reconciled in 
Christ : * I have waited for Jehovah.' 

Obs. 3. The word of promise is the soul's great sup- 
portment in waiting for God : ' in thy word do I hope.' 

Obs. 4. Sin-distressed souls wait for God with earnest 
initiition of mind, diligence, and expectation ; from the re- 
doubling of the expression. 

Obs. 5. Continuance in waiting until God appears to the 
soul is necessary and prevailing ; necessary, as that without 
which we cannot attain assistance ; and prevailing, as that 
wherein we shall never fail. 

Obs. 6. Establishment in waiting where there is no pre- 
sent sense of forgiveness, yet gives the soul much secret 
rest and comfort; this observation ariseth from the influence 
that these verses have unto those that follow. The psalmist 
having attained thus far, can now look about him, and begin 
to deal with others, and exhort them to an expectation of 
grace and mercy. 

And thus, though the soul be not absolutely in the ha- 
ven of consolation where it would be, yet it hath cast out 
an anchor that gives it establishment and security. Though 
it be yet tossed, yet it is secured from shipwreck, and is ra- 
ther sick than in danger ; a waiting condition is a condition 
of safety. 

Hence it is that he now turns himself to others, and upon 
the experience of the discovery that he had made of forgive- 


ness in God, and the establishment and consolation he found 
in waiting on him, he calls upon, and encourageth others to 
the same duty, ver. 7, 8. 

The propositions laid down, I shall briefly pass through ; 
still with respect unto the state and condition of the soul, 
represented in the psalm. Many things that might justly 
be insisted on in the improvement of these truths, have been 
anticipated in our former general rules. To them we must 
therefore sometimes have recourse; because they must not 
be again repeated. On this account, I say, we shall pass 
through them with all briefness possible ; yet so as not 
wholly to omit any directions that are here tendered unto 
us, as to the guidance of the soul, whose condition, and the 
working of whose faith, is here described. This, therefore, in 
the first place is proposed. 

The first proper fruit of faith's discovery of forgiveness 
in God unto a sin-distressed soul, is waiting in patience and 

This the psalmist openly and directly applies himself 
unto, and expresseth to have been as his duty, so his prac- 
tice. And he doth it so emphatically, as was manifested in 
the opening of the words, that I know not that any duty is 
any where in the Scripture so recommended and lively re- 
presented unto us. 

You must, therefore, for the right understanding of it, 
call to mind what hath been spoken concerning the state of 
of the soul inquired into ; its depths, entanglements, and 
sense of sin, with its application unto God about those 
things ; as also remember what hath been delivered about 
the nature of foro-iveness, with the revelation that is made of 
it unto the faith of believers ; and that this may be done, 
where the soul hath no refreshing sense of its own interest 
therein. It knows not that its own sins are forgiven, 
although it believes that there is forgiveness with God. Now 
the principal duty that is incumbent on such a soul, is that 
laid down in the proposition, namely, patient waiting and 

Two things must be done in reference hereunto. First, 
The nature of the duty itself is to be declared : and secondly. 
The necessity and usefulness of its practice is to be evinced 
and demonstrated. 


For the nature of it, something hath been ifitimated giv- 
ing light into it, in the opening of the words here used by the 
psalmist to express it by. But we may observe, that these 
duties as required of us, do not consist in any particular act- 
ing of the soul, but in the whole spiritual frame and deport- 
ment of it, in reference unto the end aimed at in and by them. 
And this waiting, as here and elsewhere commended unto us, 
and which is comprehensive of the especial duties of the 
soul, in the case insisted on and described, comprehends 
these three things. 1. Quietness, in opposition to haste 
and turaultuating of spirit. 2. Diligence, in opposition to 
spiritual sloth, despondency, and neglect of means. 3. Ex- 
pectation, in opposition to despair, distrust, and other proper 
immediate actings of unbelief. 

1. Quietness. Hence this waiting itself is sometimes 
expressed by silence. To wait, is to be silent. Lam. iii. 26. 
' It is good both to hope, CDDHI and to be silent for the sal- 
vation of the Lord ;' that is, to 'wait quietly,' as we have ren- 
dered the word. And the same word we render sometimes 
' to rest,' as Psal. xxxvii, 7. ' Rest on the Lord, mri'^ tiyn be 
silent unto him;' where it is joined with hoping or waiting, 
as that which belongs unto the nature of it ; and so in sundry 
other places. And this God in an especial manner calleth 
souls unto in straits and distresses. * In quietness and confi- 
dence,' saith he, ' shall be your strength;' Isa. xxx. 15. And 
the effect of the righteousness of God by Christ, is said to 
be * quietness and assurance for ever ;' Isa. xxxii. 17. First, 
quietness, and then assurance. Now this silence and quiet- 
ness which accompanieth waiting, yea, which is an essential 
part of it, is opposed first to haste ; and haste is the soul's 
undue lifting up itself, proceeding from a weariness of its con- 
dition, to press after an end of its troubles, not according to 
the conduct of the Spirit of God. Thus when God calleth 
his people to waiting, he expresseth the contrary acting unto 
this duty, by the lifting up of the soul ; Hab, ii. 3, 4. 
' Though the vision tarry, wait for it. Behold, his soul which 
is lifted up is not upright in him : but the just shall live by 
faith.' God hath given unto the soul a vision of peace, 
through the discovery of that forgiveness which is with him ; 
but he will have us wait for an actual participation of it unto 
rest and comfort. He that will not do so, but lifts up his 


soul, that is, in making- haste beyond the rule and method 
of the Spirit of God in this matter, his heart is not upright 
in him, nor will he know what it is to live by faith. This 
ruins and disappoints many a soul in its attempts for forgive- 
ness. The prophet, speaking of this matter, tells us that ' he 
that believeth shall not,' nor will not, ' make haste ;' Isa. 
xxviii. 16. Which words the apostle twice making use of, 
Rom. ix. 33. x. 11, in both places renders them, ' Whosoever 
believeth on him shall not be ashamed,' or confounded. 
And that because this haste turns men off from believino- 
and so disappoints their hopes, and leaves them unto shame 
and confusion. Men with a sense of the guilt of sin, having 
some discovery made to them of the rest, ease, and peace, 
which they may obtain to their souls by forgiveness, are 
ready to catch greedily at it, and to make false, unsound, un- 
due applications of it unto themselves. They cannot bear 
the yoke that the Lord hath put upon them, but grow impa- 
tient under it, and cry with Hachel, ' Give me children or I 
die.' Any way they would obtain it. Now as the first duty 
of such a soul is to apply itself unto waiting; so the first 
entrance into v^'aiting consists in this silence and quietness 
of heart and spirit. This is the soul's endeavour to keep it- 
self humble, satisfied with the sovereign pleasure of God in 
its condition, and refusing all ways and means of rest and 
peace, but what it is guided and directed unto by the word 
and Spirit. 

2. As it is opposed unto haste, so it is unto tumultuating 
thoughts, and vexatious disquietments ; the soul is silent. 
Psal. xxxix. 9. * I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, be- 
cause thou didst it.' He redoubles the expression, whereby 
he sets out his endeavour to quiet and still his soul in the 
will of God. In the condition discoursed of, the soul is apt 
to have many tumultuating thoughts, or a multitude ofper- 
plexing thoughts of no use or advantage unto it. How they 
are to be watched against and rejected, was before declared 
in our general rules. This quietness in waiting will prevent 
them. And this is the first thing in the duty prescribed. 

2. Diligence, in opposition unto spiritual sloth, is in- 
cluded in it also. Diligence is the activity of the mind in 
the regular use of means, for the pursuit of any end proposed. 
The end aimed at by the soul, is a comforting refreshing in- 


terestin that forgiveness that is with God. For the attain- 
ing thereof, there are sundry means instituted and blessed of 
God. A neglect of them through regardlessness or sloth, 
will certainly disappoint the soul from attaining that end. 
It is confessedly so in things natural. He that soweth not, 
must not think to reap ; he that clotheth not himself, will 
not be warm ; nor he enjoy health, who neglects the means 
of it. Men understand this as to their outward concerns. 
And although they have a due respect unto the blessing of 
God, yet they expect not to be rich without industry in their 
ways. It is so also in things spiritual. God hath appointed 
one thing to be the means of obtaining another; in the use 
of them doth he bless us, and from the use of them, doth his 
glory arise, because they are his own appointments. And 
this diligence wholly respecteth practice, or the regular use 
of means. A man is said to be diligent in business, to have 
a diligent hand ; though it be an affection of the mind, yet 
it simply respects practice and operation. This diligence in 
his waiting David expresseth, Psal. xl. 1. >n>)p mp. We ren- 
der it, ' I have waited patiently ;' that is, waiting I have 
waited ; that is, diligently, earnestly in the use of means. So 
he describes this duty by an elegant similitude, Psal. cxxiii. 
2. ' Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of 
their masters ; and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of 
her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God until 
he have mercy on us.' Servants that wait on their masters, 
and look to their hands, it is to expect an intimation of their 
minds as to what they would have them do, that they may 
address themselves unto it. So, saith he, do we wait for 
mercy; not in a slothful neglect of duties, but in a constant 
readiness to observe the will of God in all his commands. 
An instance hereof we have in the spouse, when she was in 
the condition here described. Cant. iii. 1, 2. She wanted the 
presence of her beloved, which amounts to the same state 
which we have under consideration ; for where the pre- 
sence of Christ is not, there can be no sense of forgiveness. 
At first she seeks him upon her bed : ' By night upon my 
bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but 
I found him not.' She seems herein to have gone no farther 
than desires ; for she was in her bed, where she could do no 
more ; and the issue is, she found him not. But doth she so 
VOL. XIV. 2 a 


satisfy herself; and lay still, waiting until he should come 
there unto her? No, she says, she will 'rise now, and go 
about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will 
seek him whom my soul loveth.' She resolves to put her- 
self into the use of all means, whereby one may be sought 
that is wanting. In the city, streets, and fields, she would 
inquire after him. And the blessed success she had herein 
is reported, ver. 4. she ' found him, she held him, she would 
not let him go.' This then belongs unto the waiting of the 
soul : diligence in the use of means, whereby God is pleased 
ordinarily to communicate a sense of pardon and forgiveness, 
is a principal part of it. What these means are, is known. 
Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing of the word, dispensa- 
tion of the sacraments; they are all appointed to this purpose; 
they are all means of communicating love and grace to the 
soul. Be not then heartless or slothful ; up and be doing; 
attend with diligence to the word of grace; be fervent in 
prayer, assiduous in the use of all ordinances of the church, 
in one or other of them, at one time or other, thou wilt meet 
with him whom thy soul loveth; and God, through him, will 
speak peace unto thee. 

3. There is expectation in it, which lies in a direct op- 
position to all the actings of unbelief in this matter, and 
is the very life and soul of the duty under consideration. 
So the psalmist declares it, Psal. Ixii. 5. ' My soul, wait 
thou only upon God; for my expectation is only from him.' 
The soul will not, cannot, in a due manner wait on God, un- 
less it has expectations from him ; unless, as James speaks, 
he looks to receive somewhat from him; chap. i. 7. The 
soul in this condition regards forgiveness, not only as by 
itself it is desired, but principally as it is by God promised. 
Thence they expect it. This is expressed in the fourth pro- 
position before laid down ; namely, that sin-distressed souls 
wait for God with earnestness, intention of mind, and ex- 
pectation. As this ariseth from the redoubling of the ex- 
pression ; so principally from the nature of the comparison 
that he makes on himself, in his waiting with them that 
watch for the morning. Those that watch for the morning 
do not only desire it, and prepare for it, but they expect it, 
and know assuredly that it will come. Though darkness 
may for a time be troublesome, and continue longer than 

VPOK PSALM cxxx. 355 

they would desire, yet they know that the morning hath its 
appointed time of return, beyond which it will not tarry ; 
and therefore they look out for its appearance on all occa- 
sions : so it is with the soul in this matter. So says David, 
Psal. V. 3. 'I will direct my prayer unto thee nD3f^<l and 
look up.' So we : the words before are defective, "jl^K "ipi 
"]^ * in the morning,' or rather, every morning, ' I will order 
unto thee.' We restrain this unto prayer. ' I will direct my 
prayer unto thee.' But this was expressed directly in the 
words foregoing; 'In the morning thou shalt hear my voice ;' 
that is, the voice of my prayer and supplications, as it is 
often supplied. And although the psalmist doth sometime 
repeat the same thing in different expressions, yet here he 
seemeth not so to do, but rather proceeds to declare the ge- 
neral frame of his spirit in walking with God. I will, saith 
he, ' order all things towards God,' so as that I may wait 
upon him in the ways of his appointment; nD2fK1 ' and w^ill 
look up.' It seems in our translation to express his posture 
in his prayer. But the word is of another importance. It 
is diligently to look out after that which is coming towards 
us, and looking out after the accomplishment of our ex- 
pectation. This is a part of our waiting for God ; yea, as was 
said, the life of it, that which is principally intended in it. 
The prophet calls it ' his standing upon his watch tower, and 
watching to see what God would speak i^nto him,' Hab. ii. 3. 
namely, in answer unto that prayer which he put up in his 
trouble. He is now waiting in expectation of an answer 
from God. And this is that which poor, weak, trembling 
sinners are so encouraged unto, Isa. xxxv. 3, 4. ' Strengthen 
ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees : say to 
them that are of a fearful heart. Be strong, fear not : behold 
your God will come.' Weakness and discouragements are 
the effects of unbelief. These he would have removed with 
an expectation of the coming of God unto the soul according 
to the promise. And this I say belongs unto the waiting of 
the soul in the condition described. Such a one doth expect 
and hope that God will in his season manifest himself and 
his love unto him, and give him an experimental sense of a 
blessed interest in forgiveness. And the accomplishment 
of this purpose and promise of God, it looks out after con- 
tinually. It will not despond and be heartless, but stir up 

2 a2 


and strengthen itself unto a full expectation to have the 
desires of his soul satisfied in due time : as we find David 
doing in places almost innumerable. 

This is the duty that in the first place is recommended 
unto the soul, who is persuaded that there is forgiveness 
with God, but sees not its own interest therein. Wait on, 
or for, the Lord. And it hath two properties when it is per- 
formed in a due manner ; namely, patience and perseverance. 
By the one men are kept to the length of God's time; by 
the other they are preserved in a due length of their own 

And this is that which was laid down in the first pro- 
position drawn from the words ; namely, that continuance in 
watching, until God appears unto the soul, is necessary, as 
that without which we cannot attain what we look after, and 
prevailing, as that wherein we shall never fail. 

God is not to be limited, nor his times prescribed unto 
him. We know our way, and the end of our journey ; but 
our stations of especial rest, we must wait for at his mouth, 
as the people did in the wilderness. When David comes to 
deal with God in his great distress, he says unto him, ' O 
Lord, thou art my God, my times are in thine hand ;' Psal. 
xxxi. 14, 15. His times of trouble and of peace, of darkness 
and of light, he acknowledged to be in the hand and at the 
disposal of God ; so that it was his duty to wait his time and 
season for his share and portion in them. 

During this state the soul meets with many oppositions, 
difficulties, and perplexities, especially if its darkness be of 
long continuance, as with some it abides many years, with 
some all the days of their lives. Their hope being hereby 
deferred, makes their hearts sick, and their spirit oftentimes 
to faint; and this fainting is a defect in waiting, for want of 
perseverance and continuance which frustrates the end of it. 
So David, Psal. xxvii. 13. ' I had fainted, unless I had believed 
to see the goodness of the Lord.' Had I not received sup- 
portment by faith, I had fainted. And wherein doth that 
consist? what was the fainting which he had been over- 
taken withal, without the supportment mentioned ? It was a 
relinquishment of waiting on God, as hemanifets by the ex- 
hortation which he gives to himself and others, ver. 14. 
' Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 357 

strengthen thy heart : wait, I say, on the Lord.' Wait with 
courage and resolution that thou faint not. And the apostle 
puts the blessed event of faith and obedience upon the 
avoidance of this evil. Gal. vi. 9. * We shall reap if we faint 
not.' Hence we have both encouragements given against it, 
and promises that in the way of God we shall not be over- 
taken with it. ' Consider the Lord Christ,' saith the apostle, 
* the captain of your salvation, lest you be Wearied and faint 
in your minds ;' Heb. xii. 3. Nothing else can cause you to 
come short of the mark aimed at. ' And they,' saith the pro- 
phet, * who wait on the Lord,' that is, in the use of the means 
by him appointed, * shall not faint;' Isa. xl. 31. 

This continuance then in waiting, is to accompany this 
duty, upon the account of both the things mentioned in the 
proposition ; that it is indispensably necessary on our own 
account, and it is assuredly prevailing in the end; it will 
not fail. 

1. It is necessary. They that watch for the morning, to 
whose frame and actings, the waiting of the soul for God is 
compared, give not over until the light doth appear, or if 
they do, if they are wearied and faint, and so cease watch- 
ing, all their former pains will be lost, and they will lie down 
in disappointments. So will it be with the soul that deserts 
its watch, and faints in its waiting. If upon the eruption of 
new lusts or corruptions; if upon the return of old tempta- 
tions, or the assaults of new ones ; if upon a revived per- 
plexing sense of guilt, or on the tediousness of workino- and 
labouring so much and so long in the dark, the soul begins 
to say in itself, I have looked for light and behold darkness ; 
for peace, and yet trouble cometh ; the summer is past, the 
harvest is ended, and I am not relieved; such and such 
blessed means have been enjoyed, and yet I have not at- 
tained rest ; and so gives over its waiting in the way and 
course before prescribed, it will at length utterly fail and 
come short of the grace aimed at. * Thou hast laboured and 
hast not fainted,' brings in the reward. Rev. ii. 3. 

2. Perseverance in waiting is assuredly prevalent; and 
this renders it a necessary part of the duty itself. If we con- 
tinue to wait for the vision of peace, it will come, it will not 
tarry, but answer our expectation of it. Never soul miscar- 
ried that abode in this duty unto the end. The joys of 


heaven may sometimes prevent consolations in this life ; 
God sometimes gives in the full harvest without sending of 
the first-fruits aforehand, but spiritual or eternal peace and 
rest, is the infallible end of permanent waiting for God. 

This is the duty that the psalmist declares himself to be 
engaged in, upon the encouraging discovery which was made 
unto him of fox'giveness in God. ' There is forgiveness with 
thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul 
doth wait, and in his v/ord do I hope.' And this is that 
which in the like condition is required of us. This is the 
great direction which was given us, in the example and 
practice of the psalmist, as to our duty and deportment in 
the condition described. This was the way whereby he rose 
out of his depths and escaped out of his entanglements. Is 
this then the state of any of us? let such take directions 
from hence. 

1. Encourage your souls unto waiting on God. Do 
new fears arise, do old disconsolations continue? say unto 
your souls. Yet wait on God ; ' why are you cast down, O our 
souls? and why are you disquieted within us? hope in God ; 
for we shall yet praise him, who is the health of our counte- 
nance, and our God;' as the psalmist doth in the like case, 
Psal. xliii. 5. So he speaks elsewhere, * Wait on God, and be 
of good courage,' shake off sloth, rouse up yourselves from 
under despondencies, let not fears prevail. This is the only 
way for success, and it will assuredly be prevalent ; oppose 
this resolution to every discouragement, and it will give new 
life to faith and hope ; say, * My flesh faileth, and my heart 
faileth, but God is the rock of my heart, and my portion for 
ever;' as Psal. Ixxiii. 26. Though thy perplexed thoughts 
have even wearied and worn out the outward man, as in 
many they do, so that flesh faileth ; and though thou 
hast no refreshing evidence from within, from thyself, or 
thy own experience, so that thy heart faileth ; yet resolve to 
look unto God ; there is strength in him, and satisfaction in 
him, for the whole man ; he is a rock, and a portion ; this 
will strengthen things which otherwise will be ready to die. 
This will keep life in thy course, and stir thee up to plead it 
with God in an acceptable season, when he will be found. 
Job carriedup his condition unto a supposition that God 
might slay him ; that is, add one stroke, one rebuke unto 


another until he was consumed ; and so take him out of the 
world in darkness and in sorrow. Yet he resolved to trust, 
to hope, to wait on him, as knowing that he should not 
utterly miscarry, so doing. This frame the church expresseth 
so admirably, that nothing can be added thereunto, Lam. 
iii. 17 — 26. ' Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace, 
I forgat prosperity, and my hope is perished from the Lord ; 
remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood 
and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is 
humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I 
hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, 
because his compassions fail not. They are new every morn- 
ing; great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith 
my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto 
them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is 
good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the 
salvation of the Lord.' We have here both the condition and 
the duty insisted on, with the method of the soul's actings 
in reference unto the one and the other fully expressed. The 
condition is sad and bitter, the soul is in depths far from 
peace and rest, ver. 14. In this state it is ready utterly to 
faint and to give all for lo^t and gone, both strength for the 
present, and hopes for the future, ver. 18. This makes its 
condition full of sorrow and bitterness, and its own thoughts 
become unto it like ' wormwood and gall,' ver. 19, 20. But 
doth he lie down under the burden of all this trouble ? doth 
he despond, and give over? No, saith he, I call to mind, that 
* there is forgiveness with God;' grace, mercy, goodness, for 
the relief of distressed souls ; such as are in my condition, 
ver. 21 — 23. Thence the conclusion is, that as all help is to 
be looked for, all relief expected, from him alone ; so ' it is 
good that a man should quietly wait, and hope for the sal- 
vation of God.' This he stirs up himself unto, as the best, as 
the most blessed course for his deliverance. 

2. Remember, that diligent use of the means for the end 
aimed at, is a necessary concomitant of, and ingredient unto, 
waiting on God. Take in the consideration of this direction 
also. Do not think to be freed from your entanglements, 
by restless, heartless desiring that it were otherwise with 
you. Means are to be used that relief may be obtained. 
What those means are, is known unto all. Mortification of 

360 AX i:x POSITION 

sin, prayer, meditation, due attendance upon all i^ospel ordi- 
nances ; conferring in general about spiritual things, advis- 
ing in particular about our own state and condition, with 
such who having received the tongue of the learned, are able 
to speak a word in season to them that are weary, are re- 
quired to this purpose. And in all these are diligence and 
perseverance to be exercised; or in vain shall men desire a 
delivery from their entanglements. 

God the proper object of the soul's waiting in its distresses and depths. 

We have seen what the duty is, intended in the proposi- 
tion ; we are nextly to consider the reason also of it, why 
this is the great, first, and principal duty of souls ; who in 
their depths have it discovered unto them that there is for- 
giveness with God ; and the reason hereof is, that which 
is expressed in our second observation before-mentioned j 

That the proper object of a sin-distressed soul's waiting 
and expectation, is God himself as revealed in Christ. * I 
have,' saith the psalmist, * waited for Jehovah ;' it is not this 
or that mercy or grace, this or that help or relief; but it 
is Jehovah himself that I wait for. 

Here then we must do two things ; first. Shew in what 
sense God himself is the object of the waiting of the soul ; 
secondly. How it appears from hence that waiting is so 
necessary a duty. 

First, It is the Lord himself, Jehovah himself, that the soul 
waiteth for. It is not grace, mercy, or relief absolutely con- 
sidered, but the God of all grace and help, that is the full 
adequate object of the soul's waiting and expectation; only 
herein he is not considered absolutely in his own nature; 
but as there is forgiveness with him. What is required 
hereunto, hath been at large before declared. It is as he is 
revealed in and by Jesus Christ; as in him he hath found a 
ransom, and accepted the atonement for sinners in his 
blood ; as he is a God in covenant ; so he is himself the ob- 
ject of our waiting. And that, 

1. Because all troubles, depths, entanglements, arise 


from, 1. The absence of God from the soul; and, 2. From 
his displeasure. 

1. The absence of God from the soul, by his departure, 
withdrawing, or hiding himself from it, is that which princi- 
pally casts the soul into its depths. 'Woe unto them,' saith 
the Lord, 'when I depart from them;' Hos. ix. 12. And this 
woe, this sorrow, doth not attend only a universal, a total de- 
parture of God from any ; but that also which is gradual, or 
partial, in some things, in some seasons. When God with- 
draws his enlightening, his refreshing, his comforting pre- 
sence, as to any ways or means whereby he hath formerly 
communicated himself unto the souls of any; then 'woe 
unto them,' sorrows will befall them, and they will fall into 
depths and entanglements. Now this condition calls for 
waiting. If God be withdrawn, if he hides himself, what 
hath the soul to do, but to wait for his return? So saith the 
prophet, Isa. viii. 17. * I will wait upon the Lord thathideth 
his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.' 
If God hide himself, this is the natural and proper duty of 
the soul, to wait and to look for him. Other course of relief 
it cannot apply itself unto. What that waiting is, and where- 
in it doth consist, hath been declared. Patient seeking of 
God in the ways of his appointment is comprised in it; this 
the prophet expresseth in that word, ' I will look for him ;' 
indeed the same in the original with that in the psalm, 'nnpl 
tb ; and I will earnestly look out after him with expecta- 
tion of his return unto me. 

2. A sense of God's displeasure is another cause of 
these depths and troubles, and of the continuance of the 
soul in them, notwithstanding it hath made a blessed disco- 
very by faith, that there is with him forgiveness ; this hath 
been so fully manifested through the whole preceding dis- 
course, that it need not again be insisted on. All hath res- 
pect unto sin, and the reason of the trouble that ariseth from 
sin, is because of the displeasure of God against it. What 
then is the natural posture and frame of the soul towards 
God as displeased ? shall he contend with him ? shall he 
harden himself against him /' shall he despise his wrath and 
anger, and contemn his threatenings ? or shall he hide him- 
self from him, and so avoid the effects of his wrath ? who 
knows not how ruinous and pernicious to the soul such 


courses would be ? and how many are ruined by them every 
day? Patient waiting is the soul's only reserve on this ac- 
count also. And 

Secondly, This duty in the occasion mentioned is neces- 
sary, upon the account of the greatness and sovereignty of 
him with whom we have to do. 'My soul waiteth for Jeho- 
vah.' Indeed, waiting is a duty that depends on the dis- 
tance that is between the persons concerned in it, namely, 
he that waiteth, and he that is waited on ; so the psalmist 
informs us, Psal. cxxiii. 2. It is an action like that of ser- 
vants and handmaids towards their masters or rulers. And 
the greater this distance is, the more cogent are the reasons 
of this duty on all occasions. And because we are practi- 
cally averse from the due performance of this duty, or at 
least quickly grow weary of it, notwithstanding our full con- 
viction of its necessity, I shall a little insist on some such 
considerations of God and ourselves, as may not only evince 
the necessity of this duty, but also satisfy us of its reason- 
ableness ; that by the first we may be engaged into it, and by 
the latter preserved in it. 

Two things we may to this purpose consider in God, in 
Jehovah, whom we are to wait for. First, His being, and the 
absolute and essential properties of his nature. Secondly, 
Those attributes of his nature which respect his dealing with 
us ; both which are suited to beget in us afiections, and a 
frame of spirit compliant with the duty proposed. 

Considerations nf'God rendering our waiting on him reasonable and 
necessary. His glorious being. 

First, Let us consider the infinite glorious being of Jehovah, 
with his absolute, incommunicable, essential excellencies; 
and then try whether it doth not become us in every condi- 
tion to wait for him, and especially in that under considera- 
tion. This course God himself took with Job to recover 
him from his discontents and com))laints, to reduce him to 
quietness and waiting. He sets before him his own glorious 
greatness, as manifested in the works of his power, that 
thereby being convinced of his own ignorance, weakness. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 363 

and infinite distance in all things from him, he might hum- 
ble his soul into the most submissive dependance on him, 
and waiting for him. And this he doth accordingly, chap, 
xlii. 6. • I abhor,' saith he, ' myself, and repent in dust and 
ashes/ His soul now comes to be willing to be at God's 
disposal, and therein he found present rest, and a speedy 
healing of his condition. It is 'the high and lofty One that 
inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;' Isa. Ivii. 15. with 
whom we have now to do : * He that sitteth upon the circle 
of the earth, and the inhabitants of it are as grasshoppers 
before him; yea, the nations are as the drop of the bucket, 
and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; he takes 
up the isles as a very little thing ; all nations before him 
are as nothing; they are counted unto him less than nothing, 
and vanity :' Isa. xl. 15. 17. 22. To what end doth the Lord 
set forth and declare his glorious greatness and power? It 
is that all might be brought to trust in him, and to wait 
for him, as at large is declared in the close of the chapter. 
For shall grasshoppers, a drop of the bucket, dust of the ba- 
lance, things less than nothing, repine against, or wax weary 
of, the will of the immense, glorious, and lofty One ? He that 
' taketh up all isles as a very little thing,' may surely, if he 
please, destroy, cast, and forsake one isle, one city in an isle, 
one person in a city ; and we are before him but single per- 
sons. Serious thoughts of this infinite all-glorious Being, 
will either quiet our souls, or overwhelm them. All our 
weariness of his dispensations towards us, arises from secret 
imaginations, that he is such a one as ourselves ; one that 
is to do nothing but what seems good in our eyes. But if 
we cannot comprehend his being, we cannot make rules to 
judge of his ways and proceedings. And how small a por- 
tion is it that we know of God ? The nearest app'oaches 
of our reasons and imaginations, leave us still at an infinite 
distance from him. And indeed, w hat we speak of his great- 
ness, we know not well what it signifies, we only declare 
our respect unto that which we believe, admire, and adore, 
but are not able to comprehend. All our thoughts come as 
short of his excellent greatness, as our natures do of his ; 
that is infinitely. Behold the universe, the glorious fabric 
of heaven and earth ; how little is it that we know of its 
beauty, order, and disposal ; yet was it all the product of 


the word of his mouth; and with the same facility can he, 
when he pkaseth, reduce it to its primitive nothing. And 
what are we poor worms of the earth, an inconsiderable un- 
known part of the lower series and order of the works of his 
hands, few in number, fading in condition, unregarded unto 
the residue of our fellow creatures, that we should subduct 
ourselves from under any kind of his dealings with us, or be 
weary of waiting for his pleasure? This he presseth on us, 
Psal. xlvi. 10. ' Be still, and know that I am God.' Let there 
be no more repinings, no more disputings, continue waiting 
in silence and patience; consider who I am ; * Be still, and 
know that I am God.' 

Farther, to help us in this consideration, let us a little 
also fix our minds towards some of the glorious, essential, 
incommunicable properties of his nature, distinctly. As, 

1. His eternity. This Moses proposeth to bring the 
souls of believers to submission, trust, and waitino- Psal. 
xc. 1. ' From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.' One 
that hath his being and subsistence not in a duration of 
time, but in eternity itself: so doth Habbakuk also, chap i. 
12. 'My Lord, my God, my Holy One, art thou not from 
everlasting?' and hence he draws his conclusion against 
making haste in any condition, and for tarrying and waiting 
for God. The like consideration is managed by David also, 
Psal. cii. 27. How inconceivable is this glorious divine 
property unto the thoughts and minds of men ? How w^eak 
are the ways and terms whereby they go about to express 
it ? One says, it is a * nunc stans ;' another, that it is a per- 
petual duration. He that says most, only signifies what he 
knows of what it is not. We are of yesterday, change every 
moment, and are leaving our station to-morrow. God is 
still the same, was so before the world was, from eternity. 
And now I cannot think what 1 have said, but only have in- 
timated what I adore. The whole duration of the world 
from the beginning unto the end, takes up no space in this 
eternity of God. For how long soever it hath continued, or 
may yet continue, it will all amount but to so many thousand 
years, so long a time ; and time hath no place in eternity. 
And for us who have in this matter to do with God, wJiat is 
our continuance unto that of the world ? a moment, as it 
were, in comparison of the whole. VVIicn men's liveswere 

UPON' PSALM cxxx. 365 

of old prolonged beyond the date and continuance of em- 
pires or kingdoms now, yet this was the winding up of all ; 
such a one lived so many years, 'and then died;' Gen. v. 
And what are we poor worms, whose lives are measured by 
inches, in comparison of their span ? what are we before the 
eternal God ? God always immutably subsisting in his own 
infinite being? a real consideration hereof will subdue the 
soul into a condition of dependance on him, and of waiting 
for him. 

2. The immensity of his essence, and his omnipre- 
sence is of the same consideration. ' Do not I fill heaven 
and earth ? saith the Lord;' Jer. xxiii. 24. ' The heavens, even 
the heaven of heavens, the supreme and most comprehensive 
created being cannot contain him,' saith Solomon. In his 
infinitely glorious being he is present with, and indistant 
from, all places, things, times, all the works of his hands, and 
is no less gloriously subsisting where they are not. God is 
where heaven and earth are not, no less than where they are ; 
and where they are not is himself; where there is no place, no 
space,realorimaginary, God is, for place and imagination have 
nothingto do with immensity; and he is present every where in 
creation, where I am writing, where you are reading ; he is 
present with you, indistant from you. The thoughts of men's 
hearts for the most part are, that God as to his essence is in 
heaven only ; and it is well if some think he is there, seeing 
they live and act as if there were neither God nor devil but 
themselves. But on these apprehensions such thoughts are 
ready secretly to arise, and effectually to prevail, as are ex- 
pressed. Job xxii. 13, 14. 'How doth God know? Can he 
judge through the dark ? thick clouds are as a covering unto 
him that he seeth not ; and he walketh in the circuit of the 
heavens.' Apprehensions of God's distance from men, harden 
them in their ways. But it is utterly otherwise ; God is 
every where, and a man may on all occasions say with Jacob, 
' God is in this place, and I knew it not.' Let the soul then 
who is thus called to wait on God, exercise itself with 
thoughts about this immensity of his nature and being. 
Comprehend it, fully understand it, we can never ; but the 
consideration of it will give that awe of his greatness upon 
our hearts, as that we shall learn to tremble before him, and 
to be willing to wait for him in all things. 


3. Thoughts of the holiness of God, or infinite self- 
purity of this eternal immense being, are singularly useful 
to the same purpose. This is that which Elipliaz affirms 
that he received by vision, to reply to the complaint and im- 
patience of Job, chap, xxxiv. 12 — 19. After he hath declared 
his vision, with the manner of it, this he affirms to be the 
revelation that by voice was made unto him ; * Shall mortal 
man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure 
than his Maker? Behold he puts no trust in his servants, 
and his angels he chargeth with folly. How much less on 
them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in 
the dust, who are crushed before the moth?' If the saints 
and angels in heaven do not answer this infinite holiness of 
God in their most perfect condition, is it meet for worms 
of the earth to suppose that any thing which proceeds from 
him is not absolutely holy and perfect, and so best for them? 
This is the fiery property of the nature of God, whence he 
is called a consuming fire, and everlasting burnings : and 
the law whereon he had impressed some representation of 
it, is called a fiery law, as that which will consume and burn 
up whatever is perverse and evil. Hence the prophet, who 
had a representation of the glory of God in a vision, and 
heard the seraphims proclaiming his holiness, cried out, 
*Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of un- 
clean lips;' Isa. vi. 5. He thought it impossible that he 
should bear that near approach of the holiness of God. 
And with the remembrance hereof doth Joshua still the 
people with the terror of the Lord, chap. xiv. 19. Let such 
souls then as are under troubles and perplexities on any ac- 
count, endeavour to exercise their thoughts about this infi- 
nite purity and fiery holiness of God. They will quickly 
find it their wisdom to become as weaned children before 
Lim, and content themselves with what he shall guide unto 
them, which is to wait for him. This fiery holiness streams 
from his throne, Dan. vii. 10. and would quickly consume 
the whole creation, as now under the curse and sin, were it 
not for the interposing of Jesus Christ. 

4. His glorious majesty as the ruler of all the world. 
Majesty relates unto government, and it calls us to 
such an awe of him as doth render our waiting for him 
comely and necessary. God's throne is said to be in hea- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 367 

ven, and there principally do the glorious beams of his ter- 
rible majesty shine forth. But he jiath also made some re- 
presentation of it on the earth, that we might learn to fear 
before him. Such was the appearance that he gave of his 
glory in the giving of the law, whereby he will judge the 
world, and condemn the transgressors of it, who obtain not 
an acquitment in the blood of Jesus Christ. See the de- 
scription of it in Exod. xix. 16. 18. ' So terrible was the 
sight hereof, that Moses himself said, I exceedingly fear 
and quake ;' Heb. xii. 21. And what effect it had upon all 
the people is declared, Exod. xx. 18, 19. They were not 
able to bear it, although they had good assurance that it 
was for their benefit and advantage, that he so drew nigh 
and manifested his glory unto them. Are we not satisfied 
with our condition ? cannot we wait under his present dis- 
pensations ? let us think how we may approach unto his 
presence, or stand before his glorious majesty. Will not the 
dread of his excellency fall upon us? will not his terror 
make us afraid? shall we not think his way best, and his 
time best, and that our duty is to be silent before him ? And 
the like manifestation hath he made of his glory, as the 
great judge of all upon the throne unto sundry of the pro- 
phets ; as unto Isaiah, chap. vi. 1 — 4. to Ezekiel, chap. i. to 
Daniel, chap. vii. 9, 10. to John, Revelation i. Read the 
places attentively, and learn to tremble before him. These 
are not things that are foreign unto us. This God is our 
God. The same throne of his greatness and majesty is still 
established in the heaven. Let us then in all our hastes and 
heats that our spirits in any condition are prone unto, pre- 
sent ourselves before this throne of God, and then consider 
what will be best for us to say or do ; what frame of heart 
and spirit will become us, and be safest for us. All this 
glory doth encompass us every moment, although we per- 
ceive it not. And it will be but a few days before all the 
veils and shades that are about us, shall be taken away and 
depart. And then shall all this glory appear unto us unto 
endless bliss, or everlasting woe. Let us therefore know 
that nothing in our dealings with him doth better become 
us, than silently for to wait for him, and what he will speak 
unto us in our depths and straits. 

5. It is good to consider the instances that pod hath 


given of this his infinite greatness, power, majesty, and 
glory. Such was his mighty work of creating all things 
out of nothing. We dwell on little mole-hills in the earth, 
and yet we know the leastpart of the excellency of that spot 
of crround which is given us for our habitation here below. 
But what is it unto the whole habitable world, and the ful- 
ness thereof? And what an amazing thing is its greatness, 
with the wide and large sea, with all sorts of creatures there- 
in ! The least of these hath a beauty, a glory, an excellency, 
that the utmost of our inquiries end in admiration of. And 
all this is but the earth, the lower depressed part of the 
world. What shall we say concerning the heavens over us, 
and all those creatures of light, that have their habitations 
in them? who can conceive the beauty, order, use, and 
course of them? The consideration hereof caused the 
psalmist to cry out, ' Lord, our Lord, how excellent and glo- 
rious art thou !' Psal. viii. 1. And what is the rise, spring, 
and cause of these things ? are they not all the effect of the 
word of the power of this glorious God ? and doth he not in 
them, and by them, speak us into a reverence of his great- 
ness ? The like also may be said concerning his mighty and 
strange works of providence in the rule of the world. Is 
not this he who brought the flood of old upon the world of 
ungodly men ? Is it not he who consumed Sodom and Go- 
morrah with fire from heaven, setting them forth as exam- 
ples unto them that should afterward live ungodly, suffer- 
ing the vengeance of eternal fire ? Is it not he who destroyed 
Egypt with his plagues, and drowned Pharaoh with his host 
in the Red Sea? Is it not he, one of whose servants slew 
a hundred and fourscore and five thousand in Senache- 
rib's army in one night ? that opened the earth to swallow 
up Dathan and Abiram ? and sent out fire from the altar 
to devour Nadah and Abihu ? and have not all ages been 
filled with such instances of his greatness and power? 

The end why 1 have insisted on these things, is to shew 
the reasonableness of the duty which we are pressing unto; 
namely, to wait on God quietly and patiently, in every con- 
dition of distress. For what else becomes us when we have 
to do with this great and Holy One? And a due conside- 
ration of these things will exceedingly influence our minds 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 369 

Secondly, This waiting for God respecteth the whole of 
the condition expressed in the psalm, and this containeth not 
only spiritual depths about sin, which we have at large in- 
sisted on, but also providential depths, depths of trouble 
or affliction ; that we may be exercised withal in the holy 
wise providence of God. In reference also unto these, 
waiting in patience and silence is our duty. And there are 
two considerations that will assist us in this duty with re- 
spect unto such depths, thatis, of trouble or affliction. And 
the first of these is, the consideration of those properties of 
God, which he exerciseth in an especial manner in all his 
dealings with us, and which in all our troubles we are prin- 
cipally to regard. The second is, the consideration of our- 
selves, what are we, and what we have deserved. 

Let us begin with the former; and there are four things 
in God's dispensations towards us, and dealing with us, that 
in this matter we should consider, all suited to work in us 
the end aimed at. 

1. The first is his sovereignty ; this he declares, this 
we are to acknowledge, and submit unto, in all the great 
and dreadful dispensations of his providence, in all his deal- 
ings with our souls. May he not do what he will with 
his own ? who shall say unto him, What doest thou ? or 
if they do so, what shall give them countenance in their so 
doing? He made all this world of nothing, and could have 
made another, more, or all things, quite otherwise than 
they are. It would not subsist one moment without his 
omnipotent supportment. Nothing would be continued in 
its place, course, use, without his effectual influence and 
countenance. If any thing can be, live, or act, a moment 
without him, we may take free leave to dispute its disposal 
with him, and to haste unto the accomplishment of our de- 
sires ; but from the angels in heaven, to the worms of the 
earth, and the grass of the field, all depend on him and his 
power continually. Why was this part of the creation an 
angel, that a worm, this a man, that a brute beast? Is it 
from their own choice, designing, or contrivance, or brought 
about by their own wisdom? or is it merely from the sove- 
reign pleasure and will of God ? And what a madness is it, 
to repine against what he doth, seeing all things are, as he 
makes them, and disposeth them ; nor can be othervyise. 

VOL. XIV. 2 B 


Even the repiner himself hath his being and subsistence 
upon his mere pleasure. This sovereignty of God, Elihu 
pleads in his dealings with Job, chap, xxxiii. 8 — 11. He ap- 
prehended that Job had reasoned against God's severe dis- 
pensations towards him, and that he did not humble him- 
self under his mighty hand wherewith he was exercised, nor 
Avait for him in a due manner ; and therefore, what doth he 
propose unto him to bring him unto this duty ? what doth 
he reply unto his reasonings and complaints ? ' Behold,' says 
he, ver. 12. 'in this thou art not just, I will answer thee ; 
God is greater than man ;' ver. 13. ' Why dost thou strive 
against him? for he giveth not account of any of his mat- 
ters.' Be it that in other things thou art just and innocent, 
that thou art free from the things wherewith thy friends 
have charged thee; yet in this matter thou art not just; it 
is neither just nor equal, that any man should complain of, 
or repine against, any of God's dispensations. Yea, but I 
suppose that these dealings of God are very grievous, very 
dreadful, such as he hath, it may be, scarce exercised to- 
wards any from the foundation of the world; to be utterly 
destroyed and consumed in a day, in all relations and enjoy- 
ments, and that at a time and season when no such thing 
was looked for, or provided against; to have a sense of sin 
revived on the conscience, after pardon obtained, as it is with 
me ; all is one, saith he, if thou complainest, thou art not 
just ; and what reason doth he give thereof? why, ' God is 
greater than man ;' infinitely so, in power and sovereign glory; 
he is so absolutely therein, that 'he giveth not account of any 
of his matters ;' and what folly, what injustice is it to com- 
plain of his proceedings. Consider his absolute dominion 
over the works of his hands, over thyself, and all that thou 
hast ; his infinite distance from thee, and greatness above 
thee, and then see whether it be just or no to repine against 
what he doth. And he pursues the same consideration, 
chap, xxxiv. 18, 19. If when kings and princes rule in 
righteousness, it is a contempt of their authority to say unto 
them, they are wicked and ungodly; then v.iJt thou speak 
against him, contend with him, ' that accepteth not the per- 
sons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor ? 
for they are all the works of his hands.' And ver. 29. 'When 
he giveth quietness, who can make trouble ? and when he 


hideth his face, who can behold him ? whether it be done 
against a nation, or against a man only.' All is one, what- 
ever God doth, and towards whomsoever, be they many or 
few, a whole nation or city, or one single person, be they 
high or low, rich or poor, good or bad, all are the works of 
his hands, and he may deal with them as seems good unto 
him. And this man alone, as God afterward declares, made 
use of the right and proper mediums to take off Job from 
complaining, and to compose his spirit to rest and peace, and 
to bring him to wait patiently for God. For whereas his 
other friends injuriously charged him with hypocrisy, and 
that he had in an especial manner, above other men, deserved 
those judgments of God which he was exercised withal ; he 
who was conscious unto his own integrity, was only pro- 
voked and exasperated by their arguings, and stirred up to 
plead his own innocency and uprightness. But this man, 
allowing him the plea of his integrity, calls him to the con- 
sideration of the greatness and sovereignty of God, against 
which there is no rising up. And this God himself after- 
ward calls him unto. 

Deep and serious thoughts of God's sovereignty, and 
absolute dominion or authority over all the works of his 
hands, are an effectual means to work the soul unto this 
duty. Yea, this is that which we are to bring our souls to. 
Let us consider with whom we have to do ; are not we and 
all our concernments in his hands, as the clay in the hand 
of the potter? and may he not do what he will with his 
own? shall we call him unto an account? is not what he 
doth good and holy because he doth it? do any repining 
thoughts against the works of God arise in our hearts ? are 
any complaints ready to break out of our mouths ? let us 
lay our hands on our hearts, and our mouths in the dust, 
with thoughts of his greatness and absolute sovereignty, 
and it will work our whole souls into a better frame. 

And this extends itself unto the manners, times, and 
seasons of all things whatever. As in earthly things ; if 
God will bring a dreadful judgment of fire upon a people, 
a nation ; ah, why must it be London ? if on London, why 
so terrible, raging, and unconquerable ? why the city, not 
the suburbs? why my house, not my neighbours? why had 
such a one help and I none ? all these things are wholly to 

2b 2 



be referred to God's sovereign pleasure. There alone can 
the soul of man find rest and peace. It is so in spiritual 
dispensations also. 

Thus Aaron, upon the sudden death of his two eldest 
sons, being minded by Moses of God's sovereignty and 
holiness, immediately held his .peace, or quietly humbled 
himself under his mighty hand, Levit. x. 3, 4. And David, 
when things were brought into extreme confusion by the 
rebellion of Absalom, followed by the ungodly multitude of 
the whole nation, relinq uisheth all other arguments and pleas, 
and lets go complaints in a resignation of himself and all 
his concernments unto the absolute pleasure of God, 2 Sam. 
XV. 25, 26. And this in all our extremities must we bring 
our souls unto, before we can attain any rest or peace, or 
the least comfortable persuasion that we may not yet fall 
under greater severities, in the just indignation of God 
against us. 

2. The wisdom of God is also to be considered and sub- 
mitted unto. Job ix. 4. ' He is wise in heart: who hath 
hardened himself against him and prospered V This the pro- 
phet joins with his greatness and sovereignty, Isa. xl. 12 — 
14. ' There is no searching of his understanding,' ver. 28. 
And the apostle winds up all his considerations of the works 
of God, in a holy admiration of his knowledge and wisdom^ 
whence his 'judgment becomes unsearchable, and his ways 
past finding out ;' Rom. xi.33, 34. He seeth and knoweth 
all things, in all their causes, effects, consequences, and 
circumstances, in their utmost reach and tendency, in their 
correspondencies one unto another, and suitableness unto 
his own glory, and so alone judgeth aright of all things. 
The wisest of men, as David speaks, walk in a shade. We 
see little, we know little, and that but of a very few things, 
and in an imperfect manner; and that of their present ap- 
pearances, abstracted from their issues, successes, ends, and 
relations unto other things. And if we would be farther 
wise in the works of God, we shall be found to be like the 
wild ass's colt. What is good for us or the church of God, 
what is evil to it or us, we know not at all; but all things 
are open and naked unto God. The day will come, indeed, 
wherein we shall have such a prospect of the works of God, 
see one thing so set against another, as to find goodness. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 373 

beauty, and order, in them all; that they were all done in 
number, weight, and measure; that nothing could have been 
otherwise without an abridgment of his glory and disadvan- 
tage of them that believe in him. But for the present, all 
our wisdom consists in referring all unto him. He who doth 
these things is infinitely wise, he knows what he doth, and 
why, and what will be the end of all. We are apt, it may be, 
to think, that at such seasons all things will go to rack 
with ourselves, with the church, or with the whole world : 
how can this breach be repaired, this loss made up, this 
ruin recovered ? peace is gone, trade is gone, our sub- 
stance is gone, the church is gone, all is gone, confusion 
and utter desolation lie at the door. But if a man who is 
unskilled and unexperienced should be at sea, it may be, 
every time the vessel wherein he is, seems to decline on 
either side, he would be apt to conceive, they should be all 
cast away; but yet, if he be not childishly timorous, when the 
master shall tell him that there is no danger, bid him trust 
to his skill and it shall be well with him, it will yield quiet- 
ness and satisfaction. We are indeed in a storm, the whole 
earth seems to reel and stagger like a drunken man ; but yet 
our souls may rest in the infinite skill and wisdom of the 
great pilot of the whole creation, who steers all things ac- 
cording to the counsel of his will. His works are manifold; 
•in wisdom hath he made all these things;' Psal. civ, 24. 
And in the same wisdom doth he dispose of them. * All these 
things come forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonder- 
ful in counsel, and excellent in working;' Isa. xxviii. 29. 
What is good, meet, useful for us, for ours, for the churches, 
for the city, for the land of our nativity he knows, and of 
creatures not one. This infinite wisdom of God also are we 
therefore to resign and submit ourselves unto. His hand in 
all his works is guided by infinite wisdom. In thoughts 
thereof, in humbling ourselves thereunto, shall we find rest 
and peace, and this in all our pressures will work us to a 
waiting for him. 

3. The righteousness of God is also to be considered in 
this matter. That name in the Scripture is used to denote 
many excellencies of God, all which are reducible unto the 
infinite rectitude of his nature. I intend that at present, 
which is called 'justitia regiminis,' his righteousness in rule 


or government. This is remembered by Abraham, Gen. 
xviii. 25. * Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' 
And by the apostle : ' Is God unjust who taketh vengeance ? 
God forbid.' Tiiis our souls are to own in all the works 
of God. They are all righteous; all his who will do no 
iniquity, 'whose throne is established in judgment.' How- 
ever they may be dreadful, grievous, and seem severe, yet 
they are all righteous. It is true, he will sometimes * rise up 
and do strange acts, strange works,' Isa. xxviii.21. such as he 
will not do often nor ordinarily ; such as shall fill the world 
with drend and amazement. He will ' answer his people in 
terrible things.' But yet all shall be in righteousness. And 
to complain of that which is righteous, to repine against it, 
is the highest unrighteousness that may be. Faith then, 
fixing the soul on the righteousness of God, is an effectual 
means to humble it under his mighty hand. And to help us 
herein we may consider, 

1. That * God judgetii not as man judgeth.' We judge 
by the ' seeing of the eye, and hearing of the ear,' according 
to outward appearances and evidences. 'But Godsearcheth 
the heart.' We judge upon what is between man and man; 
God principally upon what is between himself and man. 
And what do we know or understand of these things ? or 
what there is in the heart of man ; what purposes, what 
contrivances, what designs, what corrupt affections, what 
sins, what transactions have been between God and them ; 
what warnings he hath given them, what reproofs, what en- 
gagements they have made, what convictions they have had, 
what use they were putting their lives, their substance, their 
families, unto? Alas ! we know nothing of these things, and 
so are able to make no judgment of the proceedings of God 
upon them ; but this we know, that he ' is righteous in all his 
ways, and holy in all his works;' yea, the most terrible of 
them. And when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, 
ah how glorious will be his drowning of the old world, firing 
of Sodom, swallowing up of Dathan and Abiram in the earth, 
the utter rejection of the Jews, with all other acts of his 
providen ce seeming to be accompanied with severity ? And 
so will our own trials inward or outward appear to be. 

2. God is judge of all the world, of all ages, times, 
places, persons, and disposeth of all, so as they may tend 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 375 

unto the good of the whole, and his own glory in the uni- 
verse. Our thoughts are bounded, much more our observa- 
tions and abilities to measure things, within a very small 
compass. Every thing stands alone unto us, whereby we 
see little of its beauty or order; nor do know how it ought 
justly to be disposed of. That particular may seem de- 
formed unto us, which when it is under his eye, who sees 
all at once, past, present, and to come, with all those joints 
and bands of wisdom and order, whereby things are related 
unto one another, is beautiful and glorious ; for as nothing- 
is of itself, nor by itself, nor to itself, so nothing stands 
alone ; but there is a line of mutual respect that runs 
through the creation, and every particular of it, and that in 
all its changes and alterations from the beginning to the 
end, which gives it it^ loveliness, life, and order. He that 
can at once see but one part of a goodly statue or colossus, 
might think it a very deformed piece ; when he that views it 
altogether, is assured of its due proportion, symmetry, and 
loveliness. Now all things, ages, and persons, all thus at 
once are objected unto the sight of God, and he disposeth 
them with respect unto the whole, that every one may fill 
up its own place, and sustain its part and share in the com- 
mon tendency of all to the same end. 

And hence it is that in public judgments and calamities, 
God oftentimes suffers the godly to be involved with the 
wicked, and that not on the account of their own persons, 
but as they are parts of that body which he will destroy. 
This Job expresseth somewhat harshly, but there is truth in 
his assertion, chap. ix. 22, 23. 'This is one thing, therefore 
I said it. He destroyeth the righteous with the wicked. If 
the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the 
innocent.' God in public desolations oftentimes takes good 
and bad together ; a sudden scourge involves them all ; and 
this God doth for sundry reasons. As, 

1. That he may manifest his own holiness ; which is such 
that he can, without the least injustice or oppression, even 
upon the account of their own provocations, take away the 
houses, possessions, estates, liberties, and lives of the best 
of his own saints. For how should a man, any man, the 
best of men, be just with God, if he would contend with him? 
No man can answer to him one of a thousand, Job ix. 31. 



This they will also own and acknowledge ; upon the ac- 
count of righteousness, none can open his mouth about his 
judgments, without the highest impiety and wickedness. 

2. He doth so, that his own people may learn to know 
his terror, and to rejoice always before him with trembling. 
Therefore Job affirms, that ' in the time of his prosperity he 
was not secure/ but still trembled in himself with thoughts 
of the judgments of God. Doubtless much wretched carnal 
security would be ready to invade and possess the hearts of 
believers, if God should always and constantly pass them 
by in the dispensations of his public judgments. 

3. That it may be a stone of offence, and a stumbling- 
block unto wicked men, who are to be hardened in their 
sins, and prepared for ruin. When they see that all things 
fall alike unto all, and that those who have made the 
strictest profession of the name and fear of God, fare no 
better than themselves, they are encouraged to despise the 
warnings of God, and the strokes of his hand; and so to rush 
on unto the destruction whereunto they are prepared. 

4. God doth it to proclaim unto all the world, that what 
he doth here is nofinal judgment, and ultimate determination 
concerning things and persons. For who can see the * wise 
man dying as a fool,' the righteous and holy perishing in 
their outward concernments as the ungodly and wicked, but 
must conclude, that the righteous God the judge of all, hath 
appointed another day, wherein all things must be called 
over again, and every one then receive his final reward, ac- 
cording as his works shall appear to have been. And thus 
are we to humble ourselves unto the righteousness where- 
with the hand of God is always accompanied. 

5, His goodness and grace is also to be considered in 
all the works of his mighty hands. As there is no unrighte- 
ousness in him, so also all that is good and gracious. And 
whatever there is in any trouble of allay from the utmost 
wrath, is of mere goodness and grace. Thy houses are 
burned, but perhaps thy goods are saved ; is there no grace, 
no goodness therein? or perhaps thy substance also is con- 
sumed, but yet thy person is alive; and should a living man 
complain? But say what thou wilt, this stroke is not hell, 
which thou hast deserved long ago; yea, it may be a means 
of preventing thy going thither; so that it is accompanied 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 377 

with infinite goodness, patience, and mercy also. And if the 
considerations hereof will not quiet thy heart, take heed lest 
a worse thing befall thee. 

And these things amongst others are we to consider in 
God, to lead our hearts into an acquiescing in his will, a 
submission under his mighty hand, and a patient waiting for 
the issue. 

Secondly, Consider our mean and abject condition, and 
that infinite distance wherein we stand from him with whom 
we have to do. When Abraham, the father of the faithful and 
friend of God, came to treat with him about his judgments, 
he doth it with this acknowledgment of his condition, that 
he was ' mere dust and ashes,' Gen. xviii. 27. a poor abject 
creature that God at his pleasure had formed out of the dust 
of the earth, and which in a few days was to be reduced again 
into the ashes of it. We can forget nothing more pernici- 
ously than what we are. * Man is a worm,' saith Bildad, * and 
the son of man is but a worm;' Job xxv. 6. And therefore, 
says Job himself, ' I have said to corruption, Thou art my 
father: and to the worms. Thou art my mother and my sister;' 
chap. xvii. 14. His aflSnity, his relation unto them is the 
nearest imaginable, and he is no otherwise to be accounted 
of; and there is nothing that God abhors more than an ela- 
tion of mind in the forgetfulness of our mean frail condition. 
'Thou sayest,' said he to the proud prince of Tyrus, 'that thou 
art a God,' but, saith he, 'wilt thou say thou art a God in the 
hands of him thatslayeth thee?' Ezek. xxviii. 9. That severe 
conviction did God provide for his pride. ' Thou shalt be a 
man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee.' And 
when Herod prided himself in the acclamations of the vain 
multitude (' the voice of a god and not of a man'), the angel 
of the Lord filled that god immediately with worms, which 
slew him and devoured him, Acts xii. 23. There is indeed 
nothing more effectual to abase the pride of the thoughts 
of men, than a due remembrance that they are so. Hence 
the psalmist prays, Psal. ix. 20. ' Put them in fear, O Lord, 
that the nations may know themselves to be but men:' so and 
no more : non ii'lJX poor, miserable, frail, mortal man, as the 
word signifies. What is man ? what is his life ? what is his 
strength ? said one: the dream of a shadow ; a mere nothing; 


or, as David much better, * every man living in his best con- 
dition is altogether vanity,' Psal. xxxix. 5. And James, ' our 
life,' which is our best, our all, ' is but a vapour, that ap- 
peareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away;' chap. iv. 
14. But enough hath been spoken by many on this subject. 
And we that have seen so many thousands each week in one 
city carried away to the grave, have been taught the truth 
of our frailty, even as with thorns and briers. But I know 
not how it comes to pass, there is not any thing we are more 
apt to forget, than what we ourselves are. And this puts 
men on innumerable miscarriages towards God and one 
another. Thou therefore that art exercised under the hand 
of God in any severe dispensation, and art ready on all oc- 
casions to fill thy mouth with complaints, sit down a little, 
and take a right measure of thyself, and see whether this 
frame and posture becomes thee. It is the great God against 
whom thou repinest, and thou art a man, and that is a name 
of a worm, a poor, frail, dying worm ; and it may be whilst 
thou art speaking, thou art no more. And wilt thou think 
it meet for such a one as thou art, to magnify thyself against 
the great possessor of heaven and earth ? Poor clay, poor 
dust and ashes, poor dying worm, know thy state and con- 
dition, and fall down quietly under the mighty hand of God. 
Though thou wranglest with men about thy concernments, 
let God alone. The potsherds may contend with the pot- 
sherds of the earth ; ' but woe unto him that striveth with 
his Maker.' 

2. Consider that in this frail condition, we have all 
greatly sinned against God. So did Job, chap. vii. 20. 
* I have sinned ; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver 
of men?' If this consideration will not satisfy thy mind, 
yet it will assuredly stop the mouths of all the sons of men. 
Though all the curses of the law should be executed upon 
us, yet * every mouth must be stopped, because all the world 
is become guilty before God ;' Rom. iii. 19. 'And why should 
a living man complain V saith the prophet. Lam. iii. 39. 
Why it may be, it is because that his trouble is great and 
inexpressible, and such as seldom or never befell any before 
him ; but what then, saith he, ' shall a man complain against 
the punishment of his sins ?' If this living man be a sinful 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 379 

man, as there is none that liveth and sinneth not, whatever 
his state and condition be, he hath no ground of murmur- 
ing or complaint. For a sinful man to complain, especially 
whilst he is yet a living man, is most unreasonable. For, 

1. Whatever hath befallen us, it is just on the account 
that we are sinners before God ; and to repine against 
the judgments of God, that are rendered evidently righteous 
upon the account of sin, is to anticipate the condition of 
the damned in hell, a great part of whose misery it is, that 
they always repine against that sentence and punishment 
which they know to be most righteous and holy. If this 
were now a place, if that were now my design, to treat of the 
sins of all professors, how easy were it to stop the mouths 
of all men about their troubles. But that is not my present 
business; I speak unto particular persons, and that not with 
an especial design to convince them of their sins, but to 
humble their souls. Another season may be taken to press 
that consideration, directly and professedly also. At pre- 
sent let us only, when our souls are ready to be entangled 
with the thoughts of any severe dispensation of God, and 
our own particular pressures, troubles, miseries, occasioned 
thereby, turn into ourselves, and take a view every one of his 
own personal provocations. And when we have done so, 
see what we have to say to God, what we have to complain 
of; let the man hold his tongue, and let the sinner speak. 
Is not God holy, righteous, wise, in what he hath done ? and 
if he be, why do we not subscribe unto his ways, and sub- 
mit quietly unto his will ? 

2. But this is not all. We are not only such sinners, 
as to render these dispensations of God evidently holy, these 
judgments of his, righteous ; but also to manifest, that they 
are accompanied with unspeakable patience, mercy, and 
grace. To instance in one particular : Is it the burning of 
our houses, the spoiling of our goods, the ruin of our estates 
alone, that our sins have deserved ? If God had made the 
temporary fire on earth, to have been unto us a way of en- 
trance into the eternal fire of hell, we had not had whereof 
righteously to complain. May we not then see a mixture 
of unspeakable patience, grace, and mercy, in every dispen- 
sation? and shall we then repine against it? Is it not better 
advice, * Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee V 


For a sinner out of hell not to rest in the will of God, not to 
humble himself under his mighty hand, is to make himself 
guilty of the especial sin of hell. Other sins deserve it, but 
repining- against God is principally, yea, only committed in 
it. The church comes to a blessed quieting resolution in 
this case, Micah vii. 9. ' I will bear the indignation of the 
Lord, because I have sinned against him ;' bear it quietly, 
patiently, and submit under his hand therein. 

3. Consider that of ourselves we are not able to make 
a right judgment of what is good for us ; what evil unto us, 
or what tends most directly unto our chiefest end ; Psal. 
xxxix. 6. ' Surely man walketh in a vain shew ;' CDb)i2 in an 
image full of false representations of things ; in the midst 
of vain appearances, that he knows not what to choose or 
do aright, and therefore spends the most of his time and 
strength about things that are of no use or purpose unto him ; 
' Surely they are disquieted in vain.' And hereof he gives 
one especial instance; 'he heapeth up riches, and knoweth 
not who shall gather;' which is but one example of the 
manifold frustrations that men meet withal in the whole 
course of their lives, as not knowing what is good for them. 
We all profess to aim at one chief and principal end, namely, 
the enjoyment of God in Christ, as our eternal reward ; and 
in order thereunto, to be carried on in the use of the means 
of faith and obedience, tending to that end. Now if this be 
so, the suitableness or unsuitableness of all other things, 
being good or evil unto us, is to be measured by their ten- 
dency unto this end. And what know we hereof? as unto 
the things of this life, do we know whether it will be best 
for us to be rich or poor, to have houses or to be harbour- 
less, to abound or to want, to leave wealth and inheritances 
unto our children, or to leave them naked unto the provi- 
dence of God? do we know what state, what condition will 
most further our obedience, best obviate our temptations, 
or call most on us to mortify our corruptions ? and if we 
know nothing at all of these things, as indeed we do not, 
were it not best for us to leave them quietly unto God's 
disposal ? I doubt not but it will appear at the last 
day, that a world of evil in the hearts of men was stifled by 
the destruction of their outward concernments, more by 
their inward troubles- That many were delivered from 


temptations by it, who otherwise would have been overtaken 
to their ruin and scandal of the gospel ; that many a secret 
inposthume hath been lanced and cured by a stroke, for 
God doth not send judgments on his. own, for judgments' 
sake, for punishment' sake ; but always to accomplish some 
blessed design of grrace towards them. And there is no one 
soul in particular which shall rightly search itself, and con- 
sider its state and condition, but will be able to see wisdom, 
grace, and care towards itself, in all dispensations of God. 
And if I would here enter upon the benefits that through 
the sanctifying hand of God, do redound unto believers, by 
afflictions, calamities, troubles, distresses, temptations, and 
the like effects of God's visitations, it would be of use unto 
the souls of men in this case. But this subject hath been 
so often, and so well spoken unto, that I shall not insist upon 
it. I desire only that we would seriously consider, how 
utterly ignorant we are of what is good for us, or useful unto 
us, in these outward things, and so leave them quietly unto 
God's disposal. 

4. We may consider that all these things about which 
we are troubled, fall directly within the compass of that 
good word of God's grace, that he will make ' all things 
work together for the good of them that love him;' Rom. viii. 
28. All things that we enjoy, all things that we are deprived 
of, all that we do, all that we suffer ; our losses, troubles, 
miseries, distresses, in which the apostle instanceth in the 
following verses, they shall all ' work together for good ;' 
together with one another, and all with, and in subordination 
unto, the power, grace, and wisdom of God. It may be, we 
see not how, or by what means it may be effected ; but he 
is infinitely wise and powerful who hath undertaken it, and 
we know little or nothing of his ways. There is nothing 
that we have, or enjoy, or desire, but it hath turned unto 
some unto their hurt. Riches have been kept for men unto 
their hurt. Wisdom and high places have been the ruin of 
many. Liberty and plenty are to most a snare. Prosperity 
slays the foolish. And we are not of ourselves, in any mea- 
sure able to secure ourselves from the hurt and poison that 
is in any of these things, but that they may be our ruin also, 
as they have already been, and every day are, unto multi- 
tudes of the children of men. It is enough to fill the soul 



of any man with horror and amazement, to consider the ways 
and ends of most of them that are intrusted with this world's 
goods. Is it not evident that all their lives they seem in- 
dustriously to take care that they may perish eternally? 
Luxury, riot, oppression, intemperance, and of late especi- 
ally, blasphemy and atheism, they usually give up them- 
selves unto. And this is the fruit of their abundance and 
security. What now if God should deprive us of all these 
things ? Can any one certainly say, that he is worsted there- 
by ? might they not have turned unto his everlasting perdi- 
tion, as well as they do so of thousands as good by nature, 
and who have had advantages to be as wise as we ? and 
shall we complain of God's dispensations about them ? And 
what shall we say, when he himself hath undertaken to make 
all things that he guides unto us, to work together for our 
good ? Anxieties of mind, and perplexities of heart about 
our losses, is not that which we are called unto in our 
troubles ; but this is that which is our duty ; let us consider 
whether we love God or no, whether ' we are called accord- 
ing to his purpose:' if so. all things are well in his hand, who 
can order them for our good and advantage. I hope many 
a poor soul will from hence, under all their trouble, be able 
to say with him that was banished from his country, and 
found better entertainment elsewhere. My friends, I had 
perished, if I had not perished; had I not been undone by 
fire, it may be I had been ruined in eternal fire, God hath 
made all to work for my good. 

The end of all these discourses is to evince the reason- 
ableness of the duty of waiting on God, which we are pres- 
sing from the psalmist. Ignorance of God and ourselves, is 
the great principle and cause of all our disquietments. And 
this ariseth mostly, not from want of light and instruction, 
but for want of consideration and application. The notions 
insisted on concerning God are obvious and known unto all; 
so are these concerning ourselves; but by whom almost are 
they employed and improved as they ought? the frame of 
our spirits is as though we stood upon equal terms with 
God, and did think with Jonah, that we might do well to be 
angry with what he doth ; did we rightly consider him, did 
we stand in awe of him as we ought, it had certainly been 
otherwise with us. 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 383 

Influence of the promises into the souPs waiting in time of trouhle. 
The nature of them. 

Having therefore laid down these considerations from the 
second observation taken from the words, namely, that 
Jehovah himself is the proper object of the soul's waiting in 
the condition described ; I shall only add one direction, how 
we may be enabled to perform and discharge this duty aright, 
which we have manifested to have been so necessary, so 
reasonable, so prevalent for the obtaining of relief; and this 
ariseth from another of the propositions laid down for the 
opening of these verses not as yet spoken unto ; namely, 

The word of promise is the soul's great supportment in 
waiting for God. So saith the psalmist, ' In his word do I 
hope ;' that is, the word of promise. As the word in general 
is the adequate rule of all our obedience unto God, and 
communion with him; so there are especial parts of it, that 
are suited unto these especial actings of our souls towards 
him. Thus the word of promise, or the promise in the word, 
is that which our faith especially regards, in our hope, trust, 
and waiting on God, and it is suited to answer unto the im- 
mediate actings of our souls therein. From this word of 
promise, therefore, that is, from these promises, doth the soul 
in its distress take encouragement to continue waiting on 
God, and that on these two accounts: 

First, Because they are declarative of God, his mind 
and his will ; and, secondly, Because they are communicative 
of grace and strength to the soul ; of which latter we shall 
not here treat. 

First, The end and use of the promise, is to declare, re- 
veal, and make known God unto believers, and that in an es- 
pecial manner in him, and concerning him, which may give 
them encouragement to wait for him. 

1. The promises are a declaration of the nature of God, 
especially of his goodness, grace, and love. God hath put 
an impression of all the glorious excellencies of his nature 
on his word, especially as he is in Christ, on the word of 
the gospel. There as in a glass do we behold his glory in 
the face of Jesus Christ. As his commands express unto us 



his holiness, his threatenings, his righteousness, and severity; 
so do his promises, his goodness, grace, love, and bounty. 
And in these things do we learn all that we truly and solidly 
know of God ; that is, we know him in and by his word. The 
soul, therefore, that in this condition is waiting on, or for 
God, considers the representation which he makes of him- 
self, and of his own nature in and by the promises, and re- 
ceives supportment and encouragement in its duty. For if 
God teach us by the promises what he is, and what he will 
be unto us, we have firm ground to expect from him all 
fruits of benignity, kindness, and love. Let the soul frame in 
itself that idea of God, which is exhibited in the promises, 
and it will powerfully prevail with it to continue in an ex- 
pectation of his gracious returns; they all expressing good- 
ness, love, patience, forbearance, long-suffering, pardoning 
mercy, grace, bounty, with a full satisfactory reward. This is 
the beauty of the Lord mentioned with admiration by the pro- 
phet; 'How great is his goodness ! how great is his beauty !' 
Zech.ix. 17. which is the great attractive of the soul to adhere 
constantly unto him. Whatever difficulties arise, whatever 
temptations interpose, or wearisomeness grows upon us, in 
our straits, troubles, trials, and desertions, let us not en- 
tertain such thoughts of God, as our own perplexed imagi- 
nations may be apt to suggest unto us. This would quickly 
cast us into a thousand impatiencies, misgivings, and mis- 
carriages; but the remembrance of, and meditation on, God 
in his promises as revealed by them, as expressed in them, 
is suited quite unto other ends and purposes. There appears, 
yea, gloriously shines forth, that love, that wisdom, that 
goodness, tenderness, and grace, as cannot but encourage a 
believing soul to abide in waitine; for him. 

2. The word of promise doth not only express God's 
nature as that wherein he proposeth himself unto the con- 
templation of faith, but it also declares his will and purpose 
of acting towards the soul suitable unto his own goodness 
and grace. For promises are the declarations of God's pur- 
pose and will, to act towards believers in Christ Jesus, ac- 
cording to the infinite goodness of his own nature, and this 
is done in great variety, according to the various conditions 
and wants of them that do believe. They all proceed from 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 385 

the same spring of infinite grace, but are branched into in- 
numerable particular streams according as our necessities 
do require. To these do waiting souls repair for stay and 
encouragement. Their perplexities principally arise from 
their misapprehensions of what God is in himself, and of 
what he will be unto them : and whither should they repair 
to be undeceived, but unto that faithful representation that 
he hath made of himself and his will in the word of his grace? 
' For no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten 
Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed 
him;' John i. 18. Now the gospel is nothing but the word of 
promise explained in all the springs, causes, and effects of 
it; thither must we repair to be instructed in this matter. 
The imaginations and reasonings of men's hearts will but 
deceive them in these things. The informations or instruc- 
tions of other men may do so ; nor have they any truth in 
them, farther than they may be resolved into the word of pro- 
mise. Here alone they may find rest and refreshment. The 
soul of whom we speak, is under troubles, perplexities, and 
distresses, as to its outward condition; pressed with many 
straits it may be on every hand ; and, as to its spiritual 
estate, under various apprehensions of the mind and will of 
God towards it, as hath before at large been explained. In 
this condition it is brought in some measure unto a holy 
submission unto God, and a patient waiting for the issue of 
its trials. In this estate it hath many temptations to, and 
much working of, unbelief. The whole of its opposition 
amounts to this, that it is neglected of God, that its way is 
hid, and his judgment is passed over from him, that it shall 
not be at present delivered, nor hereafter saved. What 
course can any one advise such a one unto for his relief, 
and to preserve his soul from f^iinting or deserting the duty 
of waiting on God wherein he is engaged, but only this, to 
search and inquire what revelation God hath made of him- 
self and his will concerning him in his word. And this the 
promise declares. Here he shall find hope, patience, faith, 
expectation, to be all increased, comforted, encouraged. 
Herein lies the duty and safety of any in this condition. 
Men may bear the first impression of any trouble with the 
strength, courage, and resolution of their natural spirits; 
under some continuance of them they may support them- 

VOL. XIV. 2 c 


selves with former experiences, and other usual springs and 
means of consolation. But if their wounds prove difficult 
to be cured, if they despise ordinary remedies, if their dis- 
eases are of long continuance, this is that which they must 
betake themselves unto. They must search into the word of 
promise, and learn to measure things, not according to the 
present state and apprehensions of their mind, but accord- 
ing unto what God hath declared concerning them. And 
there are sundry excellencies in the promises when hoped in, 
or trusted in, that tend unto the establishment of the soul in 
this great duty of waiting. As, 

1. That grace in them, that is, the good will of God in 
Christ, for help, relief, satisfaction, pardon, and salvation, is 
suited unto all particular conditions and wants of the soul. 
As light ariseth from the sun, and is diffused in the beams 
thereof to the especial use of all creatures, enabled by a vi- 
sive faculty to make use of it ; so cometh grace forth from 
the eternal good will of God in Christ, and is diffused by the 
promises, with a blessed contemporation unto the conditions 
and wants of all believers. There can nothing fall out be- 
tween God and any soul, but there is grace suited unto it in 
one promise or another, as clearly and evidently, as if it 
were given unto him particularly and immediately. And 
this they find by experience, who at any time are enabled to 
mix effectually a promise with faith. 

2. The word of promise hath a wonderful, mysterious, 
especial impression of God upon it. He doth by it secretly 
and ineffably communicate himself unto believers. When 
God appeared in a dream unto Jacob, he awaked and said, 
* God is in this place, and I knew it not.' He knew God 
was every where, but an intimation of his especial presence 
surprised him. So is a soul surprised when God opens 
himself and his grace in a promise unto him. It cries out, 
' God is here, and I knew it not.' Such a near approach of 
God in his grace it finds, as is accompanied with a refresh- 
ing surprisal. 

3. There is an especial engagement of the veracity and 
truth of God in every promise. Grace and truth are the two 
ingredients of an evangelical promise ; the matter and form 
whereof they do consist. I cannot now stay to chew where- 
in thi-s especial engagement of truth in the promise doth 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 387 

consist. Besides, it is a thing known and confessed. But 
it hath an especial influence to support the soul when hoped 
in, in its duty of waiting. For that hope can never make 
ashamed, or leave the soul unto disappointments, which stays 
itself on divine veracity under a special engagement. 

And this is that duty which the psalmist engageth him- 
self in, and unto the performance of, as the only way to ob- 
tain a comfortable interest in that forgiveness which is with 
God, and all the gracious effects thereof. And in the hand- 
ling hereof, as we have declared its nature and necessity, 
so we have the psalmist's directions for its practice, unto 
persons in the like condition with him, for the attaining of 
the end by him aimed at; so that it needs no farther appli- 
cation. That which remains of the psalm is the address 
which he makes unto others, with the encouragement which 
he gives them to steer the same course with himself; and 
this he doth in the two last verses, which, to complete the 
exposition of the whole psalm, I shall briefly explain and 
pass through, as having already dispatched what I princi- 
pally aimed at. 

Ver. 7. — ' Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord 
there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. 

Ver. 8. — And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniqui- 

I shall proceed in the opening of these words, according 
unto the method already insisted on. First, the meaning of 
the principal words shall be declared ; then the sense and 
importance of the whole. Thirdly, the relation that they 
have unto the condition of the soul expressed in the psalm 
must be manifested ; from all which, observations will arise 
for our instruction and direction in the like cases, wherein 
we are or may be concerned. 

' Let Israel hope in the Lord ;' nin>"?K bmw bn* ' Hope 
Israel in Jehovah.' Trust or expect ; the same word with 
that, ver. 5. * In his word do I hope ;' properly, to expect, 
to look for, which includes hope, and adds some farther de- 
gree of the soul's acting towards God ; it is an earnest look- 
ing after the thing hoped for ; * expecta ad Dominum ;' hope 
in him, and look up to him ; 'for with the Lord,' ' quia' or *quo- 
niam,' because, seeing that with the Lord ; TDnn 'mercy ;' the 
verb substantive, as usual, is omitted, which we supply, ' there 

2 c 2 


is mercy/ grace, bounty, goodness, good will. This word is 
often joined withanother, discovering its importance,andthat 
is DDH ' truth.' noxi TDn ' goodness,' or ' mercy and truth.' 
These are, as it were, constituent parts of God's promises. 
It is of goodness, grace, bounty, to promise any undue mercy; 
and it is of truth or faithfulness to make good what is so 
promised. The LXX. commonly render this word hytXwg, 
that is, ' pardoning mercy,' as it is every where used in the 
New Testament. 

' And with him is plenteous redemption ;' lOj; ' with him,' 
as before speaking unto God, ver. 4. ID^ ' with thee' there is ; 
the meaning of which expression hath been opened at large. 
Redemption nnD from r\lD ' to redeem ;' the same with ]inD 
XvTptodig, a7roAvrpwo-<t", ' redemption :' this word is often used 
for a proper redemption, such as is made by the intervention 
of a price, and not a mere assertion unto liberty by power, 
which is sometimes also called redemption. Thus it is said 
of the money that the first-born of the children of Israel, 
which were above the number of the Leyites, were redeemed 
with, that Moses took \VlDn the 'redemption;' that is, the re- 
demption-money, the price of their redemption. Numb. iii. 
49. Psal. xlix. 8. The redemption of men's souls is pre- 
cious ; it cost a great price. The redemption then that is 
with God, relates unto a price ; goodness or mercy with re- 
spect unto a price, becomes redemption, that is actively, the 
cause or means of it. What that price is, see Matt. xx. 20. 
1 Pet. i. 18. 

' Plenteous redemption,' nmn ' multa, copiosa,' much, 
abundant, plenteous. It is used both for quantity and qua- 
lity ; much in quantity, or plenteous, abundant ; and in qua- 
lity, that is, precious, excellent. And it is applied in a good 
and bad sense ; so it is said of our sins, Ezek. ix. 6. our sins 
Q1 are ' increased' or ' multiplied,' or are ' great;' many in 
number, and heinous in their nature or quality. And in the 
other sense, it is applied unto the mercy of God, whereby 
they are removed ; it is great or plenteous, it is excellent or 

Ver. 8. 'And he,' that is, the Lord Jehovah, he with 
whom is plenteous redemption, niD* ' shall redeem ;' or make 
them partakers of that redemption that is with him. ' He 
shall redeem Israel,' that is, those who hope and trust in him- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 389 

'From all his iniquities;' vmJiy bZLD ' iiis iniquities,' that 
is, of the elect Israel, and every individual amongst them. 
But the word signifies trouble as well as sin, especially that 
trouble or punishment that is for sin. So Cain expresseth 
himself, upon the denunciation of his sentence ; ^{Vli^3D Olj^ ^nj 
'my sin,' that is, the punishmentthouhastdenounced against 
my sin, ' is too great or heavy for me to bear ;' Gen. iv. 13. 
There is a near affinity between sin and trouble; ' noxam 
poena sequitur,' punishment is inseparable from iniquity. ]'\^ 
then the word here used signifies either sin, with reference 
unto trouble due to it ; or trouble, with respect unto sin 
whentie it proceeds. And both may here be well intended. 
' God shall redeem Israel from all his sins, and troubles that 
have ensued thereon.' And this is the signification of the 
words, which indeed are plain and obvious. 

And these words close up the psalm. He who began 
with depths, his own depths of sin and trouble, out of which, 
and about which, he cried out unto God, is so encouraged by 
that prospect of grace and forgiveness with God, which by 
faith he had obtained, as to preach unto others, and to sup- 
port them in expectation of deliverance from all their sin 
and trouble also. 

And such for the most part are all the exercises and 
trials of the children of God. Their entrance may be a 
storm, but their close is a calm. Their beginning is often- 
times trouble, but their latter end is peace; peace to them- 
selves, and advantage to the church of God. For men in 
all ages coming out of great trials of their own, have been 
the most instrumental for the good of others. For God doth 
not greatly exercise any of his, but with some especial end 
for his own glory. 

Secondly, The sense and intendment of the psalmist in 
these words, is to be considered; and that resolves itself into 
three general parts. 

1. An exhortation or admonition; ' Israel hope in the 
Lord,' or * expect Jehovah.' 

2. A ground of encouragement unto the performance of 
the duty exhorted unto ; ' Because with the Lord there is 
much, plenteous, abundant, precious redemption.' 

3. A gracious promise of a blessed issue, which shall be 



given unto the performance of this duty ; ' He shall redeem 
Israel from all his sins, and out of all his troubles.' 

In the exhortation there occurs, 

l.The persons exhorted ; that is, Israel; not Israel ac- 
cording to the flesh ; for they are ' not all Israel which are 
of Israel,' Rom. ix. 6. but it is the Israel mentioned, Psal. 
Ixxiii. 1. The whole Israel of God, to whom he is good, 
such as are of a clean heart ; that is, all those who are in- 
terested in the covenant, and do inherit the promise of their 
forefathers, who was first called by that name. All believers ; 
and the psalmist treats them all in general in this matter. 

1. Because there is none of them but have their trials 
and entanglements about sin, more or less. As there is 
'none that liveth and sinneth not;' so there is none sin- 
neth, and is not entangled and troubled. Perhaps then, 
they are not all of them in the same condition with him, 
in the depths that he was plunged into. Yet more or less, 
all and every one of them is so far concerned in sin, as to 
need his direction. All the saints of God either have been, 
or are, or may be, in these depths. It is a good saying of 
Austin on this place, * Valde sunt in profundo qui non cla- 
mant de profundo.' 'None so in the deep as they who do not 
cry and call out of the deep.' They are in a deep of security, 
who are never sensible of a deep of sin. 

2. There is none of them, whatever their present condi- 
tion be, but they may fall into the like depths with those of the 
psalmist. There is nothing absolutely in the covenant, nor 
in any promise, to secure them from it. And what befalletli 
any one believer, may befall them all. If any one believer 
may fall totally away, all may do so, and not leave one in 
the world, and so an end be put to the kingdom of Christ ; 
which is no small evidence that they cannot so fall. But 
they may fall into depths of sin ; that some of them have 
done so, we have testimonies and instances beyond excep- 
tion. It is good then, that all of them should be prepared 
for that duty which they may all stand in need of, and a 
right discharge of it. Besides, the duty mentioned is not 
absolutely restrained to the condition before described. But 
it is proper and accomodate unto other seasons also. There- 
fore are all the Israel of God exhorted unto it. 


2. The duty itself, is hoping in Jehovah, with such a 
hope or trust, as hath an expectation of relief joined with it. 
And there are two things included in this duty. 

1. The renunciation of any hopes, in expectation of de- 
liverance either from sin or trouble, any other way : * hope in 
Jehovah ;' this is frequently expressed, where the perform- 
ance of this duty is mentioned. See Hos. xiv. 3. Jer. iii. 
22, 23. And we have declared the nature of it in the expo- 
sition of the first and second verses. 

2. Expectation from him ; and this also hath been in- 
sisted on in the observations from the verses immediately 
preceding, wherein also the whole nature of this duty was 
explained, and directions were given for the due perform- 
ance of it. 

2. The encouragement tendered unto this duty, is the next 
thing in the words; * For with the Lord is plenteous redemp- 
tion :' wherein we may observe, 

1. What it is that he professeth, as the great encourage- 
ment unto the duty mentioned, and that is redemption ; the 
redemption that is with God : upon the matter the same with 
the forgiveness before-mentioned; mercy, pardon, benignity, 
bounty. He doth not bid them hope in the Lord, because 
they were the seed of Abraham, the peculiar people of 
God, made partakers of privileges above all the people in 
the world ; much less because of their worthiness, or that 
good that was in themselves, but merely upon the account 
of mercy in God ; of his grace, goodness, and bounty. The 
mercy of God, and the redemption that is with him, is the 
only ground unto sinners for hope and confidence in him. 

2. There are two great concernments of this grace, the 
one expressed, the other implied in the words. The first is, 
that it is much, plenteous, abundant. That which princi- 
pally discourageth distressed souls from a comfortable wait- 
ing on God, is, their fears lest they should not obtain mercy 
from him, and that because their sins are so great, and so 
many; or attended with such circumstances and aggrava- 
tions, as that it is impossible they should find acceptance 
with God. This ground of despondency and unbelief the 
psalmist obviates, by representing the fulness, the plenty, 
the boundless plenty of the mercy that is with God. It is 
such as will suit the condition of the greatest sinners in 



their greatest depths; the stores of its treasures are inex- 
haustible. And the force of the exhortation doth not lie 
so much in this, that there is redemption with God, as that 
this redemption is plenteous or abundant. 

2. Here is an intimation in the word itself, of that rela- 
tion which the goodness and grace of God proposed, hath 
to the blood of Christ; whence it is called redemption. 
This, as was shewed in the opening of the words, hath re- 
spect unto a price : the price whereby we are bought, that 
is, the blood of Christ. This is that whereby way is made 
for the exercise of mercy towards sinners; redemption, 
which properly denotes actual deliverance, is said to be with 
God, or in him, as the effect in the cause. The causes of it 
are, iiis own grace and blood of Christ. There are these pre- 
pared for the redeeming of believers from sin and trouble, 
unto his own glory. And herein lieth the encouragement that 
the psalmist proposeth unto the performance of the duty 
exhorted unto; namely, to wait on God. It is taken from 
God himself, as all encouragements unto sinners to draw 
nigh unto him, and to wait for him, must be. Nothing but 
himself can give us confidence to go unto him. And it is 
suited unto the state and condition of the soul under con- 
sideration. Redemption and mercy are suited to give relief 
from sin and misery. 

3. The last verse contains a promise of the issue of the 
performance of this duty ; ' He shall redeem his people 
from all their iniquities.' Two things are observable in the 

1. The certainty of the issue; or event of the duty 
mentioned mD' Kim ' and he shall ;' or, ' he will redeem ;' he 
will assuredly do so. Now, although this in the psalmist is 
given out by revelation, and is a new promise of God ; yet, 
as it relates to the condition of the soul here expressed, and 
the discovery made by faith, of forgiveness and redemption 
with God, the certainty intended in this assertion is built 
upon the principles before laid down. Whence therefore 
doth it appear, whence may we infallibly conclude, that 
God will redeem his Israel from all their iniquities? I 

1. The conclusion is drawn from the nature of God. 
There is forgiveness and redemption with him, and he will 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 393 

act towards his people suitably to his own nature. There is 
redemption with him, and therefore he will redeem; forgive- 
ness with him, and therefore he will forgive. As the con- 
clusion is certain and infallible, that wicked men, ungodly 
men, shall be destroyed, because God is righteous and holy; 
his righteousness and holiness indispensably requiring their 
destruction ; so is the redemption and salvation of all that 
believe, certain on this account; namely, because there is 
forgiveness with him ; he is good and gracious, and ready to 
forgive; his goodness and grace requires their salvation. 

2. The conclusion is certain upon the account of God's 
faithfulness in his promises. He hath promised, that those 
who wait on him ' shall not be ashamed ;' that their expec- 
tation shall not be disappointed ; whence the conclusion is 
certain, that in his time and way they shall be redeemed. 

2. There is the extent of this deliverance or redemption ; 
'shall redeem Israel from all their iniquities.' It was shewed 
in the opening of the verse, that this word denotes either 
sin procuring trouble, or trouble procured by sin ; and there 
is a respect unto both sin and its punishment. From both, 
from all of both kind, God will redeem his Israel. Not this 
or that evil ; this or that sin, but from all evil, all sin. He 
will take all sins from their souls, and wipe all tears from 
their eyes. Now God is said to do this on many accounts. 

1. On the account of the great cause of all actual deli- 
verance and redemption, the blood of Christ. He hath laid 
an assured foundation of the whole work ; the price of re- 
demption is paid, and they shall in due time enjoy the ef- 
fects and fruits of it. 

2. Of the actual communication of the effects of that re- 
demption unto them. This is sure to all the elect of God, to 
his whole Israel. They shall all be made partakei's of them. 
And this is the end of all the promises of God, and of the 
grace and mercy promised in them; namely, that they should 
be means to exhibit and give out to believers that redemp- 
tion which is purchased and prepared for them ; and this is 
done two ways. 

1. Partially, initially, and gradually, in this life. Here 
God gives in unto them the pardon of their sins being 
justified freely by his grace ; and in this sanctification of 
them through his Spirit, gives them delivery from the power 


and dominion of sin. Many troubles also he delivers them 
from, and from all as far as they are penal, or have any 
mixture of the curse in them. 

2. Completely ; namely, when he shall have freed them 
from sin and trouble, and from all the effects and conse- 
quents of them, by bringing them unto the enjoyment of 
himself in glory. 

Thirdly, The words being thus opened, we may briefly, in 
the next place, consider what they express concerning the 
state, condition, or actings of the soul, which are represented 
in this psalm. 

Having himself attained unto the state before described, 
and being engaged resolvedly into the performance of that 
duty which would assuredly bring him into a haven of full 
rest and peace ; the psalmist applies himself unto the residue 
of the Israel of God, to give them encouragement unto this 
duty with himself, from the experience that he had of a 
blessed success therein. As if he had said unto them ; Ye 
are now in afflictions, and under troubles, and that upon the 
account of your sins and provocations. A condition, I con- 
fess, sad and deplorable ; but yet there is hope in Israel con- 
cerning these things. For consider how it hath been with 
me, and how the Lord hath dealt with me. I was in depths 
inexpressible, and saw for awhile no way or means of de- 
livery. But God hath been pleased graciously to reveal 
himself unto me, as God pardoning iniquity, transgression, 
and sin ; and in the consolation and supportment which I 
have received thereby, I am waiting for a full participation 
of the fruits of his love. Let me therefore prevail with you 
who are in the like condition, to steer the same course with 
me. Only let your expectations be fixed in mercy and so- 
vereign grace, without any regard unto any privilege or 
worth in yourselves. Rest in the plenteous redemption, 
those stores of grace which are with Jehovah, and according 
to his faithfulness in his promises, he will deliver you out of 
all perplexing troubles. 

Having thus opened the words, I shall now only name 
the doctrinal observations that are tendered from them, and 
so put a close to these discourses. As, 

Obs. 1. The Lord Jehovah is the only hope for sin-dis- 
tressed souls. ' Hope in the Lord.' This hath been suffici- 

UPON PSALM cxxx. 395 

ently discovered and confirmed on sundry passages in the 

Ohs. 2. The ground of all hope and expectation of re- 
lief in sinners, is mere grace, mercy, and redemption. 'Hope 
in the Lord, for with him there is redemption.' All other 
grounds of hope are false and deceiving. 

Obs. 3. Inexhaustible stores of mercy and redemption, 
are needful for the encouragement of sinners to rest and wait 
on God. 'With him is plentiful redemption.' Such is your 
misery, so pressing are your fears and disconsolations, that 
nothing less than boundless grace can relieve or support 
you ; there are therefore such treasures and stores in God as 
are suited hereunto. With him is ' plenteous redemption.' 

Ohs. 4. The ground of all the dispensation of mercy, 
goodness, grace, and forgiveness, which is in God to sinners, 
is laid in the blood of Christ. Hence it is here called 're- 
demption.' Unto this also we have spoken at large before. 

Ohs. 5. All that wait on God on the account of mercy 
and grace shall have an undoubted issue of peace. ' He 
shall redeem Israel. ' Let him,' saith God, * lay hold on my 
arm, that he may have peace, and he shall have peace;' 
Isa. xxvii. 5. 

Ohs. 6. Mercy given to them that wait on God, shall in 
the close and issue, be every way full and satisfying. ' He 
shall redeem his people from all their iniquities.' 

And these propositions do arise from the words, as ab- 
solutely considered, and in themselves. If we mind their 
relation unto the peculiar condition of the soul represented 
in this psalm, they will yet afford us the ensuing observations. 

Obs. 1. They who out of depths have by faith and wait- 
ing obtained mercy, or are supported in waiting for a sense 
of believed mercy and forgiveness, are fitted, and only they 
are fitted, to preach and declare grace and mercy unto 

This was the case with the psalmist. Upon his emerg- 
ing out of his own depths and straits, he declares the 
mercy and redemption whereby he was delivered, unto the 
whole Israel of God. 

Obs. 2. A saving participation of grace and forgiveness, 
leaves a deep impression of its fulness and excellency on the 


soul of a sinner ; so was it here with the psalmist. Having 
himself obtained forgiveness, he knows no bounds or mea- 
sure, as it were, in the extolling of it. There is with God 
mercv, redemption, plenteous redemption, redeeming from 
all iniquity ; I have found it so, and so will every one do 
that shall believe it. 

Now these observations might all of them, especially the 
two last, receive a useful improvement. But whereas what 
I principally intended from this psalm, hath been at large 
insisted on, upon the first verses of it, I shall not here 
farther draw forth any meditations upon them, but content 
myself with the exposition that hath been given of the 
design of the psalmist, and sense of his words in these last 









For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law 
but under grace. — Rom. vi. 14. 


One of the great gospel inquiries that a Christian 
ought to be most critical and curious in resolving to 
himself, upon the most impartial examination of his 
own heart, concerning his spiritual state, and standing 
in grace, is, Whether he be in the faith or no? which 
doubt can be resolved but two ways ; either by faith 
itself, closing with its true objects as offered in the 
gospel in its direct act; and so it evidenceth itself, 
being the evidence of things not seen, as all the na- 
tural senses evidence themselves by their own acts 
upon their proper objects : for he that sees the sun, 
hath argument enough to himself, that he is not blind, 
but hath a seeing eye; and faith, therefore, is frequently 
represented to us by seeing, as John vi. 40. and else- 
where; which evidence is according to the degrees of 
faith, weaker or stronger, and hence carries lesser or 
greater assurances with it; but such as are of the 
highest and best nature, giving the greatest glory to 
the grace and truth of God, and the firmest stay to the 
soul in the greatest storms of temptation, being as an 
anchor fastened within the veil, sure and steadfast. Or 
else additionally, that our joy may be full; and for 
farther confirmation, especially in such cases wherein 
our faith seems to fail us, and we are like Thomas, 
God hath out of his abundant grace in the gospel pro- 
vided arguments for us to raise from spiritual sense, to 
judge of our state and standing by. But this requires 
the teachings of the Spirit, and thence a spirit of dis- 
cerning, experience of, and insight into, our own hearts 
and ways, with senses exercised by reason of use, that 


these grounds and arguments may be matter of comfort 
and establishment unto us. 

I call these latter evidences, subordinate ones, and 
additional to that of faith, of great use by way of esta- 
blishment and confirmation unto believers, provided 
they be not abused to sole resting- and reliance upon 
them, to the great prejudice of our life of faith, for w^e 
live by faith (so must all repenting sinners vi^hen they 
have attained to the highest pitch of holiness in this 
life), and not by sense, no, not spiritual sense ; it is a 
good handmaid to faith, but no good mistress to it. 

Moreover, trials of this nature are often of a marvel- 
lous awakening and convincing nature unto poor se- 
cure sinners, formal and hypocritical professors, for 
many of them hold true with great demonstration in 
the negative, 1 John iii. 14. 'He that loveth not his 
brother, abideth in death.' And ver. 10. ' In this the 
children of God and the children of the devil are mani- 
fest : whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, 
neither he that loveth not his brother.' Now these tests 
come upon an unregenerate man, as clear and strong 
convictions of his undone estate, when by gospel light 
shining into his dark heart, it evidently appears, that 
there is a total absence of such eminent graces, that are 
inseparable from a child of God. But when a poor 
broken-hearted, self-condemning sinner comes to try 
himself by these tests, especially under great tempta- 
tion, he chargeth all that he finds in himself for hypo- 
crisy, formality, and sin, sits altogether in darkness in 
respect of those sparks of internal light, and is fain at 
last when he hath broken all his flints, and worn out 
all his steel, in compassing himself about with sparks 
of his own kindling, to turn unto Christ by faith, ' as a 
prisoner of hope, believing in hope against hope ;' and 
from him to fetch by a direct act of faith, as from the 
sun of righteousness, all his light of life and comfort, 


and then he will be able to light all his small tapers, 
yea, all inferior arguments of his good estate will 
flow in with much enlargement, and increase of con- 
solation. As streams of living water flowing forth of 
the fountain, set open for sin and for uncleanness, into 
the belly of the true believing sinner, receiving by faith 
of the fulness of Christ through the Spirit, abundantly 
supplying him with rivers of true, substantial, living 
graces and consolations, being filled with the fruits of 
righteousness, to the praise and glory of Christ. 

Now among disquisitions of this latter nature and 
use, this is none of the least, whether we are under the 
dominion of sin or no ; either we are or are not ; if we 
are, our state is most certainly dangerous; for such are 
under the law, and the law hath concluded all under 
wrath. If we are not under sin's dominion, we are in 
a blessed and happy estate, being under grace ; for 
these two dominions divide the world, and every son 
and daughter of Adam is under one or the other, and 
none can be under both at the same time. Now our 
being under grace can be no way better evidenced than 
by our being in Christ by faith, for he that is so ' is a 
new creature, is passed from death to life,' will still be 
mortifying sin, the strong man in sin's dominion being 
cast out; and therefore faith is said to be our victory, 
through the supply of all grace received from Jesus 
Christ. Indeed, it calls for no small spiritual skill and 
understanding, to pass a right judgment in these matters. 
Undoubtedly many are deceived in taking wrong mea- 
sures to search out these deep things of God, taking 
them to belong to the mere faculties and endowments 
of a natural man, not considering that they are of the 
Spirit's revelation only. And hence it is, that many poor 
creatures in a bondage state under the law, and there- 
fore under sins dominion, do work like slaves in the 
dunghill of their own hearts, to find out some natural 
VOL, XIV. 2 n 


relio'ion or moral goodness in themselves, to recom- 
mend them unto God ; but, such recommendation must 
be under the law, it cannot be under grace; and therefore, 
such are under the dominion of sin infallibly, as the 
Israelites were, ' which followed after the law of rio^hte- 
ousness, but attained not unto the law of righteousness. 
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as 
it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at 
that stumbling-stone ;' Rom. ix. 31, 32. And it is greatly 
to be bewailed, that many professors that sit under the 
means of grace, are so tender of their secure and pal- 
liated consciences, that they cannot endure that the 
rays of true gospel light should shine directly into 
their hearts, bqing contented with a name only, that 
they do live ; they are loath to come to any narrow 
search or trial, lest they should be found out, and ap- 
pear to themselves in their ugly shapes, whilst they are 
willing that all the world should have a good opinion 
of them; under which they cannot admit of any inward 
disturbances, but desire to sleep in a whole skin. 

Others there are, sincere, broken-hearted believers, 
scared at the rock of presumption, on which they see 
so many professors wrecked daily, are apt to fall upon 
the other extreme, and too wrongfully, to free grace, 
condemn themselves, as being under the dominion of 
sin, and therefore censure themselves to be under the 
law and wrath, notwithstanding all their seeming faith 
and holiness, calling that presumption, and this hypo- 
crisy. Hence, returning to a kind of ' spirit of bondage 
again to fear,' their faith is shaken by prevailing un- 
belief, their peace is broken, and all gospel ordinances 
rendered ineflfectual, as to their true ends of profit, 
edification, and comfort. Hence, though they are truly 
under grace, they do not know, or rather through 
temptation, will not acknowledge it, ' but go mourning 
all the day long, because of the oppressor and the 


enemy.' But 1 beseech such a poor soul to consider a 
little, and not ' to receive the grace of God in vain.' 
Dost thou groan under the usurpation and oppression 
of remaining sin, and is this the dominion of it ? is there 
no difference between sin's dominion, and sin's tyranny 
and usurpation? Dominion is upon account of right 
of conquest, or subjection, there is upon both that sin 
reigns in, carnal and unregenerate men, 'who yield 
up their members as instruments of unrighteousness 
unto sin, but you reckon yourselves dead unto sin,' 
having no joy in its pre valency, but grief; being- 
planted in this respect, ' in the likeness of Christ's 
death, who died unto sin once, but dieth no more. Sin 
shall have no more dominion over him ; likewise reckon 
ye also yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive un- 
to God through Jesus Christ our Lord:' i.e. to be 
under grace, to put yourself freely and joyfully under 
the conduct and dominion of Jesus Christ, and to keep 
up a continual fight and opposition against the prevail- 
ing power of sin. Indeed sin will often, as an out-lying 
watchful enemy, make its assaults and incursions on 
the best of God's children, as it did on David, Hezekiah, 
Peter ; and though it may make breaches upon them, 
sin shall not have a dominion, and set up a throne of 
iniquity in their hearts. Grace will beat out sin's 
throne; for indeed, the words of this text, that is, the 
subject of the ensuing treatise, carry the force of a pro- 
mise to the saints, to animate and encourage them to 
fight against sin, under the banner of our Lord Jesus, 
' the captain of our salvation made perfect through suf- 
ferings; for sin shall not have dominion,' &c. 

In treating of which text, this late learned and re- 
verend author hath acted the part of a good workman, 
that rightly divided the word of God (as in all his 
other writings of the like nature), giving every one their 
portion, as it belongs to them, with so much perspi- 

2 d2 


cuity and demonstration, that if (Clnnstian reader) thou 
wilt afford a little time and pains to read, meditate, 
dilate, and digest well, the truths here laid before thee, 
through the blessing of the God of all grace, thou wilt 
find much satisfaction and real spiritual advantage 
unto thy soul, either to awaken and recover thee from 
under the dominion of sin (the dangerous and palpable 
symptoms thereof, being here plainly made manifest), 
or else to discover thy happy estate jn being taken from 
' under the law,' and brought under the dominion of 
grace, whereby thou mayest assume great encourage- 
ment to thyself, to proceed more cheerfully in ' running 
the race set before thee,' 

It is enough to say, that the author hath left his 
encomium firmly rooted in the minds of all pious and 
learned men, that are acquainted with his writings, 
polemic or practical : yea, his renown will always 
be great in after generations among the churches of 
Christ, and all true lovers of the great truths of the 
gospel. And that he is the author of this small tract, is 
sufficient to recommend it to thy most serious perusal, 
taking this assurance, that it was left (among other 
writings of great value) thus perfected for the press by 
his own hand, and is now by his worthy relict pub- 
lished for the benefit of others besides herself. I doubt 
not but thou wilt say, that it will answer the several 
lines that hath been drawn in thy heart, by sin or grace, 
' as face answereth face in a glass,' and that this may 
be the effect of thy perusal thereof, in order to thy 
spiritual and eternal welfare, is the hearty desire and 
prayer of, 

Thy unfeigned well-wisher, 

J. C. 



For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under th» law, but 
under o-race. — Rom, vi. 14. 


What sin is consistent with the state of grace, and what not. Sin's great 
ilesiyn in all, to obtain dominion: it hath it in unbelievers, and contends 
for it in believers. The ivays by which it acts. 

iHE psalmist treating with God in prayer about sin, ac- 
knowledge th, that there are in all men unsearchable errors of 
life, beyond all human understanding or comprehension; 
with such daily sins of infirmity, as stand in need of conti- 
nual cleansing and pardon, Psal. xix. 12. ' Who can under- 
stand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.' But 
yet he supposeth that these things are consistent with a state 
of grace, and acceptation with God. He had no thought of 
any absolute perfection in this life ; of any such condition 
as should not stand in need of continual cleansing and par- 
don. Wherefore there are or may be such sins in believers, 
yea, many of them, which yet under a due application unto 
God, for purifying and pardoning grace, shall neither de- 
prive us of peace here, nor endanger our salvation hereafter. 
But he speaks immediately of another sort of sins, which 
partly from their nature, or what they are in themselves, and 
partly from their operation and power, will certainly prove 
destructive unto the souls of men wherever they are. Ver. 
13. * Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins ; let 
them not have dominion over me : then shall I be upright, 
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.' 


This is the hinge whereon the whole cause and state of 
my soul doth turn. Although I am subject to many sins of 
various sorts, yet under them all I can and do maintain my 
integrity, and covenant uprightness in walking with God ; 
and where I fail, am kept within the reach of cleansing and 
pardoning mercy, continually administered unto my soul by 
Jesus Christ. But there is a state of life in this world, 
wherein sin hath dominion over the soul ; acting itself pre- 
sumptuously, wherewith integrity and freedom from con- 
demning guilt are inconsistent. 

This state, therefore, which is eternally ruinous unto the 
souls of men, he deprecates with all earnestness, praying to 
be kept and preserved from it. 

What he there so earnestly prays for, the apostle in the 
words of the text promiseth unto all believers, by virtue of 
the grace of Christ Jesus, administered in the gospel. Both 
the prayer of the prophet for himself, and the promise of the 
apostle in the name of God unto us, do manifest of how 
great importance this matter is, as we shall declare it to be 

There are some things supposed or included in these 
words of the apostle. These we must first a little inquire 
into, without which we cannot well understand the truth it- 
self proposed in them. As, 

1. It is supposed, that sin doth still abide in, and dwell 
with, believers. For so is the meaning of the words. That 
sin which is in you shall not have dominion over you; that 
is, none of them who are not sensible of it, who groan not 
to be delivered from it, as the apostle doth, Rom. vii. 24. 
Those who are otherwise minded, know neither themselves, 
nor what is sin, nor wherein the grace of the gospel doth con- 
sist. There is the flesh remaining in every one which 'lust- 
eth against the Spirit;' Gal. v. 17. And it adheres unto all 
the faculties of our souls ; whence it is called the 'old man;' 
Rom. vi. 6. Ephes. iv. 22. in opposition unto the renovation 
of our imnds,and all the faculties of them called the 'new man,' 
or 'new creature' in us. And there is Trpovota rf/c trapKog tig 
kTTiOvfxiag,' Rom xiii. 14. a continual working and provision to 
fulfil its own lusts : so that it abides in us in the way of a dying, 
decaying habit, weakened and impaired ; but acting itself in 
inclinations, motions, and desires, suitable unto its nature. 


As Scripture and experience concur herein, so a supposi- 
tion of it is the only ground of the whole doctrine of evan- 
gelical mortification. That this is a duty, a duty incumbent 
on believers all the days of their lives, such a duty as with- 
out which they can never perform any other in a due man- 
ner, will not be denied by any, but either s uch as are wholly 
under the power of atheistical blindness, or such as by the 
fever of spiritual pride, have lost the understanding of their 
own miserable condition, and so lie dreaming about absolute 
perfection. With neither sort are we at present concerned. 
Now the first proper object of this mortification is this sin 
that dwells in us. It is ' the flesh' which is to be mortified, 
the ' old man' which is to be crucified, the * lusts of the flesh,' 
with all their corrupt inclinations, actings, and motions, that 
are to be destroyed ; Rom. vi. 6. Gal. v. 24. Col. iii. 1. Un- 
less this be well fixed in the mind, we cannot understand the 
greatness of the grace and privilege here expressed. 

2. It is supposed that this sin, which, in the remainders of 
it, so abides in believers, in various degrees, may put forth 
its power in them, to obtain victory and dominion over them. 
It is first supposed, that it hath this dominion in some, that 
it doth bear rule over all unbelievers, all that are under the 
law; and then, that it will strive to do the same in them that 
believe, and are under grace. For affirming that it shall not 
have dominion over us, he grants that it may or doth con- 
tend for it, only it shall not have success, it shall not prevail. 
Hence it is said ' to fight and war in us;' Rom. vii. 23. and 
to * fight against our souls ;' 1 Pet. ii. 12. Now it thus fights 
and wars, and contends in us for dominion; for that is 
the end of all war; whatever fights, it doth it for power 
and rule. 

This therefore is the general design of sin in all its act- 
ings. These actings are various, according to the variety of 
lusts in the minds of men; but its general design in them 
all is dominion. Where any one is tempted and seduced of 
his own lusts, as the apostle James speaks, be it in a matter 
never so small or so unusual, or the temptations thereunto may 
never occur again ; the design of sin lies not in the particular 
temptation, but to make it a means to obtain dominion over 
the soul. And the consideration hereof should keep be- 
lievers always on their guard against all the motions of sin; 


though the matter of them seem but small, and the occa- 
sions of them such as are not like to return. For the aim 
and tendency of every one of them is dominion and death, 
which they will compass, if not stopped in their progress, as the 
apostle there declares, James i. 14, 15. Believe not its flat- 
teries; Is it not a little one? this is the first or shall be the last 
time : it requires only a little place in the mind and affections, 
it shall go no farther : give not place to its urgency and 
solicitations; admit of none of its excuses or promises; 
it is power over your souls unto their ruin that it aims at 
in all. 

3. There are two ways in general whereby sin acts its 
power, and aims at the obtaining this dominion, and they are 
the two only ways whereby any may design or attain an un- 
just dominion, and they are deceit and force; both of which 
I have fully described in another discourse- With respect 
whereuntoit is promised, that the Lord Christ shall 'deliver 
the souls of the poor that cry unto him from deceit and vio- 
lence ;' Psal. Ixxii. 14. 

These are the two only ways of obtaining an unjust do- 
minion; and where they are in conjunction, they must have 
a mighty prevalency, and such as will render the contest ha- 
zardous. There are few believers but have found it so, at 
least in their own apprehensions; they have been ready to 
say at one time or another. We shall one day fall by the hand 
of this enemy ; and have been forced to cry out unto Jesus 
Christ for help and succour, with no less vehemency than 
the disciples did at sea, when the ship was covered with 
waves, ' Lord, save us, we perish;' Matt. viii. 24, 25. And 
so they would do, did he not come in seasonably to their 
succour; Heb. ii. 18. And herein the soul hath frequently 
no less experience of the power of Christ in his grace, than 
the disciples on their outcry had of his sovereign authority, 
when he rebuked the winds and the seas, and there was a 
great calm. 

This dominion of sin is that which we have here security 
given us against : though it will abide in us, though it will 
contend for rule by deceit and force, yet it shall not prevail, 
it shall not have the dominion. 

And this is a case of the highest importance unto us. 
Our souls are and must be under the rule of some |)rinciplc 


or law. And from this rule, our state is determined and de- 
nominated. We are ' either servants of sin unto death, or of 
obedience unto righteousness;' Rom. vi. 16. This is the 
substance of the discourse of the apostle in that whole chap- 
ter ; namely, that the state of the soul, as unto life and death 
eternal, follows the conduct and rule that we are under. If 
sin have the dominion, we are lost for ever. If it be de- 
throned, we are safe. It may tempt, seduce, and entice; it 
may fight, war, perplex, and disquiet ; it may surprise into 
actual sin; yet if it have not the dominion in us, we are in a 
state of grace and acceptation with God. 


The inquiries for understanding the text proposed ; the first spoken to: viz. 
What is the dominion of sin, which ive are freed from, and discharged of, 
iy grace. 

We shall inquire into three things from the words of this 

I. What is that dominion of sin, which we are freed from, 
and discharged of, by grace? 

II. How we may know whether sin hath the dominion in 
us or not? 

III. What is the reason and evidence of the assurance here 
given us, that sin shall not have dominion over us ? namely, 
because we are not under the law, but under grace. 

I. As unto the first of these, I shall only recount some 
such properties of it, as will discover its nature in general ; 
the particulars wherein it doth consist, will be considered 
First, The dominion of sin is perverse and evil, and that 
on both the accounts which render any rule or dominion so 
to be. For, 

1. It is usurped. Sin hath no right to rule in the souls 
of men. Men have no power to give sin a right to rule over 
them. They may voluntarily enslave themselves unto it ; 
but this gives sin no right or title. All men have originally 
another Lord, unto whom they owe all obedience ; nor can 
any thing discharge them from their allegiance thereunto ; 


and this is the law of God. The apostle saith indeed, that 
' unto whom men yield themselves servants to obey, his ser- 
vants they are to whom they obey ; whether of sin unto death, 
or of obedience unto righteousness;' ver. 16. And so it is, 
men are thereby the proper servants of sin; they become so 
by their own voluntary subjection unto it : but this gives sin 
no title against the law of God, whose right alone it is to 
bear sway in the souls of men. For all that give up them- 
selves to the service of sin, do live in actual rebellion against 
their natural liege Lord. Hence sundry things do follow : 

1. The great aggravation of the evil of a state of sin. 
Men who live therein, do voluntarily wrest themselves, what 
jieth in them, from under the rule of the law of God, and 
give up themselves to be slaves unto this tyrant. Could it 
lay any claim to this dominion, had it any title to plead, it 
were some alleviation of guilt in them that give up them- 
selves unto it. But men yield up themselves to the slavery 
of sin, as the apostle speaks ; they reject the rule of 
God's law, and choose this foreign yoke, which cannot 
but be an aggravation of their sin and misery. Yet so it is, 
that the greatest part of men do visibly and openly profess 
themselves the servants and slaves of sin. They wear its li- 
very, and do all its drudgery; yea, they boast themselves in 
their bondage, and never think themselves so brave and gal- 
lant, as when by profane swearing, drunkenness, unclean- 
ness, covetousness, and scoffing at religion, they openly dis- 
avow the lord whom they serve, the master to whom they do 
belong. But their damnation sleepeth not, whatever they 
may dream in the mean time. 

2. Hence it follows, that ordinarily all men have a right 
in themselves to cast off" the rule of sin, and to vindicate 
themselves into liberty. They may, when they will, plead 
the right and title of the law of God unto the rule of their 
souls, to the utter exclusion of all pleas and pretences of sin, 
for its power. They have right to say unto it. Get thee 
hence, what have I to do any more with idols? 

All men, I say, have this right in themselves, because of 
the natural allegiance they owe to the law of God ; but they 
have not power of themselves to execute this right, and ac- 
tually to cast oft' the yoke of sin ; but this is the work of 
grace. Sin's dominion is broke only by grace. 


But you will say then. Unto what end serves this right, 
if they have not power in themselves to put it in execution? 
and how can it be charged as an aggravation of their sin, 
that they do not use the right which they have, seeing they 
have no power so to do ? will you blame a man that hath a 
right to an estate if he do not recover it, when he hath no 
means so to do? 

I answer briefly three things. 

First, No man living neglects the use of this right, to 
cast off the yoke and dominion of sin, because he cannot of 
himself make use of it, but merely because he will not : he 
doth voluntarily choose to continue under the power of sin, 
and looks on every thing as his enemy that would deliver him. 
' The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject 
imto his law, nor can it be ;' Rom. viii. 7. When the law 
comes at any time to claim its right and rule over the soul, a 
man under the power of sin looks on it as his enemy, that 
comes to disturb his peace, and fortifies his mind against it; 
and when the gospel comes and tenders the way and means 
for the soul's delivery, offering its aid and assistance imto 
that end , this also is looked on as an enemy, and is re- 
jected, and all its offers unto that end. See Prov. i. 20 — 25. 
John iii. 19. This then is the condition of every one 
that abides under the dominion of sin ; he chooses so 
to do ; he continues in that state by an act of his own 
will ; he avows an enmity unto every thing which would 
give him deliverance ; which will be a sore aggravation of 
his condemnation at the last day. 

Secondly, God may justly require that of any, which it 
is in the power of the grace of the gospel to enable them to 
perform and comply withal ; for this is tendered unto them 
in the preaching of it every day: and although we know not 
the ways and means of the effectual communication of grace 
unto the souls of men, yet this is certain, that grace is so 
tendered in the preaching of the gospel, that none go with- 
out it, none are destitute of its aids and assistances, but 
those alone, who by a free act of their own wills, do refuse 
and reject it. This is that which the whole cause depends 
on, 'You will not come unto me, that you may have life ;' and 
this all unbelievers have or may have experience of in them- 
selves. They may know on a due examination of themselves. 


that they do voluntarily refuse the assistance of grace, which 
is offered for their deliverance ; therefore is their destruc- 
tion of themselves. But_, 

Thirdly, There is a time, when men lose even the right 
also. He who gave up himself to have his ear bored, lost all 
his claim unto future liberty ; he was not to go out at the 
year of jubilee : so there is a time when God judicially gives 
up men to the rule of sin, to abide under it for ever ; so as 
that they lose all right unto liberty. So he dealt with many 
of the idolatrous Gentiles of old; Rom. i. 24. 26, 28. and so 
continues to deal with the like profligate sinners ; so he acts 
towards the generality of the antichristian world, 2 Thess. 
ii. 11, 12. and with many despisers of the gospel; Isa. vi. 
9, 10. When it is come to this, men are cast at law, and 
have lost all right and title unto liberty from the dominion 
of sin. They may repine sometimes at the service of sin, or 
the consequence of it, in shame and pain, in the shameful 
distempers that will pursue many in their uncleanness ; yet 
God having given them up judicially unto sin, they have not 
so much as a right to put up one prayer or petition for deli- 
verance ; nor will they do so, but are bound in the fetters of 
cursed presumption or despair. See their work and wages, 
Rom. ii. 5, 6. This is the most woful state and condition 
of sinners in this world ; an unavoidable entrance into the 
chambers of death. You that have lived long under the 
power of sin, beware lest that come upon you which is 
spoken of in these Scriptures. You have as yet a right unto 
deliverance from that bondage and servitude wherein you 
are, if you put in your claim in the court of heaven. You 
knownothow soon you may be deprived of this also,by God's 
giving you up judicially unto sin and Satan. Then all com- 
plaints will be too late, and all springs of endeavours for re- 
lief be utterly dried up. All your reserves for a future re- 
pentance shall be cut off, and all your cries shall be despised ; 
Prov. i. 25 — 29. ' Whilst it is yet called to-day harden not 
your hearts,' lest God * swear in his wrath, that you shall 
never enter into his rest.' 

That you may be warned, take notice that the signs or 
symptoms of the approach of such a season, of such an ir- 
recoverable condition, are (1.) a long continuance in the 
practice of any known sin. There are bounds of divine pa- 


tience. The long-suffering of God for a time waits for re- 
pentance; 1 Pet. iii.20. 2 Pet. iii. 9. But there is a time 
when it doth only endure 'vessels of wrath, fitted for destruc- 
tion;' Rom. ix. 22. which is commonly after a long conti- 
nuance in known sin. (2.) When convictions have been di- 
gested, and warnings despised. God doth not usually deal 
thus with men, until they have rejected the means of their 
deliverance. There is a generation indeed, who from their 
youth up do live in a contempt of God ; such are those 
proud sinners whom the psalmist describes, Psal. x. 2 — 7, 
&c. There are seldom any tokens of the going forth 
of the decree against this sort of men. The appearing 
evidences of it are, their adding drunkenness unto thirst ; 
one kind of sin unto another, making a visible progress in 
sinning, adding boasting and a profane contempt of all 
things sacred, unto their course in sin. But ordinarily those 
that are in danger of this judicial hardness, have had warn- 
ings and convictions, which made some impression on them; 
but are now left without any calls and rebukes, or at least 
any sense of them. (3.) When men contract the guilt of such 
sins as seems to intrench on the unpardonable sin against 
the Holy Ghost ; such as proud, contemptuous, malicious 
reproaches of the ways of God, of holiness, of the spirit of 
Christ and his gospel : this sort of persons are frequently 
marked in the Scripture, as those who at least are nigh unto 
a final and fatal rejection. (4.) A voluntary relinquishment 
of the means of grace, and conversion unto God, which men 
have enjoyed : and this is commonly accompanied with a 
hatred of the word, and those by whom it is dispensed. Such 
persons God frequently, and that visibly, gives up in an ir- 
recoverable way unto the dominion of sin : he declares that 
he will have no more to do with them. (5.) The resolved 
choice of wicked, profane, unclean, scoffing society. It is 
very rare that any are recovered from that snare. And many 
other signs there are of the near approach of such a hard- 
ening judgment, as shall give up men everlastingly to the 
service of sin. Oh that poor sinners would awake before it 
be too late ! 

2. This dominion of sin is evil and perverse, not only 
because it is unjust and usurped, but because it is al- 
ways used and exercised unto ill ends, unto the hurt and 
ruin of them over whom it is. A usurper may make use 


of his power and rule for good ends, for the good of them 
over whom he rules. But all the ends of the dominion 
of sin are evil unto sinners. Sin in its rule will pre- 
tend fair, offer sundry advantages and satisfactions unto 
their minds. They shall have wages for their work ; plea- 
sure and profit shall come in by it. Yea, on divers pre- 
tences, it will promise them eternal rest at the close of all ; 
at least that they shall not fail of it by any thing they do in 
its service : and by such means it keeps them in security. 
But the whole real design of it, that which in all its power 
it operates towards, is the eternal ruin of their souls ; and 
this sinners will understand v;hen it is too late; Jerem. 
ii. 13. 19. 

Secondly, This dominion of sin is not a mere force 
against the will and endeavours of them that are under 
it. Where all the power and interest of sin consists in 
putting a force on the mind and soul by its temptations, 
there it hath no dominion. It may perplex them, it doth 
not rule over them : where it hath dominion, it hath the 
force and power of a law in the wills and minds of them in 
whom it is. Hereby it requires obedience of them, and 
they yield up themselves servants to obey it; Rom. vi. 16. 

Wherefore unto this dominion of sin there is required a 
consent of the will in some measure and degree. The con- 
stant reluctancy and conquering prevalency of the will 
against it, defeats its title unto rule and dominion ; as the 
apostle declares at large in the next chapter. The will is 
the sovereign faculty and power of the soul ; whatever prin- 
ciple acts in it, and determines it, that hath the rule. Not- 
withstanding light and conviction, the determination of the 
whole, as unto duty and sin, is in the power of the will. If 
the will of sinning be taken away, sin cannot have dominion. 
Here is wisdom : he that can distinguish betvi^een the im- 
pressions of sin upon him, and the rule of sin in him, is in 
the way of peace. But >this ofttimes, as we shall farther 
see, with the reason of it, is not easily to be attained unto. 
Convictions on the one hand will make a great pretence and 
appearance of an opposition in the will unto sin, by their un- 
avoidable impressions on it, when it is not so ; and disturbed 
affections under temptations will plead, that the will itself 
is given up unto the choice and service of sin, when it is 
not so. The will in this matter is like the Theban's shield, 


whilst that was safe they conceited themselves victorious, 
even in death. However this case is determined by the 
light of Scripture and experience, and it is here proposed 
unto a determination. 

Thirdly, It is required untq this dominion of sin, that 
the soul be not under any other supreme conduct; that is, of 
the Spirit of God, and of his grace by the law. This is that 
which really hath the sovereign rule in all believers : they 
are led by the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, acted and ruled 
by him, and are thereby under the government of God and 
Christ, and no other. With this the rule of sin is absolute- 
ly inconsistent : no man can at once serve these two masters. 
Grace and sin may be in the same soul at the same time, but 
they cannot bear rule in the same soul at the same time. 
The throne is singular, and will admit but of one ruler. 
Every evidence we have of being under the rule of grace is 
so, that we are not under the dominion of sin. 

This therefore is the principal way and means which we 
have to secure our peace and comfort against the pretences 
of sin, unto the disquietment of our consciences. Let us en- 
deavour to preserve an experience of the rule of grace in our 
hearts ; Col. iii. 15. Under a conduct and rule whence our 
state is denominated, we are and must be. This is either of 
sin or grace. There is no composition nor copartnership 
between them, as to rule : as to residence there is, but not 
as unto rule. If we can assure ourselves of the one, we se- 
cure ourselves from the other. It is therefore our wisdom, 
and lies at the foundation of all our comforts, that we get 
evidences and experience of our being under the rule of 
grace ; and it will evidence itself, if we are not wanting unto 
a due observation of its acting and operation in us. And it 
will do it, among others, these two ways. 

1. By keeping up a constancy of design in living to God, 
and after conformity unto Christ, notwithstanding the in- 
terposition of surprisals by temptations, and the most ur- 
gent solicitations of sin; this is called ' cleaving unto God 
with purpose of heart;' Acts xi. 23. This will be wherever 
grace hath the rule. As a man that goeth to sea designs 
some certain place and port, whither he guides his course ; 
in his way he meets, it may be, with storms and cross winds, 
that drive him out of his course, and sometimes directly 


backward, towards the place wliere lie set forth ; but his de- 
sign still holds, and in the pursuit thereof, he applies his 
skill and industry to retrieve and recover all its losses and 
back-drivings, by cross winds and storms. So is it with 
a soul under the conduct of grace ; its fixed design is to 
live unto God ; but in its course it meets with storms and 
cross winds of temptations, and various artifices of sin : 
these disturb him, disorder him, drive him backwards some- 
times, as if it would take a contrary course, and return unto 
the coast of sin from whence it set out. But where grace 
hath the rule and conduct, it will weather all these opposi- 
tions and obstructions; it will restore the soul, bring it again 
into order, recover it from the confusions and evil frames 
that it was drawn into. It will give a fresh predominancy 
unto its prevalent design of living unto God in all things. 
It will do this constantly as often as the soul meets with 
such rufiles from the power of sin: when there is a radical 
firmitude and strength in a cause or design, it will work it- 
self out, through all changes and variations ; but when the 
strength of any cause is but occasion, the first opposition 
and disorder will ruin us. So, if men's purposes of living 
unto God, be only occasional from present convictions, the 
first vigorous opposition or temptation will disorder it, and 
overthrow it ; but where this is the radical design of the 
soul, from the power of grace, it will break through all such 
oppositions, and recover its prevalency in the mind and af- 
fections. Hereby doth it evidence its rule, and that the 
whole interest of sin in the soul is by rebellion, and not by 
virtue of dominion. 

2. It doth so, by keeping up a constant exercise of grace 
in all religious duties ; or, at least, a sincere endeavour that 
so it may be. Where sin hath the dominion, it can allow 
the soul to perform religious duties, yea, in some cases, to 
abound in them ; but it will take care that divine grace be 
not exercised in them. Whatever there may be of delight 
in duties or other motions of affection, which light, and gifts, 
and afflictions, and superstition will occasion, there is no 
exercise of faith and love in them : this belongs essentially 
and inseparably unto the rule of grace. Wherever that bears 
sway, the soul will endeavour the constant exercise of grace 
in all its duties, and never be satisfied in the work done. 


without some sense of it. Where it fails therein, it will 
judge itself, and watch against the like surprisals ; yea, un- 
less it be in case of some great temptation, the present 
sense of the guilt of sin, which is the highest obstruction 
against that spiritual boldness, which is required unto the 
due exercise of grace, that is, of faith and love in holy du- 
ties, shall not hinder the soul from endeavouring after it, or 
the use of it. 

If by these means, and the like inseparable operations of 
grace, we can have an ensuring experience, that we are un- 
der the rule and conduct of it, we may be free in our minds 
from disturbing apprehensions of the dominion of sin : for 
both cannot bear sway in the same soul. 

Fourthly, It is required hereunto, that sin makes the soul 
sensible of its power and rule, at least doth that which may 
do so, unless conscience be utterly seared and hardened, 
and so past feeling. There is no rule nor dominion, but 
they are, or may be, sensible of it, who are subject thereunto. 
And there are two ways whereby sin in its dominion will 
make them sensible of it, in whom it rules. 

I. In repressing and overcoming the efficacy of the con- 
victions of the mind. Those who are under the dominion of 
sin (as we shall see more immediately), may have light into, 
and conviction of, their duty, in many things. And this light 
and conviction they may follow ordinarily, notwithstanding 
the dominion of sin. As a tyrant will permit his slaves and 
subjects ordinarily to follow their own occasions; but if 
what they would do comes either in matter or manner to in- 
terfere with or oppose his interest, he will make them sensi- 
ble of his power. So sin, where it hath the dominion, if 
men have light and conviction, it will allow them ordinarily, 
and in many things to comply therewithal. It will allow 
them to pray, to hear the word, to abstain from sundry sins, 
to perform many duties, as is expressly affirmed in the Scrip- 
ture of many that were under the power of sin, and we see 
it in experience. How much work do we see about religion 
and religious duties ! what constant observation of the 
times and seasons of them ! how many duties performed 
morally good in themselves and useful, by them who, on 
many other accounts, do proclaim themselves to be under 
the dominion of sin ! But if the light and conviction of this 

VOL. XIV. 2 E 


sort of persons do rise up in opposition unto the principal 
interest of sin, in those lusts and ways wherein it exerciseth 
its rule, it will make them, in whom they are, sensible of its 
power. They that stifle, or shut their eyes against, or cast 
out of mind, or go directly contrary unto, their convictions ; 
light, in such cases, will first repine, and then relieve itself 
with resolutions for other times and seasons ; but sin will 
carry the cause by virtue of its dominion. 

Hence two things do follow : 

(1.) A constant repugnancy against sin, from light in 
the mind and conviction in the conscience, doth not prove 
that those in whom it is are not under the dominion of sin. 
For until blindness and hardness do come on men to the ut- 
termost, there will be in them a judging of what is good and 
evil, with a self-judging with respect thereunto, as the apo- 
stle declares, Rom. ii. 15. and herein many do satisfy them- 
selves. When their light condemns sin, they suppose they~ 
hate it, but they do not ; when convictions call for duties, 
they suppose they love them, but they do not. That which 
they look on as the rule of light in them, in opposition unto 
sin, is but the rebellion of a natural enlightened conscience 
against the dominion of it in the heart. In brief, light may 
condemn every known sin, keep from many, press for every 
known duty, lead to the performance of many; yet sin have 
a full dominion in the soul. And this it will evidence, when 
it comes to the trial, in those instances where it exercises its 
ruling power. 

(2.) That miserable is their condition, whose minds are 
ground continually between the conduct of their light, with 
the urgency of conviction on the one hand, and the rule or 
dominion of sin on the other. Wherever light is, it is its 
due to have the rule and conduct. It is that act whereby 
the mind loads itself ; for men to be forced by the power of 
their lusts, to act for the most part against their light, as 
they do where sin hath the dominion, it is a sad and deplor- 
able condition. Such persons are said to ' rebel against the 
light,' Job xxiv. 13. because of its right to rule in them, 
where it is deposed by sin. This makes most men but a 
' troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire 
and dirt.' 

2. Sin will make those in whom it hath dominion 


sensible of its power, by its continual solicitations of the 
mind and affections, with respect unto that sin, or those 
sins wherein it principally exerciseth its rule. Having pos- 
sessed the will and inclinations of the mind with the affec- 
tions, as it doth wherever its dominion is absolute, it conti- 
nually disposeth, inclineth, and stirreth up the mind towards 
those sins. It will level the bent of the whole soul towards 
such sins, or the circumstances of them. Nor is there a more 
pregnant discovery of the rule of sin in any than this, that 
it habitually engageth the mind and affections, unto a con- 
stant exercise of themselves about this or that, some sin, 
and evil way or other. 

But yet we must add, that notwithstanding these indi- 
cations of the ruling power of sin, they are but few in whom 
it hath this dominion, that are convinced of their state and 
condition. Many are so under the power of darkness, of 
supine sloth and negligence, and are so desperately wicked, 
as that they have no sense of this rule of sin. Such are 
those described by the apostle, Ephes.iv. 18,19. And whereas 
they are the vilest slaves that live on the earth, they judge 
none to be free but themselves; they look on others as in 
bondage to foolish and superstitious fears, whilst they are 
at liberty to drink, swear, scoff at religion, whore, and defile 
themselves, without control. This is their liberty, and they 
may have that which is as good in hell ; a liberty to curse 
and blaspheme God, and to fly with revengeful thoughts on 
themselves, and the whole creation. The light in such per- 
sons is darkness itself, so as that they have nothing to rise 
up in opposition unto the rule of sin, whence alone a sense 
of its power doth arise. Others, as we observed before, li- 
ving in some compliance with their light and convictions, 
abstaining from many sins, and performing many duties, 
though they live in some known sin or other, and allow 
themselves in it, yet will not allow that sin hath the do* 
minion in them. 

Wherefore there are two things hard and difficult in 
this case : 

1. To convince those in whom sin evidently hath the 
dominion, that such indeed is their state and condition; 
they will with their utmost endeavour keep off the convic- 
tion hereof. Some justify themselves, and some will make 

2 E 2 


no inquiry into this matter. It is a rare thing, especially 
of late, to have any brought under this conviction by the 
preaching of the word, though it be tiie case of multitudes 
that attend unto it. 

2. To satisfy some, that sin hath not the dominion over 
them, notwithstanding its restless acting itself in them, and 
warring against their souls; yet, unless this can be done, it 
is impossible they should enjoy solid peace and comfort in 
this life. And the concernment of the best of believers, 
whilst they are in this world, doth lie herein ; for as they 
grow in light, spirituality, experience, freedom of mind and 
humility, the more they love to know of the deceit, activity, 
and power of the remainders of sin. And although it works 
,iot at all, at least not sensibly in them, towards those sins 
wherein it reigneth and rageth in others, yet they are able 
to discern its more subtle, inward, and spiritual actings in 
the mind and heart to the weakening of grace, the obstruct- 
ing of its effectual operations in holy duties, with many in- 
dispositions unto stability in the life of God, which fills 
them with trouble. 


The second inquiry spoken to ; Whether sin hath dominion in vs or not 1 In 
answer to whickit is shewed, that some tvear sin's livery, and they are the 
professed servants thereof. There are many in which the case is dubious, 
where sin's service is not so discernahle. Several exceptions are put in 
against its dominion, where it seems to prevail. So7ne certain signs of its 
dominion. Graces and duties to be exercised for its mortification. 

These things being thus premised in general, concerning 
the nature of the dominion of sin, we shall now proceed unto 
our principal inquiry ; namely. Whether sin have dominion 
in us or no ? whereby we may know, whether we are under 
the law or under grace, or what is the state of our souls to- 
wards God. An inquiry this is, which is very necessary for 
some to make, and for all to have rightly determined in their 
minds, from Scripture and experience ; for on that deter- 
mination depends all our solid peace. Sin will be in us ; it 
will lust, fight, and entice us; but the great question, as 


unto our peace and comfort, is, whether it hath dominion 
over us or no. 

1. We do not inquire concerning them in whom the 
reign of sin is absolute and easily discernable, if not to 
themselves, yet to others. Such there are, who visibly 
'yield up their members instruments of unrighteousness to 
sin;' Rom. vi. 13. Sin reigns in their 'mortal bodies, and 
they openly obey it in the lusts thereof;' ver. 12. They are 
avowedly 'servants of sin unto death;' ver. 16. and are not 
ashamed of it. 'The shew of their countenance doth witness 
against them ; they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it 
not;' Isa. iii,9. Such are those described, Ephes.iv. 18, 19. 
and such the world is filled withal. Such, as being under 
the power of darkness and enmity against God, do act them 
in opposition to all serious godliness, and in the service of 
various lusts. There is no question concerning their state ; 
they cannot themselves deny that it is so with them. I speak 
not for the liberty of censuring, but for the easiness of 
judging. Those who openly wear sin's livery, may well be 
esteemed to be sin's servants ; and they shall not fail to re- 
ceive sin's wages. Let them at present bear it never so high, 
and despise all manner of convictions, they will find it 
' bitterness in the latter end ; ' Isa. 1.11. Eccles. xi. 9. 

2. But there are many in whom the case is dubious, and 
not easy to be determined ; for on the one hand, they may 
have sundry things in them which may seem repugnant unto 
the reign of sin, but indeed are not inconsistent with it. All 
arguments and pleas from them in their vindication may fail 
them on a trial. And on the other hand, there may be some 
in whom the effectual working of sin may be so great and 
perplexing, as to argue that it hath the dominion when 
indeed it hath not, but is only a stubborn rebel. 

The things of the first sort which seem destructive of, 
and inconsistent with, the dominion of sin, but indeed are 
not, may be referred to five heads. 

1. Illumination in knowledge and spiritual gifts, with 
convictions of good and evil, of all known duties and sins. 
This is that which some men live in a perpetual rebellion 
against, in one instance or another. 

2- A change in the affections, giving a temporary delight 


in religious duties, with some constancy in their observa- 
tions. This also is found in many who are yet evidently under 
the power of sin and spiritual darkness. 

3. A performance of many duties botn moral and evan- 
gelical, for the substance of them ; and an abstinence, out 
of conscience, from many sins. So was it with the young- 
man in the gospel, who yet wanted what was necessary to 
free him from the dominion of sin, Matt.xix. 20 — 23. 

4. Repentance for sin committed. This is that which 
most secure themselves by; and a blessed security it is, 
when it is gracious, evangelical, a fruit of faith, comprising 
the return of the whole soul to God. But there is that 
which is legal, partial, respecting particular sins only; which 
is not pleadable in this case. Ahab was no less under 
the dominion of sin when he had repented him, than he 
was before. And Judas repented him before he hanged 

5. Promises and resolutions against sin for the future. 
But the goodness of many in these things, is like * the morn- 
ing cloud, and as the early dew it passeth away ;' as it is in 
the prophet, Hos. vi. 4. 

Where there is a concurrence of these things in any, they 
have good hopes, at least that they are not under the do- 
minion of sin ; nor is it easy to convince them that they are ; 
and they may so behave themselves herein, as that it is not 
consistent with Christian charity to pronounce them to be so. 
Howbeit, the fallacy that is in these things hath been 
detected by many ; and much more is by all required to evi- 
dence the sincerity of faith and holiness. No man, therefore, 
can be acquitted by pleas taken from them, as unto their 
subjection to the reign of sin. 

The things of the second sort, whence arguments may be 
taken to prove the dominion of sin in any person, which yet 
will not certainly do it, are those which we shall now examine. 
And we must observe, 

1. That where sin hath the dominion, it doth indeed rule 
in the whole soul, and all the faculties of it. It is a vicious 
habit in all of them, corrupting them in their several natures 
and power, with that corrujition whereof they are capable. 
So in the mind, of darkness and vanity ; the will, of spiritual 


deceit and perverseness ; the heart, of stubbornness and 
sensuality. Sin in its power reaches unto and affects them 
all. But, 

2. It doth evidence its dominion, and is to be tried by 
its acting in the distinct faculties of the mind ; in the frame 
of the heart, and in the course of the life. 

These are those which we shall examine ; first, those 
which render the case dubious ; and then, those that clearly 
determine it on the part of sin. I shall not, therefore, at 
present, give positive evidences of men's freedom from the 
dominion of sin ; but only consider the arguments that lie 
against them, and examine how far they are conclusive, or 
how they may be defeated. And, 

1. When sin hath in any instance possessed the imagi- 
nation, and thereby engaged the cogitative faculty in its 
service, it is a dangerous symptom of its rule or dominion. 
Sin may exercise its rule in the mind, fancy, and imagination, 
where bodily strength or opportunity give no advantage for 
its outward perpetration. In them the desires of sin may be 
enlarged as hell, and the satisfaction of lust taken in with 
greediness. Pride and covetousness and sensuality may 
reign and rage in the mind, by corrupt imaginations, when 
their outward exercise is shut up by circumstances of life. 

The first way whereby sin acts itself, or coins its motions 
and inclinations into acts, is by the imagination; Gen. vi. 5. 
The continual evil figments of the heart are as the bubbling 
of corrupt waters from a corrupted fountain. 

The imaginations intended are the fixing of the mind on 
the objects of sin or sinful objects, by continual thoughts, with 
delight and complacency. They are the mind's purveying 
for the satisfaction of the flesh in the lusts thereof, Rom. xiii. 
14. whereby evil thoughts come to lodge, to abide, to dwell 
in the heart, Jer. iv. 14. 

This is the first and proper effect of that vanity of mind 
whereby the soul is alienated from the life of God. The 
mind being turned off from its proper object with a dislike of 
it, applies itself by its thoughts and imaginations, unto 
the pleasures and advantages of sin, seeking in vain to 
recover the rest and satisfaction which they have forsaken in 
God himself. 'They follow after lying vanities, and forsake 
their own mercies;' Jonah ii. 8. And when they give them- 


selves up unto a constant internal converse with the desires 
of the flesh, the pleasures and advantages of sin, with delight 
and approbation, sin may reign triumphantly in them though 
no appearance be made of it in their outward conversation. 
Such are they who have a 'form of godliness, but deny the 
power thereof; ' their hearts being filled with a litter of un- 
godly lusts, as the apostle declares, 2 Tim. iii. 5. 

And there are three evils, with respect whereunto, sin 
doth exercise its reigning power in the imagination, in an 
especial manner. 

(1.) Pride, self-elation, desire of power and greatness. It 
is affirmed of the prince of Tyrus, that he said, ' he was a 
god, and sat in the seat of God ;' Ezek. xxviii. 2. And the 
like foolish thoughts are ascribed unto the king of Babylon, 
Isa. xiv. 13, 14. None of the children of men can attain so 
great glory, power, and dominion in this world, but that in 
their imaginations and desires they can infinitely exceed 
what they do enjoy ; like him who wept that he had not an- 
other world to conquer. They have no bounds but to be as 
God, yea, to be God ; which was the first design of sin in 
the world. And there is none so poor and low, but by his 
imaginations, he can lift up and exalt himself almost into 
the place of God. This vanity and madness God reproves 
in his discourse with Job, chap. xl. 9 — 14. And there is 
nothing more genuine and proper unto the original deprava- 
tion and corruptions of our natures, than this self-exaltation 
in foolish thoughts, and imaginations ; because it first came 
upon us through a desire of being as God. Herein there- 
fore may sin exercise its dominion in the minds of men ; 
yea, in the empty mind and vanity of these imaginations, 
with those that follow, consists the principal part of the de- 
ceitful ways of sin. The ways of men cannot satisfy them- 
selves with what sins they can actually commit ; but in 
these imaginations they rove endlessly, finding satisfaction 
in their renovation and variety, Isa. Ivii. 1. 

(2.) Sensuality and uncleanness of life. It is said of some, 
* that they have their eyes full of adulteries, and tliat they 
cannot cease from sin ;' 2 Pet. ii. 14. that is, their imagina- 
tions arc continually working about the objects of their un- 
clean lusts. These they think of night «n(l day, immiring 
themselves in all filth continually. Jude calls them 'filthy 


dreamers, defiling the flesh,' ver. 8. They live as in a con- 
stant pleasing dream by their vile imaginations, even when 
they cannot accomplish their lustful desires. For such 
imaginations cannot be better expressed than by dreams ; 
wherein men satisfy themselves with a supposed acting of 
what they do not. Hereby do many wallow in the mire of 
uncleanness all their days ; and for the most part are never 
wanting unto the effects of it, when they have opportunity 
and advantage. And by this means the most cloistered re- 
cluses may live in constant adulteries, whereby multitudes 
of them become actually the sinks of uncleanness. This is 
that, which in the root of it is severely condemned by our 
Saviour, Matt. v. 28. 

(3.) Unbelief, distrust, and hard thoughts of God, are of 
the same kind. These will sometimes so possess the ima- 
ginations of men, as to keep them off from all delight in God, 
to put them on contrivances of flying from him ; which is a 
peculiar case, not here to be spoken unto. 

In these and the like ways may sin exercise its dominion 
in the soul, by the mind and its imagination. It may do so 
when no demonstration is made of it in the outward conver- 
sation. For, by this means, the minds of men are defiled ; 
and then nothing is clean, * all things are impure unto them,' 
Titus i. 15. Their minds being thus defiled, do defile all 
things to them, their enjoyments, their duties, all they have, 
and all that they do. 

But yet all failing, and sin in this kind doth not prove 
absolutely that sin hath not the dominion in the mind that 
it had before. Something of this vice and evil may be found 
in them that are freed from the reign of sin. And there will 
be so, until the vanity of our minds is perfectly cured and 
taken away, which will not be in this world. Wherefore I 
shall name the exceptions, that may be put in against the 
title of sin unto dominion in the soul ; notwithstanding the 
continuance in some measure of this work of the imagina- 
tion, in coining evil figments in the heart. And, 

1. This is no evidence of the dominion of sin, where it 
is occasional, arising from the prevalency of some present 
temptation ; take an instance in the case of David. I no 
way doubt, but that in his temptation with Bathsheba, his 
mind was possessed with defiling imaginations. Wherefore 


on his repentance, he not only prays for the forgiveness of 
his sin, but cries out with all fervency, that God 'would 
create a clean heart in him/ Psal. li. 10. He was sensible 
not only of the defilement of his person by his actual adul- 
tery ; but of his heart, by impure imaginations. So it may 
be in case of other temptations. Whilst men are entangled 
with any temptation, of what sort soever it be, it will multi- 
ply thoughts about it in the mind ; yea, its whole power con- 
sists in a multiplication of evil imaginations. By them it 
blinds the mind, draws it off from the consideration of its 
duty, and enticeth it unto a full conception of sin, James i. 
14. Wherefore in this case of a prevalent temptation, which 
may befall a true believer, the corrupt working of the imagi- 
nation, doth not prove the dominion of sin. 

If it be inquired, how the mind may be freed and cleared 
of these perplexing, defiling imaginations, which arise from 
the urgency of some present temptation, suppose about 
earthly affairs, or the like ; I say, it will never be done by 
the most strict watch and resolution against them ; nor by 
the most resolute rejection of them. They will return with 
new violence, and new pretences, though the soul hath pro- 
mised itself a thousand times, that so they should not do. 
There is but one way for the cure of this distemper, and 
this is a thoroug-h mortification of the lust that feeds them, 
and is fed by them. It is to no purpose to shake oft' the 
fruit in this case, unless we dig up the root. Every temp- 
tation designs the satisfaction of some lusts of the flesh or 
of the mind. These evil thoughts and imaginations are the 
working of the temptation in the mind. There is no rid- 
dance of them, no conquest to be obtained over them, but 
by subduing the temptation ; and no subduing the tempta- 
tation, but by the mortification of the lust, whose satisfac- 
tion it is designed unto. This course the apostle directs 
unto. Col. iii. 3. 5. That which he enjoins is, that we would 
not set our minds on the things of the earth, in opposition 
unto the things above ; that is, that we would not fill our 
imaginations, and thereby our affections with them. But 
what is the way whereby we may be enabled so to do ? that 
is, saith he, the universal mortification of sin, ver. 5. 

For want of the wisdom and knowledge hereof; or, for 
want of its practice, through a secret unwillingness, to come 


up unto a full mortification of sin, some are galled and per- 
plexed, yea, and defiled with foolish and vain imaginations 
all their days. And although they prove not the dominion 
of sin, yet they will deprive the soul of that peace and com- 
fort which otherwise it might enjoy. 

But yet there is much spiritual skill and diligence re- 
quired to discover, what is the true root and spring of the 
foolish imaginations that may at any time possess the mind. 
For they lie deep in the heart ; that heart which is deep and 
deceitful, and so are not easily discoverable. There are 
many other pretences of them. They do not directly be- 
speak that pride or unclean lusts which they proceed from ; 
but they make many other pretences, and feign other ends. 
But the soul that is watchful and diligent may trace them to 
their original. And if such thoughts are strictly examined 
at any time, what is their design, whose work they do, what 
makes them so busy in the mind, they will confess the 
truth, both whence they came, and what it is they aim at. 
Then is the mind guided unto its duty, which is the exter- 
mination of the lust, which they would make provision for. 

2. Such imaginations are no evidence of the dominion of 
sin, in what degree soever they are, where they are afflictive, 
where they are a burden unto the soul, which it groans 
under and would be delivered from. There is a full account 
given by the apostle, of the conflict between indwelling sin 
and grace, Rom. vii. And the things which he ascribes 
unto sin, are not the first rising- or involuntary motions of it, 
nor merely its inclinations and disposition : for the things as- 
cribed unto it, as that it fights, rebels, wars, leads captive, 
acts as a law, cannot belong unto them ; nor doth he intend 
the outward acting or perpetration of sin, the doing or accom- 
plishing or finishing of it : for that cannot befall believers, 
as the apostle declares, 1 John iii. 9. But it is the working 
of sin by these imaginations in the mind, and the engage- 
ment of the affections thereon, that he doth intend. Now 
this he declares to be the great burden of the souls of 
believers, that which makes them think their condition 
wretched and miserable in some sort, and which they ear- 
nestly cry out for deliverance from, ver. 24. This is the pre- 
sent case. These figments of the heart, these imaginations 
will arise in the minds of men. They will do so sometimes 


to a high degree. They will impose them on us with deceit 
and violence, leading captive unto the law of them ; where 
they are rejected, condemned, defied ; they will return again 
while there is any vanity remaining in the mind, or cor- 
ruption in the affections. But if the soul be sensible of 
them, if it labour under them, if it look on them as those 
that fight against its purity, holiness, and peace, if it pray 
for deliverance from them, they are no argument of the do- 
minion of sin. Yea, a great evidence unto the contrary may 
be taken from that firm opposition unto them, which the 
mind is constantly engaged in. 

3. They are not a proof of the dominion of sin, when 
there is a prevalent detestation of the lust from whence they 
proceed, and whose promotion they design, maintained in 
the heart and mind. I confess, sometimes this cannot be 
discovered ; and all such various imaginations are but mere 
effects of the incurable vanity and instability of our minds. 
For these administer continual occasion unto random 
thoughts : but for the most part (as we observed before), 
they are employed in the service of some lust, and tend 
unto the satisfaction of it. They are that which is prohi- 
bited by the apostle, Rom. xiii. 14. 'Make no provision,' 
&c. And this may be discovered on strict examination. 
Now when the mind is fixed in a constant detestation of 
that sin, whereunto they lead, as it is sin against God, 
with a firm resolution against it, in all circumstances that 
may occur; no proof can be thence taken for the dominion 
of sin. 

4. Sometimes evil thoughts are the immediate injections 
of Satan, they are on many accounts most terrible unto the 
soul. Usually for the matter of them, they are dreadful, 
and ofttimes blasphemous. And as unto the manner of 
their entrance into the mind, it is, for the most part, sur- 
prising, furious, and invisible. From such thoughts many 
have concluded themselves to be absolutely under the 
power of sin and Satan. But they are by certain rules and 
infallible signs, discoverable from whence they do proceed. 
And on that discovery all pretences unto the dominion of 
sin in them, must disappear. And this is the first case 
which renders the question dubious, whether sin have the 
dominion in us or no. 


2. It is a sign of the dominion of sin, when in any 
instance it hath a prevalency in our affections : yea, they 
are the throne of sin, where it acts its jDOwer. But this 
case of the affections, I have handled so at large in my dis- 
course of spiritual mindedness, as I shall here very briefly 
speak unto it, so as to give~one rule only to make a judg- 
ment by, concerning the dominion of sin in them. 

This is certain, that where sin hath the prevalency and 
predominancy in our affections, there it hath the dominion 
in the whole soul. The rule is given us unto this purpose, 
1 John ii. 15. We are obliged to 'love the Lord our God 
with all our hearts and all our souls.' And therefore, if 
there be in us a predominant love to any thing else, whereby 
it is preferred unto God, it must be from the prevalency of a 
principle of sin in us. And so it is with respect unto all 
other affections. If we love any thing more than God, as 
we do if we will not part with it for his sake, be it as a 
right eye, or as a right hand, unto us ; if we take more satis- 
faction and complacency in it, and cleave more unto it in 
our thoughts and minds than unto God, as men commonly 
do in their lusts, interests, enjoyments, and relations ; if we 
trust more to it, as unto a supply of our wants, than unto 
God, as most do to the world ; if our desires are enlarged, 
and our diligence heightened, in seeking after and attaining 
other things, more than towards the love and favour of God ; 
if we fear the loss of other things, or danger from them 
more than we fear God ; we are not under the rule of God 
or his grace ; but we are under the dominion of sin, which 
reigns in our affections. 

It wei'e endless to give instances of this power of sin in 
and over the affections of men. Self-love, love of the world, 
delight in things sensual, an over-valuation of relations and 
enjoyments ; with sundry other things of an alike nature, 
will easily evidence it. And to resolve the case under con- 
sideration, we may observe, 

(1.) That the prevalency of sin in the affections, so far as 
to be a symptom of its dominion, is discernable unto the 
least beam of spiritual light, with a diligent searching into, 
and judgment of, ourselves. If it be so with any, and they 
know it not, nor will be convinced of it (as it is with 
many), I know not what can free them from being under the 


reign of sin. And we see it so every day. Men, all whose 
ways and actions proclaim, that they are acted in all things 
by an inordinate love of the world and self, yet find nothing 
amiss in themselves ; nothing that they do not approve of, 
unless it be that their desires are not satisfied accordins: to 
their expectations. All the commands we have in the 
Scripture for self-searching, trial, and examination ; all the 
rules that are given us unto that end, all the warnings we 
have of the deceitfulness of sin, and of our own hearts ; 
they are given us to prevent this evil of shutting our eyes 
against the prevalent corruption and disorder of our affairs. 
And the issue of all our endeavours in this kind, is in the 
appeal of David to God himself, Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. 

(2.) When men have convictions of the irregularity and 
disorder of their affections, yet are resolved to continue in 
the state wherein they are, without the correction and 
amendment of them, because of some advantages and satis- 
faction which they receive in their present state, they seem 
to be under the dominion of sin. So is it with those men- 
tioned, Isa. Ivii. 10. upon the account of the present satis- 
faction, delight, and pleasure, that their corrupt affections do 
take in cleaving inordinately unto their objects, they will 
not endeavour their change and alteration. 

(3.) This then is the sole safe rule in this case. Whatever 
hold sin may have got in our affections ; whatever preva- 
lency it may have in them, however it may entangle and de- 
file them ; if we endeavour sincerely the discovery of this 
evil, and therein set ourselves constantly unto the mortifi- 
cation of our corrupt affections by all due means, there is 
not in their disorder any argument to prove the dominion of 
sin in us. Our affections, as they are corrupt, are the pro- 
per objects of the great duty of mortification ; which the 
apostle therefore calls our * members that are on the earth,' 
Col. iii. 5. This is a safe anchor for the soul in this storm. 
If it live in a sincere endeavour after the mortification of 
every discoverable corruption and disorder in the affections, 
it is secure from the dominion of sin. But as for such as 
are negligent in searching after the state of their souls, as 
unto the inclinations and engagement of their affections, 
who approve of themselves in their greatest irregularities, 
resolvedly indulge themselves in every way of sin to gratify 


their sensual affections, they must provide themselves of 
pleas for their vindication ; I know them not. But the 
meaning- of our present rule will be farther manifest in what 

3. It is a dangerous sign of the dominion of sin, 
when after a conviction of their necessity, it prevaileth unto 
a neglect of those ways and duties which are peculiarly 
suited, directed, and ordained, unto its mortification and de- 
struction. This may be cleared in some particulars. 

(1.) Mortification of sin is the constant duty of all be- 
lievers, of all who would not have sin have dominion over 
them. Where mortification is sincere, there is no dominion 
of sin ; and where there is no mortification, there sin doth 

(2.) There are some graces and duties that are peculiarly 
suited and ordained unto this end, that by them and their 
agency, the work of mortification may be carried on con- 
stantly in our souls. What they are, or some of them, we 
shall see immediately. 

(3.) When sin puts forth its power in any especial lust, or 
in a strong inclination unto any actual sin, then it is the 
duty of the soul to make diligent application of those graces 
and duties which are specifical and proper unto its mortifi- 

(4.) When men have had a conviction of these duties, and 
have attended unto them according unto that conviction ; if 
sin prevail in them to a neglect or relinquishment of those 
duties, as unto their performance, or as unto their applica- 
tion unto the mortification of sin, it is a dangerous sign that 
sin hath dominion in them. And I distinguish between 
these things, namely, a neglect of such duties, as unto their 
performance, and a neglect of the application of them unto 
the mortification of sin. For men may, on other accounts, 
continue the observance of them, or some of them, and yet 
not apply them unto this especial end. And so all external 
duties may be observed, when sin reigneth in triumph, 
2 Tim. iii. 5. 

The meaning of the assertion being stated, I shall now 
name some of those graces and duties, unto whose omission 
and neglect sin may prevail, as unto an application of them 
unto the mortification of any sin. 


The first is. The daily exercise of faith on Christ as 
crucified. This is the great fundamental means of the mor- 
tification of sin in general, and which we ought to apply 
unto every particular instance of it. This the apostle dis- 
courseth at large, Rom. vi. 6 — 13. ' Our old man,' saith he, 
' is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be de- 
stroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.' Our old 
man, or the body of sin, is the power and reign of sin in us. 
These are to be destroyed ; that is, so mortified, that hence- 
forth we should not serve sin ; that we should be delivered 
from the power and rule of it. This, saith the apostle, is 
done in Christ; crucified with him. It is so meritoriously 
in his actual dying or being crucified for us ; it is so virtu- 
ally, because of the certain provision that is made therein 
for the mortification of all sin. But it is so actually by the 
exercise of faith on him as crucified, dead and buried, which 
is the means of the actual communication of the virtue of 
his death unto us for that end. Herein are we said to be 
dead and buried with him, whereof baptism is the pledge. 
So by the cross of Christ ' the world is crucified unto us, 
and we are so to the world,' Gal. vi. 14. which is the sub- 
stance of the mortification of all sin. There are several 
ways whereby the exercise of faith on Christ crucified is 
effectual unto this end. 

1. Looking unto him as such, will beget holy mourning 
in us. Zech. xii. 10. * They shall look on him whom they 
have pierced and mourn.' It is a promise of gospel times 
and gospel grace. A view of Christ, as pierced, will cause 
mourning in them that have received the promise of the 
spirit of grace and supplication there mentioned. And this 
mourning is the foundation of mortification. It is that 
godly sorrow which works repentance unto salvation, not 
to be repented of, 2 Cor. vii. 10. And mortification of sin 
is of the essence of repentance. The more believers are ex- 
ercised in this view of Christ, the more humble they are; 
the more they are kept in that mourning frame, which is 
universally opposite unto all the interest of sin, and which 
keeps the soul watchful against all its attempts. Sin never 
reigned in an humble mourning soul. 

2. It is effectual unto the same end, by the way of a 
powerful motive, as that which calls and leads unto con- 


formity to him. This is pressed by the apostle, Rom. vi. 8 — 
II. Our conformity unto Christ, as crucified and dead, con- 
sists in our being dead unto sin, and thereby overthrowing 
the reign of it in our mortal bodies. This conformity, saith 
he, we ought to reckon on as our duty ; * reckon yourselves 
dead unto sin ;' that is, that you ought so to be, in that con- 
formity, which you ought to aim at unto Christ crucified. 
Can any spiritual eye behold Christ dying for sin, and con- 
tinue to live in sin? shall we keep that alive in us, which 
he died for, that it might not eternally destroy us ? can we 
behold him bleeding for our sins, and not endeavour to give 
them their death wound ? The efficacy of the exercise of 
faith herein unto the mortification of sin is known unto all 
believers in experience. 

3. Faith herein gives us communion with him in his 
death, and unites the soul unto it in its efficacy. Hence we 
are said to be buried with him into death, and to be planted 
together in the likeness of his death, Rom. vi. 4, 5. Our 
' old man is crucified with him;' ver. 6. We have by faith 
communion with him in his death, unto the death of sin. 

This therefore is the first grace and duty which we ought 
to attend unto for the mortification of sin. But where sin 
hath that interest and power in the mind, as to take it off 
from this exercise of faith, to prevent or obstruct it, as it 
will do, so as that it shall not dare to think or meditate on 
Christ crucified, because of the inconsistency of such 
thoughts, with an indulgence unto any lust, it is to be fear- 
ed that sin is in the throne. 

If it be thus with any; if they have not yet made use of 
this way and means for the mortification of sin ; or if being 
convinced of it, they have been for any season driven or 
withheld from the exercise of faith herein, I have nothing 
to offer to free them from this evidence of the reign of sin, 
but only that they would speedily and carefully address 
themselves unto their duty herein ; and if they prevail on 
themselves unto it, it will bring in its own evidence of their 

Some, it may be, will say, that indeed they are unskilful 
in this word of righteousness, as some are, Heb. v. 13. They 
know not how to make use of Christ crucified unto this end, 
nor how to set themselves about it. Other ways of mortifi- 

VOL. XIV. 2 F 


cation they can understand. The discipline and penances 
assigned by the Papists unto this end are sensible. So are 
our own vows and resolutions, with other duties that are 
prescribed ; but as for this way of deriving virtue from the 
death of Christ unto the death of sin, they can understand 
nothing of it. 

I easily believe that some may say so, yea, ought to 
say so, if they would speak their minds ; for the spiritual 
wisdom of faith is required hereunto ; but all men have not 
faith. On the loss of this wisdom the Papists have invent- 
ed another way to supply the whole exercise of faith herein. 
They will make crucifixes, images of Christ crucified, then 
they will adore, embrace, mourn over, and expect great vir- 
tue from them. Without these images they know no way 
of addressing unto Christ, for the communication of any 
virtue from his death or life. Others may be at the same 
loss; but they may do well to consider the cause of it. For, 

1. Is it not from ignorance of the mystery of the gospel, 
and of the communication of supplies of spiritual things 
from Christ thereby, of the efficacy of his life and death 
unto our sanctification and mortification of sin? Or, 

2. Is it not because indeed they have never been 
throughly distressed in their minds and consciences by the 
power of sin, and so have never in good earnest looked for 
relief? Light, general convictions, either of the guilt or power 
of sin will drive none to Christ. When their consciences 
are reduced unto real straits, and they know not what 
they do, they will learn better how to ' look unto him whom 
they have pierced.' Their condition, whoever they are, is 
dangerous, who find not a necessity every day of applying- 
themselves, by faith unto Christ, for help and succour. Or, 

3. Is it not because they have other reliefs to betake 
themselves unto? such are their own promises and resolu- 
tions, which, for the most part, serve only to cheat and quiet 
conscience for an hour or a day, and then vanish into no- 
thing. But whatever be the cause of this neglect, those in 
whom it is will pine away in their sins ; for nothing but the 
death of Christ for us will be the death of sin in us. 

Secondly, Another duty necessary unto this end is con- 
tinual prayer, and this to be considered as unto its appli- 
cation, to the prevalency of any particular lust, wherein sin 


dolli in a peculiar manner exert its power. This is the great 
ordinance of God for its mortification. For, 

1. Hereby we obtain spiritual aids and supplies of 
strength against it. We are not more necessarily and fer- 
vently to pray that sin may be pardoned, as to its guilt, than 
we are that it may be subdued, as to its power. He who is 
negligent in the latter, is never in good earnest in the former. 
The pressures and troubles which we receive from the power 
of sin are as pungent on the mind, as those from its guilt 
are on the conscience. Mere pardon of sin will never give 
peace unto a soul, though it can have none without it. It 
must be mortified also, or we can have no spiritual rest. 
Now this is the work of prayer ; namely, to seek and obtain 
such supplies of mortifying, sanctifying grace, as whereby 
the power of sin may be broken, its strength abated, its root 
withered, its life destroyed, and so the whole old man cruci- 
fied. That which was the apostle's request for the Thessa- 
lonians, is the daily prayer of all believers for themselves, 
1 Thess. v. 23. 

2. A constant attendance unto this duty in a due man- 
ner, will preserve the soul in such a frame, as wherein sin 
cannot habitually prevail in it. He that can live in sin, and 
abide in the ordinary duties of prayer, doth never once pray 
as he ought. Formality, or some secret reserve or other, 
vitiates the whole. A truly gracious praying frame (wherein 
we pray always) is utterly inconsistent with the love of, or 
reserve for, any sin. To pray well, is to pray always ; that 
is, to keep the heart always in that frame which is required 
in prayer; and where this is, sin can have no rule, no, nor 
quiet harbour in the soul. 

3. It is the soul's immediate conflict against the power 
of sin. Sin in it is formally considered as the soul's enemy, 
which fights against it. In prayer the soul sets itself to 
grapple with it, to wound, kill, and destroy. It is that 
whereby it applies all its spiritual engines unto its utter 
ruin ; herein it exerciseth a gracious abhorrency of it, a clear 
self-condemnation on the account of it, and engageth faith 
on all the promises of God, for its conquest and destruction. 

It is hence evident, that if sin hath prevailed in the mind, 
unto a negligence of this duty, either in general, or as unto 
the effectual application of it, unto any especial case, where 

2 F 2 


it exerts its power, it is an ill symptom of the dominion of 
sin in the soul. 

It is certain, that unmortified sin, sin indulged unto, will 
gradually work out all due regard unto this duty of prayer, 
and alienate the mind from it, either as unto the matter or 
manner of its performance. We see this exemplified every 
day in apostate professors. They have had a gift of prayer, 
and were constant in the exercise of it; but the love of sin, 
and living in it hath devoured their gifts, and wholly taken 
off their minds from the duty itself, which is the proper 
character of hypocrites; 'Will he delight himself in the Al- 
mighty? will he always call upon God?' Job xxvii. 10. He 
may do so for a season, but falling under the power of sin, 
he will not continue so to do. 

Now because sin useth great deceit herein, in a gradual 
progress for attaining its end, and thereby securing its do- 
minion, we may in a way of warning or caution take notice 
of some of its steps, that the entrances of it may be opposed ; 
for as the entrance of God's word ' giveth light;' Psal. cxix. 
130, the first puttings forth of its power on the soul gives 
spiritual light unto the mind, which is to be improved. So 
the entrance of sin, the first actings of it on the mind, to- 
wards the neglect of this duty, brings a deceiving darkness 
with them, which is to be opposed. 

1. It will produce in the mind an unreadiness unto this 
duty in its proper seasons. The heart should always rejoice 
in the approach of such seasons, because of the delight in 
God, which it hath in them. To rejoice and be glad in all 
our approaches unto God, is every way required of us, and 
therefore with the thoughts of and in the approach of such 
seasons, we ought to groan in ourselves for such a prepared- 
ness of mind, as may render us meet for that converse with 
God, which we are called unto. But where sin begins to 
prevail, all things will be unready and out of order. Strange 
tergiversations will rise in the mind, either as unto the duty 
itself, or as unto the manner of its performance. Custom- 
ariness and formality are the principles which act themselves 
in this case. The body seems to carry the mind to the 
duty, whether it will or no, rather than the mind to lead 
the body in its part of it; and it will employ itself in any 
thing, rather than in the work and duty that lies before it. 


Herein then lies a great part of our wisdom, in obviat- 
ing the power of sin in us. Let us keep our hearts continu- 
ally in a gracious disposition and readiness for this duty, in 
all its proper seasons. If you lose this ground, you will yet 
go more backwards continually. Know, therefore, that there 
is no more effectual preservative of the soul fi'om the power 
of sin, than a gracious readiness for, and disposition unto, 
this duty in private and public, according to its proper 

2. In its progress, unto unreadiness it will add unwilling- 
ness ; for the mind prepossessed by sin, finds it directly con- 
trary unto its present interest, disposition, and inclination. 
There is nothing in it but what troubles and disquiets them; 
as he said of the prophet, who was not willing to hear him 
any more, it speaks not good but evil of them continually. 
Hence a secret unwillingness prevails in the mind, and an 
aversation from a serious engagement in it. And the attend- 
ance of such persons to it, is as if they were under a force, 
in a compliance with custom and convictions. 

3. Sin will at length prevail unto a total neglect of this 
duty : this is an observation confirmed by long experience. 
If prayer do not constantly endeavour the ruin of sin, sin 
will ruin prayer ; and utterly alienate the soul from it. This 
is the way of backsliders in heart; as they grow in sin, 
they decay in prayer, until they are weary of it, and utter- 
ly relinquish it. So they speak, Mai. i. 13. 'Behold, what 
a weariness it is ! and ye have snuffed at it.' They look 
on it as a task, as a burden, and are wearv in attendinp- 
unto it. 

Now when I place this as an effect of the prevalency of 
sin, namely, a relinquishment of the duty of prayer, I do 
not intend that persons do wholly and absolutely, or as to 
all ways of it, public and private, and all seasons or occa- 
sions of it, give it over utterly. Few arise to that profligacy 
in sin, unto such desperate resolutions against God. It may 
be they will still attend unto the stated seasons of prayer, 
in families or public assemblies, at least drawing near to God 
with their lips ; and they will on surprisals and dangers per- 
sonally cry unto God, as the Scripture every where testi- 
fieth of them. But this only 1 intend ; namely, that they 
will no more sincerely, immediately, and directly, apply 


prayer to the mortification and ruin of that lust or corruption, 
wherein sin puts forth its power and rule in them : and 
where it is so, it seems to have the dominion. Of such a 
one, saith the psalmist, ' He hath left off to be wise and to 
do good. He setteth himself in a way that is not good ; he 
abhorreth not evil ;' Psal. xxxvi. 3, 4. 

But such a relinquishment of this duty, as unto the end 
mentioned, as is habitual, and renders the soul secure under 
it, is intended. For there may, through the power of temp- 
tation, be a prevalency of this evil in believers for a season. 
So God complains of his people, Isa. xliii. 22. 'Thou hast 
not called upon me, O Jacob, but hast been weary of me, O 
Israel ;' that is, comparatively, as unto the fervency and 
sincerity of the duty required of them. Now, when it is thus 
with believers for a season, through the power of sin and 
temptation; 1. They do not approve of themselves therein. 
They will ever and anon call things to consideration, and 
say. It is not with us as it should be, or as it was in former 
days; this thing is not good that we do ; nor will it be peace 
in the latter end. 2. They will have secret resolutions of 
shaking themselves out of the dust of this evil state ; they 
say in themselves, ' we will go and return unto our first hus- 
band ; for then it was better with us than now ;' as the 
church did, Hos. ii. 7, 3. Every thing that peculiarly befalls 
them in a way of mercy or affliction, they look on as calls 
from God, to deliver a